Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Working Methods Debate in the Security Council

Nov 30, 2011

(as delivered)

Thank you Mr. President, for initiating today’s open debate. It provides a good opportunity to reflect on what has been so far achieved and where improvements could be made.

Discussions at this year’s retreat for the incoming newly-elected members were also dedicated to ideas and suggestions on how to improve the work of the Council and make it more transparent and efficient.

The regular briefings by the Department for Political Affairs are an important improvement. Particularly in the context of the Arab Spring, these briefings have allowed for discussions on matters of international peace and security which have not yet become formal agenda items. They also allow the Council to be more flexible and responsive to evolving situations on the ground, contributing also to a stronger preventive role of the Council. 

Among the Council’s subsidiary bodies, the Sanctions Committees have become a major field of activity for the Council and its members. Here too, the working methods have become more efficient and transparent over the past years. The establishment of a focal point for de-listing and in the case of the Al-Qaeda Sanctions-Committee of an Ombudsperson in particular, are an important innovations with direct benefit to the wider UN membership.

There is also some discussion on the selection procedure and the accountability of the Expert Panels established to support the Sanctions Committees in their work. While a discussion on these issues may be warranted, it is our view that this should neither result in delaying the beginning of the work of new Experts excessively nor should it lead to any infringement on the independence of such Experts when implementing their mandate. It is precisely their independence, combined with their expert knowledge, that provides the added benefit not only to the Security Council, but also to the wider UN membership. We thus strongly support that their reports, as a general rule, be made public.

Mr. President,

An open and transparent relationship between the Security Council and the wider UN membership remains crucial for the political acceptance and relevance of the Council as well as for the implementation of its resolutions.

As President of the Security Council for the month of July 2011, Germany drafted the introduction of the Annual Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly. In preparing for the compilation of this report, we built on the good practice of holding, together with Nigeria and Portugal, an informal meeting with the wider UN Membership. We also asked the Presidency to separate the debates on the Annual Report and the issue of Security Council reform, to allow for more focused debates on both issues. These are only two examples of how the Council can better satisfy the legitimate interest of the broader membership for enhanced transparency and accessibility of the Council and its work.

We fully share the goal expressed in your concept paper preparing for today's debate of improving involvement by all stakeholders, such as concerned non-members of the Council and relevant regional organisations. Concrete steps could be a more frequent use of Arria-formula meetings or giving troop contributors and other stakeholders the opportunity for joint input in Council consultations.

We equally share the goal of enhancing the role of the Military Staff Committee. We appreciate the current practice of regular infromal meetings of the Military Staff Committee open to all fifteen members of the Council and encourage its continuation.

Mr. President,
The relationship between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) has become more interactive and dynamic. The Chairpersons of PBC country configurations now regularly brief the Security Council when the respective country situation is under consideration. They bring to the table a different perspective that can complement the Council’s assessment of a given situation. Against this background, their participation also in Council consultations should be envisaged. There is also still potential for improvement to ensure that the Council can and will draw on the advice of the PBC and on the broader peacebuilding perspectives. Important progress was achieved in enhancing the relationship between the Security Council and thematic Special Representatives of the Secretary General, such as on children in armed conflict and on sexual violence in conflict. Likewise, the briefings provided by the head of UN Women as well as by representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were important for the Council’s work. In our view, the Security Council has greatly benefited from their analyses and reports. The same holds true for the briefings provided by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Germany supports a regular participation by these Offices in briefings as well as consultations of the Security Council. In our view, the Security Council should also be more open towards an enhanced relationship with the Human Rights Council, not least given the role that the independent commissions of inquiry established by the Human Rights Council play in several situations on the Council’s agenda.

Lastly, Mr. President,

We welcome the initiative by member states in presenting concrete proposals  to reform the working methods of the Security Council. As mentioned before, we support many of the ideas contained in the initiative proposed by the so-called “S5-Group”. However, Germany strongly supports the improvement of the Council’s working methods as part of a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.  Focusing only on the Council’s working methods resembles a „band aid-approach“ to a more structural issue that in our view can only be addressed by making the membership of the Council more representative of the world we live in today.

I thank you, Mr. President.

© GermanyUN