Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Herman Schaper on the issue of the “Security Council open debate on working methods”
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Herman Schaper
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
on behalf of the Netherlands and Belgium
to the Security Council
on the issue of the “Security Council open debate on working methods”
New York, 26 November 2012
I have the honour to address the Council on behalf of the Netherlands and Belgium.
First of all, I would like to thank India, as President of the Security Council, for convening this debate and preparing the concept note. We would also like to express our gratitude to Portugal, which organized the previous open debate in 2011. The President of the Working Group on Documentation and other Procedural Questions has been a driving force behind this important topic.
Belgium and the Netherlands attach great importance to this open debate, which provides the wider UN-membership with the opportunity to interact with the Security Council members on this matter. We feel a strong sense of urgency to make progress on the improvement of the working methods - and on broader Security Council reform, for that matter. As said before, we think it is high time to enhance the Security Council’s accountability to the wider membership, and to increase the transparency, the legitimacy and effectiveness of its decisions.
In our view concrete results on this issue can only be achieved through a meaningful dialogue between the UNSC and the General Assembly. This is the path we should follow, and today’s debate is an excellent example of how we should proceed. We fully share the statement at the very beginning of the concept note that working methods I quote ‘concern the UN member states as a whole’ unquote.
Besides, in recent years, real and encouraging improvements have already been made, as is also explained in your concept note. 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. 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 May, we witnessed the withdrawal of the initiative of the S5 on the improvement of the working methods of the Security Council. At that point in time the permanent members of the Security Council indicated that they were ready to seriously consider the recommendations put forward in the S-5 draft-resolution. Belgium and the Netherlands hope that they will do so.
We studied the Indian concept note that was sent to us in preparation of this debate. It contains an interesting overview of recent events and repeatedly stresses the right principles: this debate should lead us to real and concrete measures that simultaneously enhance transparency, efficiency and interactivity within the Council and with the wider membership.
In your concept note you invite the wider membership to come up with a range of practical suggestions that could make a difference in the day-to-day Security Council business. You then sum up a list of concrete and operational ideas, some of which have actually been put forward by the Netherlands and Belgium during the previous debate in 2011.
We welcome those suggestions in the Indian paper aimed at increasing the involvement of States and other parties, non-members of the Security Council, in the Council’s work, especially the suggestions 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. We also support the proposal of a more flexible use of meeting formats available, such as Arria formula meetings or informal interactive dialogues.
Furthermore, we support the suggestions made on increasing the transparency and inclusivity of the work of the Security Council’s subsidiary bodies.
We would also like to repeat our plea to improve country-specific debates by inviting the country at stake in the discussions. Countries that are being debated but that are not a member of the Council, should be invited 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 Council would give a fair and decent chance to countries to put their point of view forward. After hearing such a country, the Council can still discuss the issue at stake in a restricted debate among its members, without the country concerned being present.
We also see merit in the proposal to promote more and more interactive open debates. The suggestion to invite non Council members to speak among the Council members, is noteworthy.
At the same we would like to receive further clarification on some of the other suggestions. The suggestion to enhance the role of the Military Staff Committee is thought-provoking. It would be interesting to explore whether the MSC could provide military advice when the Security Council considers the mandate of a military operation.
The Netherlands and Belgium truly appreciate the efforts that have been made so far to improve the working methods of the Security Council. The long list of ideas and suggestions in your concept note deserves our careful attention and some of them could and should be swiftly implemented.
In addition to these ideas we would like to underline the importance of the Council giving continued attention to the cases it has referred to the ICC and to improve its cooperation with the ICC, as was argued by many delegations today. We count on the Security Council members, in particular the permanent members, to make a joint effort together with the wider membership to continue enhancing the transparency, legitimacy, effectiveness and interactivity of the Security Council.