New Delhi: A significant breakthrough in New York on negotiations to expand UN Security Council has once again galvanised Indian efforts with 138 countries giving their consent for the first time to produce a single document with clear options for expansion.
This document will be the text on the basis of which the next round of negotiations, expected later this month, will take place. Until now, sharp differences among member countries on the format of negotiations had prevented a consensus to even come up with a text. The breakthrough is being seen as a major victory for the G-4 (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan) which led the effort to organise support for a letter requesting for text-based negotiations so that the matter can then move for consideration of the UN General Assembly this year.
Taking note of this letter, signed by 138 countries, Afghanistan Permanent Representative to the UN, Zahir Tanin, who chairs the intergovernmental negotiations on the subject, wrote to the UNGA: “As a chair impartial to any of the positions yet partial to progress, I will study the appeal contained in the said December 23 letter, as well as all other input received, as we move towards a text-based fifth round.”
The move has annoyed Pakistan, which had been working hard against taking the negotiations on to the next stage with the help of a group of countries under the umbrella of United for Consensus (UfC), better known as the Coffee Club. It took strong exception at the chair taking note of the letter and then formally informing UNGA about it. Pakistan felt this was a G-4 attempt to “gatecrash” into Security Council as Permanent Members.
“We regret to note that our strict adherence to the format of negotiations as well as a commitment to progress through flexibility and compromise has not been reciprocated. On the contrary, a group of member states with individual national agendas to gatecrash into UNSC have created a sense of stalemate by their inflexibility,” said Pakistan representative Abdullah Hussain Haroon.
What is important from the Indian standpoint is that countries like South Africa which had divergent views too signed on the text. Its representative noted that member countries “must help move the process forward, identifying options for convergence”.
South Korea, which did not sign on the letter and is usually closer to the UfC position, also voiced support later.