30 November 2011 - Security Council
Working methods - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like, at the outset, to thank you, Mr. President, for having organized this debate on the Security Council’s working methods. I also wish to thank the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina for his introduction, as well as for his outstanding work as Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions.
This debate should first be an opportunity to hear from Members of the Organization about the way in which the Security Council works. On our part, we consider the working methods to be a tool for the Council to work effectively. In that regard, I should like to make several comments.
My first comment has to do with the efforts that have been made to improve the Council’s working methods. The 2010 revision of presidential note 507 (S/2010/507) on best practices clarified our working methods, for which we thank the delegation of Japan.
Several points are worthy of mention. The presidency has a responsibility to provide all Members and officials of the Organization with the information they need with regard to the Council’s work. It is therefore important to continue with the established practice of providing them the programme of work at the beginning of each month. Most of the Council’s meetings are held in public or entail a public part. Moreover, there are today more debates open to all delegations, which is a good thing. We believe that the public format should prevail when it comes to issues of general interest. Recently, we should have heard from the High Commissioner for Human Rights here in the Chamber, rather than in consultations.
On the initiative of France and the United Kingdom, a regular dialogue has been established with troop contributors to peacekeeping operations. With the agreement of all delegations concerned, we should now make that dialogue more substantial. Another positive aspect is the fact that the President of the Council now meets regularly with the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, and that the Chairs of the countryspecific configurations are invited to participate in the Council’s meetings.
My second comment pertains to the fact that the Council has demonstrated its ability to adapt to new demands. The Council is the master of its agenda and its procedures, which are uncomplicated and allow for its practices to change with the needs. It is an asset for the Council to be able to adapt its work and functioning to new demands. Many examples point to the fact that it can do so. The Council meets more frequently to hold thematic debates, which make it possible for it to refine its approach to issues pertaining to international peace and security. To that end, it turns to the expertise of regional organizations and specialized international bodies, as well as to civil society in general. At the same time, we should implement the recommendation of the group of five small nations to strengthen the links between the Security Council’s work on thematic issues — such as the rule of law, combating impunity, protecting civilians and new threats — and its efforts on specific situations.
Another example is the fact that the Council now has regular exchanges with the Department of Political Affairs on situations of risk that merit particular attention. In doing so, it is better able to anticipate and predict crises. It is important to pursue that effort and to bring in representatives of the Secretary-General on thematic issues, in particular when it comes to preventing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Lastly, today the Council has better follow-up of crisis situations and of the decisions it takes. In that connection, during its presidency in May, France organized a debate on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (see S/PV.6539) that brought together the main stakeholders as well as other Congolese officials. The meeting was preceded by a seminar with non-governmental organizations that made it possible to consolidate consensus on a complex issue. We believe that such an exercise, including broad agreement, could be useful and productive.
Finally, I would like to underscore the importance of continuing to innovate. In the course of the past month, the reality on the international stage has compelled the Council to take important decisions in difficult circumstances. It is also worth noting that, in spite of our political differences at times, cases of recourse to procedural points were the rare exception.
That illustrates that the Security Council works well. We should therefore continue to innovate to take better decisions. To that end, various avenues could be pursued. First, missions to the field provide an opportunity for members of the Council to better understand the reality and to speak directly with local stakeholders. There should be a way to better define the goals for such missions in more operational terms. Videoconferencing is now being used to communicate with United Nations missions on the ground. That makes it possible for the Council to be informed directly and in real time. It also allows United Nations officials to avoid having to make a trip to New York when it is important for them to be present in the field. The use of this tool could perhaps be made more systematic.
The Council has developed a new meeting format that allows it to better exchange views with Members of the United Nations on situations that concern them directly. In that regard, the interactive dialogue format is sufficiently flexible to respond to several categories of need.
For instance, it made it possible to hold several meetings with Chadian officials before we withdrew the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad. In principle, we support this type of exercise.
In conclusion, today we will hear many ideas for improving the Council’s working methods. We encourage the Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation to compile the operational recommendations to be made.