Press Conference on Proposal to Improve Security Council Working Methods

15 May 2012
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Proposal to Improve Security Council Working Methods


Ahead of the General Assembly’s consideration tomorrow of the issue of enhancing the accountability, transparency and effectiveness of the Security Council, the World Federalist Movement and the Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP) today announced what it believed to be a major proposal recommending that the permanent members of the Security Council consider refraining from using a veto to block Council action aimed at preventing or ending genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

General Secretary of the WFM-IGP, William Pace, addressed correspondents at a Headquarters press conference on the draft resolution to be considered by the General Assembly tomorrow on improving the working methods of the Security Council.  The text, aimed at enhancing the accountability, transparency and effectiveness of the Council, was advanced by the “S-5” or “Small-5” countries — Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore, and Switzerland.

Mr. Pace underscored the WFM-IGP’s strong support for what he called an important resolution based on the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, in which world leaders recommended that the Security Council continue to adapt its working methods so as to increase the involvement of all States in its work, as appropriate, enhance its accountability, and increase transparency.

A revised version of the resolution to be presented tomorrow addressed important ways to “improve the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as other principal and important organs of the United Nations”, including the Peacebuilding Commission, which Governments had agreed to establish in 2005, he explained.

Summarizing key components of the S-5 draft, Mr. Pace said it addressed ways in which the Council could strengthen support for peacekeeping operations and for special political missions, and enhance the participation at the table of troop- and police-contributing countries — the vast majority of which were not Council members.

Further, he noted, the text addressed, “in a very weak way, but nevertheless significant way”, the need for the Council and the General Assembly to drastically improve the methods of appointment of the Secretary-General — an “incontestable” need that the WFM-IGP has supported for many years.

He said the provision of the resolution which identified the core crimes in the mandate of the International Criminal Court would help strengthen the relationship between the Council and the Court.

The S-5, he said, had been holding meetings with other Governments and Government groupings for several weeks to discuss the proposed text.  Of course, he said, the opposition of all five permanent Council members was “very clear”.

“My organization does believe that the issue of the representivity of the Council after 67 years in the UN and after the end of the titanic confrontation —the so-called cold war between the United States and the Western countries and the former Soviet Union and its allies — that it is very important to deal with the issue of representation and the question of the enlargement of the Council,” he said.

Mr. Pace said his organization strongly backed the decision of the S-5 countries to “delink” the resolution, which was merely a recommendation, and not an amendment to the Charter, from one principal organ of the Organization — the General Assembly — to another, the Security Council, aimed at the Council’s better achievement of the enormously important provisions in the Charter for maintaining international peace and security.

He said:  “I think only an extremely naïve person would not recognize that the success of the Council in its duties has been extremely mixed and in fact, weak over the 67 years.”  This resolution was calling for the Council to be more transparent, to actually have proper procedures to engage the elected members, and to disengage the use and threat of use of the veto from its deliberations.

In answer to a correspondent’s question regarding the opposing stances of Member States on Council expansion, Mr. Pace explained that one group, the “uniting for consensus” movement, in the 1990s had succeeded in promoting a strategy that there should be no proposed amendment to the Charter on enlargement or expansion unless it was by consensus.  It, therefore, opposed any additional permanent seats.  The G-4 and the African Group, however, had a different view.  They called for additional permanent seats in the Council with a veto.

Mr. Pace said that since there would always be Governments that disagreed, there would never be consensus.  Thus, advocating for the S-5 resolution, he reiterated that it was not an amendment to the Charter.  He stressed the need for the Council to keep pace with changing times, declaring:  “The gap between the 1945 geopolitical situation and the 2012 geopolitical situation is so huge that I think this does need to be addressed.”

But whether the Council remained at 15 members or was expanded to 20, 22 or 25 or 27, improvements would be required in how the Council organized itself and operated, and how the Council and Member States interacted on peacekeeping, he said, noting that the original vision was for the P-5 to do most of the peace enforcement and the peace operations, and yet they did almost none of it any more.

Asked if the proposed S-5 resolution was going to prove even more divisive, he said that it was going to be typically divisive.  While the S-5 had tried to delink it from the expansion negotiations, apparently the “uniting for consensus” group was not willing to delink as they were presumably worried that voting would undermine their position that there should only be consensus on any expansion or reform issue.  But that position, too, was untenable because everyone knew that the P-5 would never agree to recommendations or binding agreements on changing the way the Council operated, he said.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.