Dr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Deputy Permanent Representative
At the Plenary on Agenda Ion Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council
16 November 2023
Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this important debate on the issue of Security Council reform.
Let me begin by expressing our appreciation to the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on UN Security Council during the 77th session, Mr. Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations H.E. Michal Mlynár, and Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait H.E. Tareq Albanai, for their dedicated efforts and leadership in steering the IGN.
The new approach that the co-chairs of the 76th Session ushered in, and the current co-chairs continued have contributed to instilling new life into our IGN deliberations. The Maldives appreciates the co-chairs' decision to webcast the IGN meetings as well as the establishment of a specific website to act as a repository of the recordings of the IGN Meetings. We believe these initiatives have enhanced the transparency and trust in the process.
The United Nations Security Council is one of the most critical organs of the international community, entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining global peace and security. However, the world has watched on as the Council failed, repeatedly to take action and to deliver on this responsibility, most recently in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The failure of the Council to even agree on a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza crisis clearly shows that discussions of the most pressing security issues, and absolute decision-making power, must not be relegated to a small group of member states.
Amid inaction by the Security Council, this Assembly reconvened its Tenth Emergency Special Session last month, where a landmark resolution was adopted, urging resolute action to halt violence against innocent civilians. My delegation welcomes the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2712 yesterday, which urges immediate and extended humanitarian pauses in Gaza and the prompt, unconditional release of all hostages. We strongly support the Council’s demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, concerning protecting innocent civilians. We appreciate the leadership of Malta and Elected Members of the Council in finding unity on this resolution. The Council must continue to build on this achievement and do more with the aim of an immediate, enduring, and sustainable humanitarian truce in Gaza, especially for children's sake.
The Maldives believes that the reform of the Security Council is a critical aspect of the revitalization of the United Nations. Indeed, the Maldives was among the first 10 member states that requested the inclusion of this agenda item in 1979. We are of the view that comprehensive reform and expansion of the Security Council are essential to making the Security Council democratic in composition, effective in decision making and accountable to the general membership. In this regard, I wish to reiterate the Maldives’ positions during the IGN process:
In the past 58 years, the UN’s membership has increased from 113 to 193 states, yet the Council remains unchanged, consisting of only a mere fifteen members – just 7.7% of the membership. The permanent members reflect only 2.5% of the whole membership. Thus, we support the expansion of Security Council membership in both permanent and non-permanent seats. This expansion should aim to achieve equitable geographical distribution, redress the historical Injustices against Africa, and include continuous representation of Small Island Developing States and small states.
Second, the Maldives advocates for a more democratic UN Security Council. Often, the disproportionate influence of the five permanent member’' veto power leads to decision-making gridlock. The Maldives wishes to reiterate our view that we must ensure the restriction of veto use, especially in crises like mass atrocities It is also our view that any decision at the United Nations, including the reform of the UNSC, must be based on equitable representation, transparency and accountability. Therefore, as long as veto rights exist, the Maldives believes that new permanent members should as a principle have the same rights and obligations as current permanent members regarding the exercise of veto power and this is why we must move beyond the status quo. However, we must also ensure that newly elected members of the Council adhere to the UN’s principles and work towards maintaining peace and security as constituted in the United Nations Charter.
Third, to enhance the efficiency and transparency of an expanded UN Security Council, streamlined working methods are vital. The Maldives, an ACT Group member, emphasizes the importance of regular dialogues and thorough discussions between the Security Council, the General Assembly, and other relevant U.N. bodies to bolster its effectiveness. We urge sharing responsibilities such as pen-holdership among members to ensure diversified perspectives and avoid singular dominance.
Given the slow pace of the IGN process, the Maldives supports increasing the substantial role and moral authority of the General Assembly. We stress the importance of a more complete, substantive, and analytical account of the Council’s work to the General Assembly. During the 76th th session of the General Assembly, the Maldives was among the 83 Member States that co-sponsored the landmark resolution aimed at holding five permanent Council Members accountable for their use of veto. We are encouraged by the Security Council’s establishment of a consistent practice regarding the initiative’s implementation.
Finally, after sixteen years of the IGN process, it is imperative to focus on concrete progress. The Maldives reiterates its firm view that we must move towards a single negotiating text during the 78th Session. Our intention with this text should be to incorporate the positions of the Member States and Groups with their attributions. This goal will improve transparency and accountability — principles that will further instill new life in our discussions of Security Council reform.
Reform is also necessary to ensure that the Security Council can sufficiently address emerging non-traditional security threats, such as climate change These non-traditional challenges threaten the very existence of several States, significantly impacting the survival of Small Island Developing States. The Council's reform must consider these States, which, due to limited resources, struggle to secure representation, thereby facing unfair disadvantages in voicing their unique security concerns.
The Maldives stands firm in its belief that every member, irrespective of size, plays a crucial role in global peace and development. This is why we have presented our candidature to the Security Council, for the term 2033 to 2034. Small States deserve a seat at the table, as we have the most to gain from multilateralism – and indeed, the most to lose.
The Maldives believes that the Security Council should reflect the realities of today’s world. Reform is necessary to have an efficient, effective, representative, and accountable Council. It is our expectation that we make fast progress enabling us to move from rhetoric and discussion towards achieving more concrete actions and solutions in rendering the Security Council as an institution that is indeed representative of all regions and diversities.
We hope that the achievements we made and the constructive spirit demonstrated during the 77th Session will guide negotiations among Member States in the 78th Session.
I thank you.