GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONTINUES DEBATE ON SECURITY
NEW YORK, 15 October (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council’s failure to include substantive information in its annual report was indicative of shortcomings in important areas, such as consultations with troop-contributing countries, India’s representative told the General Assembly this afternoon, as it heard 15 speakers in its consideration of the Council’s report.
Troop-contributing countries were mostly non-Council members who put the lives of their troops at risk in the cause of peace, he said. Yet, there was no partnership between those countries and the Council. Similarly, non-Council members paid the high cost of peacekeeping operations, which were more than twice the regular United Nations budget. The general membership however, had little information on the running of operations, problems, the changing of mandates, or the scaling down or ending of operations. The Council should offer more transparency than through "open debates", which were empty rituals with a predetermined outcome.
Canada’s representative said present practice didn’t allow the Council and troop-contributors to engage constructively on specific missions. The Council had been holding public meetings over the past couple of years, which had been termed "transparency". Yet, the Council needed to guard against meetings that were more theatre than policy discourse. Good decision-making was hampered by non-Council delegations reading out lengthy, repetitive statements.
The format of the Security Council’s report was counterproductive to serious debate, the representative of Belarus said. It was a compilation of resolutions and was too voluminous in both form and content. The Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization was an example of an informative, yet analytical report.
The representative of Mauritius said the Council should take a new approach and provide a substantive, analytical report. It should fully assess the progress it had achieved, while also highlighting areas that had delayed its work.
Austria’s representative said that efficiency, transparency and legitimacy were the guidelines for Council reform. However, that could only occur if positions changed and the underlying political impasse was thus overcome.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of the Philippines, Argentina, Republic of Korea, Cyprus, Mongolia, Egypt, Norway, Jamaica, Italy and Chile.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 16 October, to continue consideration of the Security Council’s report.
The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the Security Council’s report. (For background see Press Release GA/9933 of 15 October.)
SERGEI S. LING (Belarus) said that the assessments in the report confirmed the active work undertaken by the Security Council this year to maintain international peace and security. The amount of work undertaken was evident from the increase in the number of meetings held. The Council had looked into the settlement of conflicts in Africa, the Balkans and in East Timor. It had examined peacekeeping from all angles, including the problem of sanctions. He welcomed the Singapore initiative to have a large-scale, open discussion on troop-contributing countries. In that context, resolution 1353 (2001) would play a key role in improving peacekeeping operations even further.
The Security Council had also attempted to normalize the situation in the Great Lakes region in Africa, he continued. Work in that region did not only require the strong leadership of the Security Council, but also an increase in cooperation with regional organizations. It was vital that the Security Council interact with other United Nations bodies and agencies, since the scope in maintaining peace and security was expanding. Conflict prevention included economic and social aspects and, thus, the role played by other United Nations agencies must also be stressed
Progress in peacekeeping could not be achieved without a serious look at the problem of sanctions, he said. Sanctions needed to become a priority for the Security Council. He highlighted the important role of expert assessment by specialized agencies. The lifting of sanctions against Sudan and the former Yugoslavia was welcomed. In terms of the form and content of the report, he joined other speakers in stressing the need for improvement. It was too voluminous and mostly a compilation of various resolutions. Retaining such a format would be counterproductive to serious debate. The report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization was an example of an informative, yet analytical report.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said one way to improve the effectiveness of Council decision-making was to ensure that there was genuine cooperation with those members most affected by Council decisions on the operation of peacekeeping missions -- the troop-contributors. Such cooperation would narrow the accountability gap, and would also insure the Council had the best information at its disposal from countries with forces in the field. Present practice did not allow the Council and major troop-contributors to engage constructively enough on specific missions. He hoped that the views of many troop-contributors, as communicated to the Council over the last many months, would be taken to heart by the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations.
He said that transparency had been the term applied to the more frequent recourse to public meetings over the last two years, which he welcomed. The Council needed, however, to guard against the temptation to hold public meetings that had more to do with theatre, than with policy. Meeting techniques also mattered. The attempt by the United Kingdom to engage in a more interactive discussion had not been very successful in implementation. Good decision-making was hampered by non-Council delegations reading out lengthy repetitive statements and by Council members sometimes struggling to listen to them.
Regarding accountability, he said a voluntary code of conduct on the use of the veto, as proposed by one permanent member two years ago, would be a good reform. Financial accountability was also important. The Assembly held the power of the purse. Greater recourse to that power to ensure that money was well spent was an idea whose time had come. Another area ripe for better accountability was the format of Council meetings. The Council could begin by ending the practice of pretending that the informal meetings did not exist. He did not dispute the need for the Council to meet behind closed doors when situations warranted. He asked that the informal consultations be treated as what they were -- private meetings of the Council to which the Charter and the Council rules of procedure should apply.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) commended the Security Council on the situation in East Timor and the successful recent elections. He added that full independence would be the next step. In the final analysis, the future of East Timor lay in the hands of its people. Regarding sanctions, experience had shown that sanctions had inflicted a heavy toll on civilian populations and third parties. The Council’s efforts to develop the concept of targeted sanctions, where pressure was focused on those responsible rather than the innocent, was therefore a positive response. Resolutions such as 1343 (2001), which imposed a travel ban and an embargo on diamonds from Liberia, was a concrete example of that response.
Concerning consultations with troop-contributing countries, he said there was a need for triangular consultations, with consultations being institutionalized during all stages of deliberations on a peacekeeping operation. He urged the Council to continue addressing those concerns. The Council must also maintain and, where appropriate, improve upon the measures it had implemented to promote greater transparency of its work. The thematic debates of the Council, mentioned in the report, were very useful and must be continued. Nevertheless, those debates must aim at action-oriented objectives over a medium-term period. Also, debates in the Council could be synchronized with debates on the same issues in the General Assembly, linking decisions on certain issues by the Council and the General Assembly –- for example, on prevention of armed conflict.
He referred to the monthly assessments of the presidents of the Council, because they served as a good basis for analyzing the Council’s report. He, therefore, hoped that the section on the presidential assessments could be allotted greater prominence in future reports. At the same time, it would be more than helpful if the president’s assessments were to refer to the highlights of the informal consultations of the whole on some of the key issues considered during their respective presidencies. Assessments of Security Council missions, when relevant, would also be useful.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said the most serious flaw in the Council’s report was that it was neither narrative, nor a reckoning of its activities. Reiterating a view expressed in 1998, he said the report should have included information on how far an activity or decision had been helpful, as well as an evaluation of its own performance as an institution. Instead, the report was a compilation of documents already circulated, without analysis or substantive reporting. Those shortcomings reflected the larger Council malaise. The Council did not respond to the Assembly’s repeated wishes because its composition no longer represented the wider membership, particularly in its permanent membership where the real power was centered.
The Council didn’t report on substance because its negotiations were secret and took place in meetings that seemed not to exist except that the Secretariat serviced them, he continued. Both meetings and records existed like veiled women locked away under the Taliban. The status of those meetings should be clarified according to the Council’s rules of procedures. Similarly, the Council should meet the Assembly’s request for transparency more adequately than through "open debates". Those were empty rituals with a predetermined outcome. Also, the themes, such as children in armed conflict, were issues the Assembly should be considering.
The Council mentioned none of its own weaknesses in its report, he said. For example, it had done too little, too late on two of the gravest threats to peace and security -- Afghanistan under the Taliban and terrorism -- which were coiled together like snakes. The Council’s delay in dealing with those had come with an unconscionably high cost. Likewise, the Council managed badly in the costly area of peacekeeping, which amounted to more than twice the regular United Nations budget. The general membership paid the bill, but had little information on how the operations were run, the problems faced, why mandates were set or changed and when operations were strengthened, scaled down or ended. Similarly, there was no partnership between the Council and the troop-contributing countries, who were mostly non-Council members putting the lives of their troops at risk to serve the cause of peace.
In conclusion, he said, the Council needed to use its time better. It needed to focus on its core mandate. When budgets were tight, the cost-effectiveness of operations needed to be assessed, so as to scale back some and to shut down those that served no purpose. Under its results-based budget, the Assembly expected a ruthless scrutiny of every programme brought to it for financing. The Security Council must also lop off the deadwood, as well as correct the structural flaws in its functioning, through reform.
LUIS E. CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said that most of the work of the Security Council took place in informal consultations. It was true that there had been an increase in public meetings, but in many cases those meetings were only a rubber stamp on the discussions that had been held during the informals. His country was aware that informal consultations were a reality of life in the Council. Faced with that reality, the number of informal consultations should be reduced and, under special circumstances, should permit the participation of a State that is party to a dispute but is not a member of the Security Council. Furthermore, the briefings given by the Secretary-General or his representatives were not necessarily confidential by nature and their contents could and should be shared in open meetings.
He wanted to mention the note by the President of the Council issued on 28 February, during the Argentine presidency (document S/2000/155). The note had formalized a proposal, put forward by Argentina, that newly-elected members of the Council be invited to observe the Council’s informal consultations for a period of one month immediately preceding their term of membership. That proposal would provide for more transparency. Private meetings might represent a useful tool for the participation of non-Council Members, but it was necessary to establish clear and uniform rules for participation. Whereas there had been some meetings where non-Council members could participate, there were others where, in spite of express requests, non-Council members were denied participation. For example, at the private meeting held in June 2000 with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to discuss the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the two main troop-contributing countries requested to participate, to no avail.
There was no doubt that the Security Council had the primary responsibility to make decisions on matters of international peace and security, he said. But, it was also true that the Council’s decisions directly affected troop-contributors. There was, therefore, a duty of transparency to give troop-contributors all the necessary elements, so that they could evaluate the situation objectively and take their own decisions on whether to participate or withdraw. With regard to the so called "notes" taken by the Secretariat during informal consultations, his country supported the proposal introduced by Grenada, that the Secretary-General report on the procedures used to keep the "notes" and the rules governing access to them.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said that an adequate flow of information from the Security Council towards non-members was needed, so that they could understand and assess how the Council was dealing with political issues. The monthly forecast on Council work was a useful tool, and presidency briefings, as well as information on homepages, had further improved over the last year. In addition, the increase in public meetings showed the Council’s willingness to take the views of Member States into account and use them as a basis for Council decision-making.
The experience with peacekeeping operations had clearly demonstrated that the Council could only act successfully if it was engaged in a substantial dialogue with Member States, he said. Austria particularly welcomed the Council’s efforts to increase the number of meetings with troop-contributing countries, and thus improve cooperation and coordination between the Council and those countries at an early stage in United Nations missions.
The relationship between the Council and the General Assembly was a central issue of the ongoing reform debate, he continued. Maintaining efficiency, as well as the utmost transparency and legitimacy, were equally important goals that should guide Council reform efforts. The high level working group on reform could, however, only come up with concrete proposals if positions were reconsidered and the underlying political impasse was thus overcome. His country would continue to support every reform effort directed at increased transparency, efficiency and legitimacy, so that the Security Council could best fulfil its mandate.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that as the annual report made evident, the Security Council had made remarkable progress in a number of key areas. He hoped to see improved interaction among the major United Nations bodies, particularly between the Security Council and the General Assembly, in developing long-term conflict prevention and peace-building strategies. His delegation welcomed Security Council resolution 1366 (2001) which stressed the need for the Security Council to play a central role in conflict prevention, in conjunction with other United Nations organs, regional organizations, key civil society actors and the private sector. He highlighted the increase in the number of Security Council missions to areas of potential conflict and stressed the importance of their use in conflict prevention.
He hoped that the Security Council could be reformed in a way that made it more democratic, transparent and effective, in order to better meet the challenges of the new millennium. His delegation had been actively participating in the open-ended working group on Security Council reform. While he bemoaned the lack of tangible progress in the working group, he was pleased that the Security Council had taken a number of steps to improve its working methods, including more frequent public meeting and improved briefings for non-members. He also welcomed the adoption of Resolution 1327 (2000), which underlined the importance of close consultations with troop-contributing countries in peacekeeping matters, a process that would, no doubt, enhance transparency.
He concluded by saying that he shared the view of some Member States that the current report could have been more illuminating if it had taken a more analytical approach. He welcomed the efforts being made by the working group to study ways and means to make the annual report more relevant to the work of the Assembly. He added that while the Security Council's open debates provided a useful forum for delegations to share their views on subjects in a broad context, they had often struck him as a bit generic and formal. Acknowledging the efforts of some Council members to give non-members the opportunity to participate in candid exchange of views on security matters, he hoped that in the future the meetings could be developed into true debates.
CONSTANTINE MOUSHOUTAS (Cyprus) said that despite the decrease of closed-door meetings, they were still more numerous than the open, formal meetings. The closed meetings, he said, lacked transparency and were giving a message of exclusion to the rest of the United Nations membership. No degree of briefing, after such meetings, could equate the information received by witnessing the Council's open meetings and listening to its deliberations. However, there was no doubt that the working methods of the Security Council had improved, and that increased transparency and good working methods were having their positive effects, especially in the case of peacekeeping operations.
Militant separatism/terrorism constituted the gravest threat facing mankind, he continued. They were a clear and present danger to the unity and territorial integrity of States. The new crises, he said, were regrettably added to a number of long-standing problems, which remained unresolved due to a lack of political will and the non-implementation of mandatory resolutions and decisions. Selectivity in the implementation of Security Council resolutions was shaking the faith of the general membership, especially of the small States in the United Nations. The obligation of all States to conform with the Council's decisions was part of the Charter and all States should comply with its provisions.
For the Council to face the challenges of the new century, he stated, it must firstly be representative. Increasing its membership on the basis of an equitable geographical distribution of seats would give the Council more legitimacy, and strengthen its effectiveness. Second, it must have sufficient funds and personnel. Third, it should be remembered that no reform could be more effective and useful than the determination of the Council to implement its own resolutions and decisions. His country agreed with India's suggestion as to the incorporation into the report of an assessment of the Council's own actions, and supported greater collaboration between the United Nations and regional organizations.
JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) welcomed the important decisions taken by the Council throughout the year to strengthen peace and security, prevent further escalation of confrontations and promote peace-building. However, the report failed to explain why the Council had not been fully involved with the conflict in the Middle East. The United Nations’ role in peacekeeping must be further increased and improved and the recommendations of the Report of the Panel in United Nations Peace Operations Brahimi report -- ought to be vigorously implemented. He welcomed efforts to assure greater participation of non-member States through organizing open, thematic debates on pressing issues. The Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Council, established to monitor implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), would prove to be an effective collective mechanism to fight international terrorism.
He underlined the need to speed up the Council’s reform. Expansion should be made in both the permanent and non-permanent membership of the Council and representatives of developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America should be represented. The use of the veto ought to be considerably curtailed. He suggested that the Assembly, when it deemed necessary, could address openly why the veto had been used in certain cases, ask for an explanation and, in return, communicate the views of the general membership on the issue to the Council.
The Council had failed to respond positively to constructive observations and practical suggestions to make its reports more analytical, he said. The guidelines and format of preparing the Council’s report, last updated in 1997, had referred to making reports more analytical in character. However, recommendations in that regard had not found due reflection in the past three reports. The guidelines should be updated, taking into account the constructive and practical proposals made by Member States since 1998, including those expressed during the current consideration of the report.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the Security Council had continued to diversify the format of its sessions and lay down artificial criteria either for attending those sessions or participating in them. That method, he continued, made the Council a selective organ where a tiny number of voices strove to control other members, both within and outside the Council. Members were often severely affected by the Council’s decisions, despite their non-participation.
The Security Council had used this method when discussing two issues of importance, he said. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, and the fight against international terrorism. The Council had failed to reach a decision on the request to deploy international observers to monitor the situation between the occupying power and the occupied people. The absence of such international mediation had certainly contributed to the deterioration of the situation and the increase in the number of Palestinian victims. Some members of the Council, it seemed, wanted to turn facts and legal logic upside down by claiming that the Council should seek "permission" from the occupying power in order to decide to deploy international observers. That could only be recognized as a clear relinquishing of responsibilities by the Council in providing the necessary protection to the Palestinian people and a flagrant application of a double standard.
Resolution 1373 (2001), he said, was a resolution which Egypt considered positively. However, the resolution had been adopted in a matter of days. Very little time was afforded for any careful study of the resolution and Member States did not have a chance to express their views in a proper way. The fact that the Security Council had laid down an international framework, imposed on the Member States by virtue of the Charter’s provisions, with a view to legislate and organize an issue that was currently under the consideration of the General Assembly, was a dangerous precedent. The Assembly had, under its attention, legal instruments to address the issue of terrorism and short cutting the Assembly was not in the interest of the United Nations.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that Security Council transparency had improved over the past years, in terms of more open briefings and meetings with non-Council members. But more needed to be done, especially with regard to troop-contributing countries in the decision-shaping process of the Council. At the same time, it was the responsibility of all to make maximum use of the important established practice of regular meetings between the Council and troop-contributing countries.
Norway, he said, welcomed the fact that the international community had increasingly turned to the United Nations for multilateral solutions to conflicts and other threats, such as terrorism. The 2001 Nobel Peace Prize award testified to the crucial global role of the United Nations and its Secretary-General. The Organization remained indispensable when it came to building common ground for collective action to meet the security threats of the twenty first century. This was especially true in Africa, where an array of complex challenges would continue to demand the full attention, not only of the Council, but of the entire United Nations system.
Norway would continue working on strengthening cooperation between the Council and various United Nations and other bodies involved poverty reduction, humanitarian aid, development assistance, human rights and the environment, he said. It was vital to all members of the United Nations that the authority and legitimacy of the Security Council remain strong and undiminished in fulfilling its primary role in international peace and security. Making the Council more representative, while ensuring its efficiency, was crucial in that regard.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that, as a member of the Security Council, her delegation had observed improved communication with Member States, in particular with those affected by Council actions. In that vein, the Council had broadened the input of Members and other interested parties by reaching out to them in different forms and by providing opportunities for their participation. During the reporting period, the Council had embraced the maxim that, in order to deal effectively with conflict situations, the regional dynamics of those conflicts must be fully taken into account. Council action had employed a regional perspective and ensured that the concerns of States in each respective region were factored into the decision-making, in particular with the conflicts in the Great Lakes and Mano River regions of Africa.
She said that over the past year the Security Council had been seized with a number of conflicts, particularly in Africa, the Balkans and Central Asia. The Security Council must continue to work with the relevant parties in the search for solutions in a number of those areas and must seek to develop new ways to bring peace to those regions. The Council had been active and given strong support in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia and Eritrea. While time had been spent on seeking solutions to certain conflicts in Africa, not enough attention had been paid to others, particularly in the peace-building phase. That was particularly evident in the tenuous post-conflict peace-building situations in the Central African Republic and in Somalia.
She said the Council remained fully engaged in moving forward with the peace processes in Kosovo and East Timor; and the latter should be moving closer to becoming the 190th member of the United Nations. The two Council missions to Kosovo and its visit to Belgrade had resulted in greater cooperation in the issues faced by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), and the lifting of the arms embargo on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. She informed the Assembly that the Council Missions to East Timor and Indonesia had significantly advanced the prospect for success in the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), as that territory moved closer to independence.
SERGIO VENTO (Italy) said the terrorist attacks of 11 September had dramatically accelerated the process of deep and lasting change in the role of the United Nations. The full unity of intent among members of the Assembly and the Council had allowed for the adoption of unprecedented, far-reaching measures against the scourge of terrorism. The recognition provided by the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to the Secretary-General and the United Nations, invited all Member States to make the Organization more effective in meeting new global challenges. He expressed the hope that the present debate would shed the rituals that had characterized it in the past and lead to specific, constructive proposals. To achieve that purpose, the format and contents of the annual report should be revised.
He said the real business of the Council was done in the informal consultations, but the Council’s decisions were the business of all Member States. Moreover, the broader notion of "international security" had expanded and included such topics as terrorism, HIV/AIDS, protection of women and children in armed conflicts and the safeguarding of refugees. It was self-evident that such decisions deserved the maximum possible transparency, exactly the opposite of what was obtained through informal consultations. All Member States shared the responsibility for financing peacekeeping operations. There was, therefore, a need for greater accountability on the part of the Council and greater openness to the contribution of non-members, in order to make its decisions more representative and effective.
In the past year, the Council had devoted special attention to improving its decision-making processes, he said. Spurred by the recommendations of the Brahimi report and incorporating some proposals formulated in the open-ended working group, the Council had started to address conflict prevention, the definition of credible mandates, and exit strategies, among other things. He urged the Council and the Secretary-General to continue in that direction and to make the liaison between it, the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council more operational and effective. The Council could also improve relations with regional organizations. The development of crisis-management in the European Union represented a substantial added value for rapid deployment capability and for the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations conducted under the aegis of the United Nations, he said.
JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said that over the last few years his country had joined those who called for an improvement in the quality of the report, but that effort had not been successful. The report was a mere culmination of papers designed to provide a record of the Council’s activities. There was no effort to inform people about the consideration the Council had given to various important issues. That hampered understanding and judgment of the Council’s actions. The report was designed to be a reference archive, which obviously triggered skepticism.
There should, he said, be an increase in the number of open meetings, and they should be open to all members. What was more, they should not be confined to those subjects of general importance, such as analyzing the reports of the Secretary-General. His country was not trying to undermine the powers of the Council; it was trying to provide an opportunity for listening to and considering the opinions of those who would later on provide funding and undertake decisions. However, since the adoption of resolution 51/241, no progress had been made.
Both resolutions adopted following the terrorist attacks of 11 September were of enormous importance, he continued. The Council had adopted the option of formulating international law, with complex implications. That should have been part of complex study, with all members participating. There was a need for a broad approach for the prevention of conflict, with close cooperation between the Security Council and other organs of the United Nations. That was crucial, in order to attack the root causes of those conflicts. The credibility of the Security Council might depend on the effective implementation of its responsibilities in peacekeeping. It was therefore important to facilitate discussion between the Council and troop-contributing nations, who needed to be consulted when those operations were being discussed.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said the report had many shortcomings. A clear distinction had to be made between a guide and a report coming from the Council. A new approach had to be devised to communicate, in a substantive and analytical manner, the deliberations of the Council during the reporting period. The current report did not at all meet its intended purpose. The report should fully assess the progress achieved on specific issues and should highlight those areas of difficulty that had held back progress in the Council’s work. Those suggestions had been made over the past years by a majority of delegations, and it was about time that the wish of the general membership be translated into action.
As a representative of the African continent on the Council, he expressed his satisfaction at the particular interest the Council had shown to peace and security on that continent. During a meeting on "Ensuring an effective role of the Council in the maintenance of international peace and security, particularly in Africa" in September last year, leaders had reaffirmed their determination to give special attention to the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development there. They had stressed the critical importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. After such a high-level meeting one would have hoped that concrete and effective follow-up would have been taken. Unfortunately, such had not been the case, he said.
The continent continued to be riddled with numerous conflicts, he said. The Council did not only limit its role to encouraging and supporting actions of facilitators, but showed tremendous hesitation in responding to their calls for concrete actions. He, therefore, urged that the Council take a more proactive and direct role in the resolution of conflicts. In that regard, the efforts of regional organizations should be seen as complementary to the initiatives of the United Nations. The Council’s role in post-conflict peace-building was also extremely important. There was a sentiment that once a conflict had ended, the Council’s engagement was over. He underscored also the importance of consultations and harmonization among the various organs of the United Nations, in particular between the Council and the ECOSOC.
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