General Assembly: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on the Security Council's Annual Report and its Working Methods

Nov 21, 2013

(as delivered:)

"Mr. President,

The Annual Report of the Security Council discussed today also covers a period during which my country was a member of the Council.

Looking back, I will briefly touch upon three issues, based also on my experience.

The first, of course, is the long deadlock in the Council over Syria. Not only did the three double-vetoes have a terrible consequence for the Syrian people. More broadly, the failure by the Council to adequately respond to the bloodshed also begs the question whether the Security Council as we see it today still able to effectively address current and future challenges.

The Syria deadlock also put a spotlight on the role of the veto. In this context, we very much appreciate the proposal made by France to consider a code of conduct by which permanent members would refrain from using the veto in situations of atrocity crimes. This proposal deserves further discussion.

Second, the Annual Report also shows that the issues on the agenda of the Security Council have become increasingly complex, ranging from traditional issues such as peacekeeping, to cases of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Here, the Council also deserves some credit, such as for its close engagement in the transition process in Yemen.

The Council has also come to address cross-cutting issues, such as children in armed conflict and new threats, such as climate change. We hope that the Council will continue on this track in order to remain relevant, putting to rest also the criticism of “encroachment” that we believe is unwarranted.

Lastly, a few words on the Council member’s day-to-day work and the decision-making processes. It is fair to say that the Council has come a long way in improving its working methods. We tried to contribute our share. But more needs to be done.

Two issues stand out in my view: The first is that of penholdership for Security Council resolutions, which is de facto monopolized by the permanent members. But all members of the Council are fully eligible to fulfil this function and we believe that non-permanent members should also be given a fair chance to demonstrate their valuable contributions to the work of the Council.

Similarly, more transparency is needed when it comes to the distribution of the Chairmanship of Council subsidiary organs, a process again dominated by the permanent five.  

Both issues were among those addressed to some extent in the various presidential notes adopted in recent years. We urge the permanent members to ensure that their commitments made in these notes are also translated into practice.

Thank you."

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General Assembly: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on the Security Council's Annual Report and its Working Methods

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