The United Nations will lose its credibility as the pre-eminent international forum if Member States are unable to agree on reforming the size, membership and working methods of the Security Council, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said today.
Speaking to a conference on global governance and Council reform in Rome, Mr. Deiss said it was unacceptable that the international community had been unable to make substantial progress on reforming the 15-member Council, despite active debate for almost two decades.
“Unless we find the determination to advance on this issue, the United Nations will lose its credibility,” he said. “Our organization will be marginalized, and important issues will be discussed in other forums and groupings which are perceived to be more efficient and more representative of the new realities of the day.”
Mr. Deiss, who heads the 192-member Assembly, questioned whether reform of the Council is as daunting as often perceived.
“Is there no way to overcome the divisions and to forge a win-win compromise that would be acceptable for a broad majority of Member States?” he asked.
The Assembly President – who stressed that he is not backing any specific proposal – said any proposed Council reform will only succeed if it follows five key principles.
The proposal must have: the broadest possible support; conform with the UN’s basic values and principles, such as inclusiveness, democracy and accountability; be simple enough to be understood by politicians and the public; be efficient so that the Council can respond effectively to crises; and be flexible so that Member States do not “lock ourselves into a new structure that could soon become obsolete.”
Mr. Deiss called on countries to “embark on real negotiations and, if they are to succeed, it is essential that all parties display a constructive, realistic and flexible attitude.”
While in Rome Mr. Deiss is also expected to meet with Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and senior Italian Government officials. Before arriving in Italy he travelled to Lebanon, where he met with President Michel Suleiman.