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

Working Methods of the Security Council

NEW YORK, 23 October 2014

STATEMENT BY H.E. Karel J.G. 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. Open Debate of the Security Council on “Working Methods of the Security Council”

Thank you, Mme. President, Muchas gracias Senora Presidente,

Mme. President,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today at this open session on working methods of the Security Council. Thank you also for your valuable work as chair of the informal working group on documentation and other procedural questions. I thank the Ombudsperson, Mrs. Kimberly Prost, and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda for their briefings. 

I will make this statement on behalf of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We fully align ourselves with the statement made by Norway on behalf of the informal group of Like-Minded States on targeted sanctions. 

As stated many times before, the Netherlands and Belgium are in favour of Security Council reform. We want to make the Council more representative of today’s geopolitical realties, more equitable, more legitimate, more accountable, more effective, more inclusive and more transparent. As discussions on reform are ongoing, in the meantime improving the working methods of the Council already should take place. Therefore we welcome today’s debate.  

I would like to make some additional remarks, building on the very pertinent topics you proposed in your concept note. I will address the following issues:

- strengthening due process in sanctions regimes;

- the follow up of referrals by the Council to the International Criminal Court; and 

- refraining from using the veto in case of mass atrocities.

Strengthening due process in sanctions regimes

Mme. President,

We thank the Ombudsperson Ms. Prost for the good work she has done in fulfilling her mandate.

We welcome the Seventh and Eighth reports of the Office of the Ombudsperson. The reports entail a number of considerations and recommendations to continue to deliver a fair process. If implemented they contribute to strengthening the effectiveness and credibility of the Al-Qaida sanctions regime of the UNSC. 

The reports indicate areas that require further strengthening in terms of due process. We consider due process to be of vital importance to the Sanction regimes and welcome further advances in this area. We refer in this regard to the input paper of the Group of Like-Minded States on targeted sanctions. We support the calls for a separate and permanent Office of the Ombudsperson. We call for more safeguards for the independence of the Ombudsperson. We call for an improved sharing of information by Member States. And we call for more transparency in the process of listing individuals and entities.

In addition to these recommendations for the Al-Qaida regime, Belgium and the Netherlands consider it to be of great importance to extend the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsperson to all other sanctions regimes. 

Guarantees of due process are essential for any sanctions regime. 

They should not be limited to one sanctions regime in isolation. 

Follow up of referrals by the Council to the International Criminal Court

Mme. President,

As we have seen time and time again, sustainable peace and security cannot be achieved if perpetrators of the most serious crimes are not brought to justice. 

To ensure the International Criminal Court’s success in fighting impunity for the most heinous crimes of international concern, the international community must work together. All States have a duty to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of potential perpetrators of these crimes, both nationally and internationally.

We specifically commend the Council for taking responsibility in this regard by referring situations to the Court, as it has done for the situations in Sudan and Libya. We stress that all States Parties are obliged to cooperate with the Court under the Rome statute. Concerning Non States Parties, we recall that the UNSC has the capacity to oblige them by resolutions to cooperate with the Court. We would like to see the Council apply that option more frequently. 

In order for justice to be done a Council referral in itself does not suffice: effective follow-up is required. Because of its mandate with regard to referrals, the UNSC has a particular responsibility to provide political support for its referrals of situations to the Court. 

Currently, interaction between the Court and the Council is limited to the semi-annual briefings by the Prosecutor. Belgium and the Netherlands welcome the constructive cooperation between the Council and the Court over the last decade. However, we feel that a more frequent interaction with the Court and active cooperation and follow-up by the Council to enforce its own resolutions is essential. Essential not only for the credibility of the Court but also for the image of the Council. This could be done by expanding the mandate of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals to include the Court as well.

In this context, Belgium and the Netherlands wish to recall resolution 68/305 of the General Assembly. The resolution noted the need for funding of expenses related to investigations or prosecutions of the International Criminal Court. These expenses include those in connection with situations referred to the Court by the Security Council. The ICC is coping with serious capacity constraints and has difficulties conducting crucial investigations. Therefore, it is worth remembering that the UN-ICC Relationship Agreement envisages the Court to be refunded by the United Nations for expenses incurred in connection with Security Council referrals.  We would like to invite the UN membership to reflect on this.

Refraining from using the veto in case of mass atrocities

Madame President,

More generally speaking, Belgium and the Netherlands remain committed to the improvement of the working methods of this Council. We are grateful for the various initiatives that have been taken over the past years by members of the Security Council to improve its transparency, openness and accountability. We encourage Council members to do even more. The improvement of the working methods of the Council should be a continuous process. A process independent from the wider debate on a comprehensive reform of the Security Council. 

In this regard, please allow me to highlight one last issue of particular importance to Belgium and the Netherlands: the French proposal for a collective and voluntary code of conduct to refrain from using the veto when the Security Council is required to make a decision with regard to mass atrocities.

We commend France and Mexico for the excellent High Level Meeting they organized during the ministerial week last month. We would like to reiterate our full support for the proposal.


Mme. President,

In conclusion let me thank you again for organising this important debate. Strengthening due process in sanctions regimes, an effective follow up to referrals by the council to the ICC and limiting the use of the veto in case of mass atrocities are essential elements in improving the working methods of the council. They serve a dual purpose, namely to strengthen both the effectiveness and credibility of the Council. 

The Council can show leadership by example in furthering accountability in the world by enhancing its own accountability.

Muchas Gracias Senora Presidente