UNITED NATIONS   -  Pakistan has called for a “spirit of flexibility and compromise” in the long-running negotiations to reform the UN Security Council as progress is held up by the insistence for permanent seats on the 15-member body by India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, known as the Group of four.

Speaking in the resumed session of Inter-governmental Negotiations (IGN) aimed at expanding the Council, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that the proposal from Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, which opposes additional permanent members, is based on democratic ideals and takes onboard the concerns and interests of all member States – small, medium and large.

“We hope that this round of negotiations would see the triumph of collective good over the individual ambitions of a few member States,” the Pakistani envoy added.

Opening the new round, the General Assembly President, María Fernanda Espinosa, regretted lack of progress in the past 25 years towards restructuring the Security Council, and called for dialogue and flexibility to move forward.

“Intergovernmental negotiations began more than a decade ago, Ms. Espinosa said, adding, “and still, the composition of the Security Council continues broadly to reflect the world as it was in 1945, save for the increase in non-permanent seats agreed half a century ago.”

Maleeha Lodhi described Ms. Espinosa as an “ardent  and consistent advocate of multilateral cooperation”, and  said, “We  were  privileged  to  listen  to  her  articulate  defence  of  multilateralism, based  on  mutual  respect  and  shared  benefit,  during  her  recent  visit  to Pakistan.”

Full-scale negotiations to reform the Security Council began in the General Assembly in February 2009 on five key areas -- the categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, size of an enlarged Security Council, and working methods of the Council and its relationship with the General Assembly.

Despite a general agreement on enlarging the Council, as part of the UN reform process, member States remain sharply divided over the details.

The Group of four has shown no flexibility in their campaign to expand the Security Council by 10 seats, with 6 additional permanent and four non-permanent members.

On the other hand, the UfC group maintains that additional permanent members will not make the Security Council more effective and also undermine the fundamental principle of democracy that is based on periodic elections.

The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and 10 non-permanent members.

Stressing the need for a meaningful dialogue by all sides to address their fundamental differences, Maleeha Lodhi said,  “The  five  clusters  of  issues  are  not  check-lists  of  items  that  can  be  conveniently  ticked  and  moved  away;  they outline  fundamental  aspects  of  the  reform  process,  and  must  be  dealt with in a comprehensive manner.”

Artificial timelines, the Pakistani envoy emphasised, could not be placed to pace this endeavour, as what everyone sought was the widest possible political acceptance by all member States.

“This is not a precondition to stall the process; it is in fact, a prerequisite for making meaningful progress, “Maleeha Lodhi said.

Welcoming IGN’s co-chairs -- Lana Zaki Nusseibeh (United Arab Emirates) and Christian Braun (Luxembourg), the Pakistani envoy said that their emphasis on steering the process in an ‘open, transparent and inclusive manner’ would ensure the integrity of the member-State driven reforms.

Moving forward, she said that the need to present a clear roadmap for the process remained equally important, and should be outlined expeditiously.

“It remains our earnest hope that this round of negotiations would see the triumph of collective good over the individual ambitions of a few member States,” Maleeha Lodhi added.