Global South think tanks discuss UN Security Council Reforms at UN Headquarters

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj addressing participants on December 13, 2023, at the ECOSOC Chamber in the United Nations Headquarters. PHOTO: PMI

United Nations: The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), in collaboration with L69, a group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific (Small Island Developing States) hosted a round table titled, “Shifting the Balance: Perspectives on UN Security Council Reforms from Global South Think Tanks,” on December 13, 2023, at the ECOSOC Chamber in the United Nations Headquarters.

The event brought together experts, leaders, and representatives from civil society organizations from across the world.

Underscoring the urgency of the United Nations Security Council to be “more representative, more effective, more coherent, and more accountable,” Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj expressed that the L69 coalition of emerging nations has been actively championing the expansion of the United Nations Security Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.

“India’s recent G20 presidency has been instrumental in bringing these issues to the fore. The inclusion of the African Union as a G20 member is a testament to the strides being made towards inclusive global governance.” Kamboj added, “This progress at the G20 level must be mirrored in the United Nations Security Council, where broader representation is essential for the body’s effectiveness and credibility.”

Kamboj emphasized that the discussions are seminal, as the United Nations will organize the Summit of the Future in September 2024, and it will serve as an important opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of the UN Charter, with a specific emphasis on the Security Council.

“It is evident that the Council’s current form is no longer reflecting the global landscape it aims to serve,” Kamboj pointed out, adding the overrepresentation of permanent members from “global north” fails to acknowledge the diverse and dynamic nature of the contemporary world particularly neglecting viewpoints of regions from the L69 group.

Thanking the L69 group for hosting the round table discussion, President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis emphasized that it is an essential platform for fostering informal exchanges of diverse viewpoints on the reform of Security Council.

Francis expressed gratitude to India for its outstanding leadership in tacking global challenges, persistent advocacy for the concerns of the Global South, and its crucial role in being a vocal proponent for solutions to significant multilateral issues affecting the international community.

“While conflicts seem to be spreading across the globe, the Security Council whose primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security, however, seems caught in a concerning state of paralysis,” Francis warned. “With its unsatisfactory discharge of its crucial mandate, the Council is perceived as falling short of its mandate, consequently, compromising the credibility of the entire UN itself.”

Questioning the functioning and effectiveness of the Security Council, President of ORF, Samir Saran who moderated the discussion noted, “The Security Council remains the last colonial institution and that’s something we must think about. Is that the multilateral organization we’re comfortable with? We must think about the veto. Is it an important instrument that delivers global peace and global public goods?”

Saran went on to say “Or is it a perverse privilege that protects bad behavior? And we’ve seen enough of this, this century itself… We’ve seen the misuse of the veto and we have not seen the veto deliver peace and stability.”

Sithembile Mbete from the University of Pretoria, South Africa said, “The Council is not representative of the world’s people. Although nations from the Global South make up more than two thirds of the UN’s membership, the Council only represents 8 per cent of member states.”

Providing Brazil’s perspective on UNSC reforms, Non-resident Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington DC, and Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, Oliver Stuenkel commended India’s leadership during its G20 Presidency. He noted, “I think Brazil will certainly aim to do something similar. It [Brazil] has purposefully asked to take the Presidency of the BRICS grouping a year later in order to focus fully on its G20 Presidency.”

“And I think the reforms that [have] been undertaken during the G20 presidency of India and the inclusion of the African Union is perhaps a good example of how reform is possible. We would all like to see a quick and massive reform of the UN Security Council,” Stuenkel added.

Director General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Professor E Osaghae, and Nand Bardouille of the Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, also spoke during the round table about the urgency of the UN Security Council reforms.



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