The Security Council must adopt its provisional rules of procedure, regularly consult with troop- and police-contributing countries, restrict veto use and make it easier for the wider United Nations membership to access — and understand — its deliberations, speakers in the 15-member body said today, as they reported mixed reviews on efforts to improve working methods over the last decade.
Japan’s representative, Council President for July, opened a half-day open debate, stressing that the tenth anniversary of note S/2010/507, adopted on 19 July 2006, was an important time to review progress on efforts to improve transparency, efficiency and inclusivity. As Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, Japan was working on a revised note. Also, through presidential note S/2016/619, adopted on 15 July, newly elected members could now observe meetings from 1 October, as a way to help them transition into their duties.
Speakers welcomed the increased number of open debates, informal briefings and Arria Formula meetings in the 10 years since note 507 had been issued, applauding the Council’s use of webcast and promotion of work through its website. In those sessions, some said, the Council had improved its interaction with the United Nations membership and civil society.
Most speakers focused on areas for improvement. Singapore’s speaker said formulaic statements at open debates, where known positions were often regurgitated, did little to improve ground conditions. The Council should engage more meaningfully with United Nations members during informal briefings and Arria Formula meetings. It should also adopt its rules of procedure, as they had been provisional for more than 70 years, outliving the tenure of most diplomats.
Formalizing those rules, said Iran’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, would improve the Council’s accountability. Closed meetings and informal consultations should be the exception, not the rule. The 15-member body should also stop its attempts to shift issues from the agenda of the General Assembly or Economic and Social Council to its own.
India’s representative asked why efforts for transparency did not extend to the Council’s subsidiary bodies, which took 1,000 decisions each year, yet rarely briefed States or the media. He also pointed to a lack of institutionalized interaction with the troop-contributing countries.
Egypt’s representative, speaking also for Angola and Senegal, stressed the need for all Council members to participate equally in the formulation of outcomes as penholders. Noting that five elected members had drafted the first-ever resolution on the protection of medical personnel, he said: “This indeed demonstrates the benefits of collective work in enhancing the credibility of Council decisions,” a point echoed by representatives of Brazil, Poland and Spain.
France’s representative said that while procedures should be streamlined, there was no need to deeply amend note 507, which might undermine the quality of the Council’s work. He proposed the codification of the concepts in the note, adding that the Council should ensure that it report on its activities to all Member States.
The representative of the Russian Federation, while noting other delegations’ contributions to “freshening up” the Council’s functioning, recalled that any improvements fell under the body’s sole purview. His delegation was ready to help newly elected Council members in October on the understanding that their term would begin on 1 January 2017. He cautioned against crafting resolutions that contained 50 operative paragraphs and press statements that “went on for pages”, stressing that measures were needed to lessen the body’s workload.
For several speakers, the adoption of note 619 would pave the way for more robust engagement of new members on the Council and its subsidiary bodies. Malaysia’s representative agreed that time was a “precious commodity” in the run-up to joining the Council. She was pleased the note recognized that the appointment of subsidiary body chairs should begin as soon as possible after the election of non-permanent Council members.
Venezuela’s delegate would have liked the note to have gone further, but acknowledged that the road was a difficult one. The work of subsidiary bodies must be more transparent. With 16 sanctions regimes in place, the Council should not be extending their mandates indefinitely. Objectives had to be identified and regularly evaluated to determine if they were being achieved. More efforts were also needed to adapt sanctions regimes to international law.
Several speakers supported voluntary restraint of veto use in cases of mass atrocity, pressing the Council to commit to the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct and the France-Mexico initiative on limiting veto use. New Zealand’s representative, however, said it was easy to blame the Council’s dysfunction on the veto, but the acquiescence of the “elected 10” was also a big factor. “If the 10 are prepared to assert themselves, the five cannot dictate terms, especially on working methods, which are quintessentially a procedural matter,” he said.
Others focused on the innovations for a more transparent selection of the next Secretary-General. Switzerland’s representative, on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the wider membership must be informed of the outcome of the first straw poll scheduled for 21 July and subsequent ballots. He encouraged closer communication between the Presidents of the Council and Assembly on that front.
Also speaking today were representatives of Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, China, United States, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Pakistan, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Australia, Romania, Chile, Guatemala, Georgia, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, Norway, Belgium (speaking also on behalf of the Netherlands), Indonesia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Turkey, Panama, Portugal, Republic of Korea, as well as the Permanent Observer for the Holy See.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 1:46 p.m.
KORO BESSHO (Japan), Council President for July, said working methods were crucial to the Security Council’s ability to act promptly and effectively, which was why it was important to codify and improve them. In 2006, the Council’s first note S/2010/507 had set forth the body’s practices to enhance transparency, efficiency and inclusiveness. On the tenth anniversary of its adoption, it was important to review progress and make adjustments. As Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, Japan was working on a revised note, he said, adding that decisions in separate notes might need to be consolidated.
Japan also had proposed revisiting the transitional arrangements for newly elected Council members, he said, and on 15 July, the 15-member body had adopted presidential note S/2016/619, making it possible for them to observe meetings from 1 October, as a way to help them prepare more efficiently, and the Council as a whole, to function more effectively from start of the year. To enhance transparency, he would hold a press stakeout after informal consultations, as well as a wrap-up briefing on 29 July. As the Informal Working Group Chair, he would follow up on practical suggestions in the process of revising note 507, he said, stressing the need for an enlarged Council that reflected twenty-first century realities.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), speaking also for Angola and Senegal, focused first on the preparation of Council outcomes, or so-called penholdership, stressing that the body’s work was a collective responsibility. Last May, five elected members had drafted a resolution and held consultations with members and other stakeholders, leading to the adoption of a resolution on the protection of medical personnel, showing the benefits of joint work. The chair of sanctions committees were well positioned to contribute to drafting of outcomes as co-penholders. He welcomed the adoption of a note by the President enhancing the transparency of discussions in which subsidiary body chairs were elected, stressing that the need for more transparency was evident, notably in allowing a country to which a sanction regime was applied more timely access to the Expert Panel reports, as it was most concerned with those documents. Encouraging the chairs to continue to conduct field visits, he also advocated more robust engagement with the wider United Nations membership, especially those States under consideration, and troop- and police-contributing countries, as well as with regional and subregional organizations.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said he was encouraged by the General Assembly’s approach to the selection of the next Secretary-General. Keeping in mind the importance of the selection result, preserving the practice of ad hoc decisions on many aspects of the process was not an option. He welcomed the efforts to allow new members to become acquainted with the Council’s work, expressing support for the code of conduct for Council actions in response to mass atrocity crimes, and the proposal for veto use suspension. Exercising the veto impeded the work of the body. In that context, he drew attention to a Charter provision that would prevent use by the permanent five members. Indeed, the Council should not face insurmountable obstacles in organizing a field mission to a situation that warranted its engagement. He welcomed the introduction of guidelines in that regard, stressing that Ukraine was ready to continue discussions on that topic.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) welcomed moves towards greater transparency. While procedures needed to be streamlined, there was no need to deeply amend note 507, which might undermine the quality of the Council’s work. He proposed the codification of the concepts in note 507, adding that the Council should ensure that it report on its activities to all Member States. He welcomed the open wrap-up sessions and interactive meetings initiated by the Spanish presidency of the Council, as well as changes regarding the appointment of the Secretary-General. The Council could only gain from a variety of speakers during informal dialogue, drawing upon greater sources. As an example, he cited the drafting of resolution 2295 (2016) that included an informal dialogue with the Prime Minister of Mali, providing Council members with a better idea of the challenges that country was facing. It would help to review the reporting cycle, as there were now too many deadlines. The Council could not adhere to routine cycles under the illusion of being productive. Inclusiveness would be an empty promise without a commitment to multilingualism, he said. Streamlining the work of the 15-member body should not be a pretext for excluding official or working languages.
SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) said that she joined other Council members in welcoming the note by the President on transitional arrangements for newly elected members. That document paved the way for more robust engagement of new members on the Council and its subsidiary bodies. From its own experience, Malaysia could attest that, in the run-up to joining the Council, time was a precious commodity. She was pleased that the Note just adopted recognized that the appointment of chairs to subsidiary bodies should begin as soon as possible. Malaysia supported efforts to make the work of those bodies more streamlined and effective, adding that there was scope for better coordination between those bodies which dealt with related themes. She said that revising the Council’s working methods should be seen as part of a larger reform process that would require commitment on part of all its members to ensure that the body would remain relevant to address global security challenges, now and in the future.
JAVIER GASSÓ MATOSES (Spain) said his Government promoted a focus on the “Toledo format”, with an understanding that teamwork led to effectiveness. The Council should not be the sum of 15 individual States. “We all have something to contribute”, he said, noting that initiatives from members with different beliefs and cultures had contributed to its work. “Toledo briefings” were occurring at the end of each presidency with increased regularity, he said, describing an informal meeting in which Council members responded to questions from the wider membership on what had been achieved. In 2015, Spain had promoted an open debate in which his Government had focused on effectiveness and clarity. Six Council members had spoken as one, with France deciding to make a joint statement also on behalf of Germany. That philosophy could be applied in closed-door sessions. He echoed remarks by Egypt’s representative on sharing penholdership, as it was currently in the hands of only a few Council members. He also cited the 15 July note by the President on sanction committee chairs.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said his Government wanted the Council to be more transparent, inclusive, interactive, action-oriented and efficient. Adhering to speaking limits would improve efficiency and he urged speakers to stick to time in public meetings and consultations. In addition, the work programme was overloaded, driven by reporting cycles rather than ground conditions. Incoming presidencies should set out what reports the Council was expected to receive and ask if there was a need for a meeting. Perhaps the greatest risk to the Council was irrelevance. It needed a radical approach to remain relevant and he urged implementing many of the proposals already raised in today’s debate.
GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said the 15-member body was “too often a forum for polarizing initiatives and last-minute, take-it-or-leave-it drafts tabled by so-called penholders”, leaving no space for meaningful input from Council colleagues, let alone affected parties. Note 507 made it clear that all draft resolutions should be introduced in informal consultations, but that almost never happened. Nor were troop- and police-contributing countries consistently engaged in Council discussions. Making some general observations, he said elected Council members must take responsibility for the way the body operated. It was easy to blame the Council’s dysfunction on permanence and the veto, but the acquiescence of the “elected 10” was also a big factor. “If the 10 are prepared to assert themselves, the five cannot dictate terms, especially on working methods, which are quintessentially a procedural matter,” he said. The “elected 10” must use their influence and legitimacy as representatives of the wider United Nations membership to push for real change.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Switzerland on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said there were a number of Council norms regarding the drafting of resolutions and format of meetings that were simply not implemented. Penholders should consult with others during the drafting process, but that generally did not occur. Elected Council members thus had little time to make suggestions and they were left to explain their vote or to abstain or to vote against a resolution. A culture existed whereby permanent members dominated the Council’s activities, leading to a lack of transparency. Penholders were almost exclusively permanent members, or often the so-call P3. Informal meetings needed to be demystified, he said, adding that open sessions with interventions made before Member States would be a step forward.
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation), recalling that work methods and their improvements were under the Council’s purview, said his Government had taken note of the intention to update note 507 and was ready to provide assistance to Japan in that important work. It also had noted the contributions of other delegations in “freshening up” the Council’s working methods and, welcoming the Toledo formula, called on European colleagues to join in those efforts. New members had been appointed in June, and in October, the Council would be opened to them. The Russian Federation was ready to help them with the understanding that their term began on 1 January 2017. The Council would benefit from more democratization of its work; however, members should not seek other countries as their “pupils” and act as mentors. That was a vestige of a bygone era.
One area requiring attention was the oversized workload, he said, as “hardly any” of its hundreds of documents added value. He cautioned against crafting resolutions that contained 50 operative paragraphs and press statements that “went on for pages”. Resolutions should be concise and have political content. Measures were needed to lessen the Council’s workload. Rather than invite five briefers, there should be no more than three and the Council should not take on topics on which it could not take decisions. It should focus on country-specific issues, not encroach, or act instead of the Assembly, Economic and Social Council and other bodies.
LIU JIEYI (China) said the Council had improved its working methods, having enhanced its coordination with the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council. The Informal Working Group had adopted a note by the President, improving the annual report and strengthening interactions with troop-contributing countries, among other things, which had yielded good results. The Council should address pressing issues affecting peace and security, in order to improve the impact of its actions. It should coordinate efforts with the Assembly, Economic and Social Council and others, in order to avoid duplication. Emphasizing the need for collective decision-making, he said the Council should engage in consultations to gain consensus. When differences persisted, no decisions should be forced through. The Council should advance a culture of peace and give full play to mediation, diplomacy and good offices in order to push through a diplomatic solution to crises. It also should avoid sanctions use.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said her delegation and others had tried to make Security Council meetings more topical and action-oriented. It had also sought to bring humanity into the room, “and by that I mean real people”, such as Nadia Murad, a Yazidi victim of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) trafficking, whose searing account emphasized the need for all Member States to combat trafficking. Given the link between human rights abuses and threats to international peace and security, the United States supported briefings by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Procedural obstacles should not be overcome in order to learn more about human rights situations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine or elsewhere. During closed-door consultations, the Council needed to be more interactive and results-oriented. The United States had taken part in this year’s many innovations for a more transparent selection process for the next Secretary-General and had encouraged candidates to take advantage of the new procedures, especially the General Assembly informal dialogues. The time had come for the Council to show the world that it was up to the task of recommending for appointment the best person to lead the Organization as the next Secretary-General. The Council should aim for early agreement in order to give that person time to prepare for office.
HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela), associating himself with Uruguay, as well as the statement to be delivered by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said he would have liked the note by the President to have gone further, but acknowledged that the road was a difficult one. He welcomed progress on appointing members of subsidiary bodies as soon as possible after the election of non-permanent Council members. Progress must be made in making the work of subsidiary bodies more transparent. With 16 active sanctions regimes in place, the Council should not be extending their mandates indefinitely. Objectives needed to be identified and regularly evaluated to determine if they were being achieved. Sanctions had been imposed under pressure from some permanent Council members in order to punish some countries but not others. A greater effort was needed to adapt sanctions regimes to international law. He cited the case of Western Sahara, where issues were discussed behind closed doors with Member States unaware of the discussions under way.
Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, said that, with Mexico’s participation, the Council in 2010 had expanded the contents of note 507. Since then, there had been 13 such notes by the President. There had been progress over the last decade and there was great interest in moving towards more transparency. The holding of monthly meetings had helped in that regard and he did not want to see a situation in which countries resisted that undertaking. In public sessions, informal dialogues and Arria Formula meetings, the Council had improved its interaction with the United Nations membership and civil society, contributing to the body’s legitimacy.
Going forward, he said all Council members must draft resolutions and statements. He welcomed that, for the first time, the Secretary-General’s selection had been more transparent and inclusive, with a greater role for the Assembly. There should be more than one candidate for the post of Secretary-General and gender equality should be considered. Mexico and France had proposed voluntarily refraining from veto use in mass atrocity cases, he said, welcoming that 100 countries had joined those efforts. The Council must follow non-politicized criteria in referring situations to the International Criminal Court and he supported the creation of an internal mechanism to follow up on those referrals. Finally, he said it was important to ensure timely consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries in the formulation and extension of mandates.
CARLOS FORADORI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said his country had called for a more democratic Council at every opportunity. It had supported efforts to improve transparency and access to the Council, including through consultations with the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries, and greater participation with States in the drafting of documents, among other things. He encouraged the Informal Working Group to produce a single document that consolidated all decisions made on working methods, calling for transforming practices, in consultation with the membership, so that work methods respected international expectations. “What is at stake here is the culture of the Council,” regarding its decision-making and effectiveness. It was important to ratify democratic principles at all turns.
JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, encouraged all candidates for Secretary-General to participate fully in the process and called upon any potential future nominees to be presented as early as possible and to participate in the General Assembly process. The wider membership must be informed of the outcome of the first straw poll scheduled for 21 July and subsequent ballots, he said, strongly encouraging closer communication between the Presidents of the Council and Assembly. He called on all States to adhere to and implement the code of conduct on mass atrocity crimes. That meant applying and invoking it consistently in all relevant country situations before the Council.
He welcomed the commitment to hold an annual open debate on working methods and, in that regard, said the report prepared by Spain in January could guide the work of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions. Council members should respect the provisions of note S/2016/619 regarding the three-month extension of the period of observation for incoming Council members. He supported the holding of formal public wrap-up meetings and informal briefings at the end of the month. He encouraged the Council to retain the standards on note S/2010/507 and to provide an updated strong and comprehensive document that could lay the groundwork for further positive developments concerning decisions on working methods.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), referring to the election of the next Secretary-General, said the General Assembly’s role should not be to rubber-stamp Council decisions. Favouring a more active role for the Assembly, he agreed with its President that the result of the informal straw poll should be shared with all Member States. He said the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission could expand their synergies. Report and review procedures for the implementation of Council resolutions which authorize the use of force by third parties should be strengthened to ensure that mandates were being properly implemented. Troop- and police-contributing countries should be included in decision-making processes that lead to the deployment of peacekeeping missions. Penholderships must be more equitably shared. No change to working methods would tackle some of the main challenges facing the Council, he said. The longer Council reform takes, the greater the risk to United Nations credibility and long-term legitimacy.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia) emphasized greater synchronicity between Council decisions and Member States, as such interaction with States not on the Council would help determine what actions were successful and which needed improvement. He called for effective implementation of note 507. Speaking about how Member States as a whole had been kept abreast on the selection of the next Secretary-General, he said Colombia would like to see how that good practice could be replicated in other areas of common interest. The Council should present the Assembly with annual reports with a broad analytical component and explanations of the reasons behind the Council’s decision. Regarding the programme of work, he proposed the publication of monthly forecasts, which would be released publicly, as well as more public meetings where concerned countries could make contributions.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with remarks to be delivered by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed gradual improvements in the Council’s working methods, especially since the adoption of note 507 in 2006. This year’s early election of non-permanent Council members was a positive step that would help them play a more robust and effective role during their tenure. She emphasized the crucial need for dialogue with the wider United Nations membership. Troop- and police-contributing countries must be closely consulted prior to the formulation and approval of peacekeeping mandates. Doing so would address many issues while helping to synchronize peacekeeping missions with realities on the ground. Much remained to be done to ensure deeper and meaningful consultations in all aspects of peacekeeping. Turning to the subsidiary bodies, she called for transparent processes and balanced representation on expert panels, adding that there was no reason to limit the scope of the Office of the Ombudsman to just one sanctions committee.
GOLAM ALI KHOSHROO (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Council’s provisional rules of procedure, which had been provisional for 70 years, should be formalized in order to improve its transparency and accountability. The number of public meetings should be increased, and opportunities provided to consider the views of the wider United Nations membership. Closed meetings and informal consultations should be the exception, not the rule. Meetings should be open, especially when they included briefings by Special Envoys or Special Representatives. The creation of subsidiary organs should follow the Charter and those bodies should adequately provide information on their activities to the United Nations membership.
He went on to say the Council’s annual reports to the Assembly should be more explanatory and analytical and he urged it to elaborate on cases in which it had failed to act. It should submit special reports for the Assembly’s consideration, ensure that its monthly assessments were analytical, and fully consider the Assembly’s recommendations on peace and security matters. Further, the Council should halt attempts to shift issues from the agenda of the Assembly or Economic and Social Council to its own. He rejected use of the Council as a tool to pursue national political agendas, reiterating the need for non-selectivity, impartiality and accountability in its work.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said “expectation is the mother of all frustration”, citing the need for change in the processes of subsidiary bodies, which took 1,000 decisions each year, and yet rarely briefed States or the media. He asked why efforts for transparency did not extend to those bodies. “Why is it that we are blandly informed of positive decisions of this subterranean universe and never told about negative decisions?” he asked. All decisions were required to be taken unanimously, a practice that was not in vogue in the Council itself. In that universe, the principles of anonymity and unanimity had absolved individual members of accountability. He also pointed to a lack of institutionalized interaction with the troop-contributing countries. Despite a 31 December 2015 presidential statement acknowledging that a lack of dialogue had generated frustration and undermined mandate implementation, there had been talk about increasing the number of troops and possible mandate expansion for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). “At no stage have there been efforts at institutionalized consultations with troop-contributing countries,” he stressed.
KATALIN BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, welcomed the adoption of a structured process for selecting the next Secretary-General. She also supported measures to strengthen the relationship between the Council and the Assembly, adding, however, that the Council should more effectively use tools already at its disposal. Doing so would improve its response to atrocity crimes while providing an opportunity to move out of self-imposed silos. She called on Council members to support the code of conduct elaborated by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group. Emphasizing the role of the International Criminal Court in ending impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice, she said the Council must use its power of referral in a consistent manner.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) called for more frequent informal wrap-up sessions; a commitment to making more effective use of open meetings, such as interactive dialogues and Arria Formula meeting; greater focus during open debates; increased cooperation and coordination with other principal United Nations organs; expanding, as appropriate, interaction with troop- and police-contributing countries during course of a mandate of a mission; and expanding consultation and cooperation with regional and subregional organizations. The Council should step up preventive action by carrying out more missions. He welcomed the strengthening of early warning mechanisms, such as the Framework of Analysis of the Office of the United Nations Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, the Rights Up Front Initiative and the role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). He welcomed the Council’s commitment to agree provisionally on the appointments of chairs of the subsidiary bodies not later than 1 October.
AGATA DUDA-PLONKA (Poland) noted the advantages of the penholder system, but expressed concern that such a monopolized system of drafting documents eliminated diversity and creativity. All Council members, including non-permanent members, should engage in the drafting process at all stages. She called for changing the current arrangement to ensure more equal division of the penholder responsibility. She urged Council members, including the Chairpersons of subsidiary bodies, to continue to work on implementing notes S/2012/937, S/2014/393 and S/2016/170. A more balanced, transparent, efficient and inclusive process, as well as the earlier appointment of the chairpersons of subsidiary organs, would benefit everyone. She called on the Security Council and the Secretariat to revive the format of horizon-scanning briefings by the Department of Political Affairs on issues of concern. The Council should maintain transparency, openness and inclusivity and a spirit of dialogue in the process of selecting the new Secretary-General.
THOMAS SCHIEB (Germany) welcomed efforts to increase transparency, inclusiveness and effectiveness and Japan’s efforts to streamline note 507. He supported more open debates and Arria Formula meetings, urging it to hold detailed briefings on its activities. He supported the France-Mexico initiative on voluntary veto restraint, as well as the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct. He stressed the importance of increased information-sharing between the Council and the International Criminal Court. While improvements to work methods were needed, “we urgently need a comprehensive structural reform of the Security Council”, he said, welcoming convergences that had emerged during intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform. Those convergences, however, had not been consolidated in a framework document.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia), stressing the importance of transparency for the Council’s effectiveness, said the body should engage regularly with the broader United Nations membership through briefings with regional groups and outreach to affected countries. She supported greater use of public meetings, open debates, Arria Formula meetings and monthly wrap-up sessions, noting that the Council should move decisively — and in unison — to agree on clear limits to the veto. She urged it to commit to the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct, and the France-Mexico initiative on limiting veto use. Finally, the Council must improve its ability to predict and prevent conflict, and independent assessments from the Secretariat on situations where populations were at risk was crucial in that regard.
ION JINGA (Romania), associating himself with the European Union, said more time was needed in Council meetings to hear from people on the ground, including through informal formats such as the Arria Formula meetings. Greater transparency was needed in the functioning of the Council’s subsidiary organs and they should be encouraged to interact further with the United Nations membership on topics related to peacekeeping, conflict prevention and sanctions. He called for more interaction with regional organizations, troop- and police-contributing countries, Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, High Commissioners, the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice. The Council’s composition should reflect current geopolitical and demographic realities. Updating its working methods could not be a substitute for engaging in more substantial talks on Security Council reform.
CRISTIAN BARROS MELET (Chile), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the general rule should be that the Council discuss themes relating to preventive actions and avoid misuse of the body for purposes outside of its mandate. Public debates should be oriented through concept notes focused on clear objectives. The concept note prepared for the current debate was a good example of that. Joint declarations of Council members should be made cautiously. Collective formats should not replace the individual role of elected members. He supported the holding of formal and public wrap-up sessions. Sessions with “E10” members should take place at the beginning and the end of their membership in order to give them space to share their priorities and assess the work during their tenure. Informal briefings should complement, not replace, formal wrap-up sessions. Permanent and non-permanent Council members should be included on equal terms in the process of drafting resolutions and declarations of the Council President.
JOSÉ ALBERTO SANDOVAL COJULÚN (Guatemala) said the search for information on the Council’s activities was a legitimate request. While the Council’s public sessions had increased and the practice of open debates had continued, it was unfortunate that wrap-up sessions were infrequently held. There was a lack of periodic contact with the Peacebuilding Commission and less interaction with the chairs of country-specific configurations. In the past, the Council had appointed subsidiary body chairs in a balanced and inclusive manner. It appeared that consultations had been held on that process among newly elected Council members, a trend he hoped would be strengthened. The process of appointing sanctions committees should be more balanced, with more geographical representation and bearing in mind guidance given in note S/2006/972. Finally, the selection of Secretary-General was helping to improve transparency, with the joint letter of the Assembly and Council Presidents, and the ongoing dissemination of information on candidates and informal dialogues.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) expressed hope the Informal Working Group would work towards a comprehensive document in an updated note 507 that consolidated all decisions on working methods, with fuller participation by United Nations membership in relevant discussions. A more focused discussion in the open debate format must be seen as an important tool for democratizing the Council’s working methods. There should also be reform of the use of veto, modalities and decision-making principles, as well as more accountability before the Assembly. Recalling that 20 per cent of his country was under illegal foreign military occupation, he said the veto right should be restricted when a Council decision aimed to prevent mass atrocity crimes, and when a permanent member was involved in the conflict under consideration, and thus, could not exercise its rights impartially.
JOSEPH TEO (Singapore), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that while good progress had been made in transparency, it was a means to promote accountability and effective action, and in that context, formulaic statements at open debates, where known positions were often regurgitated, did little to improve ground conditions. The Council should engage more meaningfully with United Nations members during informal briefings and Arria Formula meetings. The body should also adopt its rules of procedure, as they had been provisionally applied for far longer than most diplomats were in service. The Council’s record on effectiveness had been mixed and he urged refraining from veto use as a way to block action aimed at preventing mass atrocity crimes. If members had to use it, they should explain why they could not support initiatives aimed at preventing or ending mass atrocities. He hoped the Council would work with the Assembly President to continue the “strong spirit” of inclusiveness in the selection of the next Secretary-General. He regretted that the outcome of the upcoming straw poll would not be communicated to the United Nations membership and urged the Council to be more open on that issue.
MINNA-LIINA LIND (Estonia), associating herself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, referred to the appointment of the next Secretary-General. She said that monthly meetings between the Presidents of the Council and the Assembly, and the ensuing reports, had been very useful. With the Council holding its first straw poll in two days, the Assembly should be informed of any developments. She recalled the Assembly’s prerogative to draft the final resolution for the Secretary-General’s appointment, saying it was understood that discussions to that end were planned to take place soon in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly. The aim was not only to create a more inclusive appointment process, but also to strengthen the institution of the Secretary-General by making it more representative.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that despite steps towards great transparency and accountability in the Council’s work, implementation remained inconsistent. Technical and practical improvements were important and Liechtenstein would continue working with others to propose meaningful changes to the Council to further improve performance. He encouraged in particular an open process on the appointment of the chairs of subsidiary bodies. The Council’s reputation had been undermined by its inability to prevent and effectively respond to mass atrocities, he said, pointing to the failures in Srebrenica and Rwanda, and now in Syria. All Member States should subscribe to the code of conduct on mass atrocities. He also looked forward to concrete progress on the France-Mexico initiative to restrict the use of the veto in such situations.
Regarding appointment of the new Secretary-General, there should be transparency on the results of the informal voting rounds and the Council should limit its recommendation for the post to one or more names, he said. In turn, the Assembly should forge an agreement on the duration of the mandate and whether it should consist of one term. The Council should play its role as enforcer of accountability for the most serious crimes under international law more effectively. For example, in Syria, the Council should ask for accountability as part of the reconciliation process. Where possible and realistic, countries in question should be offered assistance to ensure accountability occurred in their national systems.
JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA GARCÍA (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the Council should demonstrate that it acted on behalf of all Member States. Note 507 represented a milestone in the Council’s work, particularly in the area of transparency. He welcomed progress in the past year on such issues and documentation and the election of non-permanent Council members six months in advance of their terms. The selection of the next Secretary-General was more transparent as well. Communication between the Council and the rest of the Organization needed to be more transparent and direct, and rules of procedure should address transparency and accountability. Limits should be put on the use of the veto in cases that involved genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, gross violations of human rights, the election of the Secretary-General and the responsibility to protect.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said a key feature of a reformed Council would be a commitment by all Member States not to vote, as members of the Council, against a credible draft resolution addressing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. That would necessarily include a commitment by permanent Council members to refrain from casting a veto where such crimes were involved. The United Nations would acquire more legitimacy and authority if the criteria for applying the responsibility to protect were clearly and effectively spelled out. Greater transparency would include better means and methods of dialogue between the Council, Assembly and other United Nations structures and partners. He recalled paragraph 109 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome document regarding a fair and clear procedure for placing or removing individuals and entities on sanctions lists and for considering humanitarian exemptions.
GEIR O. PEDERSEN (Norway), speaking also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, welcomed that the process to select the next Secretary-General had been more open and inclusive, calling the Council’s cooperation with the Assembly “remarkable”. Through informal dialogues, candidates had presented their visions for scrutiny by Member States and he expected the Council to announce the results from the straw polls through the Assembly President. More broadly, its work should be more accessible, he said, encouraging it to put in place measures to inform United Nations members on topics discussed under “any other business” in closed consultations. There needed to be improved information flow, as it took hours, if not days to make press and presidential statements available on the Council’s website. Finally, amendments to the procedures for new members would make their transition smoother and he encouraged new members to take advantage of the annual workshop organized by Finland in that regard.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET (Belgium), speaking also on behalf of the Netherlands, stressed the need to strengthen due process in sanctions regimes, and called on the Council to consider in the process of updating note 507 the concrete proposals by the like-minded group of targeted sanctions sent to it on 12 November 2015. It would be worth exploring whether to reinvigorate the practice of horizon-scanning briefings or to devise another innovative formula in order to allow timely action to address the root causes of conflict and engage early on in emerging conflicts. Council members could also consider interacting more closely and flexibly with people active in conflict prevention such as the chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific configurations, envoys of regional or subregional organizations, and the Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. The concept note for the meeting was a good example of how the Council could and should operationalize and streamline thematic debates, she said, noting that it recalled the guidelines to make the debate more succinct and action-oriented and to pursue, to the extent possible, an operational outcome in other relevant United Nations forums. He called for minimizing the use of the veto, and supported a moratorium on its use in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
KAMAPRADIPTA ISNOMO (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was crucial for the Council to function in a transparent, effective and accountable manner. The use — or threat of use — of the veto had obstructed necessary Council action in the face of mass atrocities and severe violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The cases of Palestine and Syria were two such examples. While his Government had called for abolishing veto rights, it would support steps to responsibly regulate its use and the Council should establish a mechanism in that context. Further, it must ensure that all stakeholders of special political missions and peacekeeping operations were consulted and their strengths harnessed. Moreover, the views of affected non-member countries should be considered under articles 31 and 32 of the Charter, he said, advocating a balanced and collaborative relationship with the Assembly.
JERRY MATJILA (South Africa), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said reforms to working methods as reflected in note 507, as well as the Council’s provisional rules of procedure, should become permanent. Processes were under way to verify the readiness of the African Standby Force to enable the African Union to intervene in conflicts within a short time. The Union had the capacity, political will and human resources to deploy troops anywhere on the continent. Consistent and regular strategic consultation and coordination between the Council and regional bodies, as well as assistance for capacity-building, was needed. Regular and timely consultation and coordination between the Council and troop-contributing countries was required, specifically when considering new or the renewal of mandates. The Council as a matter of principle should always consult with all relevant parties to a conflict and apply that principle uniformly. The practice of having the Council President provide substantive, detailed briefings to Member States in a timely manner and soon after informal consultations on the whole should be maintained.
KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) called for more collaboration with the Assembly, which would provide insights from States neighbouring conflict zones or impacted by conflict, with a view to planning meaningful interventions and preventing spillovers. The rule of law should govern internal relations within countries, as well as international relations among Council members. The Council’s annual report to the Assembly should be more analytical, reflecting its deliberations and decisions rather than presenting lists and meeting summaries. He voiced support for increasing the number of open sessions, briefings and debates, as well as informal interactive dialogues and consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries throughout all phases of peacekeeping operations. Finally, the Council should agree on the appointment of the chairs of its subsidiary bodies for 2017 no later than October 2016, he emphasized.
ANA SILVIA RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country supported deep reforms that would make the Council more effective, transparent, representative and in tune with changes in international relations. Changes to its working methods were essential, including more effective formulas to guarantee true participation by member States. Often, measures were adopted which did not take into account the views of all Council members. Every effort should be made by the Council to achieve broad consensus and no State should be forced to accept a text when considerable differences remained. There should be more public meetings, with closed-door meetings the exception rather than the rule. Non-members of the Council needed guaranteed access to subsidiary bodies. To enhance transparency and accountability, a definitive text should be adopted that regulated the Council’s work. It was unacceptable that, after 70 years, its rules of procedure were still provisional. The veto was an anachronistic and anti-democratic privilege that should be eliminated as soon as possible. She expressed concern at a growing trend for the Council to consider issues outside its remit. All too often, and prematurely, it took up issues that did not involve an immediate threat to peace and security. Chapter 7 should be invoked as a last resort. The application of double standards and manipulation of the Council’s discussion of certain issues was another shared concern.
GÜVEN BEGEÇ (Turkey) said the Council did not operate in a vacuum. The way it functioned had a clear impact on the substance of its work and on its relations with the rest of the United Nations. The most urgent issue was the veto, he said, welcoming the initiative of France and Mexico, as well as Liechtenstein on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, to limit its use in cases involving mass atrocities. A code of conduct would be meaningless if it was not embraced by the permanent Council members. He invited the body to carefully reflect on its inaction at a moment when its support and solidarity were important for Turkey, its people and its democratic institutions. There was room for improvement in relations between the Council and the Assembly in terms of greater transparency and inclusiveness. While the selection of the next Secretary-General was more transparent, the process could be further improved. Further, Turkey would be pleased to see a more equitable division of labour between Council members.
LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Council must increase its openness to accountability. More access to information and decision-making was also needed, through more frequent open meetings and Arria Formula meetings, which would allow for more coordination with the Assembly. Furthermore, the Council should ensure more diverse participation, with non-members playing a more prominent role. Only non-permanent members should hold the Council presidency and the chairs of subsidiary bodies, allowing for more balanced participation. Advocating a more democratic Council, she expressed support for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct, emphasizing that the selection of the next Secretary-General should be more transparent, and the Council more aware of the Assembly’s role in that process.
ÁLVARO MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), noting the positive developments seen since 2010, suggested making draft resolutions and presidential statements available as soon as they were introduced during informal consultations. That would be an important element of transparency. He also suggested that Council members express their views publicly following briefings, which would allow them to place their views on the record, otherwise they would be expressed only in informal consultations.
LEE MOON-HEE (Republic of Korea) said that, from the situations in Syria, Iraq and South Sudan, to the nuclear threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to emerging threats from violent extremism, the Council’s decisions must be respected. “We need spontaneity of the entire membership,” he said, pressing the Council to increase its legitimacy by holding more public meetings. The functioning of its subsidiary bodies must also be improved since no resolution could be implemented if the Council showed little interest in implementing decisions through its subsidiary entities. Better coordination should be promoted between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Economic and Social Council, in both of which the Republic of Korea held membership, having committed to working with other States to follow through on resolution 2282 (2016) concerning peacebuilding, he said.