General Assembly Adopts Texts on Security Council Reform, Peacekeeping, Conflict in Africa, Cooperation with Regional Groups

19 JULY 2017

Member States approved a decision on membership of and representation on the Security Council today, as the General Assembly adopted three other texts covering a range of issues and agenda items.

Adopting the draft oral decision titled “question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”, the Assembly decided to reaffirm its own central role concerning that question.

Further by that text, the Assembly decided that it would immediately continue intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, and convene the Open-Ended Work Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council. The Assembly also decided to include the matter on the agenda of its seventy-second session.

Mansour Ayyad SH A Alotaibi (Kuwait) emphasized, on behalf of the Arab Group, that any attempt at intergovernmental negotiations must enjoy “unanimous consensus”. The Arab Group looked forward to continuing the debate on comprehensive Security Council reform during the seventy-second session, he said, reiterating the Group’s call for a permanent Arab seat.

Adikalie Foday Sumah (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of African Union member States, said the African Group remained steadfastly committed to comprehensive and meaningful reform of the Security Council. It was regrettable that the “Element Paper” presented by the co-chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations did not adequately reflect the letter and spirit of the African Common Position on Council Reform, he said, explaining that the African Group had expected them to reflect the wide political acceptance of that positon during the current intergovernmental negotiations. Support for allocating both elected and permanent seats to Africa must be highlighted, he said, stressing that, in any outcome document emanating from future intergovernmental negotiations, Africa must be represented in both permanent and non-permanent categories.

Harald Braun (Germany), speaking on behalf of the Group of Four (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan), said the decision, as well as the paper on Security Council reform, highlighted the progress made, including the milestones reached in past sessions. However, there must be a move away from “turning in circles” and from repetitive stances, as well as a shift from merely discussing negotiations to actually beginning real, text-based talks, he said, underlining that there could be no complete satisfaction with the work of the intergovernmental negotiations during the current seventy-first session because no resolution had been adopted and no real progress made in establishing text-based negotiations.

Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the L.69 Group, recalled that the General Assembly’s consideration of the agenda item had begun some 25 year ago, and despite those efforts, it was yet to begin its real work on negotiations. That was not due to a lack of will or desire on the part of Member States, but to the obduracy of a minority that failed to respect the larger sentiment of the Assembly, she said, pointing out: “In no other purportedly democratic space have we seen the wish of 85 per cent of the membership of an organization not lead to action.”

Underlining that the Assembly was accountable to the people of the United Nations, she said it must be recognized that, even after many years, the Organization was carrying on with a fundamentally abnormal process. More than 160 countries believed the process had all the elements necessary to advance to text-based negotiations, and in that context, the L.69 Group was ready and eager to negotiate, discuss and resolve issues in order to move forward.

Maleeha Lodhi (Pakistan), speaking for the Uniting for Consensus Group, said the issue of expanding the Council membership required substantial attention, and once consensus was reached on the main principles, the next steps would be much more fluid. She also expressed surprise at the opposition of some Member States to including fundamental United Nations principles in the text just adopted. Emphasizing that a serious discussion on the democratic nature of the Security Council could not be postponed any further, she noted the emerging pockets of consensus, including on the issue of expanding the non-permanent membership. Flexibility and a spirit of compromise would be critical in future negotiations on Security Council reform, she added.

Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab and African Groups, said the consensus on the decision reflected collective commitment to intergovernmental negotiations. It also reflected the desire of all Member States to build a broader political space with the aim of realizing Security Council reform so that the organ could address today’s challenges and fulfil the purposes of the United Nations Charter. Any document resulting from intergovernmental negotiations must fully reflect the region’s common position, as well as its demand for equitable and just representation, including two permanent Council seats, in order to address the historical injustices confronting it. Egypt also supported the Arab Group’s push for a permanent Council seat, he added.

Liu Jeiyi (China) said patient negotiations were constructive and conducive to the broadest consensus, adding that proposals and suggestions created the conditions necessary for all Member States to meet each other halfway and seek consensus. Emphasizing that Security Council reform had a bearing on the interests of all Member States and could not be accomplished overnight, he expressed hope that during the next session, the intergovernmental negotiations would continue to work constructively for consensus.

Vladimir Safronkov (Russian Federation) described Security Council reform as one of the most important issues on the Organization’s agenda. At the same, discussions had shown that the positions of Member States remained fundamentally different, and were even opposed on some issues. Discussions must be carried out in a transparent manner, he said, adding that developing countries in Asia and Africa must be the “first in line” to gain Council seats because they had a large stake in maintaining international peace and security.

Mario Zambrano Ortiz (Ecuador) presented a draft resolution titled “causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/71/L.67/Rev.1), and thanked all those who had contributed to finalizing the text.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted that text, which called upon Member States to support existing peace consolidation mechanisms and processes, help post-conflict countries and support efforts by African countries to promote political, social and economic inclusion. The Assembly called, by other terms, upon the international community to enhance support and fulfil its commitments in areas critical to Africa’s economic and social development. Further, it called for the enhancement of the role of women in prevention and resolving conflict, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. It also called for safeguarding the principle of refugee protection in Africa, and for resolving the plight of refugees.

Jane Chigiyal (Federated States of Micronesia), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, submitted a draft resolution titled “cooperation between the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum” (document A/71/L.77). Pointing out key elements of the text, she welcomed the continuing mutually beneficial dialogue between Pacific Islands Forum leaders and the Secretary-General. The text sought to look at practical solutions in order to help sustainable development in the region through partnerships, she said, adding it also sought to consider how the United Nations system could better deliver results in the region.

Adopting that resolution without a vote, the Assembly stressed the value of enhanced close cooperation and coordination between the programmes and activities of the United Nations system and members of the Pacific Island Forum. Also by the text, it stressed the importance of resident coordinators and United Nations country teams, while further stressing the importance of coherent and integrated approaches to building resilience to extreme weather events, and increased climate variability across the Pacific.

Matthew Dolbow (United States) emphasized that the Samoa Pathway, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction were all to be implemented in a manner consistent with the rights and obligations of States under international law. He also drew attention to the 1 June announcement by the President of the United States pertaining to that country’s intentions with regard to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Teodoro Lopez Locsin, Jr., (Philippines) then tabled, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a resolution titled “cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations” (document A/71/L.76), recalling that the regional bloc had been established 50 years ago and was now home to more than 630 million people, or 9 per cent of the world’s population. The draft resolution was the first commemorative text proposed by a regional organization and sought to raise awareness of ASEAN as a regional organization promoting multilateralism, as well as regional peace, stability and prosperity.

In adopting that text without a vote, the Assembly encouraged ASEAN and the United Nations to explore measures to further the effective and timely implementation of joint activities under the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations (2016-2020). It also encouraged promoting complementarities between the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 2025: Forging Ahead Together, and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

The Assembly also adopted, again without a vote, the draft report (document A/71/495/Add.1) of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).

Also speaking today were representatives of Dominica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community, Hungary, Singapore and Romania.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.