February 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2019
Download Complete Forecast: PDF

Lead Roles within the Council in 2019: Penholders and Chairs of Subsidiary Bodies

The tables below have been updated to reflect the Security Council penholders and chairs of subsidiary bodies as of January 2019. These tables do not include all agenda items of which the Council is currently seized but do include items with regular outcomes or where a subsidiary body has been established. For the full list of the agenda items, please refer to the latest summary statement by the Secretary-General of matters of which the Security Council is seized and the stage reached in their consideration (S/2019/10). The list of chairs of subsidiary bodies is contained in a 2 January note by the Council president (S/2019/2).

In recent years, the penholder system and the process of appointing subsidiary body chairs have been increasingly frequent topics of discussion among Council members. The penholder role refers to a member of the Council that leads the negotiation and drafting of resolutions on a Council agenda item in which they have an interest. Leadership within the Council in drafting resolutions has been normal practice since its inception, but the penholder system is a more recent development. It was not until 2006, with France, the UK and the US (known as the P3) leading in the drafting and negotiating of outcomes regarding nuclear threats in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, that the penholder “system” started emerging as a distinct practice. More recently, the penholder system has been the domain and practice of the permanent members of the Council, particularly the P3, whereas chairmanships of the subsidiary bodies have been held by elected members. Though leadership in the subsidiary bodies have almost always been the elected members—the process by which they are appointed was for decades opaque and controlled by the permanent members. This exclusivity and the unequal distribution of penholdership roles amongst members of the Council are just two reasons why the issue of burden-sharing has become a more frequent point of discussion when addressing working methods.

Patterns of leadership in drafting resolutions on certain issues existed for years, but elected members played active roles on different files and drafting was not the exclusive domain of permanent members. By around 2010, however, the P3 had become penholders on most situation-specific issues on the Council agenda and all the new situations added more recently. There was no formal decision or process for these assignments and the term “penholder” did not appear in a Council-agreed document until 2014. A note by the president of the Council on improving the “efficiency and transparency of the Council’s work” (S/2014/268) acknowledged that all members can serve as a penholder, affirmed members’ commitment to enhancing the participation of all Council members in the drafting of outcomes, and signaled the intention to consult with non-Council membership when drafting. In 2017, the updated version of the comprehensive guidelines for Council working methods, known as “Note 507” (S/2017/507), incorporated the provisions of the 2014 note and also said 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”. In practice, however, the penholder system remained unchanged, and several members, both on the Council and not, continued to express their concerns during annual open debates on working methods.

In a letter to the President of the Security Council of 13 November 2018, the permanent representatives of 15 countries, both elected and incoming Council members—Belgium, Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, South African and Sweden—stressed their conviction that a more equal distribution of work among all members, including through co-penholderships, would improve the overall effectiveness of the Council (S/2018/1024).

In contrast to the penholder system, the subsidiary bodies created by the Council have in recent years exclusively been chaired by non-permanent members. In 2016, a change in the date of electing new Council members created an opportunity to address the need for change in the appointment process of subsidiary body chairs. Japan, chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions at the time, drafted a note aimed at improving the various aspects of new members’ preparation during the period between election and the beginning of their term, including the selection and preparation of chairs of subsidiary bodies. Initially reluctant, the P5 eventually agreed to establish a more transparent and collaborative appointment process. The resulting note called for an informal consultation process on appointments to be “undertaken in a balanced, transparent, efficient and inclusive way”. The process was also to be “facilitated jointly by two members of the Security Council working in full cooperation”. This was incorporated into the 2017 “Note 507” which also elaborated a set of measures aimed at enhancing the transparency of subsidiary organs, as well as improving the preparation of chairs and increasing the interaction and coordination among subsidiary organs and the Council.

In the November 2018 letter regarding Council burden-sharing, the elected members highlighted the connection between the penholdership and the chairing of sanctions committees. They said the Council ought to “make better use of the expertise that the Chairs of sanctions committees develop on the situations discussed in their respective committees and should consider promoting their role as penholders and the automaticity of their role as co-penholders on the related dossiers.”

In an effort to achieve better burden-sharing, Germany, which chairs the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, joined the UK as co-penholder on issues concerning Libya sanctions as of early 2019. In addition, Germany decided that its deputy permanent representative, rather than its permanent representative, will serve as chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee. Historically, permanent representatives have held the position of chairs of subsidiary bodies; however, this has been Council practice rather than the result of Council decisions. Having deputy permanent representatives chair subsidiary bodies may lead to a better burden-sharing within individual missions thus enhancing their effectiveness while on the Council.

Country-Situation Chair of the Relevant Council Subsidiary Body
Afghanistan Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia)
1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee
Bosnia and Herzegovina N/A
Burundi N/A
Central Africa (UNOCA/LRA) N/A
Central African Republic Léon Houadja Kacou Adom (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) Christoph Heusgen (Germany)
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 Jürgen Schulz (Germany)
1970 Libya Sanctions Committee
Mali José Singer Weisinger (Dominican Republic)
2374 Mali Sanctions Committee
Middle East (Israel/Palestine) N/A
Somalia Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium)
751 Somalia Sanctions Committee
South Sudan Joanna Wronecka (Poland)
2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee
Sudan Joanna Wronecka (Poland)
1591 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 Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium)
Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Counterterrorism (1267 1989 and 2253) Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia)
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) Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia)
1540 Committee
Peace and Security in Africa Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa)
Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa
Peacekeeping Léon Houadja Kacou Adom (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 Germany and Peru 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 Germany and Indonesia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Rotating on a monthly basis among members of the Contact and Drafting Group (France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK, the US and current elected Council members Belgium and Poland)
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
Iraq US on Iraq; UK on Iraq/Kuwait
Lake Chad Basin UK
Lebanon France
Liberia US
Libya UK; the UK and Germany on Libya sanctions
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/South Sudan US
Sudan (Darfur) Germany and UK
South Sudan US
Syria Belgium, Germany and Kuwait lead on humanitarian issues
Ukraine There is no clear penholder 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 and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Côte d’Ivoire
Western Sahara US
Thematic Issue
Children and Armed Conflict Belgium
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) Indonesia
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