Introductory remarks by Ambassador Katalin Bogyay on "Regional representation and size of the future Council" at the Senior Officials meeting on UN Security Council Reform, held on Rome on 21-22 May 2015.
Dear Friends, Excellencies, Colleagues,
It is most appropriate that we have gathered in ROME, the city of eternity to discuss the enlargement and reform of the Security Council. It is the question of ETERNITY of the United Nations.
As you all know, Hungary is a committed and active supporter of the Security Council reform.
I am happy to participate in this event that cannot be more Member State driven. In the same time, I am glad to see that, for the first time in many years, we might have a chance to break out of self-repeating cycles of negotiations.
I believe that collecting the latest opinions of the Member States gave the entire process a new impetus.
Now, it is time to further unpack those proposals, as it also gives the opportunity for us to revisit, clarify or modify ideas.
Also I believe in the power of dialogue, we are equally open to creative new ideas that could achieve a good outcome.
Turning to today’s topic, let us remember, let me add the fact that the only reform of the Security Council took place in 1965, when the number of the non-permanent members was increased from 6 to 10. The reason for increase was to mirror the growth and changes in the membership (115), compared to the 50 members at the time of its foundation.
Fifty years passed, and no further reforms have been undertaken, while the membership has witnessed similar increase, as it now stands at 193. This also means huge changes in the size and configuration of the regional groups. Reform is as warranted as it had been in 1965.
We have a general agreement that the new political, and socio-economic changes should be reflected again in the size and configuration of the Security Council. The creation of a Council that is broadly representative, efficient and transparent is our shared responsibility.
There is no clear guidance yet, with regard to how this goal can be achieved. However, based on the inputs to the Framework Document, now we have a collection of proposals, directly from Member States and groups, in a more uniform and structured manner.
In order to structure our discussions today, let me put on the table three interrelated questions that all have bearings on the issue of size and regional representation.
1./ In which categories do we want to enlarge the Council? There is a convergence of positions around three main suggestions. One is to enlarge in both traditional categories. The other is to create a new interim category with longer periods and immediately renewable mandate as a temporary arrangement, and also to enlarge the non-permanent members. These two options could clearly result is a larger Council with similar numbers. The third main option would be to enlarge in the non-permanent category only, resulting in a smaller Council.
2./ Opinions on the size of the future Security Council are strongly influenced by the answers to the first question. The proposals now range between low twenties (20-23) and mid-twenties 25-26 or even 27, where the number of permanent members range between 7 and 11, and number non-permanent members range between 14 to 16.
To unpack this second issue, I would to propose a discussion on size and effectiveness. Is there, by definition, a negative correlation between size and effectiveness? Can negative effects be mitigated? Can we establish a “cut-off” number, beyond which there is no hope for a working Council? What is that number? Or can we say that size can become of secondary importance; therefore, we should be able to examine all options on their merits, even if resulting in 27 members?
3./ And here we come to the regional representation. Article 23 of the Charter calls for the application of the principle of “equitable geographical distribution” of seats. Unfortunately, there is now a clear dichotomy between the size of regional groups and their representation in the Council. The various proposals, while differing in detail, clearly want to rectify this situation. Some new ideas also emerged, such as securing seats for sub-regional and cross-regional groups, notably the Arab Group, small and medium sized countries, for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), etc.
The guiding questions for this segment could be: Are we ready to observe the principle of equitable geographical distribution in all categories? Can the interim category be adequate answer to the unbalance in the permanent seats? Do we need something else, than this principle to make the Council representative? How can the principle of geographical distribution be reconciled with enlargement based on creating seats for sub-regional or cross-regional groups? Can “regional representation” be interpreted to create seats for regional organizations? We do not think that this latter interpretation is a valid one.
While the subject is rich in content, let’s see how far we can get in unpacking it. More importantly, let’s use the power of dialogue in order to understand positions better, which, in turn, could give us a chance for moving closer to each other on substance.
All proposals contain acceptable elements and, therefore, can be utilized as basis for further negotiations. The final solution does not necessarily have to be one of the proposals, but rather, a combination of their elements.
Let us exchange opinions, narrow down differences and identify areas of consensus on these issues.
Hungary supports enlargement in the number of permanent and non-permanent seats.
Should it find consensus, Hungary does not exclude an interim or compromise solution, where a new category of immediately renewable seats is created for longer periods than two years.
Decisions on the enlargement in the permanent or other new proposed intermediate categories shall not jeopardize enlargement in the non-permanent category, which is uniformly supported by the international community.
In order to provide opportunity for more countries to take up responsibilities in the Council, and to ensure adequate balance, enlargement in the non-permanent category shall, at least, match the enlargement in the permanent or any other new category.
Hungary supports a simple and understandable enlargement model that must be based on the UN Charter, that is, equitable regional distribution.
Hungary does not reject, á priori, other supplementary models such as representation of sub-regional and cross-regional groups. However, in that case, allocation of seats to regional groups should be adjusted in order to maintain the balance among them.
As Ambassador of Poland already said: Hungary and many other EEG members request another non-permanent seat for the Eastern European Group. The membership of the EEG has grown from 10 countries in 1965 (when non-permanent membership was expanded to 10) to the current number of 23 Member States. This request stands under any enlargement model to be agreed to by the international community.
We are very close in this glorious city to the Forum Romanum which has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history! The teeming heart of ancient Rome makes me wish to stay here! But now we go back to the new world – New York – and let us continue with the step-by-step approach and try to get to the text based negotiations. For that let me salute my dear friend, the Ambassador of Jamaica for his determination and stamina and wish him good luck with our eternal question.
And thank you again ROME, for this most important Forum Romanum of ours.