Speech delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Franco Frattini at the working dinner of the ministerial meeting on UN Security Council reform
(Rome, 4 February 2009)
(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
Distinguished Colleagues, Excellencies,
It is for me a great honour to welcome you in Rome. I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Your respective Country’s interest in the initiative we have launched to convene a Ministerial meeting on the reform of the U.N. Security Council. I would also like to express Italy’s gratitude for the decision to participate, as a testimony of Your commitment to multilateral diplomacy and to a matter of great importance to all of us.
During the last few weeks and months I have had the opportunity to discuss the issue of Security Council reform with many of You. We may have different proposals and positions – and I know we do have – as to the appropriate ways to reform the Security Council. But many countries share the view that we need to move forward this long-standing issue in order to achieve a realistic and sustainable solution. We may have diverse concerns, national perspectives and even “red lines” on the negotiating process – and I know we do –, but many among us share the view that the best way to mark progress is by combining our efforts in a common endeavour to make the Security Council more relevant and more respected in the present global outlook. I have perceived that the need to strengthen this fundamental institution is widely felt and shared in all the regions of the world. This is why we have extended invitations to such a diverse set of countries, beyond traditional constituencies and groupings.
In fact the debate on Security Council reform has been going on for a long time, with diverse and irreconcilable positions. The credibility of the United Nations has been even questioned. The effectiveness and the capacity of the Security Council to assume its responsibilities in the maintenance of peace and security have been challenged. I would not deny that, in some cases, critical remarks to the role of the UN Security Council are justified. But we cannot avoid the impression that some of the criticisms towards the UN Security Council remain instrumental to promote national agendas and ambitions.
As a country traditionally and substantially dedicated to the United Nations, Italy considers that we need to build consensus around a positive U.N. reform agenda. This is the approach, based on accountability to all U.N. Members States who elected us, which inspired once again Italy’s mandate as a non permanent member of the Security Council we just concluded. This is also the approach at the basis of our commitment to UN and UN–mandated peacekeeping, as witnessed by Italy’s active participation to peace missions in the Balkans, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.
Just like Italy, many other countries are committed to support and strengthen the United Nations in front of the new security challenges. How can we effectively answer to the threat of nuclear proliferation if not acting together under the authority of U.N. Security Council? How can we effectively face the possible combination of international terrorism and nuclear proliferation by non-State actors if not through a reformed and strengthened Security Council? The same goes for other challenges of today’s world: regional conflicts, failing States, human rights violations, etc.. We all agree that these common threats require more coordinated and widespread action at the international level, particularly through the U.N. Security Council.
Italy is convinced that the legitimacy and effectiveness of this central institution must be enhanced by increasing its representative character and improving its functioning in re-focussing the Security Council mandate towards the 21st century challenges. Italy believes that we should aim at inclusive and flexible reform formulas, to reflect the diversity and pluralism of today’s international community. A growing number of countries are in fact “willing and capable” to participate in the definition of the global rules in the field of peace and security. As more countries want to contribute to international stability and assume significant responsibilities to forge agreements on major global security challenges, their commitment to implement and respect Security Council’s decisions and resolutions will also increase.
Let’s think for a moment what would happen if we were, on the contrary, to follow the opposite approach: a Security Council reform where the monopoly of power, where the legitimate use of force and the adoption of binding enforcement measures would be strictly confined – for now and for the foreseeable future – to a “selected number of countries”. Such an approach, where the Security Council would become an even more exclusive “Club”, at the expense of all the others UN Members, would not serve the long-term interests of the United Nations. On the opposite, such an solution would put the global security system in serious trouble.
Our discussions tomorrow can provide a useful opportunity to exchange views on the principles that should guide the forthcoming negotiations and possibly identify concrete lines of action and political guidance to move the process forward.
As you are aware, the intergovernmental negotiations will commence on 19 February in New York, with the first informal meeting of the General Assembly. At the opening session, the President of the General Assembly will respond to the general call, resulting from the preparatory phase, for more clarity on the terms and modalities of the negotiations. We welcome President d’Escoto’s announcement that he intends to present a work plan, as well as an initial schedule of meetings on the main negotiating issues in order to provide clarity on these crucial aspects. In fact, this represents an important recognition that we need to work for a common understanding on the methodology, in order to set the negotiations on the right track.
For example, we believe that nobody should object to the principle of a single undertaking, to the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, as this has been the constant practice of past and current intergovernmental negotiations and Conferences. Since the U.N. Millennium Summit in 2000, we have commonly set the target of a comprehensive reform of the Security Council in all its aspects, aiming at adapting its structure, decision-making and working methods.
At the 2005 World Summit, we have further called for an early reform of the Security Council – an essential element of the overall reform of the United nations – in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent, enhancing its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.
We now have a real opportunity to provide political impetus to the new stage of the reform process. But we should avoid the risk of focussing only, or mainly, on the various options to change the composition of the Council, as this would be a certain recipe for divisions and it would frustrate the genuine general call for a comprehensive reform. The question of how to increase the membership of the Council is of course political. However, the composition of the Council cannot be delinked from the efficient functioning of this organ and many agree that it would become inoperable if additional veto wielding members where to be admitted.
Based of the General Assembly’s decision of 15 September 2008, the aim of the negotiations will be to search for solutions enjoying the widest possible political support by Member States. This is why it is so imperative to encourage more active and continuous involvement of the capitals in this process. We are here to help find common ground and unity of intent in view of reaching the broadest consensus on a “package solution”, as some are saying. This will be achievable if all of us, if all the concerned players, will show the necessary flexibility and spirit of compromise.
It would be extremely important if we could deliver a consistent message from our meetings tomorrow, that we strongly want a comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council, that we are committed to make progress in the forthcoming negotiating process and that we will work around some basic principles in order to satisfy the aspirations of all UN Member States.
I look forward to hearing your views and I encourage your active participation during this discussion.