Uniting for Consensus
Uniting for Consensus (UfC) is a movement, nicknamed the Coffee Club, that developed in the 1990s in opposition to the possible expansion of permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council. Under the leadership of Italy, it aims to counter the bids for permanent seats proposed by G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan) and is calling for a consensus before any decision is reached on the form and size of the Security Council.
Italy, through the ambassador Francesco Paolo Fulci, along with Pakistan, Mexico and Egypt, in 1995 founded the "Coffee Club". The four countries were united by a rejection of the increase of the permanent members of the Security Council and the desire to encourage rather the expansion of non-permanent seats. The founders of the group were soon joined by other countries, including Spain, Argentina, Turkey, Canada, and South Korea, and in a short time the group came to include about 50 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The thesis of the Uniting for Consensus group is that the increase of permanent seats would have further accentuated the disparity between the member countries and resulted in the extension of a series of privileges with a cascade effect. The new permanent members would have in fact benefited from the method of electing particularly advantageous in a number of specific organs of the United Nations System.
After having agreed with the need to increase the representativeness of the Security Council, in 2005 during the 59th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the UfC group — led by the representatives of Canada, Italy, Colombia and Pakistan — made a proposal that centres on an enlargement of the number of non-permanent members from ten to twenty. The non-permanent members would be elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term and would be eligible for immediate re-election, subject to the decision of their respective geographical groups. The other members and co-sponsors of the text, entitled "Reform of the Security Council", were listed as Argentina, Costa Rica, Malta, Mexico, San Marino, South Korea, Spain and Turkey. Although the proposal was not accepted, the initiative found broad consensus among member states, including permanent member China.
On 20 April 2009, Colombia and Italy, acting as representatives of the UfC group, provided a new model of reform, which was presented as a concrete attempt to reach a deal. The document proposed creating a new category of seats, still non-permanent, but elected for an extended duration (3 to 5 years terms) without the possibility of immediate re-elections. This new kind of seat would not be allocated to single national countries but rather to regional groups on a rotational basis. As far as traditional categories of seats are concerned, the UfC proposal does not imply any change, but only the introduction of small and medium size states among groups eligible for regular seats. This proposal includes even the question of veto, giving a range of options that goes from abolition to limitation of the application of the veto only to Chapter VII matters.
During the last round, Italy firmly rejected the G4 proposal as well as the African Union one and even denounced the unfair behaviour of G4 countries. According to Italy, the G4 is attempting to exclude the UfC proposal from the floor, “on the basis of a presumed level of support”. Moreover, Italy believes that it has shown flexibility by putting forward a new proposal on April 2009, while the G4 remained tied to its 2005 document. Italy's active role in current discussions started in February 2009 before the beginning of intergovernmental negotiations, when Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini hosted more than 75 countries to develop a shared path towards a reform of the Security Council. On May 2011, the members states which have participated in the group meeting held in Rome rose to 120.
As of 19 February 2009, core members of the Uniting for Consensus group were:
- Costa Rica
- South Korea
- San Marino
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