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SC: Working Methods of the Council

Joint statement by the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Delivered Norway's Ambassador and Permanent Representative Mr. Geir O. Pedersen, 19 July 2016.

| Security Council

President, I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country, Norway.

Let me first thank Japan for organizing today’s debate. We appreciate your continued leadership on the important issue of improving the working methods of the Council. This debate is about how the membership as a whole can collectively contribute to making the decisions of the Security Council better and more representative.

A strong, transparent and effective Security Council is necessary to meet global challenges to peace and security and to improve global governance. In order to fulfil this imperative, the Council needs to adapt the way it does business.  Today, we would like to touch on three issues:  1) The selection of the next Secretary-General;  2) How the Security Council can become more open and transparent; and  3) The role of the elected members of the Security Council.

First, regarding the selection process of the new Secretary-General. We are pleased to see that the selection process this time is much more open and inclusive, allowing better scrutiny of the suitability of candidates by Member States and the General Public.

The cooperation between the GA and the Council on this issue has been remarkable. Through the informal dialogues with the candidates, organized by the PGA, candidates have presented their visions for scrutiny by Member States. For the first time in history, an equal number of women and men have declared their candidacy.

We urge the Security Council to maintain this openness and transparency all way through. There is no turning back to the practices of the past. At the minimum, we expect the Security Council to announce the results from the various straw polls through the President of the General Assembly. 

The selection of the next Secretary-General is not only in the interest of the Security Council and those Member States who have put forward candidates. It is a matter of great interest to everyone in this Organization. We are convinced that the increased transparency and openness that have been introduced into the selection process have already raised and improved the profile of the United Nations.

Second, the work of the Security Council should become more accessible. We appreciate that the Council conducts a significant number of its meetings in public, and encourage it to put measures in place to allow for the membership to be effectively informed about the topics discussed under ‘Any Other Business’ during the closed consultations.

There are also ways to improve the information flow. When press statements and presidential statements are adopted, it takes hours, if not days, before they are available on the Security Council’s website. It is a necessity that the work of the Council becomes more accessible for the broader membership and the public.

Third, moving the Security Council elections to earlier in the year is an important step to allow incoming members to prepare better. We welcome the note adopted by the Council on Friday, which aims to extend the time period during which newly elected members can observe the work of the Council, and to make the process for appointing chairmanships of subsidiary organs more timely and transparent.

Duly implemented, these amendments to the current procedures will make the transition phase smoother, and provide for an enhanced participation by the elected members, for the overall benefit of the effectiveness, coherence and accountability of the Council. Finally, we encourage newly elected members to take advantage of the annual workshop organized by Finland that aims to prepare incoming members for membership of the Council.   There is a need to strengthen the Council’s effectiveness by improving its working methods and to make it more transparent and inclusive. It is in the common interest of all of us to intensify our reform efforts and implement the commitments contained in the notes that have followed 2010/507 over the last years. Without implementation, the standing of the Council will erode.

The Nordic countries considers improving the working methods of the Security Council an issue of fundamental importance. A strong and transparent Security Council is not only imperative to ensure an effective Security Council that works for us all, but is also necessary for the legitimacy of the United Nations.

We appreciate this opportunity and look forward to further constructive discussions with the wider membership about increasing the transparency and accountability of the Council.

Thank you.