29 October 2013 - Security Council Working Methods - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank the Azerbaijani presidency for organizing this debate on the working methods of the Security Council.
Efforts have been made since 2010 to improve the Council’s working methods. The periodic revision of the note of the President to the Security Council (S/2010/507) has provided useful codification and clarification for our way of working, enabling it to evolve towards greater transparency and better information flow. In that regard, I would like to thank the successive Chairs of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, who have promoted those efforts. The recent adoption under Argentina’s chairmanship of two notes concerning the dialogue with troop-contributing countries and interaction with non-Council member States is testament to that (S/2013/515 and S/2013/630).
Among the measures taken recently that have subsequently become part of the Organization’s practices we should mention the immediate dissemination of the Council’s programme of work to the Secretariat, the President of the General Assembly and the general membership of the United Nations, and the opening up of Council meetings, with some of them wholly or partly open to the wider membership. France shares the opinion that debates on matters of general interest should be open.
While codifying its way of working by implementing note 507, the Council has also shown that it is able to adapt to new demands. The Council meets more often for thematic debates that enable it to refine its approach to issues related to peace and international security, while seeking the expertise of regional organizations, specialized international agencies and non-governmental organizations. The use of video-teleconferencing to interact with various United Nations missions has also enabled it to streamline information and react faster to realities on the ground. Regular exchanges between the Council and the Department of Political Affairs, as well as the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, enable it to better anticipate crises and therefore react more effectively.
Finally, creating a website has enabled the Council to quickly and ubiquitously disseminate all its communiqués, reports and other working documents. In that regard, the multilingual nature of the Council’s activities should be observed by ensuring that documents posted on the site are reproduced in every official language. We must continue our efforts within the Informal Working Group, which will be taking into account the proposals made in this open debate. We base our preparation of the Working Group’s programme every year on consideration of the suggestions made here.
The Syrian crisis has highlighted the impasse that the Security Council has come up against in dealing with the use of the right of veto. A few weeks ago, the President of France spoke in the General Assembly on the importance of creating a code of conduct for the permanent members that would establish guidelines for the use of the right of veto. The Minister for Foreign Affairs also spoke on the subject. What would be involved would be for the five permanent members of the Security Council to collectively and voluntarily suspend their right of veto when a situation involving crime on a massive scale is considered to have occurred.
Clearly, the criteria for such self-management must still be defined by the Council’s permanent members themselves. A voluntary step such as this would not entail revising the Charter of the United Nations. But we can work together on a series of questions. First, we have to agree on a definition of mass crime; the 2005 World Summit Outcome (General Assembly resolution 60/1) and numerous international conventions, including the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Rome Statute, can guide us. An alert mechanism or mechanisms that can trigger such self-management would also have to be defined. France is considering, for example, the possibility of a central role for the Secretary-General, in the spirit of Article 99 of the Charter.
Finally, France has proposed that 50 Member States could challenge the Security Council when they believe that a crime on a massive scale has occurred. That would give us the opportunity to consider the terms whereby the five permanent members could initiate and implement the code of conduct on the use of the veto.
France’s proposals — and they are only proposals — should enable us to begin to debate. To do that, my country would involve all the possible stakeholders, particularly research institutions, universities and non-governmental organizations that are working on this issue and could share their thinking with us. The Security Council should take this opportunity to thoroughly review its working methods in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. The world is changing and the threats have changed. Let us be the actors who are willing to deal with that change and show that we are capable of innovating in order to be more effective but also more just.