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

Statement to the Intergovernmental Negotiations

New York, 11 April 2014

Statement to the Intergovernmental Negotiations by H.E. Ambassador Karel van Oosterom Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations on behalf of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the issue of “Security Council Reform – Size of an Enlarged Council and Working Methods of the Council”

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and in honour of your continuous and inspiring efforts to make progress on this important issue, I will try to say this in your language: tashakor Jenab-e-raes. 

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

We thank you for convening this meeting on the size of an enlarged Council and working methods of the Council.

On the issue of the size of an enlarged Council, the non-paper of the Advisory Group of the PGA indicates clearly the impact of the different models and proposals on the size of an enlarged Security Council. Belgium and the Netherlands are of the opinion that the size of an enlarged Council should be combined with enhancing its efficiency.

The issue of the working methods of the Council can lead us to two different debates: one about the working methods of today’s Security Council, in its current form, and one about the impact of an enlargement of the Council on its working methods. We can refer to the non-paper of the Advisory Group: it contains an overview of the challenges arising from an enlargement of the Council.

Focussing on the working methods of the current Council, we acknowledge that in recent years, encouraging improvements have been made. The Netherlands and Belgium would like to commend both the permanent and the successive elected Members of the Council for their efforts in this regard.

The Netherlands and Belgium feel a strong sense of urgency to make more progress on the improvement of the working methods – and on broader Security Council reform, for that matter. Increasing the Council’s transparency to the wider membership and the international community at large, would enhance the accountability, legitimacy and effectiveness of its decisions. The Distinguishing Representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, has made important remarks in that regard. 

Mr. Chairman, 

Generally speaking, the organisation of Arria meetings constitutes an important step in enhancing transparency and dialogue between Security Council members and relevant non-state actors, and we would welcome further use of this format.

We would like to stress the importance of cooperation between the UN and relevant regional organisations. Regional organisations should be heard on thematic issues, as well as on country situations in which they are involved. The same is true for the countries at stake in the discussions, regardless of whether or not they are members of the Council. 

Furthermore, relations between the council and legal institutions such as the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, could be intensified, given their role in conflict prevention and resolution, as foreseen in Article 33 of the UN Charter.

Mr. Chairman, 

We believe that a thorough review of the working methods of the subsidiary bodies is required, in particular on decision making. In this regard, we welcome the enhancement of 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 encourage the Council to invite PBC chairs to participate not only in open briefings, but also in closed consultations. 

We also believe that chairmanships of the subsidiary bodies should be assigned in an equitable and transparent way, taking into consideration the necessary capacities to perform well at the helm of the most demanding subsidiary bodies.

Lastly, the improvement of the working methods of the Council is closely linked to the use of the veto. As we stated in the debate on that issue, an overly contentious use of the veto hampers the Council’s ability to act in the interest of peace and stability. Therefore, we remain firm in our conviction that situations in which mass atrocity crimes occur or are imminent, should remain beyond the realm of the veto. We commend and support the French initiative for the P5 to abstain voluntarily from use the veto under such circumstances

Mr. Chairman, 

The Netherlands and Belgium truly appreciate the efforts that have been made so far to improve the working methods of the Security Council. We count on the Security Council members, in particular the permanent members, to join their efforts with the wider membership to continue to enhance the transparency, legitimacy, effectiveness and interactivity of the Council. In order to make any progress we should keep in mind that there will be no reform without compromises from all sides. In this regard, we would like to pay special tribute to the efforts of the ACT group, which we support wholeheartedly.

It is noteworthy that, while the questions of categories of membership, use of the veto and enlargement of the Council are closely intertwined, the improvement of working methods is neither dependent on or sequential to these issues. Quite on the contrary, it is a stand-alone cause. There is scope to do so right now, within the Council’s current size and composition. For the benefit of the entire membership, I urge you to press ahead on the issue firmly. 

Mr. Chairman, as always, Belgium and the Netherlands continue to stand ready to support you where we can, in our common quest for meaningful reform on the Security Council. These reforms should lead to a Security Council that is more representative of today’s geopolitical reality, equitable, legitimate, accountable, effective, inclusive and transparent.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.