Ministerial meeting on UN Security Council reform
(Rome, 5 February 2009)
Opening speech delivered by H.E. Franco Frattini
Minister for Foreign Affairs
(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
Distinguished Colleagues, Excellencies,
I would like to welcome you all to Rome and to thank you for taking part in this meeting. We highly appreciate your presence here today, tangible proof of the interest you attach to the reform of the United Nations Security Council. This is the first time that a gathering of Foreign Ministers and representatives from such a large and diverse group of countries takes place in the capital of a UN Member State to discuss this crucial issue. The aim of this meeting is in fact to provide political impetus to the current debate, but most of all to foster the very broad consensus needed for a successful and effective Security Council reform.
The need to adapt and reform the Security Council, that was felt when this process began some sixteen years ago, is felt even more strongly now. Yet little progress has been made so far. By the end of February negotiations will commence in New York. In this perspective, today’s meeting can provide a useful opportunity to exchange views on the principles that should guide these negotiations and possibly to identify concrete lines of action and political guidance for this exercise.
We believe that these negotiations should be a transparent and inclusive process, with well-defined terms and modalities. On substance, we should strike the right balance between enhanced representation – to reflect the diversity and pluralism of today’s international community – and effectiveness. Democracy, transparency and accountability should be our guiding principles in this exercise.
When we speak about enhanced representation we think of regions that are underrepresented in the Council, such as Africa – and I am pleased to see the representatives of many African countries here today, coming straight from the African Union Summit that took place in Addis Abeba in the last few days. I wish to congratulate Libya on it’s election to the Presidency of the African Union. It will be interesting to learn from our African colleagues the state of the debate on Security Council reform within the African Union.
But enhanced representation also means providing a voice to those small and medium-sized countries whose needs are not always adequately addressed in today’s Security Council. Furthermore, the debate on the reform should not be limited to the size and the membership of the Council, but it should also deal with its working methods.
The democratic principle is key to an effective, credible and sustainable reform. Security Council members must be accountable to the broader membership and the authority of the General Assembly as the fully representative UN body must be preserved and enhanced. We should all work together towards these goals. In doing so it is also vital to show flexibility and a spirit of compromise.
Prior to this meeting, we provided some food for thought and some elements to guide our debate here today. Let me just remind you of some of those elements.
How can we make the forthcoming negotiations as objective, transparent and inclusive a process as possible? How can we make sure that we approach the issue of the Security Council reform comprehensively and as a single undertaking, that is to say nothing is agreed until everything is agreed? How can we reconcile the principles of democracy, equitable representation and transparency with efficiency and effectiveness? How can we enhance accountability? How can we improve the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council?
These are some of the issues which will be addressed during the forthcoming intergovernmental negotiations. An exchange of views on these and other issues today is therefore very useful. We are here, as I said, to help find common ground and to work on solutions that can enjoy the broadest consensus. Some colleagues said yesterday, during our very useful dinner, that a simple numerical majority would not be enough. I encourage you all to be very frank and very open in this discussion.
Before I open the floor for the discussion, allow me a few procedural remarks. We are of course very pleased with the large attendance at this meeting. This, however, imposes us to be very strict with the time reserved for each statement, since we are supposed to close the discussion by lunch time. I make an appeal to you all. Before closing the meeting, I will share with you some final remarks.