The UN General Assembly Tuesday adopted a draft decision, by consensus, paving the way to continue intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) on restructuring the Security Council during its 76th session after the aspirants of permanent seats on the 15-member body — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — withdrew their amendment that was aimed at shaping the reform process to work for them. The move to drop the amendment that sought to make an “elements paper” on areas of divergence and convergence — drafted by the representatives of Poland and Qatar in their capacity as co-chairs of the negotiations — a basis for future discussions was seen as a big setback to the so-called Group of Four which, since 2009, has been aggressively campaigning for a seat on UN’s high table. Routinely adopted by consensus every year, the amendment was the focus of heated debate when it was introduced on June 16 by Brazil on behalf of its allies. The text faced strong opposition from a wide majority of member states, including the African, Arab and Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, which opposes any expansion in the permanent category. China and Russia also spoke out against the G-4 amendments. Amid tensions at Tuesday’s meeting, Qatar’s UN Ambassador Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani proposed an oral amendment to include a reference to the commitment by Heads of State and Government made in their Declaration of the Commemoration of UN’s 75th Anniversary to “instill new life” into the long-running negotiations. The acceptance of her proposal paved the way for the 193-member Assembly to overcome the deadlock and proceed by consensus. Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram lauded his Qatar counterpart’s proposal, adding, “Our exchanges of the past few days have also reaffirmed that the only way that progress can be made towards agreement on Security Council reform is through ‘consensus’.” Pakistan, he said, is happy that the amendments put forward by G-4 were not put to a vote. Had they been, the Pakistani envoy said, the results would have been disastrous. “Throughout the IGN’s meetings this year, the proceedings have been repeatedly marred by aggressive demands of certain delegations, inflexibly pressed time and time again, for acceptance of their unequal and inequitable goals (UNSC’s permanent membership),” Ambassador Akram said. “But as has been demonstrated in the General Assembly today and last week, the membership of the General Assembly does not endorse their ‘sense of entitlement’.” The Pakistani envoy added that the proceedings of the intergovernmental negotiations have been marred by the aggressive demands of G-4 delegations. Procedural manoeuvring cannot circumvent the fact that Council reform can only come about through a two-thirds majority vote of Assembly members. “We hope that we have seen the last of pressure tactics and manoeuvres,” he said, referring to the G-4 push for UNSC’s permanent membership. Ambassador Akram also expressed “deep appreciation” to the President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, for his firm, efficient, transparent and sagacious leadership, and regretted that some G-4 members had made critical statements about him. Russia’s UN Ambassador Nebenzia Vassily Alekseevic said that Qatar’s proposal has helped the Assembly avoid “radical amendments” that would have deprived the draft decision of consensus, which was on the verge of breakdown. “That was due to the ambitions of certain countries which were not submitted by the realities of the agreement of all members of the General Assembly, ” he said in an obvious reference to G-4 tactics. Hopefully, the Russian envoy added, everyone will draw a lesson from what has happened. What was at stake was not only preserving what has been achieved this year, but in years past, as well, he said, stressing the need to maintain the current negotiating format. The Security Council, which is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, has 15 seats. It includes 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms that come from all regions of the world, and there are five permanent members with veto power whose support is essential for any reform to be adopted — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France. The process to restructure the Security Council has been conducted since 2009 in the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN), a forum established by the UN General Assembly, which operates on the basis of consensus. The negotiations have made little progress because of G-4’s refusal to show any flexibility.