What's In Blue

Annual Report Adoption

On Thursday morning (8 November), and pursuant to article 24(3) of the UN Charter, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt its draft annual report to the General Assembly covering its work from 1 August 2011 until 31 July 2012. (The General Assembly will discuss the report in late November.) It is customary for the Council to adopt its annual report without a vote. In recent years, the July Council President—who is responsible for drafting the introduction to the report—has taken the floor in the Council prior to its adoption. Due to the tight programme scheduling in November because of Hurricane Sandy, it has been agreed that this year—as an exception—only the drafter will speak.

Colombia, as Council President in July 2012, prepared the draft introduction to the annual report with input from the other 14 Council members. (This introduction—which was 36 pages long last year—uses information contained in the monthly assessments that Council delegations prepare at the conclusion of their monthly presidencies.) It seems that there were divergent views as to how some issues should be addressed in the introduction, including on how the Council dealt with the situation in Syria, Children in Armed Conflict, and Palestine. Language acceptable to all delegations was ultimately found.

Over the last ten years, improving the Council’s annual report has been a priority for some member states and the issue has been intertwined with that of the Council’s working methods. (In 2002, a Presidential Note was issued which revised the format of the annual report – intending to make it more analytical, reader-friendly, concise and cheaper to produce [S/2002/199]. This Note was later incorporated into Note 507 [S/2010/507], which brought together numerous notes addressing issues related to working methods.) In 2007, Slovakia—as chair of the informal working group that deals with working methods—made a statement in the Council prior to the report’s adoption saying that Council members needed to “concentrate more on the substance of the report and on key political messages about the important work of the Security Council.”

One of the issues surrounding the adoption of the annual report in the Council is whether members should make statements expressing their own views of the report. (Note 507 states that Council members “who wish to do so may comment on the work of the Council for the period covered in the report,” although in recent years most have not done so.) The agreement reached this year for Council members not to make statements was only due to Hurricane Sandy-related delays and it is intended that next year Council members who wish to would be able to speak.

With regard to the introduction, several member states have been in favour of a more analytical summary of the Council’s approach to issues, as opposed to only factual summaries of meetings held and outcomes adopted. Portugal—the current chair of the informal working group—took steps in its monthly assessment of its November 2011 presidency to aid this by providing a substantive introduction of its presidency (S/2012/282). Most monthly assessments however continue to be limited to factual summaries of developments.

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