United Nations | The UK has called for the expansion of the UN Security Council's permanent seats to include India, Brazil, Germany and Japan as well as African representation, underlining that it is high time the powerful UN body entered the 2020s.
Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of July Ambassador Barbara Woodward's comments came as she briefed UN correspondents on the programme of work of the Security Council for the month.
On reform of the UN Security Council, “we want to see the expansion of the Council's permanent seats to include India, Brazil, Germany and Japan and African representation. It's high time the Council entered the 2020s,” Woodward told reporters here on Monday.
Woodward referred to remarks by British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly last week in which he announced the UK's ambition to drive forward reform of the multilateral system.
Woodward said the UK's presidency of the Security Council in July marks the first step in that process.
Responding to a question on the reason behind UK's support for permanent UNSC membership for India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, Woodward said: “Our thinking behind the four countries that we supported was partly to do with geographical balance.
"Introducing India and Brazil would bring a wider geographical representation into the Council, but also to bring in countries that have more influence than they had when the original Security Council was put together in 1945 for obvious reasons," she said.
“There's a sort of combination of recognising the world as it is today, alongside geographical balance, and that's behind our position too on Africa,” she said.
Last week, the UN General Assembly adopted a draft oral decision to continue Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on the Security Council reform at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly that will commence in September. The rollover decision marked the end of the IGN for the current 77th session.
India's Permanent Representative at the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj underscored that the roll-over decision of the IGN simply cannot be reduced to a mindless technical exercise.
“We see this technical rollover decision as yet another wasted opportunity to instil a breath of life into a process that has shown no signs of life or growth in over four decades,” Kamboj had said.
Kamboj had stressed it is now apparent that the IGN could well go on for yet another 75 years without any progress whatsoever in the direction of genuine reform in its current form and modalities - that is, without application of the GA Rules of Procedure, and without a single negotiating text.
Responding to a question by PTI on India's criticism that IGN could well go on for another 75 years without any progress, Woodward said “I recognise that it has been a very frustrating process”.
The UK has set out its position on UNSC reform more than a decade ago, emphasizing the need to broaden the representation and bring the Security Council up to date, she said.
Woodward said she had good contacts with the IGN co-facilitators this year, who "have tried very hard indeed, but there is such a wide range of views that it seems very difficult indeed to make progress.
“So I recognise the frustrations. We too thought it would be useful actually to move to text-based negotiations, but I'm afraid we didn't. There wasn't enough support for that to make immediate progress. But it's something that we do, as I say, continue to support because we need to see the Security Council come into the 2020s.” Woodward underscored that the UK has “listened very carefully to what our friends and partners around the world have been telling us. We've heard and we recognise” concerns by other nations that powerful countries are neglecting their responsibilities.
She said that the UK wants to be an agent of progress to change that notion.
She underlined that multilateralism has worked well for the last 80 years, it has underpinned a 40-fold increase in trade since 1950, delivered global vaccines for infectious diseases and thus far prevented another world war, with fewer deaths in violent conflict since its founding than any comparable period.
“But that doesn't mean it's perfect and it doesn't mean it will automatically survive for the next 80 years without reform.” Woodward asserted that the UK's position is “let's reform that we may preserve” and added that the five priorities laid out by Cleverly for achieving that goal are Security Council reform, reform of the international financial systems, trade, international tax and debt and technology.
She was asked a question on the position of the Uniting for Consensus group, of which Pakistan is a member, that opposes adding new permanent members to the Council and supports creating additional non-permanent seats.
Woodward underscored that the “UK's position on UN Security Council reform has been out in the front for a long time now." "We've been very clear that we support permanent membership for India, for Brazil, for Germany and Japan and African permanent membership,” she said, adding that the UK welcomes the debate carrying on but “the most important thing is to bring the Council into the 2020s and make some progress on that.” India, the world's most populous country, has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the Security Council, saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member at the UN high-table, which in its current form does not represent the geo-political realities of the 21st Century.