TRANSPARENCY, IMPACT OF MINISTERIAL-LEVEL SESSIONS AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS SECURITY COUNCIL
NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council met this morning to review its work for the month of November under the Presidency of Jamaica.
Council President Mignonette Patricia Durrant (Jamaica), while noting improvements in transparency, asked if there were still other ways for the Council to interact further with those outside its membership. Drawing attention to the fact that Council members often received letters with information from groups on specific issues, she said the question to be raised was whether that was appropriate, or should those actors also be allowed to brief the Council.
Continuing, she asked if it would be more constructive for important issues to be discussed at a ministerial level. It was also important to ensure that the outcomes of thematic debates were mainstreamed into Council resolutions and reports of the Secretary-General. Highlighting the success of Council missions to conflict areas and their effectiveness in building confidence, she asked whether such missions should be used more often to advance peace.
The United Kingdom’s representative said the Council must be careful in its choice of ministerial debates. The value of ministerial discussions was that they were rare and gave particular emphasis to a subject at a particular time. With regard to the issue of transparency, he said that it was ironic that today’s meeting was taking place without the presence of non-members. The point was to let non-members discuss their concerns about transparency.
Singapore’s representative urged members to continue instituting the "wrap-up" session, because it was the only time during a month to review the work of the Council. He said a serious discussion on the exact priorities of the Council was needed. "Are we primarily a deliberative and legislative body or an operative one"? he asked. He too regretted the lack of participation by other Member States in this session today.
The representative of the United States said that, while there was a need for more transparency, it did not necessarily mean holding more open meetings. He did not share the view that today’s meeting, for example, should be open. There was, however, a need for more informal proceedings. The less formal the setting the more genuine the discussions and interaction.
The representatives of Mauritius, Russian Federation, Ireland, Tunisia, Bangladesh, France, China, Ukraine, Colombia, Norway and Mali also made statements.
Prior to today’s meeting, the Council had before it a letter dated 7 November from the President of the Council (document S/2001/1055) in which she had outlined her goals for the Council’s work during Jamaica’s presidency.
The meeting, which began at 11:15 a.m., was adjourned at 12:42 p.m.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), President of the Council, said that at the beginning of her country’s presidency, one of the main objectives set out was to support initiatives to establish peace and security. The aim was to pay particular attention to the humanitarian impact of conflicts and particularly the effects on the most vulnerable -- women and children. Thus, the programme of action for the month highlighted several conflict issues and was intended to encourage more provocative action by the Council. The wrap-up session provided the Council with the opportunity to review the dynamics of change, raise issues and concerns, as well as invite comment from members.
She said there had been improvements to transparency –- more briefings and meetings with bodies outside of the Council. But, were there still other ways for the Council to interact further with the outside? she asked. Noting that Council members often received letters with information from groups on specific issues, she said the question to be raised was whether that was appropriate or should those actors also be allowed to brief the Council.
Drawing on the experiences of the ministerial week, she asked whether it would be more constructive if important issues were discussed at a ministerial level. She also asked how it could be ensured that the outcome of thematic debates could be mainstreamed in Council resolutions and reports of the Secretary-General. She highlighted the success of Council missions to conflict areas. As those missions had been effective in building confidence, she asked whether such missions should be used more to advance peace.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said during the month the Council had been given the opportunity to hear the views of many ministers and a large number of other persons. Jamaica had fulfilled the objectives it had set out at the beginning of the month. The particular focus on Africa clearly demonstrated the commitment of that country to advance peace in Africa. Not one single conflict area on that continent had been left out. The meetings at the ministerial level were also a practice that needed to be maintained. The various public thematic meetings had also been appreciated by the general membership of the United Nations. He also saluted the initiative to have the Secretariat create a Web site for the presidency of the Council.
ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that during its presidency of the Council, Jamaica had fulfilled the goals it had set out at the beginning of the month. Priority matters before the Council should touch on issues that had a direct influence on the top job of the Council -– the maintenance of international peace and security. Of particular interest during the month of November was the protection of civilians in conflict situations. The meetings had made it possible to consider that difficult set of problems. The meetings were geared towards practical matters and resulted in practical results.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that since 11 September, there had been a growing momentum within the United Nations in which the Council was taking a part, but it could do more. It was ironic that the discussion of transparency took place without non-members present. He had thought that the point was to let non-members discuss their concerns about transparency. The Council was supposed to increase its sensitivity to the concerns of members outside the Council. The Council needed to adapt its procedures in the way it worked.
The Council was beginning to talk informally with other Member States and that was beginning to work, he said. He had been struck by responsiveness of the non-Council members to the outreach programme of the counter-terrorism committee. They had come to the meeting not to criticize, but to raise questions they had about the substance of what the Council was doing. The Council could not hold public meetings on every issue, but it was an area that deserved more consideration, particularly with regard to resolutions where the cooperation of States was needed for implementation. He added that the Council liked to pass resolutions 15 to nil. It liked to show that it was unanimous on a subject, because a unanimous decision carried more authority. It was helpful when that authority was expressed in smaller meetings with non-members.
He thought the Council had to be careful about groups of friends coming to briefings. Those meetings should not be formalized, but should be handled ad hoc. With regard to the media, the Council should be responsive, but only where the media was responsible and credible. Further, the value of ministerial discussions was that they were rare and gave particular emphasis to a subject at a particular time. If it was not projecting a powerful message at a particular time, ministers did not pay attention to such meetings. The Council must be careful in its choice of ministerial debates.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said strong ambitions and goals, as well as a clear agenda, had characterized Jamaica’s presidency. The principal objective had been to support measures to create sustainable peace. In that light, his delegation welcomed the strong focus on African issues. In the many meetings that had taken place, the strong views expressed had contributed to vigorous and healthy debates, which were necessary. The thematic debates had been extremely helpful and the clear views expressed would help shed light not only on the Council’s work, but that of the Organization.
He said the issue of the normative framework was governed by two important caveats. Because the Council was involved in so many issues over the years, there was naturally a demand by the United Nations as a whole to integrate the normative framework with the work of the Council. The latter, however, had limited time in any given month to address the range of issues before it. Also, the Council should not take over the responsibilities of other United Nations bodies. It had its own role and to do otherwise would dissipate its Charter obligations and displace the rightful roles of other bodies. The crucial issue was for the Council, in thematic areas where there was a normative framework, to ensure that what had already been agreed was implemented and became operational.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said Jamaica had achieved its objectives and the issues outlined at the beginning of the month had all been covered. He wondered, however, why the practice of dealing with "hot" issues had not been applied to the situation of the occupied Palestinian territories. The Council should use all means at its disposal to respond to the needs of States. He was delighted that the Council was involving States parties more in the consideration of items on its agenda, particularly those situated in Africa.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) highlighted, among the Council's key objectives of the past month, the ministerial meeting of the Lusaka parties, which had been marked by a significant breakthrough. It was the commitment of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) to demilitarize Kisangani. The Council should pursue that long-sought objective and, if necessary, step up pressure on the parties to facilitate the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic of the Congo (MONUC) phase III deployment. Operation of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) had achieved some progress, but the peace process had been threatened by mounting hostility and violation of the demilitarized zone. The Council would seek the Secretary-General's advice on a possible course of action.
He said that Afghanistan had naturally dominated the agenda throughout the month. The United Nations had assumed the central role, as recommended by the General Assembly. Without any prejudice to ongoing efforts, the heads of State and government had made a solemn commitment last year with respect to the Organization's peacekeeping capacity. Once again, the capacity of the United Nations to respond quickly in a conflict situation remained in question. The responsibility should be assumed by a "coalition of the willing". The developments on the ground far outpaced the preparedness of the United Nations to rapidly deploy a peacekeeping operation.
With respect to the thematic and operational issue of peacekeeping operations, he said he understood there was a lack of consensus on the proposal of the troop-contributing countries for setting up mission specific committees. It would be unfortunate if the Council retracted from its recently expressed commitment in that regard. Bangladesh, as the largest troop-contributing country, strongly endorsed the draft note presented by the Chairman of the relevant working group. In asking for the framework, the troop contributors were seeking one shared objective –- "doing peacekeeping right". On a final point, he said that the Council should be brought out of the consultations room. Greater transparency of the Council's work was essential.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said the importance of transparency in the Council’s work must continue to be emphasized, and the Council was getting better in responding to the concerns of non-members. In addition to open meetings, there should be more informal interactions with other organs, groups of countries, agencies and regional organizations. He emphasized the importance of the relationship with the troop-contributing countries and suggested that there should be subsidiary bodies that focused on the major peacekeeping missions. Peacekeeping could be successful only if there were good working relationships with the troop- contributing countries.
Regarding the groups of friends, he said it was a way of having a dialogue with non-members of the Council. While the non-Council members were not there to do the work of the Council, they could provide information. The importance of groups of friends was that they gathered together countries that were particularly interested in a specific crisis. With regard to the ministerial meeting, he said it should not be formalized, but it should be recognized that they took place every year during the ministerial week. He stressed the need for the Council to be well prepared for ministerial meetings. He said that thematic debates were also useful, but how they could be linked with situations of conflict depended on the item. He emphasized that the Council needed to respect the competence of the General Assembly and not move into the purview of that body.
CHEN XU (China) said there had been increased transparency during the month of the November. The Council had made good use of the presence of the ministers to address specific questions. Whether it was necessary to convene ministerial meetings regularly should be decided according to the existing situation. The Council should listen more to the parties concerned with the particular items on its agenda. The Council should provide opportunities to participate to the interested parties. He supported the strengthening of the cooperation and communication among the Council, troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat.
The thematic discussions had had some commonality of content, he said. Provided that the overall result would not suffer, it was a good idea to approach related ideas together. As far as the Council was concerned, the best way to protect civilians was to promote solutions to conflict as soon as possible. The Council should communicate with other organs of the United Nations, so as to develop common efforts to deal with the problems they faced.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) made a plea to members to continue instituting the wrap-up session, as it was, among other things, the only window in a month to review the work of the Council. He said a serious discussion on the exact priorities of the Council was needed. "Are we primarily a deliberative and legislative body or an operative one?" he asked. He, too, regretted the lack of participation by other Member States in the session today. There was an unhealthy disconnect between the Council and the rest of the community, and perhaps opening up interactive wrap-up sessions could contribute to correcting that.
He hoped Jamaica’s systematic approach –- the objective paper and the wrap-up paper -- would be institutionalized. Sessions such as today’s should also discuss the Council’s failures, as well as its successes. One permanent presidential Web site was a good innovation, since it provided a one-stop shop. Yet, transparency still needed to be developed even further. If, after the massive General Assembly debate on the report of the Council, no response was given to criticisms made, then the Council would only be perpetuating the belief that it indeed did not pay heed to the rest of the Member States.
He said the biggest failure of the Council during the month was to not complete the work of the working group on sanctions. Even more tragic was the fact that the people who worked on that would all be gone in one month’s time. That would mean starting from scratch again, and that was unacceptable. He also hoped that the many important suggestions made today would be catalogued.
VALERY P. KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) reviewed the work of the Council during the month of November and said it was unfortunate that, while it was speaking about transparency, there were not more non-Council members present. Perhaps they should be given an opportunity to speak in the meeting. That might encourage more non-members to attend meetings like today’s session.
In the future, he said, the Council could think about making consultations more transparent. The Council should not only try to be transparent, but should try to be seen as transparent. The majority of non-members did not see the Council as transparent. Regarding regular briefings, he had not seen an instance of the Council refusing to hear a group that wanted to be heard. The Council was the body that should receive information from various sources and act accordingly on that information. The ministerial meetings were useful, and the Council should discuss its most important issues during ministerial week. He did not think it would be possible to get ministers to come on an ad hoc basis.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said a lot of good work had been done this month, citing progress in addressing terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He also commended the growing trend towards consensus in the Council and the series of high-level meetings held on Africa. He hoped that more would be achieved between the discussions in those meetings and developments in the real world. While there was need for better transparency, he said that did not necessarily mean holding more open meetings. In that light, he did not share the view of others, who stated earlier that today’s meeting, for example, should be open.
There was, however, a need for less formal settings and more informal proceedings, he said. The less formal the setting, the more genuine the discussions and interaction. Sometimes formal meetings and presentations could be useful, but they were time-consuming and limited in their impact. He also agreed that Council ministerial meetings should be used sparingly. The presence of ministers at meetings, whenever they were available, however, should not be discounted.
FABIO OCAZIONES (Colombia) said that, in view of the lack of non-Council members in the Chamber, the Council should think about what it was not doing correctly and why it was not receiving more attention from non-members. He reviewed the work of the Council and said the question of Afghanistan would continue to be on the agenda. The ministerial meeting held this month had set forth general principles that had served to synchronize and harmonize the response of the various actors in international community.
With regard to the meeting with the Presidents of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, he suggested that the Council evaluate more carefully the work of the Tribunals, the successes they had obtained, and the extent of their deterrent effect. The Council must avoid having the messages from the Tribunals becoming marginalized. It must send strong signals to those who had planned the massacres. With regard to thematic debates, he said the Council must be innovative in order to approve the contents of the resulting resolutions. It might be best to apply the resolutions through a process of consultation with other agencies of the United Nations and other agencies. He agreed that the Council should not have an excessive number of thematic debates.
He said he hoped that, under Mali’s leadership, the Council would be able to take a fresh look at West Africa. The Council must also continue to examine the situation in Afghanistan, with the same promptness and interest as before. Also, the Council must prepare to begin the process of reviewing the reports that Member States would be sending to the anti-terrorism committee, in accordance with resolution 1373 (2001).
WEGGER CHRISTIAN STROMMEN (Norway) said that during a rather busy month, including the general debate of the General Assembly, the Jamaican presidency had effectively handled an extensive agenda. He welcomed the high degree of openness exercised during the month. For non-permanent members, in particular, openness and transparency in the way the Council conducted its business was very important. Regrettably, background documentation sometimes continued to be made available late in the process, allowing little or no time for proper preparation for the subject matter at hand.
He said that the thematic issues considered during the month -- related to children and armed conflict and the protection of civilians in arms conflict –- had contributed importantly to the needed comprehensiveness in designing peacekeeping operations. Above all, he emphasized the importance of brief, rather than long, interventions, in order to facilitate the way the Council conducted its business.
SEKOU KASSÉ (Mali) said that, despite all the difficulties, Jamaica had managed to resolve all the specific problems raised this month, attained specific objectives set out and managed to improve relationships between partners. He said that ministerial meetings should be well prepared and their decisions properly implemented. Transparency had also been improved, as had the relationships among the Council, troop-contributing countries and agencies within the United Nations family. The thematic debates on conflict situations were also good practices.
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