Cablegate: Unga: Unsurprising Plenary Debate On Unsc Reform


DE RUCNDT #1055/01 3230023
O 190023Z NOV 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: The General Assembly held its annual
plenary debate on November 12-13 to discuss Security Council
reform, as well as the annual report of the Security Council
(reported reftel). Seventy-five delegations spoke and
largely reiterated positions expressed during
intergovernmental negotiations during the 63rd session. The
Group of Four (G4) called for further negotiations on an
expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members since
that appears to have the broadest support from the
membership. They also called for the Chair of
intergovernmental negotiations to produce a negotiating text.
The Uniting for Consensus (UFC) bloc reiterated opposition
to any expansion of permanent members and called only for an
expansion of non-permanent members. They also called for
further discussion of the intermediate option, which G4
members and supporters reject. The African Group continued
to emphasize the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration
calling for two permanent seats and two additional elected
seats for African states. The Libyan representative called
for the replacement of all Security Council permanent members
with regional group representatives.

2. (SBU) Summary cont'd: In terms of the P-5, the United
Kingdom and France supported the G4; they also called for
further consideration of the intermediate option. Ambassador
Wolff reiterated U.S. support in principle for a limited
expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members.
Russia urged that the Council be kept small and that there be
no infringement upon the current powers of permanent members.
China supported a reasonable reform with increased
representation of developing states. Besides demonstrating
strong support for the Chair of intergovernmental
negotiations, Afghan Perm Rep Tanin, the plenary debate also
illustrated the membership's wide dislike of the veto and
preference for its abolition. While the G-4 prefer the
extension of the veto to new permanent members if the veto is
not abolished, the UFC is against any such extension. A
number of European states also advocated further
consideration of the intermediate option, and small states
called for greater opportunities to serve as elected members.
Ambassador Tanin announced in a November 16 letter to the
membership that intergovernmental negotiations would resume
for a fourth round on December 8 focused on all the positions
and proposals of member states. End summary.

3. (SBU) The General Assembly met November 12-13 for a joint
plenary debate on Security Council reform, as well as the
annual report of the Security Council (reported septel).
Seventy-four member states and one observer (Holy See) took
the floor. As the Italian Perm Rep emphasized on the second
day, it was clear that no proposal on Security Council reform
enjoys the necessary support (i.e., two-thirds of the
membership) and negotiations toward a compromise solution
must continue. At the end of the debate, Japan and the DPRK
exchanged rights of reply in response to the DPRK's comments
that Japan would not be a suitable future permanent member of
the Security Council since, according to the DPRK Perm Rep,
Japan has not recognized and repaired its "crime-woven past."

President of the General Assembly's remarks

4. (SBU) In his introduction, President of the General
Assembly (PGA) Ali Abdussalam Treki called for a strengthened
United Nations that is "more democratic, open and inclusive
-- adapted to the changing realities and capable of
responding to the challenges that we confront." He
underscored that intergovernmental negotiations will continue
during the 64th session, as agreed in Decision 63/565 on
September 14, 2009, and, per his letter to the membership of
October 13, 2009, that Afghan Perm Rep Tanin will continue to
chair the negotiations on his behalf. He said that member
states would soon be informed of the "way forward to continue
these negotiations." He described the challenge ahead to
find a "reform model which is comprehensive, and which takes
into account the inter-linkages of the five key issues...and
accommodates the interests and concerns of all Member States,
including the large majority of small and medium states, and
the under-represented regions particularly Africa whose
legitimate demand to address the historic injustice with

regard to its rightful representation on the Council is yet
to be heeded."

Group of Four

5. (SBU) India spoke first from the Group of Four (G4) and
emphasized that a preference had been expressed by a majority
of member states during the previous rounds of
intergovernmental negotiations for an expansion in both
categories of membership -- permanent and non-permanent. The
Indian public delegate pressed for a "text" from Afghan Perm
Rep Tanin in order to focus the intergovernmental
negotiations and move them forward in a results-oriented
manner. He argued that the "institutions of global
governance cannot remain chained to the balance of power that
existed in 1945" and said that an expansion of only elected
seats is not a broad enough reform step. He said that the
intermediate option raises more questions than answers and
only pushes off reform decisions to the future, thereby
eroding the credibility and legitimacy of the Council. The
German Charge called for the Chair to provide a text which
would narrow down the options in order to begin the
negotiation process, and said that there is a majority
preference for an expansion in both categories. He also said
that any "intermediate solution must be constructed in a
fashion so as to pave the way for an expansion in both
categories" and rejected other variations of the intermediate
model. He specifically called for permanent seats for an
"African presence," Brazil and India as countries from the
South, and German and Japan as countries who significantly
contribute to the maintenance of international peace and

6. (SBU) The Brazilian Deputy Perm Rep echoed the points
made by her group colleagues from India and Germany and
called for a "concrete outcome" by the end of the 64th
session. In order to achieve that, she said it is
"imperative to narrow down the options for reform as soon as
possible, discarding those that have a very limited chance to
achieve the majority required for Charter amendments." She,
too, called for a text from Ambassador Tanin. She restated
Brazil's position in favor of a Council of 25 members with
six new permanent members and four new non-permanent seats,
including developing countries in both categories. The
Japanese Perm Rep echoed the statements made by his group and
called for an enlarged Council with new permanent members
"which have demonstrated well the readiness, capacity and
resources to carry through implementation of Security Council
decisions." He, too, called for a paper from the Chair but
said that if the Chair could not formulate such a paper, then
the membership should find "Member States-driven ways to
produce it."

Uniting for Consensus

7. (SBU) Uniting for Consensus (UFC) group members
reiterated their opposition to any expansion of the Council's
permanent membership. The Pakistani Charge called for a
reformed Council to be "diverse and plural in context of
geographical representation." He emphasized that Africa's
demand for permanent seats is for the entire region and
different than proposals that seek permanent membership for
individual states. (Note: The Swazi Perm Rep later responded
and said that the African Group's quest for permanent seats
was not for a regional seat. End note.) The Italian Perm
Rep also commented on the significant role regional
organizations play in the Council's work and called for an
"increased regional dimension" in the Council's provisional
rules "by contrast to an increase in seats for a tiny group
of countries."

8. (SBU) While there is disagreement amongst UFC members on
the size of an expanded Council, the South Korean Perm Rep
called for an increase in elected seats "to help meet the
goal of granting equitable access to all qualified member
states, large or small, to serve on the Council" and the
Canadian Perm Rep limited his call to a "modest increase" in
elected members. Several UFC members underlined that the
proposal put forward in April 2009 by UFC members Italy and
Colombia showed a willingness to review their previous model

and renounce maximalist positions in an effort to reach a
compromise that can garner the "widest possible political

9. (SBU) UFC members also underscored the need to maintain
the linkage between the five key issues and called for
comprehensive reform based on the principle of a single
undertaking. (Note: In contrast, the Filipino Perm Rep (not
a UFC member) issued a call for "what can be adopted now must
be approved now. End note.) The Spanish Perm Rep
specifically noted that "some delegations have refused to
tackle some of these issues, such as 'the question of the
veto,' 'working methods' and 'the relationship between the
Security Council and the General Assembly.'" (Comment: U.S.
statements during intergovernmental negotiations, as well as
those of other P-5 members, have emphasized that prolonged
discussion of these three issues are not "fruitful avenues"
for discussion and could lead to impasse at the expense of
progress on expansion. End comment.)

African Group

10. (SBU) Fifteen African delegations spoke during the
plenary debate. The Sierra Leone Perm Rep spoke first on
behalf of the African Group. He described the pace of the
reform effort to date as "not to our liking" but noted that
delegations have "remained remarkably engaged with interest."
Given that the Council spends 70 percent of its time on
issues relating to Africa, he reiterated Africa's common
position reflected in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte
Declaration for no less than two permanent seats with all
privileges (including the veto) and two additional
non-permanent seats for Africa, with "the African Union being
credited the responsibility for the selection of Africa's
candidates." (Comment: Despite this description, he and the
Swazi Perm Rep both claimed that this would not be a regional
seat; however, it could run contrary to the U.S. position
that any permanent seat must be country-specific and the
country to be added as a permanent member of the Security
Council would have to be designated by name in any specific
UN Charter amendment. End comment.) He said it is "Africa's
determined position" that the "intermediary/transitional/or
intermediate approach ought not to factor as a viable
proposition" since it predated and did not emerge from
intergovernmental negotiations.

11. (SBU) The South African Perm Rep joined with the G4 and
called for Tanin to produce a compromise text which makes "an
attempt at narrowing down the options, focusing on those that
are likely to garner the widest required and necessary
support." He noted that an expansion in both categories
"commanded the most support," according to the Chair's July
16, 2009 letter to the membership. The Nigerian and
Mauritian Perm Reps also called for Tanin to produce a
compromise text. The Egyptian Perm Rep, who often joins the
UFC, argued against narrowing down the options and called for
all proposals to stay under consideration. He also stressed
Egypt's conviction that the Council's effectiveness is not
linked to the size of an enlarged Council. Like the rest of
the African Group, he argued against consideration of the
intermediate option since it does not respond to Africa's

12. (SBU) While the Libyan representative upheld the
Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, he then
commented that the Council has failed, given the extreme
misuse of veto rights to achieve narrow national interests.
In order to rid the Council of national selfishness, he
called for the replacement of permanent members with members
from regional groups. He specifically named Africa, the
European Union, ASEAN, and included the "United States" as
potential regional permanent members.

Permanent Members

13. (SBU) Ambassador Wolff delivered the U.S. remarks which
can be found on the USUN website
( 36.htm) and
emphasized that the United States is open in principle to a
limited expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members

and that any expansion of permanent members must be
country-specific and take into account the ability of
countries to contribute to the maintenance of international
peace and security and the other purposes of the United
Nations. He said that the United States is not open to an
enlargement of the Council by a Charter amendment that
changes the current veto structure and that whatever formula
that emerges for an expansion should bear in mind Charter
requirements for ratification.

14. (SBU) The new UK Perm Rep, speaking for the first time
in the GA, reiterated UK support for permanent membership for
Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan, as well as "permanent
representation for Africa." He urged that the focus of the
64th session be on maintaining the momentum begun in
intergovernmental negotiations last session. He welcomed the
third round session on the intermediate model and said it
might be a "means of ending the deadlock, and providing a
stepping stone towards permanent reform." The French Perm
Rep also supported the Group of Four for permanent member
status and "an increased presence of African countries within
the Security Council, in particular among its permanent
members." He also noted the "question of the presence of an
Arab state as part of the permanent members of the Security
Council" but said that any expansion should not detract from
the Council's effectiveness or credibility. He, too, argued
in favor of the intermediate option, and joined the G4 in
calling for a "document from the President in charge of the
negotiations highlighting the main parameters of the reform,
in particular the composition of the Security Council."
(Comment: The French position appears to be hewing closer to
the German position. Our UK colleagues have even commented
on this to us. End comment.)

15. (SBU) The Russian Perm Rep voiced his government's
support of making the Council more representative but not at
the peril of becoming less effective. He urged keeping the
Council small and warned against any infringement on the
current powers of the permanent members. He said any reform
should garner the support of more than two-thirds of member
states. He voiced a continued willingness to discuss the
intermediate option and urged that intergovernmental
negotiations be continued in a calm and transparent manner
with all options discussed. The Chinese Perm Rep said that
China supports a "reasonable reform of the Security Council"
with increased representation, especially of developing
states, but admitted the issue is "complicated and delicate."

Wide dislike of the veto

16. (SBU) One of the few themes running through the vast
majority of statements, regardless of group affiliation, was
a widespread dislike of permanent members' veto rights and
preference to abolish the veto. If abolition is not
possible, the G4 and African Group members and their
supporters seek to extend the veto to all new permanent
members so as to not create a new category of permanent
members with a lower status. UFC members also argued in
favor of the abolition of the veto but were loathe to extend
it to any new permanent members since they are stridently
opposed to new permanent members. G4 members noted that any
new veto rights would not be exercised by new members until a
future reform conference, while others argued for limiting
the veto's application to only Chapter VII matters, banning
its use on issues of genocide, war crimes, or violations of
international humanitarian law, or increasing the threshold
for its use to two permanent members having to exercise it
for it to take effect or granting override powers to a
supermajority of the Council or the General Assembly. Most
of the P-5 were clear in their statements that they would not
support any change to current members' veto rights.

Intermediate option favored
by many European states

17. (SBU) In addition to permanent members France and UK who
are promoting the intermediate option, a number of other
European states (who are not members of one of the other
major groups) appear to be wholeheartedly behind the concept
as well, including Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, and

Switzerland, as the only "realistic option to break the

Small states call for
greater representation

18. (SBU) The Perm Rep of Barbados, who spoke on behalf of
CARICOM, voiced support for the G4 and African Group
positions and also called for an increase in elected seats to
enable more small states, particularly small island
developing states, to have more opportunities to serve on the

Next step: Fourth
round starts Dec. 8

19. (SBU) As the PGA summed up at the end of the plenary
debate, there continues to be strong interest in
intergovernmental negotiations and strong support for
Ambassador Tanin's chairmanship of the intergovernmental
negotiations but little agreement on anything else. On
November 16, Ambassador Tanin circulated a letter to the
membership proposing to start the fourth round of
intergovernmental negotiations on December 8. He said the
first meeting would "revolve around all the positions and
proposals by Member States on the table by now and by then.
A second exchange of the fourth round would "revolve around
areas of convergence."

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