Time to reform UN Security Council, says GA chief

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If the United Nations is to retain its credibility, countries must stop talking and start hard negotiations on reforming the Security Council to reflect new political realities, said Joseph Deiss, president of the UN General Assembly, in an exclusive interview with EURACTIV.

"The reform of the UN Security Council has been a topic for about two decades already, without any significant progress. We now have to start negotiations," said the Swiss economist and politician.

According to Deiss, any solution should be simple, efficient, flexible, rally the broadest possible support and respect the core values of the UN: democracy, accountability and subsidiarity.

"We do not want to lock ourselves in to a model that risks becoming obsolete in a few years," Deiss noted.

Reflecting on new global governance models in light of the financial and economic crises, Deiss stressed that that the G20 was instrumental in rapidly dealing with the situation in a concerted and coordinated manner. "But efficiency does not mean legitimacy," he added.

The G20 cannot be standard practice, he continued. "I believe that the rise of the G20 on the international stage gave a healthy wake-up call: we definitely need global governance to address global challenges, but this system has to be efficient and representative. It must combine leadership, legitimacy and expertise," he said.

If the G20 can claim a comparative advantage as regards leadership, legitimacy lies with the United Nations and its General Assembly, noted the Swiss.

"With 192 member states, the General Assembly almost reaches universality and it represents the full diversity of interests at stake," he added.

Calling for an increased role of emerging economic powers on the world stage, Deiss nevertheless stressed that such a role comes with duties and responsibilities.

"Both China and India must be reliable partners. They have a critical and constructive role to play in addressing global issues, like development of the poorer countries or climate change. Furthermore, they can be instrumental in supporting ongoing reforms at the United Nations," he added, underlining their role in reforming the UN Security Council. 

EU 'a special animal'

Answering a question on continental governance, he stressed that the EU model cannot be exported as a ready-made model to other regions. "Regional integration has to take into account the local specificities and its speed and its depth will vary from region to region," he said.

According to Deiss, the European Union is "a very special animal" in today's world.

"To some extent, it goes beyond the Westphalian view of sovereign states and establishes a supranational authority," he argued.

Deiss sees the EU as an enlightening example of what modern multilateral governance can achieve at the regional level. "It goes without saying that these other models of integration should, like the EU, be based on universal values such as democracy and human rights," he underscored.

To read the interview in full, please click here.

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