Tuesday, September 27, 2016

OPENING SESSION Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Head of the Delegation Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Excellencies,

Distinguished speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, under the theme “Ending the occupation and establishing the Palestinian State.”

At the outset, allow me to reiterate our Committee’s sincere appreciation through His Excellency Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, for the decision of the Government of Turkey to host our important Meeting. The holding of this Meeting in this country holds great significance. We are very much aware and appreciative of Turkey’s foreign policy dynamism and the leadership role it is playing in the region in recent years on many issues. The contribution of Turkey to the quest for a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict spans many decades. Let me recall that Turkey was one of the three founding members of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established in the wake of the 1948 war. Having deep historical and cultural roots in the region, Turkey is strategically placed to be a trusted interlocutor to the various conflicting parties, while at the same time remaining a steadfast champion of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Turkey is always at the forefront in the region, whether promoting intra-Palestinian reconciliation, suggesting innovative solutions to the stalemate in the peace process, working on revitalizing the other tracks of the Middle East peace process, providing educational opportunities for Palestinians, sending relief goods to Gaza, building industrial zones, tirelessly advocating and mobilizing for the two-State solution, or patrolling as part of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron or UNIFIL in Lebanon. The commitment of Turkey to peace and stability in the region is well known and deeply appreciated by the international community, and we are privileged to have Turkey as a founding member of the Committee.

Our Committee, established in 1975 as the only United Nations organ exclusively entrusted with the political aspects of the question of Palestine, attaches great importance to this Meeting. We are grateful to all the officials from Governements and intergovernmental organizations, as well as to the experts and civil society representatives participating in our Meeting. Let me state, however, that I would not consider our mission accomplished if this Meeting solely provided a platform to restate our long-held positions, important though they are. We hope it would take us a step further towards a critical re-examination of some of the long-held assumptions and old patterns related to the peace process.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Madrid peace conference, which ushered in the peace process. We need to take a hard look at what went right and, more importantly, at what went wrong in the intervening two decades. The sovereign State of Palestine, free from foreign occupation, is still just a vision. The sense of frustration is palpable among Palestinians and in the region in general, both with the open-ended Israeli occupation and the open-ended peace process, which has proceeded by fits and starts, in bouts of inconclusive negotiations, raising expectations then failing to meet them. The patience of Palestinians with the peace process, and with the two-State solution in general, is wearing thin.

By many significant measures the Palestinians are worse off today than they were at the outset of the peace process. One of the obvious casualties has been their freedom of movement. Two thirds of Gazans under 30, meaning those who grew up during the peace process, have never had an opportunity to set foot outside Gaza. They have no first-hand experience of the world outside, and that includes the West Bank. The unacceptable blockade has reduced Gazans to building houses out of mud, to replace those wantonly destroyed during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead more than a year ago. The situation in the West Bank is not much better, with the separation wall and settler-only roads criss-crossing the land, dotted with Israeli settlements and checkpoints. The end result is geographical discontinuity, which is discouraging investment and choking off meaningful economic development, leaving the Palestinians massively dependent on foreign aid. Needless to say, humanitarian assistance and budget support by donors mostly going to pay current civil service salaries are hardly a sustainable basis to build a viable State on.

Against this rather bleak background, the resumed indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations mediated by the United States offer some encouragement. Our Committee welcomes the start of the indirect talks and hopes that they will soon lead to tangible results on the ground, such as unobstructed movement of persons and goods in the West Bank, and end of the blockade of Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the enlargement of the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Equally important is a credible mechanism to monitor and ensure the parties’ compliance with their Road Map obligations and other commitments while the talks unfold. The parties should refrain from any unilateral actions changing the status quo on the ground and from incitement that could jeopardize the ongoing efforts. Such steps would create the required atmosphere for direct negotiations between the parties that will tackle all final status issues without exception.

Unfortunately, the initial signs are far from encouraging. On the ground, new massive settlement projects are awaiting the end of the 10-month settlement freeze. Demolitions of Palestinian homes continue unabated. Top Israeli officials are signalling the intention to persevere with the illegal settlement campaign in occupied East Jerusalem and to continue to depopulate the city of its indigenous Palestinian population, in defiance of the collective will of the international community, including the Quartet, and in total disregard of international law. These acts undermine the very basis of a negotiated settlement and destroy the credibility of the political process.

To quote President Abbas, Jerusalem holds the key to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. A clear message should be sent to Israel, the occupying Power, that its unilateral actions aimed at altering the status of East Jerusalem and its demographic and cultural characters will not be recognized by the international community and will be firmly rejected.

Equally disturbing are the new Israeli military orders threatening thousands of West Bank Palestinians with deportation. Labelled as “infiltrators” in their own native land, these Palestinians can be arbitrarily deprived of their right of residency and summarily deported at the whim of a military commander. These and other similar measures constitute grave violations of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

A positive development that we have been championing is the comprehensive blueprint for a Palestinian State in two years unveiled by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in August 2009, which has garnered wide support by the international community. Aiming to end the Palestinian economy’s dependence on Israel, harmonize the legal system and streamline governance, the plan also involves building infrastructure, harnessing natural resources, and improving housing, education, and agriculture. The Plan aims to end the occupation by creating positive facts on the ground. No longer content to be at the mercy of external forces, the Palestinians want to take control of their destiny, building a future incrementally from the ground up. The Palestinian State-building agenda complements the negotiating process, and hopefully the two will run on mutually reinforcing tracks and eventually converge in the not so distant future. The revolutionary nature of the plan demands an equally bold response by the international community.

The right of the Palestinians to self-determination and sovereignty, acknowledged by the terms of General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947, has been annually reaffirmed by successive UN resolutions adopted by the overwhelming majority. This right is an inalienable right, which means it is not contingent on any agreement or someone’s goodwill, and it is not for any party to the negotiations or external Power to withhold or grant.

Upon the expected conclusion of the Fayyad Plan in August 2011, it will be time for the other countries supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination so overwhelmingly with their votes in the General Assembly to stand up and be counted, follow the lead of others and recognize Palestine, as a responsible member of the community of nations. It gives me great pleasure to recall that our host Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Palestine, and I would like to encourage other countries represented here to do likewise when appropriate. At the end of the projected two years, this recognition could be enshrined in a Security Council resolution clearly determining the borders of the Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 lines. By putting the weight of its authority behind this plan, the Council would create the necessary political framework for ending the occupation and implementing the two-State solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Committee is convinced that only serious and sustained international engagement will bring about a peaceful and negotiated settlement of all outstanding issues and reverse the growing support for radical forces that promote violent and unilateral approaches to ending the conflict. The Committee remains committed to contributing constructively and actively to international efforts aimed at the achievement of a peaceful settlement.

This United Nations International Meeting is one important step in that direction. We are looking forward to analyses and inputs from our distinguished experts representing think tanks, academic institutions, the United Nations, and civil society.

I thank you all and hope that in the course of the coming two days, you will have an opportunity to engage in a stimulating and useful discussion of the issues at hand.

Thank you very much.

Report of the Secretary-General on “Human Security”

STATEMENT BY H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the General Assembly on the Report of the Secretary-General on “Human Security”

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I begin, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting on a topic of such broad relevance. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, which provides an excellent overview of the growing attention paid to this important issue by Member States, as well as by international and regional organizations. And finally, I would like to thank my colleagues at the Japanese Mission, for the draft resolution they have tabled today which Afghanistan is proud to co-sponsor. This meeting is a clear sign that the concept of human security is both increasingly relevant and increasingly recognized, and Afghanistan welcomes this trend and supports further discussion on this concept in the future.

Mr. President,

The need for security in Afghanistan overshadows and underlies every effort undertaken by the Afghan Government and the international community to build a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.

The most immediate threat to security comes from ongoing terrorism and violence, in particular the murderous acts of the Taliban and al-Qaeda who, through suicide bombs, assassinations and threats, create an atmosphere of fear and danger for the Afghan people, and threaten the security of the region and the world.

However, while we must address this threat immediately, we have learned from experience that killing the enemy will not, alone, provide security to the Afghan people. We must also break the cycle of violence and conflict born of thirty years of war, which decimated the social, political and economic fabric of the country and resulted in environmental degradation, wrenching poverty, poor infrastructure and weak social structures. We must address lack of governance, rule of law and a stable justice system, and promote outreach and engagement of citizens with their government. We must combat human rights abuses and promote the health and wellbeing of women, children, and other disadvantaged groups. We must ensure that every Afghan has access to education, food, healthcare and gainful employment, and encourage investment in infrastructure and business. In addition, we must address transnational issues such as crime, narcotics trafficking, and border control. We have learned to look beyond military measures to sustainable, long-term civilian efforts. We have learned to look beyond simple physical wellbeing to address the long-term economic, social and political security of the Afghan people.

Mr. President,

The idea of “human security” admirably encompasses this broad range of needs, and can guide us in our approach in Afghanistan.

First and foremost, the concept stresses that people must be at the center of our considerations. Our goals, as governments, militaries and humanitarians, must be to locate and address the threats to the people of Afghanistan, and we should measure our successes by the changes we can bring to their lives. The military forces have already embraced this ideal in an effort to prevent civilian casualties and create sustainable progress. We need to ensure this principle is also central to the development and humanitarian realms, making sure that every dollar spent in Afghanistan directly benefits the Afghan people.

Second, this idea recognizes the essential importance of development in the prevention of conflict and the promotion of security and stability. Desperation caused by poverty, unemployment, and competition for resources and water, is an obvious and enduring factor that exacerbates conflict and has spread a culture of violence in Afghanistan. The proposed civilian surge will offer Afghans a chance to live in peace and help them find a way to take care of their families without resorting to violent or illegal activities.

Third, this concept addresses the need to look for both local, contextualized ways to repair the damage of conflict, including through peace processes, and also the need to encourage regional cooperation to address the international aspects of the conflict. In Afghanistan, the awareness that military means cannot solve the conflict has led the Government to introduce reintegration and reconciliation programs in the hope of repairing the broken social structures and encouraging national unity, while engaging in intense regional dialogue to build trust and foster cooperation on these and other issues. Without the full engagement of all of the Afghan people, the government and society can never hope to build a strong, independent nation, and without a constructive partnership with the region, Afghanistan’s efforts will not be sustainable.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, human security looks to strong societies and strong institutions as the core protection mechanisms against possible destabilizing factors. The recent strategy endorsed in London focuses on strengthening Afghan capacity, through training, mentoring and resourcing, so that Afghans can be invested in our common project and feel a sense of responsibility for its success. In addition, it emphasizes the importance of building a strong Government with stable institutions that is capable of representing its citizens and responding to their needs and concerns.

Mr. President,

I urge Member States to, in their consideration of this issue, also consider the ways that the international community could embrace these principles in practice as well as on paper. It is clear that only a comprehensive approach can truly hope to end or prevent a conflict. However, coordination within and among local and international actors, and coherence of priorities and aims, continues to marginalize domestic leadership and circumvent the Government of Afghanistan in favor of parallel structures. The concept of “human security” will only be useful in practice if the international community is willing to commit to truly understanding the local context of a conflict, and to empowering local people to take ownership of their own affairs.

Mr. President,

Human security is not a new concept. As governments, our primary responsibility is, and always has been, to the well-being of our people above all else. However, with conflicts increasingly involving non-state actors, and transnational conflicts and recurring conflicts becoming more and more common, the international community must truly embrace the reality that conflicts have broad and varied causes, and require comprehensive and contextualized responses. The concept of human security is an essential one in guiding domestic and international reactions to these emerging trends.

I thank you, Mr. President.

NEW YORK

Ambassador Tanin Delivers Keynote at Global Governance Seminar in Brazil

H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, arrived in Brazil yesterday at the invitation of the Brazilian Government to attend a one-day seminar titled “Turning Point: Emerging Structures of Global Governance” to be held on Thursday, 22 April, 2010. The seminar’s purpose was to highlight the increasing interdependence of the world and the need for global governance, explore the current global governance mechanisms and identify possible areas for future improvement. The Concept Note for the seminar, circulated by the Government of Brazil, suggested that the period between the global financial crisis in September of 2008 and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen in December of 2009 represented a turning point for global governance, and prompted a widespread recognition that the old structures were no longer adequate to the need. Invitees to the conference included academics, politicians and diplomats.

Ambassador Tanin was asked to deliver the keynote address during the seminar’s working lunch, where he began with a brief overview of recent trends in global governance, the founding of the United Nations, and the attempts of the last few decades to reform the Security Council. He highlighted the unique legitimacy and legality of the United Nations as a body of global governance and argued for the necessity of reforming the UN, and the UN Security Council in particular, rather than turning to less inclusive forums. The Security Council, as the only global body dedicated to the maintenance of peace and security, and the only body whose decisions are binding on all 192 Member States of the UN, is unlike any other international body. He concluded by saying, “…If the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.” Ambassador Tanin’s statement was followed by an extensive debate.

Ambassador Tanin will return to New York on Saturday, 24 April.

Speech

Keynote address of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Seminar “Turning Point: Emerging Systems for Global Governance”

22 April 2010

Brasilia, Brazil

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank the Government of Brazil for extending me the invitation to participate in this seminar. In particular, I would like to thank Minister Amorim, Minister Guimarães, Professor Garcia, and Mr. Rothkopf for their thought-provoking comments this morning. On a personal note, it is a great moment to be in Brazil, because later this year Afghanistan will open its first embassy here, and I look forward to a bright future of close relations between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No nation chooses to put national interest second to the good of all. This is not a criticism; to the contrary, when governments do their jobs properly, they fight, above all else, for the wellbeing of their people. But it creates a central paradox in international relations. Though we all recognize the necessity of international agreements governing the global sphere, these agreements are at the mercy of national interests which are concerned more with local needs than with international stability.

This paradox means that global governance mechanisms are frequently toothless and devoid of enforcement measures, both practically and legally. Even when the agreements are widely seen to be necessary, self-interest and domestic political pressures frequently prove stronger than the perceived benefit of an agreement. Peoples are particularly reluctant to sacrifice visible comfort or convenience without equally visible returns. As a result, we often find ourselves caught up in empty rhetoric and unable to encourage tangible cooperation. Even when a political agreement can be found, the resulting decisions may be bluntly ignored by states at little cost when compliance is inconvenient.

However, to paraphrase the French scientist Blaise Pascal, if justice without force is powerless, force without justice is tyrannical.

International politics have always been governed by the law of the jungle: rule by the strongest. But none of us would be here if we didn’t also recognize that our self-interest can no longer be divorced from the interests of our fellow nations. Despite the difficulty in forging or enforcing agreements, the alternative would be unilateral action on the part of powerful states, enforcing their decrees by military or political force. Even those who have such power now recognize that this would be an unsustainable option. The world is far too interconnected for one state, no matter how powerful, to act alone without far-reaching repercussions. Frustrations, the difficulties and the inefficiency notwithstanding, global agreements have become necessary for the smooth functioning of the international system.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognition of the need for global cooperation is by no means unprecedented. It was precisely this recognition that underpinned the establishment of the United Nations after the Second World War. When fifty nations gathered in San Francisco in 1945, it was to address the growing interdependence of the world and the mutual responsibilities of nations to their people and to each other.  Together, they built an Organization that aimed to prevent conflict and to inspire mutual trust and respect among nations and between peoples.

Of course, the world has continued to evolve since 1945. Decolonization and self-determination have created a new map, shaped by imperialism and the fight against it. A global economy now binds us even more closely together, developed and developing worlds alike. Conflict and instability no longer recognize national boundaries but affect entire regions and can span the globe. Non-state actors and regional organizations play a large and growing role in both the political and economic spheres.  The hierarchy of power that bound the world together in 1945 has changed dramatically, with new powers rising and old powers finding new ways to engage with one another.

As the world has changed, the landscape of global governance structures has changed as well. Formal institutions like the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions, created in the middle of the 20th century, have been joined by the WTO, the ICC and other organizations with more specific spheres of influence. Dozens of regional and trans-regional organizations address a range of issues from security to economic cooperation. Lobbying and voting blocs like NAM and the G77 represent particular global interest groups. In addition, new, more informal and thus more flexible decision-making groups have evolved to address targeted issues where no formal decision-making bodies exist. The G7/8 and G20 are perhaps the best examples of these.

Despite this proliferation of global governance mechanisms, the United Nations is still the only international body that can claim to represent all nations on earth; that aspires to grant each nation equal voice and equal sovereignty. Member States, in ratifying the Charter, commit themselves to respect the rule of law and the sovereignty of their fellow nations. The Organization as a whole enjoys a legitimacy unparalleled in the international arena. And the Security Council, as the organ responsible for the maintenance of international security, is the only such body whose decisions have full force of law over Member States.

Today we are entering a new era in global governance. Recent events, including the global financial crisis, have made our need for collective governance even more painfully clear. At the same time, recent setbacks such as the stalling of the Doha trade round and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen have also highlighted the challenges we face in finding innovative ways to inspire and encourage cooperation.

The United Nations has struggled to adapt to these new realities. The very solidity and legitimacy of its foundation makes it resistant to change, and the breadth and scope of its activities means that any reform has far-reaching consequences. And yet, despite the institutional inertia, reform efforts have begun. UN processes aimed at revitalizing and empowering the General Assembly, reforming the Secretariat, encouraging system-wide coherence and institutional efficiency, and reviewing and reforming peacekeeping operations, have been ongoing for years and have seen some modest success. New bodies like the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council have been created in the past years and are now entering their first review phase. Discussions on UN-led environmental governance efforts are ongoing. But perhaps most important, and most complex, are efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Efforts to reform the UN Security Council began almost as soon as the Charter was signed. In 1965, the eleven-member Council was expanded to the current fifteen to account for the growing membership of the UN. Since then, the composition of the Council has not changed: we have five permanent members, whose concurring vote is needed for all Security Council resolutions, as well as for Charter amendments, and ten non-permanent members selected from the five regional groups, who are elected for two-year terms.

In the early 1990s, as new economic and political powers emerged, efforts to further reform the Council began with the creation of an Open-Ended Working Group to explore the issue.  Two major drives for reform have occurred since then: the first, in 1997, when the facilitator of the group proposed a possible three-stage solution; the second in 2005, when Secretary-General Kofi Annan undertook a comprehensive review of the UN system with a view to promoting ambitious and sweeping reforms, including reform of the Security Council. Both efforts failed. In between, the Open-Ended Working Group oversaw years of endless discussions.

Our current reform attempt, which was mandated by a decision taken in September of 2008, tries a new approach: intergovernmental negotiations. These negotiations represent a long-needed break with the repetitive OEWG and the best opportunity for real reform that we have seen in decades. As the Chair of this process, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the efforts to reform the Security Council, and the attitudes of Member States towards this reform, in the context of our larger debate about global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The need for reform of the Security Council is universally agreed upon, though the principles and details of reform are the subject of intense debate. Some feel that the current structure’s lack of representivity is a real threat to its legitimacy, while others feel that the long-term legitimacy of the Council is guaranteed by the UN Charter. Some feel that the decision-making process, even more than the membership of the Council, lacks transparency and effectiveness. Others are concerned that the Security Council supports a power structure that is no longer reflective of current geopolitical realities. Though the proposed reform options vary widely, there is a large and increasingly vocal majority who feel that the continued effectiveness of the Council is threatened by its current composition.

Perhaps as a result, Member States are now increasingly demonstrating an intense engagement in the process. Since the beginning of these intergovernmental negotiations last February, the Member States have gone through four rounds of negotiations, looking at each of the five key issues of reform both separately and together – categories, veto, regional representation, size and working methods, and relationship between the Security Council and the GA. In this time Member States have shown the desire to push for a real reform.

As I stand here today, we are reaching an historic moment in these negotiations. The fifth round, which will begin shortly, will be based on a negotiation text that reflects the positions and proposals of Member States. Member States all agreed on the need for a text and all expressed readiness to engage in this process. What remains to be seen is whether the membership has the political will, and the flexibility, to rise above their immediate national concerns to recognize the long-term consequences of failure. A solution is both possible and necessary, both for the strength of the United Nations as an institution and for the continued viability of our current system of global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Security Council is unique among global governance mechanisms. As a body mandated to make legally binding decisions, the Security Council both directly and indirectly affects the national interests of all 192 UN Member States. As the only international body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council deals with the most intractable and contentious issues in the world. It is crucial that Member States feel a stake in the Council’s decisions and that these decisions are widely, if not universally, implemented.

The Security Council must be reformed. No other body has the legal standing to tackle the most difficult issues of the day, and no other body has enough legitimacy to demand that its decisions are implemented. If we are unable to achieve this reform, we run the risk that some will turn to other less inclusive mechanisms to preserve peace and stability in the world, sidestepping the rule of law and the principles of fairness and sovereign equality of nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

None of us are naïve enough to believe that relative power has become irrelevant in international relations. Lack of coercive enforcement mechanisms can mean that international agreements reinforce the political weight of strong nations, who are able to enforce their decisions through bilateral or multilateral political pressure. This will not change in the near future. But if the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.

Thank you.

Keynote address of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Seminar “Turning Point: Emerging Systems for Global Governance”

22 April 2010

Brasilia, Brazil

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank the Government of Brazil for extending me the invitation to participate in this seminar. In particular, I would like to thank Minister Amorim, Minister Guimarães, Professor Garcia, and Mr. Rothkopf for their thought-provoking comments this morning. On a personal note, it is a great moment to be in Brazil, because later this year Afghanistan will open its first embassy here, and I look forward to a bright future of close relations between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No nation chooses to put national interest second to the good of all. This is not a criticism; to the contrary, when governments do their jobs properly, they fight, above all else, for the wellbeing of their people. But it creates a central paradox in international relations. Though we all recognize the necessity of international agreements governing the global sphere, these agreements are at the mercy of national interests which are concerned more with local needs than with international stability.

This paradox means that global governance mechanisms are frequently toothless and devoid of enforcement measures, both practically and legally. Even when the agreements are widely seen to be necessary, self-interest and domestic political pressures frequently prove stronger than the perceived benefit of an agreement. Peoples are particularly reluctant to sacrifice visible comfort or convenience without equally visible returns. As a result, we often find ourselves caught up in empty rhetoric and unable to encourage tangible cooperation. Even when a political agreement can be found, the resulting decisions may be bluntly ignored by states at little cost when compliance is inconvenient.

However, to paraphrase the French scientist Blaise Pascal, if justice without force is powerless, force without justice is tyrannical.

International politics have always been governed by the law of the jungle: rule by the strongest. But none of us would be here if we didn’t also recognize that our self-interest can no longer be divorced from the interests of our fellow nations. Despite the difficulty in forging or enforcing agreements, the alternative would be unilateral action on the part of powerful states, enforcing their decrees by military or political force. Even those who have such power now recognize that this would be an unsustainable option. The world is far too interconnected for one state, no matter how powerful, to act alone without far-reaching repercussions. Frustrations, the difficulties and the inefficiency notwithstanding, global agreements have become necessary for the smooth functioning of the international system.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognition of the need for global cooperation is by no means unprecedented. It was precisely this recognition that underpinned the establishment of the United Nations after the Second World War. When fifty nations gathered in San Francisco in 1945, it was to address the growing interdependence of the world and the mutual responsibilities of nations to their people and to each other. Together, they built an Organization that aimed to prevent conflict and to inspire mutual trust and respect among nations and between peoples.

Of course, the world has continued to evolve since 1945. Decolonization and self-determination have created a new map, shaped by imperialism and the fight against it. A global economy now binds us even more closely together, developed and developing worlds alike. Conflict and instability no longer recognize national boundaries but affect entire regions and can span the globe. Non-state actors and regional organizations play a large and growing role in both the political and economic spheres. The hierarchy of power that bound the world together in 1945 has changed dramatically, with new powers rising and old powers finding new ways to engage with one another.

As the world has changed, the landscape of global governance structures has changed as well. Formal institutions like the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions, created in the middle of the 20th century, have been joined by the WTO, the ICC and other organizations with more specific spheres of influence. Dozens of regional and trans-regional organizations address a range of issues from security to economic cooperation. Lobbying and voting blocs like NAM and the G77 represent particular global interest groups. In addition, new, more informal and thus more flexible decision-making groups have evolved to address targeted issues where no formal decision-making bodies exist. The G7/8 and G20 are perhaps the best examples of these.

Despite this proliferation of global governance mechanisms, the United Nations is still the only international body that can claim to represent all nations on earth; that aspires to grant each nation equal voice and equal sovereignty. Member States, in ratifying the Charter, commit themselves to respect the rule of law and the sovereignty of their fellow nations. The Organization as a whole enjoys a legitimacy unparalleled in the international arena. And the Security Council, as the organ responsible for the maintenance of international security, is the only such body whose decisions have full force of law over Member States.

Today we are entering a new era in global governance. Recent events, including the global financial crisis, have made our need for collective governance even more painfully clear. At the same time, recent setbacks such as the stalling of the Doha trade round and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen have also highlighted the challenges we face in finding innovative ways to inspire and encourage cooperation.

The United Nations has struggled to adapt to these new realities. The very solidity and legitimacy of its foundation makes it resistant to change, and the breadth and scope of its activities means that any reform has far-reaching consequences. And yet, despite the institutional inertia, reform efforts have begun. UN processes aimed at revitalizing and empowering the General Assembly, reforming the Secretariat, encouraging system-wide coherence and institutional efficiency, and reviewing and reforming peacekeeping operations, have been ongoing for years and have seen some modest success. New bodies like the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council have been created in the past years and are now entering their first review phase. Discussions on UN-led environmental governance efforts are ongoing. But perhaps most important, and most complex, are efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Efforts to reform the UN Security Council began almost as soon as the Charter was signed. In 1965, the eleven-member Council was expanded to the current fifteen to account for the growing membership of the UN. Since then, the composition of the Council has not changed: we have five permanent members, whose concurring vote is needed for all Security Council resolutions, as well as for Charter amendments, and ten non-permanent members selected from the five regional groups, who are elected for two-year terms.

In the early 1990s, as new economic and political powers emerged, efforts to further reform the Council began with the creation of an Open-Ended Working Group to explore the issue. Two major drives for reform have occurred since then: the first, in 1997, when the facilitator of the group proposed a possible three-stage solution; the second in 2005, when Secretary-General Kofi Annan undertook a comprehensive review of the UN system with a view to promoting ambitious and sweeping reforms, including reform of the Security Council. Both efforts failed. In between, the Open-Ended Working Group oversaw years of endless discussions.

Our current reform attempt, which was mandated by a decision taken in September of 2008, tries a new approach: intergovernmental negotiations. These negotiations represent a long-needed break with the repetitive OEWG and the best opportunity for real reform that we have seen in decades. As the Chair of this process, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the efforts to reform the Security Council, and the attitudes of Member States towards this reform, in the context of our larger debate about global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The need for reform of the Security Council is universally agreed upon, though the principles and details of reform are the subject of intense debate. Some feel that the current structure’s lack of representivity is a real threat to its legitimacy, while others feel that the long-term legitimacy of the Council is guaranteed by the UN Charter. Some feel that the decision-making process, even more than the membership of the Council, lacks transparency and effectiveness. Others are concerned that the Security Council supports a power structure that is no longer reflective of current geopolitical realities. Though the proposed reform options vary widely, there is a large and increasingly vocal majority who feel that the continued effectiveness of the Council is threatened by its current composition.

Perhaps as a result, Member States are now increasingly demonstrating an intense engagement in the process. Since the beginning of these intergovernmental negotiations last February, the Member States have gone through four rounds of negotiations, looking at each of the five key issues of reform both separately and together – categories, veto, regional representation, size and working methods, and relationship between the Security Council and the GA. In this time Member States have shown the desire to push for a real reform.

As I stand here today, we are reaching an historic moment in these negotiations. The fifth round, which will begin shortly, will be based on a negotiation text that reflects the positions and proposals of Member States. Member States all agreed on the need for a text and all expressed readiness to engage in this process. What remains to be seen is whether the membership has the political will, and the flexibility, to rise above their immediate national concerns to recognize the long-term consequences of failure. A solution is both possible and necessary, both for the strength of the United Nations as an institution and for the continued viability of our current system of global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Security Council is unique among global governance mechanisms. As a body mandated to make legally binding decisions, the Security Council both directly and indirectly affects the national interests of all 192 UN Member States. As the only international body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council deals with the most intractable and contentious issues in the world. It is crucial that Member States feel a stake in the Council’s decisions and that these decisions are widely, if not universally, implemented.

The Security Council must be reformed. No other body has the legal standing to tackle the most difficult issues of the day, and no other body has enough legitimacy to demand that its decisions are implemented. If we are unable to achieve this reform, we run the risk that some will turn to other less inclusive mechanisms to preserve peace and stability in the world, sidestepping the rule of law and the principles of fairness and sovereign equality of nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

None of us are naïve enough to believe that relative power has become irrelevant in international relations. Lack of coercive enforcement mechanisms can mean that international agreements reinforce the political weight of strong nations, who are able to enforce their decisions through bilateral or multilateral political pressure. This will not change in the near future. But if the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.

Thank you.