Delegates Deplore Inequity, Exclusion of Meaningful Input from Elected Members
Consultations around peacekeeping, political or other mandates must be interactive, direct and focused on political strategy, a briefer told the Security Council today as it held an open debate on its own working methods.
The organ’s resolutions must contain meaningful language and enjoy the support of all Council members, said the Executive Director of Security Council Report, a former Special Representative of the Secretary-General. Recalling that four peacekeeping missions had their mandates renewed without Council unanimity in 2018, she noted that there have already been three such non-unanimous renewals in 2019.
A great deal can be achieved by adapting the Council’s working methods, she said, adding: “In these testing times, the challenge is to use the tools creatively and flexibly, contributing to a culture where better and more consultative decisions can be taken.” She went on to propose broader Council engagement with Member States, suggesting that the Council invite those with a particular interest in a given situation to informal dialogues.
Also briefing members, the Director of the United Nations University’s Centre for Policy Research stressed that the Council’s working methods must meaningfully protect the right of affected persons to be heard, adding that they must also offer an impartial review of the facts underpinning any sanctions listing. Noting the opinion of some legal experts that independent judicial review is the only way to ensure a completely fair process in listing and delisting for sanctions, he said the Security Council has been reluctant to accept that argument.
A decision to impose or remove targeted sanctions is not a penal decision, but a political one, taken to generate and harness leverage to fight terrorism, manage armed conflict and counter proliferation, he emphasized, further stressing that the test is not whether the Council’s working methods offer judicial protection, but whether they offer equivalent protection. Working methods must meaningfully protect the right of the affected person to be heard, he said, adding that they must also offer an impartial review of the fact base underpinning any sanctions listing.
However, what works for counter-terrorism may not work for armed conflict or counter-proliferation, he cautioned. In the counter-terrorism context, it may not be feasible to share all listing information with the target, and it may or may not be feasible for the reviewer of the fact base to meet with the target in person. In the context of armed conflict, however, impartial review and the right to be heard may require different information-gathering modalities and a fact reviewer with a different profile, he cautioned, pointing out that a reviewer might need the ability to visit conflict theatres and engage with parties to conflict while maintaining independence and neutrality.
South Africa’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Council’s 10 elected members, declared: “We see room — and an urgent need — for further progress.” Among other things, there is need to share the burden fairly among Council members, to better prepare newly elected members and to ensure stronger procedures for imposing sanctions, taking into account the need to respect international standards of due process and incorporate review mechanisms.
Permanent members emphasized flexibility, with the United Kingdom’s representative describing it as a priority for his delegation. It is important to strike the right balance of public and private meetings, he added.
The representative of the United States emphasized that informal consultations must remain informal, with participants steering away from reading prepared texts. The United States stands ready to assess new ideas and proposals, but the Council must retain flexibility and avoid rigidity, he said.
France’s representative pointed out that the Council spends three times more time in public meetings than in consultations. Although the former increases transparency, they also tend to polarize Council members to the detriment of consensus decision-making, he said, stressing that changes in working methods must be guided by the principles of effectiveness, transparency and inclusiveness.
The Russian Federation’s representative said populist rhetoric about transparency does not achieve results, but rather, can make things more difficult. Emphasizing that there must be no artificial hurry in undertaking such a pain-staking effort, he described his delegation as “lukewarm” about the Council discussing thematic issues better handled in the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
China’s representative said the Council should focus more on urgent matters than on intervening in domestic matters that do not threaten international peace and security. It must strive for the broadest consensus, maintain unity, enhance communication and avoid the hasty adoption of resolutions, he added.
New Zealand’s representative spoke on behalf of 20 former Council members from all regional groups, saying that all Council members should have equal an opportunity to exercise their Charter obligations, including a balanced division of labour and equitable chairing of subsidiary bodies. The Council must also ensure that members “are not just speaking about countries concerned, but also speaking to them”.
Ireland’s representative, one of several candidates for Council membership to take the floor, said: “Working methods are not only what we put down on paper, but also the mindset with which we approach the challenges we face.” He noted that many elected members have “rightly looked askance at the sterile debates and grandstanding” that sometimes characterize the Council’s work.
Norway’s representative, speaking for the Nordic countries, called for broader engagement with the United Nations membership, emphasizing that the Council should maintain the practice of inviting civil society briefers and pay greater attention to preventing conflict.
Canada’s representative proposed that the Council drop the informal “penholder” system, whereby some members exercise an unspoken monopoly in drafting resolutions, often without meaningful input from elected members or committee chairs.
India’s representative was among the speakers who said that, while it is a common understanding that the views and concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries are crucial for better implementation of peacekeeping mandates, it is more significant to translate this understanding into action.
Brazil’s delegate underlined the importance of a healthy relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. Mexico’s representative suggested that the Assembly might consider matters of international peace and security immediately, under its “Uniting for Peace” resolution, if the Security Council fails to exercise its primary responsibility due to lack of unanimity among its permanent members.
Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait, Romania, Estonia, Turkey, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Morocco, Argentina, Sweden (on behalf of the Group of Like-Minded States on Targeted Sanctions), Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, Iran, Cuba, Guatemala, Egypt, Ukraine, Colombia and Bahrain.
The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 2:10 p.m.
KARIN LANDGREN, Executive Director, Security Council Report, noted the declining trust in multilateral institutions and the Council’s persistent failure to respond adequately to several conflicts. Referring to the strengthened role of elected Council members, she welcomed the stellar work done to enhance the readiness of incoming Council members since the adoption of Note 507 [Note by the President of the Security Council (document SC/2017/507)] in 2017. They can now observe Council meetings during the three months before taking their seats and are increasingly chairing subsidiary bodies. Going forward, wider engagement in the Council’s work on the part of Member States could include more interaction around its annual report to the General Assembly as well as more analytical and interactive wrap-up sessions for each Council presidency, she said. Member States with a particular interest in a given situation could be invited to meet with the Council in more private settings, such as informal dialogues.
Turning to initiatives intended to strengthen the Council’s role in peacekeeping and preventing deadly conflict, she recalled that the organ has used visiting missions to good effect, including to countries not on its agenda, such as Burkina Faso. Noting that such visits are valuable, but also “phenomenally expensive” and rarely coordinated with field travel by the Peacebuilding Commission and other subsidiary bodies, she emphasized that active coordination and revived use of mini-missions could give them a greater strategic impact while reducing costs. Whereas Arria formula meetings cannot substitute for the formal setting, the Council should nevertheless strengthen informal formats that allow discussions on conflict prevention, she said.
Regarding consultations on mandate, she stressed that such discussions must, first and foremost, be interactive, direct, operational and focused on political strategy. Speaking as a former Special Representative of the Secretary-General, she went on to underline the value of resolutions containing meaningful language and enjoying the support of all Council members, recalling that four missions had their mandates renewed without Council unanimity in 2018. The corresponding number for 2019 already stands at three, she pointed out, emphasizing that a great deal can be achieved by adapting the Council’s working methods. “In these testing times, the challenge is to use the tools creatively and flexibly, contributing to a culture where better and more consultative decisions can be taken.”
JAMES COCKAYNE, Director, Centre for Policy Research, United Nations University, said his remarks were drawn from “Fairly Clear Risks”, a research study he conducted with two colleagues that reviews 47 due-process legal challenges to sanctions imposed by the Security Council over 15 years. Noting that some legal experts say independent judicial review is the only way to ensure a completely fair process in listing and delisting for sanctions, he said the Security Council has been reluctant to accept that argument. Although it may not align with the letter or the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, which gives the Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, a decision to impose or remove targeted sanctions is not a penal decision, but a political one, taken to generate and harness leverage to fight terrorism, manage armed conflict and counter proliferation, he emphasized, further stressing that the test is not whether the Council’s working methods offer judicial protection, but whether they offer equivalent protection. Working methods must meaningfully protect the right of the affected person to be heard, he said, adding that they must also offer an impartial review of the fact base underpinning any sanctions listing.
However, what works for counter-terrorism may not work for armed conflict or counter-proliferation, he cautioned. In the counter-terrorism context, it may not be feasible to share all listing information with the target, and it may or may not be feasible for the reviewer of the fact base to meet with the target in person. However, the Monitoring Team and Ombudsperson arrangements have demonstrated that States will trust individuals with appropriate law enforcement, intelligence, national security and judicial experience to undertake impartial review of the fact base, realize the right to be heard and assess eligibility for listing, he said. In the context of armed conflict, however, impartial review and the right to be heard may require different information-gathering modalities and a fact reviewer with a different profile, he cautioned, pointing out that a reviewer might need the ability to visit conflict theatres and engage with parties to conflict while maintaining independence and neutrality.
Outlining several ways in which the Council might strengthen due process protections by adapting existing sanctions committee working methods, he suggested that in order to lock in the growing recognition that the Ombudsperson offers due-process protections in the context of counter-terrorism, adjustments could be made to the contractual arrangements of the Office of the Ombudsperson and to the workflow of interactions between that Office and the Council. Providing detailed “reasons letters” for refusal to delist would help to protect such decisions against due-process legal challenge in all sanctions matters, he said, noting that the same is true for denial of requests for humanitarian exemptions, which are increasingly coming under close judicial scrutiny. Greater use of open-source material in listing decisions will protect against due-process challenges by making it easier to provide reasons for delisting and for refusing to delist. Automated periodic review of sanctions and lists would ensure they do not fall out of date or become more vulnerable to due-process challenge, he said.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) spoke on behalf the Council’s 10 elected members, said that while they are fully committed to Note 507, “we see room — and an urgent need — for further progress”. The adoption of draft notes currently under discussions within the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions will help to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the Council’s work as well as dialogue with the wider United Nations membership, he said. Noting that the elected members have striven to foster greater cooperation and coordination among themselves, he recalled a 2018 letter in which elected and incoming members stated the need for fair sharing of the burden and equal distribution of work among all Council members. He also suggested better preparation of newly elected Council members that would enable them to “hit the ground running” upon assuming their seats.
He went on to call for strengthening procedures for imposing sanctions, taking into account the need to respect international standards of due process and to incorporate review mechanisms. The rule of law should apply in particular to situations in which the Organization’s actions directly affect individual rights, he emphasized. The Council’s working methods should also be adapted to reflect the shared expectations around such issues as the women, peace and security agenda, he said, calling upon the Council’s permanent members to demonstrate greater flexibility in ensuring swift adoption of proposals submitted by elected members on the basis of extensive discussions already held in the Working Group. Noting that five new members will be elected tomorrow, he stressed that consultations on the chairs of subsidiary bodies must be carried out in a balanced, transparent, efficient and inclusive manner, as stipulated in Note 507, for greater burden-sharing and collective responsibility.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) commended Japan’s leadership in compiling and revising Note 507, emphasizing that now is the time to focus on implementing the document. Although the United States continues to help improve the Council’s working methods and stands ready to assess new ideas and proposals, the Council must retain flexibility and avoid rigidity, he said, emphasizing that informal consultations should remain informal. He went on to note that the joint presidency of France and Germany enhanced the continuity of the Council’s work.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said his delegation broadly shares the views and concerns expressed by the 10 elected members regarding the Council’s effectiveness and the need for reform. Committed to reforming the Council, including by expanding its membership, France and Mexico lead efforts to have permanent members voluntarily relinquish their veto power in cases of mass atrocities, he pointed out. Any changes to the working methods must be guided by the principles of effectiveness, transparency and inclusiveness, and must not be implemented at the expense of flexibility, he said, stressing that any member should be able to table a draft resolution. Noting that the Council now spends three times more in public meetings than in consultations, he warned against holding too many of them, noting that although they increase transparency, they also tend to polarize Council members to the detriment of consensus decision-making.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) agreed that there is need for more interactive discussion and for the right balance of public and private meetings, saying flexibility is a priority for his delegation. Noting that the Council is busier than ever, producing more and more documentation, he said that does not translate into more effective action on the ground. Furthermore, the Council must spend its time discussing the right issues, not yesterday’s conflicts, he emphasized, welcoming the reduced number of meetings on Kosovo in that regard. The Council must also respond to the Secretary-General’s call for a surge in diplomacy to prevent conflict, he said, recalling that his delegation recently initiated monthly informal discussions with Permanent Representatives to encourage a frank exchange of views on threats to international peace and security. However, they are no substitute for proper Council discussions, he added. To have an impact on the ground, the Council’s products must be presented in concise, clear, straightforward language. That has not always been the case, he said, citing a recent draft resolution on Somalia that would take more than 45 minutes to read aloud in full.
Responding to South Africa’s representative, he emphasized the importance of keeping the “penholder” practice informal. Expressing support for efforts to strengthen the working methods of the Council’s sanctions committees, he went on to reaffirm the United Kingdom’s refusal to vote against resolutions addressing mass atrocities, and welcomed the African Union’s decision to suspend Sudan.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said populist rhetoric about transparency does not help to achieve results. Rather, it can make things more difficult. Applauding Kuwait’s efforts to improve the Council’s working methods, he said that his delegation is ready to help, but there must be no artificial hurry in undertaking such pain-staking work. He then called attention to Council documents, saying some have no added value while others reflect attempts to micromanage. Texts should be clear, easy to understand and action-oriented, he stressed. He went on to state that his delegation is “lukewarm” about the Council discussing thematic issues better dealt with by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. While pointing out the importance of improved cooperation with the broadest range of Member States through corresponding mechanisms, he stressed that such measures cannot replace official Council meetings, and should serve only to raise awareness among Council member, not be used for propaganda purposes. While agreeing that there is need to broaden the number of “penholders”, especially among the elected members, he underlined that the Russian Federation will fight “tactical tricks” such as the late publication of draft resolutions and last-minute changes in language.
WU HAITAO (China) said the Council’s focus should be on urgent matters rather than on intervention in domestic matters that do not threaten international peace and security. It must strive for the broadest consensus, maintain unity, enhance communication and avoid the hasty adoption of resolutions. China supports equitable greater communications between the Council and other bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, he said, underlining that interventions should be short and concise in order to be effective.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, noting that his delegation has chaired the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions over the past one-and-a-half years. During that period, it held 15 meetings on working methods, he said. Proposals involved the fair sharing of subsidiary-body chairs, the Council’s monthly wrap-up sessions and visiting missions. Improvements over the past 25 years, especially after the end of the cold war, included better communications with other bodies, improved flow of information and a marked increase in the frequency of meetings in which non-governmental organizations participate, he said.
TEODOR-VIOREL MELEŞCANU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania, drew a parallel between discussions on the Council’s working methods — “the frame of reference codifying the good functioning of this body” — and efforts to reinforce multilateralism. Noting that Romania is among the candidates vying for a non-permanent seat in 2020-2021, he recalled that during its last tenure on the Council in 2004-2005 his delegation promoted the United Nations first resolution on cooperation with regional organizations, a practice which is now institutionalized as a cornerstone of the peace and security architecture. Romania also contributed to advancing cooperation with non-Council bodies, especially the Peacebuilding Commission, and to advancing discussions on working methods. Commending progress made on the latter in recent years, he said the Council has proven to be both creative and flexible when new tools for handling a particular situation is needed. Reiterating his support for Note 507, he welcomed in particular the idea of inviting newly elected Council members to observe meetings as early as three months prior to taking their seats and advocated for an even longer transition period. Improvements can also be made in allocating more time to hear from people on the ground, especially representatives of civil society and affected populations, and in advancing cooperation with troop- and police-contributors.
PAUL TEESALU, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said that as a member of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, he endorses their statement to be delivered, and advocates for greater inclusion and targeted action by the Council. “A more open and inclusive process will have a positive impact on the decision-making,” he said, calling for implementation of Note 507 and other presidential notes, as effectiveness is maximized when all members — including those elected — are fully involved from the start in a coordinated manner. He encouraged the Council to hold open meetings when possible, as well as to interact with the wider membership, other organs and civil society. Decisions should be explained in a transparent manner. Stressing that working methods should support the Council’s capacity to prevent conflict and maintain situational awareness, he said the Secretariat can play an important role by highlighting developments that could lead to instability. It is therefore also necessary to continue discussing issues with countries and regional organizations.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), underlining the need to enhance interactions between the Council and the wider United Nations membership, said closed meetings and informal consultations should be kept to a minimum. Such a goal will also require the meaningful participation of States with a legitimate stake in the Council’s deliberations throughout the decision-making process, he said, adding that civil society should also be given more chances to brief. Meanwhile, the Council must cooperate more closely with troop- and police-contributing countries and the details of sanctions regimes should be more accessible and transparent. Echoing expressions of support for the proposal to distribute the responsibility of penholdership evenly among elected and permanent members, he stressed that resolution drafting should also be carried out in an inclusive, open and flexible manner. In addition, he called for the better incorporation of conflict prevention into the Council’s agenda; more interaction with regional organizations; improved transparency and effectiveness; and increased coordination between the Council and other main bodies of the United Nations. “The Council is the main organ for the maintenance of peace and security, but not the only one,” he stated.
CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of 20 former Council members from all regional groups, said that all members of the 15-nation organ should have equal opportunity to exercise their Charter obligations to uphold international peace and security, including a balanced division of labour for penholdership and chairing of subsidiary bodies. He called on permanent members to “shoulder the burden of chairing, and share the pens you hold”. Highlighting the role of the Council in preventing conflict, he requested that any other business items include ensuring emerging threats are addressed with the right timing, inviting briefers who can deliver insights to add value to the Council’s deliberations, demanding appropriate briefings, including maps and graphics, from Secretariat briefers to better support discussions, as well as tailoring the format and focus of meetings to secure the best chance of a meaningful outcome. The Council must also ensure that its members “are not just speaking about countries concerned but also speaking to them”.
DOMINIQUE MICHEL FAVRE (Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said that to safeguard the Council’s reputation and gain wider support among United Nations members for its decisions, it must consistently carry out good practices. He cited today’s open debate — with no pre-defined product but rather the presidency’s stated intention to follow up on interventions in the framework of the Informal Working Group — as one practice to be replicated. Close interaction is also needed in situations where the Council “drifts away” from the wider membership, notably when it is unable to take decisions owing to veto use. He encouraged all States to sign and implement the Group’s code of conduct, calling on the Council to expedite adoption of its 2018 annual report and set a date for its timely consideration by the Assembly.
He went on to say that responsibilities for Council matters must be distributed equally among all members so as to enhance participation. For example, consultations on the selection of subsidiary body chairs should take place in a manner that allows for balanced burden-sharing and equal distribution of work among all members, including permanent members. No member should chair more than two subsidiary bodies. As fairness and clarity of sanctions processes are important determinants for the impact of those measures, he pressed the Council to strengthen the independence of and impartiality of the Office of the Ombudsperson established under resolution 1904 (2009), and to expand its mandates to other sanctions regimes. Also, it should be a matter of concern to all that no formal progress has been achieved in the framework of the Informal Working Group since the last open debate on working methods in February 2018.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), associating himself with South Africa’s statement on behalf the of the Council’s 10 elected members, said that while the need for closed consultations on some issues is understandable, it would be useful to have summary records of such meetings, at least on the decision points. The Council should also consider formalizing its provisional rules of procedure, which have been provisional for more than 70 years. Monthly wrap-up meetings should be included in the monthly programme of work, with dates and times set well in advance, and the Council’s annual reports to the General Assembly should be circulated to the wider membership of the United Nations in good time. Emphasizing that the veto has too often been used to block Council action aimed at preventing mass atrocities, he said the special privileges of permanent members must be wielded with a greater sense of responsibility.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said reforms to the Council’s working methods must balance the dual needs for efficiency and effectiveness, as well as for ambition and feasibility. That will require a flexible approach incorporating views from both inside and outside the Council, and whose legitimacy is ensured through transparency. Emphasizing that the primary objective of working methods reform should be to enhance the Council’s capability to take the best action in the timeliest manner, he expressed hope that the five permanent members will actively engage in the organ’s work and that the five members to be elected on 7 June will “hit the ground running”. In addition, he said Japan will welcome discussions on the issues of penholdership and subsidiary bodies.
BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN (Ireland) emphasized that working methods “are not an end in themselves” but a way of helping the Council tackle the myriad challenges facing international peace and security. Welcoming recent reforms and improvements, he nevertheless underlined the need to strengthen the function of the Ombudsperson by extending that mandate to other sanctions regimes; more fairly allocating the Council’s responsibilities among elected and permanent members, including regarding the drafting of resolutions; and further strengthening the relationship between the organ and other bodies. “Working methods are not only what we put down on paper, but also the mindset with which we approach the challenges we face,” he stressed, pointing out that many elected members in recent years have “rightly looked askance at the sterile debates and grandstanding” that sometimes characterizes the Council’s work. In that regard, he called on States to urgently change the practice of using the organ’s rules of procedure to block action, rather than facilitate it.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), noting that the Council is often thought of as rigid, said that the Charter of the United Nations affords it flexibility to adapt as required. The Council can and must evolve to be more responsive, effective and transparent. Noting that the number of subsidiary bodies has increased threefold over the last 20 years, and that geopolitical realities have shifted significantly since the United Nations founding, he said that as a starting point, working methods should empower elected members to be fully involved in collective decision-making, as they are “motors of innovation in this Chamber”. To reap the benefits of such diversity, incoming members should be privy to documents and consultations as soon as possible after they are elected. Echoing calls for greater burden-sharing in the distribution of subsidiary body chairs, he said the Council should drop the informal “penholder” system, whereby some members exercise an unspoken monopoly in drafting resolutions often with no meaningful input of elected members or committee chairs. Citing the need for regular informal interactive dialogues, horizon scan briefings and greater efforts to institutionalize links with the Peacebuilding Commission, he also advocated for limits on veto use and routine involvement of women.
MARIA ANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), endorsing the statement by New Zealand on behalf of several recent elected Council members, said it is paramount to ensure fair burden-sharing and equal distribution of both penholdership and subsidiary body chairmanship, notably through the practice of “co-penholdership”. Stressing that the “E10” plays a crucial role in implementing the Revised Note 507, she pressed the Council to make use of all tools at its disposal. She called for closer cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission through regular requests for its advice, consideration of troop- and police-contributing countries’ views when reviewing peacekeeping mandates, civil society participation, gender inclusivity and regular horizon scanning meetings, urging it to strive for a modern composition that is in tune with the democratic reality of the twenty-first century. She encouraged debate on how a greater number of veto powers could make the Council more responsive, efficient, democratic and transparent.
DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, agreed with other speakers that consultations between the Council and troop- and police-contributing countries are essential to successful peacekeeping operations. Interaction with the Peacebuilding Commission is also critical to help the Council make better informed decisions. Meanwhile, engagement with civil society can provide useful, first-hand information, and the early inclusion of newly-elected members can ensure that the latter come on board fully informed and prepared to work constructively. Pointing to several difficult issues, she said the Assembly’s discussions of the Council’s annual report should be more substantive and allow for an honest exchange of views. “We don’t believe that the Council with the obviously unequal distribution of burden-sharing can be called transparent,” she said, adding that all Member States should have the same ability to be penholders and that more than one can serve as co-penholders on the same issue. A more transparent consultative process is similarly needed in selecting the chairs of the Council’s subsidiary bodies, she said, also voicing support for the provisional code of conduct on the use of veto power.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico) stressed that the Council is entrusted with a responsibility to act rapidly to threats to the maintenance of international peace and security. It has allowed atrocity crimes to take place because of a lack of timely action. He urged States to join initiatives to restrict veto power in case of atrocity crimes, including the Mexico-France initiative, which has been endorsed by more than 100 States. The Council must act with greater transparency, and its reform must be comprehensive. The organ’s reports lack analytical information. He said that under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution of the General Assembly, it might consider the matter of international peace and security immediately if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility to act. Discussions on invoking Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations must be transparent.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group and the cross-regional group of countries, stressed the importance of guaranteeing due process in all sanctions committees, namely through the expansion of the Ombudsperson’s mandate and the strengthening of its independence. It is crucial to ensure an equitable access of all Council members to chair the subsidiary bodies as well as a fair share of penholderships on the dossiers. It also advocates for an early involvement of incoming elected members in the work of the Council. His delegation trusts that the Council adopt the draft presidential notes on specific working methods that will further enhance the inclusiveness and effectiveness of the organ’s work.
MONA JUUL (Norway), speaking for the Nordic countries, said permanent and elected members share obligations, and thus, should have equal means to shoulder this responsibility through a balanced division of labour in such areas as penholdership and chairing of subsidiary bodies. Better inclusion of newly elected members is also important. Urging the Secretary-General to strengthen the capacity of the Ombudsperson’s office, she recommended that the Council consider creating an Ombudsperson for other sanctions regimes. She voiced strong support for all measures to limit veto use, including the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct against mass atrocity crimes, and the France-Mexico initiative to restrain veto use, encouraging States that have not yet done so to support these initiatives. Calling for broader engagement with the United Nations membership, and efforts to find a role for concerned States in decisions made by the Council, she said the practice of inviting civil society briefers should be maintained and that more attention must be given to conflict prevention, with full use made of informal situational awareness briefings by the Secretariat.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) welcomed more frequent interaction with Member States, the election of the Chairs of subsidiary bodies and the use of new technologies as signs of progress towards improving the Council’s working methods, as well as consultations with the Peacebuilding Commission, including its Central African Republic configuration which his country heads. Underscoring the need for all Council debates to take the global context into consideration, he said consultations with troop-contributing countries like Morocco are essential, given their great knowledge of the situation on the ground. Improved cooperation with them would make a great contribution to improving the Council’s work.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), calling for more Council transparency, pointed to improvements in working methods over the years in which his country played a role as an elected Council member. He proposed that the Working Group consolidate Note 507 with other relevant documents. He also stressed the importance of fluid dialogue between the Security Council and the General Assembly, including the timely publication of the 15-member organ’s annual report. While coordination with the Peacebuilding Commission, the International Criminal Court and humanitarian assistance bodies is important, Argentina is not in favour of the Council absorbing the functions of other organs. He went on to recommend extending the Ombudsman mechanism to all sanctions regimes.
NAGARAJ NAIDU KAKANUR (India) said that, regarding the issue of the Security Council’s engagement with the General Assembly, there have been long-standing demands for the reports of the 15-nation organ to be more substantive and analytical than the usual factual markers of how many times the Council met and how many debates it had. The Council’s subsidiary bodies undertake their work outside the contemporary norms of transparency and there is hardly any meaningful engagement with the membership to make the international community aware of their various decisions. While it is a common understanding that views and concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries are crucial for better implementation of peacekeeping mandates, what is more significant is that this understanding be translated into action.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) stressed the importance of a healthy relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly as it is a matter of accountability, calling for the submission of an analytical and comprehensive annual report with an assessment of its work and the challenges ahead. More should be done to enhance consultations with the troop- and police-contributing countries. The Council should be open to all United Nations bodies that can substantively contribute to its work, including the Peacebuilding Commission. The undertaking to improve the working methods do not replace, but only complement, the need for a structural reform of the Council, with the creation of new permanent and non-permanent seats.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the Group of Like-Minded States on Targeted Sanctions, said December 2019 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the Office of the Ombudsperson to the sanctions committee on Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, whose purpose is to strengthen that regime’s due process and fair and clear procedures. While the Ombudsperson’s work has had a real impact on individuals’ right to due process in the listing and delisting processes, he nevertheless voiced concern that its independence is being undermined by the office’s current contractual status and other institutional arrangements. Requesting the Secretary-General to ensure that the capacity of the Ombudsperson’s office is strengthened and its independence maintained, he recalled that a December 2018 letter to the Council also outlines additional proposals for improving due process with regard to the office of the Ombudsperson. “We all have an interest in efficient sanctions that are legitimate as well as perceived to be legitimate,” he stressed, calling for human rights to always be respected and for the creation of Ombudspersons offices or similar mechanisms for other sanctions regimes.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said progress on Council reform has been steady, uneven and slow. Stressing that the Council was not designed as a democratic body, he said the non-permanent members — “the only ones directly accountable to the [wider] membership” — must play a dynamic and independent role. For Liechtenstein, subscribing to the code of conduct on mass atrocities is a minimum standard for Council membership. Noting that some recent practices are detrimental to the elected members’ active role, he advocated for allowing the latter to serve as penholders and for the proposal to have the delegation chairing a sanctions committee enjoy joint leadership functions with the traditional penholder. Chairmanships of subsidiary bodies should be more equitably distributed among the Council’s members, he said, adding that having permanent members take on their share of those tasks is a good way to ensure a healthier working relationship. Among other things, he also voiced support for extending the mandate of the Ombudsperson to the remaining sanctions regimes and for institutionalizing monthly wrap-up sessions, while voicing concern over deepening political divisions among permanent members, pressure to reduce funding for necessary peacekeeping operations and increasing political disengagement. In addition, he proposed that a meeting of the General Assembly be automatically convened every time a veto is cast.
RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group and the Group of Like-minded Countries on Targeted Sanctions, emphasized that the Council’s responsibilities must be distributed more evenly. Calling for transparency in the appointment of subsidiary-body chairs, he said they should be appointed on a timely basis and in full consultation with incoming members. Any member should be able to sponsor or co-sponsor a draft resolution, he emphasized, encouraging more opportunities in that regard, as well as more consultation on decisions made among all members. During open debates, space must be provided for all stakeholders, and the representation of civil society guaranteed, he said, adding that the Council should receive input from those likely to be affected by its decisions. Moreover, the annual report should be submitted to the General Assembly on time and contain not only a list of activities carried out, but information that allows for inclusive debate. He reiterated the need to improve communications with the Assembly and other relevant bodies, to hold regular consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries and to limit veto use.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), noting that the Council’s accountability emanates from articles 24 and 25 of the United Nations Charter, pointed out that in practice, the Council has not acted in accordance with that document in many cases. The Charter is exploited by a certain State that imposes sanctions on others out of its own animosity, he said, citing the measures imposed on his own country as a case in point. Most recently, the violation of resolution 2231 (2015) by the United States expressly recalls the obligations of States under article 25, he noted. “The irony is that the United States now brazenly even threatens other States to either violate that resolution or face punishment,” he pointed out, expressing alarm over the increasing frequency of such cases. Member States have no obligation to comply with a decision that does not conform with the Charter, he said, emphasizing that they have a duty to defy such ultra vires decisions — those exceeding one’s legal power or authority. The Council must stop acting arbitrarily and refrain from politicization, basing decisions on the common interests of the United Nations membership in all circumstances, he stressed, proposing an open debate on the issue.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) expressed support for efforts to transform the Council and align it with the broader evolution of the United Nations and recent changes in international relations. Cuba also supports expanding both categories of membership amounting to no fewer than 26 seats, she added, also calling for the elimination of exclusive practices that leave many Member States “out in the cold”, as well as the veto. Since the Council acts on behalf of the entire United Nations membership, its work is therefore the collective responsibility of all Member States, she emphasized. Noting that closed consultations should be the exception rather than the rule, she said the Council’s tendency to work mainly behind closed doors persists, as does its tendency to take decisions lacking the agreement of all members. In that context, she advocated a definitive set of regulations to govern the Council’s work, while deploring its failure to provide an exhaustive and analytical annual report to the General Assembly. Among other things, the Council should align its functions and responsibilities more closely with the mandate conferred by the Charter and cease its interference in matters falling squarely under the General Assembly’s purview, she stressed. Chapter VII of the Charter should only be invoked as a last resort, she added, while decrying attempts to politicize issues that come before the Council.
OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), associating himself with the statement delivered by the representative of New Zealand, agreed that there is room to improve the Council’s working methods further. Noting the persisting thirst among the wider membership for information about the Council’s work, he emphasized the importance of monthly wrap-up sessions as well as improving cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission and its country-specific configurations. Decisions on the appointment of subsidiary-body chairs and members of expert panels must be undertaken in a transparent and balanced manner and in full respect for the principle of geographic balance, he stressed. Welcoming section 8 of Note 507, on consultations among the Council, the Secretariat and personnel-contributing countries, he said such cooperation is especially vital in the transition from peacekeeping to special political missions. He went on to point out that elected members are most inclined to improve the Council’s working methods, underlining that the best way to enhance its representativeness is to improve its transparency and raise its accountability standards.
MOHAMED OMAR MOHAMED GAD (Egypt), associating himself with New Zealand’s statement, said the frequency of public sessions must be increased. “The Security Council represents the wider membership,” and its reports must be made available in all six official languages, unless they include national security matters. It is also important to consult on draft resolutions and presidential statements so that the wider membership can offer their views, he said. The Council must consult with relevant States as well as regional and subregional organizations, especially the African Union and the League of Arab States, while improving consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries, he added. Citing the important role played by sanctions committees and other subsidiary bodies, he said their working methods must be reviewed periodically to ensure that they carry out their functions effectively. He went on to recommend increasing the number of public briefings by the chairs of subsidiary bodies, translating sanctions lists into all six official United Nations languages and ensuring subsidiary entities consult with concerned countries when drafting reports covering them.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said his country has always advocated a more transparent Council, endorsing the statement by New Zealand on behalf of former elected Council members and welcoming the joint “E10” statement. The Council should carry out its work in the open as much as possible, with closed consultations the exception rather than the rule, he said. If consultations are closed, the membership deserves to know what was discussed, he said, encouraging the continued issuance of the consultations summary for presentation at the media stakeout. As a staunch supporter of formal monthly wrap-up sessions, he called for ways to seek input from Member States on issues upon which they wish the Council to reflect. He recommended providing monthly assessments when preparing annual reports, and that consultations with concerned countries be held on draft decisions under consideration.
Expressing disappointment that one Council member continues to manipulate and mislead with false information aimed at covering its military aggression against Ukraine and interference in its internal affairs, he pressed the Council to use its time more effectively. Pointing out that repeated use of the veto has stained the Council’s reputation almost beyond repair, he emphasized that a Council member must abstain from voting when it is engaged in a conflict under consideration by its fellow members. Ukraine and Georgia will pursue that issue within the General Assembly’s intergovernmental negotiation process, he said, welcoming any potential voluntary pledges or actions in that regard.
FRANCISCO ALBERTO GONZALEZ (Colombia) said the Council organ should guarantee that concerned Member States are able to take part in the initial discussions of relevant subject matter, thereby ensuring that the resulting resolutions and decisions are more appropriate and better informed. It is also important to provide more information to non-Council members, he said, noting that the organ should more frequently seek advice and input from the Peacebuilding Commission. Calling for more interactive meetings, he said informal, frequent and informative briefings to the wider United Nations membership will help all Member States have their views expressed during the Council’s deliberations. Issues related to veto power and changing the Council’s membership structure require further dialogue, he noted, saying more inclusive working methods can help to make immediate improvements in transparency. Meanwhile, the Council’s annual report to the General Assembly — one of its Charter responsibilities — should receive more than “mere lip service”, and should contain greater detail on the tenor of discussion and the decisions taken he emphasized.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) underlined the importance of more interactive, objective consultations and more frequent public meetings, as well as the need to enhance the engagement of non-Council members in the organ’s work. Open debates on working methods are crucial as Member States continue to seek greater transparency as well as ways to address the Council’s shortcomings, he noted. Hailing the work of the Informal Working Group, he said the chairs of subsidiary organs and sanctions committees should organize informal periodic briefings to non-Council members because they are the ones tasked with implementing recommendations on the ground, he said.