UN Security Council: Pakistan reaffirms opposition to new permanent seats

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A top Pakistani diplomat has blamed the lack of any progress in the long running negotiations to restructure the UN Security Council on a “handful of countries” obviously referring to India, Brazil, Germany and Japan – who, she said, have remained inflexible in their push for permanent seats on the 15-member body.

“This selfish pursuit of national ambition is the real reason that has prevented us from making the Security Council more democratic, accountable, transparent and effective,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN General Assembly. 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.

Speaking in a debate on achieving equitable representation in the Security Council, the Pakistani envoy voiced support for expanding the Council’s elected membership, while warning that the creation of new permanent seats would only satisfy the hunger of a few States for power and privilege.

Pakistan, she declared, remains firmly opposed to the creation of new permanent seats on the Security Council. Full scale negotiations to reform the Security Council began in the General Assembly in February 2009 on five key areas – the categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, size of an enlarged Security Council, and working methods of the council and its relationship with the General Assembly. Despite a general agreement on enlarging the Council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details.

Pakistan, a leader in the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, stands for creating a new category of members-not permanent members with longer duration and a possibility to get re elected. But India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, known as the “Group of Four”, have been campaigning for expanding the Council by 10 seats, with six additional permanent and four non permanent members.

The Pakistani envoy said while the deadlock on Council reform had persisted for more than two decades, intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) were the only way to achieve progress towards that shared goal. The process needed to be open, transparent and inclusive while maintaining an ambience of mutual respect that permitted member states to engage constructively.

Pakistan, she said, supported the Council’s expansion in the elected non permanent member category, on the basis of equitable geographic distribution and a system of fair rotation. More elected members would enhance regional representation and ownership, adding legitimacy to the Council. However, new permanent seats were the “antithesis of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” she said. The addition of more such seats would only serve to satisfy the hunger for power and privilege of a handful of states seeking to promote their “self arrogated right to a privileged and unequal status”, without addressing the actual question of equitable representation on the body.

In the absence of periodic elections and rotation, new permanent members would not be accountable to the wider membership, Ambassador Lodhi said. The Council’s working methods would become more opaque rather than transparent. If today, the Council remained paralyzed and ineffective due to clashing political interests among the five permanent members, “we can imagine how indecisive and gridlocked it will become” with twice the number of permanent seats, added.

Stressing the need for embracing flexibility and rejecting rigid approaches, the Pakistani envoy noted that the first expansion of the Security Council was completed in a span of almost three years, benefiting all member states equally as the Councils non permanent seats were increased from six to ten. “But this stalemate of over 24 years has not benefited any Member State that aspires to serve in the Council,” she said. “It seems that no Member State can have its equal and fair share because some amongst us just want it .”