By Arul Louis
United Nations, June 1 (IANS) The UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) President-elect Miroslav Lajcak has promised to give new impetus to the stalled Security Council reform process, saying “the time is up” for it.
After the Slovak Foreign Minister’s unanimous election on Wednesday, he told the UN’s 193 members that he would “work closely and consult widely on how to push forward agreementa on reforming the Council.”
Reform of the Security Council is a priority for India, which seeks a permanent seat on an expanded forum.
“There is a high degree of accord that the time is up to transform the Security Council into a 21st century body,” Lajcak said, noting that the world leaders had committed to the reform at their 2005 summit.
Soon after Lajcak’s election, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj congratulated him and India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin tweeted that Lajcak “appreciates prompt congratulatory message”.
Lajcak visited India in 2013 while he was the Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia.
He will succeed Peter Thomson of Fiji when the assembly convenes for its 72nd session in September.
Lajcak came second in last year’s Secretary-General election, losing to Antonio Guterres, although it had been widely expected that an East European would get the post as no one from the region had held it.
The council reform process has been languishing for decades because of opposition from a small but determined group of countries led by Italy. They include Pakistan.
Overcoming their opposition, Sam Kutesa, the Ugandan who was President of the assembly in 2014-15, had the assembly adopt a basic document for negotiations on council reform.
But under his uninterested successors, Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark and Peter Thomson of Fiji, the process lost momentum.
Now Lakjac may be able to move it forward, working on the negotiating text produced under Kutesa’s tenure.
Outlining his priorities as President, Lajcak said he would “strive for peace and decent life for all on a sustainable planet”, combining the demands for ending poverty while combating climate change.
Another priority he said would be moving along the efforts for a global agreement on migration.
“Migration is not a short-term seasonal and regional problem,” he said, and added, “It is a very complex global and generational issue that needs true world-wide attention.”
In dealing with the migration issue, which includes the refugee crisis in Europe, he will be straddling two opposing lines.
While the UN has been committed to rights of refugees and their relocation, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has opposed Muslim migration and also challenged in European Court of Justice the refugee resettlement quotas set for each member nation by the European Union.
While defending the court challenge as his country’s Foreign Minister, Lajcak has opposed discrimination against Muslim refugees.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])