UN Adopts Document For Landmark Security Council Reforms

14/09/2015 10:25 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Lithuanian MFA/Flickr
Lithuania along with the United Kingdom, South Korea, Rwanda and Nigeria abstained in the vote on the draft resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations Security Council on 30 December. The resolution fell short of the required number of needed votes. Eight countries voted in favour, while the US and Australia voted against it. UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

United Nations—The United Nations General Assembly adopted on Monday a negotiating text by consensus for the Security Council reforms, setting the stage for talks on the long pending process at the 70th session of the global body which commences Tuesday.

UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa, who convened a plenary meeting here to take action on the draft decision on the "Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters", also circulated letters containing the positions of key countries including Russia, the US and China which refused to contribute to the negotiating text.

There was no voting on the decision to continue text-based UNSC reforms in the 70th session of the General Assembly and it was adopted by consensus.

The draft decision contains a negotiating text, which has positions of UN member states on Security Council reform and how the powerful 15-nation body should be expanded in its permanent and non-permanent categories.

The adoption is a significant step towards beginning talks on the long-stalled reforms process in the 70th session of the Assembly on the basis of a negotiating text, a first in the last seven years of Inter-Governmental Negotiations that have been conducted so far without the basis of any text.

With the 69th session of the General Assembly concluding Tuesday, Kutesa presented the text for adoption and to be carried forward to the 70th session beginning on the same day.

Kutesa had achieved a breakthrough of sorts by circulating the text to UN members that will form the basis for the Inter-Governmental negotiations on the reform of the Security Council.

With the adoption, the General Assembly decided to "immediately continue Inter-Governmental Negotiations on Security Council reform in informal plenary of the General Assembly at its 70th session, building on the informal meetings held during its 69th session, as well as the positions and proposals made by member states, reflected in the text and its annex circulated by the President of the General Assembly in his letter dated July 31, 2015".

Kutesa had informed member states about the draft in a letter dated September 10 to all Permanent Representatives.

The draft also states that an open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council will be convened during the 70th session "if member states so decide".

Kutesa had appointed Jamaica's Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray to chair on his behalf the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform.

Kutesa, in a letter to all UN members in July, had circulated the text containing the positions of countries on Security Council reform and how the UN body should be expanded in its permanent and non-permanent categories.

He also circulated letters containing the positions of groups and member states that indicated they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the negotiating text. These countries include the US, Russia and China.

India has maintained that the process to expand the powerful UN body "cannot be seen to be an exercise ad infinitum" and a results-based timeline is crucial to achieve a concrete outcome.

"Those who ask for not imposing artificial timelines may be advised to desist from inflicting artificial delays on this process," India's Ambassador to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukerji had said in the past.

India has stressed that negotiations on the council reform over the last seven years have been conducted without the basis of any text, with nations making statements, repeatedly of known positions, without any effort to narrow differences or find a compromise language.

Sources said that India feels that the 70th anniversary of the UN, being commemorated this year, is an appropriate milestone to propel the reform process, which should be completed within the next one year.

India has received support from France and the UK, the two remaining permanent members of the Security Council.

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