Rome Ministerial Conference on Security Council Reform

Statement of Ambassador Tanin at Rome Ministerial Conference on Security Council Reform

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

* It is a pleasure and a privilege to be here with you today. I want to thank Minister Frattini for his hospitality, for opening his door to us. In the new phase of the Security Council reform process, all involved will have to open the door to compromise. All initiatives to that end are considered welcome by yours truly, as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on behalf of the President of the UN General Assembly. After wrapping up the previous phase of the reform process to everybody’s satisfaction, the President and I look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the entire UN Membership in New York . Let me now direct a few words to the delegations gathered here in Rome .

* I was always told: when speaking in Rome , quote a classical author. Sorry, it’s not a Roman author but a Greek one, Thucydides. His seminal work “The History of the Peloponnesian War” was the book that launched a thousand debates about the relationship between power and legitimacy. In the battle between Athens and Melos , the Melians were completely overpowered, but appealed to the higher power of international law to argue for their survival. “In our view,” they said, “it is at any rate useful that you should not destroy a principle that is to the general good of all men – namely, that in the case of all who fall into danger there should be such a thing as fair play and just dealing,” end of quote. That assertion that might does not make right, started off mankind’s odyssey towards finding a balance between power and legitimacy. The current effort at the United Nations in New York to reform the Security Council is a part of that journey.

* As an observer to today’s meeting, what I first and foremost observe is the will to reform. The will to achieve the objective set at the 2005 World Summit, when our leaders called for, and I quote, “an early reform of the Security Council – an essential element of our overall effort to reform the United Nations – in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions,” end of quote.

* As you all know, the President of the General Assembly last week announced that on February 19, we will finally sit down at the negotiating table. At the same time, he assured Member States that these negotiations will be conducted strictly according to the principles set forth by the Membership in General Assembly decision 62/557, and I quote: “in good faith, with mutual respect and in an open, inclusive and transparent manner” and “seeking a solution that can garner the widest possible political acceptance by Member States,” end of quote.

* The President of the General Assembly also let it be known, that on February 19 we will present a work plan for the negotiations. A crystal clear plan on how to negotiate and when to negotiate – beginning shortly with meetings on the five key issues: categories of membership, the question of the veto, regional representation, size of an enlarged Council and working methods of the Security Council, and the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. The President and I will do everything in our power to safeguard the integrity of the process and the achievement of progress. Decisive progress. Our lodestar will of course be decision 62/557, and we will be guided by the UN Charter, the World Summit Outcome Document, the relevant UN rules and procedures, legal advice, past practice and input from Member States through the Open-ended Working Group.

* Nothing would do more to stir up cynicism about the United Nations than us wasting this historic opportunity for change. We have to rise to the occasion and not get bogged down. We decided – now we must follow through. I would almost quote Julius Caesar and say: “The die is cast.” There’s no turning back. But we all know that when he said those words, when he crossed the Rubicon, Caesar started a war against Rome . So in that sense, the quote is inappropriate – the effort to reform the Council is not about combat but about cooperation. We’re all on the same side here. The side fighting for a reformed Security Council and a renewed United Nations.

Thank you.

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