Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by H.E. the Permanent Representative of Portugal, Ambassador Francisco Duarte Lopes, at the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform

New York, 2 February 2018

First Meeting of The Intergovernmental Negotiations on the “Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters”

Mr. President, distinguished Co-chairs,

I start by reiterating my Delegation’s best wishes and our support to the co-chairs for the very important and no less challenging work ahead and by siting that the personal commitment of the President of the General Assembly to this process is encouraging and most welcomed.

The reform of the UN system will not be completed without the reform of the Security Council, so the fact that this intergovernmental negotiation occurs again – despite the meager progress made since its establishment – is in itself positive.

UNSC reform is also needed to address an increasingly significant number of threats, many of which are contemporary and non-traditional, undermining international peace and security. Only a representative, balanced, dynamic, transparent and effective Security Council could lead the United Nations in fulfilling the principles of the Charter in this challenging context.

Portugal therefore advocates a comprehensive UNSC reform that carries significant support of the members of the General Assembly and that takes into account the format and working methods, in order to enable the Council to interact constructively with the remaining bodies and agencies of the UN, while respecting international law and avoiding any obstruction to the decision making process.

More than a quarter of a century has passed since the beginning of intergovernmental negotiations. The time has come for all Member States to embrace the spirit of commitment needed to achieve concrete results. We are willing and ready to do it.

On the five clusters:

Membership categories
Portugal believes that the creation of any category other than the existing "permanent" and "non-permanent" category will not contribute to the effectiveness of the internal decision-making process, and could increase the risk of system blockage and disruption.

Veto
We believe that the possible extension of the seats allocated to the new permanent members of the UNSC should not include the right to veto, as this could jeopardize the efficiency of the UNSC.

Regional representation
As a UN body with greater responsibilities in peace and security, the UNSC, in its reform, should reflect the realities of the 21st century. For this reason, Portugal believes that, among other changes, it is indispensable to have the African continent represented in both categories.

With regard to the implementation of the rotation principal, it should take place in a fair and balanced manner, also giving genuine chances to small and medium-sized countries.

Working methods
Besides extending the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the UNSC, this reform should also include the improvement of internal procedures and working methods. We are since long actively committed to this objective including through our action in 2012, as a non-permanent member of the UNSC and Chair of the "Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Matters".

We believe that the Provisional Rules of Procedure, adopted in 1946, despite minor revisions, should become a “formal document” to define the common understanding of practices and thus limit ad hoc interpretations.

In concrete terms, we support an allocation of the presidencies of Council’s subsidiary bodies in accordance with the principle of geographical representativeness, also extending the possibility of penholder to more countries. We believe that the UNSC should try to act pre-emptively and not just respond to the most pressing events, so we support long-term strategies, framed in the exercise of horizon-scanning briefings and enhanced cooperation with the Peace Building Commission.

Relations between SC and GA
The relationship between the SC and the GA should be based on mutual respect and complementarity, in accordance with the respective mandates, powers and competences set out in the Charter. We support increased cooperation and exchange of information between the two bodies, in particular through the respective Presidents, supported by the Secretary General and the Secretariat.

To finalize, let me ensure that you can count on Portugal’s support to your work and on our engagement to constructively consider concrete forms of moving this process to additional stages.

Thank you for your attention.