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Security Council Reform: Current Session of the General Assembly
On 14 September 2015, the General Assembly adopted, by consensus, a decision to advance efforts to reform and increase the membership of the Security Council into the 70th session. This decision, proposed by President Kutesa, reaffirms the GA's central role in reforming the Council, and intends to build on positions as established in the letter of 31 July and its annexes, one and two. In explanation of position, several delegates expressed their state's views on the decision, with some hailing it as a "landmark" step forward, and others viewing it as technical, but not substantive progress. For specific statements, visit UN meetings coverage and press releases.
ACT members release final text of proposed SC Code of Conduct
8 September 2015
On 1 September, 2015, members of the ACT Group released their final text on a Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
On the 31st of July, the President of the General Assembly circulated a new text for the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on reform of the Security Council. The text, which was developed in light of consultations with Member States over the past several months, is intended to serve as a basis for the negotiations. President Kutesa described the text as a "sound basis" for the next phase of the IGN, emphasizing that it had been developed through an "inclusive and transparent process". In addition to the letter itself, the President also circulated a two part annex document (see part one and part two), which summarized and compiled the input of individual Member States into the consultations.
Talk of Reform at Security Council’s June Wrap-Up Session
by Gabrielle Jorgensen, 7 July 2015
On 30 June, the Security Council held a public wrap-up session before the transition of its presidency from Malaysia to New Zealand. Several reform topics were discussed in remarks by Member States, including the selection of the next Secretary-General, and the penholder system. This account summarizes the positions taken by Member States pertaining to working methods.
“Rather than start a complete renovation, we want to fix the plumbing ...”
Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland Explains Key Goals and Strategies of the ACT Group
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.
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.
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.
Changing the Composition of the Security Council: Is There a Viable Solution?
1 March 2015
In this opinion piece, Lydia Swart, CURE's expert on Security Council reform, and Cile Pace address many of the most commonly asked questions about this reform issue. Read the complete text online, or download the PDF version.
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?
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
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.
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.