What's In Blue

Posted Wed 5 Jun 2019

Working Methods Open Debate

Tomorrow (6 June) the Security Council will hold an open debate on its working methods. The meeting is being held under the agenda item “Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council (S/2017/507)”, referring to the most recent version of the comprehensive compendium of working methods agreed by the Council in 2017 (S/2017/507).

Kuwait, the President of the Security Council this month and the chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG), has organised the debate as a continuation of a process started in February 2018 with the 6 February open debate held during its previous presidency (S/PV.8175). Following last year’s open debate, several issues raised in the debate by member states were taken up in discussions within the IWG.  In the concept note prepared ahead of tomorrow’s debate, Kuwait says that the debate “will serve to assess the progress made thus far and complement the discussions that took place over the course of 2018 and thus far in 2019” (S/2019/450). The concept note also encourages the participants to identify gaps in the implementation of Note 507 and provide concrete proposals for how to ensure full implementation.

The briefers will be Karin Landgren, Executive Director of Security Council Report, and James Cockayne, Director of the United Nations University’s Centre for Policy Research.

Landgren plans to speak about working methods related to the strengthening of the role of elected Council members; the deepening of the Council’s engagement with the broader membership; and measures to enhance the Council’s mandating of peace operations and preventive actions.

Cockayne is likely to focus on issues related to Security Council-imposed sanctions and due process.

Last year’s open debate saw 42 interventions in addition to the statements by all Council members. This year, it seems that the current ten elected members (E10) plan one joint intervention, to be delivered by the informal monthly coordinator of the E10, South Africa. Issues to be addressed may include burden sharing, measures to enhance all Council members’ involvement in Council decision-making processes, improvements in procedures related to sanctions regimes, modalities for new members’ preparation for their two-year terms in the period between their election and the start of their term on the Security Council, and aspects of Council meetings and of its visiting missions.

Some other joint statements are likely. The group of 25 member states (Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Uruguay, and Switzerland) known as the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group (ACT), which seeks to encourage better Security Council working methods, is expected to have a joint statement, as it has in all open debates on working methods since its inception in 2013. It may focus on issues that have been of key importance to ACT members, such as restraint on the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities, the relationship of the Council with the broader UN membership, and the extension of the mandate of the Ombudsperson for the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee to other Council sanctions committees.

At press time, nearly 20 member states who have served on the Council in recent years as elected members were also expected to deliver a joint statement sharing some lessons learnt and putting forward recommendations.

States that are candidates for Council membership, including in the election to be held on Friday (7 June), will most likely want to include in their remarks suggestions for measures enhancing the preparation of incoming members, such as the timing of access to Council documents or meetings and of the appointment of chairs of Council subsidiary bodies.

While no formal outcome is envisaged, Kuwait may prepare a paper containing a summary of the views and proposals put forward by participants in the debate, similar to the document prepared in the aftermath of the 2018 working methods open debate (A/72/849–S/2018/399). Kuwait has also indicated its intention to follow up on practical proposals stemming from the debate through the work of IWG in the remainder of its term on the Council.

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