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

Open debate of the United Nations Security Council on the Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council (S/2010/507): Security Council Working Methods

Statement on behalf of the Benelux countries: Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations, New York 20 October 2015

Gracias, señor Presidente


I am honoured to deliver this statement on behalf of the Benelux countries: Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands.

Let me first express my appreciation to Spain for organising this important open debate on the working methods of the Security Council under its very able Presidency of the Council.

I would also like to thank the Presidents of the General Assembly and the ECOSOC for their briefings highlighting the benefits of strengthening the Security Council’s interaction and dialogue with non-Council members and other UN bodies.

As the UN marks its seventieth anniversary, we are faced with a conflict-ridden world, numbers of displaced persons and refugees unheard of since World War II, and a global terrorist threat emanating from an increasing number of non-State armed groups.

Today’s crises, more than ever, call for a Security Council that has its doors wide open to the outside world and its concerns. Against this backdrop, the working methods of the Council should be adapted with the need for an effective, inclusive and transparent Security Council in mind. Improvements have been made in the past, but a lot remains to be done.

On behalf of the Benelux countries, I would like to share our views regarding these three aspects of working methods:

1)      transparency,

2)      inclusiveness and

3)      effectiveness 

(on transparency)

Regarding the strengthening of the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, especially in the coming months, the process of the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General is of eminent importance. Significant strides were made with the adoption of General Assembly resolution 69/321, such as the decision to request the Presidents of the GA and the Security Council to start the process of soliciting candidates for the position of Secretary-General through a joint letter addressed to all Member States, and in this regard I would like to recognise the individual efforts made by permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council alike.

We encourage the Security Council to contribute further to the transparency of the selection process through the implementation of resolution 69/321, as well as by organising meetings open to the wider membership and civil society, such as Arria style meetings, with candidates for the position of Secretary-General. 

(on inclusiveness)

The Benelux countries would welcome increased cooperation between members and non-members of the Council, in order to widen support for the Council’s decisions among the general membership and beyond. 

This is of particular importance when the Council discusses situations that affect the interests of a country which is not a member of the Security Council. In a similar vein, greater involvement of TCC’s and PCC’s when discussing specific peace operations would contribute to greater support for the mandates of such operations, and therefore to a more effective fulfilment of those mandates. 

Other options to increase inclusiveness might include regular public briefings by Special Envoys and Representatives of the Secretary-General and public horizon-scanning briefings by the Secretary-General. The latter option would also increase the Council’s ability to operate in a pro-active and preventive manner.

In addition, both the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the Advisory Group of Experts for the 2015 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture underline that, in order to achieve sustainable peace, all UN actors must come together in a much more coherent way. Building sustainable peace is a long-term endeavour, which requires attention throughout the whole conflict-cycle, also beyond the immediate aftermath of a crisis.

From this point of view, we could benefit from a closer cooperation between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. For example, the Council could draw upon the Peacebuilding Commission’s advice regarding peacebuilding dimensions of mandates. This would help ensure that the mandates, benchmarks and reviews of peace operations reflect the longer view required for sustaining peace. The Peacebuilding Commission might also play a useful role for countries transitioning off the agenda of the Security Council.


Lastly, I would like to recall the pressing need for the Security Council to take action in the case of mass atrocities.

Increasingly we see civilian populations at risk of mass atrocities. The Council has a duty to  use its powers to prevent and halt these atrocities.  However, on several occasions the Council failed to exercise its responsibility due to the use of the veto.

In the case of risk of mass atrocities the use of the veto is irreconcilable with the fundamental purposes and principles of the UN, and delegitimises both the Council and the UN as a whole. What remains is an image of the UN as an organisation incapable of fulfilling its core responsibilities. We therefore recommend that all current and future Council members, indeed all Member States of the UN support and implement the proposals of France and Mexico, as well as the ACT Group, to support timely and decisive action by the Security Council aimed at preventing or ending the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.


In conclusion, Mr. President, we need a Security Council that is transparent in its working methods; that is inclusive toward non-Council members and other UN organs; and that acts effectively and decisively for the maintenance of international peace and security – in particular when faced with mass atrocities.

The 70th anniversary of the UN provides an excellent opportunity to reform the working methods of the Security Council and to ensure that it can operate truly in the spirit of the Charter. It is up to all of us, members and non-members alike to seize is moment. 

In that spirit and speaking in my national capacity as the representative of an aspiring member of the Security Council for the term 2017-2018, I would like to pledge the commitment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and effectiveness, both on the Council and off.

Gracias, señor Presidente.