September 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 25 August 2010
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THE SECURITY COUNCIL

Security Council Statistics

In our February 2010 Forecast we analysed the statistical output of the Security Council for 2009. The finding that there had been a significant drop in the number of Security Council decisions of 26 percent from 2008 was a surprise. Even more of a surprise was when the longer historical context was considered. When the 2009 result was graphed against the outputs of the Security Council over the past twenty years, it showed that the number of Security Council decisions in 2009 was quite unprecedented in the post cold war period. The 2009 figure represented a return to lower levels of activity not seen for almost twenty years.

In our analysis we cautioned that progress is not measured only by formal decisions and that more is not necessarily better. And as we have highlighted in various reports during 2010 there has been a qualitative change in the atmosphere in the Council which had made it much more productive on a range of issues which were previously relatively intractable.

However, statistics are important benchmarks. We have therefore prepared an interim comparison between 2009 and 2010 covering the seven months from 1 January 2010 to 31 July 2010. An interesting picture emerges which suggests— at least at this point—that the pattern of 2009 is being sustained. As of 31 July the number of Security Council resolutions and presidential statements adopted during 2010 was 43. By comparison the number adopted in the same seven months period in 2009 was 45. Of course it remains to be seen how events will drive the output of the Council for the remainder of 2010.

Because of the fact that statistics are important indicators and because some have stressed the need to assess not only the formal decisions of the Council but also its informal work, we have also during 2010 analysed a set of statistics which correlate to the availability of information about the informal work of the Security Council.

Appearances of the Council President and other Council members at the media stakeout have proved over the years to be a major source of insight to the informal work of the Council. Such appearances have significantly improved the transparency of the Council and the information available to member states and the wider public—especially since the advent of the UN Webcast archive. However, questions have arisen since the relocation of the Security Council in April 2010 to new temporary premises regarding ongoing transparency. Accordingly we analysed the numbers of stakeout appearances since the move of the Security Council to the new temporary accommodation and compared these with the figures for the same period for the preceding four years. (Since on some occasions the stakeout is used to speak about non Security Council issues, the statistics have been adjusted in all cases to limit the numbers to appearances which deal with Security Council matters.)

The findings are as follows:

April-July Stakeout Appearances for 2010
By the President 38
By other Members 32

April-July Stakeout Appearances Average for 2006-2009
By the President 48
By other Members 89

The reduction of 20 percent in appearances in recent months by the president from the past four-year average is significant. But even more significant is the 64 percent drop in appearances by other Council members. There is no doubt that the constraints of the new temporary facilities are a key factor in this, including the distance to the stakeout venue from the new locations for the UN press corps. However, other factors may be contributing as well, including timely liaison between the Security Council Affairs Division and the interested parties. Although the new facilities are temporary, the physical status quo seems likely to prevail for some time and there is therefore a real risk that the information status quo will become a permanent habit.

Stakeout appearances April – July 2006-2010

2010

Month/President

By the President

By other members

April – Japan

11

5

May – Lebanon

4

10

June – Mexico

13

9

July – Nigeria

10

8

2009

Month/President

By the President

By other members

April – Mexico

11

30

May – Russia

6

23

June – Turkey

7

20

July – Uganda

5

6

2008

Month/President

By the President

By other members

April – South Africa

17

22

May – UK

12

13

June – US

20

13

July – Vietnam

14

37

2007

Month/President

By the President

By other members

April – UK

10

18

May – US

16

18

June – Belgium

12

15

July – China

13

27

2006

Month/President

By the President

By other members

April – China

12

15

May – Congo

4

27

June – Denmark

5

7

July – France

29

63

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