Small Five Group Draft Proposal on Security Council Reform - November 11

The Small Five Group is a likeminded group that has put forth recommendations for Security Council reform, mainly on the Working Methods of the Security Council.  Compromised of Switzerland, Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein and Singapore, the Small Five Group (S5) has presented various draft resolutions since 2008 calling for Security Council reform.


The most recent S5 draft resolution was released in April 2011.   Ultimately, the April 2011 S5 resolution advocates for the reform of the Security Council’s “working methods.”  By this, the S5 group meant that greater transparency must be practiced in formulating reports and working papers within the Security Council.  Other issues discussed included membership; the question of veto power; and questions regarding the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.


In regards to the Security Council’s relationship with the General Assembly, the S5 resolution calls for greater transparency and communication between the two bodies. The April 2011 resolution also called for greater participation of “country-specific configurations” within the Security Council, so as to ensure that other member states’ opinions would be taken into consideration.  This may also be achieved by establishing subsidiary bodies, in order to provide more formal and informal reports on the Security Council’s decisions.  In establishing greater participation amongst member states, it may be possible for the Security Council to reflect on its decisions. 


 Finally, in regards to veto power, the S5 resolution strongly suggests that permanent members of the Security Council provide explanations as to why they are using the veto.  These explanations should then be distributed amongst the Member States, so as to alert UN members of their decision.  In addition, the S5 recommends that permanent members refrain from using the veto in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, and “grave breaches” of international humanitarian law.


In November 2011, during the debate on Security Council Reform, some proposals such as the S5 resolution were debated.  Many member states have advocated that the issues not be dealt with individually, but be part of an overall process of reform.  Additionally, many expressed the need to have greater transparency within the Security Council.  This was especially relevant in cases of peacekeeping operations, in which countries must be able to express their sovereign rights.  The issue of greater transparency was also extended to the situation of thematic discussions; as specific themes are discussed in the Security Council, it is important that relevant countries have representatives present. 


Some other statements on Security Council Reform included the one from the Egyptian delegate who specifically called for a more comprehensive report on where and when the Council had failed to act on its non-permanent members’ wishes.  The United States representative said her Government was open to a “modest” expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members, but that expansion must be “country-specific.”  China additionally supported “reasonable” reform.  And finally, France outwardly supported permanent membership of the G-4 nations (Germany, Brazil, India, and Japan).


Of the many member states speaking, the delegate from Liechtenstein provided the most comprehensive framework for Security Council reform.  Advocating a “compromise enlargement model,” Lichtenstein’s representative suggested that non-permanent member states have the option to serve beyond their current two-year term.  This way, non-permanent members could easily be reelected, and potentially become semi-permanent members of the Security Council.


The S5 will continue to push forward its proposal within the framework of the discussions around Security Council reform over the coming months.