SC: Security Council Working Methods

Statement by Ireland on behalf of the ten elected UN Security Council members "E10" in the Security Council meeting on the working methods of the Security Council, 28 June 2022.

Thank you Mr. President,

Ireland is pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the ten elected members of the Security Council. I want to begin by thanking Albania as Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation for organising this important debate. I also want to thank our briefers Loraine Sievers and Karin Landgren for your valuable and important insights and recommendations.

Mr. President,

Working methods are not an end in themselves. 

As elected members, we seek to improve the way the Council operates because we share a common goal: a more effective Security Council.

We want the Council to be more efficient in tackling the complex and interconnected threats to peace and security that we collectively face.

As elected members, we understand and respect our responsibilities and obligations, entrusted to us through our election by the UN General Assembly.

We therefore want the Council to operate in a way that maximises its legitimacy.

That means making it as representative, inclusive, transparent, effective and accountable as possible, in accordance with its mandate.

Let’s be clear: a more accountable and transparent Council would be better placed to meet its core tasks of preventing and resolving conflicts.

It is with this in mind that we, the ten elected members of the Security Council, approach the issue of working methods.

Mr. President, to achieve that goal, the E10 would like to make several points and suggestions.

First, we believe that the Council should strengthen its engagement with the wider UN membership. That means more transparency in how we operate. It also means more opportunities for the members of the General Assembly, on behalf of whom the Security Council acts, to interact with the work of the Council, while preserving the various tools at the command of the Security Council to ensure its effectiveness.

We believe that the coordination, cooperation and interaction between the Security Council and the principal organs of the UN can be improved. This is especially true for the Peacebuilding Commission, which can offer valuable advice and cross-cutting perspectives in support of the Security Council’s work. Its Chairs should be invited to brief the Council whenever possible.

The monthly Presidency also has an important role to play in this engagement. The organisation of briefings on the programme of work to member states, the media and civil society are useful tools. We also encourage the holding of interactive monthly wrap up sessions and we welcome that this has become standard practice across Council Presidencies.

Monthly assessments prepared under the authority of each Presidency constitute useful records of the Council’s action and sometimes, regrettably, inaction. These assessments should be timely, and they should be frank. They should analyse and assess our work. Member States, civil society and academia should be able to consult these documents and find accurate reflections of the realities of the Security Council, rather than lists of meetings.

Monthly working methods commitments have been published by 10 members of the Council in the last year. We see this growing practice as a step in the right direction. A step towards the implementation of Note 507 and the 13 Presidential notes adopted since the latest iteration of Note 507. A step towards greater transparency and accountability. We call on all future Council presidencies to formulate, circulate and implement monthly working methods commitments.

Mr. President,

Elected members bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the work of the Council. In recent years, the E10 has actively sought to innovate and improve the Council’s working methods. For example, the joint working methods commitments of the A3 + 1 in 2021 provided a useful blueprint and paved the way for subsequent joint working methods commitments, such as those adopted by the EU Council members last year. We will continue to innovate, and call on all members, both current and incoming, to do the same.

A transparent Council should not come at the expense of an efficient and effective Council. This is not a zero sum game. The Council needs to strike a healthy balance between public and private meetings, to both enhance the transparency and visibility of the Council’s work, and encourage more interactivity of discussions and consensus building.

We also believe that transparency and accountability of the Council can be enhanced regarding the documentation addressed to it by UN Member States. Related to this is the need for improved provision of information and Council documentation, both past and present, to members of the E10.

An effective Council is an agile Council. One that learns from past experiences, and prepares for future disruptions. We underline the importance of recording the best practices and lessons learned from the working methods instituted by the Council during COVID-19.

Mr. President, our second point,

We believe it is critical that a gender lens be integrated across the working methods of the Security Council. We are happy to note that we have seen important progress over the past year, including but not limited to the shared WPS commitments adopted by some Council members.

Together, we have ensured a continuous and necessary focus on gender equality throughout the work of the Council. We cannot compromise on the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in the work of this Council.

In this regard, we encourage all Presidencies to strive for gender balance and diversity when selecting briefers – we must ensure that women are at the table and their voices are heard and heeded. The E10 is also actively engaging in discussions in the Informal Working Group on Documentation and other procedural matters on a draft Presidential Note on this issue, under the leadership of Albania.

Third, Mr. President,

Targeted sanctions by the Security Council are an important tool to address threats to international peace and security. They are therefore critical to the execution of the mandate of this Council. The E10 underscores the importance of accountability and transparency in the work of sanctions committees. These working methods should align with international due process standards.

We strongly believe in the need to increase the effectiveness of UN sanctions through strengthening fair and clear procedures in UN Sanctions Regimes, including by creating review mechanisms similar to that of the Ombudsperson of the 1267 Committee for other Sanctions Committees.

The Council should strive to ensure that its resolutions are clear and focused. As conflicts evolve, so too should our collective responses. The Council should take into account the efficacy of sanctions through these evolving phases of conflicts. In doing so, it should also ensure that sanctions do not have adverse humanitarian consequences for civilian populations nor adversely affect humanitarian activities carried out by humanitarian organisations.

We also believe that sanctions committees chairs should be more involved during the initial consultations of sanctions renewals by the penholders.

With respect to the working methods of subsidiary bodies, including Sanctions Committees, a transparent, open and evidence-based methodology needs to be followed. Any agenda items being introduced for consideration, and holds placed on listing requests or other matters of the Committees’ business, need to be supported in writing. This should be accompanied by necessary justification by the requesting Member of the Committee, to promote transparency and accountability, and ensure efficient record keeping. This would help ensure the credibility of the work of the Committees and, in turn, the Council. In addition, listing and delisting individuals and entities under UN sanctions regimes should be objective and evidence-based.

The E-10 members underscore the critical and urgent need for comprehensive Security Council reform, so that the Council reflects contemporary realities. While the Council needs to be more efficient, representative, transparent, accountable and democratic, it continues to lack a truly representative composition.

Mr. President,

Since the last working methods debate, the Council failed to adopt three resolutions due to the use of the veto.  The use, or threat of use of the veto, may prevent the Council from acting on vital topics. The E10 calls for restraint on the use of the veto, especially on actions aimed to prevent the most serious crimes of international concern - the very heart of this Council’s mandate.

Mr. President,

The E10 represents two thirds of the membership of this Council and our united view is clear - the ideals of transparency, accountability, inclusivity and effectiveness, would be better achieved if the Council’s workload were more equally shared amongst all of its members.

That goes for the arrangements of penholderships and co-penholderships, as well as for the selection and chairing of subsidiary bodies.

We call for the full implementation of Note 507 and subsequently adopted note in relation to the selection of the chairs of subsidiary bodies. This process should begin as soon as possible after the election of incoming Council members. The views of the incoming members on this allocation should not only be taken into account, they should be the determining and decisive factors. The expertise of the elected members in certain areas should also be considered. Importantly, any consensus proposal by elected members should be respected. It is vital that the process is completed in a timely manner. This allows  incoming members to better understand and closely monitor the work of the subsidiary bodies during the observation period beginning 01 October. We regret that this timeline has not been met in the last two years.

Mr. President, to conclude,

Earlier this month five new members of this Council were elected. This continued process of renewal, embodied by the ten elected members of the Council, should provide the opportunity to reflect and improve the way in which we operate.

The UN Charter is binding upon us all. Every State, including Permanent members, must comply with its obligations. Our position is simple: if we are to live up the ideals of the Charter, even a Charter that does not change, the working methods of this Security Council need to evolve.

To achieve that, and with the inputs of the broader membership, we need a renewed sense of urgency and shared purpose. Individually and collectively around this table.

We, the ten elected members of the Security Council, speak with one voice to reaffirm our commitment today to live up to the responsibility bestowed upon us through our election by the members of these United Nations, to do just that. To work together towards a more effective, transparent, inclusive, representative Council for all.

Thank you, Mr. President.