Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson,
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Sixty-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Report of the Security Council ;
Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership
of the Security Council and related matters : Joint debate.
At the outset, I, as others, would like to thank the President of the Security Council for the month of December for presenting the Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly. I will, however, limit my brief statement to the other agenda issue, namely the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters.
On 22 November in Geneva Secretary-General Kofi Annan made a strong statement for the reform of the Security Council, saying for example that unless the Security Council is expanded, solutions to various issues are more difficult or even not possible to reach. We have, as the President of the General Assembly stated this morning, to (and I quote) “…be prepared to look at this matter with a fresh and open mind so that we can make substantial progress”.
Through the discussions year after year in the open ended working group and elsewhere everyone knows the fundamental arguments of most other member states on the composition of the Security Council. Unfortunately nothing new in that field has taken place during more than one year now and there is as a result in fact a certain loss of momentum to be felt now. Or as my Japanese colleague stated a few minutes ago, and I quote “discussion on the expansion of the Council has stalemated”, end of quote. We do indeed need to move forward with the open minds as my Egyptian colleague described before our lunch break and my Czech colleague this afternoon and my German colleague just now.
The General Assembly has discussed reform of the Security Council for more than a decade without a comprehensive agreement on reforms in sight. The 2005 High Level Summit expressly acknowledged that early reform of the Security Council was an “essential element of our overall effort to reform the United Nations - in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.” Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has also repeatedly stated that no reform of the United Nations will be complete without the reform of the Security Council. Iceland concurs with his view, as do so many others.
The position of Iceland in this matter is on record. We have for many years advocated reform of the Security Council. The reform should in our view entail a comprehensive reform of the Security Council both in expansion and working methods. There should be an expansion of both the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council. We have hitherto supported the proposal of the G-4 that the membership of the Security Council should be increased from fifteen to twenty-five by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members and we co-sponsered draft resolution A/59/L.64.
I very much liked the expose of my German colleague just now on the relationship between effectiveness and legitimacy and would like to align myself with those words.
Iceland has for many years advocated increased transparency of the work of the Security Council and welcomed the proposal of the so-called S-5 states. We are of the view that the proposal is in harmony with the working methods part of the the G-4 proposal. We all want the Security Council to observe in its activities, approaches and procedures the key elements of transparency, openness and consistency, to paraphrase my Cuban colleague this morning, when he spoke on behalf of the NAM and I would agree with my colleagues from Switzerland and Liechtenstein earlier in this debate that there is still a lot of room for improvement in the working methods of the Security Council.
Iceland attaches great importance to the work of the Security Council and has announced its candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Council for the term 2009 – 2010. Iceland, a UN member since 1946, has never before been a candidate for a seat in the Security Council. We believe that a comprehensive reform of the Security Council is essential in order to represent today’s global realities. We will continue to be actively engaged in seeking progress in this matter. Discussing the matter for another 10 years is not an option, as Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, also said in Geneva, and he continued by saying and I quote: “We need to bring the Council’s structure and membership in line with the realities of the 21st century, and not maintain agreements that cover geopolitical realities of 1945”.
It is clear that compromises are needed to break the seemingly no-end-in-sight discussions. The goal must be to come as close to a consensus as possible through new consultations where the respect for each others’ views are the guiding light. I am sure Ambassador Kenzo of Japan spoke what many of us are thinking when he expressed the hope that the next stage in our consultations will be one that is not only open, but also flexible and creative on all sides.