February 2018 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2018
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Lead Roles within the Council in 2018: Penholders and Chairs of Subsidiary Bodies

The charts in this Forecast provide an update on Security Council penholders and chairs of subsidiary bodies as of January 2018. The charts do not cover all the agenda items of which the Council is currently seized; rather, they focus on items with regular outcomes or those for which a subsidiary body has been established. For the full names of agenda items, please refer to the latest summary statement by the Secretary-General of matters of which the Security Council is seized (S/2018/10). The list of chairs of subsidiary bodies is contained in a 2 January note by the Council President (S/2018/2). 

Under Japan’s leadership as the chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG), the Council reached agreement on 30 August 2017 on a new version of the compendium of its working methods, commonly referred to as “Note 507”. In the updated Note 507, particular attention was paid to the penholder system and the appointment of chairs of subsidiary bodies.

The penholder system emerged around 2010 but was not mentioned in a Council document other than meeting records until a 2014 presidential note (S/2014/268). The updated 2017 Note 507 stated, as previously articulated in the 2014 note, that “[a]ny member of the Security Council may be a penholder” and also added language reiterating that “[m]ore than one Council member may act as co-penholders, when it is deemed to add value, taking into account as appropriate the expertise and/or contributions of Council members on the subjects”. While both notes specify that any member of the Council can be a penholder, the P3 (France, the UK and the US) continue to dominate the penholder list. However, this is only an informal system, with no process for Council members to decide or review penholderships, and seemingly nothing prevents other Council members from drafting outcomes on any given issue. 

The updated Note 507 provides guidelines regarding the processes leading up to the adoption of Council outcomes in the current penholder system, including stressing the desirability of at least one round of discussions with all members of the Council on all drafts. It emphasises the need for providing reasonably sufficient time for consideration, referring to “silence procedure”, a common practice that had never been articulated in writing, whereby a draft is circulated by email with a deadline for raising objections, in the absence of which the draft becomes final, recognising “that any Council member may request extension of and/or break silence if further consideration is required”. Furthermore, the Note acknowledges that for certain open debates, the adoption of an outcome might take place at a later date to allow the outcome to more fully reflect matters raised during the debate.

New  Council members who, as of press time, have assumed the role of penholders for 2018 include: Côte d’Ivoire, penholder on Guinea-Bissau and co-penholder with Sweden on West Africa, including the Sahel; Kuwait, penholder on Working Methods; the Netherlands, penholder on Afghanistan; and Peru, penholder on international tribunals.

In contrast to the penholder system, the many subsidiary bodies established by the Council are all chaired by non-permanent members. The appointment process is largely controlled by the P5, although non-permanent members have long been pushing for a more inclusive and transparent process that takes into consideration to a greater extent the priorities and preferences of all Council members. As a result of these efforts, modifications to the appointment process of chairs of subsidiary bodies were agreed in Notes by the President S/2016/170 and S/2016/619. These notes focused on improving the transparency of the subsidiary bodies and preparing newly elected council members, respectively. In particular, note S/2016/619 stated that the process of appointing chairs “will be facilitated jointly by two members of the Security Council working in full cooperation”, with the unwritten understanding that the two members would be one permanent member and the chair of the IWG. It also expressed the desirability of appointing the chairs by 1 October.

The 2017 Note 507 incorporated the key elements from both of these notes, and further stated that the “members of the Council should also consult informally with the newly elected members in the process”. In 2016, the Council did not reach agreement on the selection of chairs for 2017 until 31 October, but in 2017, the Council agreed on the selection of chairs by the end of the first week of October.

Because the selection of chairs for 2018 was completed in the first week of October 2017, it gave the incoming elected members Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru and Poland considerably more time to prepare for their new responsibilities than was the case in the past. Côte d’Ivoire chairs the 2127 Central African Republic Sanctions Committee and the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations; Equatorial Guinea, the 1636 Lebanon Sanctions Committee and the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee; Kuwait, the 1533 Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions Committee; the Netherlands, the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Sanctions Committee; Peru, the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee, the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, and the Working Group on Counter-Terrorism; and Poland, the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, and the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee.


Country-Situation Chair of the Relevant Council Subsidiary Body
Afghanistan Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan),
1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee
Bosnia and Herzegovina N/A
Burundi N/A
Central Africa (UNOCA/LRA) N/A
Central African Republic Bernard Tanoh-Boutschoue (Côte d’Ivoire),
2127 CAR Sanctions Committee
Central Asia (UNRCCA) N/A
Colombia N/A
Côte d’Ivoire N/A (The 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee was dissolved on 28 April 2016.)
Cyprus N/A
Democratic Republic of the Congo Mansour Alotaibi (Kuwait),
1533 DRC Sanctions Committee
DPRK (Non-proliferation) Karel J. G. van Oosterom (the Netherlands),
1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee
Golan Heights (UNDOF) N/A
Guinea-Bissau Anatolio Ndong Mba (Equatorial Guinea),
2048 Guinea-Bissau Committee
Haiti N/A
Iran (Non-Proliferation) N/A
Iraq Joanna Wronecka (Poland),
1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee
Lebanon Anatolio Ndong Mba (Equatorial Guinea),
1636 Lebanon Sanctions Committee
Liberia N/A (The 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee was dissolved on 25 May 2016.)
Libya Olof Skoog (Sweden),
1970 Libya Sanctions Committee
Mali Olof Skoog (Sweden),
2374 Mali Sanctions Committee
Middle East (Israel/Palestine) N/A
Somalia Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan),
751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee
Sudan and South Sudan Joanna Wronecka (Poland),
1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee
Joanna Wronecka (Poland),
2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee
Syria N/A
Ukraine N/A
Yemen Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru),
2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee
West Africa, including the Sahel N/A
Western Sahara N/A
Thematic Issues  
Children and Armed Conflict Olof Skoog (Sweden),
Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Counterterrorism (1267 1989 and 2253) Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan),
1267/1989/2253 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (Da’esh)/Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee
Counterterrorism (1373) Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru),
1373 Counterterrorism Committee
Counterterrorism (1566) Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru),
1566 Working Group
ICTY and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru),
Informal Working Group on International Tribunals
Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (1540) Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia),
1540 Committee
Peace and Security in Africa Tekeda Alemu (Ethiopia),
Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa
Peacekeeping Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue (Côte d’Ivoire),
Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict UK, Protection of Civilians Informal Expert Group
Women and Peace and Security Peru and Sweden co-chair the 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security
Working Methods Mansour Alotaibi (Kuwait),
Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions
Country-Situation Current Penholder in the Council
Afghanistan The Netherlands
Bosnia and Herzegovina Rotating on a monthly basis among members of the contact and drafting group (currently France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the UK, and the US)
Burundi France
Central Africa (UNOCA/LRA) UK
Central African Republic France
Central Asia (UNRCCA) Russia
Colombia UK
Côte d’Ivoire France
Cyprus UK
Democratic Republic of the Congo France
DPRK (Non-proliferation) US
Golan Heights (UNDOF) Russia and the US
Guinea-Bissau Côte d’Ivoire
Haiti US in consultation with the Group of Friends of Haiti (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Peru, the US, Uruguay and Venezuela)
Iran (Non-Proliferation) US; the Netherlands acts as facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231
Iraq US on Iraq; UK on Iraq/Kuwait
Lebanon France 
Liberia US
Libya UK
Mali France
Middle East (Israel/Palestine) The US is often seen as the lead, but recent proposals on this issue have been drafted by various other Council members
Somalia UK; US on piracy
Sudan UK
South Sudan US
Syria Kuwait and Sweden lead on humanitarian issues. On other issues, incl. chemical weapons, texts are normally agreed between Russia and the US prior to seeking agreement by the broader Council although France and the UK have also been active in tabling drafts and calling for meetings
Ukraine There is no clear pen-holder for Ukraine. Both Russia and the US have drafted texts and other members have been active in calling for meetings on the issue
Yemen UK
West Africa, including the Sahel Côte d’Ivoire and Sweden
Western Sahara US
Thematic Issue  
Children and Armed Conflict Sweden
Counterterrorism (1267 1989 and 2253) US
Counterterrorism (1373) US
Counterterrorism (1566) US
ICTY and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Peru
Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (1540) Bolivia
Peace and Security in Africa N/A
Peacekeeping UK
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict UK
Women and Peace and Security

UK on women’s participation and protection (resolution 1325); US on sexual violence in conflict (resolution 1820)

Working Methods Kuwait

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