Iran Urges Reform of UNSC

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations called for a reform of the UN Security Council, which he said is gripped by a legitimacy and credibility crisis.

Iran Urges Reform of UNSC

Addressing a Monday meeting of the UN General Assembly, entitled “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”, Majid Takht Ravanchi said the UNSC is not keeping pace with the significant changes of the contemporary era.

“This organization is founded mainly to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and such an important function as the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security has been conferred to the Security Council,” he said.

“However, a short look at the Council’s performance in the past and present reveals that, by any measure, it is not meeting our expectations; its actions have not been consistently in conformity with the UN Charter; it is not truly preventative, democratic, transparent, accountable and rule-based; in many cases, it has been inactive or ineffective; in certain cases, its actions have been ultra vires; and it has been seriously exploited by certain permanent members,” the envoy added.

“As a result, now the Council is facing a legitimacy and credibility crisis as well as a serious trust and confidence deficit and is not keeping pace with the significant changes of our time,” he deplored.

“The only golden standard for appraising the Council’s performance is the ‘principles of justice and international law’ which has been stipulated in the Charter,” Takht Ravanchi underlined.

“Applying this criteria, for instance to assess the Council’s performance regarding situations in our region, clearly indicates that ‘justice’ and ‘law’ are the main missing elements in almost all cases, from the oldest crisis of our region, the illegal and illegitimate occupation of Palestine and parts of Syria and Lebanon, to Saddam’s aggression against Iran, to US aggression against Iraq, to the continued inhumane blockade of Gaza Strip, and to the creation of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

“Therefore, to ensure justice and rule of law and to preserve and promote multilateralism, the Council’s reform is neither an option nor an optional choice; it is the only solution,” the Iranian envoy underscored.

“Nevertheless, none of the five core issues -- namely membership categories, veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and Council’s working methods -- which are interlinked and therefore need to be discussed comprehensively within a package-- should be considered less important than the others,” he said.

“While developing countries must be more fairly represented in the Council, its reform shall not shrink to or be equated solely with its enlargement. For us, enlargement is not an end in itself but a means to an end,” Takht Ravanchi stated.

“The Council’s enlargement is useful only if it can fulfill our ultimate goal in reforming the Council, namely to evolve it into a truly democratic, representative, transparent, efficient, effective and, above all, rule-based and accountable body,” added the ambassador.

“In other words, if the performance of an expanded Council is going to be the same as it is now at its current size, why should we be engaged in such an exercise? Let it be crystal clear. We don’t wish to rule out the Council’s enlargement. This, however, must only be one of our multiple objectives, not our sole objective. In any case, the composition of an expanded Council must be balanced, both geopolitically and geographically,” he went on to say.

“Now, geopolitically, the Council is dominated mostly by western countries, three of which have veto power, and geographically, while WEOG is overrepresented, the main regions are poorly represented in terms of number and have less rights and privileges in terms of veto power or permanent membership,” the envoy deplored.

“Likewise, to date, one-third of UN members have never found a chance to become a Council member while there have been 20 countries that have each served between 10-22 years in this body. This disproportionality and injustice must be addressed and rectified, including by limiting chances for those who have served more and, instead, providing more advantages to those who have never served in the Council or served less times. 

“This is essential in ensuring equal opportunities for all States to become a Council member as well as in preventing the domination of a certain regional or geopolitical group over the Council. As a result of the Council’s reform, it should be ensured that its members decide based not on their own national interests but based on the common interests of the entire UN membership,” the envoy added.

“Likewise, we must not neglect such important issues as the Council’s working methods as they cannot be addressed only through enlarging the Council. In this context, transparency as well as strict adherence to the Charter by, and the accountability of, both the Council and its members for their performance are extremely crucial,” he explained.

“In certain cases, the Council has unfortunately made politically motivated decisions with serious long-term negative implications on a nation and its socio-economic development. Accordingly, modifying its working methods shall prevent it from making such decisions,” Takht Ravanchi stressed, adding, “It should also prevent the Council from considering situations that do not constitute a threat to international peace and security or issues that are related to internal matters of States, the interference in which is explicitly prohibited by the Charter.”

“The Council must also stop increasing the excessive and expeditious resort to its Chapter VII functions. For instance, it has imposed sanctions in situations where no action was even necessary. As a result, the sovereign rights of a nation have been seriously violated. Chapter VII must be invoked as a measure of last resort, if necessary,” he added.

“Additionally, the Council must remain accountable to all of the States on behalf of whom it acts. This is indeed the raison d'être of the Charter’s Article 24 in obliging the Council to submit annual reports to the Assembly where all Member States are represented,” the Iranian diplomat said.

“In this context and in order to promote the legitimacy of the Council’s decisions, evolving it to a rule-based and accountable organ should be at the forefront of our efforts," he concluded.

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