Security Council Must Be More Transparent, Inclusive to Address Conflicts, Crises, Speakers Stress in Open Debate on 15-Nation Organ’s Working Methods
The Security Council must be more transparent and inclusive in conducting its business to meet the challenges posed by current global, regional conflicts and crises, speakers stressed today, as they called for improved working methods, including a more equal distribution of duties to draft resolutions and fewer closed-door consultations.
“While not in and of themselves the solution to the conflicts on the Council’s agenda, the working methods are a ‘means to an end’ and can build the path towards finding solutions,” said Albania’s representative, Security Council President for September, as he spoke as Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions.
Challenging political dynamics worldwide and divisions within the Council have prevailed, critically inhibiting the Council’s ability to fulfil its duties, he warned, stating: “At stake is not only the Council’s reputation, but the overall reputation of the United Nations.”
Nonetheless, the Council has maintained its levels of activity in 2022 and remained actively seized of 41 items on its agenda so far, fully resumed open debates with high levels of participation and adopted decisions regularly to maintain UN operations worldwide, he reported. Giving an overview of its activities, he also pointed out: “The workload is ever-growing, and the stakes could not be greater.”
In the ensuing debate, more than 40 speakers presented their views and suggestions on several issues, including the use of veto, Council membership expansion, meeting formats and due process for Sanctions Committees.
France’s representative expressed his country’s support for the candidatures of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan as permanent Council members, along with a more significant African presence — including amongst permanent members. An expanded Council “could have up to 25 members”, he said, while putting forth the French-Mexican initiative on voluntary, collective suspension of veto use in cases of mass atrocity.
Sierra Leone’s delegate, noting that his country is an incoming Council member, reiterated Africa’s position — endorsed by the African Union Assembly — on the organ’s equitable representation and its increasing membership. This would enable an accessible, accountable and democratic Council, he insisted.
In that regard, the Russian Federation’s representative pointed out that the Western members in the Council have eight votes “in their pocket” and use them as a “hidden veto”. For this reason, the Council should not be expanded by “like-minded Western States”, he declared.
Cuba’s representative said that veto power should be terminated altogether. Until that happens, however, new positions in the permanent category should have the same rights and prerogatives of the current permanent members, including veto power.
Many speakers welcomed the General Assembly’s resolution 76/262 — which stipulates that the 193-nation organ will convene for a meeting within 10 days whenever a veto is cast in the Security Council — as an important mechanism to hold permanent Council members who used such power accountable.
On the division of labour, Ecuador’s representative, also speaking for the nine other elected Council members (Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates), said that the Council has much to gain from a more inclusive and transparent practice of penholdership. Towards that end, the elected members have put forth a proposal that encourages a more equitable role, he said, expressing hope that this proposal can be swiftly adopted.
Egypt’s representative stressed the need to ensure that penholdership “does not become an exclusive right for a limited number of permanent members that serves their interests and ignores the priorities of other States” — particularly those playing important roles on the issues under consideration or those that are directly affected by them.
In that vein, China’s delegate said that penholdership should be reformed and adjusted to reflect equity, equality and openness. More African members should serve as penholders on African issues and more non-permanent members should serve as penholders, he stressed.
Many speakers called on the Council to interact with the wider UN membership, as well as other UN organs, regional organizations and civil society.
Norway’s delegate, speaking for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, urged the Council to return to its agreed practice of sharing all draft resolutions “in blue” with the wider membership before adoption. She also underlined that it is vital to “democratize its procedures”, including systematic consultations with affected countries.
Echoing this, Liechtenstein’s delegate observed that the flow of communication between the Council and UN membership is critical to fulfilling Charter obligations. For informed assessments of situations of concern, it is important to hear relevant experts, including women and civil society briefers. It is also important to hear from briefers who may not speak in an official UN language as long as interpretation is provided, she said.
Morocco’s representative, recalling that his country has been a troop-contributing country since 1960, highlighted the importance of consultations between Council members and troop- and police-contributing countries, as well as triangular meetings that include the UN Secretariat.
Australia’s representative, along with several delegations opted for limiting the number of closed-door meetings. “Effective multilateralism isn’t just about the discussions inside this Chamber, it’s also about being inclusive,” he said.
To this point, Pakistan’s diplomat proposed that interested non-member States be invited to closed meetings and summary records of such meetings should be circulated to all Member States.
Along the same lines, Syria’s delegate urged the Council to limit the number of meetings that are held too frequently on issues regarding certain countries. He also stressed that sanctions regimes must be subject to meaningful review to avoid adverse impacts.
To that point, Ireland, speaking for the Group of Like-Minded States on Targeted Sanctions, said that efforts to improve due process for sanctions committees must continue as those safeguards the human rights of targeted individuals. “Due process does not weaken sanctions. On the contrary, it strengthens them,” he stressed.
Summing up, Indonesia’s representative said that the Council is a large ship that must sail on amid rocky waters and turbulences: “Its working methods are the screws and bolts that keep the ship together and allow it to continue on its course.”
WORKING METHODS OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), Security Council President for September, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, said that annual open debates on the Council’s working methods have served to collectively engage in a reflection with the wider United Nations membership on the topic. Since 2017, 15 new notes by the President on its working methods have been adopted under the auspices of the Informal Working Group, which have added to the normative “acquis” contained in Note 507 to enhance the Council’s efficiency, transparency and effectiveness. As the world faces armed conflicts, adverse effects of climate change and the use of new and emerging technology for terrorist purposes, the Council is expected to act efficiently, transparently, and effectively on behalf of the rest of the UN membership. However, challenging political dynamics worldwide and divisions within the Council have prevailed, critically affecting the Council’s ability to deliver on its responsibilities, he warned, stating: “At stake is not only the Council’s reputation but the overall reputation of the United Nations.”
Nonetheless, he reported that the Council has maintained its levels of activity in 2022 and remained actively seized of 41 items on its agenda so far, fully resumed open debates with high levels of participation and adopted decisions regularly to maintain UN operations worldwide. “The workload is ever-growing, and the stakes could not be greater,” he pointed out. Highlighting major milestones achieved by the Informal Working Group in the past 18 months, he said that it adopted a programme of work setting out the main priorities and planned actions for the coming year, allowing all Council members to comment and make proposals. The Informal Working Group also adopted its first annual report in 2022 (document S/2022/1032) in line with the practice of the Council’s subsidiary bodies. The annual report includes activity summaries and a set of selected indicators in a first attempt at tracking the implementation of Note 507 and presidential notes. These indicators are crucial to get a better overview of how the Council is performing and what are the gaps remaining. Under the auspices of the Informal Working Group, the Council adopted two additional president’s notes on working methods, with the first (document S/2023/612) laying out the procedure for observing minutes of silence orderly and the second (document S/2023/615) reaffirming the Council’s commitment to making every effort to agree provisionally on the appointment of subsidiary bodies Chairs for the following year no later than 1 October.
The Informal Working Group has also addressed many other topics, including how to improve the selection of subsidiary body Chairs and ensure a more equitable distribution of labour among Council members, he continued. As well, it addressed the access of elected members to confidential documentation of the Council predating their membership, the practice of monthly assessments, cooperation with other UN principal organs, the mainstreaming of gender into the Council’s work and the participation of civil society in Council meetings and ensuring their protection against reprisals. In April, emulating a well-established practice of the General Assembly, the Council rolled out a live list of speakers for open debates. As well, the successful launching of the Interactive Handbook of the Working Methods of the Council is a timely innovation for the incoming elected members. “While not in and of themselves the solution to the conflicts on the Council’s agenda, the working methods are a ‘means to an end’ and can build the path towards finding solutions,” he said, inviting proposals from the wider membership for further discussions.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), recalling that the Council’s first meeting in 1946 took place in the United Kingdom, quoted Dag Hammarskjold: “The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.” Observing that the Council has outlasted the League of Nations by 51 years and has helped to prevent a third world war, she stressed: “Our vision remains for a Council that is able to solve problems though interactive debate, building consensus, responsible and inclusive penholdership.” There are times that the Council is most effective when it holds frank discussions in private, she observed, adding that Member States should agree on press elements for transparency. Noting that it has been 50 years that the United Kingdom has vetoed a Council resolution, she spotlighted the General Assembly resolution addressing when a permanent member blocks action to maintain international peace and security. In that regard, the Russian Federation has violated the Charter of the United Nations by invading its neighbour and attempting to “defend indefensible”, while using the Council as a platform for propaganda and disinformation, she said.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) underscored that, as the Council carries out its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, it acts on behalf of all Member States. Further, it has shown it can work in unison towards a common goal to address a specific practical issue regarding its working methods. He welcomed the expansion of the use of co-penholding, citing as an example the United States’ work with Mexico and Ecuador to achieve a resolution regarding the situation in Haiti, as well as its work with Ireland to achieve an important humanitarian carve-out for the sanctions regime. He also spotlighted the work of African Member States to joint co-penhold a resolution on Niger and voiced support for the flexible work on penholding codified in Note 507. However, he highlighted the unfortunate practices by the Russian Federation, shown most recently on the Mali sanctions resolution; that Council member’s defiant actions killed that sanctions regime. The actions of the Russian Federation were in bad faith and disrespectful of the Council’s work. Its approach to working methods undermines the Council’s unity, he said, urging them to alter their approach to the Council’s working methods.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) reiterated his country’s support for the candidatures of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan as permanent Council members, along with a more significant African presence — including amongst permanent members. An expanded Council “could have up to 25 members”, he said. He also underlined the need to strike an appropriate balance between public diplomacy and working behind closed doors, stating that “the current balance is not correct”. While public meetings allow greater transparency, there must be enough space for consultations amongst permanent members to address thorny topics through compromise. Underscoring that the best working methods “will never replace a spirit of responsibility and compromise”, he noted that the Council has recently been used as a platform for disinformation, with speakers expounding at great length “to expose debatable — or even fantasy-based — positions”. He added that France — along with Mexico — has put forth an initiative that proposes the voluntary, collective suspension of the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocity.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that Council reforms must aim towards effectiveness and efficiency of its primary functions, adding that the “populist rhetoric” harms this cause. Noting that individual Council members use the organ to further “their narrow national interest”, he said that its agenda “is growing ever longer with domestic political issues, human rights and climate”. Often, the real reasons for the eruption of conflict are “deliberately hushed up”, he stressed, adding that, consequently, some UN missions and peace operations receive vague mandates with inappropriate functions. Pointing out that some States use sanctions regimes as “levers of political pressure under the international, UN umbrella”, he said that penholders are often guided by the nature of their own relationship with certain countries. Moreover, the Western countries have eight votes “in their pocket” and use them as a “hidden veto”, he observed, adding that, for this reason, the Council should not be expanded by “like-minded Western States”. Also recalling that only three delegations continue to act as penholders, he called for expanding this circle by non-permanent members, in particular African States.
ZHANG JUN (China) stressed that the Council should focus on its core mandates and emergencies. Noting he does not support thematic debates that hog resources, he voiced opposition to individual Member States using the Council to discuss specific human rights issues. The Council should be committed to practical issues, ensuring its documents are readable and practical, he said, adding that resolutions should avoid running to 10 pages. The frequent holding of certain meetings should be reduced, including those on Syria. The core Council members should not talk to the camera but listen to each other. More informal consultations and greater engagement with non-Council members should be held and there should be better quality control over briefing content. However, some Members only care about bringing different voices to the Council without achieving consensus. Sanctions should be approached in a prudent manner and be lifted to reflect the situation on the ground. Penholdership should be reformed and adjusted to reflect equity, equality and openness. More African members should serve as penholders on African issues and more non-permanent members should serve as penholders. The use of veto is closely related to the imbalance in the Council, he added.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador), also speaking for the nine other elected Council members (Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates), said that the Council has much to gain from a more inclusive and transparent penholdership practice. Towards that end, the elected members have put forth a proposal that encourages a more equitable role, he said, expressing hope that this proposal can be swiftly adopted. He also underlined the need to ensure that all Council members have adequate opportunity to participate, engage, discuss and influence the organ’s decisions. He therefore called for sufficient time to be provided — not less than 24 hours for consideration of products placed under the silence procedure — and to avoid, when possible, sending drafts over the weekend. In addition, the Council should actively seek the valuable advice that the Peacebuilding Commission can provide, including on preventative diplomacy and cooperation with local actors.
He went on to say that the Council must “strike a healthy balance” between public and private meetings to both enhance the transparency of its work and to encourage consensus-building. On that, he supported efforts to agree on elements to be communicated by the Presidency after closed consultations. Noting that targeted sanctions are an important tool to address threats to international peace and security, he nevertheless underscored the importance of accountability and transparency in the work of subsidiary bodies. Further, the establishment of independent review mechanisms would strengthen the rule of law in such regimes, and the Council must ensure that sanctions are neither intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences on civilian populations nor adversely affect activities carried out by humanitarian organizations. He also pointed out that the Council “continues to lack a truly representative composition” and called for restraint on the use of the veto, especially regarding actions aimed to prevent mass atrocities.
GERARDO PEÑALVER PORTAL, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, called for a comprehensive and deep-seated reform of the Council, including its working methods, to make it a more transparent, democratic and representative body. The transparency of informal consultations should be guaranteed and there should be records of informal consultations. “Informal meetings behind closed doors should be the exception, not standard practice,” he emphasized, adding that the annual reports should be exhaustive and analytical. The Council must adhere to its mandate, not usurping the functions of other UN organs or expanding the scope of the definition of international peace and security, to the detriment of the General Assembly. It is vital to adopt the Council’s rules of procedure and put an end to its “provisional” status. Further, the Council should be expanded in both categories of membership and correct the inadequate representation of developing countries. The veto power should be terminated. Until that happens, new positions in the permanent category should have the same rights and prerogatives of the current permanent members, including veto power.
HYUN-WOO CHO (Republic of Korea) said the Council must take measures to ensure that veto powers are not exercised in a way that contradicts its previous decisions. These decisions are usually the result of extensive, meticulous negotiations designed to address threats to international peace and security. The exercise of the veto in May 2022, which brought the first formal debate in General Assembly history under the item “Use of the veto”, was a clear example of a self-contradictory veto. He urged penholders to engage with relevant non-Council members in a more systematic manner. He also urged the Council to adopt inclusive methods of work to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. A good example would be to strengthen the Peacebuilding Commission’s advisory role to the Council, accompanied with broad consultation with diverse partnerships, including regional organizations, as well as the private sector and civil society. The Council should ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, he stressed.
STEFAN PRETTERHOFER (Austria), associating himself with the statements to be delivered by Norway and Ireland, said that Council must acknowledge the link between climate and security, poverty, human rights, development and peace. Welcoming the meeting of the Co-Chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations framework on Security Council Reform, he reiterated the call for the organ’s wider membership. Moreover, he underscored the importance of a more consistent consultations with “affected” Member States, including countries concerned, regional neighbours and troop- and police-contributing countries. To make the monthly presidency wrap-up meetings more inclusive and interactive, he encouraged Council presidencies to organize them in a “Toledo-style format” — by engaging with the wider membership — and send invitations to all Member States. Recognizing that, over the past 18 months, the Council has been unable to act in the face of the blatant breach of the Charter by its permanent member, he welcomed the veto initiative.
MERETE FJELD BRATTESTED (Norway), speaking for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, stressed the need for a more transparent, effective and inclusive Council. Its presidencies should complete their monthly assessments in a more timely manner. Since that work is undertaken in a national capacity, assessments can be more analytical, and do not require unanimity. The Group welcomes the Council’s consistent production of special reports in line with resolution 76/262 and expects this to continue. Expressing support for the early and broad circulation of live speakers’ lists and concept notes for open debates, she asked for more details included on the Council’s programme of work including wrap-in and wrap-up sessions, Arria-formula meetings and informal interactive dialogues. The Council should return to its agreed practice of sharing all draft resolutions “in blue” with the wider membership before adoption. It is vital to “democratize its procedures”, including co-penholdership on all files, systematic consultations with affected countries and greater accountability of the use of veto. Urging a more consistent and broader approach to the acceptance of Rule 37 requests, she encouraged a standardized approach to prioritizing and encouraging group statements in open debates and welcomed efforts to ensure a greater number and diversity of female civil society briefers, and their safe participation without reprisals.
CHRISTINA MARKUS LASSEN (Denmark), also speaking for Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, said that opportunities for the wider membership to engage meaningfully in the Council’s work are key to ensuring that the organ can draw on their perspectives, knowledge and capacity. Additionally, the Peacebuilding Commission can offer valuable advice in support of the Council’s work. Welcoming efforts to include more female civil-society briefers, she underscored that continued attention to their safe participation — and the deeply concerning issue of reprisals — is critical. She also underlined the “invaluable innovation” that elected members bring to the Council, stating that their ability to participate meaningfully in the Council’s work is indispensable. On that, she urged more burden-sharing among all Council members in the context of penholdership, systematic consultations with affected countries and promoting greater accountability for the use of the veto.
Regarding the veto, she said that its use must come with transparency and accountability. Permanent members should refrain from using it in the case of mass atrocities, “including the crime of aggression”, she stressed. Emphasizing that the General Assembly’s resolution on the veto — resolution 76/262 — is an important accountability mechanism, she also expressed support for the presence of a dedicated chapter on the veto in the Council’s annual report. Council members should continue innovating and engaging towards a more transparent, inclusive, accountable — and thus, more effective — Council. Also calling for consistent implementation of the organ’s working methods, she expressed hope that the recommendations made today by the broader membership will be taken into account in the Council’s future work to adapt and improve its working methods.
RENÉ ALFONSO RUIDÍAZ PÉREZ (Chile), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group and the Like-Minded States Group on specific sanctions, called for greater transparency and accountability regarding the Council’s decision-making. Welcoming consensus reached on the orderly conduct of the minutes of silence and the continued functioning of the sanctions bodies, he stressed that achieving greater inclusiveness in its decision-taking and actions has become an unavoidable imperative. Highlighting the participation of civil society representatives in informative sessions, he encouraged more women to speak as briefers. For his country, the defending and strengthening of multilateralism is a priority, in which Council reform is fundamental, to provide legitimacy for decisions on international peace and security.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said that the Handbook — launched by Albania and Japan — will make the organ’s work more accessible. Noting that global challenges demand that States work together, he added: “We do not always need to agree, but we should always listen to each other.” He underscored the importance of making open debates more efficient by identifying their aims and outlining guiding questions in concept papers, which should be issued “early enough” before the debate. While supporting the return to the practice of Council’s field missions, he said that visiting the field and gathering first-hand impressions can “never truly be substituted”. However, new technology can facilitate and expedite flows of information and should be used regularly. Moreover, as an incoming Council member, Slovenia intends to join the mainstreaming of women, peace and security agenda into the organ’s work, he said.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy) said reform is necessary to regain public trust in the Council. Permanent and non-permanent Council members should work together and the distribution of duties among the organ’s members should be fairer and more balanced, including in the use of penholdership and co-penholdership. The views of Member States affected by the Council’s work should be considered. He supported the invitation of briefers to the organ’s meetings and greater inclusivity that lets Council members hear different points of view. Public meetings should be held as much as possible and the holding of closed meetings should be kept to a minimum. The improvement of working methods is part of a broader discussion of Council reform to make it more democratic and inclusive of Africa and the global South. A root cause of the Council’s inaction is linked to the power of the veto, whether it is used or threatened. He supported all initiatives meant to restrict its use.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) called for more-frequent open meetings — both involving the Council and its subsidiary bodies — underscoring that the organ works on behalf of the general membership. As such, its meetings should — as a general rule — be visible to all Member States. Further, there must be serious engagement between the Council and the general membership, who should be informed more regularly regarding the Council’s decisions. Member States should also be able to express their opinions to the Council regarding the organ’s products. Turning to the issue of penholdership, he stressed the need to ensure that it “does not become an exclusive right for a limited number of permanent members that serves their interests and ignores the priorities of other States” — particularly those playing important roles on the issues under consideration or those that are directly affected by them. It is “inconceivable”, he added, for the Council to take decisions on specific issues without the involvement of the regional mechanisms that are in charge of them.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia), recalling the words of his country’s President at the opening of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Jakarta, said the regional organization is “a large ship” that holds responsibility over millions of people who sail together. Likewise, the Council is a large ship that must sail on amid rocky waters and turbulences. “Its working methods are the screws and bolts that keep the ship together and allow it to continue on its course,” he said. Against this backdrop, the Council should promote greater participation of the UN membership and UN entities, to gain broader perspectives and transparency. It is also vital to hear from the Peacebuilding Commission. As well, he called for more effective coordination with regional organizations, whose knowledge, cultural nuances and localized solutions can be overlooked in broader discussions. These organizations’ views can amplify the Council’s work. Members must refrain politicizing the Council’s established rules and working methods. Improving working methods is a continuous process that requires Members to set aside differences, he stressed.
MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) observed that the flow of communication between the Council and UN membership is critical to fulfilling Charter obligations, notably Articles 24 and 25. In addition, by only inviting selected non-Council Member States to open debates, the Council risks creating a “two-tier” system which defeats the very purpose of the format. For informed assessments of situations of concern, it is important to hear relevant experts, including women and civil society briefers. It is also important to hear from briefers who may not speak in an official UN language, as long as interpretation is provided. She noted that the increased use of Arria-formula meetings is only desirable if the format’s original purpose is honoured, bringing attention to understudied topics and voices and not distracting from its work. Nonetheless, despite a multitude of crises, the Council continues to be paralysed, unable to act on many core threats to international peace and security, she pointed out.
NGUYEN HOANG NGUYEN (Viet Nam) called for greater unity and responsibility among Council members in addressing urgent issues related to international peace and security — including regarding countries and regions in conflict or at risk of conflict that deserve greater attention. He urged members to set themselves as leading examples in compliance with international law, particularly respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the principles of non-interference and resolving disputes through peaceful means. The Council also needs to foster greater transparency, inclusiveness and efficiency, with more public meetings, which facilitate interactive exchange and consensus building. “Closed meetings and informal consultations should be kept to a minimum and as exceptions,” he affirmed. He further urged the organ to engage more with non-Council members and relevant regional organizations, and to consult more with the troop- and police-contributing countries on issues concerning UN peacekeeping missions.
MICHAEL ALEXANDER GEISLER (Germany) said: “We need a Security Council that facilitates constructive debate and is able to take necessary and bold decisions,” stressing that it must undergo a reform to fulfil its mandate, composition and the way it operates. Further, the Council presidencies should give non-member States a possibility to participate in the organ’s discussions. Welcoming the increase in the Peacebuilding Commission’s written pieces of advice and briefings of its Chair to the Council, he spotlighted an improvement in quality and relevance of advice provided under the guidance of Kenya and now, Brazil. “And I think there is room for more: we should foster an even stronger focus of the PBC’s [Peacebuilding Commission] advice on matters pertaining to conflict prevention,” he emphasized. Reiterating support for civil society briefers, he said the Council should protect them, because “pressure and intimidation of civil society representatives who brief this Council are inexcusable and simply unacceptable”.
PABLO ADRIÁN ARROCHA OLABUENAGA (Mexico), noting the positive work of the Informal Working Group, also stressed that the Council can benefit from the advice of the Peacebuilding Commission, which would strengthen the collaboration between the Organization’s main organs. The adoption of General Assembly resolution 72/262 on the veto initiative has strengthened the relationship between the Assembly and the Council. Its relevance is rooted in its efforts to remedy the Council’s inaction, he pointed out, adding that the veto does not promote unity or efforts to seek resolution of issues. Rather, it is an “an act of power” and a clear example of the abuse of a working method. He also reiterated the importance of the Council addressing communications from any Member State regarding a controversy that might jeopardize international peace and security. It is unacceptable that the Council does not consider these issues, even if it regards activity by non-State actors. Any rupture of international peace and security should be considered, he emphasized.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) said that the selection of Chairs of subsidiary bodies and the distribution of penholderships must be made through an open, transparent process, based on exhaustive consultations. She underscored that permanent Council members’ ability to decide what roles eventually go to the elected members “reflects a continuation of the mindset of the post-1945 era — to the victor go the spoils”. “This is simply unacceptable,” she stressed. She also said that the blocking — without any justification — of genuine, evidence-based listing proposals for globally sanctioned terrorists “smacks of doublespeak”. Stating that merely fixing the Council’s working methods will never rectify its “fundamental flaw” — its lack of representative character — she stressed that denying Member States of the Global South a voice and role in the organ’s decision-making only lowers its credibility. An expansion of the Council in both categories of membership is the only way to bring its composition and decision-making dynamics in line with contemporary geopolitical realities, she added.
ANA PAULA ZACARIAS (Portugal), associating herself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said that, while the Council must be reformed, in the meantime, measures that are feasible under current rules should be taken. It is possible to ensure progress, she said, citing the veto initiative and the continued consolidation of the provisions of Note 507 as two laudable examples. Agreeing with the recommendations made in the Secretary-General policy brief “A New Agenda for Peace”, she said that Council members that are not a party to a situation in their region should have a more active role on resolutions to address it. In addition, the Council, before renewing a given mandate, should more systematically consult interested parties. It would be important to include in the Council’s annual report further details on the resolutions the Council fails to adopt, including an analysis of the use of veto when applicable, she stressed, calling on the Council to maintain the good practice of making statements to the press following closed-door meetings.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) said it is essential for the wider membership to be involved in the process and informed of the Council’s work and related developments as much and as soon as possible. Partnerships with countries in affected regions and relevant regional organizations are crucial for peace across the entire continuum. As the majority of the Council’s agenda involves situations in developing countries, their viewpoints and perspectives should be a high priority in the Council’s deliberation. The United Nations and its relevant bodies should work in synergy in facing geopolitical tensions and the Council should take the General Assembly’s views and recommendations on the Council’s working methods forward. He also welcomed the initiatives of the Co-Chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Council Reform in conveying Member States’ inputs on improving the Council’s working methods. While Note 507 and relevant processes attempt to consolidate the Council’s working methods and create flexibility, the Council should work towards adopting permanent rules of procedure for greater predictability and transparency, he said.
ALAN EBUN GEORGE (Sierra Leone) noting that his country is an incoming Council member, reiterated Africa’s position — endorsed by the African Union Assembly — on the organ’s equitable representation and its increasing membership. This would enable an accessible, accountable and democratic Council. He also welcomed the increase in public meetings, briefings and open debates, as well as the expanded number of penholderships and co-penholderships. In this regard, he noted the digitalization of Note 507 in the Handbook, sponsored by Japan. He also pointed out that the Council must enhance its relationship with the UN Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries, adding that the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations should involve these counties in mission planning. Further, the Council’s subsidiary organs should provide timely information on their activities. The organ should not be used to pursue national political agendas and must ensure non-selectivity and impartiality. As well, the Security Council — in an enlarged format — should formalize its rules of procedure, which have remained provisional for more than 60 years, he added.
ANTONIO M. LAGDAMEO (Philippines) stated that decisions on reform should not rest solely with the Security Council; it is imperative that the broader membership actively engages in reform processes in a meaningful way, not just in a token or perfunctory manner. Further, “the veto power has no place in a twenty-first century Security Council”, he stressed, as its use or threat of use can constrain action on vital issues. The exercise of the veto power could still be part of a reformed Council’s working methods — “it would be a challenge to remove it,” he stated. However, “we should exert every effort and find ways to curtail its use”. Otherwise, the effectiveness and efficiency of the Council would always be under threat, especially at times of great geopolitical rivalries. It must be judiciously used to avoid undue constraints on the Council’s primary mandate of maintaining international peace and security.
FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland), speaking for the Group of Like-Minded States on Targeted Sanctions, said the Group is strongly committed to an effective implementation of Council sanctions regimes, an important tool to address threats to international peace and security. Efforts to improve due process standards must continue as those safeguards the human rights of targeted individuals, the legitimacy of United Nations sanctions and is fundamental to Member States’ ability to implement the sanctions. “Due process does not weaken sanctions. On the contrary, it strengthens them,” he stressed. The Council responded to due process concerns by establishing the Office of the Ombudsperson to the 1267 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al Qaida Sanctions Committee. Yet, the Ombudsperson is mandated only to review cases from the ISIL and Al-Qaida sanctions list.
He went on to welcome the inclusion of a reference to the Ombudsperson in resolution 2653 (2022) — the framework of the Haiti sanctions regime and the expression of intent to consider authorizing the Ombudsperson to receive delisting requests relating to this sanctions regime, as well. Without an effective and independent review of Council listings at the United Nations level, other than by the Ombudsperson, it is likely that national and regional courts will continue to review national implementation of listing decisions. The Council should continue to improve its working methods in this area, including by expanding the mandate of the Ombudsperson to all sanctions regimes. Further, the Office of the Ombudsperson should be able to carry out its mandate in an independent, impartial and effective manner, as set out in resolution 2368 (2017). It is concerning that the Office’s independence is being undermined by the current contractual status and institutional arrangements of the Office within the Secretariat, he said.
RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia) observed that fragmentation within the Council — evidenced by a decrease in the unanimity of the organ’s decisions and an increase in vetoes cast — has impeded its actions. Spotlighting the importance of the accountability mechanism adopted in the General Assembly, he urged all Council members to join the France-Mexico initiative on veto restraint in the case of mass atrocities. He also encouraged further strengthening of the Council’s engagement with troop- and police-contributing countries to “incentivize the general membership to support peacekeeping operations”. Further, the development of more active and meaningful relationships with the Peacebuilding Commission, Human Rights Council and other relevant bodies — along with the International Criminal Court, as appropriate — could both increase the Council’s efficacy in responding to conflict and strengthen its role in sustaining peace. Among other suggestions, he encouraged the use of virtual participation for briefers where circumstances so require and the submission of written statements by non-members of the Council during open debates.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) highlighted the efforts of non-permanent Council members in improving the body’s working methods, recalling that in February 2000 during Argentina’s Council presidency, it urged the adoption of a President’s Note. During the last Argentine chairing of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions in 2013-2014, numerous presidential notes were adopted, on issues such as consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries and non-Council members. Calling on the Informal Working Group to continue working towards a single exhaustive document that consolidates and streamlines all decisions on working methods, she said that the Council could improve due process with sanctions committees and the quality of the annual report submitted to the General Assembly. As well, it could convene more briefings for non-members on the issues discussed in the Council's informal consultations, minimize closed meetings and make draft resolutions and presidential statements available to non-members in due time.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) said that geopolitical challenges among Council members have created a heightened level of fragmentation, while the lack of unity has had a detrimental effect on the organ’s integrity. She welcomed the consideration given to elected members wishing to share Council’s dossiers, especially those, who, as Chairs of subsidiary bodies, have the knowledge of the issues and the region concerned. In this regard, she underscored the importance of appointing Chairs of subsidiary bodies as co-penholders and emphasized that equitable burden sharing of all Council members is vital to this end. She, however, expressed regret that the Council was unable to reach consensus on “penholdership”. Recognizing the upward trajectory in the number of open meetings in the recent years, she said that the Council needs to convene more open meetings on country-specific situations. The organ may also wish to establish an interactive engagement of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, experts and the wider UN memberships on working methods, she added.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania) said transparency of the Council’s work is a permanent and very articulated expectation from its members. All members want a more accountable, more transparent, more efficient, more legitimate and more agile Council. “In a world of geopolitical fragmentations, procedures and working methods bring a sense of unity, a starting point in tackling security challenges,” he added. Acting with transparency and inclusivity and ensuring the presence of a wide range of voices in Council meetings is key. Arria-formula meetings offer an opportunity to exchange views on Council topics that are not usually agenda items. He expressed hope these meetings would showcase more topics of wide interest. A positive element is the circulation of the compilation of written statements after an Arria-formula meeting. The Council’s working methods represent a crucial tool to ensure that it does not “drop any inch in our defence of the UN Charter, the democratic values and principles of multilateralism”, he added.
ANA JIMENEZ DE LA HOZ (Spain) expressed support for the positions taken by the 10 elected Council members, emphasizing that such members are the “true driving force of change” in the Council on this important topic. She also underlined the need for the Council to work in a more transparent manner and to improve its annual report to the General Assembly. That report could incorporate more analysis and highlight the challenges faced in the Council, along with decisions made and obstacles encountered. This would improve the relationship between the two UN entities. Further, the Council could be more internally balanced, as opportunities exist for a better distribution of work — particularly in the context of penholding. Regarding the veto, she called on all Member States to join the France-Mexico initiative that advocates for moderation in its use in cases of mass atrocities, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
KRZYSZTOF SZCZERSKI (Poland) said that non-Council members should have a meaningful avenue to influence discussions on subjects directly concerning them. The Charter’s Article 35 and Rule 37 provide the foundation for such participation, and any attempts to stifle the diversity of the debate must be thwarted. Calling for a more equitable distribution of penholder responsibilities and strengthening the 10 elected members’ position, he urged the Council to adapt to the evolving nature of the global security landscape. It must not remain ensnared in the past, he warned, applauding the inclusion of far-reaching and comprehensive subjects on the Council’s agenda. This approach is especially timely as it addresses the fallout of all current conflicts, including the fatal consequences of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. The full implementation of the veto initiative and enhanced cooperation between the General Assembly and the Council is much-needed progress leading to an improvement of the latter’s work, he stressed.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), calling for openness and transparency, said that interested non-member States should be invited to closed meetings and summary records of such meetings should be circulated to all Member States. As well, the organ should adopt guidelines to facilitate participation of non-Council members under Articles 37 and 39 of the Charter. Moreover, the Council is obliged to provide timely reports on its work to the General Assembly to ensure that it acts on behalf of the entire UN membership, he said, suggesting establishing a standing committee on the implementation of Council’s resolutions. “Security Council resolutions do not have an expiry date. They must be implemented,” he emphasized. Pointing to the dissatisfaction with sanctions regimes, he said that the Council, or failing this, the General Assembly, should commission an independent expert study to review the impact, effectiveness and relevant of those regimes. Turning to the Intergovernmental process, he expressed regret that “one State” appears to be willing to destroy it, stressing: “This will prove counterproductive.”
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh) said the Informal Working Group has identified a number of gaps in implementing Note 507, focusing on improving open debate quality, boosting female civil society participation and enhancing the Council’s cooperation with other organs. The Council should strengthen its engagement with the wider United Nations membership, and to be more proactive, it should also improve its coordination and cooperation among United Nations principal organs. A comprehensive reform on the veto’s use is required, accounting for current geopolitical realities. “We believe that required measures should be taken to ensure its judicious application so long as it exists, including by limiting its application only for certain compelling situations,” he said. Expressing his delegation’s support for resolution 76/262, he said that this resolution allows Member States to express their views on the Council's actions. In addition, he underscored the importance of ensuring accountability and transparency in the Sanction Committees’ work.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), endorsing the statement made by the 10 elected Council members, called for more open discussions. Further, he underlined the importance of a regular flow of information and documentation to the wider UN membership, recalling his delegation’s suggestion that some form of summary record of closed meetings be maintained and shared. However, while good working methods are necessary, they are not sufficient to ensure good outcomes from the Council. Ultimately, Council members — especially permanent ones — should act with unity of purpose in discharging their primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. While the Council is able to demonstrate effectiveness in addressing major issues — such as the adoption of resolution 2664 (2022) to create humanitarian carveouts for sanctions — there has been a greater use of the veto in recent years and months. He therefore echoed calls for restraint in its use, also stating that Council members should abstain from voting if they are party to a dispute.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said that the Council’s ability to adapt its working methods to global circumstances — including during the COVID-19 pandemic — using videoconference and other remote working methods, allowed its members to adopt decisions and resolutions. He also noted with satisfaction the organization of meetings by all Council presidencies and with all Member States at the beginning and at the end of each month. Outlining the increase in open meetings and briefings, he underscored the importance of consultations to achieve compromise on thorny issues. Recalling that Morocco has been a troop-contributing country since 1960, he emphasized the importance of consultations between Council members and troop- and police-contributing countries, as well as triangular meetings that include the UN Secretariat. He further pointed to the importance of peacebuilding and welcomed the increased cooperation between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, including the systemic participation of its Chair in respective meetings.
ANTONIOS PAPAKOSTAS (Greece) voiced his support for the revised Note 507, which consolidated, streamlined and restructured the previous note and encourages all Council members to work fully to implement its elements. These elements include, but are not limited to, the monthly programme of work and monthly forecast, meetings, informal consultations of the whole, the drafting of outcome documents, dialogue with non-Council members and bodies and Council missions. He outlined several ideas to improve the Council’s working methods, including the official adoption of its rules of procedure and improved interaction between the Council and its subsidiary bodies, such as the Peacebuilding Commission. He also advocated for a more substantive and efficient interaction by Council members during its open debates. Also noting his support for General Assembly resolution 76/262, which initiated the so-called veto initiative, he encouraged the Council to ensure the safe and meaningful participation of civil society briefers, including women, in Council meetings while protecting them from retaliation and threats.
JAMES LARSEN (Australia), pointing out that the Council’s transparency is in the interest of all Member States, called for a strengthened engagement between Council members and the broader UN membership, including key regional groups. Expressing support for public meetings, open debate and Arria-formula meetings, as well as monthly preview and wrap-up sessions, he added: “Effective multilateralism isn’t just about the discussions inside this Chamber, it’s also about being inclusive.” He also voiced support for the participation of civil society representatives and humanitarian briefers working in the field — often at risk to their personal safety — in the Council meetings. Noting that the veto power — as a powerful instrument — must be transparent and restrained, he urged all States to capitalize on the momentum of the “Liechtenstein initiative”. He recalled that 2022 was the deadliest year for armed conflict since the 1994 Rwanda genocide, emphasizing that peacebuilding must be the responsibility of the entire UN system.
ALHAKAM DANDY (Syria) underlined the need to “end the extreme political polarization” within the Council, stating that the degree of importance or urgency of certain issues requiring the organ’s review are subject to “true manipulation” by certain members. Additionally, the distribution of duties among penholders must be revised. He also urged the Council to limit the number of meetings that are held too frequently on issues regarding certain countries and stressed that sanctions regimes must be subject to meaningful review to avoid adverse impacts. Further, the Council must act more transparently, as this helps to ensure the participation of civil-society and non-governmental organizations. Such participation can generate added value by allowing Council members to benefit from the experience of these entities. However, he spotlighted “true exploitation” in the extension of invitations in certain circumstances, stressing that this contributes to the “dissemination of unfounded allegations to advance the nefarious political agendas of certain Member States”.
LETICIA MARÍA ZAMORA ZUMBADO (Costa Rica), noting that open debates allow the Council to listen to the UN membership at the highest level, said that, as a State’s place drops on the list of speakers, so does the level of other States’ representation. To this end, she called on the Council presidency to prepare a working document that addresses membership recommendations and advances the provisionally of its rules of procedure. Underscoring the importance of maintaining a balanced distribution of penholders, she said that joint drafting and co-authorship should be established as a rule for initiating and leading the drafting process. This practice will promote greater participation of all Council members — including the countries from the region in question — in decision-making. Calling for more regular interaction between the subsidiary bodies, Member States, UN agencies and regional and subregional organizations, she stressed: “Working methods are the sinews and vessels that connect the Council with other vital organs, helping them to function with greater synergy.”
AMIR SAEID IRAVANI (Iran) said comprehensive reform that will transform the Council into a transparent, rule-based and accountable body is necessary. The penholder system is an ongoing concern as it has been exploited to promote the interests of specific members. Three members, with a colonial mentality, maintain control over most country-specific matters under the Council agenda and frequently disregard the views and legitimate concerns of countries being discussed. It is imperative that penholders and co-penholders carry out their duties responsibly and impartially. Turning to sanctions, he said these measures must undergo rigorous and ongoing assessments of their profound humanitarian consequences, with a commitment to suspend or terminate them when deemed essential. When deliberating the imposition of sanctions, particularly in scenarios of questionable necessity or justification, the Council should exercise its Chapter VII powers and consider the humanitarian and human rights repercussions on civilian populations. The penholders must refrain from using sanctions as a cover for illegal unilateral actions or as a weapon to advance their narrow political purposes, he said.
TOBIE SEPE (Central African Republic) expressed concern that a limited number of countries seem to consistently function as penholders, which leads to decisions that are not unanimous. All Council members should have the same opportunity to fully participate in elaborating the organ’s resolutions, presidential statements and press releases. He therefore suggested that an annual limit on penholding be introduced for each Council member and that a mechanism to share this function be established. This would strengthen the Council’s efficiency and ensure that the drafting of documents is more inclusive. Further, independent assessment and evaluation is essential to objectively judge the coherence, propriety and efficiency of Council decisions in relation to their goal. On that, he noted that individual sanctions against leaders of armed groups have proven to be more symbolic than effective and that the arms embargo relating to his country undermines national security forces while allowing terrorist groups to thrive.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), underscoring the importance of developing the Council’s working methods to enhance its efficiency, commended the efforts of two previous presidencies — Kuwait and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — which led to the adoption of 13 presidential statements. Reaffirming the need for convening more objective and interactive consultations and increasing the participation of non-member States in the Council’s work, he underlined the importance of a timely issuance of the Council’s report to allow the General Assembly to discuss it. He also called for an increased number of open sessions, adding that respective documents should be uploaded on the Council’s website in the six UN official languages. Reaffirming the role of regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security, he emphasized the need for convening regular sessions on developing the Council’s working methods.