Statement by Mr. Fazlı Çorman, Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, at Statement at the Third Round (Exchange II) of The Intergovernmental Negotiations on UN Security Council Reform

Fazlı Çorman 02.09.2009
Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by thanking you for convening this meeting.

Before moving onto the substance of this matter, I would like to make a brief procedural remark about today's meeting. We understand that today's discussion is expected to focus on the expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories. We have no objection to have an in-depth discussion on this issue today. However, if this issue was chosen under the assumption that the majority of member states support the expansion of the Council in both categories, we would not be able to subscribe to this viewpoint.

Colleagues will recall that our Delegation has on various occasions cautioned against the attempts to make such judgments or quantifications in a forum where more than half of the membership has not yet delivered a national statement. We believe that the current silence of the majority should not be interpreted as a sign of support for one way or another. We also believe that, on such a technical issue, it may be difficult to infer reliable conclusions from the general statements made on behalf of certain groups of countries.

It may be true that more delegations have spoken in favour of the enlargement of the Council in the permanent category than against it. But this should not lead us to presume that the majority of the membership would lend their support at the final stage to a reform that will render the Council less democratic or less accountable. We also do not believe that the majority will support a result that will weaken the principle of regional representation.

Besides, a considerable number of Member States that prefer expansion of the Council in both categories also recognize that this is not a realistic option and therefore support a different approach, namely the intermediate approach.

Mr. Chairman,

It is no secret that we have strong reservations about the idea of a Council enlargement in the permanent category, particularly as proposed by the G-4. As the world progresses towards more democracy, we believe that the Council should also move in the same direction. New permanent members, on the contrary, would render the Council less democratic. Those member states that aspire to become permanent members also intend to remain in the Council indefinitely. They do not wish to be contested through elections or re-elections. Fewer elections imply less democracy and thereby reduced accountability, because these new Council members would not require the support of the greater membership to preserve their status.

Even if we decided to enlarge the Council in the permanent category, it would still be difficult to determine which countries are better suited to occupy these seats. According to what criteria should the member states qualify for permanent membership? Does having the political will to demand a permanent seat constitute a sufficient criterion by itself? At the moment, it seems that only 4 Member States have the political will to be represented on the Council permanently. What would happen, however, if tomorrow more Member States come along and announce that they feel equally qualified to serve on the Council permanently? Should we not have more specific performance criteria to make our selection? If we choose these countries according to certain criteria, should we not regularly assess their performance? And if they start to fare poorly on the basis of these criteria, should we not replace these countries with some other countries that better meet the relevant performance criteria?

On our part, we believe that the most effective and non-controversial performance criterion is regular elections. Any member state that feels itself entitled to be represented in the Council for an extended duration should be prepared to stand for elections and re-elections.

Mr. Chairman,

Currently, two-thirds of the Security Council members consist of elected members. That is, for each permanent member, there are two elected members in the Council. These elected members bring additional democracy and accountability into the Council, since those member states that are running for non-permanent membership work hard to secure the support of the two-third majority of the General Assembly. We are therefore rather concerned that all the proposals on the expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories envisage a reduction in the ratio of elected members to permanent members.

One argument frequently used by those who advocate expansion of the Council in both categories is that only an increase in the permanent seats would be tantamount to real or genuine reform. We kindly but strongly disagree. Adding another four or five permanent members is least likely to change the way the Council operates. On the contrary, it would further reinforce some of the methods and practices of the Council that this reform process is intent on changing. It is no coincidence that those countries that desire permanent status also argue that the new permanent members should enjoy the same rights and privileges that the current permanent members have, including the veto right. Since the current permanent members would not agree to relinquish their veto rights, then, should we consider extending the veto rights to the new permanent members as well? Isn't one of the main objectives of the Council reform was to limit the use of veto, and not to spread it?

We also have no indication or guarantee that the new permanent members would be sensitive to the calls of the greater membership for increased transparency and accountability of the Council. Indeed, it is rather paradoxical that those member states that claim that their permanent membership is essential to bring about a genuine reform, including its working methods, in effect demand the perpetuation and further reinforcement of the existing system through additional permanent members.

All these considerations lead us to conclude that enlargement of the Council in the permanent category will not serve the basic objectives of the reform process. If the member states are sincere in their calls for greater democracy, accountability and transparency, then we have to come up with a solution that would not compromise or weaken these objectives. We hope that tomorrow's discussion could lead us towards such a solution.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.