Without Security Council reform, UN will lose credibility : General Assembly Chief

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations will lose its credibility as the pre-eminent international forum if member states are unable to agree on reforming the size, membership and working methods of the Security Council, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said Monday. Speaking to a conference on global governance and Council reform in  Rome, Deiss said it was unacceptable that the international community had been unable to make substantial progress on reforming the 15-member Council, despite active debate for almost two decades,according to the text of his speech released at UN Headquarters in New York.“Unless we find the determination to advance on this issue, the United  Nations will lose its credibility, he said.

Our organization will be marginalized, and important issues will be discussed in other forums and groupings which are perceived to be more efficient and more representative of the new realities of the day.”The conference, convened by Italy, will discuss expansion of the  Security Council, with emphasis on the need for consensus in deciding reforms of the 15-member body. Italy, which together with Pakistan, heads the “Uniting for Consensus” (UfC), a group advocating consensus on reforming the Council, instead of a divisive vote.Diplomats said that the meeting would chart out a strategy at the UN that can halt the momentum of the G-4 countries (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan), who are campaigning for the Council’s permanent membership.The G-4 members have expressed confidence that they would achieve their objective during the current session of the General Assembly ending in September.The UfC group opposes any addition to the Council’s permanent members—Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States ,but seeks enlargement of the 10-member non-permanent category, with the new members elected for two-year terms, along with the possibility of immediate re-election.

Deiss, who heads the 192-member General Assembly, questioned whether reform of the Council is as daunting as often perceived.”Is there no way to overcome the divisions and to forge a win-win compromise that would be acceptable for a broad majority of Member States? he asked.The Assembly President who stressed that he is not backing any specific proposal  said any proposed Council reform will only succeed if it follows five key principles. The proposal must have: the broadest possible support; conform with the UN’s basic values and principles, such as inclusiveness, democracy and accountability; be simple enough to be understood by politicians and the public; be efficient so that the Council can respond effectively to crises; and be flexible so that Member States do not “lock ourselves into a new structure that could soon become obsolete.”Deiss called on countries to “embark on real negotiations and, if they are to succeed, it is essential that all parties display a constructive, realistic and flexible attitude. – APP