Changing the culture of the Security Council

New Zealand led a wide range of initiatives throughout our two-year term to improve the performance, transparency and inclusiveness of the Security Council.
Deputy Permanent Representative Carolyn Schwalger supported by members of the New Zealand Security Council team in 2015..
Deputy Permanent Representative Carolyn Schwalger supported by members of the New Zealand Security Council team in 2015.

Joining the Security Council in 2015 with the overwhelming support of the UN General Assembly, New Zealand was determined to improve the way the Security Council undertakes its work. New Zealand contributed to changing the culture of the Council by taking steps to make it more transparent, inclusive and better equipped to deal with the situations before it. We focused on making practical changes to the Security Council’s culture. This included:

  • Convening informal Permanent Representative-level discussions of Security Council members on sensitive issues, including the use of the veto and on conflict prevention.
  • Initiating monthly “situational awareness” briefings – a new form of early warning mechanism enabling the UN Secretariat to provide Security Council members with quality and coherent information from across the UN system about emerging conflicts and operational risks.
  • Establishing a new, improved format for Security Council engagement with troop-contributing countries, enabling them to discuss practical challenges and break down the disconnect between New York and the reality of operations in the field.
  • Challenging the dominance of the five permanent members (the “P5”), including by putting in place new, more transparent processes and structures, such as how members select the chairs the sanctions committees the Security Council establishes.
  • Improving the functioning of the sanctions committees that New Zealand chaired and the other subsidiary bodies that took their lead from New Zealand (New Zealand chaired the ISIL/al-Qaida sanctions committee and the Taliban sanctions committee).
  • Leading small coalitions to achieve results (e.g. Syria “humanitarian access” issues, healthcare in armed conflict leading to the adoption of Resolution 2286 in 2016 and situational awareness briefings).


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