Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland Explains Key Goals and Strategies of the ACT Group

"Rather than start a complete renovation, we want to fix the plumbing..."
An Interview with Lydia Swart
11 June 2015

The ACT Group was launched in May 2013 by 21 countries aiming to reform the working methods of the Security Council. Focusing on the current Council, ACT’s efforts take place outside the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council reform, where the complex expansion debate dominates the discourse. The Center talked to ACT - Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency - on two of its priorities for this year: improving the appointment process of the UN Secretary General and veto restraint. Similar efforts are promoted by the Elders and the “1 for 7 Billion” campaign, among others.

The Chair Advances Security Council Reform, but Substantial and Procedural Complexities Persist

By Lydia Swart
29 May 2015

On 13 May 2015, an update of the Populated Framework Document was distributed to Member States, immediately followed by two days of surprisingly interactive meetings on 14 and 15 May. Pointed questions were raised about groupings and positions, and some - but far from all - were immediately addressed. The framework document indicates that with a few exceptions, stated positions have not significantly changed during the last few years. In most of the submissions, support for specific expansion models remains qualified in ways that cannot easily be reconciled. The notion of a comprehensive framework resolution emerging and succeeding anytime soon seems quite unrealistic.

'Populated Framework Document' on Security Council Reform

11 May 2015

A new text of 22 pages was distributed on 5 May 2015 and benefited from the input of around 115 countries. The exact number is unclear because the membership of L69 overlaps with that of Africa, CARICOM and the G4. There are no significant shifts in stated positions from Africa or the G4 since the 2005 World Summit. The Arab Group, UfC, China, Russian Federation and the USA communicated with the chair without using the one-page framework document as a template and their substantive positions are not reflected in the new text. Their communications also raised procedural issues, as did an earlier letter of UfC, to which the Chair responded. Meetings on the populated framework document are scheduled for 14 and 15 May 2015.

Chair Presents Framework Document on Security Council Reform

26 March 2015

Member States have been asked to provide their input by 16 April 2015 in order to create a new negotiation text. Some Member States have queried the timeline and would like more information on how the Chair, Ambassador E. Courtenay Rattray, intends to arrange and merge submitted positions during phase 3. During similar efforts from 2009 to 2010, Member States ended up disagreeing about two different revisions of the text and on ways to streamline it from 30 pages into a shorter and more operational text. The Chair believes he has the "executive authority" to create a concise text.

Security Council Reform: How to arrive at a more operational text?

17 February 2015
On 11 and 12 February 2015, an impressive number of Member States provided input on how they would like the slow-going negotiations on Security Council reform to proceed, with most statements focussing on the notion of text-based negotiations. However, during this meeting, no obvious agreement seems to have emerged on what kind of text the Chair should produce. Should it be a text in the form of a draft resolution, or a somewhat shortened version of previous texts and new information received?

Security Council Reform Update 2015: Similar Scenarios, Same Positions, New Outcomes?

12 January 2015

The Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on reforming the Security Council (SC) have not led to any significant results on SC expansion since the IGN officially began in 2009. Procedural maneuvering by those who oppose adding new permanent seats is often blamed for this vexing standstill. However, sufficient political will to compromise among some of the key players may be equally, if not more, responsible for the lack of progress. And while the main focus has been on changing the composition of the Council to make it more representative of contemporary realities, efforts to make the Council more accountable, effective, and transparent are of equal or greater importance to a large section of UN Member States.

Open Debate on Security Council Working Methods

5 November 2014

On the 23rd of October, the Security Council held an open debate on working methods. More than forty member states addressed topics ranging from initiatives to ensure due process under UN sanctions regimes, to a Security Council mechanism for follow-up on referrals to the International Criminal Court, to the use of the veto power and the selection process for the UN Secretary-General.

69th Session of the UN General Assembly: the General Debate and UN Reform

24-30 September 2014

The need to reform the United Nations and in particular the UN Security Council was raised throughout the General Debate this year. Many delegations seemed to feel that the upcoming 70th anniversary of the UN in 2015 provided an opportunity to push forward on the reform agenda and evaluate the way forward for the Organization.