BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
PRESIDENT'S ASSESSMENT OF THE DEBATE OF ITEM 11:
REPORT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
17 OCTOBER 2003
Assembly will recall that in opening the debate on Item
11, Report of the Security Council, I advised
that I would implement the provision contained in paragraph
12 of resolution 51/241, whereby, "the President
of the Assembly shall assess the debate on this item and
consider the need for further consideration of the report
of the Security Council". To facilitate this
process, this item was presented for separate consideration
in the Programme of Work of the Plenary.
the course of three sessions, forty (40) speakers addressed
the Report of the Security Council. The United States, in
its capacity as President of the Council for the month of
October, provided a succinct presentation of the Council's
United States was, however, the only one of the five (5)
permanent members of the Council to speak in the debate
on item 11. Of the ten non-permanent members of the Council,
four (4) presented views on the Report in the debate. It
was said to be a pity that so few Security Council members
- particularly permanent members - spoke in the debate.
It was suggested that, in order to get more and better information,
all fifteen (15) members of the Council should be requested,
in adopting the report, to give their views on it.
were divergent views regarding the separation of Item 11
from Item 56 on reform of the Council, for consideration
by the Plenary. Among those who specifically addressed this
issue, some thought that separate debates on these two priority
issues was warranted. However, disappointment was also expressed
concerning the return to separate debates.
a number of speakers focussed their remarks specifically
on the Report of the Council, in the final analysis, few
spoke strictly or fully to it. Some combined their remarks
on both Items 11 and 56, while others speaking to the report
of the Council, made only cursory remarks on that issue
and went on to comment more substantively on reform issues.
I wish now to turn to the principal points emerging from
the debate on item 11.
were widely divergent views on the quality and usefulness
of the Council's report. On the one hand, the report received
commendation and support as a comprehensive, yet concise
document, evidence of the Council's hard work and productivity,
and an invaluable source of reference information and insight
into the activities of the Council. The Report was also
cited as an encouraging sign of the Council's continuing
positive response to the demand of member states that its
Report should be more analytical, concise and easy to read.
the other hand, it was stated that the Report reflected
neither the depth nor importance of the Council's work;
was too descriptive, excessively lengthy and devoid of elements
that would allow an assessment of the work of the Council;
lacked clarity; and was characterised by an abundance of
information, but little in the way of explanation or analysis.
This led some to conclude that the report did not lend itself
to the in-depth reflection that it should command.
the widely held view that the Report of the Council needed
to be a document more useful to member states, one that
had greater analytical content and that provided the full
accounting to which the Assembly had a legitimate right.
It was said that the Report should not be confined to what
the Council had achieved, but importantly, should also address
what has worked, and why. In this way, the Assembly would
be in a position to evaluate, in depth, the workings of
Security Council's procedure for the preparation of its
Report was also raised as an issue in the debate. It was
considered regrettable, in that regard, that the Council
had not observed its practice of previous years of discussing
among Security Council members, in open meeting, how each
member's views should be reflected in the report during
the drafting process. That practice, it was contended, was
in the interest of transparency and accountability. The
view as also expressed that the Council ought to revert
to holding open meetings on its Report.
wider issue of the relationship between the General Assembly
and the Security Council was also taken up in the context
of the Council's Report. A satisfactory relationship between
the principal organs was considered to be fundamental to
the work of the United Nations. It was contended that the
report reconfirms the rules that regulate the rapport between
the General Assembly and the Security Council and provides
an important opportunity for the Assembly to examine in
depth the activities of the Council and to identify action
that should be taken to achieve the improvements required.
The Council's Report was also seen as providing a rare opportunity
for dialogue between the Assembly and the Council, a dialogue
that should not be ritualistic.
was drawn to Article 15 of the Charter, which both calls
for the report of the Council and characterises its content.
In this context it was emphasised that the Article was meant
to involve more than merely a symbolic or ritualistic act.
In that context, it was said that the relationship between
the General Assembly and the Security Council left much
to be desired, and that it might be contended that the concentration
of decision-making power within the Security Council has
been at the expense of the General Assembly. This need not
be so, it was contended, because the Charter sets out how
the various organs of the United Nations should reciprocally
support each other.
on the relationship between the General Assembly and the
Security Council, the view was expressed that the President
of the General Assembly and the President of the Security
Council should consult frequently, particularly during crises.
It was also pointed out that the General Assembly still
does not receive the special reports envisaged in Article
24 paragraph 3 of the Charter, which calls for "the
when necessary [to submit] special
reports to the General Assembly for its consideration".
If such specific reports were received, it was contended,
they would contribute to promoting an active relationship
between the General Assembly and the Security Council. They
would also provide a basis whereby the General Assembly
could formulate recommendations for the Council.
was raised as to whether the relationship between the General
Assembly and the Security Council was clear, especially
with reference to whether the Security Council reports to
the Assembly and was subordinate to the Assembly.
there was positive reaction to, and commendation for, a
number of procedures of the Council that were considered
to be useful and developments in the relationship between
the General Assembly and the Council that were considered
to be both positive and promising.
meetings of the Council received notable support, as did
the monthly briefings by the President of the Security Council
and the periodic "wrap-up" sessions to which non-members
states were invited. It was suggested that these "wrap-up"
monthly sessions could be institutionalised, in order to
enhance interaction and promote synergies between the work
of the Assembly and the work of the Council. It was pointed
out, however, that the Council's changing of open meetings
to open debates, though welcomed, was often done without
adequate notice, leaving non-members unable to take full
advantage of the opportunities.
also commented on the initiatives taken by the Council in
respect of non-member states. Providing briefings for non-member
states, and public discussion of pressing issues that relate
to the maintenance of peace and security were cited in this
context. In that regard, public discussions were considered
to assist the Council in producing more balanced and impartial
was nevertheless expressed regarding the Council's lack
of transparency and its failure to give due attention to
the views of the wider membership. The importance of giving
all non-members of the Council the opportunity to express
their views on issues before it, and more systematic consultations
with non-member states was emphasised in that context.
suggested, however, that where decisions are taken before
the debate is held and non-members are heard after Council
members have spoken, the contribution of non-members cannot
be really effective. The tendency for decision-making to
be concentrated among the permanent members was considered
to be an undemocratic process, undermining the legitimacy
of Council decisions and the authority of Council action.
It was emphasised, in that regard, that the views of non-members
should be taken into account before the Council makes decisions.
diverged on the issue of thematic debates in the Security
Council. Some supported and commended the debates, which
they found to be helpful. It was also argued, however, that
thematic debates were an unnecessary addition to the work
of the Council, giving increasing concern about duplication
and encroachment on subject mattes that are more appropriately
handled by the General Assembly. It was also stated that
"wrap-up sessions" that engaged in a thematic
discussion totally unrelated to the Council's activities
for that month did not serve their purpose.
the relationship between the Council and other United Nations
bodies and regional organisations, it was asserted that
such relationships were of particular importance. Consultations
between the Council and regional and sub-regional institutions
were particularly welcomed.
of reporting procedures, it was contended that if the General
Assembly wanted clear reporting, it should provide clear
criteria. It was suggested that the Assembly's failure to
provide such criteria might have accounted for the regression
in the quality of the current Security Council Report.
Regarding the outcome of the Assembly's consideration of
the Report of the Security Council, it was proposed that
a special meeting of the Council should be held to hear
the response of the General Assembly to the Report. According
to the proposal, this might be done through a statement
to be made by the President of the Assembly, or alternately
through the adoption of a formal document to be presented
to the Council.
now given you my assessment of the debate on the Report
of the Security Council, I wish to revert to resolution
51/241. In it, the President is to hold informal consultations
as appropriate following assessment of the debate, to determine
if there are recommendations that might be made to the Security
Council. I will be consulting informally, including with
those delegations that made specific proposals, to make
a determination of any further action that might be taken
in respect of the Security Council's Report.
Excellencies, delegates, I thank you for your attention.