Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Statement by Ambassador Tanin at the Global Governance and Security Council Reform

Statement by

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiation on the Security Council Reform

At the meeting on Global Governance and Security Council Reform


Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to begin by extending my appreciation to the Honorable Minister Frattini and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting this important meeting on Global Governance and Security Council Reform. I would also like to thank the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Joseph Deiss, for his remarks. I also wish to express my gratitude to H.E. Mr. Cesar Ragaglini and his able staff for arranging our participation in this meeting.

I am pleased to be here among the distinguished participants of today’s meeting in my capacity as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform. This is the second time the Italian Government has initiated an event such as this, and it is testament to the high level of importance Italy places on the issue of Security Council reform.

Mr. Chair,

Since the launch of the intergovernmental negotiations in February 2009, we have come a long way. The walls and roadblocks separating different positions have begun to be dilapidated, bringing member states into an open environment of dialogue in which negotiations can take place.

In the last three years, we have undergone six rounds of negotiations. For the first time, we have developed a negotiation text, a well-assorted ensemble of positions, which became the basis for our negotiations. This is in itself a historic achievement.

Just this year, in the General Assembly, we have together been able to come with a streamlined version of the negotiation text, which sets the stage for a new phase of negotiations that can facilitate the movement towards garnering a solution.

The text can be the jumping off point for bigger things. It can be a framework for further progress, as it gives us a clear picture of Member States’ positions and where they stand. But at this point, we need to ensure that we are all able to actively engage with the next steps.

Mr. Chair,

What we currently witness is a high level of interest by all Member States and stakeholders of the process of reform. We have seen some flexibility across the membership, and a real political will for reform, and that is how we have reached this point. But it is not enough, and that is why we do not have a solution yet.

At this juncture, all Member States must make more effort to understand each other. Everyone dedicated to the reform has a legitimate perspective. I ask Member States to put themselves in the shoes of their counterparts. Make every attempt to understand their concerns, the origins of their positions, and the reasoning behind their words and actions.  Without a deeper, mutual understanding, the process cannot continue to progress.

Now, as we are just months away from the end of the 65th session of the General Assembly, I hope we will be able to make sufficient progress as called for by Member States. I repeat as I have always said, I am impartial to any position, but partial to progress.

Mr. Chair,

There are four guiding principles that are essential to moving the Security Council reform process forward and for maintaining the integrity of the process:  flexibility, compromise, courage and transparency:

  1. Flexibility requires an exceptional level of openness in understanding of others’ positions. And a willingness to accept the “possibles” of today. Flexibility is in fact a byword for realism in our work.
  2. Compromise is, in effect, a real give and take process in negotiations, which is inherent in any negotiation and at the end of the day should ultimately take us to an agreed solution.
  3. Courage is essential, as, in fact, progress depends on brave, bold steps to be taken by Member States, both from Missions and Capitals.  It is important to employ all diplomatic multilateral and bilateral means in order to unearth an agreed model of reform.
  4. Transparency is the key; the process is only successful if it continues to be transparent, inclusive and open. The entire process of negotiations is built upon the trust of all, and this will continue to be our guiding lodestar.

Mr. Chair,

We all committed to an early reform of the Security Council and the negotiation process is urged on by that noble objective. While we cannot rush in, the process cannot wait forever. It is difficult to anticipate the exact timeframe of an outcome, but it is also important that no stone should remain unturned to bridge the gaps. In the end, undoubtedly, it is the political will of Member States that will take us to an agreement with the widest possible support. The reform is up to you. It is up to you to reach across the aisle and forge a solution.

Our process has not hit the wall, however, we have need all hands on deck to move us forward. I am sure we are not short of imagination, but it is the will of Member States that is essential.

Mr. Chair,

We are operating on the heart of the organization. One slip of the hand, and we will attenuate the patient. I am still optimistic, and for as long as I can remain helpful to the process, I will shoulder my part of the responsibility – by creating and maintaining an environment, which facilitates open negotiations on Security Council Reform.

I thank you.

Global Governance and Security Council Reform Conference in Rome

On Monday 16 May the Italian Foreign Ministry held a conference on Global Governance and Security Council Reform with 123 countries represented by ministers and representatives to share their views. The aim of the conference is the backdrop of a quickly changing world and a need to adapt the United Nations Security Council accordingly in the name of good global governance.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, H.E. Franco Frattini, chaired the Forum in Rome, and gave remarks in which he pointed out the motivation of the meeting, noting that, “dialogue and a spirit of compromise are the only way to arrive at a reform.” He then presented the three issues of the conference: Regional Dimension, Methods and Procedures, and Principles for Representation.

President of the General Assembly, H.E. Joseph Deiss gave introductory remarks about the urgent need for reform, describing the key concepts that in his view should underlie the process as, “Broadest possible support, Respect for the fundamental values of the UN, Simplicity, Efficiency, and Flexibility.”

“I am not pleading for a specific solution,” President Deiss said “…the decision to forge a solution lies with you. But be assured…I am determined that progress on this issue can be made during my presidency.”

H.E. Frattini then asked H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, to share his views.  Ambassador Tanin spoke about the Security Council reform process and its current developments as well as the necessary principles to guide the way forward.

In its 6th round, the intergovernmental negotiations, which began in 2009 have been the forum for developing a text, “a well-assorted ensemble of positions,” that has become the basis for negotiations. “This is in itself a historic achievement,” said Ambassador Tanin, and “can be a jumping off point for bigger things.” He reiterated his position as chair, “impartial to any position but partial to progress,” and explained the guiding principles on the way forward and for maintaining the integrity of the process, “Flexibility, Compromise, Courage and Transparency.”  While he recognized that early reform is the noble objective for all, he noted that rushing the process would be a mistake and that it is the will of member states that will drive the process. “We are operating on the heart of the organization,” he said, “One slip of the hand and we will attenuate the patient.”

Others spoke generally giving their countries’ positions on the process and reform.

Just days earlier, on the Margins of the Doha Forum in Qatar, the Foreign Ministry of Qatar hosted a workshop on Security Council Reform on 12-13 May. Nearly 40 diplomats as well as experts from academia and NGOs participated. H.E. Mr. Muhammad A.M. Al-Rumaihi, Assistant Foreign Minister of Qatar gave opening remarks in which he highlighted the importance of Security Council Reform for international stability. He then gave the floor to H.E. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN, who highlighted the purpose of the day and a half long workshop, to be an informal exchange of ideas between different positions on Security Council Reform and the way forward. Ambassador Tanin shared his perspective before chairing the meeting. He recognized that the meeting was unique in that there was a combination of representatives from Missions and capitals as well as members of NGOs and Academia.  In that regard, he expressed optimism about the open-minded nature of the debate that would ensue.

Throughout the course of the next day and a half, participants shared their perspectives.  It was repeatedly expressed by diplomats that it was refreshing to hear the perspectives of “outsiders” from NGOs and academia, who were able to speak candidly about their views without the limitations of diplomacy. Several workshop participants also expressed that the event allowed them to better understand each others’ views.

“It was important for the diplomats involved in the process in the formal track of the Security Council Reform to have a very informal and friendly forum to brainstorm, to take a breath, and create a friendly atmosphere to discover some of the gaps and commonalities in order to inform their work going forward,” said Tariq Al-Ansari, Counselor of the Qatar Mission to the UN, and the coordinator of the workshop.

Both events represented Member State efforts to discuss the reform process, but it was overtly recognized at both that the only forum in which real negotiations about Security Council Reform and in which decisions can be made on the issue remains in the General Assembly.