What's In Blue

Posted Thu 2 Nov 2023

Hitting the Ground Running: Annual Finnish Workshop for Incoming Members

The 21st annual workshop for incoming members of the UN Security Council, titled “Hitting the Ground Running”, will be held on 2 and 3 November on Long Island, New York. The government of Finland is convening the workshop in cooperation with Security Council Report and the Security Council Affairs Division of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. Professor Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, will give the keynote address before the opening dinner.

Since 2003, the “Finnish Workshop” has provided an informal and interactive environment for frank discussion among current and incoming Council members about the inner workings of the Security Council. Elected in June, Algeria, Guyana, the Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, and Slovenia will serve on the Council in 2024-2025. The workshop informs the incoming members about the demands and expectations of being an elected member and allows outgoing members to share advice and highlight lessons learned as they conclude their Council terms.

As in previous years, the workshop will be divided into three sessions. In the first session, participants will take stock of the Council’s performance 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 include: How would you evaluate the Council’s performance this year, including its ability to promote positive change on the ground? How have initiatives that broaden the participation of the wider UN membership, including the veto initiative, affected Council deliberations? As more UN peacekeeping operations close, how can the Council support peacekeeping transitions better? How could the Council undertake a bigger role in conflict prevention and promote the pacific settlement of disputes?

The second session will focus on the Security Council’s working methods and its subsidiary bodies. Among the issues that might be addressed are how to promote a more equitable distribution of work among permanent and elected members, how to resolve challenges that hamper the work of the Security Council’s subsidiary bodies, what can be learned from the approach taken by presidencies cooperating to uphold the women, peace and security (WPS) commitments during the past year, and how the Council can make effective use of visiting missions.

In the third session, the outgoing Council members (Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, and the United Arab Emirates) will reflect on their time on the Council and impart lessons learned. This session, which was added to the workshop’s agenda in 2007, offers an opportunity for the members who are ending their terms this year to share their insights on how to manage the workload in the Council, how to navigate difficult dynamics among members, and, in general, how to be an effective Council member.

Following the workshop, a report of the discussions—which are conducted under the Chatham House rule of non-attribution—will be 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.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails

Subscribe to receive SCR publications