UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has warned the international community that any “ill-conceived reform of the Security Council (SC) would be the greatest disservice to the rules-based international order whose pivot is the UN”.
“A large, unwieldy and inefficient SC, characterised by an enlarged, privileged clique, is an end-state that Pakistan neither desires, nor will ever support,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the long-running Intergovernmental Negotiations aimed at reforming the 15-member body to make it more representative, efficient and effective.
Full-scale negotiations to restructure the SC began in the General Assembly in February 2009. Despite a general agreement on enlarging the Council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details.
Known as the “Group of Four,” India, Brazil, Germany and Japan ” have shown no flexibility in their campaign to expand the SC by 10 seats, with 6 additional permanent and four non-permanent members.
On the other hand, the Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group says that additional permanent members will not make the SC more effective and also undermine the fundamental principle of democracy that is based on periodic elections.
The SC 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.
While agreeing that an expansion in the size of the SC is an imperative of greater representation, Ambassador Lodhi argued that the representative character of an enlarged SC needs to be balanced against the need to maintain its efficiency and effectiveness.
“As true representation is inherently linked to active and continuous accountability, any measure of effectiveness is contingent on redressing the Council’s existing dysfunctionalities, and not reinforcing them,” she said.
Emphasising the need to strengthen the representation of elected members on the Council, rather than emasculate their existing role, Ambassador Lodhi said that the only satisfactory outcome to meet the twin objectives of efficiency and effectiveness is through an expansion in the elected non-permanent category of seats.
Ambassador Lodhi emphasised that consensus only exists for enlarging the Council by more elected, non-permanent members, adding that any claim to the contrary is a fallacy, and deserves to be treated, as such. “We can, therefore, only marvel at the ingenuity of those who offer solutions that reduce the margin of representation between the permanent and elected members, yet, promote them in the name of a more representative and effective Council,” she said while criticizing those member states who aspire to securing permanent seats in the Council.
Opposing any addition of permanent seats to the Council, the Pakistani envoy said that when a third of the membership has never served on the Council, such “solutions” aim to further the self-interests of a few, at the expense of the many who may, in consequence, be deprived of ever serving on the Council.
Ambassador Lodhi called for reinvigorating the vital institutional relationship between the two core organs of the UN, the SC and the General Assembly. In this regard, she called for strengthening the Council’s accountability and transparency through greater participation and access to the work of the SC and its subsidiary organs by all members of the General Assembly.
“We believe that this ideal can only be achieved if democratic principles are placed at the heart of, and define, the Council’s composition”, she said while emphasising that the best way to ensure a responsible and accountable Council is to strengthen the role and authority of the General Assembly in determining its representation in the Council.
The Council she said, can be made more broadly representative of the general membership by adding electable non-permanent seats which would reflect the interests of all member states’ small, medium and large.