World Bulletin/News Desk
Without any significant move and clear luck in consensus the two-day debate on decades long and ongoing issue of the UN Security Council (UNSC) reforms wrapped up in New York on Friday. The discussion ended with no clear guidelines and signposts where the reforms process should head up, although more then 80 speakers addressed the topic.
The key issues under discussion within the intergovernmental negotiations on UNSC reform are the category of membership, the question of the veto, regional representation and the size of an enlargement. It is also Council’s working methods and its relationship with the General Assembly that are under the microscope.
“Our United Nations is – and must remain – a place where we reach compromise,” President John Ashe almost begged the 193-member Assembly as it considered the equitable representation and an increase in the membership of the UNSC.
Unlike membership changes, working method reforms do not require UN Charter change and the Council itself can implement them. But even on the issue of “working methods” there is a little or no move.
But, Mr. Ashe insisted “each and every side” on the UN Security Council reform “must make concessions” if the United Nations are to find “an acceptable common ground.”
Everybody against everybody
Among other obstacles, including the Council’s permanent members described by many as those who do not want any changes -- but, rivalry is what's killing the process of UNSC reform:
“There is rivalry at stake particularly among Germany and Italy, that has been probably the biggest. But also, we have rivalry in other parts of the world including those in Asia where some don’t like to see Japan coming out of the (Security) Council as the permanent member,” said James Paul executive director of Global Policy Forum, the organization in New York that monitors the reform process of the United Nations in the interview for Anadolu Agency.
He mentioned Latin America as well, where Mexico and others oppose permanent membership of Brazil to the UNSC.
Paul said – “in every case” where there is an aspiring member for the permanent membership of the UNSC -- there is an opposition to it as well.
“In all those cases there is a rivarly,” Dr. Paul said.
He pointed -- the question remains, what are the best means to represent regions of the world and what are the other ways to have more significant status for already elected non-permanent members that would allow them to play more role at the Council. The question is also, he said -- how “to weaken the hegemonic status of the permanent members by undermining and eventually doing away with the veto power.”
The five permanent (P-5) members of the UNSC with the veto power are United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China. Ten other members have non-permanent, two years limited mandate. They are elected among five regional groups: Latin American and Caribbean, Western European (including Australia, New Zealand and Canada), Eastern European, African and Asian group of states.
Frozen in time
At this year's debate, diplomats from 193 UN member states expressed their often diametrically opposed views on the same need for UNSC reforms. They have been waging a war of words, accusing each other and pointing to the regional stakeholders blocks and political rivalry.
Bearing all this in mind, experts say – it is not surprising that consensus was eluded for over two decades on the issue of UN Security Council (UNSC) reforms.
James Paul stressed - there is another thing beside rivalry that blocks UNSC reforms: Permanent members oppose new permanent seats in the Council but also “anything that appears to be lifebelt.”
“That’s blocking completely and poisoning the possibility of the change,” he said.
But, Paul emphasizes: “We don’t need more permanent members. We need less permanent members.”
On the other hand, he says - if this UNSC structure is not changed, the permanency of those five members who were specially geo-strategically important in 1945 – will not open the possibility for the new changes.
Stocked within UN system
Paul argues the UNSC reforms are stocked within the UN system itself:
“We are basically stocked in a situation where the United Nations is composed of the individual states. And the individual states are very bad in representing – not too good in representing their own people. But they are terribly bad in representing the people who are inhabitants of other states,” Paul said.
Twenty years ago, in 1993, the UN General Assembly has also debated Council reform but has not been able to produce the tangible results. Ever since - many countries have argued that this structure does not represent the realities of today’s world and only show - UN is frozen in time.
“How this institution, the United Nations move forward when it is a prisoner of its peculiar way of representing the world's peoples through states in the Security Council – this is a particularly great problem,” Paul said.
He said the Security Council is functioning worse now than it was years ago. “Now is much more dominated by P-5 then 15 years ago,” Paul noted.
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey, former Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Permanent representative of his country to the United Nations during first years of Bosnian war in 1990’s commented for AA on the UN Security Council’s imperfection and lack of the reforms. He said Bosnia paid a high price because of the big powers insisting on this kind of UNSC layout:
“The P-5 or big powers have been reluctant to consider meaningfully any change that could diminish their power. They have also cleverly employed rivalry and jockeying by some regional powers in competing for potentially new permanent seats to deflect and delay change. However, as in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the lack of effective measures to stop war crimes as well as conflict was seen,” ambassador Sacirbey said.
He went to compare Bosnia of two decades ago with our day's Syria: “Today Syria is also acting as catalyst or at least amplifier to highlight why reform is needed.”
Undemocratic and dysfunctional
Yet, there was was a period after the Cold war when the elected members of the council had certain amount of influence and that was during the 1990s. It maybe lasted for a decade, in which period of time the elected members were struggling to have a greater voice in a work of the Council, James Paul reminded. "But, it ended just before the war in Iraq started, in 2003."
"After that there was a kind of closing of the ranks of the P-5. Today, the elected members don’t even get to see the resolutions until just hours before the votes takes place,” Paul said.
And the Security Council – has to be looked through more than the “text-book approach.”
"We have to look at the real play of power at the Council – recognizing it is a very dysfunctional institution from the point of view of any kind of democracy,” Paul told AA.
Advisory and reform group designed
Urging member states to reach compromise on UNSC reforms, UN General Assembly president John Ashe said – this is “perhaps the most important item on this Assembly’s agenda.”
Acting in that spirit, Mr. Ashe created an Advisory Group assembled by the ambassadors of Belgium, Brazil, Liechtenstein, Papua New Guinea, San Marino and Sierra Leone – to try to unblock the process practically.
The Advisory Group does not have a negotiating mandate. That mandate, the UN General Assembly’s President said - belongs to UN member states, “in the format of the intergovernmental negotiating group.”
The Advisory Group also does not have a mandate to draft any resolution or declaration or document. It has been tasked – only with the providing of ideas to help start negotiations announced for November 15th.Last Mod: 09 Kasım 2013, 14:42