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United Nations General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

UN General Assembly president hopes for progress in UNSC reform process

UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak has hoped for progress in the stalled Security Council reform process, saying that member countries were impatient for achieving a council that reflects contemporary realities.

Asked at his news conference on Wednesday about the set positions of nations that has so far blocked the reforms, Lajcak said: “What we want to now see is the debate, the dialogue whose aim would be to bring the positions of the countries or the groups of countries closer together. We are seeking convergence.”

He said that during the Assembly debate, “the expectations from the member states were clearly present there, high expectations and, I would say, impatience.

“We need to move this process forward, because there are high expectations from this process because it is the most visible reform process to the outside world.”

Lajcak has appointed two new co-chairs for the reform process formally known as the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN), Kaha Imnadze of Georgia and Lana Nusseibeh of the United Arab Emirates, and has convened a meeting of the IGN on January 29 and 30, 2018.

He said: “What I want to see, and what was my instruction to the co-facilitators, ‘I want to see a real process, real discussion, not an empty exercise, a repetition of well known positions’. And I really believe it is in the interests of all the member states.

“There is a general understanding and recognition of the fact that the current composition of the Security Council does not reflect the realities of the 21st century,” he said.

India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin earlier on Wednesday made the point forcefully while speaking at a Council debate.

“A non-representative Council, designed many long years ago to maintain the balance of power among competing rivals, is simply not equipped to handle the challenges that have changed beyond recognition.

“An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation.”

Lajcak was asked at the news conference about the recent re-election of Dalveer Bhandari as a judge of the International Court of Justice in which the Assembly prevailed over the Council, which consistently backed Christopher Greenwood, the candidate of permanent UN member Britain, and if this could be a precedent for a more assertive role for the Assembly.

He said: “The UN Charter gives the General Assembly the right to consider any issue it considers important, especially when the deliberations on some issues are blocked in the Security Council. So there is an established practice and there is the UN Charter. There are rules of procedure. So there is a lot of space within this document, this framework that can be used by the member states.”

He also said that the role of the more representative Assembly with all the 193 UN members “is evolving as a result of the ongoing process of revitalisation”.

An example of the change he said could be seen in the election of the secretary-general last year where the Assembly “played a much more prominent role”.

While the Council had the final say under the UN Charter, the candidates appeared before the Assembly to make their case and answer questions unlike in previous elections which were shrouded in secrecy.

Although they are not binding like the decisions of the Council, “the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly carry a very heavy political weight given the number of members behind those resolutions, especially those adopted by consensus”, Lajcak said.

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