UNSC reform process, negotiations postponed ‘until further notice’ due to COVID-19

File photo of a UN Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiations to discuss the long-stalled UNSC reforms have been postponed until further notice as in-person meetings at the UN headquarters remain suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to the president of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, IGN co-chairs Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh and Polish Ambassador to the UN Joanna Wronecka said that they have decided to “postpone the scheduled meetings of the process until further notice.

This decision was taken in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the recent medical guidance from the United Nations Medical Director regarding the ongoing measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of colleagues, the letter stated.

The co-chairs said they have invited Groups and Member States to remain engaged and continue to explore possible options for work continuity.

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IGN meetings were scheduled for March 26-27 and April 27-28. However, since the restrictions on all in-person meetings remain in effect at the UN (and according to the UN Medical Director’s recommendation have been extended to the end of June), we are forced to reassess the way forward for the IGN, the co-chairs wrote.

They said that informal consultations held over the past weeks with groups and member states show an overwhelming preference for in-person meetings.

In light of this, and having considered the pros and cons of other options, we have decided to postpone our scheduled meetings until further notice. At the same time, groups and Member States also expressed a wish to continue our discussions building on the two constructive meetings held earlier this year, the co-chairs said, adding that it will be important to remain engaged and continue to explore possible options for building on the IGN work.

This will be especially important given the uncertainty of when the UN will be able to open again, they said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres earlier this week extended the telecommuting arrangements at the world body’s headquarters through June 30 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and said the situation will continue to be reviewed to decide on a phased reopening of the premises.

India has been at the forefront of pushing for speeding up reforms of the 15-nation Security Council, asserting that an “obsolescent” global governance structure cannot be fit for the purpose to address the challenges of peace and security in the 21st century.

India and the other G-4 nations of Brazil, Japan and Germany have said that procrastinating on reform of the Security Council has lasted decades and change is long overdue.

India has been seeking a structured format of a single document that can be negotiated, one issue at a time.

While there is support for India sitting in the Council as a permanent member from permanent Council members the U.S., France and the UK, a group Uniting for Consensus, of which Pakistan is a member, has opposed the G4 position of expansion in the permanent category.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 8:05:11 AM |

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