Global Policy Forum

Brazil: Statement by Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti

April 7, 2009

Plenary Reform of the Security Council Size of an Enlarged Council and Working Methods of the Security Council

"Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for convening the meeting and for your letter dated 3 April.

The combination of issues before us today marks a certain degree of innovation, since they were treated separately in the past, as reflected in the excerpts of report A/61/47 contained in your letter. However, one can certainly establish a link between these two key elements of the Security Council reform.

With regard to the size of an enlarged Council, there seems to be no disagreement that an increase in the number of members is needed. What is subject to debate and negotiation is the number of members to add and under what category of membership to add them.

Brazil's position is well known. We propose the addition of ten new members: six permanent members and four non-permanent members.
Underlying such position is the key concept of representativeness, which, in our view, relates to the very justification for reforming the Security Council. We must do so mainly because the organ has become insufficiently representative of the membership, in particular those ready to make a special contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security.

The insufficient representativeness of the Council derives from three major factors: 1) It does not reflect the contemporary political realities; 2) The African, Asian and Latin American and Caribbean States are under-represented among non-permanent members and Africa and GRULAC are not represented among permanent members; and 3) The structure and composition of the Council does not properly consider the dramatic increase in the number of Member States since 1945.

Spelling out such factors is relevant because they must necessarily be taken into account in defining the total number of members of a reformed Council and their allocation to each of the categories of members. In other words, such number needs to be large enough to allow for the elimination of the identified root causes of the insufficient representativeness. Otherwise, it would be an incomplete reform.

In defining the right size of a reformed Council, other aspects must be considered, as well. Among them, I would single out the effectiveness of the organ, since we all want a Council that adequately performs its functions under the Charter. As in other cases, there is no clarity as to the meaning of such concept when applied to the work of the Council. For some, it seems to mean ensuring the votes needed for the Council to adopt resolutions. This is certainly a key aspect since a structurally unwieldy Council might lead to inaction as detrimental as the one caused by the abuse of the right of veto. But there is much more to the notion of effectiveness than that. An effective Council is one capable of making the right decisions at the right time and, as importantly, one able to have them implemented. Therefore, the Council's effectiveness depends on the capacity to generate consensus or at least sufficient agreement out of a sufficiently broad range of perspectives. It also depends, in most cases, on being able to persuade sovereign States to comply with decisions made by the Council.

Such crucial tasks will be more easily and efficiently performed if the Council is representative. Under Articles 24 and 25 of the Charter, while Member States do accept that the Council acts on their behalf and commit to carry out its decisions, it is also clear that the authority of the organ is conferred on it by Member States. In other words, we are in face of a delegated authority. Here is where representativeness and effectiveness intersect. A Council that is representative but ineffective does not serve the cause of international peace and security. Likewise, the Council will never be fully effective if it is not representative for its decisions will be seen as carrying less political weight.

Brazil believes that the proposed number of 25 members in a reformed Council takes appropriate account of the two concepts. We are also glad that the proposals submitted by the African Group and the UfC contemplate an identical number or a very similar one.

Mr. Chairman,

As I said earlier, one can draw links between the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods. The main one is that, given the limits of any expansion of the Security Council, one must ensure the maximum transparency and access possible to non-members. Although much has improved since the time when the Council was truly a "black box", it is still opaque and alien to non-members, especially the small States. Further changing this situation was the purpose of the suggestions we made in 2005, by which Brazil stands.

Among them I wish to refer specifically to the need to implement the letter and spirit of Articles 31 and 32 of the Charter by consulting formally and informally with non-members on a regular basis, especially Member States with a special interest in the substantive matter under consideration. Although this is done in a number of cases, it should be a widespread practice. It is only a matter of justice and respect to fully involve parties particularly interested in a given issue. This is also in the benefit of the Council, which receives a broader range of inputs for its decision-making process.

Brazil is open to considering other proposals for reforming the working methods of the Council, such as those submitted by the S-5. We remain of the view that these and other initiatives are more likely to prosper when the Council makes room for new permanent members committed to fresh and more participatory working methods. We will continue to work towards such goal.

Thank you very much".


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