Likening the unending UN SecurityCouncil reform process to a Greek tragedy enacted every year, India has asserted that an “obsolescent” global governance structure cannot be fit for the purpose to address the challenges of peace and security in the 21st century.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said that “sadly”, the story of the 11 years since the start of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) process for Security Council reform, and 40 years since the inscription of the item on the agenda of the General Assembly, “reads more and more like a Sisyphean struggle”.
“Sitting and listening to this debate every year, one is reminded of the tragic Greek mythological tale of Sisyphus. Cursed by the Gods to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down, dooming him to fruitless toil for eternity,” he said.
Akbaruddin was speaking at the General Assembly plenary meeting on the ‘Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council.’
“We enact this Greek tragedy year after year, oblivious to the warning signals all around us. The signs that global visions are changing, universal norms are shifting and established rules are altering are evident,” Akbaruddin said.
The Indian envoy warned that inaction on the part of the international community to urgently complete the UNSC reform process is not without cost. At a time when the Security Council is being called upon to address increasingly complex issues of international peace and security, the 15-member UN organ finds itself unable to act credibly or even effectively, as it lacks legitimacy and accountability.
“An obsolescent global governance structure cannot be fit for the purpose to address the challenges of peace and security in the twenty-first century,” Akbaruddin said.
“Unlike in the case of the mythical boulder that Sisyphus kept rolling up the hill, our collective failure to deliver on the promise of reforming the Security Council has serious implications for not only the continuing relevance of global governance institutions, but for the lives of millions of ‘we the people’ around the world,”
Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, speaking on behalf of the G-4 nations of Brazil, India, Japan and Germany said procrastinating on reform of the Security Council has lasted decades and change is long overdue.
“We have proven incapable of reforming the United Nations principal organ for international peace and security,” he said.
France, favouring enlargement in both permanent and non-permanent membership of the Security Council, said Germany, India, Brazil and Japan should receive permanent seats, and Africa should be represented in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
Akbaruddin referred to a warning by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the world is breaking apart and the status quo is untenable.
“Yet, every year we fail to find a pathway by which we can agree on something, in our quest to decide on everything, before proceeding on anything,” Akbaruddin added.
With the world organisation slated to commemorate 75 years of its establishment in 2020, Akbaruddin said the landmark year is the most opportune one for undertaking decisive action on UNSC reforms.
“The exercise of Security Council reforms cannot be an unending merry-go-round. This is not an ‘artificial timeline’. The mandate under which we are discussing this subject was agreed to unanimously on the 60th anniversary of the UN. It was a mandate for early reforms,” Akbaruddin said.
He further said that more than 10 years after its start, the IGN has so far been restricted to making repeated statements of known positions, without any genuine effort to narrow differences and discussions have been conducted in a multilateral setting without any text.
“This goes against the very essence of multilateral diplomacy,” Akbaruddin said.
“Several delegations, including mine, have repeatedly stated that an inclusive text which reflects the positions of all delegations is not just the ‘next logical step’, but the ‘only’ step that can lead to negotiations. Absence of a text cannot narrow differences; it is in fact the primary reason for the process not moving forward,” he said.
He said India seeks a structured format of a single document that can be negotiated, one issue at a time, emphasizing that the use of a text for negotiations should not be seen as an expression of bias against any individual country or group of countries.
He stressed that a vast majority of member states are in favour of expansion in permanent and non-permanent categories of membership of the Security Council.
Akbaruddin called for consolidating and building on small, incremental steps forward that would include the Co-Chairs of the process to facilitate a normal process based on an inclusive and holistic document that allows Member States to structure the negotiations transparently.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram, without naming India, opposed the country’s candidacy to the Council and cited the situation in Kashmir.