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Remarks by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Estonia at the General Assembly on the Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly 12 November 2015


I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group or in short ACT, a cross-regional group comprised of the following 25 small and mid-sized countries working together to improve the working methods of the Security Council: Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay. Currently 3 ACT members are in the Council and as of now, in 2016 the number will remain the same.

Let me start by thanking the President of the General Assembly for holding this debate and for his dedication on the issue most notably by making a strong call for a more analytical report at the Open Debate on working methods held in the Council this October.

ACT expresses its appreciation to New Zealand for its great efforts and commitment in facilitating the introduction to the Report, and to the United Kingdom for its presentation. The Report summarizes past activities conducted by the Council and signals its priority areas. In that regard, it is a clear and well-organized document. However, while recognizing the challenge of keeping the document inclusive and yet concise, we would have welcomed – as previously emphasized – a stronger focus on analysis. Adding additional insights into the Council’s decision-making processes would help the general membership to better capture the content of the Report and the work of the Security Council.

ACT commends the efforts of the Security Council to enhance its transparency and effectiveness.  In recent years, the Council has interacted with a greater number of outside actors – civil society and non-governmental organizations as well as academics and others – through different types of innovative meetings, including Arria Formula and other informal interactive dialogues. The overall number of open debates, public briefings, wrap-up sessions and reports to the General Assembly has also increased. More flexible use of the range of Council products, particularly press and presidential statements, has been made to react to unfolding events.

The ACT group fully appreciates the introductory part of the report, the 5 page thematic issues section and the fact that Part II of the report includes an overview of 43 items and situations. However in our view, there is still room for improvement by making it more analytical and by doing so both the Security Council and the General Assembly could make better use of this report, while fully respecting the tasks, mandates and competencies of the two bodies.

To help with the abovementioned, the ACT group already last year at the meeting on the same issue offered six concrete suggestions on how the Annual Report could be drafted, the nature of its content and how to improve the discussion on it. As these proposals still retain their relevance, please allow me to point them out again here and now:

•          First, how relevant is the number of open debates held if the exchange of views and specific proposals are not included in the Report? When assessing the impact of consultations, the Council should explicitly include in the Report a representative selection of the views expressed by non-members. In doing so preference should be given to group statements that feature concrete suggestions.

•          Second, the adoption of the Annual Report by the Council could be an occasion for a public debate with Council members. Issues addressed in this open debate could include the decisions made by the Council and the positions of various Member States; challenges that the Council faces in the execution of its mandate and how it proposes to solve them; references to discussions on which the Council did not find an agreement; and the reasons that led the Security Council not to take firm position on important issues related to peace and international security. ACT recommends that both, a retrospective and a prospective focus should be taken into account during this analytical discussion of the Council’s work. 

•          Third, annual assessments on the work of the Council’s subsidiary bodies and monthly assessments by the Council Presidencies that provide more analytical material than the current Annual Report, should be compiled and form and integral part of the Annual Report. These assessments could play an important role in guiding the priorities of the Council month by month. Any disclaimers related to positions of the other Council members could be included.

•          Fourth, thematic issues are not stand-alone topics; on the contrary, they are an integral part of the consideration of country situations. Both general underlying themes and cross-cutting issues that are relevant through the work of the Security Council should therefore, despite not being formally part of the agenda, be linked through relevant cross-references to country situation analysis. In this vein, we especially encourage more efforts by the Council to honour and engage other relevant UN stakeholders in all its thematic engagements.

•          Fifth, the Annual Report could also be a useful tool for accountability in the area of the working methods of the Council. Elements of evaluation in relation to key areas of the Council’s work should be introduced. A section of the Report, therefore, should be dedicated to this topic and include a record on the progress made in the implementation of the Presidential Notes and other working methods as recommended by other member States and ACT.

•          Lastly, the adoption of the Annual Report should be an excellent occasion not only to review and evaluate the past, but also for all parties to take in lessons learned to discuss options and strategies for the future. Any discussion on the Annual Report should not mainly be a retrospective formal exercise, but as well a prospective, reform minded one. ACT suggests as possible format series of workshops clustered around country situations and/or larger thematic issues, or even in a less formal format than Arria Formula setting.

Allow me also to say a few words on other matters related to the working methods of the Council. We would like to highlight the increase in the number of open debates organized by each month’s Council President. At the same time, we remind that they should also translate into meaningful discussions. We encourage more spontaneous, lively and productive consultations within the Council.

We are gratified that 106 Member States, including nine Members of the Security Council have supported the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council Action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. We encourage all States that have not yet done so, especially those seeking election to the Security Council, to sign up. Now is the time to implement the commitments contained in the Code of Conduct, by taking more consistent action to prevent or end the commission of atrocity crimes.

As we have entered the important year before the selection of the next UN Secretary-General, ACT would hope to see enhanced cooperation between the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council on this by sending the joint letter as requested in resolution 69/321 at the earliest.

In conclusion, let me stress that ACT group welcomes all proposals aiming to improve the content and submission of the Annual Report and in this regard we are looking forward to studying among others the Russian-Lithuanian proposal.

Finally, we encourage future Security Council Presidencies to strengthen the efforts towards enhancement of the Report and making it a more useful tool for us all.




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