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Statement by His Excellency Guillermo E. Rishchynski, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, to the Plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters

NEW YORK, November 9, 2011

Mr. President,

At the 63rd Session, the membership took an important decision to launch intergovernmental negotiations on a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.  After several years of discussions, and in light of last year’s experience where there were several attempts to push initiatives forward, not all fortunate ones, we believe today is an opportune moment to reflect on what has been accomplished thus far, and how we should focus our negotiations to ensure progress during UNGA 66.

While the debate of the past year has shown that the membership remains fundamentally divided, we strongly believe that convergence amongst member states is not out of reach. There is broad agreement on the need for an increase in the size of the Council, while keeping in mind the need to ensure that the Council remains effective. The recent actions by the Security Council in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire demonstrate the need for and value of swift and decisive action by the Security Council.  These examples stand in contrast to the lack of an effective response to the situation in Syria.  As we consider reforms to the size and composition of the Security Council, we must not lose sight of the need for unity of purpose among Council members and a willingness to act in the face of such challenges.

Canada is encouraged by the number of informal meetings held around the world that allowed for informal, constructive discussions across groups of interests.  But it is quite clear that serious disagreements remain on a number of issues, such as categories of membership. 

Canada’s position on this issue is well known: the Security Council cannot be effectively reformed by simply extending the privileges of a few, to a few more, through the addition of permanent seats.

Canada believes strongly that in order to achieve a democratic, accountable and transparent reform of the Security Council, there needs to be an increase in the number of elected, non-permanent members.  An expansion in the number of elected members would allow for better representation of all of the world’s regions, particularly traditionally under-represented regions such as Africa, and would provide greater opportunity for states to serve on the Council at regular intervals.

It is for this reason that Canada wishes to seriously explore intermediate options. For example, reforming the Security Council by adding more elected seats, with the possibility of re-election, or with slightly longer terms up to 3-5 years, might satisfy the need to recognize the special contributions that some member states make to the UN, while maintaining the necessary accountability to the broader membership and ensuring that there is space for small and medium sized countries to serve on the Council.

While there are still many specifics to be considered, further exploration of intermediate options currently offers us the best chance at unlocking the current stalemate. In order to achieve substantive progress on Security Council Reform, all delegations must be willing to put aside their own preferred options, and engage in a serious negotiation aimed at a compromise solution.

For that reason, Canada urges all states to look towards the possible compromises.

It is our hope that the coming year will allow for constructive rather than divisive efforts around the five issues and perhaps accomplish consensual headway.

Thank you, Mr. President. 

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Date Modified:
2012-01-27