Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

Plenary Meeting on UN Security Council reform


16 November 2021

Statement by H.E. Mr Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Let me begin by warmly welcoming the reappointment of Ambassador Alya al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar, as co-chair of the IGN process for the 76th session. Ambassador al-Thani’s reappointment will deliver important continuity between sessions.

I would also like to congratulate my colleague from Denmark, Ambassador Martin Hermann, on his appointment as co-chair for the upcoming session.

Our colleagues from Qatar and Denmark take carriage of the IGN process at a critical moment for the UN system.

A year on from the UN75 declaration, in which all member states agreed to ‘instil new life in the discussions on the reform of the Security Council’, we once again find ourselves at a crossroads.

Together, we are facing new and complex global challenges, ranging from rapid technological advancement and disruption, to unprecedented security, economic and health challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

And what is increasingly clear, is that these challenges can only be addressed by an effective and representative UN architecture. 

For our part, Australia continues to support meaningful reform across the development, human rights and peace and security pillars to ensure the UN is fit for purpose, effective, open and transparent, and accountable to all member states.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important international and multilateral cooperation is to identify a way forward, and ensure recovery is sustainable and shared. It has also shown all too clearly the crucial need for coordination across agencies to address global challenges – unprecedented or otherwise.

The UN Security Council remains a central part of our global architecture. As the only UN organ with a mandate to make decisions that are legally binding on Member States, ongoing reform is essential to ensure it remains equipped to fulfil its primary role as guardian of international peace and security. In a rapidly changing global environment, this is more urgent than ever.

Australia continues to advocate for UN Security Council reform on three points:

First, it needs to better reflect contemporary geopolitical realities, with greater representation for Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Second, the Council’s working methods must be improved to ensure it is more accountable to member states. This includes better coordination with the General Assembly, the Peacebuilding Commission and other partner agencies; ensuring more use of coherent analytical information from across the UN system; and better consultation with troop and police contributing countries.

Third, better standards need to be developed on the use of the veto, so that its use is more transparent and limited.

Despite many years of discussions, progress on UNSC reform has been glacial. We again urge a move to text-based negotiations, which will help build the momentum needed to effect change. The IGN should also strive to achieve a more open and transparent process, to which the rules of procedure of the General Assembly apply.

The urgency for reforming UN institutions is clear. We know that comprehensive and meaningful reform will not come immediately, but there is a clear desire to make tangible progress.

Australia reiterates its commitment to working towards Security Council reform with all member states, so the Council is better equipped to maintain international peace and security, and effectively respond to new and emerging global challenges in an increasingly complex and contested world.