New text could propel Security Council reform negotiations, says UN chair

3 March 2010
Ambassador Zahir Tanin

The official overseeing negotiations on reforming the United Nations Security Council says that Member States will contribute by Friday to a text that will focus the next round of discussions and could help wrap up a process that has been ongoing for 17 years.

“I believe that a legitimate text will give the negotiations a shot in the arm by focusing further discussions,” Zahir Tanin, Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, told journalists today in New York.

“It can be a framework for negotiations but it is up to the Member States to make it work by engaging with one another,” he added.

The 15-member Council has not changed since its creation following the Second World War. Five permanent members hold veto power – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – and 10 non-permanent members, with no veto, are elected for two-year terms.

Some countries have argued that this structure does not represent the realities of today’s world. Key issues under discussion are the category of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and the Council’s working methods and its relationship with the General Assembly.

Mr. Tanin, who is also the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, had requested Member States as groups to submit in writing by 5 March its positions to the key issues.

He stressed that he is looking for “something concrete from the Member States and in a language that is useful for negotiations,” and which through an “open, transparent, inclusive process” could be turned into a “legitimate and helpful” document.

Mr. Tanin praised the Assembly for moving the process forward from an open-ended working group, first established in 1994, to intergovernmental negotiations that will ultimately make the decision on reform.

“For the first time, negotiations will be based on a legitimate document,” said Mr. Tanin. “I am optimistic, we have the chance to move the process forward now, but in any negotiations the result only emerges only at the very end preceded by a lot of twists and turns.”


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