Ensure the effectiveness of the Council’s action [fr]
Working methods of the Security Council
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 6 June 2019
First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to you, Sir, for the organization of this open debate on the working methods of the Security Council and for your work over the past year as Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Issues.
I would also like to sincerely thank Ms. Karin Landgren, Executive Director of Security Council Report, for her very informative briefing and for the high quality of the work she has accomplished with her team, as well as Mr James Cockayne, Director of the Centre for Policy Research at the United Nations University. I am very grateful to them both for the clarity and quality of their proposals, which make a very useful contribution to our exchanges. Finally, I welcome the participation of a very large number of Member States in the debate on this topic, to which France, which organized the first debate in 1994 (S/PV.3484), is very committed. I welcome especially the presence among us today of two Ministers for Foreign Affairs.
With the annual debate on the Security Council’s report to the General Assembly, this open debate is an important moment of reflection on our working methods, which we are conducting with all the Member States of the United Nations, who have entrusted our Council with the primary and distinguished responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
I have listened carefully to the intervention of our South African colleague, who was speaking on behalf of the non-permanent members of the Council. I broadly agree with his approach and my statement is intended to demonstrate that this debate should not pit the permanent members of the Council against the non-permanent members.
France fully shares both the concern for efficiency and the desire to reform the Council and its working methods that the representative of South Africa expressed.
I will not go into detail on our position, but I would like to point out that France is very committed to the reform of the Security Council in order to broaden its membership and thereby strengthen its legitimacy and effectiveness. It has also made proposals with Mexico for the voluntary and collective suspension of the use of the veto of permanent members in cases involving mass atrocities.
In the immediate future, we are fully prepared to work with all members of this Council to continue and conclude the work that Kuwait has initiated to supplement the note by the President (S/2017/507, annex) known as note 507, which originated in a 2006 document (S/2006/507, annex) that Japan took the excellent initiative to revise twice, in 2010 (S/2010/507, annex) and 2017, for which I again congratulate the Japanese Ambassador.
In that endeavor, we are guided by three key principles: effectiveness, transparency and inclusivity. The proposals on the table will certainly enable us to make progress in that direction, particularly by better integrating the members we will elect on Friday, the troop-contributing countries and the other Member States. We will work with all members to reach the necessary compromises.
But the work of collating, clarifying and codifying procedures and good practices must not be carried out at the expense of flexibility, which remains a guarantee of effectiveness and responsiveness, particularly in matters of war and peace, where human lives are at stake.
In that respect, the principle of freedom for any member State of the Council to present a text at any time on any subject must absolutely be preserved, as it ensures that the Council will be responsive and that the majority of its members will always strive to reach a consensus. Any ex ante or automatic allocation of penholders would be detrimental to the effectiveness of the Council. Similarly, the allocation of the chairmanships of sanctions committees to non-permanent members, in addition to allowing regular rotation, which is useful, is mainly intended to avoid possible deadlocks in conflict situations, which unfortunately are not lacking.
We must also be careful that our attention to the adoption of new methods does not make us forget that we must first properly implement the agreed recommendations.
France is actively striving to do so with all its partners in and outside the Council.
With my German colleagues — Mr. Heusgen and Mr. Schulz — whom I warmly thank for giving me their speaking time for this debate, we have tried to be exemplary during our joint presidency of the Council by presenting our programmes and the outcome of our work to all States Members of the United Nations; by involving civil society stakeholders, particularly women, in our meetings; by doing our best to prepare our missions in Mali and Burkina Faso; and by encouraging speakers and Council members to be more concise, but especially to be more focused and interactive in their statements.
As penholders on several issues, a responsibility which we take very seriously, France has always ensured the participation of host States and troop-contributing countries, as well as the chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country configuration, where appropriate — as we did with Morocco in the case of the Central African Republic — and has always facilitated informal meetings with Member States to strengthen our joint analysis of the issues. In conducting discussions on the texts, we have always tried to give everyone enough negotiating time and to find the necessary compromises to ensure the Council’s adoption of such texts, which has almost always been unanimous.
Finally, beyond our current and future working methods, our priority must be to ensure the effectiveness of the Council’s action in our daily practice.
We therefore strongly encourage the collaboration of the Council with regional organizations and we have called for meetings with the African Union, the European Union and this month, for the first time, with the League of Arab States.
We also favour the organization of interactive dialogues or Arria Formula meetings, which significantly contribute to informing the Council on important issues and preparing the work on future texts. Further efforts are needed to streamline the ever-increasing programme of work in order to release time for crisis response, strategic reflection and substantive dialogue. We must be able to collectively disengage the autopilot in order to try in good faith to find points of convergence, which are necessary for any agreement. That is at the heart of our responsibilities.
However, we must avoid excessive public meetings to the detriment of work on Council decisions.
After five years in the Council, I regret to say that we are spending more and more time in the Chamber presenting our respective positions and less and less time in the consultation room deciding on joint action. Naturally, public meetings are very important and have the advantage of being transparent, but they tend to polarize positions at the expense of the consensus we seek in order to effectively make decisions and bring our influence to bear. We must therefore together seek the right balance.
The five-year trend is quite clear. We now spend three times more time in public meetings than in
consultations, while — even if not to the same extent — we negotiate and adopt fewer texts.
That trend is unfortunately exacerbated by the current geopolitical polarization and by an erosion of confidence in the multilateral method and should be a cause for joint ref lection. But I am confident, by nature and conviction, that this debate and our collective determination will enable us to pull ourselves together so that, amid increasing crises and threats, the Council can prioritize
its mission of conflict prevention and resolution. The Council can count on the firm resolve of France in that connection.