'Negotiating text for UNSC reform likely to be tabled soon'

The stage is set for talks to begin on the long-stalled UN Security Council reform process in the upcoming General Assembly session with its president expected to present a negotiating text in the next few days for adoption.

PTI| Updated: Sep 07, 2015, 00:34 AM IST

United Nations: The stage is set for talks to begin on the long-stalled UN Security Council reform process in the upcoming General Assembly session with its president expected to present a negotiating text in the next few days for adoption.

UNGA President Sam Kutesa had achieved a breakthrough of sorts by circulating a text to UN members that will form the basis for the Inter-Governmental negotiations on the reform of the Security Council.

As the 69th session of the General Assembly nears an end, the text is expected to be put to vote this week for adoption to be carried forward to the 70th session of the Assembly.

Since the 70th session will begin from September 15, the vote has to take place before that date for the document to be carried forward in the next session.

Sources told PTI that it is up to the UNGA President to rule whether a simple majority or a 2/3rd majority will be needed for adoption.

Once adopted, the text will be the significant basis for members states to begins talks on reform of the Security Council, a long-stalled process.

Kutesa had appointed?Jamaica's?Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray to chair on his behalf the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform.

Kutesa, in a letter dated July 31 to all UN members, said he is also circulating letters containing the positions of groups and Member States that indicated they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the negotiating text.

These countries include US, Russia and China.

India has maintained that the process to expand the powerful UN body "cannot be seen to be an exercise ad infinitum" and a results-based timeline is crucial to achieve a concrete outcome.

"Those who ask for not imposing artificial timelines may be advised to desist from inflicting artificial delays on this process," India's Ambassador to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukerji has said in the past.

Sources said that India believes that the 70th anniversary of the UN, being commemorated this year, is an appropriate milestone to propel the reform process, which should be completed within the next one year.

India has received support from France and UK, the two remaining permanent members of Security Council.

American Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power had said in her letter to Kutesa that the US is "open in principle" to a "modest" expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members but added the condition that "any consideration of an expansion of permanent members must take into account the ability and willingness of countries to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the United Nations."

Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council,

had said last week that it does not foresee "a historic compromise" being reached in the near future on admitting new permanent members, an assessment that does not bode well for India which sees itself as a rightful permanent member in a Council that needs to be reformed and expanded without any further delay.

"On the Security Council reform, the negotiation has been there for a long time. We want a historic compromise to be reached between the two main camps - those who want to have new permanent members and those who don?t want new permanent members," Russia's Permanent Representative and President of the Security Council for the month of September Vitaly Churkin had said.

Churkin said those who do not want new permanent members advocate a new category under an intermediate option of having countries that will be elected for a longer period of time than the current two years for non-permanent members.

"At this point I do not see that historic compromise any way near," Churkin said.

Russia had said in its letter to Kutesa that the "prerogatives of the current Permanent Members of the Security Council, including the use of the veto, should remain intact under any variant of the Council reform."

"The intergovernmental negotiations on the UN Security Council reform should proceed in a calm, transparent and inclusive atmosphere free from artificial deadlines.

If a consensus on this issue is not possible to achieve, then in any case it will be politically necessary to secure the support by the overwhelming majority of the member states - a substantially greater number than the legally required two thirds of votes at the General Assembly," Russia said.

Russia had said that it is prepared to consider the so-called "intermediate solution", provided that this option enjoys the widest possible consent at the UN.

China, in its letter to Kutesa, had said that UNSC reform

is "multifaceted", covering not only issues such as enlarging the Council's membership and strengthening representation, but also increasing efficiency and improving working methods.

It added that member states are still seriously divided on the UNSC reform and no general agreement has been reached on any solution so far.

"Security Council reform should not be carried out at the expense of the unity of member states. All member states should remain committed to the intergovernmental negotiations process, adopt a flexible and pragmatic attitude, gradually build mutual trust and meet each other halfway.

No solution on which member states are seriously divided or approach that may cause division among member states will have China's support," it said.

"Member states still need to engage in patient consultations to find a solution that accommodates each other's interests and concerns," China said, a position different from that of India's which has stressed that the 2015 "is a year for decisive action" and for it, another round of the IGN with business like the earlier rounds would "not be acceptable."

India has said it would then find it very difficult to meaningfully engage with the process.

China also stressed that new seats of the Security Council should be reasonably distributed.

"The principle of geographic balance should be adhered to, with representation of different civilizations and cultures taken into consideration," it said.