International Conference: The reform of the United Nations Security Council
Madrid 29 de junio de 2007
INCIPE and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung hosted an international conference entitled “The Reform of the United Nations Security Council: What role for the European Union?” on Friday, June 9, 2007 at INCIPE Assembly Hall in Madrid, Spain. The conference began with introductory remarks by Prof. Vicente Garrido Rebolledo, Director of INCIPE and Michael Däumer, Director of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, which stressed the importance of transatlantic relations and discussion of the issue at hand.
The first round table panel discussion focused on “The New Missions of the UN and the Proposals to Reform the Security Council” and welcomed presentations by Mr Hugo Llorens, Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Madrid, Prof. Pilar Trinidad, Legal Advisor, International Law Department, Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Major General José Javier Muñoz Castresana, Deputy Director General for Cooperation and Civil Defence, Spanish Ministry of Defence, and was moderated by Mrs. Aúrea Moltó. DCM Llorens emphasized the US view point of the need to couch any UN Security Council (UNSC) reform within a comprehensive reform package for the entire UN organization. The US feels that the UN is a very important international body, but needs to modernize in all aspects in order to retain legitimacy and meet the needs of the international community today. The US supports the expansion of the UNSC so long as the council’s efficiency and credibility does not suffer.
Ms. Trinidad discussed how reform of the UN is essential, but the legal questions surrounding it prove the process to be quite difficult. There is general consensus that reform is necessary, but the question remains as to how. She criticized that the current UNSC does not accurately represent today’s world, and any expansion or reform of the council must involve making it more demographically representative of the current global distribution of power and population. General Muñoz highlighted the civil-military relationship of within the UN structure using the NATO alliance as an example. He argued that any reform to the UN must consider the needs and opinions of the military establishment in the member countries. In NATO, there are both diplomatic and military representatives in Brussels, and Gen. Muñoz argued that a similar structure should be applied to the UN to discuss UN peacekeeping and other missions.
The second round table discussion centered on “National Perspectives on the UN Security Council Reform from EU Member States” and benefited from the presentations of Mr. Juan Manuel González de Linares, UN Deputy General Director, Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Gunther Hellmann, Professor of Political Science, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Janusz Symonides, Professor of International Law and International Relations, Institute of International Relations, University of Warsaw, and Natalino Ronzitti, Professor of International Law, University of Luiss “Guido Carli” and Istituto Affari Internazionali. The second panel discussion was chaired by Ramón Pérez-Maura, Assistant Editor, ABC Newspaper.
Mr. González de Linares began the discussion emphasizing the Spanish viewpoint that reform of the UNSC cannot be isolated from the overall reform of the United Nations. He believes that the UNSC is adapting more readily than the rest of the organization to the needs of the international community, but reform is still necessary. He pointed out the strong divisions within the European Union with France and Germany on one side, promoting the permanent membership of Germany and Italy, Spain and others strongly opposing Germany’s membership for many reasons. There is also a geographic split between Western Europe and the European countries that were formerly part of the Soviet bloc. All of Europe is in agreement about the need to reform the council but is divided on how. Mr. González de Linares stressed the fact that Europe is very far away from having the institutions and the legitimacy to push for a joint EU seat on the UNSC.
Prof. Hellmann, was actually quite critical of the German government’s push for permanent membership for Germany in the UNSC. He believed Germany should be more “pro-Europe” and less “pro-German” in their reform proposals. He discussed a potential new class of UNSC membership, proposed by Chile and Lichtenstein, and generally supported by Germany that would include 3 variations: longer term renewable membership, longer term non-renewable membership, and the traditional 2-year membership with the option to renew. Germany understands that it is unlikely to get a permanent seat on the UNSC, especially as the EU is currently overrepresented in the council.
Prof. Symonides explained how Poland was originally opposed to any expansion of the UNSC, though that point of view was largely due to decades of Soviet influence in that country. Poland is currently in support of the G4 proposal that supports the addition of Japan, India, Germany and Brazil as permanent members of the UNSC. Unlike the other European nations represented on the panel, Poland doesn’t see much difference between the G4, the African Union, or the US proposals. Prof. Symonides expressed Poland’s desire that permanent members should be enumerated in the UN Charter and that there should be regional rotations for all new positions, with no new veto power allotted.
Prof. Ronzitti expressly stated the Italian desire to isolate UNSC reform from the rest of the UN reform efforts, a view directly opposite that of the United States. Italy will not support the permanent membership of Germany and Japan without Italy gaining permanent status as well on the basis that Italy would be the only former Axis power with such representation, which would insult the Italian pride. Italy leads the group, Uniting for Consensus, a movement organized specifically as a counterbalance to the G4 proposal. Prof. Ronzitti expressed Italy’s rejection of the idea of an EU seat at the UNSC stating that it would form a precedent of regional organizations seeking membership and could pave the way for campaigning on the part of the African Union and the Organization of American States. The United Nations is for nation states only, and therefore it would not be appropriate for the EU to gain a seat at the UNSC.
The third and final panel was entitled “Seating the EU at the UN Security Council: Opportunities, Drawbacks and Hurdles”. The panelists included Carlos Moreiro, Professor at the University of Carlos III- Madrid, Leonardo Bencini, UN Desk, Multilateral Department, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Alexandre Muns, Lecturer in European Integration, International Trade Superior School, Pompeu Fabra University, and Head of Studies, American Chamber of Commerce in Spain. Michael Däumer, Director of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung chaired the discussion.
Prof. Moreiro, an attorney, explained his views from the standpoint of international law and the legality of a joint seat for the European Union. The United Nations is an organization for nation states while the European Union is a part intergovernmental and part supranational organization of sovereign states without full legal supranational recognition in the international community, and as such, does not have the legal right to a seat on the UNSC. In addition to the legal concerns, Mr. Moreiro expressed fear that EU membership could lead to a Eurocentric tendency in the international community and further decrease the accuracy of demographic representation of the UNSC.
Mr. Bencini was the least in favor of reform in general, and questioned whether or not it was actually necessary. He was very skeptical of whether reform was even possible. He was very much against the discussion of the potential addition of new permanent members to the UNSC and therefore was very much opposed to the G4 proposal. “No reform is better than bad reform,” in Mr. Bencini’s words. In agreement with Prof. Moreiro, Mr. Bencini explained the illegality of an EU seat at the UNSC, but did propose potential ways the EU could improve its representation in the council, specifically by increasing communication between EU members currently on the council and those who are not, as well as participation by the EU president in the UNSC.
Mr. Muns expressed his views in opposition to the expansion of the UNSC in principle, stating that it currently is not feasible due to international security concerns. He specifically cited the dangers of including countries with questionable security and human rights records in the UNSC, explaining that he believes that no non-democracies should be in the council. With regard to a potential EU seat, he was very skeptical. With disagreement at the regional level within the EU, he questioned whether any agreement could be made at the international level within the UN. In order for the EU to increase its representation in the UN and in the international community in general, Mr. Muns argued that the EU needs to discuss internally what exactly it is and how it wants to present itself to the world.
The conference concluded with some conclusions by Prof. Gunther Hellmann, Michael Däumer and Prof. Vicente Garrido. They agreed on the fact that, in spite of not being a global solution to the problem of UNSC reform and the role of the European Union within the UN, there is a general consensus in the international community that the reform is necessary, and that the EU will not be able to increase its role in the UNSC until it can come to an understanding among the member nations on how it wants to represent itself on the international stage.
Apart from the official program of the Conference, during the conference, a working-lunch was held with the German Ambassador in Spain, Dr. Wolf-Ruthart Born, as guest speaker. The topic of his keynote speech was “Germany’s Policies towards the United Nations”. This working lunch, offered by courtesy of the Konrad Addnauer Foundation, was attended by 25 persons.