'Restricted UNSC prevents small nations' voice to be heard'

The "restricted and undemocratic" nature of the UN Security Council is preventing developing nations from being heard in the UN body, India has said as it warned that such a situation cannot be sustained for much longer and the Council must be urgently reformed.

United Nations: The "restricted and undemocratic" nature of the UN Security Council is preventing developing nations from being heard in the UN body, India has said as it warned that such a situation cannot be sustained for much longer and the Council must be urgently reformed.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said it is a "pity" that the "restricted and undemocratic nature" of the Security Council has so far prevented the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from contributing their unique perspective, as developing countries, into the Council's deliberations.

Participating at the Security Council session on 'Peace and Security Challenges facing SIDS', he said the small island nations have instead participated effectively in the universal platform provided by the General Assembly to address their specific concerns.

"This situation cannot be sustained for much longer, especially if the Council has to ensure a stable and supportive international political environment for the successful implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda."

"We therefore call on you to include in your proposed non-paper a strong endorsement of the call of a majority of UN member states for urgent and early reforms of the structure of the UN Security Council, expanding the membership in both categories in order to allow the voices of developing countries to be heard, and acted upon, more regularly in the Council Chamber," Mukerji said here yesterday.

He underscored that with a coastline of over 7,500 kms and several groups of islands located far away from the mainland, India is deeply conscious of the special challenges faced by the SIDS.

"Given their small size, remote location, vulnerability to sea-level rise, high costs for energy and transportation, not to mention small resource base and high dependence on external markets, SIDS face disproportionate challenges to their social and economic development, which in turn exacerbates challenges to their peace and security. The financial, energy and food crises of recent years have only served to accentuate these vulnerabilities," he said.

Mukerji noted that the issues of piracy, climate change and development, which are concerns for the small developing nations, have been better addressed in the forum provide by the General Assembly instead of the powerful 15-nation Council.

He said in all these areas, "clear effective" international cooperation on the concerns has been most viable outside the UN Security Council, enabling a democratic, inclusive and transparent approach to be formulated on each area.

"By allowing each member state, especially those belonging to the SIDS, to raise their specific concerns, and then agreeing on an agreed way or platform to deal with these concerns, the UN General Assembly has played the role in these areas given to it by the UN Charter, whose 70th anniversary we celebrate this year," he added. 

Mukerji highlighted that while the issue of piracy was taken up in Security Council, it has been through a much wider grouping, the 60-member Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia, that the security and economic concerns related to piracy have actually been addressed.

"This democratic and transparent approach has given results, which would commend consideration of broadening effective international cooperation to tackle piracy in a wider context, under the framework of the General Assembly, taking into account the concerns expressed by the SIDS," he said.

The General Assembly has also devoted decades of discussion and negotiation to enable the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) in 1982, a major achievement of the Assembly, and UNCLOS today is the platform from which issues of concern to member states, including the SIDS, on the illicit exploitation of natural resources, including illicit fishing, is most effectively addressed.

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment of 1972 provided the impetus for the broad-ranging consideration of climate change issues by the universal membership of the General Assembly.

As the Framework Convention on this issue, the UNFCCC, is poised to conclude its current negotiations in Paris in December 2015, "we advocate that the concerns of the SIDS on climate change must be reflected in the outcome document which will be adopted at Paris", he said.

"The SIDS are at the frontline of the threat from climate change and sea level rise, the worst sufferers of a global problem they did not contribute to. Adaptation to climate change remains one of the highest priorities for SIDS, an imperative that must be supported through more meaningful support from the international community," he said.

Mukerji said that long promised financial support under UNFCCC from developed countries must reach the SIDS expeditiously. The Green Climate Fund must also prioritise disbursement of funds to SIDS for their urgent adaptation priorities, he said.

Mukerji termed development an "overarching issue", which has been in the General Assembly for more than four decades.

"My delegation would propose to the members of this Council to use this debate as a valuable input into each of the broader, more transparent processes or platforms that we have just mentioned, in order to assist the SIDS to tackle these challenges," he said.