Intergovernmental negotiations on UNSC reforms slowed due to COVID-19: UNGA Prez
The Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on the UN Security Council reforms faced difficulties because many deliberations are “tough” and the process has been slowed as in-person meetings cannot be conducted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has said.
Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th session of the General Assembly, made the comments during a press conference on Monday when asked about the much-delayed Security Council reform process.
We have an informal negotiation. The IGN is ongoing. It has faced difficulties because many negotiations are tough and a lot of people prefer tough negotiations conducted in person. That process itself has long been in the cards and it’s even more difficult at this time, Muhammad-Bande said.
With in-person meetings at the UN Headquarters suspended due to the COVID-19, he said virtual negotiations are more difficult but efforts have been made to evolve the negotiations on a virtual platform due to the pandemic.
The Inter-Governmental Negotiations relating to Security Council reform is ongoing. It has been slowed by the current difficulties where in-person meetings are not possible, he said.
India has been at the forefront of pushing for speeding up reforms of the 15-nation Security Council, asserting that an “obsolescent” global governance structure cannot be fit for the purpose to address the challenges of peace and security in the 21st century.
In response to another question on the timeline of the UNSC reforms, he said so far the negotiations have been informal and formal processes have not begun yet.
He added that in the 10 years since the Inter-Governmental Negotiations started, there have been differences among member states relating to powers of membership, whether the veto can be continued or how it can be amended.
These are still issues that are under discussion. So, I do not have as President of the 74th (General Assembly session) the means to give a timeline, he said, adding that member states are invested in the negotiations and they will have to wait until the end of the process when the report of the co-facilitators is given to him.
We are trying to see what has been added from (the previous rounds) and then we can now see the projection that can be made. This is where we are at, he said.
Meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiations to discuss the UN Security Council reforms were last month postponed until further notice as in-person meetings at the UN headquarters remain suspended due to COVID-19, delaying the already long-stalled process of reforming and expanding the powerful UN organ.
In a letter to Muhammad-Bande, IGN co-chairs Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh and Polish Ambassador to the UN Joanna Wronecka said that they “have decided to postpone the scheduled meetings of the process until further notice.
The co-chairs had said Member States preferred in-person meetings for IGN.
In light of this, and having considered the pros and cons of other options, we have decided to postpone our scheduled meetings until further notice, the co-chairs had said, adding that it will be important to remain engaged and continue to explore possible options for building on the IGN work.
India and the other G-4 nations of Brazil, Japan and Germany have said that procrastinating on reform of the Security Council has lasted decades and change is long overdue.
India, along with several other Member States, has repeatedly stated that an inclusive text which reflects the positions of all delegations is not just the ‘next logical step’, but the ‘only’ step that can lead to negotiations. New Delhi has said that absence of a text cannot narrow differences but is in fact the primary reason for the process not moving forward.