The Question of Equitable Representation on the Security Council
Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland
to the United Nations
59th session of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY - 111th PLENARY MEETING
question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters: draft resolution (A/59/L.64)
New York, 11 July 2005
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
I join my Colleagues in thanking you sincerely for holding this meeting on the important matter at hand.
The delicate question of reform of the Security Council has long occupied the work of all of us here at the UN. Indeed, my predecessor served for three years as co-vice-chairman of the Open- ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council. The efforts at that time unfortunately did not prove to be sufficient. The open ended working group has been in existence for eleven and a half years and through detailed and time-consuming discussions that have taken place there and elsewhere; everyone knows the basic views of most other member states on these matters. The majority of the UN Member States have some time ago realized that although a one hundred per cent consensus on these matters would be desirable, it simply is not reachable. The goal therefore is to come as close to a consensus as possible, through extensive consultations and with respect for each others´ views. This process then should culminate with the democratic decision-making at our disposal, that is a vote in this Assembly. We feel that the time for such a decision has now arrived and that the proposal in document A/59/L.64 contains the elements around which the broadest support by the Member States can be gathered.
For many years Iceland has advocated a more representative and legitimate Council. The current composition of the Security Council neither mirrors today's geopolitical realities nor the increased membership of the United Nations. We have consistently underlined our view that reform of the Council is urgent and that the need to bring the Security Council into line with changes that have taken place in the last sixty years is great. We have consistently suggested an increase in permanent and non-permanent seats. Africa must, for example, have permanent seats in our opinion. Iceland actually has repeatedly stated that these changes are long overdue. We concur with the Secretary General that it would be wise to decide on the Security Council reform before the Summit in September.
In the informal consultations of the General Assembly this spring Iceland expressed some concerns that proposed models in earlier documents could make access by smaller states to the Security Council even more difficult, particularly through the reorganization of regional groups. Smaller states make up around half of the UN member states and their participation is an important aspect of the legitimacy of the Security Council.
The Icelandic position on the working methods of the Council is well known. The effectiveness of the Council must not be compromised. The comprehensive reform of the Council must place emphasis on improved working methods, not only the composition. Improved working methods, including more transparency, are important for all member states, not least the smaller ones. We believe that the vast majority of member states can rally around the proposed improvements in the working methods of the Security Council as they are written in Article 8 (a) to (i) of the proposal contained in document A/59/L.64. Implementation by the Security Council of Article 8 (a) to (i) of the proposal will enhance the transparency, inclusiveness and legitimacy of the Security Council and thus add to the understanding of its decisions by all UN member states and thereby increase the Council’s effectiveness.
The draft resolution before us today accommodates the views we have held. Iceland is therefore a co-sponsor of the resolution contained in document A/59/L.64 and urges other countries to support it.
If we grasp this chance for Security Council reform, sixty years after the founding of the UN, the United Nations will strengthen its role as the global forum for the maintenance of peace and security for the coming, and no doubt challenging, future. Let us not miss this historic opportunity.
Thank you Mr. President