COVID-19: The UN is adapting its working methods [fr]
Due to the current health crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic, no more physical meetings are being held in the UN building for the time being. In order to be able to continue their work, the General Assembly and the Security Council have adopted interim measures establishing temporary meeting and decision-making arrangements.
The Security Council adopted on 27 March 2020 new working methods for the duration of the movement restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These new methods make it possible to hold Security Council meetings by videoconference, open or closed to the public, on all subjects on the agenda. States interested in the issues on the agenda can participate in open meetings. The transparency of the discussions at open meetings is ensured by transcript of the discussions in a Council document, which is circulated at the end of the meeting.
The Security Council continues to take decisions on all matters within its mandate. Resolutions are adopted by a written procedure (exchange of letters): the President of the Security Council informs the other members by letter when a draft resolution is put to the vote; the 15 Member States of the Security Council then have 24 hours to send their votes by letter; the result is announced within 12 hours following closing of the vote, during a meeting held by videoconference. Four first resolutions were adopted by this procedure on 30 March 2020.
The Council also continues to take position on the issues on its agenda through elements to the press or press statements, as well as Presidency statements (for the differences between these expressions, see our UN Glossary for the use of neophytes).
These new working modalities will enable the Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities in the maintenance of international peace and security, and in particular to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable populations in conflict situations.
On 27 March 2020, the General Assembly reached agreement on modalities for adopting important decisions, even in the absence of the possibility of meeting at United Nations Headquarters due to the pandemic.
Decision 75/544 authorizes the President of the General Assembly to submit a draft resolution to all Member States by a no-objection procedure (silence procedure) of at least 72 hours. In the absence of objection within the time limit set by the President of the General Assembly, the draft resolution is adopted.
To use this procedure, the President of the General Assembly must first consult the office of the General Assembly - without this opinion being binding on his decision.
Decision 75/544, which is not time-bound, allows only for the adoption of texts by consensus. An objection by one of the 193 member states of the UNGA is sufficient to prevent the adoption of a text. Other decision-making modalities could be discussed in the future, to allow member states to vote or hold meetings remotely, if the situation were to last longer.