NEW YORK: Pakistan has warned that attempts by the aspirants of permanent seats on the UN Security Council to bluster through the ongoing process to reach to an agreement on reforming the 15-member body would obstruct efforts to make it more democratic.
“Given fundamental divergences that are evident, the gap that exists between respective positions cannot be papered over or worse, blustered through,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodi said in the course of discussions in the long-running Inter-governmental Negotiations (IGN) aimed at restructuring the Security Council.
Ambassador Lodhi stressed that the gaps between the positions of the parties should be bridged through an incremental and step-by-step approach and that non-consensual measures must be avoided.
“Any reckless measures could not only threaten the gains made in the IGN, but also set back efforts for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council,” she said.
Despite a general agreement on enlarging the Council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details.
India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — known as the Group of Four — have been relentlessly pushing for the Council’s permanent membership. They have shown no flexibility in their campaign to expand the body 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 maintains that additional permanent members will not make the Security Council more effective and also undermine the fundamental principle of democracy that is based on periodic elections.
At a time when the rules-based international system is confronting unprecedented challenges, Ambassador Lodhi said, rushing through the reform process would amount to a defeat of multilateralism at the hands of the unilateralist tendencies of a few.
“We should not tread this hazardous path,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
She said one of the most pressing challenges confronting the UN — the gradual erosion of its ‘moral’ standing, especially in the realm of international peace and security — had also cast a shadow on the Council’s effectiveness. That twin challenge had failed to produce a collective response.
“It is unfortunate that instead of focusing on the real issues underlying the Council’s increasing inability to play its critical role, the entire reform exercise has become an unending quest for privileged status by a handful of states,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
“They have also sought to present the Council’s legitimacy purely as a function of its composition – thus, only their formal presence in the Council would lead these states to wholeheartedly support its decisions,” the Pakistani envoy said, adding that it appears as if the seal of legitimacy to the body can only be affixed if their interests are first served.
“Space for real reform will only open up if such preconceived notions about reform are forsaken.”