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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2010

Security Council: Implementation of Presidential Note S/2006/507
(Security Council working methods)

Statement by H.E. Jim McLay, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Thursday 22 April 2010

New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to contribute today; and thanks Japan, which has a long and commendable history of promoting reform of Security Council working methods, for convening this debate. New Zealand strongly believes that, in addition to any structural change, there needs to be wide-ranging reform to this Council’s working methods.

In that regard, New Zealand rejects, outright, the suggestion that the Council’s working methods are for the Council alone to decide. That is no more legitimate than arguing that citizens have no valid interest in the proceedings of their country’s courts, or in the rules and procedures of the legislatures they elect. This Council’s permanent members are here by agreement of the international community, as embodied in the United Nations Charter; and the remaining members are elected - elected to serve the 187 Member States who do not enjoy the privilege of permanently sitting in this council room, often behind closed doors.

For those 187 - the overwhelming majority of the UN’s membership – this Council’s working methods are vitally important. They affect our ability to understand and contribute to the Council’s work; and, in the end, like the Council’s structure, directly affect the legitimacy of the Council itself.

Over time, an opaque and insular Security Council will lose credibility and will not enjoy the support of the wider membership; and its role in maintaining international peace and security could diminish, perhaps, over time, even be usurped. Such a Council would at best be viewed as irrelevant, at worst illegitimate.

Furthermore, such is the over-riding importance of the Security Council’s role in maintaining global peace and security, that its legitimacy bears directly on the very legitimacy of the United Nations itself. New Zealand believes that it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that both the UN and its Security Council are credible, effective and strong.

Presidential Note S/2006/507 sets out over sixty concrete steps that might improve the Council’s working methods and, in turn, its legitimacy; steps that, as Japan’s Concept Note makes clear, would increase the Council’s transparency, its interaction with non-members, and its efficiency. In the interests of time, I’ll highlight just five proposals that New Zealand considers important:

Those are just five of the many changes that could improve this Council’s working methods. As a next step, New Zealand looks forward to Japan, as Chair of the Working Group [on Council Documentation and Other Procedural Questions], issuing a revised version of Presidential Note [S/2006/507], and urges that this be accompanied by a concrete implementation plan; and we call for regular, annual debates to assess that implementation.

For the Security Council to maintain international peace and security, it must have the support of the Member States from whom it derives its authority. Those Member States - the 187 non-permanent members - deserve increased transparency, they are entitled to better interaction and, above all, they seek a more effective United Nations Security Council. Such outcomes may be in the hands of the members of this Council - but they are in the interests of all Member States.

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