The outgoing President of the General Assembly has affirmed the intergovernmental process to reform the United Nations Security Council but conceded that despite slow progress, the negotiations were too important to fail. Miroslav Lajcak – whose term as President over the 72nd session of the Assembly ends next week – believes the current composition of the Council does not reflect the realities of the 21st Century.

And as countries become increasingly frustrated by the slow moving process, he believes they are getting close to agreeing on what a future council should look like.

It’s a process that began in General Assembly in 1992.

Passing resolution 47/62 instructing the Secretary General to invite Member States to submit comments on a possible review of the membership of the Security Council.

Almost a quarter of a entury later, the Council’s composition remains the same.

Lajack says, “This is one of the most complicated and most sensitive and most important issues the UN is dealing with because the fact is that overall work of the UN system is seen by the external world through the performance of the Security Council and the fact is that every time the SC is unable to unite and to reach a decision the entire system gets criticized and gets criticized harshly and I’ve been witnessed to this and I’ve been confronted by this during many of my trips and meeting and its difficult to try to point out to so many important things the UN is doing in the humanitarian field, development area, in peacekeeping area – what people see is the action and the dynamism in the SC chamber.”

A decision to move the process to intergovernmental negotiations was taken in 2007 with at least 6 negotiating blocs formed – including the Africa Group – seeking different outcomes. Africa wants two permanent seats with veto rights and five non-permanent seats for the continent.

Lajack adds, “Obviously there are many practical issues related to it like, extending to how many members, what about veto right, what about permanent, non permanent, semi permanent, there are many issues to be discussed. I said at the beginning of this session that I wish to see a credible process that will lead to a meaningful outcome and this is exactly what you said – and this is exactly what you said, whether this is an exercise in futility – no, that would be the worse that we can do to this organisation. If member states don’t have the feeling that what they do is real, that the process is not a proxy exercise but a real process then it would have a very negative impact on the work of the UN.”

Lajcak believes member states won’t allow the process to fall by the wayside but judging progress to date remains as complicated as the process itself.

He says, “Here the views of different member states will differ, for some we went very far, for some others it was not far enough but its really important that the process continues, that I wish the next year’s discussion be built and based on the results of this year’s discussion, I wish we do not move in circles but year after year, session after session, we have a feeling that we are getting closer to agreeing on the next Security Council should look like. This is extremely important.”

Any reform of the Council requires the agreement of at least two-thirds of the general membership of the UN and all permanent members of the Security Council must also agree; further complicating this complexity. The 73rd session of the General Assembly begins on Monday.