Speakers Call for Sanctions Regimes Reforms, Restraining Veto Use, Changing System of Drafting Resolutions, as Security Council Considers Working Methods
Presenting wide-ranging proposals — from restraining the use of the veto to reforming the sanctions regime and the system of drafting resolutions — speakers today told the Security Council that its outdated working methods needed improvement in order to create a transparent, nimble 15-nation organ capable of tackling contemporary global challenges.
Loraine Sievers, Director, Security Council Procedure and co-author of The Procedure of the UN Security Council, said geopolitical challenges have created heightened levels of fragmentation within the Council and placed it under intense scrutiny. The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine has led many people to open the Charter of the United Nations and discover the powers that the Council actually holds. “All of us should read the Charter more often, and more closely, than we do,” she said.
One Council transparency issue centres on how much of its proceedings are carried out in a visible, public way, and how much in private, she said. “And it is you, the present Council members, who have full control over how to strike this balance between the public and private.” When opacity seems to surround how the Council works, this can add to a sense of mistrust, and even illegitimacy. On the other hand, even in divisive times such as these, if the Council is seen as making a good‑faith effort to give clarity to its working methods, this can help foster a more cooperative partnership with the wider membership, she said.
Karin Landgren, Executive Director of Security Council Report, said the 15‑nation organ’s working methods can offer ways to boost trust, build knowledge and broaden ownership. She underscored that “pen-sharing” among permanent and elected members broadens ownership, builds knowledge and can contribute to more coherent Council strategies for peace, particularly when the “co-pen” is the chair of a relevant subsidiary body or otherwise brings an added perspective, such as regional expertise.
In the ensuing debate, more than 40 speakers set forth their suggestions and concerns, including calls to review of the sanctions regimes, the position of “pen-holder” and the issue of the veto in cases of atrocities. Still, others urged Council memberships to reflect developing countries and unrepresented regions and questioned the number of closed Council meetings.
Ireland’s representative, speaking on behalf of the 10 elected members of the Council, stressed: “Let’s be clear: a more accountable and transparent Council would be better placed to meet its core tasks of preventing and resolving conflicts.” Noting that targeted sanctions are an important tool — and critical to executing the Council’s mandate — she underscored the importance of accountability and transparency in the work of Sanctions Committees.
The representative of France, acknowledging that public meetings are useful, said there needed to be sufficient space for confidential discussions and negotiations, which allowed Member States reach compromises. The threat of using the veto left, right and centre as a bargaining tool was unacceptable, as an all-or-nothing approach led to paralysis and collective failure. The initiative by France and Mexico on the voluntary and collective suspension of the veto in the event of mass atrocities was already supported by 106 Member States and she called on all Member States, particularly the permanent members, to join it.
The representative of Brazil, also speaking for India, stressed: “Improving the working methods of the Council will never be enough to correct its fundamental problem, which stems from its lack of representativeness.” He called for a Council where the voices of developing countries and unrepresented regions are heard, and warned against hiding behind the “smokescreen” of the intergovernmental negotiations on that issue or lip service paid by statements at the General Assembly.
Iran’s delegate said that the Council must practise and uphold true multilateralism and collaboratively resolve issues. However, the organ’s authority and powers have been repeatedly abused by certain States. Pursuing their short-sighted political objectives, they use the Council as a tool to exert pressure. “Such conduct not only breaches the Charter and fundamental principles of international law, but also demonstrates disrespect for the Council's authority and powers, jeopardizing its integrity and efficiency,” he warned.
Libya’s delegate, expressing concern about the rights of countries affected by Council agenda items, pointed out that a Council member will draft a resolution and circulate the document. Yet, the country affected depends upon the goodwill of other Member States to learn about the draft resolution. Affected countries should be consulted properly and notified about pending resolutions, presidential statements and press releases, he emphasized.
The representative of Sudan, noting that the so-called “penholdership” was particularly concerning, questioned the grounds under which one country becomes a “penholder” while another does not. “How can we ensure that the penholder does not turn into a stick holder?,” he commented, highlighting how “penholding” was based on the past colonial relationship between the penholding State and the Member State against whom the pen was being held. That ran counter to the objective of the Charter on decolonization.
Costa Rica’s delegate echoed that stance, noting that the long-standing hegemonic structure of “pen-holding” kept elected members from participating in the drafting of important resolutions. It also marginalized elected members, allowing only few practitioners to frame issues and lay out courses of action before consulting the elected members. That responsibility should be shared among all elected members so that outcome documents adopted by the organ can be representative of the myriad perspectives present in the Council, she said.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Russian Federation, United States, United Kingdom, China, Ecuador, Switzerland (for the Accountability Coherence and Transparency Group), Luxembourg (also for Belgium and the Netherlands), Guatemala, Denmark (for the Group of Like-Minded States on Targeted Sanctions), Republic of Korea, Poland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Thailand, Austria, Singapore, Pakistan, Morocco, Kuwait, Portugal, Malta, Indonesia, Bahrain, Peru, Cuba, Slovenia, Italy, Argentina, Syria, Slovakia, Egypt, Central African Republic, Cyprus, Germany and Algeria.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m., suspended at 1:04 p.m., resumed at 5:10 p.m. and ended at 6 p.m.
LORAINE SIEVERS, Director, Security Council Procedure and co-author of The Procedure of the UN Security Council, said the meeting is taking place as geopolitical challenges have created heightened levels of fragmentation within the 15-member organ. These challenges have placed the Council under intense scrutiny within the Organization and among the media, academic circles, civil society groups and the wider public. This scrutiny extends not only to the Council’s substantive work, but its methodologies and tools. The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly, has led large numbers of people to open the Charter of the United Nations and discover what the Council’s powers actually are.
“All of us should read the Charter more often, and more closely, than we do,” she said. But, the resulting proposals highlight the fact that today’s Council faces two different problems of transparency. The first is how much of its proceedings are conducted in a visible, public way, and how much of is conducted in private. “And it is you, the present Council members, who have full control over how to strike this balance between the public and private,” she said.
The second problem of transparency is an inherited problem, she continued, noting that it stems from the fact that over 76 years, the Council developed a highly complex body of precedent and interpretation regarding applicable Charter articles, as well as procedure. This complicated context within which the Council functions is largely unknown. It can mean when the Council is conducting its business in plain view, how it works is often not fully understood, she said, noting that that several of its tools could be beneficially expanded to address the situation. First, the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, chaired this year by Albania, is a very positive development. It has decided to begin issuing annual reports, as done by the Council’s other thematic working groups. The annual report will help bring this wider scope of Council members’ efforts to improve working methods into a wider public view. She suggested that Council members also consider including in the Informal Working Group reports an indication of any important procedural matters that occur over the year in the Council itself, such as procedural votes or formulation of new agenda items.
Secondly, she supported proposals to make the Council’s monthly programme of work fully comprehensive. It is now justified to include informal interactive dialogues in the calendar, especially since these are Council events chaired by the president. Including Arria-formula meetings on the calendar, with a suitable explanation, would give a more accurate picture of how members overall address relevant Council matters. Another way to throw more light on the organ’s working methods is to give each Council member greater coverage during their end-of-presidency wrap-up session. Matters of procedure could be given more detailed attention in each monthly presidency assessment.
The Council, she said, cannot succeed on its own. As pointed out in the “Concluding reflections” chapter of her book, it is important to remember the Council’s end goal is to adopt effective decisions which are effectively implemented. Effective implementation requires not merely the acquiescence of Member States, but their active engagement. Although many factors determine the level of Member States’ support for Council decisions, when opacity seems to surround how the Council works, this can add to a sense of mistrust, and even illegitimacy, she noted. On the other hand, even in divisive times such as these, if the Council is seen as making a good faith effort to give clarity to its working methods, this can help foster a more cooperative partnership with the wider membership.
KARIN LANDGREN, Executive Director of Security Council Report, said the 15‑member organ’s working methods may offer some bridging elements in today’s difficult context, when used in ways that boost trust, build knowledge and broaden ownership. The United Kingdom, a permanent member, and Germany, a then-elected member, set an important precedent in 2019, she recalled, when they co-led the negotiations and drafting on Darfur, and on Libya sanctions, the Committee for which was also chaired by Germany. Citing similar current initiatives, she underscored that “pen-sharing” among permanent and elected members broadens ownership, builds knowledge and can contribute to more coherent Council strategies for peace, particularly when the “co-pen” is the chair of a relevant subsidiary body or otherwise brings in an added perspective, such as regional expertise.
On boosting trust, she said Council visiting missions offer a chance for members to engage with each other less formally, as well as to be exposed together to facts on the ground. With a growing focus on the role of regional and subregional organizations in addressing ongoing or emerging conflict within their regions, the Council could prioritize visits to engage with them on conflict prevention. She added that there are other ways of stepping up engagement with the field: virtually, such as Council members’ recent encounters with Colombia and Yemen via virtual‑reality headsets and “mini-missions”. The Council could also adopt a more systematic way of deciding on visiting missions, including by having the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions at the start of the year consult and select three possible situations that could benefit from a Council visit, which could then be supplemented by other trips.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) said that, while she was confident the debate will help enrich the Council’s work with new ideas, any changes in working methods are the Council’s decision. Any reforms must be focused on efforts to genuinely increase the effectiveness of the Council’s primary function, which is maintaining peace and security. Although the Council adapted well to the new realities of the pandemic, there is no alternative to in-person discussions. Further, there is no need to institutionalize these temporary methods. There are substantive problems that cannot avoid a comprehensive discussion. Individual members are using the Council to expand their narrow agenda. This trend has changed from a trickle to a flood. Missions are given functions at times that are not appropriate for them, which, in turn, lead to an increase in mistrust. Western colleagues frequently shift the discussion to a different track. Sanctions are implemented and then Governments are forced to prove wrong the reasons made for imposing the sanctions, which can be baseless. Member States should be finding solutions to complex problems, not provoking the right of the veto. The veto is a cornerstone of Council architecture, not a working method. Discussion of Ukraine has become an arena for the circulation of fake topics and propaganda that further divides the Council. In addition, there has been abuse regarding the position of the delegation or delegations drafting resolutions. Expanding the number of drafters would help increase the efficiency of the Council’s work, she said.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the 10 elected members of the Council, said working methods “are not an end in themselves”. Instead, the elected members seek a more effective Council capable of tackling today’s complex and interlinked threats. “Let’s be clear: a more accountable and transparent Council would be better placed to meet its core tasks of preventing and resolving conflicts,” she stressed. Monthly assessments prepared under the authority of each presidency must be timely and useful for Member States and civil society groups. Elected members have brough new innovations to the organ’s work, as seen in the 2021 blueprint of the A3+1 [Niger, Kenya, Tunisia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines] which paved the way for new working methods commitments. The Council must strike a healthy balance between public and private meetings to enhance the transparency and visibility of its work and encourage more interactivity and consensus-building.
She went on to urge members to build on best practices learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and to integrate a gender lens across their working methods. In that regard, she called on all presidencies to strive for gender balance and diversity when selecting briefers, adding: “We must ensure that women are at the table and their voices are heard and heeded.” The 10 elected members are actively engaging in discussions in the Informal Working Group on Documentation and other procedural matters on a draft presidential note on that issue, under Albania’s leadership. Noting that targeted sanctions are an important tool — and are critical to the execution of the Council’s mandate — she underscored the importance of accountability and transparency in the work of Sanctions Committees, which must align with international due-process standards; there must be strengthened, fair and clear procedures in sanctions regimes. In addition, she advocated for clearer and more focused resolutions; more attention to possible adverse humanitarian consequences; and restraint in the use of the veto.
TRINA SAHA (United States) said note 507 (document S/2017/507) and subsequently adopted notes are the product of years of negotiation, and implementing their proposals is simply a question of collective will. She cited the increased presence of civil society briefers in meetings, with an enhanced gender balance, and that during the pandemic, that the Council has fulfilled its mandate under Article 28 of the Charter of the United Nations to function continuously. Virtual meetings should therefore be denoted as formal meetings, so they can include the adoption of resolutions. As a permanent Council Member, the United States calls on 76 years of experience regarding proposals for reform, as many of the Council’s working methods have stood the test of time. General Assembly resolution 67/262 (document A/RES/67/262) mandates that organ should meet every time a veto is cast, and while her delegation was disappointed that its push for increased sanctions was vetoed on the occasion of ballistic missiles launched by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she noted 80 Member States participated in the ensuing debate. She applauded the behind-the-scenes work of the Security Council Affairs Division, which is the reason the Council presidency transition goes so smoothly.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) noted that States have more to do to ensure the Security Council stays effective and efficient. Noting that the organ is able to solve problems through interactive debate, building consensus and being a responsible sponsor, he looked forward to a full return to the consultations room. He went on to note that the effectiveness of the Council also means focusing on issues of importance to the global membership, and bringing diverse civil society voices to enrich discussion. It means being responsive to prevent conflict or deter escalation, and discussing issues even if uncomfortable for some, he noted, acknowledging the General Assembly resolution on the use of veto as a welcome step in ensuring transparency and accountability. He also touched on several global situations, including the aggression against Ukraine and the peace process in Libya and Yemen. States should do more to ensure the Council is using its time efficiently, he said, not using it “as a platform for propaganda and misinformation”. “The real challenge for the functioning of the Council is that a permanent member has torn up the UN Charter and invaded a sovereign neighbour […] it will not be adjusting working methods that resolves this, but an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine,” he concluded.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), also speaking for India and endorsing the statement delivered on behalf of the Council’s 10 elected members, underscored the need for fair distribution of responsibilities between elected and permanent members. Selection of chairs of subsidiary bodies and distribution of the responsibility of drafting texts must be open, transparent, based on exhaustive consultations, and with a more integrated perspective. “Improving the working methods of the Council will never be enough to correct its fundamental problem, which stems from its lack of representativeness,” he said. Any debate on the Council’s working methods must have reform, in both size and composition, as its overarching framework. Calling for a Council where the voices of developing countries and unrepresented regions are heard, he warned against continuing to hide behind the “smokescreen” of the intergovernmental negotiations on that issue, or lip service paid by statements at the General Assembly. Instead, countries need to commit to expansion in a timebound manner through text-based negotiations. “We ask those blocking progress on this vital issue to heed the calls for genuine reform, and contribute to making this Council truly fit for purpose for the twenty-first century,” he added.
ZHANG JUN (China), noting that the Council currently meets on the Syrian dossier three times a month, proposed reducing the frequency of such deliberations or combining different tracks to allow for greater efficiency. As the Arria-formula meetings have deviated from their original purpose and consumed many delegations’ resources, Council presidencies must steer the Arria-formula arrangement towards a more rational track. Expressing concern about some “penholders” placing their national positions above those of the collective organ, he advocated for the restructuring of that arrangement, noting that there should be two or three “co-penholders” per topic to be shared between permanent and non-permanent members. He called for a balance between increased transparency and robust confidentiality, noting that some members, when briefing the media on closed consultations proceedings, have distorted the position of other members by quoting them out of context, seriously undermining unity within the Council. To address the lack of compositional equity and balance in the Council, more developing and independent States should be brought into the organ.
SHERAZ GASRI (France) spotlighted the annual report shows that shows the Council held 240 public meetings and 124 consultation meetings in 2021. While public meetings are useful, the Council must preserve sufficient space for confidential discussions and negotiations, as they allow Member States to move the lines and reach compromises. The Council should spend less time reiterating well‑known positions and more time negotiating, as the juxtaposition of 15 national positions is not the objective. The Council is, above all, an executive organ and not a talking-shop, she said. Stressing the importance of a spirit of responsibility and compromise, she noted the Council has been used repeatedly in recent months as a disinformation platform, which dangerously weakens its authority. This must end. Demonstrating responsibility also means not blocking Secretary-General appointment proposals without justification, particularly regarding the Panels of Experts of the Sanctions Committees. The threat of using the veto left, right and centre as a bargaining tool is unacceptable, as an all-or-nothing approach leads to paralysis and collective failure. In that respect, she highlighted the initiative France is carrying out with Mexico which proposes the voluntary and collective suspension of the veto in the event of mass atrocities. This initiative already is supported by 106 Member States, she said, calling on all Member States and in particular the permanent members to join it.
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador), aligning himself with Switzerland and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said a comprehensive review of the working methods is a key issue to ensure the Council’s work is improved. It is not a reform of the Charter of the United Nations, but its implementation. He said that there is a need to look at the flow of procedures between the Council and the rest of the organs of the system; the relationship between the permanent members of the Council and the elected members and other Member States; and the relationship between the Council and the Assembly. Regarding the annual report’s working methods, he said it should have solid statistics and not just general information. It should have comprehensive information, sensitive items should not be overlooked and secret diplomacy should not be institutionalized.
PASCALE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), speaking for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said that the comprehensive digital Programme of Work promoted by Norway and others — making the Council’s work more accessible for the wider United Nations membership — should become a permanent feature. Use of virtual briefings, including databased presentations, visualization and/or augmented reality, should be explored, along with the codification of best practices adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would aim at “future-proofing” the Council against the risks of other crises or major disruptions. In addition, Member States directly affected by Council decisions should be able to engage through timely and adequate channels, based on Rule 37. The Council should also continue visiting missions and debriefing the wider membership upon return. As Article 27 of the Charter of the United Nations limits the participation of members who are directly involved in a dispute in decisions relating to their peaceful settlement, it is crucial to continue investing in creative ways to restore and expand space for dialogue among Council members. She called on all Member States to join the Group’s Code of Conduct and to support Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), also speaking for Belgium and the Netherlands, voiced regret over the impasse at which the Council finds itself in such cases as Syria, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Ukraine and Afghanistan. “In view of the multiple challenges we face, it is crucial to strengthen cooperation between the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as the Peacebuilding Commission and regional organizations,” he said, spotlighting the need for more transparency and accountability. He strongly encouraged the Council to ensure the inclusion of all Member States and all relevant stakeholders — especially civil society members — in all meetings, and to resume the practice of field visits in order to gain a direct understanding of the dynamics on the ground. It is also crucial to strengthen the Council’s institutional memory by incorporating lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of strengthening agility and better anticipating future challenges. He also called on all Member States to adhere to the Code of Conduct for Security Council Action against Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and of War, as well as the French-Mexican initiative against the use of veto in the event of mass atrocities.
OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), speaking as a former non-permanent Council member in 2012-2013, he said that there remains room for improvement in its working methods. While an increase in open meetings allows the participation of non‑members, he called for more meetings with the Peacebuilding Commission. Noting the Council in the past has decided on the chairs of subsidiary bodies in a balanced and inclusive manner, he expressed hope that trend will be strengthen and that appointment of various groups of experts will be conducted with as much geographical representation as possible. Frequent consultations among the Council, Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries are crucial, as they improve the Council’s capacity to take appropriate decisions and thus fulfil its responsibilities. Note 507 has strengthened many previous decisions on working methods and it should continue to provide practical guidance. He further called for the Council to record in meetings records whenever a permanent Member casts the veto. The best way to showcase the representative character of the Council is to strengthen its rules for accountability and transparency.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) called for the Council’s reform and evolution into a fully transparent, rule-based and accountable organ. So far, those efforts have fallen short; they must be accelerated. Stressing that the organ must adhere to the purposes and principles of the United Nations in all its decision-making procedures, he said it should refrain from adopting ultra vires decisions that contravene the Charter or considering circumstances that do not pose a threat to international peace and security, as well as issues pertaining to the domestic affairs of States. Members must also assess the effectiveness of sanctions and their humanitarian repercussions at various stages of conflict and suspend or lift them as needed, he said, citing their serious impact on civilians, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of serious and increasingly complex global challenges, the Council must practise and uphold true multilateralism, which means resolving issues through collaboration. The organ’s authority and powers have been repeatedly abused by certain States, who, in pursuit of their short-sighted political objectives, use the Council as a tool with which to exert pressure. “Such conduct not only breaches the Charter and fundamental principles of international law, but also demonstrates disrespect for the Council's authority and powers, jeopardizing its integrity and efficiency,” he warned.
MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Group of Like-Minded States on Targeted Sanctions, said that targeted sanctions by the Council are an important tool to address threats to international peace and security. However, due process standards must be improved. Noting that there are 13 Sanctions Committees for which there is no independent system to review delisting requests, he stressed that avoiding any gaps in Member States’ ability to implement sanctions is a critical element to ensure sanctions legitimacy. Citing various options such as extending the mandate of the ombudsperson to all sanctions regimes, creating context-sensitive review mechanisms and enhancing the focal point for delisting into an actual independent review mechanism, he said it is time for the Council to address those concerns in an agile and innovative manner, urging it to be open-minded when presented with suggestions for improvement. Expressing concern that the independence of the Office of the Ombudsperson is being undermined by its current contractual status and institutional arrangement within the United Nations Secretariat, he urged the Council and Secretary-General to continue efforts to improve the organ’s working methods in that area.
BAE JONGIN (Republic of Korea) said the Council’s adaptation during the pandemic let the organ look critically at its working methods. There needs to be greater transparency and effectiveness in its work, he said, adding that he supported efforts to limit the veto power, which creates impediments in the Council’s ability to carry out its work. The General Assembly resolution adopted in April is an example of an effective effort to limit the use of the veto. This helps make the Council more accountable to the membership. In addition, there needs to be a more equitable division of labour among all 15 members. Greater participation of other members during the drafting process would let the Council benefit from the inputs of all members. The Council also needs to strengthen engagement with other United Nations bodies, he said.
MATEUSZ SAKOWICZ (Poland) pointed out that the rules-based international order continues to be attacked these days. The Security Council is often stuck in a deadlock, making it unable to carry out its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security properly, as seen in the aggression against Ukraine. “We need the Security Council that is worthy of its name. It has to be flexible, fit for purpose and able to swiftly respond to global crises,” he stressed. Further change is needed to ensure the possibility of more equal division of the responsibility of the sponsor or co-sponsors of resolutions. Also highlighting the key role of elected members in the Council’s decision-making, he noted that the organ is more transparent and effective with their active engagement, advocating for strengthening the position of the 10 elected officials in the Council. Expressing concern about the increase of the use of veto, he noted that too often it has incapacitated the Council. Not only do vetoes hamper the efficiency of the United Nations system, but they also undermine its credibility in the eyes of international public opinion, he stressed. Therefore, he welcomed the new practice of convening a General Assembly plenary meeting after the use of a veto in the Security Council.
KIMIHIRO ISHIKANE (Japan) noted that, for the first time in three years, non-Council members were able to participate in this debate in-person. While the physical constraints due to the pandemic was one important factor, he pointed to the growing divisions among the members as another, which led to the adoption of the General Assembly resolution on the “Veto Initiative”. He also commended the flexibility and ingenuity of the Council in developing new tools and practices under unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19. Noting that his country will once again serve as a non-permanent member of the Council beginning in 2023, he also spotlighted the initiatives utilizing new technologies such as visual aid, which are similarly significant developments in the Council’s working methods. He also affirmed his delegation’s intention to engage in efforts to further improve the working methods under Albania, which holds the current Informal Working Group Chair, in close cooperation with other Council members, permanent and elected alike, while heeding the views of the wider United Nations membership in good faith.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), voicing concern about the Council’s overall effectiveness, nevertheless described working methods as an area of slow, steady progress. Endorsing the views of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, he advocated for improvements to the system of co-sponsorship and drafting of texts and for fairer burden-sharing between the Council’s permanent and elected members. The organ should continue to bear in mind lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the use of video-teleconference technology, to improve the inclusiveness of Council deliberations. At the same time, members should prioritize in-person access for all States and civil society members. Regarding the Council’s deadlock on Ukraine, he commended members’ decision to trigger the Uniting for Peace formula for the first time in 40 years, as well as the “veto initiative” in the General Assembly. The Council’s production of a special report in that case, as provided for by Article 15 of the Charter, was an important and rare occurrence. He also praised the use of the Arria-formula meeting, which can bring attention to understudied topics and underrepresented voices, and expressed hope that it can be used consistently in accordance with its original intent and purpose.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) warned that by acting constantly in crisis mode, responding and reacting rather than preventing, the Council will never be able to anticipate events and intervene early enough to save lives. The long-standing hegemonic structure of “penholding” keeps elected members from participating in the drafting of important resolutions. It also marginalizes elected members, allowing only few practitioners to frame issues and lay out courses of action before consulting the elected members. Calling for that responsibility to be shared among all elected members so that outcome documents adopted by the organ can be representative of the myriad perspectives present in the Council, she also called for a more equitable distribution of responsibilities among the Council’s subsidiary organs. It is frustrating to see the initiatives — and often, the voices — of high-profile elected members “be suppressed by the political obstinacy and games of the permanent members”. She also called for more transparency in the work of subsidiary bodies and the selection and independence of expert groups.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) called for inclusive and timely information‑sharing on Council work, as it establishes the international community’s collective response to issues and shapes the public tone. While affected States and regions are the direct stakeholders, they often unfortunately face delays in receiving such information. As developing countries are the most impacted by conflicts on the Council’s agenda, he urged for their views to be taken into account, voicing support for greater contributions by non-permanent members. Council attention must not be distracted from regional events; in an interconnected world, no one region is more important than any other. He further called for greater coordination among the Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. Adopting permanent rules of procedure would also bring greater predictability and transparency to Council work.
JOCHEN HANS-JOACHIM ALMOSLECHNER (Austria) urged colleagues not to view attempts to make full use of the Charter’s toolbox as a threat to the powers of the Council. Rather, it could be an additional means to find solutions to international crises. On inclusivity, he said entering a dialogue with the wider membership strengthens the accountability of the Council. He recommended that a balance be kept between open and closed meetings, and that non-members are regularly included in Council deliberations. While wrap-up meetings at the end of the month, as well as wrap-in meetings at the beginning, are valuable opportunities to engage in current issues on the Council’s agenda, those meetings should be more interactive. He commended proposed innovative ideas, specifically highlighting Norway's digital programme of work, which made the Council’s work more accessible and transparent for the wider membership.
MARK SEAH (Singapore), noting that “the geopolitical climate has darkened even as we emerge from COVID-19’s long shadow”, said the need improve the Council’s working methods has therefore become even more pressing. While today’s debate is not the place to question the existence of the veto, there must be greater accountability each time a veto is cast. As such, he noted that his delegation was pleased to be an early sponsor of General Assembly resolution 76/262 mandating a General Assembly debate each time a veto is used. Adding that accountability also implies restraint, he voiced support for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s initiative on a code of conduct on Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as the French-Mexican initiative asking permanent members to refrain from vetoes in cases of recognized mass atrocities. Welcoming the return of in-person Council meetings with the attendance of observers, he called for more transparency in closed consultations and proposed that summary records thereon be circulated for the benefit of the wider United Nations membership. It is also time for the organ to adopt and codify its rules of procedure, which have remained provisional for 76 years, he pointed out, calling for greater inclusivity overall.
MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan) said there is increasingly more attention being brought to the need for the Council’s work to be more transparent, inclusive and open. There needs to be a comprehensive reform of the Council. In the meantime, its working methods need reform. Too much of the Council’s work takes place in informal meetings behind closed doors. There needs to be greater participation by other groups. The open nature of Council work has eroded, especially since the end of the cold war. Everyone should have an equal stake in an open meeting. Closed meetings should be kept to a minimum. Further, there is a growing dissatisfaction with the elitist nature of the Council and frustration with its use of the veto. Greater effectiveness can be achieved by extending representation to other members. As well, the Council’s relations with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council need to be improved.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) noted that, during the pandemic, the Council continued to meet without interruption, both in person and via videoconference, to carry out all its responsibilities. New practices were implemented that helped improve the transparency and quality of its work and allowed it to benefit from the diverse views of Member States. Note 507 is therefore a major achievement in enhancing the efficiency and authority of Council, and it should continue to apply all its provisions. He called for the organ to increase the number of open briefings, although he noted that closed consultations also serve an important purpose on sensitive issues. Addressing the thorny issue of the veto, he noted his delegation sponsored document A/RES/67/262 and supports the initiative by France and Mexico on suspension of veto use in cases of mass atrocities. The Council should also regularly consult with troop- and police-contributing countries, a fundamental tool for peacekeeping missions in exercising their mandates.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said the Council could use certain initiatives undertaken during the pandemic to strengthen its flexibility and effectiveness, citing the remote participation of briefers as an example. He underscored that co-sponsoring and drafting of texts must be shared by all Council members to enable the active participation by all in developing resolutions. On the issue of subsidiary organs, he stressed that non-permanent members must chair those bodies. Also, elected members that have not yet taken up their positions should be invited to attend meetings of the Council and do so five months before their formal participation. As for Arria-formula meetings, those meetings should be mentioned in the United Nations Journal. Although the Council publishes an annual report and transmits it to the General Assembly, the content of that report should be more analytical in nature, he said.
EDUARDO MANUEL DA FONSECA FERNANDES RAMOS (Portugal), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, welcomed the timely use of digital technology in the Security Council during the pandemic and called for continued efforts on codification of best practices and lessons learned, to prepare for future contingencies and enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of the organ’s work. He went on to note that, through the veto initiative, the General Assembly made use of a mechanism meant to strengthen the United Nations system and ensure accountability between the Council and the Assembly, also encouraging other Member States to consider joining this commitment. Echoing the suggestions to strengthen the inclusiveness of the Council, he highlighted the importance of the cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission and advocated for an early involvement of incoming elected members in the work of the Council.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) called for comprehensive reform of the Council to make it more democratic and effective, adding that her country is ready to cooperate with all Council members. The right balance between effectiveness and openness is not easy to achieve. Open debates let the Council consider issues from different angles. Yet closed meetings also play a role and should include frank and interactive dialogue aimed at finding effective solutions. The Council needs to work effectively and find the root causes of conflict. Channels of communication should be enhanced, and the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly should be strengthened. Elected members are uniquely placed to bring new perspectives. Civil society members and non-governmental organizations can bring information that is on the ground to the Council members. These groups should have adequate space to make their voices heard. The use of the veto or threat of the veto is not useful, she added.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) said that failing to adapt Council working methods to geopolitical realities will make the organ irrelevant and undermine the United Nations as a whole. The Council must therefore solidify its preparedness for working during times of disruptions by clarifying, reviewing and updating its approach. Given that the renewal of peacekeeping mandates is one of its most important functions, the Council must understand all relevant facts and conditions on the ground, involving troop- and police-contributing countries in discussions as more than a mere formality. However, he noted, these countries are often consulted very close to renewal, preventing their views from truly being considered. As conflict becomes more regionalized, regional and subregional organizations should be more fully included in deliberations and decisions
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), highlighting the theme of the meeting, commended the efforts of the past Chairs of the Informal Working Group towards promoting effectiveness and transparency. The pandemic proved that the international community at large and the Security Council need clear working methods that take into consideration all the different circumstances that might not allow for in-person meetings. He stressed that innovative working methods adopted by the Council during the pandemic could be built upon in the future to ensure the continuity of its work. He also underscored the importance of regular briefing sessions undertaken by different regional bodies. He further noted that Member States must implement the recommendations issued by those regional organizations.
LUIS UGARELLI (Peru) said reform will help make the Council’s decisions more effective. This is especially necessary as people around the world have expectations of the Council. The current state of global affairs is testing the Council’s effectiveness in maintaining peace and security, and the fragmentation process occurring in the organ is troubling. The organ’s practices must be modified, he said, noting how Assembly resolution 262, which requires a permanent member to set forth the reasons for its veto, has yielded positive results and greater accountability. Aligning himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, he said the Council’s use of digital technology to hold its meetings during the pandemic showed how it could be more open. Procedural matters and the Council’s working methods take on exceptional value as the world faces many multidimensional challenges.
PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) said the Council must adopt rules of procedure to put an end to the condition of provisionality which shrouds the rules of the organ. It was also fundamental that there should be more transparency in the Council to effectively discharge its responsibilities, with States directly impacted by an issue on its agenda participating in deliberations, as per Article 31 of the Charter. He further called for transparency in informal consultations, which should be held as the exception and not the rule. He voiced regret at the persistent trend to work in closed formats and provide only basic information on that work, without taking in to account the opinions of other States. There is also a need for more analytical work in General Assembly reports and greater context on Council matters for the period under review, eliminating exclusive practices and democratizing its work. Calling for an expansion of both permanent and non-permanent membership, with adequate representation of developing countries, he stressed that there should be no veto — but if so, it must be comprehensively reviewed so non-permanent Members also may wield it.
SAŠA JUREČKO (Slovenia), aligning herself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, recalled the progress made in terms of the working methods in the Security Council, including the use of shared thematic commitments on women, peace and security which was initiated by Ireland, Kenya and Mexico — three elected members. She also welcomed the resumption of in-person participation in open debates and the efforts towards more interaction and engagement with the wider United Nations membership. Reform of the Council is long overdue; it should be made more representative and reflective of the realities in the international community, as well as more accountable. Her country supported the recent General Assembly resolution on the use of veto as an important step towards more accountability, she said. She further added that the veto is a power that should only be used with the greatest responsibility, accountability and transparency as it impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council action on behalf of the international community, she noted.
STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy), welcoming the open debate, said that the Council is a collective body that should operate on equal footing. There should be closer cooperation between the Council and the peacekeeping missions. He also said that briefers from civil society, particularly women, should be invited to brief the Council. Noting that he favoured open meetings, he said that closed meetings should be kept to a minimum. The improvement of working methods would create a more democratic Council. A greater number of countries should work together on international peace and security. More countries, including from the African continent, as well as Arab and Latin States and small island developing States, should be able to participate. Regarding the use of the veto, its use or the threatening of its use is the root cause of the Council’s inaction. Italy supports all efforts to restrain the veto’s use, he said.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), stressing that the Council can and must be more transparent and democratic in its relations with the wider membership, recalled that it was her country, during its presidency of the Council in February 2000, that urged the adoption of a president’s note whereby recently elected members were invited to participate as observers in the informal consultations during the month prior to the beginning of their mandate as elected members of that body. Moreover, she voiced support for the regular evaluation of the implementation of note 507 and other subsequent notes, the identification of best practices and possible shortcomings, as well as the consideration of necessary adjustments. In that regard, she urged the Informal Working Group to continue its work towards a single exhaustive document to consolidate and streamline all decisions on working methods. To fulfil its responsibilities, the Council must effectively coordinate with other stakeholders. However, the Council, whose function is to maintain international peace and security, must not absorb the functions of other bodies.
KOUSSAY ALDAHHAK (Syria) said that all members of the Council, especially its President, must communicate professionally with non-members about items on its agenda, without attempting to antagonize or exclude them. The Council should limit the number of intensive and recurring sessions addressing a specific country and avoid attempting to bring pressure upon or attack that State. Working methods must be respected, rather than used selectively for the whims of certain States. Further, the Council must not encroach on other mandates — of the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council — nor violate Article 12 of the Charter. Imposing sanctions should not be considered an end in itself, as they mainly inflict suffering on the population of the country targeted. The Council should limit the time of statements in open debates, giving all an equal opportunity, and avoid restricting the right of a State to express position on a session directly addressing it. He noted that civil society presence should enhance Council business, without attacking or offending a Member State in any way.
RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia), recalling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Organization’s working methods, said that the Council has shown remarkable resilience in that regard. He encouraged the continuation of briefers joining Council meetings via video link, as it enables the participation of a larger pool of potential briefers. However, vetoes have impeded the action of the Council in regard to international peace and security, including the abuse of veto by the Russian Federation in its position of an aggressor. This flagrant abuse of veto and the Charter must turn into a much-needed impetus to reform the Council. Recalling the recently adopted General Assembly resolution 76/262, ACT Code of Conduct and the French-Mexican initiative on veto restraint in case of mass atrocities, he encouraged further strengthening of the substantive engagement and information-sharing of the Council with troop- and police-contributing countries. He also said that interaction and dialogue between the Council and other Member States, in particular those directly concerned and affected, should be further enhanced and widened.
HEBA MOSTAFA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt) said she welcomed proposals to improve the Council’s working methods. Member States should be able to hear briefings on Council activities. The chairs of subsidiary bodies, such as Sanctions Committees and Panels of Experts, should provide briefings. As the Council acts for all Member States, the number of public meetings should be increased. The only closed meetings should be topics of national security. It is important to strengthen coordination between the Council and regional organizations and troop-contributing countries. There are many proposals for reform, but the key is political will to implement the proposals and the conviction that improving these methods will strengthen the Council’s credibility.
MARIUS ARISTIDE HOJA NZESSIOUE (Central African Republic) said his country has been on the Council agenda recurrently for almost 10 years, with a negative trend emerging when co‑sponsors include just a small number of countries; unilateral decisions are often then imposed based on the national agendas of the drafters, rather than addressing realities on ground and seeking solutions. He noted that, during renewal of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) mandate, his country’s concerns were not taken into account, which can only have negative effect on resolving crises. All Member States should have influence on important documents, and the Council should extend equal opportunity footing to all its members, including the “A3” countries of Ghana, Gabon and Kenya, which can take on that heavy burden. It is undeniable that Africa’s voice must be reflected in the Council, he stressed, and reform must give it a permanent member. It is further crucial to implement a mechanism for regular evaluation of sanctions regimes to judge their coherence, appropriateness and effectiveness.
POLLY IOANNOU (Cyprus) said that the Council needs to have contingency plans for all eventualities, including the ability to physically gather one representative from each Council member for decisions to be made. In addition, a location needs to be designated beyond this Chamber for meetings if Headquarters is affected by a disaster. Among other things, the organ also needs to do better vis-à-vis the Member States that are directly affected by its work, including establishing an informal channel through the Council’s President, especially prior to consideration of its situation. Further, the Member State under discussion should be invited to offer its perspective in closed consultations before the Council starts its deliberations. Technology cannot substitute for the knowledge of local circumstances that the Council needs to have to deal with a situation effectively; that is best gained through visits on the ground. While high-level participation is facilitated by technology and can help draw attention to certain issues, the priority should remain the Council’s ability to take action and implement its decisions.
TAHER M. T. ELSONNI (Libya) said he was concerned with the rights of countries affected by Council agenda items. A Council member will draft a resolution and circulate the document, yet the country affected depends upon the goodwill of other Member States to learn about the draft resolution. The affected country should be consulted properly and notified, he said, adding that this should also be done before presidential statements or press releases are issued. This concern also applies to work completed by Sanctions Committees, he said, adding that these incidents have happened with Libya for the past 11 years. He also voiced concern regarding the appointments of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General. The country affected should be consulted when an appointment is being made and then be presented to the Council. “It is not fair to appoint a [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] and the country involved no has right to say yes or no,” he said.
MICHAEL ALEXANDER GEISLER (Germany) welcomed the increase in open and public debates and called on Council members to stop blocking certain topics, such as Myanmar, from being discussed publicly. Noting that non-Council members directly affected by the situations on the organ’s agenda have a legitimate interest in making their voices heard, he said presidencies should give those countries the chance to participate under rule 37. “Artificially limiting the number of participants, as practiced by some presidencies in the past, will seriously undermine the Council’s inclusivity and legitimacy,” he warned. During its last tenure on the Council, Germany tried to foster the participation of civil society briefers in debates. However, some briefers have faced threats after making statements to the Council, she reported, calling on States to allow civil society members to speak out openly. He also joined others in describing the veto as the “main reason why the Security Council does currently not live up to its tasks enshrined in the Charter”, recalling that its blatant abuse thwarted a resolution on Ukraine in February.
TOUFIK LAID KOUDRI (Algeria) noted the Council must be flexible, which was a decisive factor in maintaining its effectiveness during the pandemic. Modern technology is the new normal, and despite challenges, the Council was able to share the continuity of its work due to the technical capacity of the Secretariat and the political will of Member States. However, gaps remain to be addressed. The virtual format must allow for the broadest possible participation. As a Council candidate for 2024-2025, his delegation has called for strengthened interaction between the Informal Working Group on Documentation and such candidates, so they enter better prepared. A comprehensive approach to understanding nature of conflicts is crucial, involving regional organizations.
AL-HARITH IDRISS AL-HARITH MOHAMED (Sudan), noting that the so-called “penholdership” is a particular source of concern, questioned the grounds under which one country becomes a penholder while another does not. “How can we ensure that the penholder does not turn into a stick holder?”, he commented. Reform on this matter is an actualization of the principle of sovereign equality of all Member States, he stressed, highlighting how “penholding” was based the past colonial relationship between the penholding State and the Member State against whom the pen was being held. That is a bizarre contradiction which runs counter to the principal objective of the Charter on decolonization. He also called for the sanctions mechanism to be reviewed to assess the potential impact of the sanctions on the target State. The States under sanctions regimes should be involved in the assessment process. Sanctions should be fine-tuned to undo the resultant suffering and claims of impacted States should be given priority in humanitarian assistance.