Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
on behalf of the Nordic Countries
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden
Working Methods of the Security Council
I have the honour of delivering the following statement on behalf of all five Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
First allow me to thank the Belgian Presidency of the Security Council for organising this open debate on Security Council Working Methods. The S5 Group also merits praise for its untiring work in maintaining a focus on this very important, though less media friendly, aspect of Security Council reform.
In agreeing to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council, the UN member states have conferred a tremendous and historically unprecedented amount of power and legitimacy to a decision making procedure in which they do not participate directly themselves. It is therefore of utmost importance that the Council, when acting on behalf of all the UN members, take all possible steps to ensure maximum transparency and interaction with members outside the Council. Furthermore, while the absence of a reform of the Council’s membership is still a major gap in the efforts to modernize the United Nations, improving the Council’s working methods becomes all the more urgent to secure the necessary transparency, efficiency and interaction between member States.
The Belgian concept paper underlines the need for a clear understanding for the rationale for the Council’s adoption of a specific meeting format. The Nordic countries share this concern and suggest that, when appropriate and clear, the President of the Council could upon opening the meeting explain the rationale for choosing the given format.
It is of the highest importance that the Council be kept continually informed on political aspects of issues on its agenda. In this respect, we would welcome regular opportunities for briefings with all parts of the Secretariat: in addition to DPKO and OCHA, also DPA and PBSO in order to include the political as well as peace-building perspective along with the peacekeeping and humanitarian.
The regularity and quality of briefings for non-members has increased. The ongoing focus on the issue of transparency has made every member of the Security Council aware of the obligation membership of the Security Council entails – to keep the wider UN membership informed. Presidential briefings have worked on the whole well. But more detailed explanatory briefings should aim to be as inclusive as possible to allow all countries to keep in close touch with issues before the Security Council which might affect them. Iceland, as a small island state, is strongly aware of challenges faced by LDCs and SIDs in this regard.
Some years back, members of the Council agreed that interactive wrap-up sessions at the end of a presidency would be useful to increase transparency and the availability of information out of the Council. Such sessions, some of them held in public, were potential arenas for assessing the Council's contribution and gathering lessons learned. This tradition was unfortunately discontinued a couple of years ago, and the Nordic countries would like to encourage the members to take up this practice again. Alternatively, regular reports of the Security Council to the General Assembly with an assessment of each outgoing presidency could be instituted.
The annual report of the Security Council to the General Assembly should be made as substantial and analytical as possible. The Council could hold an interactive discussion on the annual report when it is considered by the General Assembly.
Transparency should make it easier for non-Members who have a real interest in or knowledge of a matter to make a contribution. This is in the interests of all members. In this context, the Nordic countries would urge the Security Council to go further towards making draft resolutions and presidential statements available as soon as they are introduced within informal consultations of the whole, when possible to non-members of the Council.
I would like to pay particular tribute to the work of the independent Security Council Report, which has made a major contribution since its relatively recent foundation, to transparency and predictability of Security Council work. The Secretariat is also to be complimented on the improvements to the official Security Council website. The webcasts are also very useful and should be continued and expanded if possible.
In addition to the General Assembly, we are convinced that further improvements are needed also in the interaction and information flow between the Security Council and ECOSOC as well as the PBC, which is necessary to implement a truly integrated approach to matters related to peace and security. In this regard, we wish to emphasize our continued support for the practice of inviting PBC chairs to brief the Council on a regular basis.
Interaction with regional organisations such as the AU, ECOWAS and EU has intensified. We welcome the emphasis on the regional organisations' increased responsibility and ownership of efforts to solve regional conflicts. At the same time it is important that this takes place within the UN framework and with the Security Council's support.
Interaction, transparency and legitimacy in the working methods and procedures of the Security Council’s subsidiary bodies, particularly in the sanctions committees, are paramount in further strengthening the protection of fundamental rights of individuals and the rule of law. The Nordic countries would like to recall paragraph 109 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome document regarding the necessity of ensuring a fair and clear procedure for placing individuals and entities on sanctions lists and for removing them, as well as granting humanitarian exemptions. In this regard we welcome the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1730, 1735 and most recently resolution 1822. These resolutions constitute important steps in the right direction, inter alia concerning transparency both towards states and individuals. Further moves towards really fair and clear procedures should include the introduction of an independent advisory input to the work by the 1267 sanctions committee, especially on delisting requests.
As the Belgian concept paper points out, efficiency, transparency and interaction are closely intertwined. The Nordic countries will continue to contribute constructively to helping the Security Council function better on all these planes, and Iceland will, if elected to a seat on the Security Council this October, seek to carry forward this important work.