What's In Blue

Wrap-Up Session on Council’s Work in June

Tomorrow afternoon (30 June), the Security Council will hold a wrap-up session for the month of June during which Malaysia held the Council presidency. This is only the third wrap-up session to be held in 2015. (Chile and France held public wrap-up sessions at the end of their presidencies in January and March respectively, while China, Jordan and Lithuania chose not to.) Malaysia has circulated an informal concept note encouraging members to highlight cross-cutting themes and lessons learnt during the month. It also suggested that members propose ways to improve how the Council should act in the future and identify emerging trends in the Council’s work, as well as take into account upcoming issues such as the way forward on the peace operations report, and the review processes for the peacebuilding architecture and resolution 1325 on women, peace and security as well as the selection of the next Secretary-General. In addition, the concept note suggests that the five members that took up their seats on the Council in January 2015 share their reflections on being an elected member over the last six months.

While 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, there appears to be a dwindling interest in holding these sessions. Attendance by the larger membership has also waned. Following an eight-year hiatus, in January 2013, Pakistan revived the practice of end of the month wrap-up sessions. In 2013, there were seven wrap-up sessions, all in the private meeting format where member states —but not media or NGOs —could attend under Rule 37 but not participate. In 2014, nine of the Council presidencies held wrap-up meetings. Four of these were closed meetings, the other five, held after Rwanda chose to have a public wrap-up session in July, were all public sessions. Those who chose not to have a wrap-up meeting cited reasons including skepticism about the usefulness of this working method or the busy calendar.

Generally most members’ statements during the recent wrap-up sessions have simply provided a factual account of the work of the Council over the month, often highlighting issues of particular interest to them. In terms of issues covered over the month of June, members are likely to focus on the peacekeeping, peacebuilding and children and armed conflict thematic debates as well as key resolutions adopted. Some members may focus on issues like Burundi and Yemen which required focused attention from the Council in June. The three Arria-formula meetings held this month – on the human rights situation in Darfur, barrel-bombs in Syria and climate change – may be referred to by some members as examples of the Council’s creative use of meeting formats for more sensitive issues.

Overall the sessions have rarely served as a forum for critical reflection on the Council’s work, or as a springboard for creative thinking on how to improve the Council’s performance. However, there have been references in wrap-up sessions to the Council’s failure to deal with the situation in Syria or Ukraine, and occasionally members have been frank about the ineffectiveness of the Council’s action as Lithuania has been on Yemen. The wrap-up session at the end of Chad’s presidency in December 2014, was used for a more thoughtful reflection of the Council’s work over the year covering both successes and failures. It is possible that some members may take the opportunity tomorrow to reflect on the Council’s first six months in 2015 in a more analytical manner.

While Malaysia has suggested a forward looking dimension to tomorrow’s session, past attempts to look ahead at the following month in a type of “horizon scanning” mode were not particularly successful. Some Council members were not comfortable with including a more predictive element even in the private sessions and since the sessions became public there appears to have been even less appetite to be forward looking. However, with the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations report: Uniting our Strengths for Peace – Politics, Partnership and People, having been transmitted to the Council by the Secretary-General on 17 June, there is growing interest in how the Council will take this up and some members may welcome the opportunity to offer suggestions. (The last extensive peacekeeping review, the Report of the Panel on United Nations Peacekeeping or the “Brahimi Report”, was taken up in a Council summit meeting the month after it was released and a working group of the Council was formed to look into the implementation of the report.)

The other issue suggested by Malaysia – the Secretary-General’s selection – is one that is generating interest in the General Assembly with a draft resolution on the revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly, including a section on the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, currently being negotiated. In addition, on 1 June the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group (ACT) sent a letter to the president of the Security Council, as well as to the president of the General Assembly, containing the group’s proposals for the selection of the next Secretary-General. It suggests sending a joint letter by the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly inviting member states to present nominations, and setting a deadline for the nominations in order to start the nomination process. It further suggests that at the end of the nomination process, a joint Security Council and General Assembly document be published with next steps and timelines for the selection process. Council members who are also members of ACT – Chile, Jordan and New Zealand – may choose to highlight these points and possibly call for the process to start as soon as possible.

Background on wrap-up sessions can be found here.

For more information on the Appointment of the Secretary-General please see here.

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