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UNSC reform negotiations not ‘begun in earnest’: UNGA President

United Nations

The negotiations for reforming the UN Security Council have not “begun in earnest” and the process is stuck in “informal discussions,” according to General Assembly President Dennis Francis.

“Under the ambit of the IGN what is taking place are informal discussions that predate the commencement of formal negotiations,” he said on Tuesday referring to the Intergovernmental Negotiations process for reforms.

He would not set a time frame for the negotiations, saying, “The member states themselves will determine the timing of the commencement of formal negotiations, but we are not yet there.”

Francis was asked at his news conference about the veto-mired Security Council’s inability to deal with the Ukraine and Gaza crises and if it was directly connected to the failure of the reform process.

He said that the assertion that the reform negotiations were a failure “is not quite accurate because the IGN process has not failed”.

“It’s a members-driven process. This is a member-driven organisation. They have not yet made that determination (about moving to earnest negotiations). They will when they think the time and context is right,” he said.

“What is taking place now, is a sort of introductory preliminary discussion, not negotiations regarding the various models that are on the table in terms of the reform process and what the Security Council can and might look like if any particular one of these models are chosen,” he said.

The Council’s basic architecture is built around the primacy of the five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, with veto powers reflecting the post-World War II scenario.

The veto powers have blocked Council action on several important issues.

A majority of countries from the Global South have demanded giving them an equal voice by expanding the ranks of permanent members.

India and several countries have repeatedly demanded the adoption of a negotiating text that would set the agenda and identify the points for discussion to move the reforms forward.

But it has been blocked by a small coterie of nations that style themselves Uniting for Consensus and is led by Italy and includes Pakistan as a vociferous member.

Setting a Catch-22 scenario, they demand that there could be no negotiating text unless there is a consensus — which cannot be achieved without serious negotiations based on a text.

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