Statement by Mr. Fazlı Çorman, Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, at the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Question of Equitable Representation and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council

Fazlı Çorman 24.03.2009
Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by expressing our appreciation to you for convening today's meeting. I would also like to thank you for your letter dated 20 March 2009, which encapsulates many aspects of the Council reform process on the question of "regional representation."

Mr. Chairman,

Regional representation is one of the most salient aspects of the reform process. Although the UN Charter does not explicitly refer to "regional representation" as such, Article 23 of the Charter stipulates "equitable geographic distribution" as a major criterion for non-permanent members of the Security Council. Our task, therefore, is to enlarge the Council in such a way that would render it more equitably representative.

The underlying assumption of this premise is that the current distribution in the Council is not as equitable as it should be. Therefore, identification of the geographies which are not sufficiently represented at the Council should be an essential first step of today's exercise.

There is a widespread belief among the membership that the continent of Africa is presently under-represented at the Council. We also share this belief. The fact that many of the persistent issues on the Council's agenda pertain to Africa further aggravates this sense of underrepresentation. We also believe that there is room for further representation of the Asian Group and the GRULAC at the Council.

There are other groups of countries which, although belonging to different geographies, are similarly under-represented at the Council. Small- and medium-sized states and developing countries readily come to mind in this context. It is indeed quite revealing that 37 of the 43 small states of the UN, having a population below 1 million, have never been elected to the Council. 15 of these countries are from Asia; 11 are from GRULAC.

Having identified the problem, the next logical step would be to seek for ways to effectively remedy these imbalances. Of course, how we should go about correcting these imbalances is closely related to the other key issues cited in Decision 62/557 - particularly, the categories of membership and size of of an enlarged Council. This is yet another manifestation of the linkages and interrelations among these five sets of issues.

Mr. Chairman,

Turkey remains steadfast in its belief that the most effective way to uphold and further enhance the principle of "regional representation" is through increasing the number of regular two-year non-permanent seats at the Council and allocating them to the inherently under-represented groups which I have just mentioned. Such an approach would allow a significant number of member states to be represented at the Council from a given geographical region over an extended time period.

Having said that, in the spirit of compromise and flexibility, we are also ready to further explore the idea of an intermediate approach, whereby longer-term non-permanent seats could be established and allocated on a regional basis. This would permit longer or more frequent presence at the Council for those countries that may qualify through elections at the General Assembly. We believe that such an approach could also increase the level of regional representation at the Council.

Mr. Chairman,

The model I have just outlined would aim to enhance regional representation through increased national representation. Our assumption here is that a more equitable geographical distribution could be achieved by increasing the number of member states in the Council belonging to under-represented geographies.

However, there is also the possibility of establishing regional seats that would rotate among member states of a regional group. The common African position, for example, has the potential to lead to such an outcome, although its specific modalities are yet to be elaborated. We respect and sympathize with the African position which has the potential to advance regional representation, as well as democracy, accountability and transparency, at the Council.

Mr. Chairman,

The complexities surrounding the Council reform, some of which I have alluded to in my statement earlier, further reinforce the necessity for a comprehensive solution. These complexities defy the validity of piecemeal approaches. We are encouraged to see a greater awareness among the membership on the linkages and interrelations among various aspects of the reform process. This understanding, we believe, is the first basic precondition - and the main source of optimism - for the success of the intergovernmental negotiations.

Thank you.