UNITED NATIONS - Delegates in the UN General Assembly voiced frustration over lack of progress in the efforts to reform the Security Council, with Pakistan joining several others in backing a proposal for longer-term seats — not permanent members — on the 15-member body as a way to break the impasse.

The proposal put forward by the Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, which opposes additional permanent members, provides for terms longer than that of the current two-year period for non-permanent seats, and renewable upon elections.

“This would make member States, elected for longer duration, accountable to the General Assembly,” Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Masood Khan told the 193-member Assembly.

“On the other hand”, he said, “by electing new permanent members, we will kill the very principle of accountability.”

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 on the Council. The African Group is seeking greater role in the Security Council. Reform of the Security Council, long overdue, needed to reflect current political realities, the Pakistani envoy said while participating in the Assembly’s annual debate on the matter and the manner in which that body could become a more democratic, transparent and effective organ, tasked with delivering worldwide peace and security.

Masood Khan regretted that the Group of Four — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — continued to stick to its demand for permanent seats.

“They lament about the lack of progress, without acknowledging that their fixed position is the biggest barrier to progress,” he said.

“For them, the only measure of progress is how far the other groups would adjust to their claim of entitlement. There is no change in their stance.”

Underscoring the need for “flexibility and compromise,” the Pakistani envoy pointed out UfC showed this spirit by revising its original proposal and introducing it as the Italy-Colombia paper calling for creating a new category for longer-term seats.

Furthermore, he said, the Council must expand its non-permanent seats, as more than one third of the United Nations membership had never had the opportunity to sit on it.

“Periodic elections will ensure that States elected for longer terms or non-permanent seats remain responsive, accountable and transparent vis-à-vis the general membership.”

“The four countries that have presented their candidacies for permanent seats need to understand that many medium-sized States, individually and collectively, compete with them in terms of size, population, economy, military capability, contribution to UN peacekeeping, and commitment to democracy and human rights,” Masood Khan said.

“Pakistan opposes creation of new permanent seats, not because of regional rivalries or realpolitik, but because of the principles that should drive the Council’s reform in the 21st century.”

He also said that the Security Council body needs to be made “more inclusive” as the United Nations belongs to all, not a selected few.

“The purpose of the reform is not to embed new centres of privilege within the Council, but to democratise it by aggregating and promoting the interests and aspirations of the entire family of small, medium-sized and large nations.”

Masood Khan welcomed the appointment of Jamaica’s Ambassador Courtenay Rattray to head the negotiations on Security Council reform.

Rattray replaces Afghan Ambassador Zahir Tanin.