By Arul Louis
India has cautioned against any slide back in the ongoing reform process in the United Nations Security Council, saying it was suffering from a "legitimacy deficit" that is miring it in inefficacy and irrelevance.
The task of reforming the Council and enlarging it to make it more representative had been blocked for almost two decades by the opposition of some members led by Italy - and including Pakistan - to having a negotiating text. Without such a document, negotiations are not possible.
India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told a meeting of the Inter Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on Council reforms that the paper produced in the last session of the General Assembly stressed that the points of convergence should be built and there could be no progress without a negotiating document.
He said that when the chair of the last IGN session, Sylvie Lucas, presented the paper, "no one questioned how many spoke and how many did not".
"Why go down that path now?" he asked alluding to attempts by some members to scuttle the convergence document.
"The process at this stage has all the conditions to build on the work of previous sessions and to move forward based on the work already done by your predecessors," he told the co-chairs of the current IGN session, Mohamed Khaled Khiari of Tunisia, and Ambassador Ion Jinga of Romania.
In the 2014-15 session of the Assembly, due to the initiative of its President Sam Kutesa, a negotiating text based on a survey of members was adopted paving the way for serious discussions and giving the process a boost.
In the last session, that momentum was lost, but there was slight progress with the document on convergence. It only said that an "enlarged Council should consist of a total of members in the mid-20s, within an overall range of 21-27 seats, with the exact number to emerge from the discussions of Member States on the key issues of 'categories of membership' and 'regional representation'."
Akbaruddin criticised the status of the reform process as "neither natural nor normal".
It was "not normal and not natural that, we, as responsible representatives of states continue to cocoon ourselves from the enormity of the changes underway and articulate views endlessly with no framework for setting our house in order," he said.
"At a time of growing dismay with the existing international order, our persistent inability to move the reform process forward is viewed as the inability of the multilateral system to fix what is broken," Akbaruddin said.
"We are at a crossroad from where reform is the only way to maintain relevance," he said, appealing to the co-chairs of the IGN to "breathe new life into the process".