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22 June 2009 - Security Council reform: relationship between UNGA and the UNSC, the right of veto and working methods - Statement by Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Intergovernmental negotiations at the General Assembly

(translation of statement made in French)

Mr. President,

The French delegation would like to thank you for organizing this new meeting for our negotiations on Security Council reform in accordance with your proposal and your letter of June 17.

As we reach the last stage in the second phase of our negotiations, I would like to state our positions on the issues concerning the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, the working methods and the right of veto.

France remains attached to maintaining a balance between the principal organs established by the United Nations Charter.

The Security Council and the General Assembly must continue to exercise their powers in line with the provisions of the Charter, which, from our point of view, do not need to be changed with regard to this issue.

At the same time, we support the most effective application of the relevant provisions of the Charter relating to the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

We would like the quality of the reports from the Security Council and the General Assembly to be further improved, in line with article 24, paragraph 3 of the Charter. While we acknowledge the recent progress that has been made, these reports should also be as substantive as possible.

Mr. President,

I would also like, once again, to emphasize that France has always been anxious to ensure that the working methods of the Security Council allow it to operate effectively, which is fundamental for its credibility as the principal organ for peacekeeping and security and for the credibility of the United Nations as a whole, but also allow it to maintain a transparent and interactive relationship with all of the United Nations Member States.

Significant progress has already been achieved in this respect. Opportunities for public meetings at the Security Council have expanded, with policy debates being held, allowing the views of the States that are interested for different reasons in a particular issue to be heard, as well the organization of open debates between the members of the Security Council on issues that do not need to be dealt with in private. Experience shows that these issues, dealt with in public, account for the majority of the cases.

The Council has continued to make regular improvements to its methods and procedures in this spirit of openness. The Presidential statement of December 2006 both recognizes and advances these efforts.

We also support the recent initiatives to improve coherence between the actions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Allow me to quote, as an example, the establishment, and promising activities, of the Peacebuilding Commission which has demonstrated that two organs can work in synergy together.

As such, we would like to see continued improvement in the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly in order to achieve improved overall transparency and greater system-wide coherence.

Mr. President,

I would also like to reaffirm our position on the right to veto issue.

Exercising the right to veto is a significant responsibility for a Permanent Member of the Security Council since it relates to the maintenance of peace and international security. We are aware of the particular responsibility of the United Nations Security Council with regard to situations relating to war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and serious and persistent violations of human rights.

I would like to remind you that France has only issued a veto 18 times since 1945; we last used the right of veto almost 20 years ago in December 1989. The last time we used a lone veto was in 1976.

The right of veto issue must not be allowed to block or serve as pretext to block the necessary and urgent reform of the Security Council.

The most urgent thing for us is to agree on an intermediate solution in order to make decisive progress on Security Council reform.

This solution could include the creation, on a temporary basis, of a new category of seats, with a longer term than the two year term of the currently elected members, and which would be renewable. At the end of the intermediate phase, these new types of seats could be turned into permanent ones.

Such a solution would make possible to test the parameters of a Security Council reform during an intermediate phase.

Mr. President, please take these points into consideration so that, together, we can move forward quickly in our negotiations.

We must all demonstrate flexibility. The third phase of the negotiations will be critical. You can rely on our commitment.

Thank you.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU