Reform of the Security Council

Joint statement 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 by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, delivered by H.E. Mr. Geir O. Pedersen, 6 February 2017.

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

The Nordic countries remain convinced that the effectiveness of the Security Council is more important than ever, given the global and geopolitical challenges facing the United Nations.

We are encouraged by the fact that the members of the Council have recently come together to pass critical decisions, including those related to the conflicts in the Middle East.

We commend the Council presidencies of Spain and Sweden, for encouraging a results-oriented approach to Council deliberations, and for organizing open debates on crucial topics such as conflict prevention, with the participation of our eminent new Secretary-General. An active working relationship between the Secretary-General and the Security Council will enhance the UN system’s overall ability to prevent conflict and sustain peace.

These positive developments notwithstanding, the Security Council needs to become more transparent, more effective, more accountable, and more representative than is currently the case. This requires a reform.

Openness and transparency in the work of the Council remain priority areas of reform for the Nordic countries. The selection process for the Secretary-General was a prominent and positive case in point. It is, however, important to continue the reform efforts in order to develop the process further and make it more transparent.

Other examples are the efforts to expand cooperation with regional organizations, such as the African Union, as well as consultations with troop-contributing countries, which will also enhance the quality of Council decision-making. Here, however, more is needed.

Enhanced accountability is another priority of the Nordic countries. We welcome the work of France and Mexico, as well as of the ACT group – which is working for the improved accountability, coherence and transparency of the Security Council and of which Nordic countries are proud members – to limit the use of veto in cases of mass atrocities and war crimes. In this regard, it follows that, when it comes to questions surrounding the veto, the Nordic countries are focused on limiting, rather than expanding its use.

We reiterate that we are in favour of reforms that enhance the representation of countries and regions that have risen in relative and absolute importance since 1945.

Ensuring improved representation, including a balanced expansion, which results in both permanent and non-permanent seats for Africa, must be at the basis of any Council reform. A reformed and expanded Council must reflect twenty-first century geopolitical and economic realities and entail enhanced representation of the nations of Asia and Latin America as well.

The overall objective of these reforms must be to safeguarding the Council’s legitimacy. The Nordic countries commend the two co-chairs for taking on the important and challenging task of taking the intergovernmental negotiations process on Security Council reform forward.

The co-chairs can rest assured that we will support them in their efforts to create a constructive dialog among Member States, with a view to achieve further progress during this session of the General Assembly.

Thank you.