UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan has sharply criticised India, Brazil, Japan and Germany, known as the Group of Four seeking permanent seats on the UN Security Council, for blocking progress in the negotiations aimed at restructuring the 15-member body to make it more representative and effective.
“We are against the creation of the permanent seats and new centres of privilege. The only way to move forward is to explore a compromise solution that reflects the interests of all member states,” Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, told a meeting of the stalled Intergovernmental Negotiations to reform the Security Council. “The aspiration for the permanent seats at the expense of a comprehensive reform has been the single biggest factor responsible for the delay in reform,” he said while responding to G-4’s accusations that the Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) Group, was blocking the reform process.
The Pakistani envoy regretted that the four aspirants were hanging on to a “narrow, self-serving proposal.” “If they give up their preconceived concepts of the Council composition, the space for real reform will open up,” Masood told the 193-member panel on Thursday. “As long as the reform remains hampered by ambition, the biggest losers will be the underrepresented developing nations,” he added.
Full-scale negotiations to restructure the Security Council began in the General Assembly in February 2009 on five key areas - the categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, size of an enlarged Security Council, and working methods of the council and its relationship with the General Assembly. Despite the general agreement on enlarging the council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details. The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, and 10 non-permanent members that are elected in groups of five to two-year terms.
Pakistan backs an Italy-Colombia proposal that would create a new category of members - not permanent members - with longer duration and a possibility to get re-elected.
In his speech, noted for its pointed words, the Pakistani envoy said, “Our reform today has become a bureaucratic exercise revolving around the numbers... The entire exercise has become an unending quest for the status for some. Today, we know that we can make progress on the reform agenda if the regional powers relinquish their ambitions for privileges in the UN. Progress will be made when they will work with their neighbours and with the international community at large to pursue common interests...
“The higher purpose of our exercise here is to shape a collective security system, not a Council that recreates concerts of powerful states modelled on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and perpetuates ‘great power politics’ of a bygone era,” he said.
“The fact is that in pursuit of its narrow national interests, a vocal minority - the G-4 and not the UfC as alleged - is monopolising the discourse in many forums, including this one, and creating the illusion that they are speaking on behalf of the majority or the largely disenfranchised developing countries.”
The Security Council could not remain frozen in the World War II paradigm, Masood Khan said, adding it has to act on behalf of the entire membership. “Only by being a ‘microcosm’ of the member states it can ensure its representativeness, legitimacy, authority, credibility, transparency and effectiveness.
“We are against the creation of the permanent seats and new centres of privilege. The only way to move forward is to explore a compromise solution that reflects the interests of all member states.” During the current round, he said UfC members have expressed readiness to consider further options involving longer terms and re-elections that would enable a refined compromise, while providing for equitable representation and rotation.
“We have also proposed dedicated seats for small and medium-sized states,” the Pakistani envoy said. “For cross-regional groups such as the Arab Group and the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), our proposal provides for rotating seats between Asia and Africa.
“We have deep empathy for the position taken by the African Group on behalf of the entire region for seats on the basis for equitable geographical distribution. Most of the issues on the Council’s agenda relate to Africa. African states rightly ask why they are not there on the Council permanently through rotating their membership across the continent. This is fundamentally different from the ambitions of individual states.”
In conclusion, Masood Khan said, “We are not looking for a Utopian Council but one that reflects contemporary realties.”