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4 March 2009 - General Assembly meeting on Security Council reform : Categories of membership - Statement by H.E. Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Informal Plenary Session on Intergovernmental Negotiations Regarding Equitable Representation in the Security Council and the Increase in the Number of its Members

Unofficial translation

First of all, my delegation welcomes the opening of negotiations on the question of "categories of membership," with a view towards a reform that we are supporting for many years. While the last reform to the composition of the Security Council occurred in the beginning of the 1960s, a new expansion of the Security Council is not only necessary but, in our opinion, should take place without delay.

Global crises and challenges are multiplying. In order for the United Nations to remain a relevant forum, not only for debate, but also for action, it must be reformed. We have to act now.

I thank you, Mr. President, for your letter which is helpful to organize and give impetus to our negotiations. I will follow your guidelines, by specifying our views on the question of categories of membership.

1. France supports expansion of the Council in the two categories of members, permanent and non-permanent. The admission of new States to the status of permanent member is necessary for several reasons:

- Consideration should be given to the emergence of new powers who have the willingness and capacity to assume significant responsibilities.

- Not creating new permanent seats would enlarge the gap between the composition of the Security Council and the reality of the contemporary world.

- Those able to make a significant contribution (politically, financially, or militarily) to the United Nations’ maintenance of international peace and security should be able to fully utilize their capacities with a mandate corresponding to their size (demographically, economically and politically).

- The relationship between the permanent members and the non-permanent members is an essential factor to the efficiency of the Council: the permanent members ensure continuity in the Council’s work. Imbalance between the two categories of members could have negative effects on the Council’s efficiency.

In the case of an expanded Security Council, we support the accession to permanent membership of Germany, Brazil, India, Japan, and Africa. This also raises the question of including an Arab country among the permanent members of the Security Council.

2. In order to achieve reform of the Security Council, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed on March 27, 2008, we support the option of an intermediate reform that would temporarily provide for seats with terms longer than two years and immediately renewable. At the end of this initial phase (that could last 15 to 20 years), a review conference should evaluate the impact of the reform and the necessity of completing the first phase of reform.

We see many advantages to this solution:

- It allows for the experimentation and trial of different solutions for improved representation in the Council.

- It could be based on the existing regional approach: the equitable geographical distribution prescribed by Article 23 of the Charter, the number of seats determined by existing regions (or regional groups).

- It avoids the immediate establishment of new permanent seats, without preventing their eventual creation.

- It doesn’t require an increase in the Council’s size that would be excessive.

These are the reasons why we hope this solution will garner broad support. It shows our willingness to move forward, and to find a simple and practical solution as soon as possible.

In this regard, we request that this solution figure explicitly in the comprehensive document that you will present, Mr. President, at the end of April.

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