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UNGA president to promote ‘meaningful’ negotiations on Security Council reform

General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak has said he wants to promote “meaningful and credible” negotiations for reforming the Security Council despite various strong views on the proposals.

Speaking to reporters after his inaugural address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Lajcak said that under his stewardship “the process will continue and I wish to see a credible process with a meaningful outcome.”

The process has stalled for more than two decades because of differences between UN members on how to proceed with the reforms, especially on the issue of adding permanent members.

“I have been in touch with many groups of countries which are expressing strong views with regard to these particular issues,” Lajcak said.

The UNGA President visited India in August and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for wide-ranging talks.

India is heavily invested in the reform process as it aspires to a permanent membership of the Security Council, the highest decision-making body of the UN.

On the UN’s counter-terrorism strategy, Lajcak said that he would support the efforts of the newly appointed Under Secretary-General Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov to streamline the UN agencies dealing with counter-terrorism.

“There are 38 different agencies that have counter-terrorism as part of their portfolio,” Lajcak said. “So his ambition is to streamline that.”

The General Assembly voted unanimously in June to create the Office of Counter-Terrorism to coordinate the scattered efforts of the UN in combating terrorism and Voronkov was appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to head it.

In his inaugural address to the 72nd session of the General Assembly, Lajcak said that reforming the UN would be a major task for the session.

“Reforms will, indeed, mean something new,” he said. “They will allow the UN to work in a way it never has before.”

The UN has been evolving over the years and while it has been a continuous process, it must now be approached “with a fresh outlook,” he said.

Next week US President Donald Trump is to host a summit on reforming the UN.

Among the other highlights of the current session, Lajcak said would be negotiating an international agreement on migrations and the signing of an agreement on eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping.

He said Member Nations will also start signing the first agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons that was adopted by a vote of more than 122 UN members in July.

India has said that it will not sign the treaty and boycotted the conference to prepare the treaty.

New Delhi maintains that the Conference on Disarmament is the right forum for such a treaty.

All the other nuclear-armed countries – Britain, France, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the US are also boycotting the treaty for a variety of other reasons.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])

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