16 December 2013
Statement by H. E. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee Permanent Representative
of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations At the informal meeting of the plenary of
the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the
intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership
of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
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I would like to join previous speakers in thanking you for convening this meeting. I would also like to appreciate the efforts of Ambassador Zahir Tanin, distinguished Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on this important subject.
Before proceeding to substantive part of my statement, I would like to thank you for submitting a non-paper, which as you rightly mentioned is not a negotiating text and only aimed at facilitating discussions within the Intergovernmental Negotiations. Of course, we preferred to have received it well in advance of the meeting to have enough time to reflect on its content. I hope this issue will be taken into account in the next stage of this process.
After over 20 years that we considered this issue in different formats, it is time to look back, to assess our achievements, to identify the areas where we are close to consensus, to determine challenges ahead of us, and finally to agree on a practical way forward.
Concerning the size of Council’s membership, the Islamic Republic of Iran supports the enlargement of its membership and is of the view that an enlarged Council membership should be regionally equitable and balanced and geopolitically reflective of the realities of our time.
We believe that specific criteria should be applied to achieve the intended results. In our view, the principle is to enlarging the Council membership so as to ensure that each and every geographical group would have a quota of seats in an enlarged Council that is proportionate with the number of States in concerned geographical group. For instance, while the African and Asia-Pacific groups each account for almost 28% of the UN membership, they should have the same percentage of seats in an enlarged Council.
This is the only criteria which can ensure addressing the current problem that is overrepresentation of some groups and underrepresentation of some others. Otherwise, enlarging the Council membership can only lead us to a council with a larger membership where the chronic problem of overrepresentation of some and underrepresentation of others, as well as undemocratic and unrepresentative nature of this body continue to exist.
Accordingly, we do not believe that the approach adopted in non-paper in proposing different alternatives for enlarging Security Council membership is appropriate.
Additionally, when it comes to the Asia-Pacific group, unfortunately the non-paper does not take into account the realities on the ground concerning this group, while Asia alone, as a geopolitically significant area, is the largest continent having more than half of the world’s population, with several large economies and vast resources.
Moreover, the non-paper does not take into consideration the important issue of under-representation of developing countries, including the Muslim world with 57 Member States and a population of over 1.5 billion.
In terms of Council’s methods of work, Iran believes that to address the legitimacy challenge of its decisions, we should limit and ultimately abolish the use of the veto power as an outdated, discriminatory and undemocratic instrument in its decision-making process. This should be the main guiding principle in addressing the issues related to the veto power.
Accordingly, we do not support neither preserving the veto power, nor its extension to some new members in an enlarged Council as referred to in the non-paper.
At the same time, we strongly support the proposal to limit the use of veto power to block Council actions aimed at preventing or ending genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
However, as a victim of aggression, we are very disappointed to see that, out of four core international crimes, the crime of aggression and foreign occupation is not included in the proposal. Therefore, we propose its inclusion to this list which would also make it consistent with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
I wish also to stress the importance of the need for reforming the Council’s methods of work and its relationship with other organs. In my view, appropriate attention is not paid to these issues in the non-paper. Unfortunately, it has been limited only to some aspects of the issue, while the scope of issues related to the Council’s methods of work and its relationship with other bodies inside or outside the UN System are much broader. For instance, while the concept of rule of law at the national and international levels is one of the main agenda items of our deliberations in the General Assembly, its application to the work and functioning of the Council is not covered appropriately by the non-paper. I believe that, we need to ensure when this process is accomplished and its decisions is applied, the Council would be a fully transparent and accountable body bound by law.
In this context I would like to emphasize that quick and unnecessary resort to Chapter VII of the Charter and imposing sanctions, in cases where either no action has even been necessary or provisions of Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter had not been fully utilized, is yet another dangerous trend and a source of serious concern to the overwhelming majority of the Member States. According to Article 24 of the Charter, the Council’s decisions should reflect the wish and the views of general membership of the United Nations.
On the other hand, the mandate of Security Council is not unlimited or above the law. On the contrary, it definitely is bound by the Charter and international law. As mentioned in paragraph 2 of Article 24 of the UN Charter, the Council has an explicit legal obligation to exercise its powers in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.
Indeed, making decisions on the basis of unauthentic information or politically motivated analysis or narrow national interest priorities of some council members is in contradiction with the UN Charter. Such practices continue to undermine the credibility of the Council, to damage the legitimacy of its decisions, and to erode the trust of Member States to this important organ.
We therefore share this view that the Security Council, instead of excessive resort to Chapter VII, should evolve a mechanism as to how the provisions of Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter can be fully utilized for the pacific settlement of disputes, and what role the Security Council, the Secretary-General and other UN bodies as well as regional arrangements can play in resolving disputes and conflicts through peaceful means. This important issue needs to be taken into account appropriately in the revised versions of the non-paper.
In view of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the trust and legitimacy deficit and other chronic problems that the Council is suffering from, will only be rectified through its comprehensive reform to make it a democratic, representative, accountable and effective body acting in accordance with the UN Charter. And indeed, no Council reform would be successful, unless and until, all five interrelated clusters, namely, categories of membership, the veto, size and working methods and regional representation and the relationship between the Security Council and other main bodies of the Organization are appropriately, comprehensively and inclusively addressed.
Despite the lack of progress on the main issues, we still believe that the process of the reform of the Council should not be subject to any predetermined and superficial time-table, since any hasty decision would run the risk of harming this very delicate process which is of vital importance and great interest for the members of the United Nations and will have far-reaching impacts for the whole world. Therefore, all efforts should be made to reach the broadest possible agreement among the Member States. My delegation welcomes the continued efforts in this regards and is willing to actively participate in the process.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that the process should be Member States-driven and advance on a fully comprehensive and transparent basis within the Intergovernmental Negotiations as the only appropriate and irreplaceable forum. In this regard, once again let me assure you, Mr. President, of the full cooperation of my delegation in this process.
I thank you Mr. President.