Joint E10 Statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, during the Open Debate on the Working Methods of the Security Council, 6 June 2019
Thank you for giving me the floor. Allow me, before I deliver our joint E10 statement on the working methods of this Council, to reflect for a moment on a momentous event that took place today, 75 years ago.
I would like to commemorate and pay homage to the thousands of service men and civilians who gave their lives on this day 75 years ago during the D-Day assault on the beaches of Normandy. This act of valour and self-sacrifice to rid the world of the tyranny and oppression of fascism should never be forgotten, as it was an important building bloc that helped to lay the basis for the creation of our organisation, the United Nations.
As our search for peace and security in the world continues through our work here in the Council, we should always be reminded of, and honour through our actions and decisions, the ultimate sacrifice of so many men and women for a peaceful and just world.
Mr President, Let me now turn to our business at hand.
On behalf of the current ten elected members of the Security Council, the E10, let me express our appreciation to you for convening today’s timely and important debate. We thank the briefers, Ms. Karin Landgren, Executive Director of Security Council Report, and Dr. James Cockayne, Director of the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research, for their excellent presentations.
Allow me also to pay tribute to all those who endeavoured to improve and codify the Council’s working methods, which are critical to its functioning. In particular, I would like to express our gratitude for the work done within the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, over the past year and a half under your most able and dedicated chairmanship, Mr. President.
Today, as in previous open debates, we see a large number of UN Member States on the speakers list. This clearly illustrates the importance that all Member States of the United Nations attach to the working methods of this Council. We share this position, hence our joint statement, corresponding both with our unity in efforts to improve the Council’s functioning, as well as the provisions relating to the conduct of open debates, contained in the most recent comprehensive Note by the President of the Security Council regarding Council’s working methods (S/2017/507, the so-called “Note 507”).
The adoption of consecutive Notes developed within the Informal Working Group marks important steps in the steady advancement of the Council’s working methods, which are of special significance for elected members. This is particularly important given the short period during which elected members serve on the Council as well as the fact that the codification of working methods allows for all members of the Council to be more effective which in turn contributes to the efficiency of the Council in executing its mandate.
Therefore, while we welcome the provisions of the Note 507 of 2017, adopted under the excellent chairmanship of the Permanent Representative of Japan, Ambassador Koro Bessho, and are committed to their full implementation, we see room, and an urgent need, for further progress.
Consequently, the E10 supports and stand ready to further improve the draft Notes by the President, which are currently being discussed within the Working Group. These Notes are intended to take into account the concerns expressed by the broader United Nations membership during previous debates, as well as during the annual General Assembly debate on the Report of the Security Council. We are convinced that the adoption and implementation of these Notes will contribute to enhancing the efficiency and transparency of the Council’s work as well as the dialogue with the broader UN membership.
As E10 Members we have also taken it upon ourselves to attempt to bridge the gap created by our limited term on the Council by fostering greater cooperation and coordination among ourselves. This intention was manifested in the November 2018 coordination meeting launched in Pretoria, which brought together incoming, current and outgoing E10 members to explore mechanisms and areas for collaboration and coordination, to better serve on the Council in pursuit of the maintenance of international peace and security.
As the elected members and incoming members emphasized in their letter to the Council last year, there is a need for fair burden-sharing and equal distribution of work amongst all members of the Security Council, including its permanent members.
Two draft Notes regarding the Chairs of subsidiary bodies and co-penholdership specifically address these concerns. They could eventually increase opportunities for engagement by all Council members and allow for greater use of expertise and knowledge accumulated by the Chairs of its subsidiary bodies. We are convinced that the Security Council should, therefore, consider promoting the Chairs’ role as penholders as well as the automaticity of their role as co-penholders on the related dossiers, should they so choose.
Additional measures could facilitate the planning and preparations of newly elected Council members both in New York and in Capitals in order to allow them to “hit the ground running”. These measures may also allow for better preparation for meetings of the Council members as well as its visiting missions.
Another proposal aims at strengthening fair and clear procedures for the Security Council sanction regimes and considers the need to respect international due process standards when implementing decisions of the Security Council.
The rule of law should particularly apply in situations in which the actions of the United Nations directly affect individual rights. In this regard, the establishment of the Ombudsperson was a significant step forward in improving the fairness and transparency of the 1267 Committee concerning Da’esh/Al-Qaida.
We strongly believe in the need to continue to render UN targeted sanctions more effective and legitimate by further pursuing efforts to strengthen procedures and due process guarantees in other sanction regimes of the Council, including by creating review mechanisms similar to that of the Ombudsperson, for other sanction regimes. This would strengthen the effectiveness, legitimacy and the uniform implementation of all sanctions adopted by the Council.
Furthermore, there have been calls for the promotion and advancement of women and greater gender inclusivity and equality, thus adapting the Security Council’s working methods to the current realities and commonly shared expectations which have already been advanced in the substantive work of the Council, such as the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.
We look forward to achieving an agreement on the above-mentioned proposals and improving the ways the Council operates. The E10 reiterates that the aforementioned notes were introduced separately with the intention to issue any note that has been agreed by Member States in the context of the IWG, and that these notes were never intended to be agreed or issued as a package. We call upon the five permanent members to show more flexibility in ensuring a swift adoption of the notes going forward, based on the extensive discussions that have already taken place in the Informal Working Group.
Our commitment to working together towards that goal stems from our shared ambition of enhancing the Council’s functionality and efficiency whilst ensuring that its interactions and cooperation with other stakeholders are more robust. This approach can only serve to improve the Council’s ability to maintain international peace and security, drawing from diverse and important expertise, fresh perspectives and dynamism which E10 Members and other stakeholders may bring to the table.
It is reflective of the expectations of the members of the United Nations, who conferred on the Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, that its actions are prompt and effective. It answers the call for enhancing the Council’s performance and inclusiveness as well as accountability to the whole United Nations membership on whose behalf it acts in carrying out its duties.
During this debate, we look forward to hearing concrete proposals and feedback from the wider membership on further measures the Council can undertake to improve its working methods and hope to pursue these ideas further within the Informal Working Group for the remainder of the year.
Tomorrow five new members of the Council will be elected. Soon thereafter consultations on the distribution of the chairmanships of the subsidiary bodies starting from 1 January 2020, will begin. Note 507 states that the consultation process for the selection of the Chairs ought to take place in a “balanced, transparent, efficient and inclusive way”.
We are confident that the consultation process will be conducted in a manner consistent with this provision, and that the end result will conform to the need for burden-sharing, collective responsibility, and a fair and equitable distribution of work amongst all members of the Council, including its permanent members. The call for a more equal distribution of work is not new and has been persistently brought forward by members and non-members of the Security Council. We strongly believe that this is not just a matter of fair burden-sharing, but that it will also positively affect the overall effectiveness of the Council.
In conclusion, I would like to once again thank Kuwait for convening this meeting and reiterate the elected members’ commitment to the improvement of the Security Council’s working methods. Guided by the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, whose 75th anniversary we will be celebrating next year, we remain fully committed to promoting the Security Council as a body that serves and represents the entire United Nations membership.
Allow me Mr President one final remark on behalf of the A3 Members of the Security Council, related to a matter which we discussed yesterday.
I would like to inform the Council that the African Union Peace and Security Council has with immediate effect suspended the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all African Union activities until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to exit from the current crisis.
I thank you, Mr. President.
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