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Bolton Statement on Security Council Reform

Statement on Security Council Reform

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the General Assembly
New York City
November 10, 2005

Thank you, Mr. President:

I welcome the opportunity to participate in the discussion on reform and expansion of the Security Council. I hope our review of the issue today, as called for in paragraph 153 of the Outcome Document, contributes to agreement on an approach that builds broad support among Member States.

The United States believes strongly in the Security Council. We will continue to ensure that the Council is able to carry out its mandate under the Charter. In discussing the structure and methods of the Council, our foremost priority remains ensuring its effectiveness.

I would like to express my appreciation to President Eliasson for his outstanding leadership of this historic effort to implement the key reforms endorsed in the Outcome Document. I thank my friend and colleague from the Russian Federation, the current President of the Council, for his comments on the work of the Security Council over the past year.

Ambassador Denisov's report highlights the need for a Council able to meet the challenges of a world in which conflict within borders, across borders, and too often without borders threatens the peace, security and freedom of people everywhere.

In recent weeks, the Council has acted on a number of critical issues affecting international peace and security, including Syria, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa.

I believe there is much for the Council to do to bring an end to long-running conflicts. As we have advocated in the Council, the collective efforts of this organization need to focus on resolving the underlying disputes that fuel these conflicts, working closely with Member States, regional organizations, the private sector and other international bodies.

I mention a few of the vital issues before the Security Council today to emphasize a point: Discussion of reform and expansion of the Council must emphasize the need to strengthen not weaken the Council's ability to act.

The Security Council has underway a comprehensive review of its working methods and procedures and continues to take important steps to improve its efficiency. We believe that, as clearly stated in the Charter, the Security Council alone will determine its own working methods and procedures.

To this end, however, we fully welcome ideas and contributions from other Member States. The United States will continue to be a full participant in the Open Ended Working Group. Based on the work of this group, the Council has already developed a series of procedures and practices to provide increased access and information on items being considered by the Council, including through briefings, journal notices and the use of new information technology.

The Council will continue to engage with other Member States on issues such as conflict prevention and resolution, including through use of Arria-style meetings, contacts during Council Missions and other activities.

The Council's sanctions committees will also continue their engagements with other Member States, including neighboring countries, to inform the Council's work and support the full implementation of Council resolutions.

Just as the United States supports reform here in the General Assembly, we will lead by example by continuing reform in the Council, consistent with the powers and principles laid out in the UN Charter.

The United States supports an expansion of the Security Council that can contribute to it's strength and effectiveness, and is open to various options to realize such a reform. Earlier this year, the U.S. made a specific proposal for a modest expansion of the Council by adding a combination of permanent and non-permanent members. We stand by that proposal and are open to suggestions of other countries.

As Secretary Rice has said, "We want this important body to reflect the world as it is in 2005 not as it was in 1945." We must also ensure that new permanent members are supremely qualified to undertake the tremendous duties and responsibilities they will assume. In our view, qualified nations should meet criteria in the following areas: size of economy and population; military capacity; contributions to peacekeeping operations; commitment to democracy and human rights; financial contributions to the United Nations; non-proliferation and counterterrorism records; and equitable geographic balance.

We have long supported a permanent seat for Japan. We hope very much that Japan will be able to take a permanent seat at the earliest possible opportunity. And we believe that developing countries deserve greater representation on this body. As I have already noted, particular emphasis should be placed on criteria for membership. And those member states who most clearly meet those criteria should be allowed to serve on the Council, even where there is a disagreement over other candidates.

The United States is prepared to engage fully in an effort to find a proposal that allows for agreement on expansion of the Council. However, too large an expansion would risk making it unable to quickly address challenges to international peace and security.

We will not, however, support a return to any of the three proposals introduced in the 59th General Assembly. In these past attempts, simply put, we bit off more than we could chew.

The debate in this chamber in July only highlighted deep division among Member States and paralyzed the overall reform effort. We believe it would be a mistake to return to that discussion.

Because Security Council expansion requires amendment of the Charter, which requires approval of two-thirds of the membership and by the five current Permanent Members, in accordance with their own respective constitutional procedures, we need to prepare the way carefully to ensure that whatever approach we adopt can and will gain the requisite support of Member States during the ratification process.

It is important that nay proposal contribute to the effectiveness of the Security Council. Proposals that do not command the breadth of support necessary to be put into practice should be reconsidered.

The United States takes its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council very seriously. History has shown that the Council, working together and with the full cooperation of all Member States, can reverse aggression, contribute to the expansion of freedom and maintain peace and security for the benefit of us all.

Released on November 29, 2005


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