Speakers Call for Voluntary Suspension of Veto Rights in Cases of Mass Atrocity Crimes, as Security Council Debates Working Methods
Speakers Call for Voluntary Suspension of Veto Rights in Cases of Mass Atrocity Crimes, as Security Council Debates Working Methods
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7052nd Meeting* (AM & PM)
Speakers Call for Voluntary Suspension of Veto Rights in Cases of Mass
Atrocity Crimes, as Security Council Debates Working Methods
While “slow and tortured” improvements had helped the Security Council gradually build greater transparency and efficiency, the 15-member body must urgently step up efforts to improve its working methods, including through the collective voluntary suspension of veto rights in cases involving mass atrocity crimes, speakers said today.
In an open debate on working methods, the sixth ever held on that topic, nearly 50 speakers aired their views on improving the Council’s ability to function effectively amid heightened demand for conflict prevention and management. Also repeatedly called for by the broader United Nations membership was the desire for added transparency and accountability. Many supported the proposal put forward by France to limit the veto in mass atrocity situations, blaming abuse of veto power for Council paralysis in the face of blatant humanitarian crises.
France’s representative said the crisis in Syria had underlined the problem posed by the use of veto, promptinghis country to seek such a suspension. Definitions of mass crimes must be established on the basis of international frameworks and conventions, and warning mechanisms should be devised to bolster such collective restraint. There was a special opportunity to establish, with the help of expertise provided by research institutions and non-governmental organizations, a code of conduct among the permanent five Council members (P-5), China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.
“Now is the time to make concrete progress towards such a code of conduct,” said Liechtenstein's delegate, who looked forward to discussions on that suggestion. Echoing the calls of several speakers, he said it was essential that the veto not be used to contravene the purposes of the United Nations Charter, and he urged its restraint in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Striking a different tone, the representative of the Russian Federation said that measuring the Council’s success by the decisions it had or not taken oversimplified how it actually addressed its Charter responsibilities. The Council should attend to matters on which it could — and should — adopt decisions. In any case, such matters fell beyond the remit of working methods, as did fundamental Charter provisions, such as veto use.
More broadly, speakers said decisions by the P-5 to discuss draft texts first amongst themselves before sharing them with elected members, often just days before their adoption, had fed a perception that the Council was an unequal, divided body. On that point, China’s delegate said all Council members should have time to study draft texts in order to maintain unity. Further, greater efforts should be made to seek the views of the countries concerned.
Still, the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina highlighted the need for closed consultations for the sake of efficiency at a certain early sensitive stage of resolving an issue. Notwithstanding, Ashwani Kumar, Member of Parliament from India, citing the P-5 practice of taking decisions that excluded other members, as had been seen in September, urged the Council curb its tendency to hold closed meetings that had no records. It should also amend its procedures, so that items did not remain permanently on its agenda. Expanding the Council membership would improve its representative character and increase its legitimacy.
Singapore’s representative highlighted the plight of small countries, which were unlikely to obtain a permanent seat in whatever new configuration might emerge from a reform process. Fifty of the 70 States that had never been elected to the Council were members of the Forum of Small States. Yet, many small States had experienced first hand the consequences of the failure to maintain international peace. Non-members should have more opportunities to offer input to the Council’s subsidiary bodies.
“The Council, whatever its composition, can and should improve its working methods through a set of pragmatic and concrete measures,” Switzerland’s delegate emphasized, speaking as Coordinator of the new “ACT Group”, a cross-regional group of 22 States which aimed to improve the Council’s working method in the areas of accountability, coherence and transparency. Because it was crucial for every country to be more involved in the Council’s decision-making, the Group would work to increase the participation of non-members.
Other changes, speakers said, should include more consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries, better interaction with regional and subregional organizations, and more “horizon-scanning” briefings by the Department of Political Affairs to share information that could allow for better preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention. Tensions around the process of selecting chairs of Council subsidiary bodies must also be addressed.
Rounding out the day’s debate, the representative of Azerbaijan, which holds the Council’s presidency for the month, said the tendency to preserve old ways also persisted. The Council’s silence on the apparent disregard of its resolutions and attempts to question their validity was dangerous and could not be an accepted practice of its working methods.
Saudi Arabia’s delegate added that such disparities in the Middle East would lead to a loss of hope among the region’s people and undermine the United Nations’ credibility.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Argentina, Luxembourg, United States, United Kingdom, Guatemala, Morocco, Rwanda, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Australia, Togo, Portugal, Brazil, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Mexico, Egypt, Hungary, Estonia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Belgium (also on behalf of the Netherlands), Turkey, Austria, Spain, Iran, Italy, South Africa, Japan, Germany, Ireland and the Maldives.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.
Meeting this morning for an open debate on its working methods, the Security Council had before it a note from the President (document S/2010/507) and a concept paper distributed by the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan (document S/2013/613), the President for October.
The concept paper suggests that the debate focus on issues of transparency, interaction with non-members of the Council, troop- and police-contributing countries, regional and subregional organizations, and relevant United Nations bodies, as well as the Council’s overall efficiency.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina), Chair of the Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, said today’s debate was important, not only for Council members, but also for the general United Nations membership. Reiterating her country’s long-standing emphasis on Council reform, she said recent positive developments, including the debates on working methods, which allowed the general membership to make proposals while ensuring greater democracy. It was important to hold wrap-up sessions to inform and explain the Council’s activities to the general membership. Consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries must be improved constantly, an aspect emphasized in the latest Council note on the subject, she pointed out, calling on all members to continue working in a constructive spirit in order to improve efficiency as part of enhancing the Council’s work.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said the debate had become a well-established feature, helping to fuel internal debate on reforming working methods. Noting that two presidential notes in 2013 fleshed out the commitments made by Governments during the 2005 World Summit, she said that the increased use of new technologies, “Arria Formula” meetings and interactive dialogues marked some of the changes that the Council had undergone since. However, there was still room to attract even greater participation by the Peacebuilding Commission; ensure the best possible interaction with regional and subregional organizations; increase the use of horizon-scanning briefings; expand further the use of multiple sources of information; and ensure that the right of veto was not used to stymie action against genocide and crimes against humanity.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) said the Council’s work must be as effective and transparent as possible, noting that Article 30 of the United Nations Charter stated that the body could adopt its own rules of procedure. The Council must recognize the need to inform other States and keep them appropriately involved in its work. Describing peacekeeping operations as among the most important tools for the maintenance of international peace, he said the United States recognized the value of cooperation with troop- and police-contributing countries, urging the Council and the contributors to take full advantage of private meetings held in advance of each mandate renewal. The Council may also need to meet them informally to discuss urgent issues, as it had done in May, when they had discussed the deteriorating environment around the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), an exchange that had helped in developing solutions.
Recalling that the Council had welcomed the Chairs of country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission, he said the United States had pushed for greater accountability in subsidiary bodies, and Chairs of the Council’s sanctions committees had organized open briefings to discuss their objectives. The Council’s Arria Formula meetings and invitations to expert briefers were also important tools for better hearing the views of those beyond the Council membership. As President in July, the United States had prepared its annual report to the General Assembly, another tool for those interested in reviewing the Council’s work, he recalled, emphasizing that a more effective Security Council must remain the collective goal. Proposals must be carefully assessed to ensure that transparency and effectiveness were mutually reinforcing and not at cross purposes.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said an efficient and transparent Council was in the interest of all States. The time for meaningful discussion was being squeezed and that a larger Council, which the United Kingdom supported, would redouble that pressure. There were various ways to achieve greater efficiency, including prompt starting times for meetings and observing guidelines outlined in the presidential note (document S/2010/507), on the length of interventions, he stressed. Expressing support for the African Union Peace and Security Council’s practice of turning off the microphones of those exceeding the allotted speaking time, he said it was possible to keep interventions short without limiting the ability of States to express their views.
Maintaining international peace and security was as much about conflict prevention as conflict resolution, he said, urging the Council to take advantage of horizon-scanning in order to exercise a prevention function. Discussions or urgent Council meetings could be held on rapidly evolving situations. Last week, the Council had used that tool in discussing situations in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and horizon-scanning briefings had also covered Syria, the Sahel and Iraq-Kuwait. A conflict prevention mindset would give the Council a powerful toolkit for responding to emerging crises, he said. “We should not be afraid to use it.”
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said non-members of the Council had been gaining better access to information, and the Council’s website, as well as efforts by non-governmental organizations, such as Security Council Report, had improved public access to information, as well. However, there was room for improvement, in particular a need for more regular briefings on issues vital to international peace and security; greater interaction between the Council and troop- and police-contributing countries; more interaction between chairs of subsidiary bodies and all Council members; enhanced cooperation between the Council and regional and subregional organizations; and the continued holding of wrap-up sessions and summary briefings. With political will on the part of Member States, especially the permanent Council members, transparency, accountability and consistency could be achieved, he said.
WANG MIN ( China) said that, among other things, the increase in the number of open meetings, the President’s monthly briefings for non-members, interactive dialogues and statements intended to improve interaction and transparency, were welcome recent developments. However, some recent thematic debates had exceeded the Council’s mandate and undermined the work of other United Nations bodies. Furthermore, all Council members should have time to study draft resolutions and statements in order to maintain unity, and greater efforts should be made to seek the views of the countries concerned. The tendency to push through draft resolutions that still reflected differences of opinions must be avoided, he emphasized. The Council should also strengthen communications and interactions with troop-contributing countries, as well as with non-Council members.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said the growing number of items on the Council’s agenda had created an ongoing need to review its working methods, with a view to improving effectiveness and cooperation with other bodies. “This is a work in progress,” he said, noting his country’s contributions to the measures outlined in five concept notes addressing the management of Council meetings, among other things. While there had been better preparation ahead of debates, there was a need to diversify the choice of topics while ensuring that their scope fell within the Council’s mandate under the Charter. The Council must retain full leeway to meet in other formats when appropriate, he emphasized, adding that it was also important to hold informal consultations, thereby allowing for more focused discussions. If the President proposed to organize such consultations around two or three points, that would enhance their interactive nature. More should be done to ensure that the views of elected Council members were heard, he stressed, urging the Council also to enhance its interaction with the Peacebuilding Commission.
OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE ( Rwanda) said recent positive efforts to improve the Council’s working methods should not obscure the need for achieving the targets set during the 2005 World Summit: to make the Council more representative, increase its effectiveness, enhance its transparency, enhance the implementation of its resolutions, and to increase its legitimacy. Use of the veto — or the threat to use it — called for attention, he said, expressing regret over abuse of that tool, and over infringements of the right of States to equal and timely participation in negotiations.
Deploring the trend of dividing the Council into two bodies — one more equal than the other — he said the practice of sharing the drafting of resolutions and presidential statements among the “P-5” (permanent five members) for circulation among the elected members only a few days before adoption was regrettable. Rwanda also urged the Council to respect the decisions of the African Union and the need to consult with African countries vis-à-vis conflicts on the continent. He said contributions by Chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific configurations could be useful in drafting resolutions relating to countries on that body’s agenda. Enhancing the Council’s legitimacy would require expanding its membership, he added.
KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea) urged the Council to devote greater efforts to enhancing transparency, widening interaction and improving efficiency. There had been some improvements, such as more open meetings and more dialogue with troop and police contributors, as well as strict application of the five-minute rule and video conferences. More open meetings and briefings should be coupled with specific scope and focus, as well as follow-up efforts, he said, adding that those measures should apply to subsidiary bodies, as well. The Council should enhance its interactions with all United Nations bodies and stakeholders on different aspects of its work to ensure a more integrated approach to the maintenance of international peace and security, he said, adding that enhanced consultations with regional organizations could create a “synergy of efforts”.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said recent improvements had helped the Council to build greater transparency and efficiency. More interactions with troop- and police-contributing countries, the larger number of open meetings and the freer flow of information were notable, he added. The Council met more often on topical debates, allowing it to “fine-tune” its operations by drawing from regional expertise. Regular exchanges with United Nations departments had enhanced its ability to respond more actively to crises. To ensure further improvement, all Council documents should be issued in all official languages, he urged.
Noting that the crisis in Syria underlined the problem posed by the use of veto, he said France sought the collective and voluntarily suspension of veto rights in cases involving mass crimes. Definitions of mass crimes must be established on the basis of international frameworks and conventions, and warning mechanisms should be espoused to bolster such collective restraint. There was a special opportunity to establish a code of conduct among the P-5, with the help of views and expertise provided by research institutions and non-governmental organizations, he said.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) emphasized the importance of making the United Nations membership aware of its work and the reasoning behind its decisions, saying that the holding of interactive briefings at the beginning and end of each month would be a good format for that. However, transparency should not cross the line towards open discussion, he cautioned. Measuring the Council’s success by the decisions it had taken or not taken oversimplified how it addressed its Charter tasks, he said, stressing that it should focus on country-based topics and matters on which it could and should adopt decisions. However, such matters fell beyond the remit of working methods, as did fundamental Charter provisions, such as the use of the veto.
One area in which to improve working methods was interaction with other bodies on matters falling beyond the Council’s remit, he continued. The practice of rapid consultations with troop and police contributors should be further developed, he said, adding that Arria Formula consultations were helpful. Horizon-scanning, however, should not be “muddled” by questions not on the Council’s agenda, he said, noting that the practice had turned into provisional discussions of issues that Council members planned to discuss at a later date or which fell beyond their remit. “This is just unnecessary.” Members should not view countries or regions as their own purview, he said, adding that it was not normal that some Council members participated in some meetings at the expert level.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said the selection of expert panels must be more balanced and representative. Greater efforts were needed to increase the number of public meetings, and it would also serve the Council to implement Articles 31 and 32 of the Charter to increase the participation of non-members. The increased use of interactive dialogues and video conferences offered more opportunities for briefings at short notice, he noted. He urged the Council to rely more on diplomacy in the peaceful settlement of dispute, outlined in Chapter VI of the Charter, since reliance on Chapter VII could create an erroneous perception of non-Chapter VII resolutions. Enhanced consultations between permanent and non-permanent members were also vital, he said, calling for more, not less, intra-Council dialogue during crises. The best way to enhance the Council’s democratic character was by reinforcing transparency and accountability, he said.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said enhanced debates would heighten the Council’s legitimacy, especially at a time when deliberations on reform remained at a standstill. Opening up the Council’s work had been a slow but tortured process, but improvements had been made, nevertheless, particularly on documentation and other procedural issues. The Council must keep itself informed on the scope of the challenges before it through regular open debates, and by engaging the broadest participation of stakeholders, including regional and subregional organizations. Furthermore, keeping the whole United Nations membership informed would help bolster the Council’s work. More regular briefings and “stakeouts” would contribute to that process, he said, calling for greater transparency in the subsidiary bodies where much of the Council’s work was conducted. Noting that the Council had often been criticized for its inaction in the face of veto power, he expressed support for France’s proposal that the P-5 exercise voluntary restraint on veto use in cases of mass crimes.
KODJO MENAN ( Togo) said open debates allowed non-members to put forward their views on important matters, adding that the Council should make greater use of the format. Efforts should also be made to include the views of non-M ember States and interested bodies when drafting resolutions. Since private consultations offered no such opportunities, Council members should work towards establishing a mechanism to provide all members with the same information on proceedings. Interaction with other United Nations organizations and regional and subregional bodies should be enhanced in order to promote transparency. Regular meetings with force commanders, as well as with troop and police contributors provided a chance to harmonize and coordinate mandate implementation. Arria Formula meetings deserved support because they led to positive results, he said, stressing the importance of the opportunities for exchanging opinions that interactive dialogues among major stakeholders provided. He also urged permanent members to demonstrate greater willingness to reform the Council’s working methods.
THOMAS GÜERBER ( Switzerland), speaking as Coordinator of the “ACT Group”, a cross-regional group of 22 States, noted that the initiative, launched in May 2013, aimed to improve the Council’s working methods. Its name — which stood for Accountability, Coherence and Transparency — outlined a common belief that those values were needed in all Council activities. “The Council, whatever its composition, can and should improve its working methods through a set of pragmatic and concrete measures,” he emphasized.
He went on to stress that the ACT Group was independent of the negotiations on Council reform and took no position on that matter. Instead, it would work to increase the involvement of non-Council members in the organ’s work because it was crucial for every country to be more involved in its decision-making. The Council's relationship with other organs should also be enhanced. France’s proposal that the five permanent members regulate their exercise of the veto in cases of mass atrocity crimes indicated the need to find new avenues for responding to crises, he noted, adding that the ACT Group had ideas on various issues.
ALVARO JOSÉ DE MENDONÇA E MOURA ( Portugal) said the Council should consider adopting outcomes of its open debates reflecting the input of non-members, and encourage more interactivity, notably by promoting wrap-up debates. Wrap-ups of informal briefings should be continued, and wrap-ups of formal sessions should be more concise and focused on relevant issues. Both should include more information and be more interactive. He also urged introducing the practice of joint penholdership, or co-penholdership, to initiate and chair the drafting of Council decisions, as well as the establishment of an informal process for appointing Chairs of subsidiary organs, with the participation of all Council members and in consultation with those newly elected.
ASHWANI KUMAR, Member of Parliament from India, expressed regret that little had been done to reform the Council or adapt its working methods. Interaction with non-Council members, troop- and police-contributing countries and relevant United Nations bodies must be urgently addressed. Expansion of the Council would improve its representative character and increase its legitimacy, and improved working methods would enhance its efficiency, he said, adding that the most important change would be making working methods more transparent. Citing the P-5 practice of taking decisions to the exclusion of other members, as seen in September on an important issue, he urged the Council to amend its procedures, so that items did not remain permanently on its agenda. Furthermore, Articles 31 and 32 of the Charter must be fully implemented, and penholders should allow greater participation by elected members as co-penholders. Non-members should be granted systematic access to subsidiary bodies, and troop and police contributors must participate in decisions about peacekeeping operations, he said, while also stressing the need for more informative annual reporting to the General Assembly.
GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) welcomed the adoption of presidential note S/2013/515 and Council members’ commitments therein to make their work more efficient and transparent. Brazil had long advocated for the Council to be more transparent, efficient, inclusive, accountable and accessible, and expected its sessions gradually to become more open to effective participation by non-members. It should meet as often as possible in public, and consult more regularly with non-members, either formally or informally. It was imperative to strengthen the relationship between the Council and other United Nations bodies, he said, adding that closer cooperation was needed not only with the General Assembly, but also with the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. He also encouraged the Council to dedicate more of its time and efforts to preventive diplomacy, emphasizing that its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security should be informed by the principle that prevention was always the best policy.
ABDULMOSHEN F. A. ALYAS (Saudi Arabia), endorsing the statements delivered on behalf of the ACT Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said innocent people throughout the world looked to the Council to save them from the scourge of war. In order to fulfil its responsibilities, it should reform its working methods through an inclusive process reflecting current challenges. Changes in the Council’s structure should reflect today’s realities and ensure equitable geographical representation. Greater interaction with regional and subregional organizations would help it carry out its work. All countries should abide by Council resolutions equally, he said, adding that double standards were applied to the Middle East. Since its very inception, the Council had been dealing with Israel’s occupation of Arab lands to little avail, and Syria persisted in carrying out atrocities in defiance of the will of the international community. Such disparities would lead to a loss of hope among the region’s people and undermine the credibility of the United Nations, he warned.
MARTEN GRUNDITZ ( Sweden), speaking also on behalf of the other Nordic countries ( Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway), said transparency and the possibility of non-members interacting substantively with members remained the two most central aspects of the discussion on working methods. Underscoring the need for regular, informative briefings to non-members, he welcomed the “wrap-up” sessions held so far. Efficiency was also important, given the Council’s ever-increasing workload. Nothing could be more important for the Council than preventing and responding to conflict, and it should continue actively to seek ways in which to improve its ability in that regard, he said.
JORGE MONTAÑO ( Mexico) noted that elected Council members were traditionally the ones who most vigorously supported reform, but the same countries were regularly left out of negotiations, often learning of draft resolutions and other texts after agreement had been reached. The democratic principles that the Council espoused should begin at home, he emphasized. The ACT Group would help the Council work more effectively, transparently and inclusively, he said, stressing also the growing need for coordination between the Council and regional and subregional organizations, and calling for closer interaction with other United Nations bodies. There was increasing evidence that it was important for the Council to change the way in which it maintained international peace and security, he said, pointing out that the paralysis over the Syrian conflict underlined the utmost importance of restructuring the Council. He urged the permanent members collectively to refrain from exercising the veto in cases of mass crimes.
MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL (Egypt), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, since the Council’s effective functioning had a direct impact on the maintenance of international peace and security, its working methods did not belong only to its 15 members. Egypt called for agreement on the provisional rules of procedure that had been in force for more than 60 years, he said, adding that the use of the veto should be effectively addressed for that purpose. Closed and private meetings, as well as informal consultations should be kept to a minimum, while issues to be covered should be determined in coordination with the States concerned and after approval by all Council members. Interventions following such briefings should not be restricted to Council members, with the concerned party given the opportunity to express its views. The monthly assessments were important in providing a more coherent account of the main aspects of the Council’s work during that month, he said.
CSABA KŐRÖSI ( Hungary), speaking as a member of the ACT Group, said the open debate on the International Criminal Court should be held on a regular basis. Question of accountability concerned other United Nations bodies, and as such, the Council should consider developments in other forums. For cases in which Council action was required, it must develop a coherent accountability strategy with clear criteria to guide its decisions. Its work in the area of accountability deserved better reflection on its website, which currently had no information on the reasons for establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, he noted. It was also the Council’s responsibility to refer cases to the Court in a predictable, even-handed manner. “So far, we have seen only partial results in this area,” he said. In conclusion, he welcomed France’s proposal that permanent Council members voluntarily refrain from using their veto power in situations of mass crimes.
MARGUS KOLGA ( Estonia), aligning his delegation with the ACT Group, said open meetings should become the norm rather than the exception. He commended the Council for organizing informal interactive dialogues and Arria Formula meetings with other interested parties. The informal briefings on the Council working programme, as well as the recently reintroduced wrap-up sessions were of great value to the wider membership. Transparency was a multi-layered issue. It should be enhanced both horizontally and vertically, and the decision-making process should involve the wider membership. He welcomed the Council’s decision on chemical weapons in Syria, which for the first time in history determined that any use of chemical weapons constituted a threat to international peace and security. However, that decision process could have been enhanced through the context of transparency.
DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia) said that it was vital that the Council’s actions and decisions garner greater support and input from Member States. Entrusted on behalf of the entire membership, the Council’s wider engagement reflected that it was heeding the aspirations of the whole United Nations, not just the privileged few. He highlighted, among other things, the importance of implementing Articles 31 and 32 of the Charter. Furthermore, Member States that were particularly affected by sanctions should have the opportunity to participate in meetings of relevant sanctions committees. Likewise, regular consultations should be held with countries concerned or affected by peacekeeping operations. In addition, Council meetings, as a general rule, should be held in a public forum, and documents tabled during informal consultations should be promptly available to non-council members.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said to increase transparency and improve efficiency the Council must address the shortcomings voiced by all Member States. Issues of concern included the early distribution of draft Council documents to non-members, convening more public meetings and increasing the frequency and types of formats used for informal interactions with non-members. Given the linkages between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, the Council had benefitted tremendously from its increased interaction with the Peacebuilding Commission. At the same time, the veto had led the Council into a deadlock on how the international community should address and resolve conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. Calling the use of the veto a double-edged sword, he said it must not be practised in situations involving genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), aligning himself with the statement by the ACT Group, said that, while there had been notable progress in the Council’s working methods in recent years, further improvements should be considered concerning the order of speakers and adoption of the outcome documents. As well, drafts of presidential statements and resolutions should be made available prior to their adoption. For the sake of transparency, the Council should open briefings by United Nations officials and special rapporteurs to all Members of the United Nations. The evolution of new conflict areas and issues of concern of the international community should be reflected in the Council through review of its agenda. He echoed calls on permanent members to refrain from the use of veto in situations involving genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious violations of international humanitarian law.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA ( Ukraine) said the effectiveness and efficiency of the Council, coupled with its openness and transparency, were pillars of the body’s overall activity. Noting the improvements that had been made in reforming the Council working methods, he said there still were a number of significant issues to be addressed. He supported the necessity of creating conditions leading to the gradual reduction of the use of the veto. While the Council was the master of its procedure, it could benefit by taking on-board innovative ideas from the wider United Nations membership. Further, it should accommodate the legitimate concerns of non-Council members. Those Member States directly involved in the implementation of the Council’s decisions should be given a stronger voice in the Council decision-making processes. Further, there was a continuous need to adjust the timing of the Council’s decisions on extensions of mandates of peace operations so as not to put relevant troop- and police-contributing countries in a difficult position.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein), aligning his delegation with the ACT Group, said that the informal, interactive dialogue between the Council and the International Criminal Court Prosecutor had allowed for a fluid exchange of information. However, he was disappointed at the lack of follow-up. As was often the case with the Council, positive innovations were difficult to institutionalize. It lacked a proper forum for interaction with the Court, and such a platform had “only become more pressing”. Regarding Darfur, the failure of the Council to follow up on its own referrals undermined the credibility of both bodies.
He went on to say that the situation in Syria further laid bare the Council’s shortcomings, as it had been unable to play its role on nearly all issues, save chemical weapons. It had failed in its responsibility to promote accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in that country, and had not referred the situation to the Court nine months after being called upon to do so by 58 States. The Syria crisis best illustrated that the use or threat of use of the veto continued to stymie the Council’s work. His delegation had repeatedly called for permanent members to refrain from use of the veto in situations involving genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Now was the time to make progress towards such a code of conduct.
EDUARDO GÁLVEZ ( Chile), echoing the statement by the Act Group, said transparency and inclusivity should guide the Council’s working methods. The practice of holding the greatest amount of open meetings and dialogues would add to its legitimacy and effectiveness. Deeper cooperation and consultation with regional and subregional bodies should be pursued to ensure coherence and avoid redundancies. Furthermore, the working group on peacekeeping operations should expand its scope to include peacebuilding. In addition, the Council’s documents should be more easily available, as should information on how it implemented its decisions. Veto-wielding countries should abstain from exercising them in the cases of mass crimes and he urged members to pursue the possibility of adopting decisions with consensus on matters of crucial importance.
DRAGANA ANĐELIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina), commending the end-of-presidency wrap-up sessions, said Council members should further intensify informal forms of dialogue with non-members, particularly in the form of Arria Formula meetings. Council members must fulfil their commitments stated in the presidential note (document S/2010/507) to maintain regular communication with the Peacebuilding Commission and the Chairs of the country-specific configurations. As well, the Council should enhance cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, and encourage the subsidiary bodies to enhance transparency. Further improvement with regard to briefings and consultations by the Council with troop- and police-contributing countries would support the implementing of peacekeeping mandates more effectively. For the sake of efficiency at a certain early sensitive stage of resolving an issue, there was a need for closed consultations among Council members. Working methods must improve notwithstanding the Council's reform process.
JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), associating his delegation with the ACT group, said that peacekeeping operations, critical and cost-effective in maintaining international peace and security and in helping countries transition from conflict to sustainable peace, relied on a unique partnership between the Security Council, the Secretariat and the broader United Nations membership, in particular troop and police contributing countries. In order to be effective, that relationship needed be very well maintained. Triangular cooperation was crucial, and it was a challenge to keep that interaction consistently dynamic. The current context of more complex and robust mandates, increasingly risky situations, limited resources and high expectations had the effect of raising the stakes of United Nations peacekeeping operations. That made working methods even more important. One of the first conclusions reached by the ACT group was that the problem was not a lack of tools or agreed arrangements, but rather that such tools and arrangements may not be exercised regularly or consistently.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica), aligning his delegation with the ACT Group, said Member States must recognize that the Council acted on its behalf and vice versa. As well, the permanent members had the responsibility of recognizing and demonstrating that the Council acted on the behalf of all Members. The legitimacy of its decisions depended on the transparency of decision-making processes and the accountability of representatives. While the presidential note encompassed many of the concerns expressed by the members of the Organization, examination of the Council’s practice revealed the continuing challenge of consistently implementing adopted agreements. He also called for more transparent and direct communication between the Council, its components and the rest of the Organization. It was the Secretariat’s duty to present open formats for all meetings as a first option. He encouraged the Council to continue improving the information of Member States on special political missions in an appropriate manner.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said that over the past 12 months, better working methods would have improved the quality and effectiveness of the Council’s outcomes, such as its engagement with troop-contributing countries when establishing the Force Intervention Brigade in United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). The Council’s attempts over the past year to better fulfil its preventive functions, by resurrecting horizon-scanning, was an important recognition of a problem that required attention. Noting that some States were concerned about that format, he said his delegation was more interested in its underlying purpose, which aimed to let the Council look ahead and assess emerging threats to international peace and security, thus, enabling early, effective responses. Syria was an example of what would happen when insufficient attention was paid to an emerging situation at an early stage. In addition, advances in working methods would ease widespread concerns, held outside the Council, about its working partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations on conflict prevention.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET ( Belgium), speaking also for the Netherlands, urged the Council to enhance its accountability to the wider membership and increase its transparency. She appreciated that the Chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission's country-specific configurations were invited to brief the Council, but strongly believed they should participate more in the closed consultations. Wrap-up sessions could also be more interactive. She urged the establishment of horizon-scanning meetings as an integral part of larger preventive diplomacy efforts. While cooperation with regional organizations had improved, those organizations should be heard more regularly, not only on thematic issues, but also on country situations in which they were involved. Finally, she requested earlier notification of certain options considered by the Council in cases where there were possible budgetary implications.
HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey) said that the Council needed to adapt itself to the current realities of the global, political, security and economic scene. First, the Council’s dialogue with the non-Council members, which constituted the remaining 178 member States, should be improved, with more effective and frequent use of public meetings, informal interactive dialogues and Arria Formula meetings. Second, a better structured dialogue and communication was needed between the Council and other United Nations bodies and regional organizations. Third, the Council should make better use of measures under Chapter VI of the Charter. Finally, the Council should act in due transparency and inclusivity in the appointment of the Chairpersons of the subsidiary organs and the selection of “penholders.”
MARTIN SAJDIK (Austria), noting that his country was a member of the ACT Group, urged a focus on strengthening the Council’s interaction with the broader United Nations membership, especially in regards to peacekeeping missions. Resolution 1353 (2001) and last week’s presidential note provided a “very good” basis for intensified engagement with troop and police contributors, tools which the Council should use more frequently. Most peacekeeping operations had grown more challenging and multi-faceted, underscoring the need for more information sharing. In addition, the implementation of sanctions must respect the rule of law, and be applied both outside and within the Organization, especially in situations where the United Nations’ actions directly affected individual rights. The Council should lead the way in that regard. As the former chair of the Al-Qaida/Taliban sanctions committee, his delegation had worked to improve procedures under the resolution 1267 (1999) sanctions regime in terms of due process.
JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU ( Spain) said it was in everyone’s interest that the Security Council efficiently exercised the functions assigned to it. There was no doubt that the authority and influence of the Council would be increased if the views of the wider United Nations membership were taken into account when shaping its working methods. In recent years, progress had been made in increasing the Council’s permeability. The wrap-up sessions resembled a two-way mirror: like Janus, they kept their focus in the recent past to draw lessons for the immediate future. The Council should increase of public meetings, enhance transparency, increase interaction between the Council and troop- and police-contributing States, and increase its interaction and dialogue with regional and sub-regional organizations.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI ( Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the increased frequency of debates on the subject was indicative of its importance among Member States. Emphasizing the necessity for the Council to increase transparency and take a balanced approach in interactions with non-member States, he noted that some positive steps had been taken. He urged all States to uphold the primacy of and full respect for the provisions of the Charter pertaining to the functions and powers of the Assembly, and called on the Presidents of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council to conduct regular decisions and coordination among themselves regarding the agenda and programme of work in order to establish increased coherence and complementarities.
He went on to say that the Council should avoid resorting to Chapter VII as a tool for addressing issues that did not necessarily pose a threat to international peace and security. On wrap-up sessions, the issues discussed should be limited to the items and issues discussed at the Council within the programme of work of each month. Also welcomed was the informal meetings between the Presidency of the Council and Member States on the preparations of the Council’s annual report. In that regard, the Council should submit a more explanatory, comprehensive and analytical annual report to the General Assembly. Further, it should elaborate the circumstances under which it adopted different outcomes, whether resolutions, presidential statements, press statements or elements to the press. Every effort must be made to render the Council more democratic, representative and accountable, so that it could deal more efficiently and effectively with its mounting workload.
MICHELE TOMMASI ( Italy) said that the reform of the Security Council’s working methods was a key pillar to the overall reform process of the United Nations. Improved working methods were crucial to enhancing the Council’s ability to carry out its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. Transparency, openness, efficiency and interaction with the rest of the Member States were needed to foster a sense of ownership of the Council by the international community and avoid the misperception that it was an autonomous body. He also stressed the need for communication with the Peacebuilding Commission and the Chairs of its country-specific configurations, as well as deeper cooperation with countries that contributed troops and police to peacekeeping operations.
KAREN TAN ( Singapore) said improved working methods for the Council were important for small States like Singapore, as they were unlikely to obtain a permanent seat in whatever new configuration might emerge. It was increasingly challenging for them to be elected as non-permanent members, pointing out that 50 of the 70 States that had never been elected to the Council were members of the Forum of Small States. Most could only be elected to the Council every several decades, given resource constraints. Yet, many small States had experienced first-hand the consequences of the failure to maintain international peace.
She welcomed more open debates, more Arria Formula meetings and consultations with troop contributors. However, implementation of recommendations in the five presidential notes had been “limited” and “slow”. Non-members should have more opportunities to offer input to the Council’s subsidiary bodies. Recalling the deep displeasure at the Council’s impotency prior to its adoption of resolution 2118 (2013) on the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, she said that the use of the veto was the crux of that problem. She inquired about the reactions of other P-5 members to the French proposal on a code of conduct for veto use, urging them to explain their use, or intention to use, the veto.
MANIEMAGEN GOVENDER (South Africa), aligning his delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement, acknowledged the progress the Council had made in its working methods, but urged that it engage more regularly with the wider membership of the United Nations, as well as with regional and subregional organizations. In order to enhance accountability and transparency, the Council must maintain the practice of conducting field visits and “mini missions”. Furthermore, the exclusive approach wherein certain countries took charge of special issues undercut the vision of collective work. The Council’s inability to resolve certain conflicts had been rooted in a narrowness that also left its decisions unimplemented or ignored. The absence of any action by the Council on the question of Palestine, for instance, reflected poorly on its ability to uphold its mandate. Greater legitimacy would be instilled in the Council's deliberations and decisions if it were to become more representative and transparent.
KAZUYOSHI UMEMOTO ( Japan) said his country had been a leading contributor to improving the Council’s working methods. As a past Council member, Japan’s efforts had included serving as President of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, and the issuance of a working methods handbook. Yet, despite progress in the Council’s working methods, such as reviewing mandate cycles of relevant Council resolutions, more work was needed. For example, many Council consultations were still held in a closed and exclusive format. There were even complaints from elected members of the Council that they were not involved in the discussions on Syria, which were conducted only among permanent members. Japan appreciated that today’s debate included ensuring a transparent and inclusive negotiation process within the Council. However, to enhance the Council’s legitimacy, improving its methods was not sufficient. It was indispensable that Member States accelerated talks towards Council reform.
PETER WITTIG (Germany) said the a variety of United Nations organs and institutions, as well as other stakeholders, continued to make important contributions to the Council’s work. All that should be seen as an opportunity and not a burden to the Council. Noting the progress made in improving working methods, he stressed the importance of implementing the recommendations to increase transparency and openness. In that regard, he welcomed the ACT Group to continue their important work. Welcoming the French proposal to encourage abstentions from exercising the veto in cases of mass atrocities, he said the measure would help build the Council’s credibility, as well as efficiency. As important as the improvement of the Council’s working methods may be, only a comprehensive structural reform would enable the Council to more effectively tackle the global challenges of today.
DAVID DONOGHUE ( Ireland), aligning himself with the ACT Group, said his delegation wished to work constructively and cooperatively with the members of the Security Council towards encouraging a more business-like and responsive approach. The ACT Group could be called “friends of the Security Council” in that they would be supportive, but also frank and direct, which were the hallmarks of true friendship. Improvements to the Council’s working methods were already under way. With Uruguay, his country had co-led the peacekeeping dimension of the Council’s work. On that matter, and across a broad range of topics, the ACT Group would continue to work for constructive and cooperative engagement with Council members to improve the ways in which the Council did business.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives), recalling that the Council acted on behalf of all Member States, said that universal representation must be reflected in fully transparent decisions and a process that left no room for secrecy. All States must be more informed about the Council’s deliberations. Draft documents should be made available to all States in a more timely and appropriate manner, while interactive dialogues and special report presentations should be more frequent. Calling on the Council to reflect on the month’s work in the form of wrap-up sessions, he urged a more equal distribution of work between permanent and non-permanent members. That disparity was seen regularly when negotiations were limited to permanent members. Welcoming France’s proposal, he said such a pledge would help the Council more effectively respond to crises and he encouraged permanent members to explore that suggestion.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan), speaking in his national capacity, stressed that the Council had decided to further improve its working methods in line with the recommendations made in the two presidential notes of this year. Greater efforts would be made to engage with the broader membership of the United Nations, as well as other bodies and relevant regional and subregional organizations. Despite the slight decrease in public meetings compared to previous years, efforts would be taken towards stepping up such engagements with a wide range of stakeholders. The annual open debates on improving the Council’s working methods were a welcome practice that helped to identify ideas and trends and review gaps.
A significant number of proposals had been submitted and discussed, he said, adding that they pointed out shortcomings of the reform process, as well as the scale of the challenge meeting Members’ expectations. The tendency to preserve old ways persisted, however, and remained an obstacle. The silence of the Council when its resolutions and recommendations were flouted was dangerous, as was the temptation to question the relevance of its decisions. The debate today would make a fruitful contribution to enhancing the Council’s search for ways to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency, while also boosting transparency and accountability, he concluded.
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* The 7051st Meeting was closed.