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Bhumish Khudkhudia asked: How significant is the UN General Assembly’s decision to choose the path of text-based negotiation for carrying out Security Council reforms? What was the rationale behind the US and Russia not contributing to the text?

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  • Arpita Anant replies: The decision of the UN General Assembly to adopt text-based negotiations on the “question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters” is significant because it has established that a majority of the nations agree on the principle of reform. Also, it has helped clarify the positions of particular nations and/or groups of nations on this important subject. Considering the preponderance of the Security Council in the UN system, the will of the majority to reshape it is now a given and will exert some moral pressure on the permanent members of the Security Council to consider this issue more seriously.

    The main focus of the Intergovernmental Negotiations following the General Assembly decision 62/557 of September 2008 leading to this decision has been on the following issues:

    • Issues of categories of membership;
    • the question of the veto;
    • regional representation;
    • size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods of the Council; and
    • the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly.

    This, however, is no guarantee of expansion of the Security Council as the decision will require a yes-vote from the permanent members for an amendment of the Charter to this effect.
    The US and Russia were explicit in not supporting text-based negotiations as they are not open to having too many nations (on a regional basis) in the Council. They would like to have a say in having countries of their preference in the Council. So if India were to go it alone, it may stand a better chance of getting the US and Russian support. This still leaves out China, which is unwilling to consider the case of any other country but two African nations. So, the ‘reform’ is still a long way off.

    Posted on December 01, 2015