We commend Albania for convening this important debate, and also for your work as the Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (the IWG).
I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the 27 members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group, ACT:
Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.
The ACT Group promotes a more transparent, effective, and inclusive UN Security Council and we would like to set out a few concrete suggestions relating to three themes: the UN Security Council’s reporting, its efforts to promote transparency, and its commitment to inclusion.
First, on reporting,
The ACT Group believes the Council should ensure the timely completion of monthly assessments by all Security Council presidencies.
As this is undertaken in a national capacity, assessments can be more analytical and do not require unanimity among Council members.
We welcome that the introduction of the annual report of the Council draws from monthly assessments, and we encourage: a more analytical report, and the full implementation by the Council of its agreed presidential notes. Including holding “interactive informal exchanges of views with the wider UN membership” during drafting.
We also recall the Group’s position on the addition of a dedicated chapter on the veto in the annual report, where special reports could be prominently featured. We encourage this addition in the 2023 report.
We welcome the Council’s consistent production of special reports in line with resolution 76/262 and expect this to continue.
We welcome also the steps taken by the current President of the General Assembly to transmit summaries of GA discussions on the Council’s annual report and veto initiative meetings; a practice we hope will continue, and which would be strengthened should the Council give them due consideration, and take action on their recommendations.
Finally on reporting, the ACT Group supports verbal reporting and dialogue with the broader membership through monthly wrap-up sessions.
We support a consistent practice of Council Presidents issuing formal invitations, and publishing the meetings in the Journal and on the Council’s Programme of Work. While these issues may seem somewhat administrative or technical in nature, they are important elements of the Council’s accountability to the broader UN membership and the public, we ask for their consistent implementation.
Second, the ACT Group supports a range of improvements to ensure greater transparency by the Council. We support early and broad circulation of live lists of speakers, no later than one day before open debates, and similarly we welcome the use by Presidencies of digital programmes of work, and the public distribution of monthly working methods commitments.
We would also like to see more detail included on the Council’s Programme of Work including: all foreseen meetings, wrap-in and wrap-up sessions, Arria meetings, and Informal Interactive Dialogues.
Furthermore, we underscore that the early distribution of concept notes for open debates helps to promote better understanding and engagement in Council discussions.
And we commend the recent publication of the E10 Handbook.
The ACT Group also supports a return to the former agreed practice, which has fallen out of implementation, whereby all draft resolutions of the Security Council are shared with the wider membership as soon as they are “placed into blue”, and before adoption.
And we emphasise that the Council should commit to returning to the once usual practice, lost during COVID, of agreeing press elements from closed consultations.
This is the bare minimum of transparency we expect from closed meetings of the Council.
We believe that these important and concrete improvements will bring greater transparency to, and trust in, the Security Council’s work.
And third, President, on inclusion- among members of the Council, the broader membership, and briefers to the Council- we wish to point to the important recommendations made by the Secretary-General to the Security Council in "A New Agenda for Peace” particularly on the need to “democratise its procedures”.
We couldn’t agree more with his three recommendations for the Council to ensure:
1) more burden-sharing (or penholdership) among all Council members- where ACT would like to see co-penholdership become the norm on all files.
2) systematic consultations with affected countries like host countries or TCCs and PCCs,
and 3) promoting greater accountability of permanent members for the use of the veto. Here ACT would also add a consistent implementation of Article 27 (3) in line with the objectives and purpose of the Charter.
We also echo recommendations made by the SG on elevating the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. Not only integrating the PBC more in the work of the Council, including perhaps in Missions to the field, but for the Council to ask for, and use its advice better.
To further improve inclusion in the Council’s work, we also urge a more consistent and broader approach to the acceptance of Rule 37 requests in all applicable meeting formats. And encourage a standardised approach to prioritising and encouraging group statements in open debates, which we believe will improve efficiency.
Furthermore, we welcome efforts undertaken through the Women, Peace, and Security Commitments to ensure a greater number and diversity of female civil society briefers-
particularly their safe participation, and greater attention to the deeply concerning issue of reprisals.
Just briefly also on the annual distribution of Council subsidiary body chairs. We cannot help but point to the deterioration of the Council meeting its own deadlines for this process. The Council must do better. The late distribution is to the significant detriment of incoming elected members. Impacting their ability to be fully included, and active in shaping the work of the Council.
President, in closing,
Please be assured that the ACT Group remains a steadfast supporter of a transparent, effective, efficient, and inclusive UN Security Council. We appreciate this opportunity to engage with the Council today, and will continue to do so.
We welcome that, President, under your leadership, the IWG continues to work on new presidential notes. We hope the recommendations made today by the broader UN membership will be taken into account in this work, but we also underscore the importance of continuous efforts by all members of the Council to implement what is already agreed.
As the Council faces ever increasing pressures on its work, it is vital that it has the trust and confidence of the broader membership, and indeed the billions of people it acts on behalf of.
Nothing could be a better signal than the faithful implementation of its own commitments.