Statement by H.E. Rein Tammsaar, Permanent Representative of Estonia
77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Agenda Item 123 Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council
17 November 2022
I thank you for convening today’s important debate.
I thank the Permanent Representatives of Denmark and Qatar for leading the intergovernmental negotiations on the Security Council reform during the previous session of the General Assembly. Let me congratulate the Permanent Representatives of Kuwait and Slovakia for the appointment as co-chairmanship of the current session of intergovernmental negotiations.
Estonia continues to regret the lack of meaningful substantive progress on the reform of the Security Council — the body that lies in the heart of the UN and as stated clearly in the UN Charter, should bear the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
The inability of the Security Council to take any substantive decisions on Russia’s unprovoked, unlawful and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, shows the urgency of this reform more than ever. Security Council members, especially permanent members, have a special responsibility. Any Permanent Member that exercises the veto to defend its own acts of aggression loses moral authority and should be held accountable. Russia has abused its veto power to block the Council from adopting decisions regarding the grave violation of the international law and the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Do we really need to wait until entire nation is wiped out or how many devastating wars will it take to move forward with the long overdue Security Council reform?
We therefore continue to advocate for a meaningful, results-oriented process to reform the Security Council. The main goal of the reform endeavours should be a strengthened United Nations, an increased transparency and ownership of the Security Council’s work and accountability of the Council to the UN membership.
There is a clear need for an increased membership of the Security Council based on equitable representation.
Estonia is grateful for the trust to serve as an elected member in the Council for the first time from 2020 to 2021. We are convinced that elected members have an important role in the Council that should be respected by the P5. Elected members bring innovative approaches, increased transparency to Council´s work and greater willingness to find common ground and solutions. They are also more open to bring the discussion on new and emerging security threats, like climate change and cybersecurity, to the Security Council. We continue to advocate for all states, in particular small states to have an opportunity to serve in the Council.
We continue to stress that concerning an enlarged Council the question of veto must be given careful consideration. The increased use or threat of use of veto and actual use of veto by some members of the Security Council has left the Council paralyzed and unable to react to situations where action was most needed. The failure of the Security Council to protect civilians from mass atrocity crimes severely and adversely affects its credibility. The permanent members of the Security Council should refrain from using veto to block Council’s action aimed at preventing or ending situations involving mass atrocity crimes. This vital commitment by all permanent members is achievable on a voluntary basis already now with no amendments needed to the UN Charter. There are no excuses for not following through with this commitment to bolster protection of civilians and the moral standing of the Council.
Therefore, as a member of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group, Estonia also actively supports the Code of Conduct that addresses Security Council’s action regarding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
These two initiatives share a common goal and are complementary. We call on more states to join the Code of Conduct by the ACT group and the Political Declaration on Suspension of Veto Powers in Cases of Mass Atrocity, launched by France and Mexico, both in 2015.
In closing, let me reiterate a call for concrete and meaningful steps by the UN membership to advance our common goal of making the Security Council more representative, effective, transparent, accountable and, thus, more legitimate and result oriented.