What's In Blue

Posted Wed 15 May 2024

Adoption of the Annual Report of the Security Council

Tomorrow morning (16 May), the Security Council is expected to adopt its annual report to the General Assembly, covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2023. Under Article 24(3) of the UN Charter, the Security Council must submit an annual report to the General Assembly for its consideration. The submission of the annual report is the only clear obligation that the Council has to the General Assembly under the Charter.

The UK drafted the introduction to the report and is expected to present it to Council members. The introduction of the report is prepared under the coordination of the Council’s July presidency from the previous calendar year. If that member left the Council at the end of the year, the drafting transfers to the member next in English alphabetical order and who is not leaving the Council at year end. The introduction provides a factual overview of the Council’s work in the reporting year. The rest of the report covers Council activities and matters considered by the Council that year. It is prepared by the UN Secretariat and approved by the current members of the Council and immediate past members.

On 16 January, for the first time, the President of the General Assembly convened an informal consultation with the wider UN membership on the work of the Council in 2023. The summary of the informal consultation prepared by the Office of the President of the General Assembly states that the meeting was convened as a result of the Gayap Dialogue held on 16 November 2023 on “the role of the General Assembly in times of heightened crisis”. It was also in accordance with Security Council Presidential Note S/2017/507, which stated that the Security Council member drafting the annual report “may also consider organizing, where appropriate, interactive informal exchanges of views with the wider membership”.

Overall, member states appeared to welcome the organisation of the informal consultation and saw it as an opportunity to present their views ahead of the drafting of this year’s annual report on the Council’s activities in 2023. Members reiterated their call for a more analytical report with an introduction that provides a more substantive assessment of the Council’s work. Other areas that were raised included the increased use of the veto, draft resolutions that failed to be adopted, and the need for this information to be adequately reflected in the annual report. There was also interest in seeing the inclusion of information in the report on thematic and emerging issues, as well as on the participation of women and civil society.

The introduction to this year’s annual report appears to show that the UK took into consideration some remarks made by member states. It includes a paragraph on voting, noting that there were eight draft resolutions not adopted due to an insufficient number of votes and five occasions where the use of the veto prevented the adoption of a draft resolution, as well as one occasion where it prevented the adoption of a draft amendment. As a result, the Council submitted six special reports to the General Assembly pursuant to resolution 76/262. In addition, the introduction includes references to thematic issues and statistics on participation of women and civil society briefers in Council meetings. It also observes that member states have expressed concern that the Council had failed to utilise fully its Charter powers in carrying out its mandate of maintaining international peace and security and that the effectiveness of some of the Council’s tools, including peacekeeping and sanctions, were also being questioned by some member states.

The latest presidential note on the annual report (S/2019/997), adopted in 2019, stipulates that the Council is expected to complete the introduction no later than 31 January and adopt the report by 30 May, “in time for its consideration by the General Assembly immediately thereafter”. The UK upheld this timeline, circulating the report before the end of January. Members were able to reach agreement on the introduction in February.

It seems that the negotiations on the report’s introduction were relatively smooth. The main issue appears to have related to how to refer to the use of the veto and the special reports to the General Assembly related to its use. There were a few issues that needed to be negotiated in the body of the report, such as how to reflect developments in the agenda items on the Middle East—including “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”—and on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The body of the annual report includes a separate chapter on the special reports on the use of the veto. In 2023, some Council members pushed for more information on the special reports to be included in the annual report covering the Council’s activities in 2022. They were eventually able to get some references on the matter into the report under the relevant agenda item.

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