Pakistan supports reform on democratic principles

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  • ‘Are we not hearing each other or have we chosen to ignore inconvenient facts’

Pakistan criticised the aspirants for permanent seats in an expanded United Nations Security Council — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — for opposing that reform of the 15-member body should be guided by the principles of democracy.

“I have to say, the objection … has left us dumbfounded,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said in response to a document prepared by the co-chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) identifying democracy and representativeness as shared principles of the UN membership that need to be taken into consideration in reforming the Security Council.

On the concluding day of the long-running negotiation process that has been in progress for the past several months, Maleeha responded to India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin’s earlier assertions which questioned the centrality of these universal principles for the council’s reform.

“This is the first time we are hearing someone speak against the notion of democracy and representativeness in the august chambers of the United Nations,” the Pakistani envoy said while referring to the G-4’s objections. “Is reform of the council not fundamentally about equitable representation on the council,” she asked.

“We agree on practicing democracy at home but some countries here argue that it should not be practiced at the UN,” she pointed out. Emphasising that the purpose of the negotiations was to find areas that can serve as a common denominator, she said it was argued that because the process lacked democracy, this should not be a guiding principle for reforming the council.

“We can hardly agree with this assertion. Juxtaposing the absence of a text to the lack of democracy is disingenuous,” she said. Another argument, she said, was that because the Security Council was not democratic at present, its future should also be shorn of democracy and application of the principle of democracy to its reform should be cast aside.

“We agree that the council’s present composition is not sufficiently democratic. But this is precisely the reason why any reform should strive to make it more democratic.” The council’s reform, aimed at making it more representative and effective, was backed by the 2005 world summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Practically, all member states agree on enlarging the membership of the council but they are sharply divided over the details. Progress towards restructuring the Security Council remains blocked as India and its allies known as the Group of Four push for permanent seats while Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group firmly oppose any additional permanent member.

As a compromise, UfC has proposed a new category of members — not permanent members — with longer duration and a possibility to get re-elected once in an effort to democratise the council. Currently, the Security Council is 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.

In the intergovernmental negotiations this week, Italy, on behalf of the UfC, reiterated its call for expansion of the Security Council only in the two-year non-permanent seats. Pointing this out, Maleeha said that despite this some interventions claimed that no one supports expansion only in the two-year non-permanent seats. “This makes us ask are we not hearing each other or have we chosen to ignore inconvenient facts,” she asked.

1 COMMENT

  1. UN charter explicitly states, all states large or small are equal; veto power exclusively the domain of permanent five is in stark violation of principle of equality and UN charter.. As for accountability, a permanent member is beyond accountibility, the use of veto power renders accountibility subservient to the whims of veto power, this is against the principle of justice whcih demands all being equal in the eyes of the law.
    In Asia, they should form an Asian united nations, not as an alternative to UN, but as an auxiliary organisation built on democratic principles with out veto power to settle disputes between Asian nations with exclusion of none Asian vested interest interfering in Asian dispute settlement. Africa and south America, north America and Europe should do the same. At the moment too many intercontinental cooks are spoiling the broth in UN.

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