December 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 25 November 2015
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Subsidiary Bodies

Expected Council Action 

In December, the subsidiary body chairpersons from countries that will be finishing their two-year terms on the Council are expected to brief about their work and experiences chairing sanctions committees and working groups.

Ambassador Mahamat Zene Cherif (Chad) will brief on the 1636 Lebanon Sanctions Committee and the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations.

Ambassador Cristián Barros Melet (Chile) will brief on the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee and the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals. 

Ambassador Dina Kawar (Jordan) will brief on the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee and the 1533 Democratic Republic of Congo Sanctions Committee. 

Ambassador Raimonda MurmokaitÄ— (Lithuania) will brief on the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 2127 Central African Republic Sanctions Committee, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee and the 1566 Working Group on Counter-terrorism.    

Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu (Nigeria) will brief on the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee and the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee. 


In an annual practice dating back to 2002, the subsidiary body chairpersons from outgoing Council members have, in their personal capacity, briefed the Council. The briefing seems to serve three principal functions. First, it has provided an opportunity for subsidiary body chairpersons to convey to fellow Council members developments within their committee or working group. Second, some chairpersons have also critically analysed the work of the subsidiary body, acknowledging successes and failures while identifying areas for improvement. Third, building on this analysis, chairpersons have occasionally also provided specific recommendations for reforms, which could either concern general UN institutional aspects or a specific sanctions regime or thematic area.

Key Recent Developments 

On 20 October, the Council held its annual open debate on working methods, during which several Council members addressed issues relating to subsidiary bodies. Angola—speaking on behalf of six Council members, including 2015 outgoing members Chile and Jordan—advocated changing the penholder system. (Once appointed as a subsidiary body chair, much of their work deals with implementing resolutions drafted by penholders who often do not consult them in the initial design of the resolution.) Chad suggested that the method for appointment of subsidiary body chairs requires reform. Lithuania called for greater transparency, including public briefings by sanctions committee chairs, and advocated other practices relating to sanctions committees, such as better outreach to regional states, increased field visits by chairs and further cooperation and coordination among subsidiary bodies. Nigeria and Venezuela also called for more transparency in the Council, including among subsidiary bodies. On 30 October, the Council adopted a presidential statement encouraging subsidiary bodies to make further progress toward enhancing effectiveness and transparency.    

Key Issues 

Some of the issues that could be raised at the briefing in December by the outgoing chairs of sanctions committees and working groups include: 

the need for more transparency in the working methods of subsidiary bodies and more public briefings in the Council by subsidiary body chairs;

the lack of input by elected members into the appointment of subsidiary body chairs and uneven transitions from one subsidiary body chair to another;

the need for improved interaction between subsidiary body chairs and penholders, particularly more consultation of the former by the latter;

insufficient outreach by sanctions committee chairs and how this can be mitigated by more active engagement with regional states;

the need to facilitate a more effective working relationship with states targeted by sanctions, including through visits by sanctions committee chairs; and 

inadequate cooperation and coordination among subsidiary bodies.    

Council Dynamics 

Two interrelated issues with significant implications for subsidiary body chairs are the process by which they are appointed and their subsequent working relationship with the relevant penholder for their committee or working group. A note by the president of the Council issued on 5 June 2014 encouraged the early appointment of subsidiary body chairs so they could have enough time to prepare for the upcoming year. As indicated by Chad at the working methods open debate on 20 October, elected members are generally in favour of reforming the appointment process; and as Angola stated on behalf of six Council members, there is considerable support among elected members for greater participation in the penholder system, which could also have significant implications for the work of subsidiary body chairs. These topics are likely to come up again in some form during the briefing in December.  

There has been some progress toward transparency in the Council and its subsidiary bodies, but this has also been subject to reversals in certain cases. In 2014, fewer than half—43 percent—of the briefings by sanctions committee chairs included a public component. In 2015, more than half—54 percent to date—of the briefings by sanctions committee chairs have included a public component. However, the trend has been uneven regarding some sanctions committees, such as the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, whose consultations in November 2014 were accompanied by a public briefing which has not been repeated. Ambassadors Barros and MurmokaitÄ—, who made it standard practice to brief the Council publicly as sanctions committee chairs, could address this issue in December.       

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UN Documents 

Security Council Presidential Statement
30 October 2015 S/PRST/2015/19 This was the first presidential statement adopted by the Council on its own working methods.
Security Council Meeting Records
20 October 2015 S/PV.7539 and Resumption1 This was the sixth open debate on working methods.
9 December 2014 S/PV.7331 This was a briefing by the chairmen of the Council’s subsidiary bodies.
Notes by the President of the Security Council
5 June 2014 S/2014/393 This was a note by the President of the Council that proposed measures to improve the effectiveness and continuity of the work of the Council subsidiary bodies.
14 April 2014 S/2014/268 This was a note by the President of the Council that called for wider participation of Council members in the drafting of Council documents.
17 December 2012 S/2012/937 This presidential note stated that Council members supported a process of selection of chairpersons of subsidiary organs, with the participation of all members, in a “balanced, transparent, efficient and inclusive way.”

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