Highlights Of Security Council Practice 2019
In 2019, the Council was composed of its five permanent members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States), as well as ten non-permanent members, including Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and South Africa.
Among the ten non-permanent members, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru, and Poland successfully completed their two-year tenure at the end of 2019.
Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Viet Nam have joined the Security Council on 1 January 2020. Consolidating a practice initiated by Kazakhstan in 2017, the new incoming members participated in the flag raising ceremony on 2 January 2020.
In 2019, the Security Council held 258 meetings, adopted 52 resolutions and issued 15 presidential statements. It considered 49 agenda items and dispatched five missions to the field to Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea‑Bissau, the Sahel (Mali and Burkina Faso), Iraq and Kuwait, Colombia, and Ethiopia and South Sudan. Except for the mission to Ethiopia and South Sudan, all briefings were held in public meetings to report on the missions.
In 2019, the Council added a new agenda item, namely, “The situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”. The President of the Council continued to meet with the President of the General Assembly on a monthly basis. Out of the 12 Presidencies of the Council in 2019, ten held briefings at the end of the month with the broader membership. During the months of March and April, France and Germany held the Presidency of the Council in sequence and coordinated their successive programmes of work under the so-called “twin Presidency”. In April, the Council opened its curtains for the first time in 65 years.
In 2019, the Council adopted two major resolutions relating to the fight against terrorism, namely, resolution 2462 (2019), emphasizing the obligation of Member States to criminalize the financing of terrorism, and resolution 2482 (2019), calling on Member States to strengthen a global response to the linkages between international terrorism and organized crime. The Council also adopted two ground breaking resolutions relating to the protection of civilians; resolution 2474 (2019), calling on parties to armed conflict to actively search for persons reported missing and resolution 2475 (2019), urging all parties in armed conflict to protect civilians, including those with disabilities. The Council also issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2019/5) expanding and promoting the cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States.
In 2019, the Security Council established two new field missions and oversaw the completion of the mandate of one. On 16 January 2019, by resolution 2452 (2019), the Council established a new special political mission, the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), in order to support the ceasefire in Yemen for an initial period of six months. On 15 October 2019, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) completed its mandate and was succeeded by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), established by resolution 2476 (2019) for an initial period of 12 months.
Meetings of the Security Council are governed by Article 28 of the Charter of the United Nations, and rules 1-5 and 48 of its Provisional Rules of Procedure. Under its current practice, the Council convenes meetings, which are classified as either public or private. Council members also frequently meet in informal consultations of the whole (also known as consultations).
In 2019, the Security Council held 258 meetings: 243 public meetings and 15 private meetings. Except for two private meetings (devoted to a briefing by the President of the International Court of Justice and the situation in the Middle East), the remaining 13 private meetings were held with troop- and police-contributing countries (TCCs/PCCs). The Council held a total of 135 consultations in 2019, during which it held briefings and/or discussions under “Other matters” (also known as “Any Other Business” (AOB)) on 43 occasions.
The Council continued to use video tele-conferencing (VTC) for meetings and consultations, a prevalent practice since its introduction in 2009, resulting in an average of more than 61 VTCs per year. In 2019, the Council was briefed via VTC 115 times, from different locations, including Bangui, Jerusalem, and Kinshasa.
Chart 1a Number of Security Council meetings and consultations by year 1946-2019
* Informal consultations of the whole were held since the inception of the Security Council. This chart only includes data on informal consultations of the whole from 1988 onwards since prior records are not verifiable.
Meetings and Consultations
In 2019, the Council held, on average, 21 meetings and 11 consultations per month. June recorded the highest number of public and private meetings (a total of 31) while the most number of consultations were held in October (16). The number of public and private meetings decreased in 2019 by 10.4% with respect to 2018 whereas the number of consultations increased in 2019 by 12.5% with respect to 2018.
In 2019, the Council held 18 high-level meetings, in which two or more Council members were represented at ministerial level or above. On 26 September 2019, the Council held a high-level meeting on Peace and security in Africa, which focused on African Union-led efforts, including the “Silencing the guns by 2020” initiative, to address regional peace and security challenges. The meeting registered the highest number of Council members represented at a high-level in 2019 with 12 Council members represented at ministerial level.
Representatives on the Council
According to Article 28 of the Charter of the United Nations, each member of the Security Council shall be represented at all times at the seat of the Organization. Rule 13 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure provides further that each member of the Security Council shall be represented at the meetings of the Security Council by an accredited representative. While all Council members have one Permanent Representative (PR) for a total of 15, some Council members may appoint more than one Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) to the Council. In 2019, the number of women Permanent and Deputy Permanent Representatives on the Council was eight, while the number of men Permanent and Deputy Permanent Representatives was 33.
Invitations under rule 39 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure
According to rule 39 of the Security Council Provisional Rules of Procedure, the Council may invite members of the Secretariat or other persons, whom it considers competent for the purpose, to supply it with information or to give other assistance in examining matters within its competence.
In 2019, the Council extended a total of 387 invitations under rule 39, of which 237 were to men (61.2%) and 150 were to women (38.8%). In addition, out of 387 invitations, 226 were extended to officials belonging to the UN System, 73 to officials representing regional intergovernmental organizations, 21 to invitees from international organizations other than the UN, and 67 to representatives of other entities such as non-governmental organizations and civil society.
The participation of female rule 39 invitees has been steadily rising since 2017. In 2017, 82 rule 39 invitations (out of a total of 340) were extended to women; in 2019, 150 rule 39 invitations (out of a total of 387) were extended to women, an increase of 14.6%. Overall, invitations to representatives of other entities including the non-governmental organizations and civil society under rule 39 have also increased. While in 2017 the Council invited a total of 30 representatives of other entities such as non-governmental organizations and civil society, in 2019, 67 representatives briefed the Council, an increase of 8.5%.
Informal consultations of the whole
In 2019, Council members held 135 consultations on a variety of topics. Further to scheduled consultations, other topics were raised under the item “Other matters” in 43 instances. The most discussed topics in consultations during 2019 were: (i) Syria (25 times); (ii) Yemen (14); and (iii) Libya (12).
Informal interactive dialogues
In 2019, the practice of holding informal interactive dialogues (IID) continued. IIDs are convened at the initiative of one or more Council members, with the participation of all Council members and are presided over by the President of the Security Council for the month. They are intended to seek the views of Member States that are parties to a conflict and/or other interested and affected parties. Informal interactive dialogues are not open to the public or broadcast. In 2019, the Council held seven IIDs covering matters relating to country-specific situations, including the Central African Republic, Peace and security in Africa, the Middle East, Libya, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Peace consolidation in West Africa (UNOWAS).
Arria-formula meetings are informal gatherings convened at the initiative of one or more Council members (in some instances, they are convened also by non-Council members) with the participation of all or some Council members. Arria-formula meetings do not constitute an activity of the Council and are not presided by the President of the Council. Whilst in past practice Arria-formula meetings were closed to the public, in recent practice these meetings have been open to the public or even broadcast. In 2019, the Council held 22 Arria-formula meetings covering a broad range of issues, both country-specific and thematic.
Article 34 of the Charter of the United Nations provides that the Security Council may investigate any dispute or any situation which may lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute. Missions of Council members to the field have taken place since 1964.
Missions in 2019
In 2019, five Security Council missions were dispatched with the participation of all 15 Council members. From 13 to 17 February the Council sent a mission to Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau, co-led by Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea; from 21 to 25 March, to Mali and Burkina Faso, co-led by Côte d’Ivoire, France and Germany; from 28 to 30 June, to Kuwait and Iraq, which was the Council’s first visit to the country, co-led by Kuwait and the United States of America; from 11 to 14 July to Colombia, co-led by Peru and the United Kingdom; and from 19 to 23 October to Ethiopia and South Sudan, co-led by South Africa and the United States of America. In its mission to Ethiopia, Security Council members held their 13th joint annual consultative meeting with the African Union Peace and Security Council on 22 October. Except for the mission to Ethiopia and South Sudan, in all other cases a briefing was held further to the completion of the mission in the context of a public meeting.
In accordance with rule 11 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure and presidential note S/2017/507, every January, the Council reviews the list of matters of which it is seized. Agenda items which have not been considered at a Council meeting in the preceding three years are deleted unless a Member State objects. In the latter case, an item will remain on the list for an additional year, unless the Council decides otherwise, and will be subject to the same procedure described above if not considered by the Council during that additional year.
In 2019, the Security Council considered a total of 49 agenda items. Out of the 49 agenda items, 28 addressed country-specific or regional situations and 21 thematic and other issues.
During the year, the Council also considered one new item entitled “The situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”, bringing the total number of items on the agenda of the Council to 69.
In 2019, on two occasions, objection to the provisional agenda for the meeting led to a procedural vote in the Council. At the 8452nd meeting (S/PV.8452) on 26 January 2019, the Council considered for the first time the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and following objections from Council members, the provisional agenda was put to a vote and adopted by majority. At the 8529th meeting (S/PV.8529) on 20 May 2019, which had been convened under the item entitled “Letter dated 13 April 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2014/264)” in connection with an alleged violation of the language provisions of the Minsk Agreements, the provisional agenda was not adopted, having failed to obtain the required number of votes.
Chart 9 Number of meetings held and resolutions/PRSTs adopted by agenda item in 2019
* Under Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)
Country-specific and regional situations
In 2019, 72.8% (187)* of the meetings of the Council dealt with country-specific or regional situations. Among those meetings, Africa accounted for 50.3% (94) of the meetings, followed by the Middle East with 32.1% (60), Americas with 7.0% (13), and Europe and Asia with 5.3% (ten), respectively.
* Excluding the 8529th meeting (PV. 8529) in which the provisional agenda was not adopted
Thematic and other issues
In 2019, 27.2% (70) of Council meetings were held under agenda items of a thematic or cross-cutting nature. Among those, maintenance of international peace and security and threats to international peace and security accounted for 20% (14) of the meetings, UN peacekeeping operations accounted for approximately 8.6% (six) and cooperation with regional and subregional organizations accounted for approximately 7% (five) of these meetings.
In addition, the Council continued the practice of conducting wrap-up sessions with the wider membership of the United Nations at the end of each month. At the end of April, France and Germany held an informal joint wrap-up session for the months of March and April. Informal wrap-up sessions were held also for the month of May by Indonesia, June by Kuwait, July by Peru, August by Poland, September by the Russian Federation, October by South Africa, November by the United Kingdom, and December by the United States.
Decisions and Voting
According to Article 27 of the Charter of the United Nations, each Council member has one vote. An affirmative vote of nine members is required for decisions to be adopted on procedural and substantive matters, including in the latter case the concurrent votes of the permanent members. In addition to procedural decisions related to the adoption of the agenda, extension of invitations and adjournment of meetings, the Council adopts resolutions and issues presidential statements. Council decisions also take the form of notes and letters by the President of the Council.
In 2019, the Security Council adopted a total of 52 resolutions, issued 15 presidential statements, 11 notes by the President, and 32 letters by the President. Council members also issued 67 press statements.
During the year, the Council unanimously adopted resolutions 2474 (2019) and 2475 (2019), its first-ever resolutions on persons reported missing in armed conflict and protection of civilians with disabilities in conflict situations, respectively. The Council also called upon Member States to enhance coordination of efforts to strengthen a global response to linkages between international terrorism and organized crime by unanimously adopting resolution 2482 (2019). Under the Presidency of Kuwait, the Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2019/5), expressing its intention to promote closer ties with the League of Arab States. Moreover, the Council observed the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions and reaffirmed their fundamental importance by issuing a presidential statement under the Presidency of Poland (S/PRST/2019/8). In preparation for the 20th anniversary of the women and peace and security agenda in 2020, the Council also unanimously adopted resolution 2493 (2019), during an open debate with 98 participants, which was held on 29 October and resumed on 4 November 2019. The Council also adopted resolution 2467 (2019) on combatting sexual violence in armed conflict.
The Council failed to adopt six draft resolutions in six separate meetings on the situation in the Middle East, specifically in connection with the Syrian Arab Republic (S/2019/756, S/2019/757, S/2019/961 and S/2019/962) and the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (S/2019/186 and S/2019/190). Draft resolutions S/2019/186, S/2019/756 and S/2019/961 failed to be adopted due to the veto of one or more permanent members, whereas draft resolutions S/2019/190, S/2019/757 and S/2019/962 were not adopted having failed to obtain the required number of votes.
Decisions by geographic region
In 2019, 42 of the 52 resolutions and 11 of the 15 presidential statements concerned country or region-specific situations or conflicts; Africa accounted for 64.2% of those resolutions and presidential statements (34 in total), followed by the Middle East with 18.9% (ten), and Asia, the Americas, and Europe with 5.7% each (three each).
In 2019, Council members issued 67 press statements, 53.7% (36) of which concerned political developments, peace and electoral processes, 43.4% (29) of which concerned terrorist-related activities, attacks against civilians or attacks against United Nations personnel in the field, one on non-proliferation and one on the Security Council mission to Kuwait and Iraq. The most frequently referenced countries or regions in press statements were the following: Afghanistan (eight times), Mali (seven times), and Colombia, Libya, and Yemen (five times, respectively).
A Council member or any other Member State, whether Council member or not, that directly submits a draft resolution is referred to as a sponsor or co-sponsor. A draft resolution co-sponsored by all Council members is referred to as a “presidential text”. In 2019, no presidential text was tabled, compared to seven presidential texts in 2010 and five in 2016.
In 2019, out of 52 resolutions, 44 (84.6%) were adopted unanimously. In 2019, three vetoes were cast, and three draft resolutions were not adopted due to an insufficient number of affirmative votes in connection with the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the situation in the Middle East (Syria).
In the period 2010 to 2019, the Council adopted a total of 596 resolutions, out of which 539 (90.4%) were adopted unanimously. In this period, 22 vetoes were cast. The year 2017 registered the highest number of vetoes over the past ten years with a total of six vetoes. The chart below shows the voting record in the period 2010-2019, illustrating the number of draft resolutions adopted unanimously, and non-unanimously, as well as the number of draft resolutions vetoed or not adopted due to the failure to obtain the required number of votes.
Cross-cutting issues in country-specific decisions of the Security Council
In 2019, the Council continued its practice of considering provisions on cross-cutting issues, namely the protection of civilians (POC), women and peace and security (WPS) and children and armed conflict (CAAC), in its resolutions and presidential statements relating to country-specific or regional situations. In 2019, the Council adopted 53 decisions relating to country-specific or regional situations, out of which 66.0% of them (35) contained one or more provisions on POC; 58.5% of them (31) contained one or more provisions on WPS; and 37.7% of them (20) contained one or more provisions on CAAC.
Resolutions under Chapter VII
In 2019, out of a total of 52 resolutions, the Council adopted 26 resolutions (50%) explicitly “acting under Chapter VII of the Charter”, including one resolution, namely resolution 2464 (2019) on non-proliferation/DPRK, explicitly “acting under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter”. Out of the 26 resolutions adopted under Chapter VII, 19 resolutions (73.1%) concerned the African continent. Except for one resolution (resolution 2462 (2019)), all resolutions extended and modified mandates of peacekeeping operations and sanctions related bodies or concerned the renewal of sanctions imposed by the Council. By resolution 2462 (2019), the Security Council reaffirmed that all Member States shall prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts and refrain from providing support to those involved.
Article 29 of the Charter of the United Nations provides that the Security Council may establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions. This is also reflected in Rule 28 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure.
The Council has established a wide variety of subsidiary organs, such as committees, working groups, investigative bodies, tribunals, ad hoc commissions, as well as peacekeeping and special political missions and sanctions committees, and their mandate can range from procedural matters to substantive ones.
UN Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions
In 2019, the Council adopted decisions concerning the mandate of 12 peacekeeping operations (out of 14 that were in operation in 2019) and ten special political missions (out of 12 that were in operation in 2019), primarily extending their mandates.
On 16 January 2019, by resolution 2452 (2019), the Security Council established a new special political mission, the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), to support the implementation of the Agreement on the City of Hodeidah and Ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa as set out in the Stockholm Agreement (see S/2018/1134), for an initial period of six months. Following the final extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) until 15 October 2019, by resolution 2476 (2019) of 25 June 2019, the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish a special political mission, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) beginning on 16 October 2019 for an initial period of 12 months.
Changes in mandate and in the authorized strength
In 2019, in amending the mandates of missions, the Council requested MONUSCO, UNISFA, UNMISS, MINUSCA, MINUJUSTH, UNAMA and BINUH to take into account gender considerations in the implementation of their mandates, with several of them being specifically tasked to support ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in political and decision-making processes and providing assistance to and engaging with victims of sexual and gender based violence. MONUSCO, UNMISS, MINUSCA and UNSOM were further tasked to provide political and technical support to the implementation of peace processes and inter-communal reconciliation. Further details are available in the Field Missions Dashboard prepared by the Security Council Affairs Division.
In addition, in 2019, two peacekeeping operations, namely MONUSCO and UNISFA, underwent a revision of their authorized ceiling of troop and police strength.
Figure 4 UN Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions in 2019
Sanctions and other Committees and Working Groups
Security Council Committees and Working Groups met a cumulative number of 172 times in 2019, in both formal and informal formats, including joint meetings. A total of ten briefings to Member States were also conducted by sanctions and other committees. In 2019, the Council issued a total of eight notes by the President relating to the working methods of the Security Council in the context of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions.
Individuals and entities on Security Council sanctions and restrictive measures lists
In 2019, a total of 709 individuals and 315 entities were subject to United Nations targeted sanctions and restrictive measures such as assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. A consolidated list containing the names of the individuals and entities subject to United Nations targeted measures is also available on the Security Council website. In 2019, nine individuals and two entities were added to the list. The charts below illustrate the number of listed individuals and entities for each sanctions committee as well as those added this year. Information on each committee, including individuals and entities designated by the relevant committee and the applicable sanctions measures, as well as the procedures for the processing of listing and delisting requests can be found on the Security Council website.
Chart 18 Individuals and entities listed as of 31 December 2019
* Upon implementation of resolution 2231 (2015)
De-listings from Security Council sanctions committees’ lists in 2019
In 2019, 73 entities and eight individuals were removed (also referred to as “de-listed”) from the respective sanctions lists. De-listing requests in relation to the ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List are submitted directly to the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee or the Office of the Ombudsperson. De-listing requests with respect to all other sanctions lists are submitted to the respective sanctions committees or through the Focal Point for De-listing in the Secretariat. Any Member State can propose the de-listing of an individual or an entity. The relevant committee then considers the proposal, often in consultation with the designating State, and makes a final decision on whether or not to de-list. Often those proposing de-listings are the State of citizenship or residence of a listed individual, the State of location or place of registration of a listed entity, the designating State itself, or a Council member.
Activities of the Focal Point for De-listing and Office of the Ombudsperson
In addition to the Member States’ ability to de-list, two mechanisms have been established to strengthen the de-listing process: the Office of the Focal Point for De-listing and the Office of the Ombudsperson. Established in 2006, the Office of the Focal Point for De-listing has received a total of 100 requests to de-list individuals and/or entities. 89 of these requests have been processed with 11 pending. As a result of this process, a total of 17 individuals and 17 entities have been de-listed and 43 individuals and 20 entities remain on the list. The Office of the Ombudsperson, established to serve as the de-listing mechanism for the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, has received a total of 89 requests to de-list individuals and/or entities since 2009, of which 79 have been processed and five are pending. As a result, a total of 54 individuals and 28 entities have been de-listed and 20 listings remain.
Mandate extensions of Security Council Subsidiary Bodies
The chart below shows the number of Council resolutions extending the mandate of subsidiary bodies of the Council per month over the last five years. The evolution for the past five years shows a more even distribution of mandate extensions per month.