Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen on behalf of the G4 in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, May 4

05.05.2021 - Speech

Check Against Delivery


I make this statement on behalf of the G4 – Brazil, India, Japan and my own country, Germany.

The four of us – and many here in the General Assembly Hall today – appreciate your hard work and your willingness to listen, which you have demonstrated over the last days, weeks, and months. It is never easy to square the circle, but you certainly did what you could. We really appreciate your efforts!


In keeping with our recent fairy-tale theme, you have turned the five clusters – or shall we say 'five magic beans' – into what could well be the start of a growing bean-stalk – if we nurture it well. In order to do this, we suggest calling more meetings in this session to bring the paper into shape for serving as the basis for our work next year.

Therefore, we are looking forward to what promises to be a spirited debate on the content of the paper today, and we call for another IGN round in May or June to come to an understanding about the text, possibly on the basis of a revised version of your paper. Or should I say: “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell a chance to actually get the job done!”


You will surely realize that we did not have much time to study the text. Of course we are not entirely happy with what you have proposed and we have several proposals that will improve the text.

So let us have a closer look at the document before us and outline some improvements that we would like to suggest.

Most importantly, attribution is almost entirely lacking from the paper. Only at the very end (under regional representation) do you attribute two general models to specific groups. While this is a welcome start, we would like to see more of it. We asked for attribution in every segment, at least for those who would like to see their positions reflected, and we hope that you will give us this opportunity in a second, revised draft.

Several other points from the discussions we had in the last few weeks are not yet mirrored in the document. For example, the paper:

  • Does not yet reflect the fact that a majority of Member States support text-based negotiations, as reflected in A/72/510.
  • Does not adequately reflect the level of support for the Common African Position as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, which has become evident over recent weeks.
  • While renaming commonalities and issues for further consideration – now named “convergences and divergences – you have taken the clusters as headings and put the convergences and divergences underneath the individual clusters. This is old wine in new bottles! The points should be streamlined, since there is some overlap between the clusters, and merged to a text that can become the basis for real negotiations.

It is essential, however that this be the only text that will be transferred to the next session.


Unfortunately, some revisions to the text appear to have been made in a manner that seems somewhat intransparent. Some edits were not requested by any Member States at all, while others that were clearly requested are not mirrored. For instance, the claim that we ”agree that the IGN process is the legitimate and most appropriate platform to pursue the Security Council reform“. To us, this does not appear to be a commonality.

However, we did not hear any objection to exploring ways of enhancing the IGN’s institutional memory and working methods. Yet, this is listed under ‘divergences’. We propose to move this para slightly up to ‘convergences’.

On new criteria to be applied for election in a reformed Security Council: We don’t recall anyone asking for this. In the paper, you write that ”the degree to which Member States’ contributions to the maintenance of peace and security should be reflected in the duration of their presence in the Security Council remains to be further explored“. To our recollection, the criteria laid out in Article 23(1) of the Charter had not been challenged by anyone.


To use an analogy by my good friend Alie Kabba from Sierra Leone, there seems to be a tendency for the needle to slide back, not move forward. This is unfortunate!


This needs to stop. We have a real opportunity this year to indeed ”instill new life“ into the reform process. But for this to happen this document should be revised, and, most importantly, it should be the only text that will be transferred to the next session. Previous texts are mentioned in your paper and elements from the framework document have been included – so we do not need to carry around several documents anymore but can finally focus on one text to work on. Otherwise, it would be the kiss of death for the IGN.

We have gone through what feels like centuries of narrative that is independent of the conditions of the real world in its categories of time, space and causality – in a seemingly endless succession of motifs and episodes. It has been said that the archetype of the folk tale is namely not a text and can never be a text – but is conditioned by the oral tradition of the fairy tale. However, the Brothers Grimm have taught us differently: there can be a text! They simply sat down and wrote down what they had heard.

So, let’s get to work! Let us meet again to finalize our discussions on this text before rolling it over into the next session.

This, to us, is the only way to safely awake Snow White from the deathly slumber in her glass coffin.


As you know, we stand ready to continue to work with you and amongst ourselves as Member States – to bring a half-dead IGN back to live.

Thank you.

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