UNITED NATIONS - The UN General Assembly Monday adopted a decision to continue the long-running negotiations to reform the Security Council in the next Assembly session, a move that was marked by strong disagreements over the text from the floor.

Taking up the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”, the 193-member Assembly decided that the talks to enlarge the 15-member body would be moved forward to it’s 70th session, which opens on Sept 15.

But even this procedural decision produced what diplomats described as “acrimonious consensus” pushing any reform of the 15-member body further away.

Almost half the member states which took the floor expressed concerns and misgivings, saying the process were not transparent.

At his post-session briefing, General Assembly President Sam Kutesa was pointedly questioned about the assembly’s decision and the disagreements voiced by several member states. He said during his term he had given top priority to this important issue, and now the member states have “some kind of text” to work on and carry the process forward.

Closely questioned on the issue, he agreed that there were divisions, but a foundation has been laid for members to advance the reform agenda.

Aligning with Italy, which spoke on behalf of Uniting for Consenus (UfC), the group which opposes any additional permanent members on the Security Council , Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, said her government believes that meaningful reform could be achieved only if there is “genuine consensus” among member states.

She called Monday’s Assembly’s decision “a technical roll over” for continuation of the process. “What we witnessed this year in the IGN (Inter-governmental Negotiations) was a flawed process,” ambassador Lodhi said. “The actions of the Chair (Jamaica’s Ambassador) actions were arbitrary and not impartial. There was no attempt to reflect the legitimately held and well known positions of a large section of the Membership; no serious effort was made to reflect divergent views or to bridge differences. Discussions were confrontational rather than constructive.

“The document which has been produced is partial and incomplete. It cannot provide the basis for a negotiated solution,” she added.

“We fully understand the difficult position you have found yourself in, which resulted in your inability to fully reflect the fact that a limited dialogue substituted for an IGN (Inter-governmental Negotiations) process this year,” Ambassador Lodhi said.

“As the UfC has consistently asserted, meaningful reform of the Security Council can be achieved only if there is genuine consensus among member States,” she added . “The agreed objective of the IGN process is a “negotiated solution with the widest possible political acceptance of member states”.

Thus, the IGN’s work this year was a step backwards; not forward, she said, adding there was regression rather than progress.

“We are glad that, despite the constraints put on you, the oral decision acknowledges the need to build on the documents you were provided by the IGN Chair,” the Pakistani envoy said. “The UfC would have liked a fuller reflection of our concerns as conveyed to you in our letter of 11 September.”

“Nevertheless, we will work with others to restore the IGN discussion at the next UNGA session in a constructive and consensual direction,” she said. “We look to the incoming President of the General Assembly to play an active, impartial and constructive role in reviving the IGN process, taking into account the positions of all parties and the constructive work done at previous sessions of the General Assembly.

“Those who have long sought to use procedural manoeuvres to advance their positions on Security Council reform should be aware that such efforts will not and cannot succeed,” the Pakistani envoy said, referring to the activities of the so-called Group of Four — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — who are vying for permanent membership of the Security Council . “Mobilizing support on procedures is very different from securing endorsement on substance,” she said. “Agreement on reform will not be achieved by producing flawed documents through processes that were neither fully inclusive nor completely transparent.

“We hope the mistakes of this year will not be repeated in the next session, and the spirit of good faith, transparency and inclusion will be restored to take the process forward,” the Pakistani envoy added.