H.E. Ambassador Kim Sam-hoon, Permanent Representative, at The Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly
I thank the President of the Security Council for this month, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for introducing the annual report of the Security Council.
Over the past year, the Security Council has continued and expanded its vital work around the world. Rather than commenting on every aspect of that work, I would like to focus on a couple of issues that are of particular importance to the Republic of Korea before moving on to the matter of Security Council reform.
Terrorism is an evil from which no nation can hide. The past year has seen horrific acts of terrorist violence committed against civilians in Spain, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, and elsewhere around the world. In June of this year, the Korean people felt tremendous sorrow as a citizen of our nation was brutally murdered in Iraq, where terrorists have targeted civilian aid workers, journalists, and even the United Nations.
The Republic of Korea commends the efforts of the Security Council to combat terrorism and calls on all Member States to provide all possible assistance and cooperation. We strongly support the continuing work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and agree that it should be revitalized. We are also encouraged by the increasing coordination between the CTC and other bodies, including international, regional and subregional organizations, as well as the “Al Qaeda/Taliban Sanctions Committee”. In addition, the Republic of Korea commends the Security Council on its unanimous adoption of resolution 1566 last Friday, which rightly recognizes that terrorist acts “are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature.” The emphasis on protecting and compensating civilian victims is also noteworthy. We look forward to stronger, more concerted international efforts to combat terrorism through the creation of the new working group under the Security Council. Only by working together at every level can the international community hope to rid itself of the scourge of terrorism.
A distinct but related matter is how to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists. By adopting resolution 1540, the Security Council aptly addressed this grave concern. Indeed, we note with interest that the Council has taken an increasing role in filling the gaps within the existing international legal regime by imposing binding and far-reaching obligations on all UN Member States to take domestic legal and administrative measures. We recognize the concern expressed by some countries that Security Council actions with law-making implications on such issues as non-proliferation and counter-terrorism may short-circuit the treaty-making process involving all countries. However, given the urgency of these matters and the complexities of normal treaty-making procedures, we accept that the Security Council may need to take relevant action in cases where efficiency and speed are required. As a demonstration of our firm commitment to non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Republic of Korea is complying fully with resolution 1540, and we encourage all Member States to do likewise.
Over the last year, the Security Council focused much of its work on Iraq, where there have been both triumphs and tragedies. Despite ongoing violence and terrorism, there have been significant successes, including the transfer of sovereignty to the Interim Government of Iraq on 28 June 2004, and the passage of resolution 1546, which we strongly support. We believe that now more than ever, the international community must come together to provide support and assistance to the sovereign nation of Iraq as it struggles to establish security, hold elections, create democratic institutions, and rebuild its civil society and infrastructure.
We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Afghanistan on their first-ever democratic presidential election. After decades of despair, Afghanistan has passed yet another milestone on its path of hope. The Republic of Korea reaffirms its support for the government and people of Afghanistan in their ongoing efforts toward stability, democracy and peace.
The Republic of Korea supports the dedicated work of the High-Level Panel to develop and recommend new strategies and reforms for the United Nations in order to deal more effectively with challenges to international peace and security. We believe that of all the issues considered by the Panel, Security Council reform is of foremost concern. As the Security Council takes on an increasingly crucial and extensive role in maintaining peace and security around the world, the matter of reform has become all the more important.
The position of the Republic of Korea on Security Council reform has been stated many times in the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council Reform and in the General Debates of the General Assembly. We strongly believe that the Security Council should be reformed in such a way as to make it more representative of international realities, more accountable to the general membership, and more effective and operationally efficient than it is today. The Republic of Korea shares the view that an increase in non-permanent membership is the most realistic formula for meeting these criteria.
We share the concern that an expansion of permanent membership would weaken the institutional vitality of the UN by alienating and marginalizing a significant number of countries that possess the willingness and the capabilities to contribute substantially to international peace and security. By contrast, an increase in elected members would make the Council more accountable while strengthening the sense of shared ownership of the United Nations and the Security Council by the general membership.
The Republic of Korea also attaches great importance to rectifying existing imbalances among regional groups in terms of an individual country’s average chances of being represented on the Security Council. Under the current system, the Asian Group is grossly under-represented. Although it comprises 53 member states that are eligible for non-permanent membership on the Security Council, it is allocated the same number of seats as WEOG, which is half the size of the Asian Group, with 26 eligible member states. As such, the average chance of an Asian state to serve on the council is one-half that of a WEOG member state, or two-thirds that of an African or Latin American country. We believe that in reforming the Security Council, such inequity and unfairness should be rectified as a matter of the highest priority.
In conclusion, Mr. President, cooperation and unity among the whole United Nations membership will be necessary to surmount the daunting challenges ahead. As such, the reform of the Security Council must be carried out in a way that enhances the unity among member states.