‘Negotiations should not be held hostage’: India, 3 others on UNSC reform

India has joined hands with Brazil, Germany and Japan to call for expediting the process for reforming the UN Security Council, with the four countries saying that inter-governmental negotiations on the issue have dragged on for more than a decade without substantial progress.

The four countries, also known as G4, outlined their position in a common letter submitted to the President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, on Monday. They demanded action for transforming the UN Security Council in line with “Common African Position”, and said negotiations shouldn’t be held “hostage, procedurally and substantially, by those who do not wish to bring about reform”.

India’s letter, submitted by the deputy permanent representative to the UN, K Nagaraj Naidu, referred to the draft decision regarding roll-over of the inter-governmental negotiations on equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council, and said this process “must capture clearly the tangible progress” made in two meetings held earlier this year.

The letter said clear progress was made in the negotiations this year with member states backing the “Common African Position” as laid down in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, and the “urgent need for transparency and application of the General Assembly’s rules of procedure to the inter-governmental negotiations”.

The Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, containing the common African position on reform of the UN Security Council, were developed by a committee on UN reform established by the African Union Summit in 2005.

“The growing support for the Common African Position has, in fact, been reinforced not in one but multiple forums, and from multiple groups,” the letter said. The concept was also backed by the Non-Aligned Movement, comprising 120 states, in October 2019 and by G4 in a foreign ministers’ joint statement in September 2019.

“Consequently, it is only correct and fair that the growing support expressed for the Common African Position in the two meetings of the [inter-governmental negotiations] earlier this year are captured in the body of the roll-over decision. Otherwise, we will be in the danger of endorsing an incorrect perspective of this year’s work and give an impression that nothing has transpired,” the letter said.

The letter also emphasised the need to redress the “historical injustice against Africa” and to “ensure better African representation in a reformed Security Council in line with the Common African Position”.

India and the three other countries also expressed their concerns about the inter-governmental negotiations since 2009, saying “there has been practically no progress in the discussions”.

“Even the discussions are dubbed as informal and the UNGA rules of procedure do not apply. In eleven years, the situation has not changed. There has been no attempt to capture the discussions in a single consolidated text for negotiations,” the letter said.

“In fact, the [inter-governmental negotiations] process has become a convenient smokescreen to hide behind for those who do not wish to see any reform in the Security Council. Consequently, there is a need to ensure that the process is not held hostage, procedurally and substantially, by those who do not wish to bring about reform in the Security Council,” it further said.

“If this happens, and there are indications that this is already happening, those who demand reform will be forced to look for other ways to achieve the same end outside the [inter-governmental negotiations] process,” it added.

The letter also noted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ call on July 18 for reform of the Security Council. It quoted him as saying, “The nations that came out on top more than seven decades ago have refused to contemplate the reforms needed to change power relations in international institutions…Inequality starts at the top: in global institutions.”

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