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European nations highlight need for Security Council reform

24 September 2009 – The leaders of European nations today stressed the need for a more representative Security Council, calling for urgent reform of the 15-member body responsible for maintaining international peace and security.

Željko Komšić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told heads of State and governments assembled at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly’s high-level debate that the Council’s restructuring is needed to boost transparency and increase participation of nations, especially those directly affected by a crisis on the panel’s agenda.

“We all have to be aware of the fact that any further delay in the reform of the Security Council will undermine credibility of this body,” he said, adding that “the willingness to reach a compromise must be an imperative.”

Also voicing concern about the slow pace of reform today was President Tarja Halonen of Finland, which she said “actively participates in the efforts to make this body more representative and efficient.”

Her country, she said, values the key role played by the Council, which has five permanent and 10 non-permanent members, calling for progress on reform to be made during this Assembly session, which will run until next September.

Negotiations on the body’s potential reorganization have picked up pace, Danilo Türk of Slovenia said.

“It is apparent that the expansion of the Security Council in various types of both permanent and non-permanent members has gained broad support among UN Member States,” the President stated.

President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania issued a call at the Assembly for the UN to “come of age” and transform into “the visible and credible expression of the globalization of politics.”

In the face of numerous serious challenges - including terrorism, energy and climate change – she said required that “we work with each other or we suffer in isolation.”

Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero also exalted the virtues of multilateralism, especially as the world is experiencing a severe financial crisis.

“This has not been, as has been said, the first crisis of globalization. It has been the first crisis of global governance, the crisis of an insufficiently regulated globalization,” he said at the debate, underscoring that collective determination and coordinated action deployed in the face of the financial and economic crisis should be equally applicable to other world challenges.

“This same willingness to take collective responsibility for the problems and solutions, which has been forcefully apparent these recent months, should now enable us to succeed in responding to the conflicts and threats that still loom over world security and peace,” Mr. Zapatero said.

The world is still navigating the path towards multi-polarity, Croatia’s President Stjepan Mesić told the Assembly.

“It is not yet ready to face the fact that it is not a crime to be different and that our future can only be unity through diversity – of course under the condition of full equality and strict observance of human rights and in line with United Nations conventions,” he said, stressing the need for multilateralism to quash major threats in the global arena.

For his part, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi of Malta sounded the alarm that the time has come for the Assembly to review the Law of the Sea Convention, as new problems have arisen since the pact was concluded in 1982.

“Among these deficiencies are the provisions dealing with piracy, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, the rules relating to the protection and preservation of the marine environment, and the rules dealing with submarine cables and pipelines,” he added.

Last night, Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski also spoke in favour of Security Council reform, telling the Assembly that there was a clear difference between what was established in 1945 when the UN began and present-day concerns.

He called for UN peacekeeping operations to be more effective, saying the world body needed organizational changes to accomplish that goal.

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers used his address today to promote reform both of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, established earlier this decade by UN Member State to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights.

“The Human Rights Council has already achieved some results,” Mr. Zatlers said, referring to the universal periodic review mechanism – in which every country’s rights record is monitored – as one of its “most notable success.

“However, we believe that this process can be further improved to avoid abuse of shortcomings in methodology and practice. The Human Rights Council will undergo a review in 2011. We believe that the Council can become even more credible and effective body for the promotion and protection of human rights.”

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