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Statement by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz in the Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council on “Working Methods of the Security Council” - February 6, 2018

06.02.2018 - Pressemitteilung

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Mr. President, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me join previous speakers in thanking you, Mr. President, for convening this debate so early in your Presidency of the Council and your chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Working Group.

We welcome the Council’s open, transparent and inclusive manner of discussing its way of doing business.

As a concrete contribution to this debate, Germany, together with Kuwait, hosted the launch of a new study by Security Council Report on the Working Methods of the Security Council just last Friday.

The report tracks the dynamics relating to the Council’s Working Methods over the last seven decades. Astonishingly, since1946, the Council has worked under only “Provisional Rules of Procedure.”

What was once considered a temporary solution has since become permanent.

This sounds familiar to us Germans. In 1949, in Western Germany, we adopted a provisional constitution. It was therefore referred to as our “Basic Law” and not constitution. Today, almost 70 years later, the supposedly provisional arrangement remains our constitution – and we become attached to it.

I am saying this to highlight that provisional arrangements are not a problem as such. But they need to be transparent, understandable and clear to allow for sufficient participation of all concerned. Unfortunately, this is not entirely the case when it comes to the working methods of the Security Council.

To quote from the afore-mentioned study by the Security Council Report, quote: “The absence of clear written rules puts the elected members at a considerable disadvantage of having to deal with many procedural uncertainties.”. End of quote.

This is why we are so grateful to Japan which, as former Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, did us a great service by documenting the developments and emerging practices in the update to “Note 507,” as adopted last August.

Mr. President,

This comprehensive compendium of working methods reduces uncertainties, provides orientation and tools to understand and use the methods and procedures of the Council.

We should now focus on implementing these provisions, on filling them with life.

Let me mention three areas:

First, the process of developing Council products.

We welcome that the Council, in the new version of Note 507, now expressly encourages all its members to become penholders. In principle, any Council member can serve in that function. But, in practice, the list of actual penholder countries is very short. We hope that a more inclusive practice will emerge as stipulated in the Note.   

We also share the Council’s concern, as expressed in the new Note, that more needs to be done to improve openness and flexibility in the drafting process.

The Note’s proposals to that effect, however, focus entirely on the internal workings of the Council. They are addressed to its members only.

We would like to invite the Council members to go further and think about progressive ideas to better involve the wider UN membership earlier on in the drafting of proposals to ensure more buy-in and support from non-Council member states.

Second, the relationship between the Security Council and the police- and troop-contributing countries.

As the Council increasingly mandates peacekeeping operations in high-risk environments, more timely, interactive and action-oriented consultations between the Council, the contributing states and the Secretariat are needed. The revised note Note 507 contains a number of suggestions in this regard which should be translated into consistent practice.

My third point relates to the relationship between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.

The revised note 507 elaborates on the relationship between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission as QUOTE “an intergovernmental advisory body”. And it notes the Council’s QUOTE “intention to regularly request, deliberate and draw upon its specific, strategic and targeted advice.”

We are convinced that we should strengthen the links between these two bodies to enhance the United Nations’ ability to move more seamlessly from crisis response to long-term peacebuilding.

Germany was recently elected Vice-Chair of the Peacebuilidng Commission. We are ready to work with all interested partners to enhance the Peacebuilding Commission’s advisory role. One idea would be to regularly invite the PBC Chair and the country-specific configurations to participate in public Security Council meetings.

Mr. President,

One of the newer additions to the Council’s working methods stipulates that interventions should be short and concise.

Let me heed this advice and conclude with a final remark: If the Security Council is to continue to play its important role in a rules-based international order, reform is needed:

Reform that allows for greater transparency for the public and enable Elected Members to fully participate in all processes and decisions of the Council.

However, reforming the working methods should not distract us from more fundamental reforms, such as reforming the Council’s composition to better reflect today’s realities.

But that is a subject for another day and another forum.

I thank you, Mr. President.


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