62nd Session of the General Assembly - Statement by H.E. Ambassador João Salgueiro, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations at the Plenary Meeting under agenda item 9 "Report of the Security Council" and under agenda item 122 "Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters" - New York, November 12th, 2007
I would like to start by thanking you for convening this meeting and for providing us with an opportunity to make an assessment of the state of play on Security Council reform and to reflect on how should this process be moved forward, seizing the productive and substantive work done in the 61st session of the General Assembly.
I would also like to express my appreciation to the Permanent Representative of Indonesia for the introduction of the annual report of the Security Council.
Two years have already elapsed since the 2005 World Summit when our Heads of State and Government declared “We support early reform of the Security Council – an essential element of our overall effort to reform the United Nations (…)”.
In these two years we devoted most of our attention and energy to other aspects of UN reform and, as a result of our joint efforts, important results were achieved, showing that a convergence of political will is attainable even in the most complex issues.
And in the 61st session some new momentum on SC reform was regained. We thank the former President of the General Assembly for her commitment to this objective and for putting in place a methodology of work that lead to the elaboration of two far sighted reports.
We wish to seize this occasion to commend the work done by our prestigious, competent and skillful colleagues the Permanent Representatives of Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and Tunisia and to congratulate them for the quality of the reports they have prepared.
While exploring new and innovative ideas based on the two different concepts of transitional approaches and intermediary arrangements, the reports made in the 61st session managed to the debates away from the repetition of initial static positions and introduced a new dynamic in the discussions.
This approach allowed us to witness some movement in the realm of SC reform.
Many questions still remain open in the different chapters addressed by the two reports, notably with respect to the review exercise, the categories of membership, the question of regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and the working methods.
The Portuguese positions on these issues are on record. At this stage, I would just like to highlight two very important notions that emerged from the work done in the 61st session and that we find in tune with our longstanding positions:
- One is that the debates held during the last session and the reports I have mentioned stressed the need to take into due consideration the concerns of medium-sized and small states.
We were wary of some ideas flagged during the debates in the 61st session which pointed to the notion that the interests of medium-sized and small countries should be dealt with in the framework of the working methods assuming that agreement on SC expansion was, first and foremost, a matter of concern just for major and medium powers.
Notwithstanding the apparent importance of enhanced working methods ensuring better access to the work of the SC, we are of the view that SC enlargement (which definitely needs to be pursued) must contemplate also the concerns of medium-sized and small states and take in consideration its impact on the relative position of those States among the International Community.
After all, we must not lose sight of the fact that according to article 24 of the Charter the Security Council acts on behalf of all Member States.
- The other one is the conclusion by the April report of the five facilitators that a definitive solution to the question of the veto might not be feasible at this stage and that thus Member States may wish to address it in the framework of the review process.
In fact, it is our belief that the requirement for concurring votes established in article 27, paragraph 3 of the Charter, should not be expanded beyond the current permanent members of the Security Council.
Now we are facing the responsibility of making good use of the work done in the 61st session to seize and build on the momentum achieved so that further progress can be attained in the current GA session.
We need to find appropriate ways to materialize the provisions of paragraphs d) and e) of the decision enshrined in the report of the Open Ended Working Group (A/61/47). We rely on your guidance, experience and wise advice in the process of defining the best way to move forward.
But we also know that your authority and wisdom cannot replace the political will of the membership and its ability to strike compromises.
As the June report of the two facilitators puts it “While the continued leadership of the President of the General Assembly will be essential, substantive input from Member States will be indispensable in order to take the discussions to the next stage (…)”. And referring to the recommendation to start intergovernmental negotiations, the facilitators concluded that “Member states should have primary ownership of such a process”.
Portugal stands ready to engage in a process of negotiations that is truly intergovernmental as well as open, transparent and inclusive. This may sound mere jargon but we believe it is profoundly true, in particular in the subject of SC reform, in which every Member State has a stake.
Thank you, Mr. President