Pakistan on Thursday urged the Group of Four (G-4) countries (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan), who are seeking permanent seats in an enlarged Security Council, to show “flexibility” so as to break the deadlock in the ongoing negotiations aimed at reforming the 15-member body.
“We see the G-4 sticking to their original position, while paradoxically asking others to be flexible,” Ambassador Masood Khan remarked in the course of a General Assembly debate on achieving equitable representation in the Council.
The G-4 stand for expanding the 15-member Council by 10 seats, with 6 additional permanent and four non-permanent members. The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, and 10 non-permanent members that are elected in groups of five to two-year terms on the Council.
The Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, of which Pakistan is a member, opposes any increase in the number of permanent members, but seeks 10 additional non-permanent members to make it a 25-member body, with all decisions concerning the Council reform taken through negotiations and by widest possible consensus.
The Pakistani ambassador told the 193-member Assembly that UfC had demonstrated flexibility by shifting from its initial position to come up with a revised proposal — the Italy-Colombia document. (The Italy-Columbia proposal would create a new category of members — not permanent members — with three to five years duration and a possibility to get re-elected.)
“Our compromise proposal is an attempt to aggregate and reflect the interests of large, medium-sized and small states as well as regions,” Masood Khan said. “Ours is not a take-it-or-leave-it-proposal. It is subject to negotiations.”
The Intergovernmental negotiations on the Security Council reform have been taking place for two decades and key issues under discussion are the category of membership, the question of the veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and the Council’s working methods and its relationship with the General Assembly.
Commenting on G-4’s push for permanent seats, the Pakistani ambassador said for them, other reform issues were peripheral.
“They (G-4) would rather foist their position as a fait accompli,” the Pakistani ambassador said, adding that their position was anchored in power politics. “They seem to be saying that because of their political stature and economic prowess, they now qualify to have a special status at the United Nations; whereas other UN members do not.”
In that regard he said,”We cannot precipitate decisions by mounting political pressure before important anniversaries.” There were no procedural shortcuts, he added.
Masood Khan expressed Pakistan’s continued support for Africa’s greater role in the Security Council.
“We have also expressed our respect and understanding for the African common position, the Ezulwini Consensus, which we see as a collective demand of the entire continent, a position based on consensus and legitimacy,” he said. “This is fundamentally different from the individual pursuit of permanent membership by a few countries from other regions, which runs the risk of exacerbating divisions and tensions.”
On its part, the African Union’s has called for the Council to be enlarged to 26 seats, one more permanent seat than the G-4 proposal. Its proposal for six new permanent seats is the same as the G-4’s, except that it would give the new members veto power.
“The African position is a special case and should be treated as such,” the Pakistani envoy added.
Masood Khan also expressed dismay at the General Assembly President John Ash’s wish to formulate an advisory group on Council reform and asked for his assurances that the group would not be authorized to draft a document that would serve as a basis for negotiations in writing. Such a move would run counter to the membership-driven nature of the process, he said.