What's In Blue

Working Methods Open Debate

Tomorrow morning (28 June), the Security Council will hold its annual open debate on its working methods. The session is scheduled to continue on Thursday afternoon. The meeting will be conducted 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 upon by the Council in 2017. The expected briefers are Karin Landgren, Executive Director of Security Council Report and Loraine Sievers, co-author of “The Procedure of the UN Security Council” (4th edition). At press time, 29 member states, other than Council members, had signed up to speak.

Albania, 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 this debate. The concept note produced by Albania for the debate states that the objective of the meeting is to assess the “latest developments in the Council’s dynamics, the importance of constant development of its working methods, and the identification of possible gaps both in implementation of Note 507 and subsequent notes as well as in the need to develop new notes”. It also suggests that the debate will be an opportunity for the UN membership to provide practical proposals for enhancing the efficiency of the Council’s working methods. Albania plans to produce a summary of the proposals from the debate.

The concept note also highlights the importance of working methods in the context of the Council, having functioned under extraordinary circumstances due to pandemic restrictions in the last two years and the deepening divisions among its members in 2022. It suggests that Council members consider working methods as a key strategic tool to build trust and boost confidence in the Security Council’s ability to carry out its role of maintaining international peace and security.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Landgren will focus on how working methods may be a bridge in today’s difficult context to building greater trust and helping to broaden ownership in the Council’s work. In this context, she may highlight the value of visiting missions and co-penholding. Sievers is expected to focus on the Council’s procedural framework and the importance of transparency in its work.

Albania, in its concept note, has suggested a number of areas that members may want to focus on. These include:

The ten elected members (E10) have presented a joint statement at the annual working methods debate since 2019. In this year’s statement, which will be delivered by Ireland, the E10 are expected to discuss ways to improve the accountability and transparency of the Council, including through engagement with the wider UN membership, cooperation with other organs of the UN, wrap-up meetings and monthly assessments, integration of a gender lens in the Council’s working methods, and accountability and transparency in the work of the sanctions committees. It may also touch on the veto issue and penholdership.

Working methods is an issue of great interest to the wider UN membership. Among areas speakers are likely to cover are the importance of the wider membership participating in Council open debates and wrap-up sessions. The Council’s use of Uniting for Peace earlier this year—which led to the General Assembly playing an active role in addressing the Ukraine situation—and the recent adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly on the use of the veto may prompt some members to raise issues around Security Council reform.

As it has done in open debates over the years, members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group (ACT) are also expected to deliver a statement. Possible areas that may be covered include recent innovations in working methods, as well as the importance of coherence, inclusivity and effectiveness in the discharge of the Council’s responsibilities. A joint statement is also expected from the Like-Minded States on Targeted Sanctions.

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