GA: Security Council membership

Nordic statement in the General Assembly Informal meeting of the plenary on the intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council, 3 April 2023.

The statement was delivered by the Permanent Representative of Denmark, Ambassador Martin Bille Hermann.

Excellences, Co-Chairs,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Denmark.

We welcome this opportunity to go further in depth with the question of regional representation, particularly concerning currently underrepresented geographical groups in the Council, such as those of Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Nordic countries support a balanced expansion of the Security Council from all regions to better reflect current global political and economic realities, and to ensure increased representation of developing countries, including across the regions of Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly both permanent and non-permanent seats for Africa in order to redress the historical injustice against Africa.

To get closer to understand where solutions and compromises might be found, we are looking forward to hearing the views and proposals put forward by colleagues from the three regions being discussed today- and we wish to use this occasion to remind delegations of the following convergence captured in last year’s Revised Elements Paper:

“Member States have expressed different views with regard to the distribution of additional seats among the regional groups, but the majority of proposals call for the distribution of additional seats, whether non-permanent or permanent, to entail no less than 3 additional seats for African States, 3 for Asia-Pacific States, 2 for Latin American and Caribbean States, 1 for Western European and Other States, 1 for Eastern European States, and 1 for Arab States.”

While this, of course, stops short of addressing the challenging question of permanent versus non-permanent seats, it nonetheless presents a very tangible starting point to build from. It will therefore be useful to hear delegations’ views on this merely quantitative depiction of regional representation in a future reformed Security Council, and what additional considerations are needed to meet the aspirations and legitimate quest for fair representation in an expanded Council.


Of course, it is not enough to talk about representation in mere quantitative terms. We must also consider the quality of representation. In this regard, we would like to mention three points:

First, it is in our view also important to look specifically at how to provide further opportunities for small states to participate in the decision-making process of the UN Security Council, by increasing opportunities for serving as elected members and for participating meaningfully in the work of the Council. The majority of UN Member States are small states – many of which are in the three regions we are discussing today, and historically this global majority has represented a minority in the Council.

Second, as we know from many other contexts, it is rarely sufficient to have a seat at the table, if this does not also provide the opportunity for meaningful participation in the work of the Council. Our discussions on appropriate reform of Council working methods in an expanded Council will need to address this issue to ensure the full participation of all members of the Security Council. For example, we have heard ideas for how to ensure that all elected members hold the Presidency at least once during their term. For small states in particular, fair, transparent, and inclusive working methods are critically important.

Third, it is not possible to talk about permanent seats for Africa without also considering the dilemmas around, which particular powers permanent members in a reformed Council should possess – apart from the permanence of their seats. This includes of course the discussion around extension of veto powers to potential new members of the Council. On one hand, we recognize that new permanent members of a reformed Council would understandably demand the same powers as the sitting permanent members. On the other hand, the Nordics remain committed to ensuring a transparent, accountable and effective Council. Just introducing more permanent members with today’s seemingly unbridled veto powers could potentially jeopardize these priorities. But of course today’s seemingly unrestricted scope and use of the veto power does not necessarily need to be maintained tomorrow. These are dilemmas and difficult trade-offs that we as diplomats are tasked with, and we welcome more in-depth discussions of this today and tomorrow.


These points illustrate the inherently interconnected nature of the five clusters, structuring our conversations in the IGN process. To make progress toward meaningful reform, we must not only consider each of the clusters in isolation, but rather ask cross-cutting questions. Today’s conversation – and the very welcome series of un-formals – are opportunities to have such cross-cutting conversations about how proposals across the five clusters can serve to enhance meaningful regional representation in an expanded Security Council.


The Elements Paper serves as an important record of convergences and divergences across delegations’ positions. We see progress year on year, and while our discussions often tend to focus on where we disagree the most, the Elements paper illustrates a broad set of convergences. As we continue to work on the Elements paper, the Framework Document too can serve as a useful reference. For small delegations like ours, we are certain that the online repository of statements and webcasts will also be of great value for maintaining forward momentum on Security Council reform. We look forward to receiving the revised Elements Paper from the Co-Chairs reflecting progress made in this year’s IGN meetings. The Nordic countries see this as a strong basis for future deliberations and negotiations based on a text, reflecting our progress as we continue to expand our areas of convergence and narrow our areas of divergence.

Thank you.