Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, March 16

16.03.2021 - Speech

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Mr President,

honorable Co-Chairs,

Germany aligns itself with the statement delivered by India on behalf of the G4. Let me add a few remarks in my national capacity.

I would like to thank you for your initiative to combine the clusters of “Size of an Enlarged Security Council and Working Methods of the Council” as well as “The Relationship between the Council and the General Assembly.” It is high time that we “cluster the clusters”. We must save time to concentrate on the real issue at hand – debating a concrete text. It also makes it easier to look at the interplay between these two clusters. Contrary to what some colleagues may say, it does not distract attention from the clusters themselves, which have been discussed many times over. Indeed, they have been discussed ad nauseam.

Also, I appreciate your efforts to engage in a more interactive debate.  Every step that moves us away from the seemingly endless repetitions and brings us closer to a real debate on substance is highly welcome.

Madam Co-Chairs,

Before speaking about the substance, I would like to make an urgent, serious plea, once again, to not only listen to everybody’s views closely, but also to take them on board and integrate them into an updated single version of the “Revised Elements of Commonalities and Issues for further Consideration”, which would also take on board important elements from the Framework Document. It would also mirror the increased endorsement of the Common African Position, including by the G4. We need to receive such a paper as soon as possible so that the substantial debate can start without delay.

Madam Co-Chairs,

No matter what a Member State’s position may be in the different reform clusters – it is helpful for everyone to have the essence of our discussions in front of us, in writing. In such a paper, the positions of all the actors should be duly reflected. We believe that it is a myth that Member States are maintaining irreconcilable positions on reform. For Germany and the G4, having you share such a single document to be rolled over immediately after this session and before the fourth session in April is a make-or-break issue. If you require additional inspiration on what such a document could look like, the G4 would be delighted to support you with a proposal. By the way, we sent a proposal to your predecessors last year.

In the next session on 19/20 April, we must refrain from talking only about the “status of documents”. Instead, we urgently need to talk about the content of the document you will share with us in the near future. Pure “status talks” will not lead us anywhere. I would like to echo colleagues who said that it is non-sensical to end the IGN in April while discussions on the actual text are ongoing. We need additional sessions in May and June to advance our efforts.

What we need now is a text that reflects all five key issues, elements of convergence and options on the contested points. Such a document includes attribution. No more delaying tactics! We are all experienced negotiators, so we should not shy away from this task. We were in the exact same situation two years ago, back in 2019, and we must not fail again to come up with a single text.

Madam Co-Chairs,

Regarding the clusters you asked us to focus on, I have the following remarks, even if repeating myself:

First, on the size of an enlarged Council, five years ago, we all collectively agreed that the preferred number of seats should be in the “mid-twenties” after the reform. There are of course different models, and some member states would rather like to see a modest reform while others would like the increase to be substantial. We need to find a balance between these views. For Germany and the G4, an enlarged Council would contain 27 members – six new permanent ones, and six new non-permanent ones. It is quite simple.

Second, regarding working methods, we want to ensure that the reform of the Council leads to an increase in transparency and efficiency. Thus, the working methods will need to be adapted to the size and the composition of a new Council. Also within the Council itself, there has been important progress, thanks to the efforts of successive chairs of the working group on working methods. We are greatly benefitting from all the impressive work culminating last year in revising the “Presidential Note 507”. However, this should not distract from the need to deeper, comprehensive reform of the Security Council in the five clusters.

Third, regarding the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, it is clear that the General Assembly is the most representative forum of the United Nations, and as such, its role needs to be reinforced. This is even more important in the unfortunately very familiar event of a divided and blocked Security Council. A reform of the Security Council gives us the chance to reinforce the flow of information and the coordination and cooperation between these two core UN organs, both central pillars of the multilateral system.

As we have said repeatedly, a majority of Member States continues to request text-based negotiations. This majority is not always obvious in IGN meetings, as many member states have given up on making this point in the session or were urged not to do so for reasons having nothing to do with the issue at hand. However, I am confident that you, esteemed Co-Chairs, will sense where the majority stands. We therefore look forward to finally making the move towards text-based negotiations as soon as possible. Instilling new life in the process cannot be done in any other fashion.

Thank you.

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