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National statements

UN Security Council Reform: Proposal of the S5 for Working Method Reform

Thematic issues

  • Peace and Security



Statement by H.E. Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Mr Chairman,

Thank you for your tenacity and determination to see a comprehensive debate on these important initiatives take place. And thank you to the S-5 for their work and explanation of their draft resolution today.

Australia is not, as everyone knows, not a member of any of the established groups on Security Council reform. Not because we don't value their efforts, or support many of their ideas – to the contrary in fact. We support many of their important proposals. But our overarching approach has been to retain flexibility, to encourage flexibility on the part of others, and to support ideas that we assess as sensible, and achievable. And which might open the door to actually achieving change rather than continue the longstanding stalemate on this issue in the UN trenches. The S5 initiative, to our mind, falls into that category, and that is why we support it.

We have heard some concerns about the resolution's procedural implications. But we do not believe that this resolution would preclude, or undermine, prospects for broader reform. As a country in favour of expansion of both categories of membership of the Council – as soon as possible – we simply wouldn't support anything that jeopardised this objective.

But at this stage of our deliberations, we believes a resolution such as this would send a clear, and very necessary message from the UN membership, that we all have a genuine interest in Security Council reform, and a clear view on what direction that reform should take.

Of course, we are all committed to the Inter-Governmental Negotiations. But for our part, we are also committed to considering, where we think it would take us forward, other ideas for shifting the ground a little, and for making progress where we can.

On the substance of the S5 draft resolution, the measures outlined in this draft resolution are logical and sensible. They are consistent with our own ambitions for a more transparent and accessible Security Council. Transparency and accessibility equal legitimacy, and the legitimacy of the Council is in all of our interests, given that it remains – and must remain – the body with primary responsibility for peace and security.

And it is that very responsibility that creates an obligation on Council members to work to enhance the transparency of Council deliberations, which we believe the proposals in this draft resolution would do.

It is also important to note that the resolution presents a series of measures and "invites the Security Council to consider the measures" – thereby acknowledging the respective competencies of the Council and the General Assembly, and making clear the understanding that the Council is indeed master of its own decisions.

In short we believe that we ought to continue to work to achieve meaningful reform in this forum under your stewardship, but that we should also seize opportunities to make improvements that will enhance the way the Council operates, and the perceptions of its legitimacy. These objectives are not incompatible.

To conclude – we understand those who maintain that pursuing efforts
outside the intergovernmental negotiations – negotiations which we strongly
support – will divert the pressure we need to bring about consensus on
a broader package. We don't want that pressure to dissipate either, but
whether it does or not is also in our hands. We are supporting the S5 initiative
partly out of frustration that so little progress has been made on the five
key issues set out in Decision 62/557, and that the obstacles in our way –
defined by the geopolitics – appear firm. But also because we believe
we need to keep trying to open the door to more comprehensive reform –
including deep structural reform – and this initiative may help us to
do so.

Last Updated: 16 June 2015
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