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Security Council reform very divisive process

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Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, addresses a news conference on Friday, March 8, 2019, at the UN headquarters, (Photo: UN/IANS) by .
Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, addresses a news conference

UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa has called the long-stalled Security Council reform process “very divisive” and “contentious” and said that to move forward, it has to avoid becoming a “zero sum game”…writes Arul Louis

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, addresses a news conference on Friday, March 8, 2019, at the UN headquarters, (Photo: UN/IANS) by .
Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, addresses a news conference

The co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) for Council reforms, Permanent Representatives Lana Zaki Nusseibeh of the United Arab Emirates and Christian Braun of Luxembourg, whom she had appointed “are both putting a lot of effort and they are working, engaging with all member states, trying to pull together the different positions, trying to look at the commonalities to see how we can tackle the issue in order to avoid the zero sum game”, Espinosa said on Friday at a news conference here.

Espinosa sidestepped a question if she expected India to become a permanent member of the Council for which it has been campaigning intensively.

“It is true that people are getting impatient after 10 years of the IGN,” she said.

Giving a downbeat assessment of the main hurdle to reforming the Council, she said: “Perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this because I’m supposed to be neutral, but sometimes we see the security Council reform as an either or and in black and white issue.”

The reform process has been stuck in a procedural groove unable to even get an agreement on a negotiating text — an agenda-setting document on which to base the discussions on envisioning a Council reflecting the 21st century realities.

A group of 13 countries led by Italy that call themselves United for Consensus (UfC) have blocked progress by preventing the adoption of the negotiating text by claiming that it can come only after there is a consensus on reforms, which is elusive without a basic document.

Pakistan is also a part of the group whose members each want to prevent a particular country from getting permanent membership.

Speaking of the enormity of the task of getting 193 members of the UN to work together, she said, “It is not an easy issue. I want to be very open and frank with you. It is very divisive, it is contentious.

“I think we have to make sure that the process continues, that all member states engage and we pull and push and push and pull and walk the extra mile.”

She pointed out that “this is very much a member-state driven process” – where the member nations have to decide on the reforms.

“My role as president is to accompany, to lead, to make sure the process continues, to make sure that it is an inclusive process, that it is transparent.”

While the reform of the structure of the Council may seem distant, she said that meanwhile there were many things that could be done to improve the working of the Council.

The 10 non-permanent members of the Council are already working towards this “de facto” by improving the working methods and increasing the transparency of the Council.

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