Negotiation based on single text with UNGA rules can only save IGN: India on UNSC reform process

Last Updated 26 January 2021, 10:27 IST

India and the three other G4 nations -- Brazil, Japan and Germany -- have asserted that the format of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations on UNSC reforms can be saved only if there is a single negotiating text and application of the General Assembly rules of procedure, otherwise it can no longer be the forum where the long-pending amendments can "realistically be achieved".

The first IGN meeting on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms in the 75th session of the General Assembly took place on Monday.

During the meeting, the G4 nations said only two things can save the IGN as a format -- negotiations of a single text with attributions, reflecting various positions taken by member states in the last 12 years and the application of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly (GA).

"If these two things cannot be achieved this year, the IGN will have run its course for us," Germany’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said, making a statement on behalf of the G4 nations.

The bloc underlined that if there isn’t a discussion of a single document before the fourth meeting of the IGN this year and the application of GA rules of procedure, “then the debate will have to shift back to the General Assembly in a formal process,” for which there is strong support from several UN member states.

“It is our firm belief that in order to ‘instill new life’ in the debate, we need to start a proper conversation and negotiation based on a single text with GA rules of procedure. As the G4, we stand ready to work with you on this in an open, transparent and result-oriented approach,” Heusgen said.

He said the single negotiating text must be shared by IGN co-chairs Ambassadors Joanna Wronecka of Poland and Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani of Qatar with the member states immediately after the third and well before the fourth IGN session this year.

All five clusters should be discussed in the first three IGN rounds and the negotiating document be updated after every round. “This single document would contain all the various positions issued on this floor in the last 12 years. We are not asking for any paper to merely reflect the G4 position,” Heusgen said.

On the necessity of the application of the GA rules of procedure, he said only by moving away from handing everybody a veto, and giving the power to change things to the majority, can any progress be achieved.

India joined UNSC this month as a non-permanent member for a two-year term. India has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the 15-nation body, saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the Council, which in its current form does not represent the geo-political realities of the 21st century.

The IGN meetings were postponed last May as in-person meetings at the UN headquarters were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heusgen told the co-chairs that the “ball is now in your field. You have the opportunity to really make progress this time, to work with all reform-minded countries to actually bring about progress”.

The G4 nations called on the co-chairs to “directly" pick up from where the IGN process was left off in “mid-air” in March 2020. They insisted that following the trodden path of five IGN rounds, each discussing one of the five clusters will not be helpful. “It would merely mean going round in circles and repeating arguments we heard countless times."

The bloc said the co-chairs should not waste anymore valuable time and suggested merging the two documents rolled over last year, in order to start discussing text.

“Otherwise...despite all your best efforts...you will not be able to break the curse that seems to hold the IGN under its spell. If we once again devote each of the five IGN sessions to cluster-discussions, we will end up exactly where we were in 2020.

"This would mean that we would need to face the fact that the IGN is no longer the forum in which Security Council reform can realistically be achieved. A dozen years of repetition have proven this beyond any doubt," it said.

The G4 asserted that any delegation saying that the IGN in its current arrangement is the “one and only forum” to negotiate UNSC reforms is “effectively preventing any reform from happening. And this is most likely also their intention.”

Through this stance, they are accepting a Council that is less legitimate and whose authority is undermined. It said those who think the IGN process can only happen in the Council are “simply wrong: the IGN was established by the General Assembly, and the General Assembly can decide to establish something else.”

At a time when member states and the UN have adapted to a new “virtual world” due to COVID, the G4 asked how come the IGN is incapable of doing the same? “Just because a few do not want it to?”

Asserting that they cannot allow the IGN to be a smokescreen, blocking any progress and catching delegations in an endless deja-vu, the G4 said prior consensus is not needed to talk about text.

The G4 reiterated that Africa needs to sit at the UNSC table “permanently”.

UNGA President Volkan Bozkir said it is crucial that any reforms to UNSC reflect the realities of the 21st century.

He pointed out that the most appropriate platform to pursue this reform is within the framework of the IGN and asked all delegations to "utilise the opportunity, that this IGN session provides to engage constructively".

"We must give this process a chance," he said.

(Published 26 January 2021, 10:27 IST)

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