Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Security Council Reform: Statement by Ambassador Herman Schaper on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands


Statement by H.E. Ambassador Herman Schaper, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

to the United Nations on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands to the General Assembly on the issue of “S-5 proposal for improvement of the working methods of the Security Council New York, 2 May 2012".

Mr. Chairman,

I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands. 

I would like to thank you for convening this fifth and final session in the course of our exchanges dedicated to the Member State initiatives on the topic of Security Council reform. For this meeting you have invited us to take a closer look at the letter sent to you on the 8th of September 2011, by Switzerland on behalf of the Small Five group.

Mr. Chairman, 

On the outset we would like to commend the S-5, for their relentless and ongoing efforts in support of ways to improve the working methods of the Security Council. 

Already since 2005, when a first draft of the S-5 resolution was presented to us, the S-5 has pursued this objective. This has contributed to the issue of working methods being placed higher on the agenda of the Security Council.<br><br>

Belgium and the Netherlands recognize and fully share the objectives of the S-5 to enhance the Security Council’s accountability to the wider membership, and to increase the transparency, the legitimacy and effectiveness of its decisions.

Mr. Chairman,

In recent years, real and encouraging improvements have already been made in the working methods of the Security Council. There are now more public briefings, more public debates, more Arria-formulas and more informal interactive dialogues.  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 discrete, 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.

As we have stated before, we do not want this further, pragmatic development of improved 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 debate on the improvement of Security Council working methods to come to a halt when there would be no movement or progress on the other chapters of the Security Council reform agenda that are currently being debated in the General Assembly.

Mr. Chairman, 

Allow me to turn now to the substance of the draft resolution as presented by the S-5. The draft resolution invites the Security Council to enhance the implementation of the measures adopted in its Presidential Note 507 and to further consider recommendations as stated in the annex of the resolution. We welcome the recommendations aimed at increasing the involvement of States and other parties, non-members of the Security Council, in the Council’s work, especially recommendations that aim at enhancing the participation of the chairs of the country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission, and of the troop and police contributing countries in relevant debates and discussions. Furthermore, we support the recommendations made on increasing the transparency and inclusivity of the work of the Security Council’s subsidiary bodies, the recommendations made on further improving procedures regarding requests for de-listing from sanctions lists, the recommendations made on providing more information to Member States about relevant developments regarding the planning, preparation, conduct and termination of operations, and the recommendations made on improving the drafting of mandates.

We fully recognize the prerogative of the Security Council to decide on its own working methods, and we applaud efforts to further improve them by the Security Council working group on working methods. Nevertheless, we note that the working methods of the Council – although an internal affair – are relevant for the wider GA Membership as well, because the outcome of the Council’s work and decisions has direct consequences for all members of the GA. Therefore, without claiming an inappropriate role for the membership in this regard, Belgium and the Netherlands would highly appreciate the Security Council’s willingness to take into account the views of the wider UN membership on this issue.

Mr. Chairman,

It can be argued that certain elements of the draft resolution go beyond the scope of the working methods. Especially the recommendations on the veto go further than just working methods and they are politically sensitive and very important from an institutional perspective. On substance, we support the ideas put forward by the S-5 on the veto. In our view this issue should evidently find a solution within the framework of the comprehensive intergovernmental reform debate. 

In 2006 the S-5 also tabled a draft resolution on the improvement of working methods, A/60/L.49. At that point in time this triggered a genuine discussion with the Security Council members on working methods, resulting in a Presidential Note which opened the way to a number of improvements.
Likewise, we hope that the current draft will bring the present Security Council members to tackle with renewed energy, like in 2006, the issue of the Security Council working methods. As we see it, the draft resolution’s main purpose is to do exactly that: it is to be seen as a political signal to the Security Council members that the process of working methods reform, which has been under way for some time and with encouraging results, deserves to be continued.

As you will remember, this 2006 draft resolution was never put to a vote. This time, however, the S-5 does intend to put the resolution to a vote.
In this light, we would be interested to hear the views of the S-5 on what impact an eventual adoption of the resolution would have on the ongoing process of the improvement of the working methods of the Security Council. In this context we would also be interested to know why the S-5 has decided not to invite countries to co-sponsor the resolution. Co-sponsorship would undoubtedly have added to the strength of the political signal this draft resolution is meant to send.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, the matter on the table today is not only about the improvement of working methods, but also touches upon the fundamental issue of the relationship and interaction between the General Assembly and Security Council. For this reason, the proposal presented by the S-5 requires careful consideration.

Let me reiterate that Belgium and the Netherlands intend to remain closely and actively involved in the debate on improvement of the working methods of the Security Council, and in the debate on the broader comprehensive Security Council reform.

Thank you.