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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2012

Working methods - Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council (S/2010/507)

Statement by H.E. Jim McLay, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, 26 November 2012

Mr. McLay (New Zealand): New Zealand thanks India and you, Sir, personally for convening this debate and for the concept note (S/2012/853, annex), and we compliment the Ambassador for Portugal on his presentation.

This is an important debate. It is vital that the Council be both efficient and effective in discharging its responsibilities on our behalf, and to do that the Council must be alert to opportunities to improve its processes. We accept that most improvements to Council working methods will be incremental and that individual cases will often steer the nature and pace of reform. But it is also true that this Council has often been slow to adapt to the changing nature of the issues it must address.

For example, much of the Council’s work is focused on Africa, and yet the quality of the Council’s interaction with the African Union’s Peace and Security Council is still much less than it could be and is certainly still much less than it should be. There is a general need for effective interaction with regional organizations, but, given the number of African issues on the Council’s agenda, that need is particularly acute with respect to the Peace and Security Council. We echo the comments in that regard by South Africa and others because, despite the excellent work of South Africa and other African Council members, there is still much work to be done. Resolution 2033 (2012) was only achieved after several years of effort. It was an important step, but its implementation is now critical and will require innovative Council working methods.

Many United Nations Members are concerned that the Security Council fails to achieve optimum outcomes because it does not give due weight to the mechanisms available under Chapter VI of the Charter — a point also made by you, Mr. President. Mediation, conflict prevention and the peaceful settlement of disputes are not only efficient in that they are much less expensive than costly peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations, but many of us also believe that they deliver more sustainable outcomes over the longer term. But again, the Council’s working methods are not well adapted to Chapter VI.

We admire South Africa’s efforts and determination to transform the output of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa from the theoretical to the practical, but despite those efforts, the Working Group’s potential is still not being realized. Indeed, we would like to see a full-scale review of the structure and functioning of all the Council’s standing and ad hoc committees, working groups and commissions. We believe that much of their work could be greatly improved.

Likewise, we welcome the United Kingdom’s initiative to use horizon-scanning to improve Council capacity for Chapter VI action. But that has largely fallen by the wayside — so much so that in 2012 this Council is much less systematically briefed by the Secretariat on developing situations than it was in the past. We consider that horizon-scanning briefings should be a regular feature of the Council’s programme of work. Past Council members have raised the important issue of the interdependence between security and development and the overlap between peacekeeping and peacebuilding. We commend Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey and others for keeping those discussions before the Council. But despite their best efforts, the Council’s outcome documents rarely get past the point of problem definition.

Everyone seems to agree that there is a problem, but the working methods reforms required for the Security Council to work in partnership with others and to implement solutions are still not being addressed. Likewise, despite concerns expressed over many years, there is still the problem of participation in the Council’s work by those with a real interest in the issues under discussion. The Arria Formula and interactive dialogues are useful formats to extend participation, so their use should be commonplace and not an exception. As another way of extending participation, we would urge the Council to consider, adapting as appropriate, the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) example of country-specific configurations. The PBC precedent as a whole probably is not applicable to Security Council processes, but there is still much that could be learned from that model.

The legal responsibility for adapting the Council’s working methods rests, of course, with the Council itself, but the wider United Nations membership has a strong political, moral and often financial interest in how well the Council functions. As the concept note says, these matters concern the United Nations Member States as a whole. And so, with such engagement in mind, we propose that in 2013 there should be an open Security Council debate focused on options for improving the Council’s working methodologies under Chapter VI. That debate could be preceded by an informal interactive dialogue with non-Council members, which would better inform the open debate and could also result in an outcome document that the Council itself could adopt. After that debate, the Council and interested non-members might consider establishing a dialogue group to address this and other procedural issues on an on-going basis.

We offer this as a constructive, practical proposal for engaging the wider United Nations membership in this important issue, while at the same time leaving the ultimate decisions to the Council itself. We make that proposal — indeed, all the suggestions we have offered — in recognition and acknowledgement of the open and constructive spirit in which you, Mr. President, have convened this debate.


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Page last updated: Thursday, 31 January 2013 11:10 NZDT