February 2020 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2020
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Lead Roles within the Council in 2020: Penholders and Chairs of Subsidiary Bodies

The tables below reflect the Security Council penholders and chairs of subsidiary bodies as of January 2020. The tables do not cover all the agenda items of which the Council is currently seized but 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 summary statement by the Secretary-General of matters of which the Security Council is seized issued on 2 January. The list of chairs of subsidiary bodies is contained in a note by the Council president, also of 2 January.

The penholder system and the process of appointing chairs of subsidiary bodies are frequent topics of discussion among Council members. The penholder role refers to the member of the Council that leads the negotiation and drafting of resolutions on a particular Council agenda item. While leadership within the Council in drafting resolutions has been regular practice since its inception, the penholder system itself is a fairly 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 by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran—that the penholder “system” began to emerge as a distinct practice. While any member of the Council can be a penholder—it is an informal system, with nothing preventing other Council members from “grabbing the pen” and drafting outcomes on any issue—the P3 continue to dominate the penholder list, as is clear from the tables below. At times, elected members have demonstrated that they are willing to take up the pen.

In contrast to the penholder system, the many subsidiary bodies established by the Council have, in recent years, been chaired exclusively by non-permanent members. The process by which chairs are appointed was until recently controlled by the permanent members, and opaque. This, and the unequal distribution of penholder roles among elected members, helped make the issue of burden-sharing a frequent point of discussion when addressing working methods. In 2016, a change in the date of electing new Council members—from October to June—created an opportunity for addressing the chairs’ selection process as part of discussions within the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG), led at the time by Japan. Several changes in the selection process were instituted that fall.  They included a more transparent and collaborative appointment process, facilitated by a permanent and an elected member.

In August 2017, under Japan’s leadership, the IWG reached agreement on a new version of the compendium of its working methods, commonly referred to as “Note 507”. In this update, attention was specifically paid to the penholder system and the appointment of chairs of subsidiary bodies. The updated Note 507 provided guidelines regarding the processes leading to the adoption of Council outcomes under the current penholder system, including an emphasis on at least one round of discussions with all members of the Council on all drafts. It underscored the need to provide sufficient time for consideration, referring to the “silence procedure”, a common practice that had never before been articulated in writing in which a draft is circulated with a deadline for raising objections. Should there be none, the draft becomes final, recognising “that any Council member may request extension of and/or break silence if further consideration is required”. The 2017 Note 507 also restated the 2016 agreements concerning subsidiary bodies.

In 2019, there were developments concerning both the penholdership and chairing of subsidiary bodies. In an effort to achieve better burden-sharing, Germany, which took on the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, joined the UK as co-penholder on issues concerning Libya sanctions in early 2019. In addition, Germany decided to appoint its deputy permanent representative, rather than its permanent representative, 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. Early in 2019, Germany furthermore joined the UK as co-penholder on Sudan. In mid-2019, Belgium joined Côte d’Ivoire as co-penholder on West Africa and the Sahel.

The process of appointing chairs of the Council subsidiary bodies in 2019 was smoother than in previous years. The incoming five members discussed their “wish lists” for chairmanships among themselves before submitting a list as a group to China and Kuwait, who were the facilitators in 2019. The list passed silence on 11 October and  became formal in January 2020.

Some of the new Council members–Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Viet Nam­–have assumed the role of penholders or co-penholders for 2020. Niger joined Belgium as co-penholder for West Africa and the Sahel; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became penholder on working methods; and Viet Nam, penholder on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. Estonia chairs the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee and the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee; Niger, the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee, the 1533 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee, and the 1566 Working Group; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee and the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions; Tunisia, the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Committee, the 1373 Counterterrorism Committee, and the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations; and Viet Nam, the 1636 Lebanon Sanctions Committee, the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee, and the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals. The Dominican Republic has replaced Peru as the co-chair with Germany of the 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security as well as continuing to chair the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee.


County-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 Abdou Abarry (Niger)
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 Abdou Abarry (Niger)
1533 DRC Sanctions Committee
DPRK (Non-proliferation) Christoph Heusgen (Germany)
1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee
Golan Heights (UNDOF) N/A
Guinea-Bissau Moncef Baati (Tunisia)
2048 Guinea-Bissau Committee
Haiti N/A
Iran (Non-proliferation) N/A
Iraq Sven Jürgenson (Estonia)
1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee
Lebanon Dang Dinh Quy (Viet Nam)
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 Dang Dinh Quy (Viet Nam)
2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee
Sudan Sven Jürgenson (Estonia)
1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee
Syria N/A
Ukraine N/A
Yemen Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee
West Africa, including the Sahel N/A
Western Sahara N/A


Thematic Issues Chair of the Relevant Council Subsidiary Body
Children and Armed Conflict Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium)
Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Counterterrorism (1267/1989/2253) Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia)
1267/1989/2253 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (Da’esh)/Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee
Counterterrorism (1373) Moncef Baati (Tunisia)
1373 Counterterrorism Committee
Counterterrorism (1566) Abdou Abarry (Niger)
1566 Working Group
International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Dang Dinh Quy (Viet Nam)
Informal Working Group on International Tribunals
Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destructions (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 Moncef Baati (Tunisia)
Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict UK
Protection of Civilians Informal Expert Group
Women, Peace and Security Germany and the Dominican Republic
2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security
Working Methods Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
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
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 Niger
Haiti US in consultation with the Group of Friends of Haiti
Iran (Non-proliferation) US
Iraq US on Iraq;
UK on Iraq/Kuwait
Lake Chad Basin UK
Lebanon France
Liberia US
Libya UK;
UK and Germany on Libya sanctions
Mali France
Middle East (Israel/Palestine) The US is often seen as the lead, but various other Council members have drafted recent proposals on the issue.
Somalia UK;
US on piracy
Sudan/South Sudan US
Sudan (Darfur) Germany and the UK
South Sudan US
Syria Belgium and Germany 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) Belgium and Niger
Western Sahara US


Thematic Issue Current Penholder in the Council
Children and Armed Conflict Belgium
Counterterrorism (1276/1989/2253) US
Counterterrorism (1373) US
Counterterrorism (1566) US
International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Viet Nam
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, Peace and Security UK on women’s participation and protection (1325);
US on sexual violence in conflict (1820)
Working Methods Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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