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Pakistan criticises India's bid for UNSC permanent seat

File photo. Photograph:( PTI )

PTI United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY, USA Jan 31, 2019, 08.36 PM (IST)

A day after India proposed that UN member states should seek new ways to further the Security Council reform process, Pakistan criticised the suggestion, saying the "quest by some" nations to gain permanent seats for themselves remains the "primary stumbling block" in achieving progress.

Frustrated by the slow pace of the UN Security Council's reform process, India had called on the member states to seek new ways to engage to achieve credible progress on the issue by building on the past negotiations and not supplanting the past.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, speaking Tuesday at the informal meeting of the plenary on Intergovernmental Negotiations on increase in Security Council membership, lamented that the length of the Security Council reform process is unparalleled and in terms of inertia too, it has no peer.

He also stressed that an insurmountable 'No' should not be a response to every suggestion and there is need to look at creative pathways to forge ahead in the reform process.

"However, if despite our best efforts, credible progress evades us once again, then we should not shy away from reviewing how we engage on this very important issue," he said. 

Making an intervention after India's speech, Lodhi said Wednesday that "we heard an assertion that given the perceived lack of progress in the IGN (Intergovernmental Negotiations), it may be time to review the entire process with a view to pronounce on its fate. This appears to us, to be an attempt by some to blame the 'storm' on the 'ship'."

Without naming India, Lodhi said that the "quest by some" to gain permanent seats for themselves "remains the primary stumbling block. This was clearly evident from our discussions, yesterday. Those calling for a review of the IGN process should instead review their own positions. Despite persistent differences on fundamental aspects of reform, the stubborn insistence on text-based negotiations is another attempt to artificially paper-over differences."

India has been at the forefront of efforts to call for a reform of the Security Council, saying it rightly deserves a permanent seat at the high-table.

Pakistan also blamed India and the other countries in the G4 bloc for holding up progress of the UN Security Council reform, saying the "individual ambitions" of a few member states should not stall progress in the Inter-Governmental Negotiations.

According to a press release by the Pakistan Mission to the UN, Islamabad has called for a "spirit of flexibility and compromise" in the long-running negotiations to reform the UN Security Council as "progress is held up by the insistence for permanent seats on the 15-member body by India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, known as the Group of four."

The long-pending reform process has been ongoing for several years with little concrete progress. 

Akbaruddin had noted that it has been more than 10 years since the start of the Intergovernmental Negotiations process in 2008 and more than 25 years since a resolution was passed to establish an open-ended working group on Security Council reform.

"While the world is not what it was when we began the process, the objections to moving forward remain the same. While the global challenges of the 21st century have multiplied, we remain divided even about the process to adopt in order to move forward," he said.

Lodhi added that nations should not risk undermining the painstaking progress made within the IGN, "just to advance the narrow interests of a few member states."

"After all, the reform process is not merely an end in itself; for us, it is also an expression of our abiding commitment to rules-based multilateralism.

Akbaruddin had also voiced India's support for the call to reflect the Common African Position in any document under consideration, stressing that Africa's voice cannot be excluded and the desire of Small Island Developing States for a non-permanent seat on account of their situation should not be ignored.

"Everyone has a right to put forth an option and lend their name to a model of their choice. This enhances transparency, adds specificity and engenders respect for every position. No voices should be muffled," he said.

Lodhi said that there have been calls to attribute proposals to their proponents, ostensibly in the interest of transparency. 

"Tellingly, some of these calls have been made by those whose own identity remains in the realm of the unknown. Apparently, they consider themselves excluded from the same standards of transparency that they expect of others," she said. 

Story highlights

Frustrated by the slow pace of the UN Security Council's reform process, India had called on the member states to seek new ways to engage to achieve credible progress on the issue by building on the past negotiations and not supplanting the past.