What's In Blue

Wrap-Up Session for February 2013

Tomorrow morning (28 February) the Council is expected to hold a wrap-up session for the month. The format will be a private meeting in which Council members will have the opportunity to speak on the Council’s work in February. Non-council members will be able to attend the meeting, under rule 37 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council, but will not participate. As with all private meetings, a communiqué will be issued at the conclusion of the meeting in keeping with rule 55 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure. (The communiqué will likely list the non-Council members who observed the meeting.)

It seems that the Republic of Korea, as Council President for February, envisions that the meeting will provide an opportunity to take stock of the Council’s work during the month, while potentially offering a chance to discuss priorities for the Council in the near term.

This month marks the second consecutive month in which the Council will hold a wrap-up session. Pakistan held the first wrap-up session since March 2005 at the conclusion of its presidency on 31 January, although some Council members have held informal briefings with the wider membership at the end of their presidency – for example, Brazil on 26 February 2011 and South Africa on 31 January 2012. It seems Pakistan wanted to provide an opportunity for Council members to reflect on their work for the month as well as on the broad trends emerging in the work of the Council.

Several elected members – as well as non-Council members – view these sessions as a useful opportunity to enhance the transparency and accountability of the Council’s work by sharing it with the wider UN membership. While some UN member states favour making these sessions public, others believe that the private format allows for more frank assessments on sensitive topics. Some member states would also like to see these sessions serve as a forum for critical reflection on the Council’s work which could serve as a springboard for creative thinking on how to improve the Council’s performance.

In the past, the P5 members have been critical of the wrap-up sessions, believing that the sessions had lost substantive content and had become little more than an opportunity for the presidency to showcase its role during the month. It seems that Russia remains particularly critical of these sessions, expressing the view in the January wrap-up session that the Council should spend its valuable time addressing more pressing issues, while also noting low non-Council member turn out at these meetings. (Twenty-eight countries attended, as well as the EU.) It thus seems unlikely that Russia will schedule a wrap-up session during its presidency in March. While supportive of some adaptations to working methods, the UK and France have focused on those issues that they believe enhance the effectiveness of the Council’s work. For example, the UK has championed horizon-scanning sessions, which are designed to focus the Council’s attention of ongoing or emerging crises in a timely fashion.

For more background on past wrap-up sessions please see our 25 February 2013 Update Report

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