|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5968th Meeting (AM & PM)
SECRETARY-GENERAL UNDERSCORES ESSENTIAL IMPORTANCE OF ADDRESSING SECURITY COUNCIL
WORKING METHODS AS MEMBER STATES DISCUSS TOPIC FOR FIRST TIME IN 14 YEARS
Speakers in Day-long Debate Call for Greater Transparency,
Access to Subsidiary Bodies in Face of Increasingly Complex Global Challenges
Confronting increasingly complex responsibilities and a growing array of new challenges in the maintenance of international peace and security made it essential for the Security Council to keep addressing issues related to its working methods, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as that body held an open debate on the subject -– the first in 14 years.
Opening the meeting convened by the Belgian presidency of the Council, the Secretary-General said he appreciated that Council members were committed to interacting with the wider United Nations membership through greater transparency, openness in decision-making and inclusiveness. That was pivotal to the way in which the Council worked and was perceived by the international community, Mr. Ban said, stressing the importance of implementing the measures set out in the Council President’s note of two years ago (document S/2006/507), which he called a “key step in making the United Nations more efficient, effective and accountable” in the face of today’s challenges.
The Secretary-General went on to say that, since taking office, he had stressed the importance of full accountability as a fundamental organizing principle and operational guideline for the work of the United Nations. The Secretariat must ensure that it worked and delivered as one to meet the mandates that the Council gave it and, at the same time, held itself accountable for its behaviour and for outcomes. He was confident that the Council, which carried out its responsibilities on behalf of all Member States, was also guided by that principle.
Today’s debate, initiated at the request of the so-called small five (S-5) Group -– Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland -- was based on the Council President’s note of 19 July 2006, which was the result of negotiations in the Council’s Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions. The document addresses such issues as agenda, briefings, documentation, informal consultations, meetings, programme of work, resolutions and presidential statements, subsidiary bodies and newly elected members.
Belgium’s representative, speaking in his national capacity, said that, in meeting its responsibilities, the Council must act on behalf of all United Nations Members. That particular Charter provision was inextricably linked to important elements in the Council’s working methods -– on the one hand, transparency, and on the other hand, interaction with non-Council members affected by issues on the Council’s agenda. The need for access to the Council was increasingly unavoidable, but the right balance must be struck between effectiveness, transparency and access, which remained a major challenge.
Speaking on behalf of the S-5 group, Switzerland’s representative advocated a more systematic approach to the implementation of document S/2006/507, and welcomed the substantial increase in the number of public meetings. However, those meetings should not be used as an “alibi exercise”, while essential information continued to be shared behind closed doors. Hopefully, briefings to non-Council members on the monthly work programme would continue to be organized systematically by the incoming presidency. It was regrettable, however, that briefings following important consultations still happened on a largely ad hoc basis and still depended on the time and goodwill of individual Mission staff. Hopefully, today’s debate would not be a stand-alone event, but would trigger a thorough evaluation of document S/2006/507.
Several of the 45 speakers in today’s debate said the issue of the Council’s working methods transcended the organ’s limited membership, submitting that the extent of interest among non-Council members and the fact that the Council acted on behalf of the larger United Nations membership reinforced the need for greater interaction between the Council and the wider membership, particularly the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. That also highlighted the importance of greater transparency.
Many delegates pointed to the long-sought involvement of troop-contributing countries in the Council’s decision-making on peacekeeping operations, especially before authorizing deployment or mandate renewals and adjustments. The lack of systematic access to subsidiary Security Council bodies was another concern, as was the fact that, for 60 years, the Council’s rules of procedure had remained provisional and had not been formalized. A deeper malaise lay in the Council’s structure and composition, some speakers noted, suggesting that its working methods could not fundamentally be remedied without comprehensive reform and expansion of the organ’s membership.
Australia’s representative said that, while Security Council reform in general “has been stuck elsewhere”, some modest achievements had been made in improving its working methods. Not having been on the Council for more than 20 years, but as a contributor to many peacekeeping operations mandated by the Council and a Member State bound by its decisions, Australia expected Council deliberations to be transparent, defensible and accountable. “It is all our soldiers and police who may be put in harm’s way; it is our regulations that will have to be adjusted.” The quality of Council decisions impacted directly on those affected by conflict and insecurity –- they were the ultimate constituents to whom everyone was responsible.
The representative of the United States asserted that, for more than a decade, there had been an ongoing dynamic effort to ensure that the Council’s work was readily available to all United Nations members. Among other improvements, there had been an increase in the use of the Organization’s website and more active participation in the Council’s Working Group on documentation and procedures. Further, the Council had issued a steady stream of notes aimed at demystifying its work.
Despite that and other measures, he said, the receptivity remained disappointing, attendance at briefings by the Council President had been sparse and, despite efforts to provide greater recourse to public meetings, the Chamber was often half empty and open formats had not stimulated participation. In May, when the Chairs of the Council Committees on counter-terrorism had given briefings, fewer than 10 non-members had joined the debate. Hopefully, the wider membership would take better advantage of the improvements already made to the Council’s working methods.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia, China, Libya, Croatia, France, Viet Nam, Panama, Costa Rica, South Africa, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Burkina Faso and Italy.
Others speaking today were delegates from Japan, Slovakia, Mexico, Iceland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), New Zealand, Uruguay, Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Brazil, Jordan, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Germany, Singapore, Philippines, Canada, Iran, Ecuador, Liechtenstein, Argentina, Austria, India, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Tonga (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States), Pakistan, Guatemala and Poland.
The meeting began at 10:25 a.m. and suspended at 1:45 p.m. Reconvening at 3:12 p.m., it ended at 5:36 p.m.
At the request of the so-called group of small five (S-5) -– Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland (document S/2008/418) -– the Security Council met today to discuss in an open debate its working methods. The debate will be based on a note by the President of the Security Council of 19 July 2006, which was the result of negotiations in the Council’s Working Group on documentation and other procedural questions, and addresses such issues as agenda, briefings, documentation, informal consultations, meetings, programme of work, resolutions and presidential statements, subsidiary bodies, matters of which the Council is seized, communication with the Secretariat and outside, its annual report, and newly elected members.
The Council had before it a concept paper by the Belgian President of the Security Council on the open debate on the implementation of the measures set out in the note by the President of the Security Council (document S/2006/507), stating that the debate’s purpose is to assess the implementation of the measures set out in that President’s note, identifying both the improvements achieved in terms of efficiency, transparency and interaction, and the challenges that still need to be tackled. The Belgian presidency suggests that interventions could focus on the implementation of concrete measures in three specific and interrelated fields: transparency; interaction with non-Council members; and efficiency.
Regarding transparency, the President notes considerable progress made through, among other things posting and updating of the monthly programme of work and the monthly forecast on the Security Council website; a briefing by the presidency to non-Council members at the beginning of each month; and the posting of meetings and informal consultations in the Journal. As far as the format of meetings is concerned, the trend in the 1990s of systematically moving away from public meetings in favour of private consultations has been stemmed.
The most appropriate format remains a challenge, the President notes. A clear understanding of the rationale for a specific format, as well as the objectives intended for each meeting, could prove useful in enhancing both efficiency and transparency. More reflection was needed on how to make better use of public meetings -- and how to keep them from being needlessly formalistic and excessively long.
As for interaction, the President points out that, in document S/2006/507, Council members have expressed a commitment to informally consult with the broader United Nations membership, in particular interested Member States, neighbouring States, countries with particular contributions to make and regional organizations and groups of friends. Some “prudent” progress has been made. In public meetings, it has become more common for countries directly concerned to take the floor before Council members. Council bodies more often seek the views of Member States with a strong interest in their areas of work, and regional and subregional organizations are more regularly invited to participate in Council meetings and activities. More reflection could be useful, however, on how to make better use of the existing format of private meetings.
The President states that the ever-growing workload of the Council and its subsidiary organs is a challenge for the capacity of Council members, as well as that of the Secretariat. The Council should, therefore, continuously reflect on measures to improve its efficiency. The more efficient and predictable the Council’s work, the better non-Council members can anticipate upcoming decisions or prepare their input. Considerable progress has been made, among other things through consistent notification in the Journal of timing and agenda of meetings, but challenges remain, such as implementation of decisions on the length of statements during public meetings by both Council and non-Council members. Timely circulation of all Secretary-General’s reports is also of particular relevance. They should be made available to Council members, as well as to other participants in Council meetings, such as troop-contributing countries, in all official languages at least four working days before a meeting.
United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that, over the years, the Security Council had faced increasingly complex responsibilities in the maintenance of international peace and security. At the same time, there had been a surge in the demand for United Nations conflict prevention and management, peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. That made it essential for the Council to keep addressing issues related to its working methods, including by implementing the measures set out in the Council President’s note two years ago. Those measures were a key step in making the United Nations more efficient, effective and accountable in the face of a growing array of new challenges.
He commended the Council for its efforts so far. Since adopting the presidential note in July 2006, considerable progress had been made in implementing the measures. The Secretariat, too, had taken steps to make the recommendations a reality, including those related to the timeliness and content of his reports to the Council; those on the familiarization of newly elected Council members; and the mainly technical points regarding wider and more user-friendly dissemination of information on the Council's programme and activities to non-Council members.
Since taking office, he had stressed the importance of full accountability as a fundamental organizing principle and operational guideline for the work of the Organization, he said, adding that the Secretariat must ensure that it worked and delivered as one to meet the mandates that the Council gave it and, at the same time, held itself accountable for its behaviour and for outcomes.
He said he was confident that the Council, which carried out its responsibilities on behalf of all Member States, was also guided by that principle. He appreciated that the Council members were committed to interacting with the wider United Nations membership through greater transparency, openness in decision-making and inclusiveness. He considered that pivotal to the way the Council worked and was perceived by the international community.
Since 1994, when the Council had held its first debate on the issue, it had come a long way, he said, adding that he trusted it would consolidate the gains that had been made and keep moving forward. He looked forward to working with the Council in strengthening the cooperation with the Secretariat even further. He would keep extending full support to the Security Council and its members in their tireless efforts to make “this indispensable organ” an efficient, transparent and inclusive body.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, not infrequently, the Council’s monthly programme of work and forecast bore little resemblance to its actual work in a given month. Meetings, formal as well as informal consultations, were convened at short notice and it was incumbent upon the Council to recognize that that was increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception. Thus, it would be pertinent for the Council to further develop an information dissemination system that responded to the dynamism of a fast-evolving situation, and yet remained comprehensive and inclusive in its reach.
Unless there were strong irrefutable arguments to the contrary, he said, the Secretary-General’s reports should be presented and considered at the Council’s open meetings, and it would be advantageous for the Council also to hear the views of interested Member States at that stage. However, there was a need to exercise care in evaluating the significance of the increased resort to formal meetings. As a country that strongly supported greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, Indonesia attached particular importance to the facilitation of interaction between them.
He said his country would consistently place a premium on working methods that promoted transparency and the Council’s greater interaction with the wider United Nations membership, placing emphasis especially on those working methods that offered the best chance for the Council to speak with one voice in carrying out its Charter—mandated responsibilities.
LI KEXIN ( China) thanked members of the S-5 group for their initiation to convene today’s meeting. According to the United Nations Charter, Council members shouldered the noble mission of maintaining international peace and security, the successful accomplishment of which depended on the political will of Member States and on whether the Council had a set of reasonable and effective working methods. There had been profound changes in the international landscape, and the Council had had to be adjusted from time to time. Its workload had increased drastically and it was faced with new problems. The Council must keep up with the times and have more scientific and advanced working methods, so as to increase its ability to stand up to the various challenges to international peace and security. That was not only the concern of Council members, but of the general United Nations membership.
On improving the Council’s working methods, he said that many useful endeavours had been carried out in recent years, such as an increase in public meetings and coordination with troop-contributing countries. Council members were trying their best to adopt the reasonable opinions of various parties, and the Council had made “some progress” in enhancing transparency and increasing interaction with non-Council members, but it was no time for complacency. It must be recognized that the Organization’s general membership and civil society had higher expectations of the Council’s working methods. Improving the working methods, however, was a long-term endeavour, which should be given priority, but at the same time, it must be results-oriented. More thought should be given to holding more open meetings, but those should not be too lengthy. Their interactive nature, however, should be increased. Also, non-Council members should be briefed about the Council’s work by the Council President, or someone appointed by him or her. The Council should do its best to listen to the opinions of all parties, especially countries in the regions relevant to issues under consideration, and troop contributors should be further encouraged to provide inputs.
He also suggested, among other things, that exchanges with other United Nations bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, be increased. On enhancing its effectiveness, the Council should focus on priorities and the most urgent issues and put new items on its agenda with a cautious and responsible attitude. Full consideration should be given to member States’ technical difficulties on certain texts, and those should be circulated to all members as soon as possible to give them enough time to consult their capitals.
GIADALLA A. ETTALHI (Libya), aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the S-5 group had contributed to the debate on reform of the Council’s working methods. Both the concept paper and note by the Council President correctly represented the issues involved in the debate, as set out in the concept paper that had codified practices of the Council during a period of great changes.
He said the traditional debate on the matter of the Council’s working methods had been transcended since the 2005 World Summit, in terms of informal consultations and open meetings. Before then, the Council -- to non-members -- had been an almost invisible body meeting behind closed doors. Still, the Council’s public and open meetings needed more objective checks to ensure more transparency, both about the Council’s work and in ensuring the Council was informed about different points of view. The Council should go beyond its current practices in its role of maintaining international peace and security, by being more transparent and open to information from relevant actors. Wider participation in the Council’s work should be encouraged, to give smaller States who were not members an opportunity to participate. Also, regional groups should have more opportunities to inform the Council about events.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said that the United Nations was becoming involved in an ever-increasing number of conflicts and an ever-increasing number of situations worldwide involving sanctions. Added to that was the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction. The question remained how to adequately and effectively address those issues and improve implementation of the mandate of the unique body entrusted with doing so. The interest of the United Nations general membership in the Council’s working methods had also increased. The 2005 World Summit Outcome document had highlighted the value of achieving greater transparency and more effective implementation of the Council’s mandate.
He welcomed the progress achieved thus far in that regard, and thanked Japan and Panama for their excellent stewardship of the Working Group, as well as the S‑5 group, whose efforts had gone a long way towards stimulating debate. Greater transparency should be the aim of briefings to non-Council members and troop contributors, and he supported additional open meetings, but those should be tempered by what Council members wished to achieve in those meetings. Sight must not be lost of the Council’s primary mandate, which should be the driving force in deciding the format of its meetings. Additionally, any discussion of the body’s working methods must be conducted in that light.
The Council might make better use of consulting affected countries in its deliberations, including host countries of peacekeeping operations, neighbouring States and countries targeted for sanctions. Consulting host countries on their future could benefit the Council in its decision-making process. Regional and subregional organizations could also be included, as those were often ideally placed in overcoming crises; using their expertise or having them pronounce on various conflicts should become common practice in open meetings and could be included during consultations or briefings. Reforming or improving the Council’s working methods was not a stagnant process.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) said the Council’s working methods should ensure smooth functioning and good interaction with non-member countries. The closed-door meetings the Council had held in the past had created malaise among some States. Article 48 of the Charter on the Council’s procedures of work stated that, unless otherwise required, the Council’s meetings should be open. The Council had improved in that regard, and the 2006 president’s note had gone a long way towards improving the Council’s effectiveness, which went hand in hand with openness. The Council had a responsibility to be accountable to the entire Organization. Openness led to a broader airing of views on issues, which was important for the devising of compromises.
He said the figures presented in the concept note represented a good balance of the types of meetings being held by the Council. The rate of private meetings was low, which enabled the Council to interact in informal meetings. The important point was that the spirit of Article 48 must be maintained as much as possible, without needing to further codify working methods. The president’s note was useful and more work needed to be done in areas such as improving the restrictive modalities on how to delete items from the agenda. At present, obsolete issues remained on the agenda, while other issues before the Council did not appear. A more efficient method for reflecting the Council’s work should be developed and adopted. The Working Group on documentation and procedure had done useful work. Notable progress had been made with regard to meeting formats, implementing measures presented in the working paper, the holding of open meetings, improvement in securing the participation of Member States in the Council’s work and improvement in the Council’s association with subsidiary bodies. The programme adopted by the Working Group should continue addressing those matters.
ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF ( United States) said that, for more than a decade, there had been an ongoing dynamic effort to ensure that the Council’s work was readily available to all United Nations Members. Among other improvements, there had been an increased use of the United Nations website, which had facilitated that process. There had also been more active participation in the Council’s Working Group on documentation and procedures, and all Council members had supported efforts to enhance the transparency and effectiveness of its work. Further, the Council had issued a steady stream of notes by its Presidents, aimed at demystifying its work. There were several other topical documents on the Council’s website, including an index published in February 2006 and highlights of a note presented in the 2007 annex.
He said that today’s debate was an opportunity for the Council to meet with the beneficiaries of the annex, a kind of consumer survey, and to learn whether that had helped them to follow the Council’s work. The survey gave Member States a chance to voice their views on implementation. At the same time, the receptivity to measures by the Council remained disappointing. He had hoped that briefings by the Council President would provide information to Member States, but attendance had been sparse. Despite Council efforts to provide greater recourse to public meetings, the Chamber was often half empty and open formats had not stimulated participation. In May, when the Chairs of the Council Committees on counter-terrorism had briefed, fewer than 10 non-members had joined the debate. He hoped the wider membership would take better advantage of the improvements already made to the Council’s working methods. He would listen carefully today to the comments, which would inform the future of the Council’s work on documentation and procedure.
LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said due attention should be given to the Council’s regular consultations with concerned parties, including regional and international organizations. Practices such as the President’s briefings to the public and the media, as well as the presidency’s consultations with Council members and the United Nations membership at large on the process of preparing the annual report to the General Assembly was useful and should be made routine.
He said Member States should be allowed, and indeed invited, to present their views before the Council took action concerning them, as that would make their cooperation in the Council’s decisions acceptable as more legitimate and fairer, and therefore more conducive to their cooperation in the process of implementation. Viet Nam called for more open debates as a way to give the general United Nations membership the means to express their views on various issues. To avoid abuse and the perception of double standards in any Member State’s support for that measure, it should be coupled with efforts to avoid the Council’s involvement in issues that did not fall under the purview of its mandate –- the maintenance of international peace and security.
Transparency should not be exercised at the expense of the Council’s work overlapping with that of other United Nations bodies and development agencies, hence weakening their coordination, he said. In addition, resort to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter regarding issues that were not threats to international peace and security must be avoided in order not to create confrontation or situations in which the Council could not act or speak with one voice, or even lead to the possibility of a veto.
RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) said the presence of the Secretary-General at the current meeting demonstrated the importance of the question to the entire United Nations. It should be kept in mind that reform of the Council’s working methods was not an end in itself, but a matter of improving the Organization’s ability to implement mandates set out in the Charter. Improvement of the Council’s working methods should address the issue of the Council’s representation and the situation should be remedied as quickly as possible.
He said the concept paper represented a good evaluation of the current status of the reform process. The paper clearly stated that, in accordance with the Charter, unless otherwise called for, the Council’s meetings should be open and its documents should be made more available to non-members. Also, the Council should take decisions only after broad discussion. Consultations should be held with non-member States as often as necessary to achieve the greatest participation of those involved and affected by decisions. The Arria formula meetings should be extended. The counter-terrorism meetings should be more open. The Council should also receive more guidance by Member States on how situations affected them. Finally, it bore repeating that reform of the Council’s working methods was not an end in itself, but a matter of implementing the Charter.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said that, as members knew all too well, it had not been easy to reach agreement to hold today’s debate. The idea that the Council’s working methods were the exclusive domain of its members was a stumbling block, which was always difficult to overcome. Costa Rica was speaking today as a member of the General Assembly, which should not surprise anyone. That was his country’s “only permanent condition”, and it guided its perspective and interests. The perception existed that the Council acted on behalf of its own members, especially the permanent members, and that seemed to be a one-way street. The perception that the Council was an autonomous organ independent of the wider United Nations membership, however, must yield to the unshakeable realities of the day, of an age in which transparency of decision-making processes and the accountability of the representatives of the represented were built on the solid principles common to all organizations, independent of their nature.
He said that no one was suggesting a revolution in the Council’s working methods, but an important group of Member States aspired to have the Council listen to its assessments of the way the Council carried out its duties and to their suggestions, which might well improve the efficacy and legitimacy of the Council’s decisions. Some Council members were hesitant to examine, in an open debate, the Council’s working methods, which seemed to indicate that what was necessary, more than a change in the Council’s norms, was a change in the Council’s attitude. Of all the Council’s cultural norms, the most detrimental was the “excluding attitude” towards the great majority of Member States, whose presence in the Council was very rare, if it had ever actually taken place.
He said that document S/2006/507 by the President was an important milestone in the Council’s history and the crystallization of a 15-year process. Nevertheless, the periodic examination of the Council’s practices was still required. More than ever, the Council should be interested in the inputs of those with a legitimate interest in its decisions. Another subject deserving greater attention was the publicity of the Council’s actions. As a general rule, all meetings of the Council should be public, unless expressly decided otherwise. He recognized that certain situations demanded discretion, but he disagreed with a practice that had “inverted in the facts the text of the norm”. It was also true that public meetings demanded a greater degree of preparation and required greater responsibility from all. As for the sparse use often made of available opportunities, those must be taken advantage of, rights must be exercised and the responsibility must be assumed. In the end, it was not necessary, nor possible, for Member States to have to wait another 14 years for the opportunity to debate the working methods of the Council.
DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) said that, even if the Council’s working methods were dramatically improved, the core problem would remain. That was that the Security Council’s credibility and authority had eroded over the past 60 years. Its representativeness had become more challenged, as it addressed matters beyond the scope originally envisioned by the founders of the United Nations. The Council must be reformed to equally address enlargement in both its categories and to improve its working methods. Anything less was merely papering cracks in the foundation of the organ.
He said Permanent members had tried to use the Council to further their own issues of interest. There were times when resolutions were brought up with little opportunity for discussion by the entire membership. Issues such as Kosovo, Western Sahara, non-proliferation and Georgia were of interest to some members, to the exclusion of others. It had not gone unnoticed that the Council had remained paralysed on the question of the Middle East. The problem became complicated when groups of friends and contact groups were involved, which operated in secrecy and sought to impose their views on the Council by drafting resolutions the Council was expected to endorse. The Council’s work with such small groups was an innovative and useful tool, but only if the work complemented that of the Council in an open, accountable and transparent manner. The Council could also stem the erosion of its credibility by refraining from encroaching on areas of responsibility assigned to other bodies of the United Nations and remain concerned with its Charter-based mandate to maintain international peace and security.
Also central to the debate was the fact that the Council operated on provisional rules of procedure, he said. It was not helpful that the membership of the United Nations, when the Council had been created, had constituted 51 countries. That membership had now nearly quadrupled, and yet the Council had been expanded only once in all that time and that had been nearly 40 years ago.
KONSTANTIN K. DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) said he favoured increasing the effectiveness of the Council’s work, while maintaining its expeditiousness. The important thing was building the Council’s capacity to carry out its mandate. The question of enhancing its working methods was within its exclusive competency and those questions must be considered within the Council’s Working Group. Work in that area was not yet public, but it should be conducted in accordance with a schedule and with rational constructive interaction with all interested United Nations Members. Significant progress had been achieved in recent years in increasing the Council’s openness, especially by the convening of open meetings and briefings for United Nations Members and consultations with a wide range of international participants. A key area of improvement had been increasing the quality of interaction with other Members of the Organization.
The Council had the task of improving its dialogue with the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other United Nations bodies, as well as regional and subregional organizations and international partners, he said. The current mechanisms worked, but additional ways could be sought to optimize use of those mechanisms. He also advocated prompt consultations among Council members and troop contributors to ensure participation of the latter group in the earliest stages of planning peacekeeping operations. Increasing the transparency of the Council’s work could be assisted by the Russian initiative of reinvigorating the Military Staff Committee, as the Council developed the military aspect of its peacekeeping operations. Any enhancement of the Council’s working methods must continue to be done on a regular basis within the Working Group, and that work should be subordinate to the Council’s priority task of maintaining international peace and security in strict compliance with the Charter.
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said his country had made it a priority during its presidency to notify Council members of main themes under consideration well in advance of meetings and to brief non-Council members on the Council’s work. Even beyond its presidency, the United Kingdom sought the views of a wide range of interlocutors on issues before the Council, including through the use of Arria formula meetings. The March meeting on Somalia, in which organizations had briefed the Council on how best to increase United Nations engagement in that country, had been an example.
He said the Council had displayed some welcome trends towards greater transparency. For example, more formal meetings were being held and fewer informal consultations than in 2000. While transparency would always need to be balanced with the need for the Council to be able to work effectively, the Council was moving in the right direction with its continued search for ways to open its work to non-members. Progress had been made in the Council’s willingness to work with expert bodies and in its adoption of thematic approaches to feed into country-specific issues, so as to broaden debate and highlight linkages. Increased interaction between the Council and regional bodies had also been achieved. Areas needing improvement included the use of rule 39 of the Rules of procedure; ways to keep the Council agenda up to date and self-explanatory; and the responsibility of the Council President in guiding the Council without constraining it and in ensuring the standards of transparency and effectiveness set out in the 2006 president’s note.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said that the working methods lay at the heart of the Council’s work. He, therefore, fully endorsed the statement to be made by Cuba’s representative on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. He welcomed the progress aimed at ensuring greater transparency of the Council’s work, but further efforts must be deployed to incorporate the views of non-Council members. That meant greater use of public debates and briefings, the latter guided by the chairs of subsidiary bodies. Also, the Council’s reports to the General Assembly should be more analytical. The drafting of Council decisions should be more transparent and all Council members should fully participate in drawing up resolutions and presidential statements. Submitting draft texts just before the deadlines for their adoption, even if those texts were supported by “groups of friends” and external partners, was a regrettable practice. He sought timely distribution of reports, as that would enable delegations to make substantive contributions to debates.
He said that Council decisions should be taken after debates, to ensure that those were reflective of the expressed views. Enhancing dialogue between members and non-members was particularly important. In that regard, he recommended increased recourse to use of the Arria formula, which would allow for direct interaction between all interested actors on a given issue. He also suggested that minutes of meetings, especially those on country missions, be distributed to non-members. Sanctions committees must also enhance their communication with interested States and take into account requests made by countries that wished to speak in private committee meetings. A detailed examination of listing and de-listing procedures should also be undertaken. He would also add his voice to those seeking formal adoption of a final package of rules of procedure, rather than a provisional one.
GIULIO TERZI DI SANT’AGATA ( Italy) said reform of the Council’s working methods was a priority objective in the United Nations reform process. Maintaining a direct and focused dialogue between the Council and the general membership was of fundamental importance. The goal was to fulfil Member State expectations and counter inertia in the Council, so as to foster a sense of ownership of the Council in Member States and to prevent the Council from being perceived as isolated from the rest of the Unites Nations system. Transparency, openness, efficiency and interaction with the general membership were crucial to improving the Council’s working methods and many ideas for improvements had been put forward. All of those recommendations had to be completed through an adequate redefinition of the rules governing the working methods. In that regard, he wanted to praise the decision of the Vietnamese presidency to inform non-Council members of the preparation of the Council’s annual report.
Continuing, he said regional organizations were the great new realities of today’s international relations. The Council must reflect that trend through greater interaction between subsidiary Council bodies and regional organizations. That was particularly important for the effectiveness of global action in fighting terrorism and applying sanctions regimes. The European Union, for example, had formed a partnership with the United Nations to cooperate in the area of crisis management and peacekeeping. From the Balkans to the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the Union and the United Nations were working together on the ground under very difficult circumstances.
Council President JAN GRAULS ( Belgium), speaking in his national capacity, said the Council, in meeting its responsibilities, must act on behalf of all members of the Organization. That particular Charter provision was inextricably linked to important elements in the Council’s working methods -– on the one hand, transparency, and on the other hand, interaction with non-Council members affected by issues on the Council’s agenda. The need for access to the Council was more and more unavoidable, but the right balance must be struck between effectiveness, transparency and access, which remained a major challenge, although those three principles were complementary. Meeting that challenge required a pragmatic approach.
He said progress had been made since 1994, when the Council had first discussed its methods of work in a public meeting. Note 507 -- the so-called “Japanese note” -- was the best evidence of that progress. It called on the Council to take measures to improve its working methods, even if those were not always spectacular. It was up to the Council members, above all others, to improve their way of working. The President played an important role in that regard, as did the chairs of the subsidiary bodies. All measures had a direct impact on non-Council members. Beyond safeguarding the gains, it was important to think about new measures. If such measures -- concrete, constructive and realizable in the short term -- emerged from today’s debate, then the meeting would have been a success.
Deliberations among Council members would be enriched with more interaction among Member States associated with a particular conflict, he suggested. While it was true that the Council’s provisional rules of procedure did not rule that out, it was not the Council’s practice to invite non-Council members to consultations, so why not make better use of private meetings to invite those Member States before consultations took place? Participation of the Peacebuilding Commission was valuable, as was more in-depth interaction with regional and subregional organizations. That had been evident in the Council’s interaction with the African Union; he advocated the same with the European Union and he noted the recent interaction with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Those preliminary ideas, as well as others, would emerge from today’s debate and could be considered in the days and weeks ahead. The Working Group on documentation and procedure was the right place for those discussions.
TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) said that, as the concept of peace and security evolved, the Council must actively engage the wider United Nations membership and develop more efficient working methods to ensure it responsiveness to emerging challenges. There were a number of ways to go forward. First, it was essential to engage States with special interests or responsibilities on particular matters, so as to ensure the implementation and effectiveness of the Council’s actions. More needed to be done, particularly by ensuring the engagement of troop-contributing countries and the financial contributors. Better use should also be made of the Working Group on peacekeeping operations. An informal exchange of views should be held prior to a major adjustment in a peacekeeping mandate or the creation of a new mandate, so as to address legitimate concerns of major stakeholders.
Also, he continued, the Council would benefit from seeking more interactive relationships with the General Assembly and other United Nations organs, in order to facilitate complementarity. Some cross-cutting issues, for example, deserved substantive discussion in both the General Assembly and the Council, and one organ could make useful inputs to others based on those discussions. As Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, he was grateful to the Council for inviting the chairs of the country-specific configurations to almost all the relevant meetings and he hoped the Council would make more active use of the Commission as its advisory body.
Also, he said, the increase in the number of open public meetings of the Council was welcome. However, both permanent and non-permanent Council members should ensure the effectiveness of such meetings by making focused, concise statements with specific and practical proposals. Action-oriented follow-up should be pursued. Finally, improving the Council’s working methods was a priority, but expansion of the Council was a crucial aspect of reform. Reform of the Council by expansion would have a significant positive impact on improving the Council’s working methods.
MICHAL MLYNÁR ( Slovakia) recalled that, in 2006, as a non-permanent Council member, his country had been actively involved in the negotiation process stemming from the 2005 World Summit Outcome document led by the Japanese presidency of the Security Council Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, which had culminated in the adoption of note S/2006/507. In 2007, as Chairman of the Working Group, Slovakia had focused on the thorough implementation of the note and on dealing with a range of practical issues pertaining to documentation and other procedural questions arising from the Council’s everyday work or that had been referred to the Working Group. There had been considerable improvements, for example in the number of public meetings and open briefings as well as in the availability and accessibility of timely information about the Council’s work. It had also become much more common for countries directly concerned to address the Council and for representatives of regional and subregional organizations to take part in various forms of its work.
However, there was no room for complacency, he stressed. Further efforts should be concentrated on four areas: continuing efforts to enhance transparency and openness in the Council’s work, particularly that of its subsidiary bodies; continuing efforts to enhance and widen interaction and dialogue between the Council and other United Nations Member States, particularly those directly affected, concerned and interested in various issues before the Council; revitalizing private meetings with troop-contributing countries, which had lately become too formalistic, losing much of their original value; and continuing efforts to ensure maximum relevance of the Security Council’s annual report to the General Assembly, including by making it more substantial and analytical and by holding interactive discussions with the Assembly on the report.
ANDREAS BAUM (Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the S-5 group, said a more systematic approach to the implementation of document S/2006/507 was needed in order to further enhance the Council’s effectiveness. While the S-5 group welcomed the substantial increase in public meetings, they should not be used as an “alibi exercise” while essential information continued to be shared behind closed doors. Hopefully, briefings to non-Council members on the monthly work programme would continue to be organized systematically by the incoming presidency, but it was regrettable that briefings following important consultations still happened on a largely ad hoc basis and that they still depended on the time and goodwill of individual Mission staff.
Access by non-members to the Council’s subsidiary bodies had improved, thought it remained at a very formal level, he said. Also, the Council should further enhance consultations with countries deploying civilian and military personnel for peacekeeping operations, as well as those making important financial contributions, prior to the establishment or renewal of such missions. The S-5 group also advocated specific subject-oriented reports to the General Assembly, as well as assessments and analyses of the implementation of Council decisions; further steps to enhance due-process standards with regard to listing and de-listing; non-use of the veto in the event of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law; and the announcement of all Council meetings and those of its subsidiary bodies, including expert-level meetings, in the Journal.
The S-5 group hoped today’s open debate would not be a stand-alone event, and that it would trigger a thorough evaluation of document S/2006/507, he said. Following the meeting, the Working Group could be mandated to undertake a comprehensive review of the implementation of document S/2006/507 and involve interested non-members. Based on its findings, it should then elaborate a set of measures and present them to the Council before the end of the year. The Council could then convene a follow-up meeting to discuss those recommendations, while seeking the views of the broader United Nations membership. Finally, the Council could adopt a follow-up presidential note to reflect the progress made, which would also contain further measures to improve its working methods. Constant evolution of the working methods and their consistent application were in the interest of Council members and non-members alike.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said it was important to implement all the measures in the working paper and to constantly monitor reforms. A higher number of public meetings and briefings should be held in order to keep Member States informed. It was not clear whether follow-up to Council decisions was ever conducted or even whether there were concrete outcomes. A report should be prepared on the matter. The reports of the Secretary-General and the special briefings were of special relevance. Those reports should be published and follow-up should be conducted on recommendations. The Council Presidents should continue reporting on their work, so as to enable follow-up.
Also, better cooperation with non-Council Member States should be achieved, as well as with regional groups, he said. There should be more meetings, especially under the Arria formula. Those steps would provide greater coherence to system-wide work. The greater coordination that would be required could be met through meetings between the Presidents of the organs. Again, a report should be prepared of situations brought before the Council and it should be made public. The best way to ensure efficiency was to improve coordination and transparency so that participants would be informed in a timely manner about meetings and could prepare for them.
HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries ( Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), expressed their shared concern regarding the need for a clear understanding of the rationale for the Council’s adoption of a specific meeting format. The Council President could, upon opening the meeting, explain the rationale for choosing the given format. While the regularity and quality of briefings for non-members had increased, the ongoing focus on transparency had made every Council member aware of the obligation that membership entailed -– to keep the wider United Nations membership informed.
Some years back, Council members had agreed that interactive wrap-up sessions at the end of a presidency would be useful in increasing transparency and the availability of information from of the Council, he recalled. Such sessions, some of them public, had been potential arenas for assessing the Council’s contribution and gathering lessons learned, but the practice had unfortunately been discontinued a couple of years ago. The Nordic countries wished to encourage members to take it up again.
He said interaction, transparency and legitimacy in the working methods and procedures of the Council’s subsidiary bodies, particularly its sanctions committees, were paramount in further strengthening the protection of fundamental rights of individuals and the rule of law. Further moves towards really fair and clear procedures should include the introduction of an independent advisory input to the work of the 1267 Sanctions Committee, especially on de-listing requests.
KIRSTY GRAHAM ( New Zealand) said the Council’s working methods had a very considerable impact on the ability of many small States to contribute to and understand issues before it. Improving those working methods was, therefore, one of the most important areas of reform and one on which there was a broad measure of agreement. Progress had been made, but there were still areas in which improvements could be made.
While private consultations were a useful and sometimes necessary mechanism for Council members, public meetings allowed the greatest participation and should be used whenever possible, she said. It was also vital that essential information be shared at public meetings and not just in closed consultations. A clear rationale for the choice of a particular format should be included in the President’s opening remarks. New Zealand also wished to see a systematic process to allow Member States to have input and an exchange of views with Council members on issues affecting them.
New Zealand wished to see draft statements, draft resolutions and other documents shared systematically with non-members sooner and more frequently, she said. It would also like a format for greater participation by interested parties in the preparation of those draft documents. Additionally, there was considerable scope to develop interaction with other interested parties, such as troop-contributing countries, regional organizations, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. Finally, there was a need for much more effective input to the Council from the Department of Political Affairs, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
ANDREW GOLEDZINOWSKI ( Australia) said that, while Security Council reform in general “has been stuck elsewhere”, some modest achievements had been made in improving its working methods, and he encouraged more work in that regard. Not having been on the Council for more than 20 years, but as a contributor to many peacekeeping operations mandated by the Council and as a Member State bound by its decisions, Australia expected Council deliberations to be transparent, defensible and accountable. “It is all our soldiers and police who may be put in harm’s way; it is our regulations that will have to be adjusted.” The quality of Council decisions impacted directly on those affected by conflict and insecurity -- they were the ultimate constituents to whom everyone was responsible.
He said that the basic mindset of the Council should be one of “active accountability and deliberate transparency”. Australia expected the Council to regard the need to share information, consult widely and to accept input, not as burdensome or “optional extras”, but as core elements of its working methods. Offering some thoughts on what that meant in practice, he said the Council had a “serious image problem”. Outside the building and in many capitals worldwide, the 15-member body was regarded as cosseted, a closed club, doing good where it could, but regularly and jealously guarding privileges and specific interests. That image was not going to change overnight. Real change would require substantive reform, but reform of working methods could help.
A good start would be for the Council to state that it aimed, like any modern, effective organization, to be accountable and transparent. Second, it should establish the metrics; in other words, measure its progress. Third, it should assess progress. Fourth, the Council should harness technology, meaning it should consider the creative use of information technology, particularly for non-controversial matters. Major knowledge-intensive corporations had adopted collaborative models allowing for maximum input from a wide pool of expertise. Non-members should also reflect on their performance. Too often, they turned up at open debates and merely read out what their capitals had sent, rather than responding to the interventions that had come before, ignoring time limits and not availing themselves of the opportunity to shorten their interventions and distribute a longer, written text -- as he had done today. “And with that, I’ll finish now,” he concluded.
JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA ( Uruguay) said an important issue with regard to Council reform related to the participation of non-members in the Council’s work, particularly on issues that affected them. Enhancing the Council’s working methods was indissolubly linked to reform of the membership. Proposals had been presented years ago and many useful recommendations had been put forward.
As pointed out in the concept paper, he said, troop-contributing countries must be fully informed of conditions on missions. The meetings currently being held were informational, not consultative. Contributing countries must be informed of changes, especially when there were changes to mandates. Sufficient notice must be given, so that outcomes of consultations could inform decisions to be taken by the Council. States that had difficulties with sanctions regimes should also be given an opportunity to participate in the Council’s work in debates on the matter. The Council must report on its work to the General Assembly as required. It was the spirit of reform that should be respected.
ILEANA B. NÚÑEZ MORDOCHE (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said some improvements had been made in the Council’s working methods, but clearly those had not been enough and there was much room for improvement. Transparency, openness and consistency should be observed by the Council in all of its activities, approaches and procedures. Regrettably, however, the Council had neglected those important factors on numerous occasions. Such instances included unscheduled open debates with selective notification, reluctance in convening open debates on some issues of high significance, frequent restrictions on the participation in some of those debates and discrimination between members and non-members of the Council, particularly with regard to sequencing and time limits of statements during the open debates. She also criticized the failure to submit special reports to the General Assembly, submission of annual reports still lacking sufficient information and analytical content and lack of minimal parameters for the elaboration of monthly assessments by the Council Presidents.
She urged the Council to take the following immediate actions to improve its working methods: increase the number of public meetings; allow for public briefings by Special Envoys and Representatives of the Secretary-General and the United Nations Secretariat; further enhance its relationship with the United Nations Secretariat and troop-contributing countries; uphold the primacy of and respect for the United Nations Charter; establish its subsidiary organs in accordance with the Charter and ensure that those bodies provided adequate and timely information on their activities to the general United Nations membership; avoid resorting to the Charter’s Chapter VII; submit a more comprehensive and annual report to the General Assembly; submit special reports for the Assembly’s consideration; ensure that its own assessments were comprehensive and analytical and issued in a timely fashion; take fully into account the Assembly’s recommendations on matters relating to international peace and security, consistent with the Charter’s Article 11 (2); more closely include a State concerned in discussions on matters affecting it; ensure that the views of Member States obtained through public debates on thematic issues were reflected in relevant texts of the Council; and formalize the rules of procedure of the Council, which had remained provisional for more than 60 years.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said the Charter articulated the principle of the sovereign equality of Member States and also established the Council’s responsibility to ensure it acted on behalf of those Members on matters regarding international peace and security. That rather exceptional authority corresponded with the obligation of accountability to those on whose behalf the Council acted. Transparency and interaction with all Member States were imperatives derived from the Charter itself.
As indicated by the concept note, she continued, more progress was needed in implementing or consolidating the implementation of measures to which Council members had already committed. Substantive and detailed briefings should be provided to non-members, for example. Draft resolutions and presidential statements should be shared. Open meetings should be held, particularly at the early stages of debate on an issue. Further, reform of the Council’s working methods went hand in hand with reform of its composition. The present membership did not reflect contemporary political reality. Reform would not take place without expansion of membership in both categories, so that small countries could increase their participation in the Council’s decisions and more permanent members could enhance the Council’s accountability. The Council should consider today’s debate and increase its ability to include the participation of non-members in its work.
MOHAMMED F. AL-ALLAF ( Jordan) said the field was still wide open to evaluate new achievements and for a generation of new visions to emerge on improving the Council’s working methods. The Council’s resolutions had no less impact today than before, but their reach had expanded to include the wider United Nations membership on such issues as counter-terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, human rights, peacekeeping operations and children and armed conflict. That the texts touched the wider membership would be met by their more comprehensive engagement. That required greater transparency in the Council’s work, as well as a commitment and quick response and high performance on the part of all States towards achieving the Council’s final objective in maintaining international peace and security.
Noting that Jordan was among the major troop contributors to United Nations peacekeeping, he said the recent international security environment had undergone radical changes. That had led to developments in the nature of peacekeeping operations, their means of planning, management and implementation. Those radical changes required new responses by the international community, as well as by the troop contributors, including Jordan. That meant that the Council should start dealing with troop-contributing countries as real partners in the international response to crises, and it could only make that change by improving its working methods. First and foremost among the considerations was the safety and security of troops and equipment. It must be ascertained whether security conditions were conducive to implementation of mandated tasks. Consultations with troop-contributing countries were not only vital to establishing an appropriate security environment before deployment, but also during a mission. Risk assessment was vital throughout the life of an operation.
Troop contributors must also be consulted during consideration of adjusting missions or amending or ending mandates in the event of political developments or emergencies, he stressed, adding that early consultations would help countries contain the impact of changes and be able to better adapt to them. For those and other equally pressing reasons, he called for the promotion of consultations between the Council and troop-contributing countries in the formulation of resolutions and presidential statements concerning peacekeeping operations. The responsibility fell on troop contributors to make full use of the opportunity to interact with the Council, whenever that option was available to them. Such opportunities should be announced at an early stage, and not on the eve of adoption of the relevant resolutions and statements.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the central starting point in any effort to promote Council efficiency was to enhance the transparency and accountability of its work. That would guarantee that the Council carried out the mandates that Member States delegated to it with equality between permanent and non-permanent members, thus protecting national interests as well as international and regional interests on behalf of the Organization’s full membership. Further, reform of the Council’s working methods was related to the question of equitable representation. The Working Group’s note did not live up to the standards expected by Member States. It was a compromise document, a mere introduction that needed to be evaluated and revised. Permanent rules of procedure should replace the current provisional rules that had been in effect for more than 60 years.
As for the starting point for Security Council reform, he said it should begin with the Council ceasing to encroach on the work of other bodies, particularly that of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Disputes about the jurisdiction of any organ should be settled in cooperation with the International Court of Justice. The Council should also adhere to mandates relating to objectivity and avoidance of selectivity, double standards and politicization. Measures should be introduced to curb the misuse of veto power until it could be eliminated. Finally, reform of the Council’s working methods did not depend on a lack of approaches regarding how to achieve it, but on the political will to achieve it.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said the Council’s “effectiveness problem” remained in the spotlight, adding that the world was witness to how frequently the organ failed to react adequately to serious challenges that directly threatened international peace and security. The Council had repeatedly been unable to agree on press statements, let alone on developing a common position on matters of critical importance to the entire international community. Evidently, problems existed within the body itself and in its working methods. Drastic and prompt Council reform, therefore, became a pressing issue.
She said that, while the Council was unable to find common ground on how to approach certain issues, the world continued to face military conflicts resulting in tragic humanitarian consequences. In such cases, the strengthening of cooperation between the Council and the General Assembly should be considered. By definition, the Assembly was more democratic and the most crucial disputes, when unresolved within the Council, could be brought to the Assembly, at least to clarify the positions of the majority of Member States so that their opinions could be considered during the adoption of Council resolutions.
Recently, the number of open Council sessions had increased, giving rise to hope for greater transparency, she said. At the same time, non-Council members must spend more time seeking information, thereby learning about closed consultations either too late or not at all. Non-members had the right to know first-hand what possible decisions were being discussed within the Council and the positions of each Council member on current issues, rather than learn about them through the prism of the mass media.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) said he had two proposals for improving the Council’s working methods. First, it should adopt a new format for meetings which would be open to delegations but not to the press. Those kinds of meetings would be of particular relevance when issues requiring urgent debate were before the Council. Under the current practice, open meetings did not lend themselves to debate as the relevant reports were issued when action was about to be taken, with no opportunity for exchanging views.
As for the second proposal, he said the Council should encourage an atmosphere of discipline in its conduct as the organ charged with the grave responsibility of dealing with matters relating to international peace and security. Double standards should not be allowed, regardless of whether they arose overtly or unintentionally. The demonizing of nations should also be avoided and objectivity should be encouraged throughout the Council’s activities. As an example of such objectivity, the impartiality of the Council’s non-permanent members had been useful during this year’s hot month of August.
MARTIN NEY ( Germany) said that, as a staunch proponent of Security Council reform, his country welcomed the ongoing discussion and thanked the S-5 group for their continued commitment. As the United Nations had increasingly accepted responsibility in conflict resolution around the globe, the face of the Council had changed dramatically. As Member States and the world watched with growing interest, transparency was, more than ever, of paramount importance if the Council was to meet expectations. The presidency’s regular briefings to non-Council members at the beginning of each month, for example, provided a useful forecast about that month’s work programme.
Regarding interaction with and involvement of non-Council members, he expressed strong support for the notion that access to the Council should be granted to affected parties, including such Member States as major troop-contributing countries, which had a vested interest in agenda items under discussion. As a next step, improved access for stakeholders other than Member States might also be considered. Such direct consultations might provide the Council with a sounder basis for its decisions and increase their legitimacy.
Interaction should also be strengthened within the United Nations, for example between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, he said, cautioning, however, that such considerations must not undermine efforts to make the Council more efficient. Improving working methods was just one aspect of Security Council reform, albeit a significant one, in a much wider context. Today’s debate was an important step in the endeavour to make the Council not only more transparent, interactive and efficient, but also more legitimate, representative and reflective of today’s political realities.
KEVIN CHEOK ( Singapore) stressed that the S-5 group should not be seen as an adversary and that its aim was not to grandstand or undermine the Council, but to make it more consultative and consistent so as to get more “buy-in” from non-members. The S-5 group recognized the Council’s crucial role and grave responsibilities, but the question was whether the positive changes made in its working methods were sufficient and institutionalized to the point where there could be no backsliding.
Turning to questions of access, he said that, even when it was decided that a meeting would be open, Council decisions often came so late that States were unable to prepare properly to make substantive contributions to the debate. Perhaps an agreed “time frame” could be established to conclude negotiations on the format, perhaps 48 hours before the debate. Access questions also extended to informal consultations. There was sometimes a trade-off between access and efficiency in decision-making, but Council members could benefit from having the main protagonists provide their views and occasionally even answer questions in informal consultations.
Member States had asked repeatedly for a more analytical annual report, but that had seldom been achieved because it was difficult to square the viewpoints of 15 Council members, he said. If an analytical report was not possible, perhaps a more free-flowing debate on the Council’s role over the preceding year could be considered. An open debate could take stock and receive feedback. Member States could make statements on what they considered triumphs and shortcomings, while Council members also gave their views. That might open the Council to some criticism, but it would also lead to some praise.
HILARIO DAVIDE ( Philippines), noting that calls to reform the Security Council were growing louder and stronger, said reforming its working methods was the least controversial and the most immediately achievable aspect. It should not be tied to the more complex aspects. A number of specific reform measures that should be undertaken immediately involved changes or amendments to the Council’s rules of procedure. First, the rules that had remained “provisional” for 62 years must now cease to be so and the word should be deleted from the title. Second, due process and the rule of law demanded that a non-member subject to Council scrutiny should have the Council act on its proposals without the required mediation of a Council member. More open meetings should be held to enable the Council to hear the views of the general United Nations membership. Finally, the Council should provide information to non-members on issues under its consideration.
HENRI-PAUL NORMANDIN ( Canada) said that, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing discussion on Council expansion, it was reform of its working methods that would have the greatest impact for most small- and medium-sized States, on the Council’s effectiveness and the legitimacy of its decisions. For the vast majority of Member States, Council membership was a rare occurrence, though the Council’s decisions greatly affected them all. While it was clear that each Council member must act in accordance with its national conscience, the wider membership had a legitimate interest in knowing how those decisions were made and contributing to them, as appropriate. Canada urged the Council to redouble its efforts to enhance transparency through the increased use of public meetings. It should give a clear rationale for the adoption of specific meeting formats, as well as the objectives of each meeting.
He urged the Council to increase consultations with the broader membership through more frequent and systematic use of informal exchanges, and by increasing the regularity of substantive briefings for Member States, including on the work of subsidiary bodies. Consultations with troop-contributing countries, particularly major stakeholders and financial contributors, should be strengthened so that their input could be taken into account prior to the establishment or renewal of a mission. The Council would also benefit from a serious consideration on the use of the veto. Everyone understood the inhibiting effect that even the threat of a veto could have on Council deliberations. The veto was not, nor was it ever meant to be, a tool for avoiding debate. Thus, the veto should be publicly explained and justified. It had been 14 years since the last open debate on working methods and the United Nations membership could not afford to wait that long again.
MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI ( Iran) said that, apart from a few isolated steps, the Council’s working methods had not undergone any major improvements, and that the Council had lost its credibility in the eyes of the general United Nations membership. There were many instances in which it had failed to honour its responsibilities with regard to the rights of non-Council members.
The Council’s quick and unnecessary resort to the threat or use of sanctions was another disturbing factor that had undermined the legitimacy of its decisions, he said. Even more alarming were the cases in which members had attempted to exploit the Council as a vehicle to pursue national agendas. Norm-setting and law-making by the Council were also trends that contravened the spirit of the Charter.
Emphasizing that the Council should not encroach on the prerogatives of other organs or technical bodies, he said a case in point was the imposition for the Council’s consideration of Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme. Security Council reform would be impossible until the question of underrepresentation was dealt with. That included the underrepresentation of developing countries and nearly 1.5 billion Muslims.
MARÍA FERNANDA ESPINOSA ( Ecuador) said implementation of the measures contained in document S/2006/507 had been insufficient and lacking in regularity and certainty. In failing to improve its working methods, the Council had overlooked the fundamental premise that its actions were on behalf of all Member States. Likewise, its decisions had a direct impact on all Member States. In recent years, there had been a surge in the number of unpredictable situations and unresolved conflicts, which today challenged the Council and the United Nations to adopt the right decisions, sometimes going beyond the political and security dimensions and leading to a reflection of legal implications. New threats and emerging situations had permanently changed the nature of the Council’s work and it was therefore crucial that it change its working methods so it could respond in a timely fashion.
The Council should hold regular open debates in an interactive format and provide enough time for non-Council members to contribute effectively, she said. The number of consultations should be curtailed, as they had initially been designed as an exception rather than the rule. The Charter gave regional organizations an important role in dispute settlement and they should be given a more prominent role in Council activities. Incorporating Secretariat reports into public meetings and setting more precise objectives for those meetings would prevent excessively lengthy sessions and avoid repetition. It was also important to step up interaction with troop-contributing countries, as they had the necessary experience to conduct a more objective assessment of situations on the ground. Use of their information would undoubtedly improve decision-making. The opinions of non-Council members must be taken into account when adopting resolutions and presidential statements.
GÜNTER FROMMELT (Liechtenstein), noting that today’s meeting was the first time since 1994 that the Council had taken up the topic in an open format, recalled a comment by the representative of France, on whose initiative that debate had taken place: “There is a certain uneasiness in relations between the Security Council and the Members of the United Nations.” The same could certainly be said today, and it was to be hoped that today’s debate would not be a one-time event, but rather the beginning of a dialogue between the Council and the rest of the United Nations membership.
Recalling also that the S-5 group had established itself in early 2006, following the 2005 World Summit’s failure to take action on Security Council reform, he said it had taken that step in light of two parallel developments: on the one hand, many States were less and less likely ever to serve on the Council, or would do so only in very wide-spaced intervals; and on the other, the Council’s work had an immediate impact on an ever-increasing number of Member States beyond those on its agenda. Improvements were essential for the Council’s legitimacy and effectiveness, and they could not be made conditional to enlargement.
Turning to non-members’ access to the Council’s work, he said open debates were, in principle, a very useful tool that should be applied regularly. However, the current practice had become a ritual with little or no impact on the Council’s decision-making. The timing of such debates should be revised to allow input by non-members prior to decision-making. As for improved access to the Council’s sanctions committees, it would benefit the Council and the implementation of sanctions. Finally, the Council should make greater use of informal consultations with interested Member States.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN ( Argentina) said the changes agreed upon in 2006 with regard to reform of the Council’s working methods were positive, but inadequate. To make the United Nations more effective, the Council must continue to progress towards greater democracy and openness. There should be annual or biannual mandate revisions and recommendations in cases where conflicts were expected to be of long duration, for example. Council debates should focus on specific action-oriented proposals followed by wrap-up sessions informed by more emphatic guidance from such relevant actors as Special Representatives on what was required from the Council. More substantive exchanges should be held with other organs to mitigate negative perceptions of the Council and to obtain better coordinated joint action.
Further, meetings of the Council President with the heads of other organs should be held with regard to the Council’s agenda, he said, adding that regional groups could play a role in setting directions. Also, statements in public meetings should be limited with the aim of improving participation and the use of time. Non-members could provide the Council with their experience of regional conflicts. Finally, the Council’s annual report should be substantive and more analytical. Member States must agree on Security Council reform on the basis of a transitional approach in order to resolve the long-standing current impasse. The Council must be more dynamic and incorporate regional decision-making factors.
CHRISTIAN EBNER ( Austria), noting that, since the implementation of Council decisions depended on compliance by Member States, their involvement would increase acceptance of those decisions. In 2004, Austria had launched a series of panels on the role of the Council in strengthening a rules-based international system, which had produced a report on the Council and the rule of law. Presented in New York in April and issued as a United Nations document -– S/2008/270 – the report contained 17 recommendations on how the Council could strengthen the rule of law in its various activities, many of which were pertinent to today’s debate.
Highlighting three of those areas, he said the report recommended that the Council allow for representations by affected States and, where possible, individuals. When the Council adopted a resolution of a legislative character that was general rather than particular in effect, the legitimacy of and respect for that resolution would be enhanced by a process that ensured transparency, participation and accountability. That should include open debates, wide consultation with the broader United Nations membership and affected parties, and a procedure to review the resolution within an appropriate time frame.
Regarding targeted Council sanctions and the protection of individual rights, he said the report recommended that the Council be proactive in further improving fair and clear procedures to protect the rights of individuals affected by its decisions. The Council should invite the Secretary-General to present options on the further strengthening of the legitimacy and effectiveness of sanctions regimes. The Council’s working methods had developed over the years, and they would remain work in progress. As the work of the Council changed, so should its working methods.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India), stressing that the issue of Security Council working methods transcended that organ’s limited membership, said the extent of interest among non-Council members and the fact that the Council acted on behalf of the larger United Nations membership, reinforced the point that the General Assembly had a legitimate role in deliberating on the Council’s working methods. Document S/2006/507 listed 63 action points, but while today’s concept paper assessed the implementation of those measures, India did not fully share its somewhat optimistic conclusions.
Troop-contributing countries had long sought involvement in decision-making on peacekeeping operations, rather than being consulted in a “proforma” manner, he said. In addition, concerns persisted over access to information and documentation, the absence of access to the Council on particular issues as a matter of routine for both the country concerned and important stakeholders, and the lack of systematic access, including by island and small States to subordinate Council bodies. The growing chorus of voices recognizing the flaws in the Council’s working methods could not be ignored, yet many of those flaws were only symptoms of a deeper malaise that lay in its structure and composition. Thus, the lacunae in the Council’s working methods could not be rectified fundamentally without an equally comprehensive reform and expansion of the Council’s membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories.
It had sometimes been argued that it would be possible to consider reform of the Council’s working methods as an end in itself, he said. In the real world, however, achieving a genuine, lasting and necessary improvement could not be divorced from an expansion of the permanent membership, a point that must be underlined, since there had earlier been an expansion in the non-permanent membership, with little improvement in Council working methods. The efforts of non-permanent members were always doomed to fail because the Council’s structure had not changed; non-permanent members were transient and lacked the necessary institutional memory to follow through and implement far-reaching changes. The challenge of being new members on the Council also added to that problem. Only when there were new permanent members, held accountable to the wider membership through an appropriate review mechanism, would there be a genuine response to the long-standing demand for meaningful and durable changes in the Council’s working methods.
PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) said that, while private consultations and closed meetings were necessary in certain situations, the Council should hold more open meetings and debates while reducing the number of activities taking place behind closed doors. The Republic of Korea urged the participation of non-members that were parties to any dispute under consideration by the Council wherever possible. Similarly, there should be more consultations between the Council’s sanctions committees and Member States that would be affected by such sanctions.
Transparency would be well served by more substantive and analytical reports from the Security Council, he said. Additionally, the Republic of Korea, as a troop-contributing country, would like more meaningful and substantive participation in the early decision-making process for missions in which its troops would be involved. Similarly, as one of the significant financial contributors to United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Republic of Korea would like the Council to keep the General Assembly informed about the budgetary and on-the-ground implications of peacekeeping mandates.
FRANK MAJOOR ( Netherlands) said that options for reforming the Security Council’s work that concerned the involvement of States and other parties that were not Council members should be pursued without delay in view of their importance for the legitimacy of the Council’s deliberations in specific cases. Access by non-members could ensure an important infusion of credibility.
Noting that it had become more common for countries directly concerned by a particular agenda item to take the floor before Council members, he said more could be done, stressing the need for clear guidelines. In that regard, the Council could consider providing increased access to its work along the following lines: State and non-State parties to a conflict on the Council’s agenda, affected States, relevant regional organizations and interested non-governmental actors should have the right to be heard by the Council whenever it discussed that conflict and especially in the early stages of its deliberations; all parties to, or directly affected by, a conflict on the Council’s agenda, as well as relevant regional organizations, should have the right to speak before the Council; and similarly, non-State parties to a conflict should have the opportunity to address the Council at their request. However, it should remain the Council’s prerogative to decide which of those requests it granted and in which specific situation.
With those few important measures, the Council could ensure the necessary “democratization” of its working methods, he said. Most importantly, those measures could ensure that all parties were heard that could be part of a political solution to a particular conflict.
MAHE U. S. TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said it was important that the Council’s working methods adapt to the urgent need to address the security implications of emerging cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, and take a proactive approach towards the maintenance of international peace and security. The Pacific Small Island Developing States, therefore, reiterated that meaningful reform of the Council’s working methods should be included in the intergovernmental negotiations mandated to commence during the upcoming General Assembly session.
Noting that the concept paper identified transparency as a major challenge for reforming Council working methods, he said several issues should be considered, including the need to take into account the impact of its decisions on non-Council members. The Pacific Island Developing States sought more open debates and meetings, more regular structured briefings, and increased input from the wider United Nations membership in determining the formats of particular meetings. The current process lacked transparency and was inaccessible to non-members. There was also a need to improve the effectiveness of wrap-up sessions at the end of a presidency, the last of which had taken place in 2005, as those would be particularly useful for non-Council members, particularly smaller nations with limited resources.
Urging greater interaction with troop-contributing countries, especially Pacific Island Developing States that were active participants in United Nations peacekeeping operations, he noted also that many agreements reached by the Council were negotiated through expert meetings, which were not open to non-Council members. Although the schedule of informal consultations was made public in the Journal, the summaries of those discussions were not readily available. Draft resolutions and statements circulated among Council members were often trimmed and edited before reaching the informal consultations, a practice that made it difficult for non-members to be readily informed about the Council’s work or to provide meaningful input into open debates, however rare such opportunities.
FARUKH AMIL ( Pakistan), endorsing the statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Council had a wide-ranging agenda that was assuming an increasingly larger role in managing international relations. Its scope of action extended now from pre-conflict peacemaking to conflict management, peacekeeping and post-conflict consolidation. It was the only body that could make binding decisions and take enforcement action. Its work affected all Member States and it was logical for them to follow and assess the Council’s work.
Improvements had been made in the Council’s working methods, but they were not enough, he continued. Many of the measures set forth in proposals emanated directly from the Charter and its provisions, but the crux of the matter was that while those measures had been agreed upon by Council members, they were not being implemented. In some cases, they were even misinterpreted, misused or abused. Recently, the Council had been relatively effective in addressing internal crises, but its record had been less impressive in dealing with major conflicts and threats to international peace and security.
Noting that the determination of the Council’s agenda depended to a large extent on the positions and priorities of its permanent members and other major Powers, he said provisions for the peaceful settlement of disputes remained grossly underutilized. Additionally, despite steps toward openness and transparency, the Council remained a “closed club”, in which decision-making increasingly transpired in smaller and more secretive enclaves than in public meetings. Increasing interaction between the Council and the general membership was of key importance, as was the implementation of consultation mechanisms between the Council and troop contributors.
JOSÉ ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIÉRREZ ( Guatemala), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the greater transparency, effectiveness and interaction in the Council’s work had been “ad hoc”, with no binding character. Each improvement had been mainly a response to a Council President’s ability to maintain contacts with non-Council members, and to take into account their suggestions, observations and concerns. Thus, Guatemala agreed with other speakers on the importance of formalizing the rules of procedure in order to achieve the certainty and predictability necessary to face, with energy and flexibility, the various situations that came before the Council. It was also important to institutionalize the perception that Council members represented the Organization’s membership in its entirety.
The Council’s interaction with other United Nations organs, particularly the General Assembly, left much to be desired, he stressed, noting that several recent initiatives seemed to have been abandoned. They could be taken up again. For example, work on the annual report of the Council -– a document that responded to the analytical needs of the rest of the United Nations membership -– as well as its adoption, should take place in a public session with a public debate on its content. In addition, there was a lack of necessary reflection on the relationship between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. There was also an invaluable opportunity to deepen the Security Council’s bond with the Peacebuilding Commission.
PAWEŁ HERCZYŃSKI( Poland) urged the Council to further enhance its cooperation with regional organizations, troop-contributing countries, the Secretariat and the entire United Nations system. Poland called for the enlargement of the Council, as that would ensure the balanced representation of all regional groups. In that context, Poland envisaged an additional seat for the Eastern European Group due to its substantial enlargement in recent decades.
He also expressed support for more active engagement by non-State actors and countries directly affected by conflict in the Council’s work, particularly during the preparation of resolutions, presidential statements and press statement. Real improvement in the Council’s functioning should also include closer consultation with civil society.
Mr. GRAULS ( Belgium), speaking in his capacity as Council President, described the topic as both an opportunity and a challenge. It was an opportunity for all, including non-Council members. One speaker had used the term “consumer survey”, which clearly summed up one of the goals of the debate. It was also a challenge, as the Council’s working methods remained a sensitive subject, proof of which was the fact that 14 years had elapsed since the first debate on the issue. For that reason, the presidency appreciated the tone of the debate, which had been at times frank, but generally very constructive. The Working Group should make use of the fruits of the debate so it could return to the Council soon with recommendations. Hopefully, today’s lengthy debate would have been the first step in that direction.
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