Report on the Open Debate of the Security Council on Children in Armed Conflict
The Security Council, on 19 September 2012, held an open debate pertaining to The Report of the Secretary-General A/66/782-S/2012/26 on the status of children in armed conflicts and Resolution 2068(2012), the Security Council’s response to the Secretary-General’s report. While this subject of protecting children seems noncontroversial, the resolution proved more polemical than one may have expected. The principle subject under dispute was the reach of the Security Council’s mandate to protect children in armed conflict. The modalities of such protection and the efficacy or appropriateness of different options were also discussed. This report outlines key aspects of the resolution and the lines of argument the debate followed.
By Tamara Johnson
On 22 August 2012, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the MacArthur Foundation hosted a seminar to review issues surrounding migration policy in a human rights-based framework, as outlined in the Rio+20 outcome document, "The Future We Want.”
Ms. Ann Pawliczko, Senior Project Advisor for United Nations Population Fun (UNFPA) introduced the session, stating the Rio+20 conference was a call for a new social contract that embraces the discourse and inclusiveness of a sustainable development framework. Pursuant to language in the Rio+20 outcome document, this framework now explicitly includes migrants.
By Tamara Johnson
On 23 July 2012, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) heard a briefing by members of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) regarding development strategy post-2015. The Vice-President of the Council, H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, opened the meeting. CDP members Ms. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of International Affairs, The New School; and Mr. Norman Girvan, Professional Research Fellow, UWI Graduate Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago reviewed the Committee’s recent report, United Nations Development Strategy Beyond 2015. Main points from the report include the following.
Report on ECOSOC Panel Discussion: "Improving capacities for evidence-based humanitarian decision-making”
By Tamara Johnson
On 19 July 2012, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a panel discussion, “Improving capacities for evidence-based humanitarian decision-making,” as part of its humanitarian affairs segment on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance. Ms. Valerie Amos, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator moderated the meeting.
Ms. Amos introduced the panel discussion, posing the questions of who owns data and how data will be used. She stated the objectives of the discussion were to strengthen evidence bases for decision making (especially in regards to who, where, and when to assist) and to strengthen data platforms for states, international bodies, humanitarian workers on the ground, etc. She also invoked the concept of inclusivity, stating that communities want to play a greater role in addressing their own crises.
Report on ECOSOC Panel Discussion: “Mobilizing partnerships for development, including in the field of education.”
By Tamara Johnson
On 11 July 2012, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a panel discussion, “Mobilizing partnerships for development, including in the field of education.” Vice-President of the Council, H.E. Mr. Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil (Egypt) chaired the panel, which was moderated by Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, United Nations Development Programme.
In his opening statement, Mr. Ahadein Khalil called to attention the fact that about 50% of the world’s 1.2 billion youth are unemployed.
By Tamara Johnson
On 12 July 2012, The Security Council (SC) met with representatives of the World Bank and the Chair and former Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) to debate the PBC’s efficacy and relevance. SC President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Her Excellency María Angela Holguín, convened the debate pursuant to the Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its fifth session (S/2012/70) and a Note Verbale dated 2 July 2012 from the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2012/511).
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commenced the debate citing three areas of necessary PBC improvement: better leveraging of resources and coordination between UN bodies, state parties, and parties on the ground; longer-term focus beyond the present on-the-ground missions; and leveraging of intergovernmental and regional support. The Secretary-General concluded that synergistic partnerships would lead to the amplification of participating bodies’ effectiveness on the ground and increased efficiency.
Report of the 4th Thematic Meeting in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
By Mie Hansen
On 1 June 2012, the Ad Hoc Working Group (AHWG) on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly met for the fourth and final thematic meeting, dedicated to a discussion of “ Enhancing the functions of the Office of the President of the General Assembly including Strengthening its institutional memory and its relationship with the Secretariat”. This report provides a summary of the meeting.
At the meeting, Member States heard two briefings, the first one by the Chef de Cabinet of the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Ambassador Mutlaq Al-Qatani. The Chef de Cabinet stressed how the agenda of the GA has evolved and grown enormously over the years, and how important it is to provide the Office with adequate financial and human resources in order for the Office to carry out its mandated activities in an effective manner. The Chef de Cabinet stressed the need for adequate time being made available for the transition between presidencies in order to provide the opportunity to share best practices and lessons learned, and also said that it was worth considering using the expertise of a “Troika” of past, present and future PGAs to contribute to maintaining the institutional memory of the Office. Further, Ambassador Al-Qatani said that proper documentation and archiving of the records of the Office was essential, and he listed a number of measures undertaken by the Office during the 66th GA session, including maintaining proper electronic archiving and record-keeping. The Chef de Cabinet also recommended keeping some of the core advisors from one session to the next in order to ensure continuity of functional expertise. Further, Ambassador Al-Qatani stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation between the PGA and the heads of other UN organs as well as building stronger partnerships with civil society organizations, NGOs and the private sector – and he pointed out measures undertaken during the current Presidency, including appointing a Special Coordinator for Civil Society. The Chef de Cabinet also said that the effective coordination with the Secretary-General and the departments of the Secretariat was instrumental in the successful performance of the Office. Concerning the budget allocated to the Office, the Chef de Cabinet noted that while the UN’s overall budget had grown in every other area, the level of resources allocated to the Office of the PGA had remained unchanged since it was last approved by the GA for budget 1998-1999, in spite of the exponential increase in the activities of the Office. Ambassador Al-Qatani pointed out that this meant that it was necessary for the country of origin of the PGA to bear significant costs in order finance the activities of the Office, and he stressed that this situation exposed the financial vulnerability of the Office, and created the risk of inequality among Member States when considering candidatures for the post of PGA. Moreover, the Trust Fund established in support of the Office had not received any funds during the 66th GA session and the Chef de Cabinet therefore called upon Member States to consider contributing generously to the work of the Office of the PGA in coming sessions, either through the Trust Fund, secondments, or voluntary contributions. The Ambassador Al-Qatani also said that he found it reassuring to note that the GA in its resolution 66/246 on the proposed budget for 2012-2013 had requested the Secretary-General to submit in the context of the next budget, proposals to review the resource allocation to the Office of the PGA and the Chef de Cabinet expressed hope that the GA would take adequate measures to improve the financial situation of the Office in the coming budget.
Report on the 2nd and 3rd Thematic Meeting in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
By Mie Hansen
On 30 April 2012 and 10 May 2012 the Ad Hoc Working Group (AHWG) on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly held its 2nd and 3rd thematic meetings, discussing respectively “Working methods of the General Assembly, implementation of GA resolutions and the agenda, as well as operational and technical issues” and “The role of the General Assembly in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General of the UN, as well as in the selection of candidatures for other executive Heads of the UN system”. This report provides a summary of the two meetings
Meeting 30 April 2012: Working methods of the General Assembly, implementation of GA resolutions and the agenda, as well as operational and technical issues
At this meeting, in accordance with resolution 65/315 adopted on GA revitalization in September 2011, the Co-Chairs of the AHWG, Ambassador Waffa-Ogoo of the Gambia and Ambassador Lomaia of Georgia, had invited the Chairs of the six Main Committees of the GA to brief the Member States on discussions in the Committees on improving working methods. Member States were briefed by all of the Chairs of the Main Committees, except from the Chair of the 5th Committee who could not be present at the meeting.
The Chair of the 1st Committee stressed the need to avoid repetitions in resolutions and also said that it would be good if interventions in the Committee’s debates could be more condensed and less repetitive. The Chair of the 4th Committee explained the steps already taken to improve the working methods of the Committee and rationalize the agenda and added that at the moment the Committee had decided not to rationalize further. The Chair of the 2nd Committee stressed that the 2nd Committee was the only Committee to adopt a declaration on working methods during the 65th GA session. Further, the Chair said that focus should now be on the follow-up to the resolution adopted and that a holistic approach should be taken. The Chair of the 3rd Committee highlighted the efforts done to improve the working methods of the Committee as well as pointed out areas that needed further improvement and underlined that the Committee will continue, in consultation with Member States, to consider and make proposals for the further rationalization of items on its agenda. Finally, the Chair of the 6th Committee stressed that improvements had already been made in the working methods of the Committee, including meeting respecting the agreed calendar and the allotted time. Further, the Chair said that the agenda of the Committee could be further rationalized and he also stressed that open and inclusive consultations on all resolutions were needed.
Following the briefings, Member States raised a number of questions and commented on the presentations. Algeria, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) noted that the working methods of each Committee vary due to the different nature of the Committees and stressed in this regard, that while clustering, biennialization etc. make sense in some Committees, it does not in others. Pakistan asked if rationalization necessarily lead to promoting the effectiveness of the Committees – that is, if fewer resolutions really would result in a more effective GA. In response to this, the Chair of the 1st Committee said that, in his personal view, fewer agenda item would allow for a proper discussion of the most important issues.
Subsequently, the Director of the Meetings and Publishing Division of Department for General Assembly and Conference Management delivered a presentation on the successes and challenges in the process of improving documentation. The Director pointed out some of the improvements achieved as a result of decisions taken in the AHWG in this regard, and outlined the way forward. The Director stressed, among other things that the creation of new e-tools had been an important element in bringing down the number of document hard copies. The way forward, the Director said, was based on four pillars: 1) Web portals 2) E-publishing 3) E-tools 4) Print on demand - All helping increase sustainability, efficiency and accessibility. The Director described the portal developed for the Rio+20 Conference as an example of this, containing all relevant previous resolutions; information on previous meetings etc.; it has a print on demand button; and will webcast all the meetings in Rio. In response to the presentation, Member States raised a number of questions and comments. Cuba said that it supported reducing costs, but that this should be based on GA resolutions. Peru said that it would help a great deal if all six language websites were updated regularly, at least the general sections.
After the briefings, Member States delivered their prepared statements on “Working methods of the General Assembly, implementation of GA resolutions and the agenda, as well as operational and technical issues”.
A range of Member States aligned themselves with the statement made by Algeria on behalf of the NAM. Pakistan said that there are two equally important aspects in GA revitalization, namely efficiency and effectiveness. Discussion on improving the working methods of the GA and its Main Committees have taken place for many years and improvements have been made in the working methods, but the effectiveness and authority of the GA and its Main Committees have not been improved. Venezuela underscored its willingness to move ahead with improvements of the working methods of the GA but at the same time it would not accept anything that would diminish the role and authority of the GA. South Africa said, among other things, that there is a need to look at status of implementation of previously adopted resolutions. India said, in regard to the visibility of the GA, that Member States need to make the work of the GA relevant and for this political will is needed. Best practices of other international organization could be used to improve the GA, India said. Malaysia said that there was nothing undermining the work of the GA more than the lack of implementation of resolutions and stressed the urgent need to correct this lack. Belarus said that timely issuance of documents in all of the official languages was necessary. Cuba stressed that the interest of one State should never be seen as more important than the interest of another State. Cuba also said that some States just wanted to rationalize the agenda in order not to have to deal with certain issues. Nigeria said there was a need to take a look at the provisions in the UN Charter and relevant resolutions to make sure that these are interpreted correctly. Nigeria also stressed that the GA lacks an instrument to implement resolutions.
The representative of the European Union (EU) delivered a statement on behalf of the Union and aligned States. The EU said it attached particular importance to improving the working methods of the GA because this issue had the biggest potential to make real change and contribute to revitalization, along with the implementation of existing GA resolutions. In regard to the agenda of the GA and its Main Committees, the EU said that there was a need for further streamlining. The EU commended the achievements of the 2nd Committee in regard to improving its working methods and felt confident that other Committees would follow soon. The EU attached great value to the High-Level Meetings held during the General Debate, but also said that organizational and procedural aspects should be look into. Further, the EU reiterated the importance of improving the existing balloting system and the need to adapt it to modern technologies. The EU also stressed the need to improve the quality and accuracy of GA documents in all six official languages, as well as ensuring that documents were concise, relevant and issued on time. The EU welcomed the efforts made by the Secretariat to reduce the distribution of documents in hard copies, and supported a wider use of internet in order to timely distribute documents and information.
Among the permanent members of the Security Council the United States said that streamlining the GA agenda should be high priority for the working group, in order for the GA to focus on the most important issues. It deteriorates the role and authority of the GA when it deals with outdated issues, the US said. China said that revitalization of the GA went through implementation of resolutions and stressed that it is the job of the Member States to ensure implementation. China also underlined the need to strengthen the relationship between the GA and the Security Council, especially in regard to issues related to peace and security. The Russian Federation said that it had many times heard States say that discussions should focus on political not technical issues, but Russia stressed that it was not worth dealing with political issues if the technical aspects were not in order.
Among the other Member States speaking at the meeting, the Republic of Korea said that rationalization of GA agenda items would lead to better focus on important issues, while continued implementation of existing resolutions would lead to a more effective GA. Further, the Republic of Korea stressed the importance of enhancing public and media awareness through timely issuance of documents, electronic resources etc. Japan said that it found it appropriate to consider further streamlining and prioritizing the agenda of the GA and the Main Committees, as well as undertaking substantial discussion aimed at improving the working methods of each of the six Committees. In this regard, Japan welcomed the initiative of the President of the GA (PGA) to arrange a retreat on the working methods of the 5th Committee. Mexico stressed the need to identify concrete measures to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the GA. Mexico further stressed the need for a mechanism to follow-up on resolutions to ensure implementation of resolutions. Finally, Mexico noted that many Member States show much less interest in revitalization of the GA than in reform of the Security Council.
By Kirsten Schlosser
On 10 April 2012 the fifth meeting of the eighth round of Intergovernmental Negotiations was held on Security Council reform. This meeting was devoted to the reform initiative of the C-10, presented by the Member State Sierra Leone. This summary is based on statements given by Member States at the meeting.
Meeting 10 April 2012
Sierra Leone spoke on behalf of the African Group:
By Kirsten Schlosser
On 13 March 2012 the fourth meeting of the eighth round of Intergovernmental Negotiations was held on Security Council reform. This meeting was devoted to the reform initiative of the L.69 Group, presented by the Member State Jamaica. This summary is based on statements given by Member States at the meeting.