Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership

Statement by Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Permanent Representative of Cuba, in his capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, at the Joint Debate of the General Assembly on items 9 "Report of the Security Council" and 111 "Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership" of the Security Council and related matters. New York , 11 December , 2006

Madam President:

I have the honour to address the General Assembly on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement.

First of all we thank His Excellency Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al- Nasser, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar and President of the Security Council for the month of December for the presentation of the Report of the Security Council. I avail myself of this opportunity to appreciate on behalf of NAM the excellent job that Qatar is doing as a member of the Council.

The Report of the Security Council was approved by that organ just last Wednesday, less than a week ago and it was published as an official document just a few days ago. NAM considers that this very late presentation of the Report does not contribute to its deep and comprehensive consideration by the General Assembly. We sincerely hope that this situation will not happen again in the future. This is a very important item in our agenda and all Member States need a reasonable period of time to prepare for this debate.

NAM takes note that this year the Report has a format and approach very similar to previous year. Clearly, much more should be done regarding the contents of the Report.

We call on the Security Council to submit a more comprehensive and analytical annual report to the General Assembly, assessing the work of the Council, including such cases in which the Council has failed to act, as well as the views expressed by its members during the consideration of the agenda items under its consideration.

We also call on the Security Council, pursuant to Articles 15 (1) and 24 (3) of the UN Charter, to submit special reports for the consideration of the General Assembly.

The Presidents of the Security Council should also ensure that their monthly assessments are comprehensive and analytical, and issued in a timely fashion.

Madam President:

We oppose the tendency to equate reform of the UN with greater empowerment of the Security Council, mindful of the need to keep the balance among the functions and powers of the principal organs of the UN.

The Security Council must fully observe all Charter provisions as well as all General Assembly resolutions, which clarify its relationship with the latter organ and other principal organs. In this context, we affirm that Article 24 of the Charter does not necessarily provide the Security Council with the competence to address issues which fall within the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the ECOSOC, including in the areas of norm-setting , legislation and establishing definitions, bearing in mind that the Assembly is primarily tasked with the progressive development of international law and its codification.

We call the attention about the danger of encroachment by the Security Council on issues which clearly fall within the functions and powers of other principal organs of the UN and their subsidiary bodies. Close cooperation and coordination among all principal organs is highly indispensable in order to enable the UN to remain relevant and capable of meeting the existing, new and emerging threats and challenges.

NAM stresses once again that the decision by the Security Council to initiate formal or informal discussions on the situation in any Member State or any issue that does not constitute a threat to international peace and security is contrary to Article 24 of the Charter.

In this context the Non Aligned Movement:

- Call on the Presidents of the General Assembly, the ECOSOC and the Security Council to conduct regular discussions and coordination among themselves regarding the agenda and programme of work of the respective principal organs that they represent;

- Call on the Security Council to fully take into account the recommendations of the General Assembly on matters relating to international peace and security, consistent with Article 11 (2) of the Charter; and

- Oppose and stop attempts to shift issues under the agenda of the General Assembly or the ECOSOC to the Security Council, and the encroachment by the latter on the functions and powers of the Assembly.

The NAM expresses grave concern at instances wherein the Security Council fails to address cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or ceasefire between parties, in fulfilment of its primary responsibility in this regard.

We emphasize that in such instances where the Security Council has not fulfilled its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the General Assembly should take appropriate measures in accordance with the Charter to address the issue.

Madam President:

The Movement remains concern at the lack of progress in the discussions in the General Assembly on the reform of the Security Council. The discussions therein have shown that while a convergence of views has emerged on a number of issues, major differences still exist on many others, and that while there have been some improvements made to the working methods of the Council, they have not satisfied even the minimum expectations of the general membership of the UN, leaving much room for improvement.

Reform of the Security Council should not be confined only to the question of membership and it should address substantive issues relating to the Council's agenda, working methods and decision-making process.

In recent years, the Security Council has been too quick to threaten or authorise enforcement action in some cases while being silent and inactive in others. Furthermore, the Council has been increasingly resorting to Chapter VII of the Charter as an umbrella for addressing issues that do not necessarily pose an immediate threat to international peace and security.

Instead of excessive and quick use of Chapter VII, efforts should be made to fully utilize the provisions of Chapters VI and VIII for the pacific settlement of disputes. Chapter VII should be invoked, as intended, as a measure of last resort. Unfortunately, provisions of Articles 41 and 42 in some cases have been too quickly resorted to while the other options had not been fully exhausted.

The Security Council imposed sanctions remain an issue of serious concern to Non-Aligned Countries. In accordance with the UN Charter, sanctions should be considered to be imposed only after all means of peaceful settlement of disputes under Chapter VI of the Charter have been exhausted and a thorough consideration undertaken of the short-term and long-term effects of such sanctions.

The objectives of sanctions are not to punish or otherwise exact retribution on the populace. In this regard, the objectives of sanctions regimes should be clearly defined, and its imposition should be for a specified timeframe, be based on tenable legal grounds, and it should be lifted as soon as the objectives are achieved.

Madam President:

NAM considers that transparency, openness and consistency are key elements that the Security Council should observe in all its activities, approaches and procedures.

Regrettably, the Council has neglected these important factors on numerous occasions. Such instances include unscheduled open debates with selective notification, reluctance in convening open debates on some issues of high significance, restricting participation in some of the open debates, among others.

The Council must comply with the provisions of Article 31 of the Charter, which allow any non-Council member to participate in discussions on matters affecting it. Closed meetings and informal consultations should be kept to a minimum and as the exception they were meant to be.

It is the position of NAM that among the objectives of reform of the Security Council, which should be addressed in a comprehensive, transparent and balanced manner, are as follows:

o to ensure that the agenda of the Council reflects the needs and interests of both developing and developed countries, in an objective, rational, non-selective and non-arbitrary manner;

o to ensure that the enlargement of the Council would lead to a more democratic, more representative, more accountable and more effective Council;

o to ensure that the Rules of Procedure of the Council, which have remained provisional for more than 50 years, are formalised in order to improve its transparency and accountability;

o to democratise the decision-making process of the Council, including by limiting and curtailing the use of the veto with a view to its eventual elimination. In this context, the concept of voluntary "self-restraint" is insufficient and cannot be considered as an option.

Additional options regarding the veto that could be considered include, inter alia: o Limiting the exercise of the veto right to actions taken by the Council under Chapter VII of the Charter. o The possibility of overruling the veto within the Council by an affirmative vote of a certain number of Member States, commensurate with the size of an expanded Council. o The possible overruling of the veto by a two-third majority vote in the General Assembly under the Uniting for Peace procedure and under progressive interpretation of Articles 11 and 24 (1) of the Charter.

The Non Aligned Movement emphasises the need to take the following measures:
o Call on the Council to increase the number of public meetings, and that these meetings should provide real opportunities to take into account the views and contributions of the wider membership of the UN, particularly non-Council members whose affairs are under the discussion of the Council;

o Call on the Security Council to allow briefings by the Special Envoys or Representatives of the Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat to take place in public meetings, unless in exceptional circumstances;

o Call on the Council to further enhance its relationship with the UN Secretariat and troop contributing countries (TCC), including through a sustained, regular and timely interaction.

o Call on the Council to ensure that its subsidiary organs function in a manner that would provide adequate and timely information on their activities to the general UN membership.

I would like to conclude, Madam President, extending our best wishes of success to the incoming new members of the Security Council: Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa .

You can always count on the Non Aligned Movement willingness to engage constructively in consultations and work towards democratising the Security Council as an effective forum in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Thank you very much

Comments to : Copyright New Media Services Inc. © 2006. The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of shunpiking magazine or New Media Publications. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. Copyright of written and photographic and art work remains with the creators.