1 December 11
Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council: Statement by H.E. Ambassador Jan Grauls on behalf of the Netherlands and Belgium
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Jan Grauls
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Belgium to the United Nations
on behalf of the Netherlands and Belgium
to the Security Council on the issue of
“Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council” (working methods)
I have the honor to address the Council on behalf of the Netherlands and Belgium.
First of all, I would like to thank Portugal, as President of the Security Council, for convening this debate. It reminds me of a debate I had the honor to chair in June 2008 and which was dedicated to the same theme. We would also like to express our gratitude to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Japan for steering this agenda in 2011 and before.
In recent years, real and encouraging improvements have already been made in the working methods of the Security Council. Your concept note makes this very clear, and rightly so. The working methods debates have already produced results, and it is good to remind ourselves that today the Council is operating under other, better, and more transparent working methods than before. So there has been movement, there is movement, and hopefully there will continue to be movement, be it incremental and sometimes discreet, but movement indeed. The Netherlands and Belgium would like to commend both the permanent and the successive elected Members of Council for their efforts in this regard.
The Netherlands and Belgium want to stress this fact, because we do not want the further development of better working methods to become hostage to a lack of progress on the wider debate about Security Council reform. In other words, we do not want the working methods debate to come to a halt because there is no movement or progress on the other chapters of the Security Council reform agenda that are currently being debated in the General Assembly.
In your concept note you invite the wider membership to come up with practical suggestions aiming at enhancing transparency, efficiency and Council interaction with UN members at large that could make a difference in the day-to-day Security Council business. The Netherlands and Belgium would like to submit some very concrete ideas, it being understood that none of these ideas, if implemented, will encroach on the decision-making power of the Security Council. The Netherlands and Belgium wish to fully respect the powers of the Security Council and its members, permanent and elected, as laid down in the Charter.
First, let’s encourage the monthly Presidencies of the Council to take whatever action within its powers in order to enhance the transparency, the outreach towards the wider UN membership and the efficiency of the Council. In recent times, inventive and creative Presidencies have taken welcome steps in this direction, steps that deserve to become more common practice. There are now more public briefings, more public debates, more Arria-formulas and more informal interactive dialogues. This is much appreciated by the wider membership. This ‘modern’ approach to working methods enhances not only the interaction with member states, but also the potential to increase the Council’s outreach towards regional organizations, civil society and interested individuals.
Second, the Netherlands and Belgium do see room for further improvements when it comes to country-specific debates. It is the task of the Security Council to discuss challenges in specific countries. However, sometimes, the country at stake is not included in these discussions when they really matter. A way to enhance the transparency and the inclusiveness of the Security Council’s work would be to invite countries that are being debated but that are not member of the SC, to contribute to Council debates at a moment when they really matter and under a formula to be decided on an ad hoc basis. By doing so, the SC would give a fair and decent chance to countries to put their point of view forward. After hearing such a country, the SC can still discuss the issue at stake in a restricted debate among its members, without the country concerned being present.
The same goes for Chairs of Peacebuilding configurations who could equally contribute in an even more effective way to the deliberations of the Council with regard to the country on the PBC agenda.
A similar reflection can be made also with regard to the need for increased interaction between the Security Council, troop- and police-contributing countries and the Secretariat. This type of interaction would be particularly welcome prior to the deployment and after the return of Technical Assessment Missions.
Third, the notion of peace and security today encompasses a much broader scope than 65 years ago. In recent years, Security Council debates focused on climate change, international crime, terrorism, piracy, diseases, natural resources and other so-called ‘new issues’ that affect international peace and security. We would like to encourage the Council to consult even more broadly than it has done so far.
Fourth, the Netherlands and Belgium strongly believe that there is potential for more inclusive and more transparent working methods in the subsidiary organs. These organs prepare Council decisions and can thus only benefit from external advice at their level. Let me give one example. The Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, under the present German Chairmanship, has granted access to Chairs of PBC configurations because issues like child soldiers and gender-based violence against children are all too often common practices in countries on the agenda of the PBC-configurations. This practice of granting access to a subsidiary organ should be generalized and should be adopted as a general rule by all subsidiary organs, as appropriate.
The Netherlands and Belgium take on an active role in the debate on wider Security Council reform. I believe that our statement of last Monday during the first exchange of views of the 8th round of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform has clearly underlined our common strong commitment towards Security Council reform in all its aspects.
Improving the Security Council’s working methods is clearly one aspect of the ongoing negotiations in the GA Intergovernmental Negotiations, as well as it is an endeavor for this Council.