General Assembly General Assembly


Intervention made by Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative at an 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 and other matters to the Council on 02 May 2018


Thank you, Madam Co-Chair.


As they say, the smart knows how to talk; the wise know when to be silent. 


I am neither smart nor wise, so I have taken the floor at this late stage.  Many of the smart have talked and many more of the wise have kept silent.  Since I do not fall in either of these categories, I have ventured to try and respond to some of the issues that were raised by my colleagues and the four points that you have raised. 




We all are diplomats. Diplomacy presupposes that there will be negotiations.  Negotiations mean give and take and bargaining.  It does not mean that the winner takes it all.There are other modes of resolving issues where the winner takes it all.  In diplomacy there will be give and take.


That is my response to my good friend Amb. Juan Jose, who is not here -  that negotiations would mean give and take and bargaining. Please come for negotiations.  He does not need to worry that some will be flexible and some inflexible; we are all seasoned diplomats. We know how to be flexible, and when to be flexible.  So, the G4, for our part is ready for negotiations; for give and take; for bargaining; but please come to the table. 


My second response is to the issue that we need to delve deep, very deep into the various proposals.  So, I tasked my young colleagues to go very deep.  I told them that I have been here, following this issue for 25 years, and so go deeper.  Because I was a fellow traveler with Amb. Max from Papua New Guinea in the 1990s  but that is not going deep enough they were tasked to go deeper. So off they went to library, while others were enjoying their lunch and the Italian meal.  I wish I too had an Italian meal,Italian food being one of my favourites.  I am waiting for Amb. Cardi to invite me for this meal. 


That said, these young people went somewhere else, not for the meal but to the library and they delved very deep; in fact they came up with a document which refers to Oct 31, 1944.  May I repeat, Oct. 31, 1944.  I hope this is deep enough.  Now I looked at this document and,Co-Chair, as we know you are a great believer in digital cooperation and artificial intelligence.  These colleagues got this document out using digital techniques and told me about a model, which was submitted on 31 Oct 1944 and considered a few months after on 23rdApril 1945. 


This model suggested the following –this was the proposal that sought to empower the GA to elect and re-elect for semi-permanent positions – seems to be very similar to what we are talking about – long term – for eight years, with provision for immediate re-election. Now, what we have heard all these months was this is long term membership was a new model; this is a model that was presented just a few months ago here; it was to have 9 long term members.  But I looked at this document and found it seems to be presented by a country who is a member of the UfC. 


From 1944 to 2018 - it is the same thing.  How does it become a compromise?  How does it show that we have evolved? Actually, my colleague is still working and shall revert I am certain with some other similar models which exist perhaps earlier to this also.  My point is, we have all delved very deeply.  Let us now get into doing something more than deep diving. 


We can understand we have different positions and we need to try and address them. 


That brings me to the question of timelines.  I hear many times about artificial deadlines.  We have heard it again today – artificial deadlines are not acceptable.  Let us test this out, whether we are for artificial deadlines or not.  Let me begin by saying that June is an artificial deadline.  Who created this deadline, when the GA is up to September.  By definition, June is artificial, it is not normal.  Let us test it out; let us have a natural deadline for this session, let us work till the end of this session.  I presume there will not be any objection because no one is for artificial deadline,or are we?  My understanding is there is no one wanting artificial deadlines.  Let us continue discussions beyond June - this deadline is created by us and not God-given.  Hence, by definition, artificial not natural.   That is my third general point.


Coming to the four issues that you raised, Co-Chairs. 


Let me start with the fourth.  As you all know, I represent a country which can perhaps never fit into this definition that you have given - developed small state, developing small states or SIDS.  By no expansion of this term, can my country fit into this category.  I understand SIDS is a term which is used in the UN.  Unfortunately, I don’t see my good friend Amb. Burhan who heads a group called FOSS.  But it will be useful for us to understand the definition of a small state.  Because SIDS is an easy definition, I presume it is used in economic terms but general definition of small, medium state – it is useful to understand that as we proceed forward in terms of our intellectual efforts in this.  That is my little submission on small states, a better understanding of the definition.


The next response is on categories of membership.  Having listened to everyone here, I see that perhaps there is some element of commonality here – you may ask how?  It is because all of us agree to expansion in two categories of membership – there is no one who is for expansion in more than two categories.  There are some like us who feel expansion is in the permanent and non-permanent as it exists now.  There are some others who feel expansion should be in the 2-year non-permanent and a long term non-permanent.  It is still two categories.  I see no disagreement among all of us that we all accept expansion in two categories.  This is a creative way of trying to work forward rather than trying to broaden our differences.  Perhaps, that is one way of trying to gain a commonality where no one has said that they want only 1 category or 3 categories or 4 categories of seats.


The next issue is of elements of commonality.  You have rightly said there is a general agreement and identifying convergences is the right way to go about.  But how did we identify those convergences?  We looked at issues for further consideration, decided to agree on them, and then placed them as a commonality.  What you are suggesting is let us unpack those.  I understand the reason and there will come a time to do that.  Those who are suggesting unpacking are perhaps unaware of the history or negotiation when we worked on those. 


As they say, the camel is a horse designed by committee.  And para 4 is that camel.  We all tried and focused on our respective horses, we landed with a camel.  Therefore, we now have to accept that camel because that is the camel that came out.  Now we don’t want the camel’s tail to be chopped off partially; the camel is what we produced, let us accept it till we find something else.  The camel is there till we find another one or till such time, we will decide to move on and replace the camel when we find may be an Italian stallion or maybe an Indian stallion.  That said, let us leave the camel there till an acceptable stallion comes. 


That brings me to the last element 6j. Having looked at the language of 6j, I must confess it is a very interesting language because it already has two provisos which says member states expressed different views and then says that it is not limited to these proposals.  Already it is a watered-down para.


I do not understand why anyone should have a problem with a proposal which already has two provisos.  If someone wants to put in a third proviso, if that is a solution, three is better than two so be it. Maybe you could have a talk with those who have a concern about their proposal not being reflected – please reflect their proposal, if that is what they want to do.  Let us put three provisos and three proposals. Maybe it could then perhaps work as a solution for all of us. 


Luckily Amb. Imnadze is not here, because I am going to turn Aldous Huxley on his head.If he was here he would not look kindly on reversing Aldous Huxley. Huxley had said something which I am reversing – He said, “Ending is better than mending”. I would rather say “mending is better than ending”.  Let us not keep trying to end the proposal at 6j – let us try and mend it. Let us not try and end the current process in June but mend it to continue thereafter till end of the session.


I leave those thoughts with you as the Co-Chair to see if you can mend rather than end – let us mend this process, mend the discussion, mend our approaches. 


Thank you very much, Co-Chairs.