SECURITY COUNCIL ASSESSES ITS WORK FOR 2002, DISCUSSES CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2003 IN YEAR-END WRAP-UP MEETING

20 December 2002
SC/7616

SECURITY COUNCIL ASSESSES ITS WORK FOR 2002, DISCUSSES CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2003 IN YEAR-END WRAP-UP MEETING

20/12/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7616

Security Council

4677th Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL ASSESSES ITS WORK FOR 2002, DISCUSSES CHALLENGES,

OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2003 IN YEAR-END WRAP-UP MEETING

The Security Council this morning held a year-end wrap-up meeting to assess its main contributions and political relevance, as well as difficulties facing the Council during its work in 2002.  Another objective was to identify the Council’s main dilemmas and opportunities in 2003.

All Council members presented their views during that "institutional debate", intended to build on the experiences of 2002 and project the priorities for 2003, as envisaged by Council President Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, an outgoing member, who convened the discussion and shaped its focus.  All five outgoing non-permanent members -- Ireland, Mauritius, Norway, Singapore and Colombia, offered their final views.

Speaking in his national capacity as an outgoing member, Mr. Valdivieso drew attention to the fact that the concept of international peace and security had changed fundamentally.  Historically, the Council had dealt with threats stemming from inter- or intra-State conflicts.  While many threats to global peace and security still revolved around those traditional concepts, an additional important phenomenon was now defining those threats -- international terrorism, which was changing security concepts and increasingly shaping the Council's decisions.

Yet, everything seemed to point to the fact that the Council had little or no experience in managing global threats, he said.  Indeed, recent events had highlighted its shortcomings as an institution.  Discussion was not enough.  The Council must take “strong and tough” measures, in order to improve and hone its ability to act, for failing to do so sacrificed the multilateral response to international terrorism and weakened the Council’s image.  The whole United Nations must be more innovative, more sophisticated and more professional, and it should not be afraid to call terrorism by its name. 

The representative of Ireland said the Council stood at the very centre of the multilateral and international system by supporting cooperation among nations, anticipating and averting threats to peace, and reinforcing peace.  Above all, the Council was about safeguarding international peace and security.  It met now in a world that was increasingly untidy and where there was enormous pressure to stand back a bit more and look at the wider forces at work.  Were it to become "just a talking shop", however, then its role would end, he warned.

Who were the "owners" of the Security Council -- the 15 members, the permanent five members, the Member States of the United Nations, or "We, the Peoples of the World"? the representative of Singapore wondered.  Accountability

was a difficult issue, he said, with no answers in sight.  The Council worked in much the same way as fire departments -- reacting whenever a fire broke out.  The tendency towards selectivity, however, could damage credibility.  Above all, the Council had to be accountable to the United Nations.

Similarly, the representative of Mauritius stressed that the Council must be perceived as credible and even-handed, and as looking at all issues with the same objective impartial and constructive approach.  No distinction should be made between the treatment of particular subjects, nor should there be any distinction between one group of members and another within the Council.  Unity should remain the constant objective of every member, especially in light of the Council's major challenge for 2003, namely effective implementation of its decisions and resolutions.

The five permanent members of the Council could draw on their extensive institutional memory, but the elected members had to start almost anew every time they served, Norway's representative said.  Norway's first lesson learned had been the need for new members to be assisted in every way possible.  Another had been the importance of unity, especially with regard to a most difficult issue -- the situation in the Middle East.  Related decisions made by the Council this year might not have had an immediate impact, but the Council had expressed views that would be important when the parties again sat down and negotiated a peace agreement to the benefit of all sides. 

Among the other issues raised were the importance of topicality and innovation in the Council.  Vigilance in confronting threats to international peace and security, including those stemming from terrorism, was also emphasized.  The volatile situation in the Middle East received particular attention, as well as the question of the disarmament of Iraq.  Also, members urged the Council to evolve a more strategic focus on the deep and unacceptable poverty in Africa, and on the alienation in the Arab and other parts of the world.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Guinea-Bissau, Russian Federation, United States, China, Cameroon, Syria, Bulgaria, Mexico, United Kingdom and France.

The meeting started at 10:45 a.m. and was adjourned at 1:15 p.m.

Background

As the Security Council met for its year-end wrap up, it had before it a letter from the Permanent Representative of Colombia addressed to the President of the Council (document A/2002/1387), which contained a non-paper intended to serve as a general guide for the session.

In that letter, the Permanent Representative of Colombia, the country that holds this month's Council Presidency, writes that the objectives are to assess the main contributions, political relevance, difficulties and dilemmas of the Council using examples of the work accomplished during 2002, and to identify the main dilemmas and opportunities of the Council for 2003.  The year-end wrap-up is not envisioned as a thematic debate, but rather as an institutional debate, building on experiences of 2002 and projecting its priorities for 2003.

According to the non-paper, the meeting is an important opportunity for the outgoing non-permanent members of the Council (Ireland, Mauritius, Norway, Singapore and Colombia) -- who will speak first -- to present their final views. Other members may find the meeting useful to present perspectives as they plan for their participation next year.  [In January 2003, Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan and Spain will fill the seats of the outgoing non-permanent members for a term of two years.]

Statements

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said throughout the year, the Council had strived hard to maintain international peace and security with success stories such as an East Timor, Sierra Leone, Angola and Kosovo and the remarkable action in Afghanistan.  Those success stories could provide useful lessons to the Council.  The Council had made significant progress in the area of increased transparency and interaction with the wider United Nations membership.  There was a need for the Council to be perceived as a credible and even-handed body, which looked at all issues with the same objective impartial and constructive approach. No distinction should be made in the manners in which one particular subject was treated from another, nor should there be any distinction between one group of members and another within the Council.  Unity of the Council should remain the constant objective of every member, since the Council was most effective when it acted in unison.

He said one of the major challenges for the next year would be the effective implementation of its decisions and resolutions.  The Council relied mostly on the reports of the Secretary-General and Secretariat briefings.  However, no matter how comprehensive reports or briefings were, there was a lot of vital information which the Council failed to obtain.  It was therefore important for Council members to undertake regular field visits to familiarize members with the situation on the ground.  With successful peace processes in Africa, the challenge faced would be the consolidation of peace.  Signing of peace agreements was a crucial stage in any peace process and was the time when prompt support of the international community was most important.  The experience in Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic should remind the Council of the importance of peace consolidation.  Comprehensive and effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) represented another challenge the Council would have to address next year.  Incomplete DDR was a source for future instability. Demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of ex-combatants should be undertaken at a regional or even continental level.

Often, the Council had been timid to focus attention on preventive measures, he said.  The Council should work very closely with regional and subregional organizations and fully utilize their early warning systems.  Closer cooperation with the African Union in the preventive field was absolutely vital.  As one of the representatives of Africa, his country had tried to focus the Council’s attention on African issues.  While advocating a global and comprehensive approach to problems in Africa, he had highlighted the specificities of each situation.  He was pleased with the establishment of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa and a new phase of cooperation between the Council and the Economic and Social Council.

GERARD CORR (Ireland) said the Council stood at the very centre of the multilateral and international system, supporting cooperation by nations, anticipating and averting threats to peace, but also building and enforcing peace, conscious of risks and conscious also of hopes.  Internationalism was about action and not just ideals.  Serving in it was a great honour for any country.  The Council must meet certain standards and  central tests.  Above all else, that body was about safeguarding international peace and security and, therefore, was a place that intersected with power and the views of capitals.  Collective security was about power and its use for the wider good.  If the Council was just a talking shop, then its role was ended.  Tension between national interest and global public goods met often in this room. 

He said the Council was also about law.  Even though the Council was intensely political, it always needed to value international law, as well as its own legitimacy.  People around the world looked to the Council as a body of major legitimacy.  A sense of honour and fairness, therefore, needed to be embedded in its work.  It must also honour the expectations of the international community.  Regarding fairness, it should not have double standards in its decisions.  It must also be about partnership, as its decisions often involved economic, social and political dimensions.  In particular, the Council should see the Economic and Social Council as a partner and vice versa.  Also required was a stronger level of partnerships throughout the intergovernmental system.

Perhaps too much light shone on this room, and too little elsewhere, he said.  The Council met in a world that was increasingly untidy and where there was enormous pressure to stand back a bit more and look at the wider forces at work.  In Africa, new and important forces were at work, such as the African Union and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).  That reflected an increasing sense of ownership of African issues, which the Council should support.  Also important was the need to remember that collective security and international peace and security were part of a wider matrix.  Terrorism in a failed State could be terrorism anywhere in the world.  A more strategic focus was also needed on the situation in the Middle East, which was a profound and growing threat to international peace and security.  The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was “intolerable and unacceptable”.  Indeed, the prevailing situation was an affront to the international community and reflected a lack of political will in a place of danger and injustice. 

In Africa, he continued, there was deep and unacceptable poverty; in the Arab and other parts of the world, there was alienation.  A more strategic focus was also needed on conflict prevention and the capacity to think boldly, not just on the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, but also on its operational implications.  More committees of the Council could be established, and a more structured dialogue could take place with the Secretariat and the Secretary-General. 

Turning to the relationships among the members, he said there had been a growing and welcome level of cooperation among the elected 10, and that was as it should be.  In terms of the permanent five members, he had never seen any plots or conspiracies, as some had suggested.  Perhaps there could be a monthly meeting of all members, away from the United Nations building, to look at the agenda issues in a free and flexible way.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said all good organizations should have a culture of action, of innovation and of reflection.  The Council had demonstrated a strong culture of action, delivering results.  It was however weak in the other two cultures.  Change required leadership, which came from the owners of the Council.  He wondered, however, who the owners were, the 15 member States, the permanent members, the Member States of the United Nations or “We, the Peoples of the World”?

He suggested that the Council should have a sharpened strategy and a overview for its work.  In every Council meeting, one slice of its work was discussed, but the Council never looked at the whole picture.  The load of work had grown significantly over the last 10 years.  More wrap-up sessions were necessary, as well as more reflection.  Another area for innovation was that of peacekeeping operations, one of the most important instruments of the Council. During the last two years there had not been a discussion on how to allocate some $3 billion to be spent on those operations.  Sometimes several thousand dollars were spent on one victim in the Balkans while spending a few dollars on victims in Rwanda.  That disparity needed to be addressed.  The Council must move from mechanical discussions on peacekeeping operations to more reflective ones.  That reflection could take place in the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations.

Sanctions were another key instrument of the Council, and more reflection was needed in that area as well.  The Secretary-General had said they sometimes had had the paradoxical effect of strengthening the regime and punishing the people.  The Working Group on Sanctions could do more work in that area, for instance in establishing more cooperation between sanctions committees.  Despite improvements in the area of working methods and procedures of the Council, the set of rules and procedures was still provisional after 40 years.  The working group on documentation and procedures should be made more active.  Leadership to the Working Group should be provided, for instance by selecting a permanent chairman.

The area of accountability of the Council was a difficult one, with no answers in sight, he said.  Who was the Council accountable to and for what?  It acted on behalf of Member States, but the Charter noted that the Council was not subordinate to the Secretary-General.  The Council provided a service to the international community similar to the way fire departments worked, which reacted whenever a fire broke out.  The Council, however, had been more selective, something that could damage the credibility of the Council.  The United Nations fabric provided legitimacy for the Council.  The relationship between the Council and the United Nations family had to be a two-way street.  The Council needed to give a sense that it was accountable to the United Nations for its actions, he said.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the five permanent members of the Council could draw on their extensive institutional memory, but the elected members had to start almost anew every time they served.  Norway had last served on the Council in 1979-1980, when both the world and the Council were very different.  Its first lesson learned, therefore, was the need for new members to be assisted in every way possible by other Council members.  Another lesson learned was the importance of unity.  It was when the Council was able to speak with one voice that the impact of its decisions was greatest.

He said that was most important with regard to one of the most difficult issues before the Council -– the situation in the Middle East.  Decisions made in the Council this year might not have had an immediate impact on the situation on the ground in that very troubled part of the world, but the Council had been able to express views that would be important when the parties were again able to sit down and negotiate a peace agreement to the benefit of all sides.  The fact that the Council had expressed a vision of a Palestinian State was important.  It should continue to strive for unity in its deliberations on the Middle East.

A third lesson learned was the need for members to feel a special responsibility for certain issues.  The Council’s workload had now become so great that everyone depended on the expertise, not only of the excellent Secretariat, but also of other members to provide useful information and insight.  A fourth lesson learned was the need to continue to work with so-called thematic issues and make the deliberations as relevant as possible.  He believed strongly in the importance of issues such as protection of civilians in armed conflict and children and armed conflict.  Debates on those and other issues were important, but their impact was much greater when followed up with concrete action.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said he wished to reflect on one thing, namely adapting the functions of the Council to meet the new challenges.  In recent years, there had been fundamental changes to the concept of international peace and security.  Historically, the Council had dealt with threats stemming from inter- or intra-State conflicts.  It still defined many threats to international peace and security around those traditional concepts, but since the beginning of the new millennium, an additional important step had been taken to define those threats.  Indeed, included in the group of threats were those of a global reach, which were not limited to a specific territory or its inhabitants.

He said that that had been the most notorious result of international terrorism on the concept of security increasingly shaped by Council decisions.  The Council had gradually fallen into a case-by-case management of global threats caused by terrorist acts, which could indicate its own inability to act.  He wondered which cases of terrorism should be characterized as threats to international peace, and whether such characterization was useful or ran the risk of convening intensely political discussions around which no consensus could be reached.  Everything seemed to point to the fact that, in managing global threats, the Council had little or no experience.  Indeed, recent events had highlighted that body’s shortcomings as an institution.

Discussion was not enough, he added.  The Council must take “strong and tough” measures, in order to improve and hone its ability to act.  Failing to do so sacrificed the multilateral response to international terrorism and weakened the Council’s image.  The United Nations, overall, must be more innovative, more sophisticated and more professional.  For example, it should not be afraid to call terrorism by its name.  He was leaving the Council with the absolute conviction that it was a crucial body to the maintenance of international peace and security.

BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea-Bissau) said the Council had achieved remarkable successes in eliminating certain trouble spots in, for instance, Angola, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and Eritrea/Ethiopia.  Despite those successes, many conflicts continued, particularly on the African continent, which should be an issue of priority.  To do that, a participatory approach was necessary, both within the United Nations system and with regional and subregional organizations.  That approach should include dialogue, DDR programmes and a common vision.  The strategies used in Liberia by the Council should be encouraged.

The Ad-hoc Working Group for Africa had developed a framework for overcoming obstacles and allowing for a solution to delicate problems.  The Sanctions Committee had allowed for establishing targeted, “smart” sanctions policies.  In some cases, however, a great deal needed to be done, he said.  Follow-up to implementation of sanctions was necessary.  The fight against international terrorism had become more important, and the actions of the Counter-Terrorism Committee had to be bolstered.  Peacekeeping operations had been largely positive, creating an environment conducive for dialogue and establishing peace.  There were still conflicts, however, where peacekeeping forces had been in place for many years without a solution in view.  Better coordination between the Council and troop-contributing countries was necessary as was implementation of the Brahimi Report recommendations.

The Council had established greater transparency.  It had also taken topical themes under consideration, such as food security and HIV/AIDS in conflict areas.  He stressed the importance of Council Missions as well.  The implementation of adopted resolutions was not encouraging, and an effort must be made to avoid selectivity in that regard.  The Council’s daily actions must be guided by the idea that success was only possible in unity, he said.

ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said this year the Council had adopted more than 100 resolutions and presidential statements, and there had been three Council Missions.  The Council had done an admirable job.  Topical meetings had focused on specific outcomes, and important decisions had been taken.  The fight against international terrorism and Africa had been in the forefront of the Council’s work.  Also, the Council had paid much attention to the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans.

The important thing was that the Council was united in its wish to increase its effectiveness of its work, he said.  He thanked the departing members individually for their contributions.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said that in September, President Bush had challenged the Council to live up to its mandate regarding Iraq’s compliance to disarm, according to the relevant Council resolutions.  During eight weeks of negotiations leading to the adoption of resolution 1441 (2002), the Council not only had included the perspectives of its members, but also had provided the opportunity for all States to contribute to that extremely important and ongoing process.  In so doing, the Council had reaffirmed its important role in dealing with Iraq’s threat to international peace and security.  On African issues, the Council had made substantial contributions.  Although few had appeared on the front pages of newspapers here in the United States, those had remained extremely important to vast numbers of people.  He cited among the examples the Pretoria agreement and the decision to expand United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and authorize Phase III operations.  An innovative approach by the Council had contributed to those decisions.

He said the Council should give the same attention now to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which was moving towards issuing its indictments early in 2003.  The Court, a unique institution that was independent of the United Nations system, but had been created by it at the Council’s recommendation, would need the political support of the Council in upcoming months.  How it responded would determine the Court’s eventual success.  On the Middle East, the Council had made an important contribution in 2002 by providing an agreed end game to that enduring conflict in resolution 1397 (2002), in which, for the first time, it affirmed a vision of two States -– Israel and Palestine -– living side-by-side within secure and recognized borders.  That text was forward looking and had been enshrined in the pantheon of resolutions that would become the basis for peace.

A challenge for the Council was now before it on the Middle East, he continued.  It could remain on a constructive path that supported the efforts of the Quartet, or it could return to the destructive practice of seeking to pass one-sided resolutions, heaping criticism on one party, namely Israel.  The United States completely disagreed with an approach whereby draft resolutions seeking to highlight the issue of occupation, neglected Palestinian responsibility for eliminating terrorism.  In 2002, the Council had taken several steps forward in acknowledging the obvious -– that suicide bombing destroyed the prospects for peace, as well as innocent lives.  In 2003, would it have the courage to take aim at those groups that promoted that violence and terror?  He called attention to the important work of the Committee addressing the terrorist threat posed by Al Qaeda, as well as the continuing work of the ground-breaking Counter-Terrorism Committee.

      WANG YINGFAN (China) said over the last year, the Council had timely considered a series of questions such as Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Middle East, and had adopted more than 100 resolutions and Presidential Statements.  On certain questions substantive progress had been made, for instance in the area of anti-terrorism.  The Counter-Terrorism Committee had done an enormous amount of work in carrying out its work in a cooperative manner. The Council had made fruitful and ongoing efforts on the issue of Iraq, in order to have weapons of mass destruction destroyed and avoid war.

He said striving to achieve consensus had become a characteristic of the Council’s work, and that trend should be maintained.  African issues had taken up half of the Council’s agenda and some progress had been achieved as well as some breakthroughs.  For next year, the Council should make a more in-depth study on strengthening of cooperation with African organizations and consolidating results achieved.

MARTIN CHUNGONG AYAFOR (Cameroon), addressing the decision-making process within the Council, said that a permanent presence within an institution was in itself useful.  However, members often believed that agreements with five was necessary in order to have agreement with 15.  The Council had become a body of five plus 10 members.  That dichotomy could only affect transparency and legitimacy.  The body included all members of the Organization.  The Council therefore must be accountable.  It was the elected members of the Council who granted Council decisions their democratic legitimacy.  Without that practice the Council would lose credibility.

He said another concern was sanctions against certain States taken by the Council.  The Council was still searching for a global strategy to end sanctions regimes.  It had trouble countering avoidance of sanctions by clandestine networks.  Sanctions generally had a more harmful impact on vulnerable populations than on the regimes in place.  As a result, awareness was necessary of the humanitarian dimension of sanctions.  A system of targeted sanctions should be strengthened.  A substantive debate on the impact of sanctions on vulnerable populations and on third party States was necessary.

In dealing with situations of internal conflicts that pitted elected governments against armed opponents, the Council had sometimes given the impression it legitimized rebel movements.  That topic was one of great concern and one to which the Council should find an ethical response, he said.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) stressed that equal treatment of all Council members was imperative to consolidate unity and uphold that body’s credibility.  Hopefully, the Council would rectify the error it had made in distributing the Iraqi declaration, particularly since a large number of members had indicated their desire to get a full copy of the declaration, in order to make their opinion independently and responsibly, and maintain the Council’s unity.  It was well known to everyone here that great and tangible progress had been achieved in terms of the transparency of the Council’s work, which had included a large number of public meetings with broad representation by Member States. 

He said that throughout the year, the Council had not had a chance like it had today to discuss the volatile Middle East region, which constituted a real threat to international peace and security.  Nor had it followed up a number of its resolutions.  That had negatively affected its work and impeded progress towards reaching a settlement in that and other conflict-ridden regions.  Implementation of Council resolutions should be based on equality, devoid of double standards.  Any attempt to keep the Council from dealing closely with the issue of the Middle East under a different pretext was hateful to his delegation and contradicted the vision of collective security, the United Nations Charter, and the willingness of the international community to cooperate in finding solutions to such challenges.

The Palestinian people were subjected to a hateful Israeli occupation, underpinned by a Government that promoted terrorist policies in flagrant violation of the Charter, he said.  Israeli occupation of those territories should be confronted by the Council and brought to an end as a priority task, instead of talking about “an alleged terrorism” by the Palestinian people.  Meanwhile, the Council had made great strides in dealing with African issues.  In particular, the establishment of the ad hoc working group on the prevention and settlement of conflicts in Africa had been most efficient and had consolidated the Council’s role in finding solutions to the problems on that continent.  Much attention had also been given to Angola and Somalia, but much remained to be done there.

The Council had also discussed many substantive issues, including peacekeeping, and the effects of armed conflict on civilians, women and children.  It had also considered terrorism and related concerns. 

RAYKO S. RAYTCHEV (Bulgaria) said that, regarding the programme of work, he shared the view that during the past year the Council had dealt on a continuous basis with a series of complex political and security situations.  It had achieved positive results in a number of cases, the most convincing of which were the progress achieved in Timor-Leste, the excellent work on Afghanistan, the improvement of the situation in Sierra Leone, the progress in the Balkans, and the successful completion of the missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Prevlaka.  The enormous amount of work done by the Counter-Terrorism Committee, aimed at ensuring the necessary conditions for the genuine implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), also deserved a positive assessment.

He noted that the biggest portion of the Council’s work had been devoted to the conflicts on the African continent, although with mixed results.  Significant progress had been achieved in the resolution of the conflict in the Great Lakes region, which was probably the most complex of all conflicts in Africa.  There, the Council could make a difference.  Throughout the year, the Council remained in constant contact with the parties.  Its mission to the region in May and the high-level meeting with the parties in September in New York had been positive contributions to the coordinated efforts of the international community to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region as a whole. 

While the situation in Sierra Leone in 2002 had improved considerably, the Council would have to follow closely the unstable situation in neighbouring Liberia, he continued.  Considerable strides had been made in the peace process in Angola, and United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Ethiopia/Eritrea had been rather encouraging.  Despite achievements in Burundi, the situation there still demanded close monitoring by the Council.  Also critical was to follow developments in Côte d’Ivoire.  A significant step forward was the commencement of the second phase of the Somalia Reconciliation Process.  The Council should continue to attach priority attention to the situation in that country, with a view to finding a way to reverse the process of sliding into turmoil.

On the activities of the sanctions committees, he said the recommendations of their chairman on possible improvement of the methods of work should definitely be taken into consideration in the Council’s future activities.  Important contributions in that regard could be made in the working group on sanctions issues, which had resumed its work, but still had not achieved real progress on the recommendations made.  On the issue of conflict management, he supported more focused attention on the future activities of the Council on the interconnection between the issues of conflict prevention and conflict resolution and the promotion of sustainable development.  In that context, devising appropriate exit strategies was of critical importance.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said the Council was made up of 15 members, representing their countries and regions, who tried to reconcile their national interest with the collective interest in maintaining international peace and security.  That tension between national interest and collective responsibility had been a recurring theme during the year.  The valuable contributions by the five outgoing countries in that regard had to be acknowledged.  The Council, over the past year, had made its programme broader and inclusive.  However, Member States hoped for closer communication between the Council, other United Nations bodies and Member States.  He firmly supported greater transparency in the Council’s working methods.  The Council had made progress in looking for ways to streamline its decision-making process in order to make it more democratic, and that quest should continue. 

He said the Council had maintained its unity and consensus, which was perhaps its most important achievement.  He supported the idea that the Middle East including the question of Palestine was considered periodically in public briefings and consultations.  He hoped the Council would continue to hold monthly open briefings followed by consultations on the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, and would, in that way contribute to the Quartet’s promotion of the peace process.  He highlighted the importance of mediation efforts in Africa in cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, as well as the work of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Africa, which should continue its efforts.  The Council had highlighted the need for greater cooperation between United Nations agencies and regional and subregional organizations, for instance in tackling the humanitarian dimensions, in particular those of refugees and women and child soldiers.

Regarding sanctions, he stressed the importance of sanctions committee chairmen becoming directly involved in the work and visiting the regions.  He expressed support for proper human and financial resources for the committees, as well as an institutional memory on file.  The example of Angola should be followed in other regions of Africa, so that sanctions regimes would not become permanent. Sanctions should also be revised on a regular basis to reflect the reality on the ground.  He pleaded for monthly wrap-up meetings as well as a yearly one.

SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the Council’s agenda was becoming overloaded, and he shared the view of the Irish delegation that there should be continued ways of filtering its activities.  The daily e-mails from the Colombian presidency had been extraordinarily helpful, as had the luncheons and meetings to finalize the calendar each month.  The increasing tendency to formalize texts outside the room through the use of experts was also welcome.  Unity in the Council was an evolution of compelling impact, when it was gotten right, but that unity depended, in the end, on instructions from capitals.  Members, therefore, should continue to ensure that their ministers understood the need for collective action in the Council.  Adoption of resolution 1441 (2002) was a striking example of that.  At the two ends of the spectrum –- the United States and Syria -- both had concluded that that text was what they were looking for.  That kind of result had increased the power and effectiveness of the Council.

He said that progress had been made between the Council and the Economic and Social Council, and he had particularly appreciated the fact that the mission to Guinea-Bissau had been a combined one.  As had been stated earlier today, the cultures of action, innovation and reflection were very important to the Council.  While it had been good at that, it had not been very good at follow-up and implementation.  On the Council’s work against terrorism, he reinforced the Council President’s view that the Council was in danger of “taking its eye off the ball that really mattered”, namely stopping terrorists.  He was not sure whether the Council was grappling with the phenomenon of terrorism in all its aspects, as substantively as it should.  Perhaps, discussions could be held in January during the French presidency, because if and when the next big event happened and the Council was ineffective in stopping it on the ground, people would start throwing stones.

In terms of the myth about what the “P-5” (the five permanent members of the Council) did outside the Council before coming into the Council, that myth had only been relevant necessarily, concerning Iraq this year.  He had not thought that that “split” was related to transparency.  Indeed, the Council had become more transparent, and that was not a P-5 issue.  The United Kingdom supported reform and enlargement, but the political legitimacy of the Council was also professionalism, and it was obligatory for the P-5 to introduce that.  Non-permanent members talked about taking the lead, but he was not sure that they had done very much about it.  Given that it was extremely difficult for delegations on the Council to cover every subject evenly and professionally, perhaps Norway’s suggestion that there should be a division of functions by subjects was a good one.  Also, themes outlined by the Colombian president should be taken forward.

Let us not look for institutional innovation, but for practical innovation.  That might actually make it possible to get somewhere, he added.  

EMANNUELLE D’ACHON (France) said it was a sad occasion to see the outgoing colleagues leave, and she thanked them for their friendship and productive work. The ideas they had expressed during the current meeting were important and should not remain a dead letter. The African issues took up about two-thirds of the Council’s time, and successes had been achieved in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Great Lakes Region, but several countries in Western Africa remained or had become a matter of concern.  Progress had been made in the fight against terrorism and on Timor-Leste and Afghanistan, but vigilance was of continued necessity.

She said progress had also been made in transparency in the Council, but work in that regard should continue.  The Council’s workload was saturating the monthly programme of work, and rationalization was necessary through better and more creative working methods.

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For information media. Not an official record.