Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

230505 - UN General Assembly Intergovernmental Negotiations on the question of equitable representation on the Security Council


05 May 2023

Statement delivered by H.E. The Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations

Let me begin by thanking the co-facilitators of this year’s round of informal consultations, Ambassador Tareq Albanai of Kuwait and Ambassador Alexander Marschik of Austria.

Multilateralism can be hard. Reaching common purpose and securing agreement among countries from different regions at different stages of development and with divergent national interests can, at times, seem impossible. Yet we know global solutions to shared challenges are possible.

This is what makes the IGN process important. While the IGN can feel slow moving, it gives Member States the opportunity to respectfully discuss much needed ways forward on Security Council reform. You only need to look to the Co-Chairs’ Elements Paper on Convergences and Divergences to see the progress we have made.

Australia thanks you for your leadership on this.

What we need now is a way forward, and on this, Australia has made its position very clear.

Australia wants a Security Council that is fit-for-purpose.

The world looks very different today to when the UN was formed. It is worth reflecting on the fact that many of the rules and bodies that shape the system were designed by only a few voices.

As we respond to the challenges of the future, we need every voice at the table. It is time we interrogate and make progress on possible options for greater representation for Asia, Africa and Latin America, to reflect current geopolitical realities and relevance.

Australia wants a Council that is transparent and accountable.

There has never been a more consequential time for the Security Council, yet events of the past 18 months have shown just how challenging it can be for the Security Council to effectively perform its core functions when blocked by a veto-wielding Permanent Member.

While the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Charter does not preclude the General Assembly from debate and deliberation when the Council is unable to act on behalf of the wider membership.

We should continue to look for opportunities to further enhance the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly.

Australia wants a reformed UNSC, without extending the veto.

All Member States must have confidence that the Council can respond effectively to threats to, and breaches of, international peace and security.

However, too often we see the veto used to enable the unchecked abuse of the Charter – including by the very countries that were given the responsibility of the veto.

We will always call for better standards governing its use, such as the ACT Code of Conduct and the French-Mexican initiative on the suspension of veto powers in cases of mass atrocities. 


These calls for reform are not just limited to the IGN. The UN75 Declaration and subsequent Our Common Agenda report are evidence of the broad political support for a multilateral system that is equitable, inclusive, efficient, and effective.

As member states, it is our responsibility to build on this political will and consider how we will shape a Security Council that reflects a UN we need for current and future challenges.

But no change will be possible until we move from discussion to text-based negotiations. Only then can these reforms – which so many Member States expressly and urgently want – be realised.

I thank you again co-facilitators for your stewardship of this process.