UNSC reform process depends on will, political commitment of member states: GA President Espinosa
By: Yoshita Singh
United Nations: The UN Security Council reform process depends on the will and political commitment of member states and there is need also for further dialogue with the permanent five members, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa said, emphasizing she will ensure there are “good co-facilitators” to push the negotiations forward.
India has been at the forefront of efforts to push for UN Security Council reforms, maintaining that it rightly deserves a permanent seat at a reformed and expanded Council. India has asserted that the United Nations needs to be adapted to the contemporary needs of the 21st century and for this reforming the Security Council is critical.
“It depends so much on the will and political commitment of member states. Of course, as President I can make sure that the conditions are set but I cannot replace the political will of member states. This is something that I cannot do. I will do my share, make sure that I have good co-facilitators,” Espinosa told PTI in an interview here.
She was responding to a question on the long-pending reform of the 15-nation Security Council and what forward-movement can be expected in the negotiation process in the current session of the General Assembly, under her presidency.
Espinosa, Ecuador’s former foreign minister, was in June elected President of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, becoming only the fourth female president of the 193-member organisation in its 73-year history.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, veteran Indian diplomat and sister of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first woman to be elected President of the General Assembly in as early as 1953. Later, Angie Elisabeth Brooks of Liberia was elected president in 1969 and Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain in 2006.
Espinosa said among her seven priorities as UNGA President is the revitalization of the United Nations. “Sometimes we tend to focus on only one thing, put all the energy there. I am not saying that the UN Security Council reform is not important, it is very important but I think we also need to deliver on other key issues,” she said.
She further said that on Security Council reform, she does not want to send a wrong message or create false expectations. “This is a process that has been going on for 25 years. The Inter-Governmental Negotiation (IGN) was created 10 years ago,” she said, recalling that she was present as her country’s ambassador when the resolution was adopted.
Last month, during the high-level week of the General Assembly, the G4 bloc of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan had said in a joint statement that all aspects of comprehensive reform had been thoroughly discussed several times in the IGN and General Assembly and that it was time to finally initiate text-based negotiations during the 73rd session of the General Assembly, in line with standard operating procedures of the UN General Assembly.
On moving ahead with text-based negotiations in the current session, Espinosa said, “it is very obvious we need also further conversation and dialogue with the permanent five countries. That is a fact. They are very important players in this discussion.”
The veto-wielding five permanent Council members are China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the US.
“I think we should have the opportunity to have an open dialogue with the P-5 countries. It is very important to note that there are a big number of countries that are interested in pushing for text-based negotiations but there are others, not only the P-5 but other countries, that have different positions,” she said.
Espinosa stressed that the role of the General Assembly President is to ensure that all the views are taken into account when dealing with such an important negotiation process.
She said while the Security Council reform is very important, there is also need to deliver on other key issues.
“My work is going to be geared towards three issues – one is to give a political push to the revitalization of the General Assembly. You cannot have one without the other,” she said, adding that focus will be to revitalize and improve the working methods of the General Assembly, to be more effective, more implementation-oriented and to mainstream the work of the UN body.
“There is a lot of work that has been done under the revitalization negotiation process but I think it lacks a little bit of political push. We will make sure that we push the envelope a little bit on that front,” she said.
Also important under the reform umbrella is a new peace and security architecture, a boosted development system grounded at the national and regional levels to deliver better on the Sustainable Development Goals and management reforms that improve the efficiency of the house, she added.
The G-4 grouping, as well as a majority of member states, feel the Council reform should include expansion of both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership to enhance its legitimacy, effectiveness and representativeness, arguing that the current composition of the 15-nation Council does not reflect the changed global realities and cannot effectively address today’s complex challenges. (PTI)
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