Thank you Mr President and let me also begin by congratulating Malaysia, for you as President and your hardworking team for running a very effective month.
My team was so keen that I should offer my personal reflections that they declined to give me formal remarks for this debate so I’m going to see how we go.
I want to make some reflections about the substance of what we did this month and also about the way we got there or didn’t get there.
Now, we did have some very good debates this month and a very good outcome on Children and Armed Conflict and I want to commend Malaysia for making a very substantial increase in the international law-making in that area. I thought the discussion on Peacebuilding was also very interesting and again exposes some of the areas we need to be prepared to go into if we’re going to make the best use of the machinery that covers this area, beyond this Council.
And we also had good results on MINUSMA and UNAMID even though there were some quite deep-seated differences amongst delegations about whether those mandates needed to be adjusted. I thought it was good that we managed to get over those differences and adopt them as a united Council. I do hope, as I said yesterday, that this new mandate for UNAMID provides an opportunity in particular for a better relationship between the government of Sudan and this Council.
But if we look behind the formal outcomes of what we achieved this month and look at the problems of the world, we have to acknowledge we haven’t done all that well.
On Syria, Yemen and Libya, we have got real problems. There are peace talks fitfully under way in Libya, perhaps under way in Yemen, and nothing at all in Syria.
We have real problems in Burundi which is demonstrating how difficult it is to really engage in prevention. If the other party doesn’t want to talk to you, it’s very difficult to be an engaged participant, and that is a real difficulty. And we’ve just heard some graphically horrible statistics about what’s happening in South Sudan.
These are situations that reflect very badly on all of us, and I don’t mean just the members of this Council. I mean as an international community. And there are things about the Council which I think we can properly take on our shoulders but we also have to admit that there are real limits as to what the Council can do.
If you look in your quiver to see what arrows you can fire, there aren’t that many, particularly if people aren’t prepared to put their troops on the line and people aren’t prepared to authorise more aggressive use of force. And even if they were, we know how difficult it actually is to achieve in these outcomes. So I don’t want to say it’s all about the Council’s problems. It isn’t.
But behind that, particularly if you look at Syria, we have a real problem because the Council is divided. And those similar divisions are playing out in Yemen. And because of those divisions we are not able to really talk to each other, but instead score points. That’s not helpful.
As to the way we go about our business, some comments have already been made to this and I want to endorse entirely what the Ambassador from the United Kingdom has said about the need to engage more informally. After all, these are informal consultations when we’re in that room and yet we’ve managed to build up a cadre of practice that is so self-denying that it is unbelievable at times as to what you can and can’t talk about or how you can talk about it.
I also agree with the delegation of Spain that the business of pen holding and how resolutions are negotiated is an issue we need to think about. One option might be the co-pen holder proposal, but at least, I would ask the Permanent Members to think, if you are one of the ten, how it looks when the resolution comes from one of the five, to the five, and then to the ten and then it is going to be put to a vote in a day or two. This isn’t exactly the most useful way of engagement.
I also think that we as Ambassadors owe a responsibility to engage more in the products that are negotiated and adopted. While of course we recognise the great work that is done by experts and political coordinators, we in the end, are responsible for the products of this Council. Yet how often do we really talk about them? How often do we actually have a conversation as Ambassadors about what we are doing? I really believe we need to do that, to reach down and say let’s bring this to the room and talk about it as a group.
So those are kind of sneak previews of the things I would like to explore next month when I’m the President. I don’t know how I’ll get on but I do hope you’ll help me.