UN Security Council: Debate: The Council's Working Methods
Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 26 February 2016.
I, too, want to congratulate Venezuela for a very productive and busy month. I will come back to that in a minute.
I want to talk a little about working methods and a little bit about some of the key issues that we have dealt with this month.
On working methods specifically, I want to thank Venezuela for its initiative in convening the discussion on the working methods of the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council (see S/PV.7620). We found that to be one of the more interesting discussions we have had in this Chamber. I am sure — in fact, I know from the feedback I have received from other members of the General Assembly — that they also found that exercise to be very useful. What is clear from the debate and the note we have now agreed on (S/2016/170) is that there is room for improvement. We need to work smarter and focus our efforts on discharging our core responsibilities. For our part, New Zealand will continue to strive for a behavioural change in the way subsidiary bodies operate. Focusing on outcomes over adherence to formalistic process would give our work greater meaning.
There are two initiatives in particular that we will look to take forward. The first is to establish a transparent and inclusive process for the appointment of the Chairs of subsidiary bodies. The second one, which I find is particularly relevant to the work to the two Committees that I chair, is to achieve greater coordination between the subsidiary bodies and the wider Council agenda. On that point, I would note that the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is one of the most dangerous situations we deal with in this organ. It is very important that the Council’s consideration of that issue be informed by the work of the Security Council Committee concerning ISIL and Al-Qaida.
Therefore, I would encourage everybody who takes part in our subsidiary bodies, whether they be experts or the Ambassadors who chair them — and I would encourage other Ambassadors to participate in the proceedings occasionally, especially the Permanent Members who do not have the privilege of chairing those bodies — to carry forward the spirit of the note we agreed upon in our day-to-day work. We do not need a large overhaul of the system to ensure that our work is effective, but we need to display some common sense.
Turning to the programme of work for February — which, as others have noted, has been a very busy month, one best exemplified by yesterday’s marathon effort under “Any other business” — we are a strong supporter of the use of that item as a means of addressing important questions. However, I believe there comes a point when we need to pause and contemplate as how many issues we can cope with in the course of a single meeting. With regard to working methods more generally, I want to pay tribute to what Matthew Rycroft said in his statement. I agreed with all he said about the way we need to structure our work and how we can do better in working together.
As others have also said, one of the most important questions we have touched on this month was yesterday’s discussion on sanctions against the Democratic People Republic of Korea. We have been waiting for a product on that for two months. It is to be acknowledged that the working methods through which that product has emerged does not square with our normal preference, but we recognize that it is an unusual situation. We want to pay tribute to the United States of America and 16-05217 15/24 26/02/2016 Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council (S/2010/507) S/PV.7633 China for the very important work they have done. It is a very important draft resolution. It is different. It sends the important signal that we want to be sending, and so we too are among those who would like it adopted as soon as possible.
On Syria, we can be pleased — perhaps the better word is “relieved” — that some positive progress has been made at long last. The adoption of the cessation of hostilities now provides some hope that a proper peace process can be put in place and that finally peace can be achieved in that country. In the meantime, we are relieved that humanitarian access now seems to be on a sounder footing, and we would hope that the populations in the besieged towns will no longer feel that they are being held to ransom as part of the political struggle that is going on in that country.
We also want to thank the Council members for the strong support given to our suggestion that the Council consider a product on the humanitarian situation in Yemen. We think that is an issue that needs looking into next month, and we look forward to working with other Council members on that idea.
Lastly, I welcome the fact that we have been able to agree on the trip to West Africa, in particular to visit Guinea-Bissau. Over a number of months, we have been among others that have suggested that it is important that the Council show its close engagement with that country.
Let me conclude by commending, you, Rafael, and your team. Not only have you been very busy, but extremely gracious in the way you have cajoled us along the course of the difficult work we have all been engaged in. I think you have shown great dignity and professionalism, so I thank you for that. And I wish Angola all the best for next month.