Working methods of the Security Council - Security Council, 9079th meeting
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03:00:06
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Since 2010, the Security Council has held annual open debates on its working methods. These meetings have served to take stock of the evolution of the working methods of the Council and to engage with the wider membership on behalf of which the Council acts, pursuant to Article 24 of the Charter of the United Nations. This open debate will serve to take stock of the very challenging circumstances in which the Council is operating, particularly in the past two and a half years. 
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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the sanctions regime and the system of drafting resolutions — speakers today told the Security Council that its outdated working methods needed improvement in order to create a transparent, nimble 15-nation organ capable of tackling contemporary global challenges.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.