What's In Blue

Posted Wed 11 Nov 2020

Hitting the Ground Running: Annual Workshop for Incoming Security Council Members

The 18th annual workshop for incoming members of the UN Security Council, titled “Hitting the Ground Running”, will be held on 12 and 13 November in New York City. The government of Finland is convening the workshop, in cooperation with Security Council Report, the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University, and the Security Council Affairs Division of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

The workshop provides an informal and interactive environment for frank discussion among current and incoming Council members. Elected in June, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, and Norway will serve on the Council in 2021-2022. The workshop provides an opportunity to reflect on the Council’s performance, to discuss challenges and priorities for the year ahead, and to consider how the Council’s working methods can be improved to make it work more effectively.

As in previous years, the workshop will be divided into three sessions. In the first session, participants will assess the performance of the Council in fulfilling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Members will also be encouraged to assess the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead. Questions that could be addressed in this session include: On which issues has the Council engaged most effectively in 2020 and what lessons learned can be applied to other cases? In which situations could the Council do better in 2021? Where do incoming members hope to make the most difference during their forthcoming terms, and what are their priorities?

The second session of the workshop will allow outgoing members (Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa) to reflect on their time on the Council and to impart lessons learned. This session offers an opportunity for the departing members to share their insights with incoming members on how to manage the workload, how to navigate difficult dynamics, and in general, who to be an effective Council member.

The third session this year will focus on developments in the Council’s working methods and what can be done to improve them.  Among the areas that may be covered are the ways in which the Council adapted its working methods in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, what lessons were learned from this experience, and how the Council can use its time more effectively.

Previous workshops have featured a dinner with a keynote address by a prominent practitioner or scholar. The dinner will not be held this year, however, as a precautionary measure given concerns about COVID-19.

Following the workshop, a report of the discussions, which are conducted under the Chatham House Rule, is published as an annex to a letter from the Permanent Representative of Finland to the President of the Security Council.  The substance of the discussions is shared, but comments are not attributed to any of the participants.

Reports of this workshop since it began in 2003 can be found here.