Global Policy Forum

Second Round of Security Council Reform Talks Ends

29 June 2009


Member States met on 22 and 23 June 2009 to discuss the working methods of the Security Council in the last installment of the second round of intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform. The contents or dates of a third round have not yet been made public.
Prior to the meeting, the Chair, Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan, had circulated a letter [1] to Member States in which he proposed that Member States discuss "...the functions and powers of the Security Council, voting in the Security Council, and procedure." In his opening statement [2], he further specified that "This exchange will give you the opportunity to build on the first round and explore the many linkages between these issues."

During the two-day long, closed meeting, Member States apparently responded to the Chair's request by exploring the different issues connected to a reform of the working methods of the Security Council. Several countries for instance delivered statements highlighting ways to enhance the transparency of the Council. Liechtenstein [3], as a member of the so-called Small Five-group (Liechtenstein, Singapore, Switzerland, Jordan and Costa Rica) devoted to reforming the working methods of the Council, urged the Council to improve its reporting to the General Assembly as well as hold more open briefings. They also touched upon the more controversial issue of the veto, suggesting that permanent members of the Council should be able to cast a negative vote without blocking a decision with a veto.

While supporting the need to enhance the transparency and reporting of the Council to the General Assembly, several other countries also commented on the right of the veto. Among others, India [4], said that new permanent members of the Council should be given the right of the veto, and "the same responsibilities and obligations as the current permanent members," as the Indian Ambassador remarked.
The African countries reportedly said that they oppose the veto in principle, but felt that new permanent should be granted the privilege as long as it exists.

Italy [5], along with several of other countries in the Uniting for Consensus-faction, argued against adding new permanent members to the Council, while also supporting limitations to the current right of veto. Reportedly, several countries spoke in favor of limiting the right of the veto in certain cases like crimes against humanity and genocide.

According to sources present at the meetings, the permanent members of the Council were fairly united in their opposition to any limitations or changes in the current veto structure. Furthermore, as a principle they apparently did not support the General Assembly discussing the working methods of the Security Council.

Way Forward

In his closing remarks [6], the Chair thanked Member States for their input and noted that "repetition is to be avoided" for the next and third round of negotiations. He emphasized that "decisive progress is within reach," and ended by addressing the way forward: "In early July, right after a number of highlevel meetings both here in New York and abroad, you can expect to receive another letter from the Chair on the further implementation of Decision 62/557 during this session."



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.