SPEAKERS IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACKNOWLEDGE IMPROVEMENTS IN SECURITY COUNCIL WORKING METHODS WHILE CONTINUING TO CRITICIZE REPORT FORMAT
NEW YORK, 16 October (UN Headquarters) -- As speakers continued to criticize the format of the Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly this morning, they also acknowledged improvements the Council had made in the field of maintenance of international peace and security and in its working methods.
Improvements in the Council’s working methods, according to Tunisia’s representative, included the increasing number of formal meetings, enhancing the transparency of the work of the Council. He added that the Council’s special missions in the field constituted an added value to Council activities. He also welcomed efforts raising issues that strengthened faith in the Security Council, such as transparency, accountability, and follow up of the implementation of Council decisions.
He stressed, however, that the Council must play its central role by applying equal treatment to all the issues that fell within its prerogative. In that context, the Council must pay attention to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to the situation in Somalia.
The representative of Pakistan asked, on the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Secretary-General and the United Nations, whether the United Nations had indeed provided the requisite moral edifice in reordering the global system on the basis of justice and equality. The world today was neither just nor equal, he said, but divided into two separate humanities, one embarrassingly rich and the other desperately poor. It remained afflicted with violence and conflicts, injustice and oppression.
He said that while the evil of universal terrorism was confronted, the need to address the source of that problem at its roots could not be neglected. The sanctions-oriented policy of the Council had solved no problem; it had only aggravated human misery. It was now time to reappraise that approach and revert to the role assigned to it by the Charter. The report indicated that some issues before the Council were taken less seriously than others. All resolutions of the Council must be implemented without discrimination, be it on Palestine or Kashmir.
Echoing the same sentiments, Namibia’s representative said there was a widening gap between some conflict situations and the readiness of the Security Council to take action. A perfect example of that was resolution 1291. The Security Council had authorized the deployment of 5,537 military observers under the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). To date, those observers had not yet been fully deployed.
He said, it was critical that the Security Council move swiftly to authorize the deployment of a United Nations Observer Force, to protect Palestinian citizens and ensure the full implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell report.
In that regard, the Permanent Observer of Palestine asked why lofty principles and values stopped at Palestine’s borders and why international law stopped functioning when it came to Palestine. The fact remained that an explosive situation had existed on the ground for more than a year, without the Council taking any decision. Twenty-five resolutions on the issue had been adopted and none had been implemented by the Occupying Power. Twenty-five drafts had been vetoed by the same permanent member of the Council. What happened in the Council was tantamount to a suspension of the relevant provisions of international law, the will of the international community and the Council’s own resolutions, he said.
The representatives of Venezuela, Ukraine, Myanmar, Spain, Bhutan, Slovenia, Indonesia, Mali, Bangladesh, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Libya spoke as well.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to conclude its consideration of the Report of the Security Council.
This morning, the General Assembly gathered to continue its consideration of the report of the Security Council. (For further background, see Press Release GA/9933 of 15 October.)
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that Tunisia acknowledged the sustained efforts of the Security Council to improve its performance in discharging its mandate. He welcomed the materialization of the broad concept of maintenance of international peace and security, including in the area of conflict prevention and added that the brainstorming sessions held by the Council were likely to improve the work on prevention. He also welcomed the actual cooperation with all other organizations, namely the United Nations system and the regional organizations, as well as more efficient consultations on conflicts in Africa. He highlighted the importance of the initiation of an improvement of sanctions regimes. Sanctions needed to be more equitable in the future, he said.
He stressed that the Security Council must play its central role by reserving an equal treatment to all the issues that fell within its prerogative. In this context, the Security Council must pay the requisite attention to the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. The responsibility of the Council also required that it address the situation in Somalia, which clearly warranted attention, in an appropriate manner. The Council had not tackled the problems faced by Afghanistan properly and that had led to new political changes. This meant that the Council needed to change its approach to situations like those. Regarding sanctions, there was a need to harmonize sanctions regimes by establishing general rules for their lifting and to take the appropriate measures to avoid their negative impact on civilian populations.
Tunisia had noticed improvements in the working methods of the Security Council, including the increasing number of formal meetings, which enhanced the transparency of the Council’s work. Security Council Special missions on the ground constituted an added value to Council activities. Finally, he welcomed efforts raising issues that strengthened faith in the Security Council, such as transparency, accountability, and follow up of the implementation of Council decisions.
MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela) said his country regarded the Security Council report as extremely important, yet a more analytical approach was needed. The report contained detailed coverage of events and showed that great efforts had been made. From the content, for example, one could see the continuing importance of items such as Africa, East Timor, the Balkans and the Middle East from the large amount of space devoted to these items.
Regarding Security Council reform, the report showed there was a continuing tendency to have closed meetings, which ran counter to the need to be more democratic and transparent. All States should be given the opportunity to participate in and contribute to matters of importance in the Security Council. His delegation was also concerned with the report’s methodology and the way in which information was being handled and presented.
His country hoped that in the future the Security Council would prepare its reports in a more analytical and constructive manner, showing what it was doing and how it was looking to the future. He was sure that there were difficulties with this approach, and realized that there were current efforts to improve the presentation of the report. He was certain, for example, that the Security Council Working Group would yield fruit soon. Furthermore, the recent establishment of the Counter–Terrorism Committee was an opportunity for the Council to bring the United Nations together to combat terrorism and for open interaction with all Member States.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that sweeping changes on the world political scene over the past ten years had led to a strengthened Security Council whose activities shaped international relations. Those changes had brought about the increasing demands for reform, the Council itself recognizing the need for reform if it were to be responsive to the demands of the times.
Welcoming the Council’s continued improvement in transparency and working methods, he said the triangle of cooperation between the Secretariat, troop contributors and the Council should be strengthened. Also, since sanctions would remain an important policy instrument, the Council must apply a clear and coherent methodology for imposing, applying and lifting them. A promising development was the Council’s intensified dialogue with regional and sub-regional organizations, which had helped resolve conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and in West Africa.
He said, however, that the Middle East demanded urgent change. The Council must improve its ability to act so as to stop the bloodshed in the Palestinian territory and Israel. It should also find an alternative solution to the Iraq situation instead of just tightening the sanctions that resulted in the people’s suffering. Similarly, paperwork or declarations would not resolve the Balkans issue and thus a well-targeted regional peace-strengthening strategy should be developed. That could bring about change similar to that in Africa because of the Council’s major policy shift there. The Millennium Declaration had led to a well-targeted strategy deeply and broadly involving the wider international community. The Council’s follow-up, such as by monitoring situations, had led to progress in numerous trouble spots. That showed the Council both willing and capable of turning the Millennium Summit commitments into practical results.
KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said that despite the efforts of the Security Council to make the Report more analytical, that was an area that needed further strengthening. The members needed more information on the thinking and the analysis behind the consideration of peace and security issues. Myanmar, however, was grateful for the presidential assessments of the work of the Council that the report provided, which helped to make the Council’s work more transparent. In this connection, the idea of monthly public wrap-up discussions on the work of the Security Council was a useful initiative. He was also grateful that steps were being taken to strengthen cooperation between troop contributing countries on the one hand, and the Secretariat and the Security Council on the other. The unanimous adoption of resolution 1353 would further strengthen partnerships. That was a very positive development in the work of the Council.
The Council’s effectiveness he continued, depended in large measure on the implementation of the relevant resolution in a conflict situation. To do this, the Council needed the full support of key actors. The Security Council’s initiative to enlist the support of key actors through the Council’s mission to a conflict area was commendable. He was also pleased to observe that the Council had engaged in debates on very relevant issues such as women, peace and security and children in armed conflict, and believed that those thematic discussions would contribute to strengthening the Council’s effectiveness.
Owing to the severe impact of sanctions, he said, it had been universally accepted that sanctions should be a last resort tool in peace enforcement. It was encouraging that many reviews of sanctions regimes had been conducted both within and outside the United Nations system to make it a more effective tool rather than a blunt bludgeon. Despite those reviews, there had been a general feeling that improvements were still needed in the way sanctions were being applied. His delegation strongly felt that the lifting of a sanctions regime, especially a comprehensive one, should be governed by objective considerations. While he recognized the progress made in the Working Group, he was discouraged that major aspects of the sanctions issue such as time limits for and lifting of sanctions remained outstanding.
ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) said her delegation had asked, along with others, several times that the report should be less voluminous, more user friendly, more analytical and more transparent. The part devoted to the so-called informal consultations was scarcely revealing. Remarkable progress had been made in the Council’s working methods and its transparency. In that regard, she mentioned the increase in the number of public meetings open to non-Council members and the wrap-up meetings at the end of a presidency.
Nonetheless, she said, the reality was that closed or semi-closed (private) meetings continued to be the general rule. Informal consultations should be held only when there was real need for it. The issue of private meetings should be clarified. The Council’s Working Group on Documentation and Procedures had considered the issue, but unfortunately that Working Group had seldom met during the period covered by the report. Her delegations had suggested that some link should be established between this group and the Assembly’s working group on Security Council Reform, since they tackled similar issues. A further improvement in the working methods and transparency of the Council would lead to a more efficient Council.
Relations between the Council and the troop contributing countries were a fundamental issue as well, she said, welcoming the adoption of resolution 1353 (2000) on strengthening cooperation with the troop contributing countries. She trusted that its implementation would contribute to improving United Nations peacekeeping operations. She also hoped that the measures adopted, to which the Council had committed itself within the framework of its Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, would be a useful tool for significant participation of the troop contributing countries in the decision making process.
OM PRADHAN (Bhutan) said that the Security Council had in the last year dealt with a wide range of complex international issues. The problems faced by the continent of Africa and intractable conflicts in the Middle East and the Balkans had figured prominently in its work.
Despite many cases where progress was elusive, the United Nations’ work had resulted in the successful elections in East Timor, a nation that was expected to join the ranks of sovereign countries at the United Nations. The Security Council had given much needed attention to topics such as the implications of HIV/AIDS for peacekeeping operations and the use of child soldiers in conflicts. In its primary task of maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council must strengthen its capabilities in pursuing a strategy of preventing conflicts. Arms embargoes and sanctions were important tools, but the Council should make every effort to minimize the distress sanctions could cause for innocent civilian populations.
Terrorism could also be dealt with by using vigilance and early action to nip danger in the bud and to root out the preaching of hatred and violence, he said. While the report clearly showed that the world had changed a great deal since the founding of the United Nations, the composition of the Security Council had remained practically the same. The evolving nature and responsibilities of the Security Council called for a membership that was representative of all continents and major groups of people in the world. This was one of the keys to the successful functioning of the Council.
ERNEST PETRIC (Slovenia) said the present format of the Security Council report still did not assist non-members to creatively take part in an annual discussion of the most pertinent issues of the United Nations. Many small delegations would find the report more stimulating if the Council had also reviewed its methods and assessed progress or failure. The report should also provide an annual summary of the Council’s accomplishments, which would lead to better understanding of Council activities and facilitate meaningful discussion in the General Assembly.
Peace and security problems had presented themselves differently in the age of globalization, and the Council had displayed a commendable capacity to change and adapt, he said. Despite this capacity to adjust to new realities, however, the report had failed to attach due attention to the threat of international terrorism. The shock caused by the 11 September attacks in the United States was partly due to the inability of the international community to approach the problem in a timely and comprehensive manner. It was encouraging that it now stood united in the fight against terrorism, which was reflected by two important resolutions and the prompt establishment of the Counterterrorist Committee, which had already begun to work.
He commended the close attention the Council had given to issues in southeastern Europe. In addition to numerous open sessions of the Council that had assisted Members in understanding and contributing to the full implementation of international commitments in that region, there had recently been a complete "mobile" Council session in that region. Such comprehensive, continuous attention must bring peace closer even to the most troubled area.
MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) noted the important progress that the Council had brought about in numerous areas such as in de-escalating tensions and settling conflicts. He said the adoption of new modalities had strengthened the Council’s central role in conflict situations. They had also reflected the Council’s determination to accord equal priority to maintaining peace and security in every area of the world. In East Timor, the Council should extend full and unstinting support to the legitimate needs and aspirations of the people, including in the important area of nation building.
While the Council’s work had become more transparent with regard to the sanctions committees’ procedures, he said the Council continued to be stymied on issues such as setting time limits for lifting sanctions, establishing monitoring mechanisms and controlling the unintended impact of sanctions on third states. The Secretary-General’s recommendations on sanctions should be adopted. They sought to minimize the humanitarian impact of sanctions, subject them to review and eliminate their adverse effects on third parties. Targeted sanctions would clarify the issues leading to possible early termination.
On the form of the Council’s report itself, he said that both the format and content needed to be changed. A descriptive list of resolutions and decisions adopted, along with presidential statements, would make the Council’s activities more open and transparent. They would afford an opportunity to evaluate the decisions and reach conclusions about them. That was the direction of other improvements regarding the Council’s decisions and statements, such as the decision to issue presidential statements as press releases and thereby increase their dissemination. Open meetings with the increased participation of non-members were also steps in the right direction.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that notwithstanding reports and resolutions adopted by the Security Council, the situation of the Congolese people remained daunting. It appeared that the aggression against their country had become palatable to the international community. Last July the Secretary-General had appointed the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources ands other forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His delegation expected the Council to act on the recommendations of that panel regardless of who the culprits were. There was, he said, a widening gap between some conflict situations and the readiness of the Security Council to take action. A perfect example of this was resolution 1291. The Security Council had authorized the deployment of 5537 military observers under United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). To date, those observers had not yet been fully deployed. However, there was no doubt that the presence of MONUC on the ground had had a positive impact.
For many decades, he said, the people of Namibia had been denied their right to self-determination and independence. As such, his country could relate to any people suffering under foreign occupation. In this regard, it was critical that the Security Council move swiftly to authorize the deployment of a United Nations Observer Force, to protect Palestinian citizens and ensure the full implementation of the Mitchel report recommendations. His country remained deeply concerned at the manner in which the Security Council was deliberating the issue of Western Sahara. With regard to Angola, he felt that the international community must enforce sanctions further and do all it could to destroy the ability of National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to make war.
In its note S/1998/234 of March 1995, the Security Council, in making the procedures of the Sanctions Committee more transparent, had decided that the Report of the Council to the General Assembly should entail more information. That decision was yet to be implemented in full, and the current report clearly showed that some Committee’s activities were more detailed than others. All Sanctions Committees were of equal importance, and the Reports of the Council to the General Assembly should reflect them as such.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) noted that his country had been a member of the Security Council since January 2000. He said the experience had shown qualitative improvements in the Council’s working methods. Most importantly, it had improved its ability to understand the situations with which it was dealing. One innovation was to send missions to areas such as Sierra Leone, among many others. That had given the Council a first-hand experience of conditions so that its deliberations took place with greater clarity and its decisions were more informed.
That mechanism was particularly useful in periods before mandates were elaborated or when they were to be changed, he said. Another useful innovation was to hold meetings with parties to situations and with regional organizations involved in them, which enabled in-depth discussion. That mechanism had been employed in the Council’s exchange with Nelson Mandela during the Burundi peace process while Mali was President of the Council in September 2000.
In addition to those changes during the period of the report, he said the means of action available to the Council had changed. A shift to practicality in the Council’s methods had begun during the Summit meeting of last year. The result showed up in stronger resolutions and better targeting of sanctions regimes. Those developments improved the Council’s effectiveness because the unintended impacts of sanctions, for example, had undermined the international community’s credibility. Those improved effects of Council efficiency were particularly apparent in situations of post-conflict peace-building. The improvement was heightened by the public and open meetings that the Council had been holding and which had increased its transparency.
SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) said the Security Council had remained actively seized of conflict situations during the reporting year. His country had tried –- where consensus made it possible -– to prevent conflicts from escalating or deteriorating by sending special missions and holding meetings with the concerned countries. The results had been mixed. Failure or lack of progress in certain areas had sometimes been due to political realities, which had prohibited or circumscribed the Council’s role.
The Council had evolved, he continued. It had become considerably more open and transparent, involving the larger membership in its work. It had been more pro-active than reactive, sending special missions to the Great Lakes, West Africa and Kosovo. It had addressed issues, based more on developments than calendar events determined by submission of reports or expiry of mandates. Maintaining peace and security was no longer perceived by the Council to be the work of a fire brigade acting only when a conflict flared out.
At the initiative mainly of elected members, the Council had also devoted considerable time and attention to areas beyond peacekeeping, which included conflict prevention, peace-making and post-conflict peace-building, he said. The challenge of maintaining international peace and security was increasingly being recognized as a continuing process requiring a comprehensive approach involving all stakeholders. Granted, several conflicts were still unresolved –- some had been for decades. That led to the obvious conclusion that the Council was primarily, but not exclusively, responsible for maintaining international peace and security. It was what its members agreed it to be or do, with the rule of consensus prevailing and the power of veto determining.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said the Nobel Peace Prize for the Secretary-General and the United Nations was a moment for reflection and soul-searching. Had the United Nations indeed provided the requisite moral edifice and a genuine multilateral approach in reordering the global system on the basis of justice and equality? The world today was neither just nor equal, but divided into two separate humanities, one embarrassingly rich and the other desperately poor. It remained afflicted with violence and conflicts, injustice and oppression. He hoped the Nobel Peace Prize would inspire the United Nations to fulfill its promises and its Charter obligations.
He said that while the evil of universal terrorism was confronted, the need to address the source of that problem at its roots could not be neglected. The Security Council must rise above power politics and political expediency and respond to crises and conflicts in an objective manner. The sanctions-oriented policy of the Council had solved no problem; it had only aggravated human misery. It was now time to reappraise that approach and revert to the role assigned to it by the Charter. The report, while not reflecting what was discussed in informal meetings, made clear that some issues before the Council were taken less seriously than others. All resolutions of the Council must be implemented without discrimination, whether on Palestine or Kashmir. Responsibility for conflict prevention and dispute resolution should not be evaded on the pretext that disputes should be resolved bilaterally by the concerned parties.
Regarding the current working practices of the Council, he said that closed-door or informal consultations remained the rule rather than the exception. Open meetings took place only after behind-the-door agreements had been reached. In the process, the use of the "invisible" veto had been witnessed time and again. The open thematic debates had been reduced to sterile exercises, like a debating club, where Member States were heard but not listened to. He appreciated, however, those members of the Council who had contributed to greater transparency in its working methods. That trend needed further encouragement. Progressive changes would strengthen the credibility of the Council. To that end, he urged the Security Council to seriously consider the views expressed in the current debate.
LI HYONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the work of the Security Council still lagged far behind the expectations of United Nations Member States. Closed meetings continued to be the main format for consultations in the work of the Security Council. Such meetings were not the format stipulated in either the United Nations Charter or the rules of procedure of the Security Council. All issues except for procedural matters should be discussed at open-ended meetings, in order for transparency to be ensured in all activities of the Council. The Council should not extend the scope of its work to issues beyond the mandate provided by the United Nations Charter. It would only result in weakening the role of the General Assembly and other principal organs.
The Security Council should take a serious approach to the issue of sanctions, and apply them only as a last resort for preventing the expansion of conflict. Even when there was no other choice but sanctions, the purpose, scope and duration of sanctions must be clearly defined. It would be useful to establish a mechanism in which decisions of the Security Council on sanctions were taken on the recommendations of the General Assembly. This would help to ensure the maximum level of discretion in taking sanction measures, and prevent double standards in the work of the Council. His delegation considered it necessary that guidelines on sanctions be laid down and an open-ended working group of the General Assembly be established for that purpose.
In the southern part of the Korean peninsula, the "United Nations Command" still existed, he said. It was supposed to have been established in 1950 by a Security Council resolution and served as an entity that confronted the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a member of the United Nations. The "United Nations Command" was illegal in view both of the manner of its establishment and of its continued existence. Security Council resolution 84 of July 1950, had been adopted in a coercive manner in contravention of the United Nations Charter. The "United Nations Command", though named for the United Nations, did not receive any instruction from the United Nations, nor was it operated under the United Nations budget. In reality, he said, it had nothing to so with the United Nations. All the facts testified that the "United Nations Command" in South Korea was set up not by the United Nations but by the United States. The United Nations should take steps to withdraw its name and flag -- abused by the United States -- and the United States should take practical measures for ensuring durable peace in Korea.
GUMA I. AMER (Libya) said the consideration by the Assembly of the report enabled Member States to assess the events which took place in the international arena and the activities carried out by the Council. The Assembly had encouraged Member States to actively participate substantively in the consideration of the report. Cooperation with troop contributing countries had become an established practice and he hoped that that cooperation would intensify. He also welcomed the monthly assessment by the President of the Council. Despite all of that, the improvements did not measure up to the concerns expressed by Member States.
The report was a costly undertaking, an anthology of decisions already taken, he said, and should be changed substantively. The number of informal consultations was an infringement not only of rules, but also of requests of Members of the Assembly who had asked for transparency. The Council had not been able to lift sanctions on his country even though all requirements had been met. Recently, the Council had missed an opportunity to protect the Palestinian people from oppression from Zionist forces. This proved that the Council had become a foreign policy instrument of certain parties.
The Council had looked at the African issue at great length. It had held several meetings on African countries. In that regard he welcomed adoption of resolution 1318, dealing with conflict situations in Africa. The issue of peace-building compelled the Organization to have a global strategy to deal with conflicts in Africa as well as with that Continent’s financial and economic aspects. The international community should help Africa to fight poverty. In order to have real international solidarity, Africa had to be integrated into the international economy, including through access to markets. The issue of external debts should also be addressed. Taking note of the Council’s report, as was the Assembly’s habit, was not at all enough. The ideas voiced by Member States should be translated into practical recommendations, he said.
NASSER AL-KIDWA (Permanent Observer of Palestine) said that although Palestine was not yet a full member of the organization, it was participating in the debate to complain of the failure of the Security Council to fulfil its responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. Specifically, the Council had failed to take measures concerning the dangerous situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, that had existed for more than a year. On 7 October 2000, the Council had adopted resolution 1322, deploring the provocation carried out at Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem on 28 September 2000, and the subsequent violence at other holy places. Unfortunately, the situation had continued to deteriorate, and the calls made by the Council were not heeded. The Palestinians, he said, had sent more than 70 letters to the Security Council calling for action, but no decision was taken, not even a follow up of the Security Council’s own resolution 1322 was undertaken.
The Council’s inaction, he continued, was not because of the lack of necessary attempts. A draft resolution had been put to a vote but had not been adopted due to a lack of majority after a permanent member said it would cast a veto if such a majority existed. Public threats to use the veto were made on two occasions, and on 27 March 2001 an actual veto took place by that permanent member. Also, there was an unwillingness of certain members to confront that, irrespective of the positions of those members on the merits. What happened in the Council was tantamount to a suspension of the relevant provisions of international law, the will of the international community and the Council’s own resolutions.
One might wonder, he said, why lofty principles and values stopped at Palestine’s borders and why international law stopped functioning when it came to Palestine. The fact remained that an explosive situation had existed on the ground for more than a year, without the Council taking any decision. The records of the Security Council on the situation in the ground over the years had been mixed. Twenty-five resolutions had been adopted and none were implemented by the Occupying power. Twenty-five drafts had been vetoed by the same one permanent member. The last time the Council dealt with the situation in the region and its political aspect, was in 1967 when it adopted resolution 242. The only exceptions perhaps had been the resolution’s reaffirmation in 1973 and the Presidential statement made public prior to the adoption of resolution 682 in 1990. No serious argument could justify this sort of unusual behaviour by the Council in clear disregard of the Charter of the United Nations.
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