NEW YORK, APRIL 4 – Nine new non permanent seats with a longer mandate plus two new two-years non permanent seats equals a 21 members’ Security Council more representative of regional groups such as Africa and under-representative groups like the Small Island Developing States and small States in general: this are the numbers of the proposal advanced by the Italian permanent representative to the United Nations Mariangela Zappia on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus group. Zappia addressed an informal two-day meeting of the General Assembly on the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.
Noting that the ratio of Member States to elected seats within the Security Council has increased dramatically in the last decades, Zappia observed that this has had a major impact on how representative this body actually is: in 1945, with only six non-permanent members and 51 United Nations members, it was 1 seat per fewer than 8 countries. Today, it is 1 seat per 19 countries.
Better accessibility to the Council is an issue that must be addressed. It is closely linked to the pressing need to strengthen multilateralism through a more representative and legitimate Council. Uniting for Consensus believes that the responsibility in the maintenance of peace and security should be shouldered by a much wider group of Countries. In particular, an emphasis should be placed on those regions of the world that are now under-represented: Africa to start, but also Arab Countries, Asian Countries, to Latin America and the Small Island Developing States. “These are groups and countries that can provide a real added value to the work of the Security Council, especially on new challenges to peace and security – like climate change”, said the Italian Ambassador: “This is why the UfC supports an enlargement of the Council that would bring the number of elected non-permanent seats to twenty-one in a new twenty-six-member Security Council. For the same reason, an enlargement of the Security Council to a few new Permanent members, if implemented, would result in an even greater gap between Security Council representation and the UN membership, contrary to the intent of the Security Council reform”.
The enlargement of the Security Council to 26 members would be beneficial to counteract the threat of a veto by one of the five permanent members which has proven to be one of the major obstacles for Security Council deliberations. Decisions will continue to be made according to the provisions of Art. 27 of the Charter, while the number of affirmative votes required for decision-making will be increased to remain consistent with the 60% circa affirmatives votes required in the current Security Council. Zappia noted that during Italy and the Netherland’s recent term in the Security Council “we experienced that coordination and action among elected members was a useful tool to overcome stalemates in the Council, to foster participation of civil society, and to shine a spotlight on crosscutting issues”. (@OnuItalia)