- Pakistan says reforms must be based on democratic principles
UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has criticised the aspirants for permanent seats in an expanded UN Security Council – India, Brazil, Germany and Japan – for opposing reforms of the 15-member body based on the principles of democracy, and vowed to resist any move that serves the interests of a few countries to the detriment of the larger membership.
“We will continue to uphold values of democracy, equal opportunity and non-discrimination for as long as it takes, but we will not be complicit in any exercise that places narrow self-serving interests of a few over the collective good of the larger UN membership,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told an interactive session of the deadlocked Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN).
“We all agree on practising democracy at home but some argue against it at the UN,” the Pakistani envoy said while dealing with the points raised during the debate in the first session of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations.
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.
Progress towards restructuring the Security Council remains blocked as the four countries push for permanent seats while Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group firmly oppose any additional permanent members.
As a compromise, UfC has proposed a new category of members – not permanent members – with longer duration and a possibility to get re-elected once.
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.
Elaborating her arguments, Ambassador Lodhi questioned as to how could the Security Council, the preeminent body entrusted with global peace and security, be exempt from democratic principles, on which rests the structures of global governance including national governments, regional and international bodies and multilateral institutions.
“The essential requirement of democracy is elections, yet there are some who believe that a one-time election is sufficient to achieve a democratic council. Elections are a process, not a one-time event,” she said.
“The argument that is put forward by some, when translated in our national context, means that governments should be permanently installed by virtue of a single election. In other words, we should have a permanent prime minister and permanent members of parliament,” the Pakistani envoy remarked.
Criticising the countries that demand a permanent membership to the Security Council based on current global realities, Ambassador Lodhi said that realities are always in flux and change over time.
“There are no permanent realities. So if realities are tied to the present, how can a permanent status be bestowed upon a transient and fleeting state,” she added.
“Hence, we cannot perpetuate a privilege based on contemporary realities.”
In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi also called for reaching an understanding among the member countries on the fundamentals of Security Council reform, saying, the inability to do so had resulted in slow progress. Pakistan and its partners in the UfC has consistently outlined what those principles are, she pointed out.
“The need for a more democratic, accountable, transparent, effective and representative Council is not only an imperative for a comprehensive reform, these principles embed the ideal of the United Nations and the inspiring vision that it espouses for our collective humanity.”
The Pakistani envoy said that the framework for the conduct of the IGN process has to be in good faith, with mutual respect and in an open, inclusive and transparent manner.
“Just as those principles helped us establish the IGN forum, we need principles on the substance of reform to pave the way for a solution that could garner the widest possible political acceptance,” she noted.
“These principles of reform will provide a common reference point – the ideals that we all aspire to – and a destination we all wish to reach.”
On the position of African nations, Ambassador Lodhi said that Pakistan and the UfC distinguish between national pursuits and consensus demands on behalf of a region, such as Africa, emanating from a genuine sense of feeling disenfranchised and perceiving that a historical injustice was meted out to them.
“Perhaps African countries have suffered the most by the deadlock created by those harbouring a false sense of entitlement,” she said.
“We believe the African demand can best be addressed in a just, equitable and pragmatic manner through the compromise solution offered by the UfC.”