What's In Blue

Posted Fri 16 Mar 2012

Working Methods Consultations

On Monday (19 March), Security Council members will hold consultations on the Council’s working methods at the permanent representative level. As Council president in March, the UK has highlighted the issue as a priority, particularly in terms of modernising Council procedures and increasing efficiency. The UK and Portugal (which chairs the Council’s working group that addresses working methods) have circulated a non-paper to Council members to help facilitate discussion on the potential for changes that could lead to increased efficiency of the Council’s work. (The Council last addressed this issue during an open debate on Working Methods during Portugal’s presidency of the Council in November.) It seems that the working group will likely follow up the recommendations made during the consultations when it next meets on 23 March, and this work could culminate in a Note by the President in due course.

The non-paper suggests that the issue of spreading out mandate renewals throughout the year, known as “periodicity”, will be a focus. (Steps have been taken in recent months to avoid renewals being heavily concentrated in June and December.) Some Council members have indicated there is also scope to align the timing of reports on related issues, which would enable the Council to consider related matters during the same session. (One example of this could be to align the due dates of UNISFA, UNAMID and UNMISS reports, which might also facilitate a more interconnected or holistic approach.) A note produced by the Security Council Affairs Division on 1 March providing a comprehensive overview of reporting and mandate cycles will likely assist the Council, in conjunction with the Secretariat, in formalising recent measures.

Another area that has attracted attention is that of cost-saving measures and making best use of available resources. For example, Council members are likely to discuss a proposal of not regularly scheduling formal Council meetings on Friday afternoons, which could save several million dollars a year in terms of unused conference resources. Video-conferencing, whose use in the Council increased exponentially in 2011, is likely to be highlighted as an initiative that works well and which ought to be further utilised. Video-conferencing has also contributed to the heightened level of “interactivity”, which the non-paper highlights as another area for discussion. Some of the other initiatives in this area that the Council has already taken on board are DPA’s regular “horizon-scanning” briefings and the trend away from formal speakers’ lists during consultations.

It seems that the consultations on Monday and any ensuing Note following up on the recommendations will serve to consolidate and formalise progress made through adopted practices in recent times. There appears to be broad consensus among Council members on taking practical steps to increase efficiency and working methods is an issue on which the E10 members in particular seem closely aligned.

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