UN Security Council: "Wrap-up" session, New Zealand Statement.

 

Thank you very much Mr President.

Let me begin by congratulating Malaysia and your team for conducting us so well through this past month. We want to thank Malaysia for convening this meeting and for providing a useful focus for our discussions, including on conflict prevention and the Council’s working methods. 

In our view, the Council’s capability to prevent conflict is inherently linked to its methods of work, the way Council members’ relate with each other and with the Secretariat.

I want to make a couple of points on two related subjects: the importance of timely information from the Secretariat and some observations on confidentiality.

For the Council to act early, it is important that it is aware of potential threats to peace and security. We need to be well informed of developments where the Council has a mandate to respond.  In situations where there are conflicting narratives of developments, the Secretariat has a particularly important role in providing an authoritative account.

We saw this last week with the briefing on Western Sahara which was useful for providing a clear account of developments on a contentious and sensitive issue.  In situations that are developing rapidly, it is vital that all Council Members are brought up to speed on the situation on the ground quickly. Elected members can otherwise be at a significant disadvantage when considering such matters.

Council members also need to be informed of wider emerging issues and potential crises where a political impasse risks boiling over or where regional issues threaten to aggravate a fragile peace.  We are thankful for the efforts of the Under Secretary General who has been making real efforts in this regard. As Council members, we need to continue to apply political energy and creativity on this issue.  It is one we are going to take up during our own Council Presidency in September.

This question of timely information also relates to the reverse issue of confidentiality.

During our 20 months so far on the Council, we have championed the importance of transparency of the Council’s work as an important element of our responsibility to the membership that elected us, and our own legitimacy, as the Security Council “acts on their behalf.”i

But an important counterpoint to transparency is   confidentiality. The Secretariat cannot provide frank assessments if they are immediately relayed outside the Security Council’s Consultation Room. And Council members cannot have meaningful political-level exchanges where sensitive discussions are repeated verbatim to others. Ideas can’t be tested and explored, and become limited to set piece interventions, safe for public consumption – not the frank exchange that is necessary when dealing with complex and novel issues.  So in our view we need to do much better to ensure that confidentiality is respected as much as is appropriate.  It is a challenging balance.

If the consultation room is not private, inevitably conversations will go elsewhere which is not to anyone else’s interests.  I look forward to hearing further from the new Council members on their reflections and I know that I can count on your support in the month ahead.

Finally, I would like to thank Malaysia for the skilful way in which you have managed the August President and would like to thank Council colleagues for the support offered ahead of our Presidency next month.

 

 i United Nations Charter, article 24(1).