MIL-OSI United Nations: Citing COVID-19’s Global Impact on Peace, Speakers Say Security Council Must Overcome Divisions, Address Current Realities, as General Assembly Considers its 2020 Report

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Source: United Nations 4

Delegates Also Elect Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, United Arab Emirates Non-Permanent Security Council Members for 2021-2022

The Security Council must swiftly overcome divisions that have led to deadly consequences and fully address current realities, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact peace worldwide, delegates told the General Assembly during a debate on its 2020 annual report following elections to fill non-permanent seats on the 15-member organ.

In one round of voting, the Assembly elected Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates to fill non-permanent Council seats.  The elected States will replace those members whose term of office expires on 31 December:  Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Viet Nam.  India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway will continue as elected members, completing the second year of their respective terms in 2022.

The five new members were elected in accordance with the following pattern:  three from African and Asia-Pacific States, one from Eastern European States and one from Latin American and Caribbean States.

Opening the debate on the Security Council’s 2020 annual report, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir (Turkey) welcomed the organ’s ability to continue its work, in both virtual and hybrid formats, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, he regretted to note occasional divisions rendering the Council unable to deliver on its mandate, with deadly results and untold human consequences.  As the world is looking to the United Nations as it builds back better from the pandemic, he said that for millions of people the Council is the face of the Organization.  As such, its success or failure to fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security means success or failure for the United Nations.

Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), Security Council President for June, introduced the report (document A/75/2), highlighting activities related to issues on its agenda amid pandemic-related limitations.  While the Council succeeded in issuing 46 statements, adopting 57 resolutions and holding 81 in-person meetings and 269 videoconferences, it was unable to undertake field visits.  He added that despite pandemic-related restrictions, the Council managed to complete its annual report earlier than in 2020.

In the ensuing debate, many delegates commended Council members for being flexible through the pandemic, but said improvements are needed.  Delegates called for, among other things, efforts to restrict veto use by permanent members, deepen interactions with the wider United Nations membership and work harder to resolve long-standing conflicts.

Many requested more depth and analysis in future reports.  South Africa’s delegate said the 2020 report served merely as a record of activities during the period.  She underscored the urgent need for reform, given the lack of progress on the ongoing questions of Western Sahara and Palestine.  Indeed, the Council must reflect contemporary realities, she said.

Summing up a common thread, the representative of the United Arab Emirates emphasized that:  “As we respond to security threats, pandemics and environmental challenges, multilateral institutions need to step up their game and prove their usefulness.”

Canada’s delegate agreed, citing the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable and that the Council took too long to address the consequences of the pandemic, itself.  “This was a major failure of leadership,” he added.

Portugal’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the pandemic will still pose exceptional challenges to the Council’s functioning and to almost all items on its agenda in 2021.  As such, the Council should give due consideration, in the report’s introduction, to the pandemic’s impact on international peace and security and the Council’s work and tools.

Several delegates said the Council can do more about advancing the women, peace and security agenda.  Switzerland’s delegate said a global coherence is needed to fully implement resolution 1325 (2000).  Some representatives said more efforts are needed on the ground in this regard.

Mexico’s representative, whose country is an elected Council member, noted that several draft resolutions aimed at facilitating humanitarian access to conflict zones were vetoed in the Council, and the 2020 report fails to explain why some members used that power.  Emphasizing the need for a formal mechanism to guarantee transparency and accountability, he said the Council must act promptly in the face of any threat to international law and international humanitarian law while playing its critical role in protecting civilians.

Pakistan’s delegate, noting that the report shed no light on how the Council dealt with specific situations or how it reached its decisions, said the organ has become more cloistered than ever before.  As it resumes open meetings, the Council must strike a judicious balance between punctuality and openness, with non-members participating in its work, especially in matters which directly concern them.

In other business, the Assembly confirmed the appointment of Rebeca Grynspan (Costa Rica) as Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and took up the note from the Secretary-General titled “Notification by the Secretary-General under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/75/300).

The Assembly also took note of the election of the chairs of its Main Committees at its seventy-sixth session:  First Committee, Omar Hilale (Morocco); Second Committee, Vanessa Frazier (Malta); Third Committee, Mohamed Siad Doualeh (Djibouti); Fourth Committee, Egriselda Aracely González López (El Salvador); Fifth Committee Mher Margaryan (Armenia); and Sixth Committee, Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani (Qatar).

Also delivering statements were representatives of Ecuador, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Iran, Pakistan, Georgia, Austria, Chile, New Zealand, El Salvador, Ukraine, Qatar, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Italy, Cuba, Bangladesh, Ghana and Egypt.

The representative of Pakistan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Voting Results

African and Asia-Pacific States

Number of ballot papers:

190

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

190

Abstentions:

0

Number of Members present and voting:

190

Required majority:

127

Number of votes obtained by country:

Gabon

185

Ghana

183

United Arab Emirates

179

Democratic Republic of the Congo

3

Iran

1

Eastern European States

Number of ballot papers:

190

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid ballots:

189

Abstentions:

14

Number of Members present and voting:

175

Required majority:

117

Number of votes obtained by country:

Albania

175

Latin American and Caribbean States

Number of ballot papers:

190

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

190

Abstentions:

8

Number of Members present and voting:

182

Required majority:

122

Number of votes obtained by country:

Brazil

181

Peru

1

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

The General Assembly, taking up a note from the Secretary-General (document A/75/909) relating to the confirmation of the appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and acting without a vote, confirmed Rebeca Grynspan (Costa Rica) to that position for a term of office of four years, with the effective date of her appointment to be communicated to the Assembly at a later stage.

Notification by the Secretary-General

Next, the Assembly took up the note from the Secretary-General titled “Notification by the Secretary-General under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/75/300) listing the 67 matters relative to the maintenance of international peace and security of which the Security Council is seized.

Report of the Security Council

The Assembly then took up the 239-page report of the Security Council for 2020 (document A/75/2).

VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, said that today’s meeting is an opportunity for the Assembly to assess the work that the Council does on its behalf and to hold it accountable for its action and, occasionally, its failure to act.  He commended the Council for submitting its report in a timely manner “for the first time in recent history” and hoped that that practice will continue to ensure more predictability and more deliberate consultation of its content.  Noting that 2020 featured many crises and conflicts which required immediate Council attention, he welcomed the 15-member organ’s ability to continue its work, in both virtual and hybrid formats, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, he regretted that the Council at times is divided and unable to deliver on its mandate, with deadly results and untold human consequences.  The world is looking to the United Nations as it builds back better from the pandemic, and for millions of people the Council is the face of the Organization.  Its success or failure to fulfil its mandate — the maintenance of international peace and security — means success or failure for the United Nations.  Turning to the appointment of the Secretary-General, he said that he is committed to a process that is transparent and inclusive, and which hopefully will be completed when the Assembly takes its final decision next week.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), President of the Security Council for June 2021, introduced the Council’s annual report, covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2020, noting that despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council held 81 in-person meetings and 269 videoconferences.  After agreeing upon exceptional working methods from March to December, he noted the Council adopted 57 resolutions in person and by written procedure and 13 presidential statements, issuing 46 statements to the press.  However, he added it was unable to conduct any field missions due to the pandemic.  The Council maintained focus on situations affecting peace and security in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.  He noted an array of thematic, general and cross-cutting issues considered, including non-proliferation, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, and protection of civilians in armed conflict.  The Council further considered the issues of children and armed conflict, women, peace and security and cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, and continued to receive briefings on the work of its subsidiary bodies, including its sanctions  committees.  He noted that despite limitations on working methods due to the pandemic, the Council managed to finish and adopt the report even earlier than last year.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, cited progress in the adoption timeline of the Security Council report, three days ahead of the 30 May 2021 deadline, the first to follow the more precise timeline set out in the Note by the President (document S/2019/997) of 27 December 2019.  He underscored the importance of preserving institutional memory in the Council’s working methods in exceptional circumstances like the pandemic and encouraged continued discussion on lessons learned such as preparedness for contingencies and the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of the organ’s work.  Noting contributions by briefers from other United Nations organs or civil society, as well as by non-Council members during relevant meetings, could be better reflected in the report, he also suggested including details on the draft resolutions that failed to be adopted by the Council.  He further encouraged the compilation and use of the monthly assessments by Council presidencies.  Looking ahead to the annual report for 2021 and beyond, he noted the current year will still be marked by the exceptional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, both on the function of the Council as well as on almost all items on its agenda.  He reiterated the Council should give due consideration, in the report’s introduction, to the impact of the pandemic on international peace and security and the Council’s work and tools.

LIVIA LEU (Switzerland) said COVID-19 has affected the world, especially those in conflict zones.  The annual report reflects these challenges and demonstrates the possibility of improvement.  While appreciating its flexibility, she said some adaptations of work were done at the expense of non-Members’ participation.  Raising several other concerns, she said that despite encouraging developments in Colombia, Sudan and Yemen on advancing elements of Council resolution 1325 (2000), effective global coherence is needed in implementing all pillars of the women, peace and security agenda.  She commended such initiatives as the establishment of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), but regretted to note the weakening the cross-border mechanism in Syria.  Unimpeded access is essential to ensure the delivery of critical assistance to Syrians in need, she said, calling on the Security Council to take action in this regard.  In electing future members, this debate serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency in the Council’s work.

CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador), aligning himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the Council had made extraordinary efforts throughout the pandemic despite continuing limitations.  However, in the future, reports should also provide substantial and analytical information, with more details on important issues and the Council’s subsequent actions to overcome challenges.  For instance, he said, the 2021 report should contain an analysis on how the pandemic affects work both in New York and on the ground.

RODRIGO A. CARAZ (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, acknowledged the punctuality with which the report was drawn up.  However, it suffers from a lack of substance, he said, describing it as a mere compilation of resolutions, letters of the President, dates, signatures and a list of agenda items.  It contains no opinions or even voting results.  Moreover, its analytical section is getting smaller with every passing year, amounting to just three lines in the latest report which only say that the international situation was characterized by various crises despite the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire due to the pandemic.  It did not even say what those crises were or why it took the Council four months to vote on the Secretary-General’s appeal.  He urged the Council to make its future reports more analytical and forward-looking, with more details on its decision-making processes, including points of divergence, point of convergence and the obstacles which led to inaction.  He went on to propose that Council resolutions be open to co-sponsorship by all Member States, especially when they relate to threats to international peace and security.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said that “the world expects the Council to produce results”.  Its reports should demonstrate the difference it is making in the world and not merely say how many times it met or how many press statements it issued.  Noting that her country is a prospective Council member for the 2022-2023 period, she said the Council is most effective when it is united.  While the pandemic made old-fashioned negotiations impossible, the shift back to in-person meetings should enable the Council to create the space for frank private exchanges that help overcome political hurdles.  Noting that the proportion of peacekeeping mandates renewed unanimously has fallen from 84 per cent in 2019 to 77 per cent in 2020, she said that politics must not erode the support of such Missions.  She noted that the Council was able to adapt its working methods quickly in response to the pandemic and hoped that its innovative spirit will continue as business-as-usual resumes, especially when it comes to improving working methods.  “As we respond to security threats, pandemics and environmental challenges, multilateral institutions need to step up their game and prove their usefulness,” she said.

SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia) said the Council’s report should be more analytical, rather than a compilation of letters and resolution, as the current release is far from the substantive document required to review its effectiveness.  The report should have included the Council’s inactions and polarizations in addressing some security threats.  While only eight members have submitted their monthly assessments for 2020, he noted Estonia, Belgium, Germany and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have been innovative in that regard.  Highlighting the importance of transparency and coherence, and convening of opening debates, he expressed hope that in-person meetings can be reinstated for more meaningful engagement.  The Council must not act in isolation, he said, engaging other United Nations entities to address cross-cutting issues.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said current global conditions make the accountability of the Council more important than ever, with the pandemic demonstrating the importance of sound working measures.  Progress has been slow on some necessary measures, and the report presents an incomplete analysis of Council performance, including where it has been unable to act, and its inability to show effectiveness in addressing the pandemic.  Citing an outdated and narrow militarized approach to security in that context, he called for a more human-centred approach.  The Council has also fallen short of its task in significant crisis situations, he stated, citing the decision to restrict aid across the Syrian border to a bare minimum, reducing people there to a “political bargaining chip”.  He added that the Council’s ability to take effective action is hampered by the veto power, with three occurring in 2020, also making it harder to quantify proposals not put forward due to threat of a veto.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said the 2020 report is an improvement from previous years, commending the Council’s work throughout the pandemic and its readiness to listen to concerns.  However, future reports should provide explanations for why resolutions are not adopted and for the use of the veto by permanent members, with a view to enhancing transparency and fostering convergence on issues.  Turning to working methods, he anticipated further discussions at the Assembly’s forthcoming open debate on the issue, encouraging Member States to communicate on related matters with the relevant working group.  It was encouraging that Council members have reversed a recent trend and had submitted their monthly assessments in a timely manner.  But the lack of both engagement with the report and discussions with the wider United Nations membership must be addressed, he said, suggesting an open Council session and informal consultations in this regard.

MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) cited several areas where the 2020 report lacked substantive and analytical information about such mega-trends in international peace and security as the situation in the Middle East, including the United States “military adventurism”, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The Council remained utterly silent when the United States President ordered military action in January 2020 that constituted a terrorist act, violating Iraq’s sovereignty and killing two regional anti-terror heroes, including Major General Qasem Soleimani.  The United States President’s subsequent threats against Iran contravened international law and the United Nations Charter, placing the region on the verge of an all-out war. 

While the 2020 report lacked details on why the Council roundly rejected a United States draft resolution to impose an arms embargo on Iran, it did highlight a statement made by 13 members after Washington, D.C., attempted to re-impose Council sanctions, saying that the United States lost any rights to use any instruments in resolution 2231 (2015) when it withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  While the United States has claimed that its policy has changed, unlawful and inhumane sanctions continue to prevent Iran from using its financial resources in foreign banks to import much-needed medicine amid the COVID-19 outbreak, he said, adding that nuclear talks in Vienna will be the first instance to test the United States sincerity and genuine political will by ending its economic terrorism against Iran.  The Council has also failed to prevent the occupation of Syrian territory, end the Yemen war and compel Israel to end its systematic violations of international law.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico), whose country is an elected Council member, noted that several draft resolutions aimed at facilitating humanitarian access to conflict zones were vetoed in the Council.  Regrettably, the Council’s report fails to explain why some Council members used their veto.  He emphasized the need for a formal mechanism to guarantee the Council’s transparency and accountability to the international community.  Going forward, the Council must act promptly in the face of any threat to international law and international humanitarian law.  It must also guarantee the protection of civilians at all times.  He appealed to the Council’s five permanent members to refrain from using their veto, particularly in cases of mass atrocities, and called on Member States to join the French-Mexican initiative in that regard.  He went on to note the report’s failure to indicate communications sent to the Council under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter invoking the right of States to self-defence.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the report shed no light on how the Council dealt with specific situations or how it reached its decisions.  Its annual reports to the Assembly should not become a mere ritual.  Despite recent efforts to improve transparency, the Council does much of its real work behind closed doors, but that was not always the case.  In the Organization’s initial years, it met openly, with the participation of all Member States.  That open culture has been progressively eroded by ever more frequent closed meetings not provided for under the Council’s rules of procedure.  “The Council has become more cloistered than ever before,” he said, adding that its exclusive and elitist culture undermines its responsibility to act on behalf of all Member States.  As it resumes open meetings, the Council must strike a judicious balance between punctuality and openness, with non-members participating in its work, especially in matters which directly concern them.  He went on to say that the report contributed to disguising the reality of increasing global tensions and conflicts and cited in that regard the situations in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan and Palestine as well as rising Islamophobia.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said the Council’s annual account should be comprehensive and transparent to allow the wider membership to reflect on its work, echoing calls for more analytical content to supply it with more depth, as the report should include the consequences of Council actions and inactions alike.  She stressed that security concerns in occupied regions of her country highlight the utmost importance of continued briefings on the crisis, noting regret that discussions on the aggression of the Russian Federation were not included in the report.  The right of veto should be restricted when a Council member is involved in a dispute, she stated, and in instances where mass atrocities are involved.

MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) said the report serves merely as a record of activities during the period, joining other delegates in calling for a more analytical accounting of the Council’s efforts to execute its mandate for greater peace and security.  She expressed concern that the ongoing questions of Western Sahara and Palestine have been pending for an extended period, with no progress, as the Council must act decisively when crises erupt.  Those issues underscore the urgent need for Council reform, as the matter of Western Sahara should be afforded significant attention with more frequent deliberation.  Despite commitments to install new life in the Council, she said progress has been “slows to the point of stagnation”.  The Council must reflect contemporary realities, with genuine text-based negotiations required without delay.  She expressed appreciation that the situation in Africa will continue to occupy a significant place in the Council’s work, including close cooperation with the African Union.  While the pandemic has constrained Council activities, it has proactively responded, but must redouble efforts to build back better, including through reform to make it more representative and accountable.

ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria), aligning himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the report should have included more details on the implications of pandemic-related work restrictions on the wider United Nations membership.  He welcomed Council members’ efforts to include the membership in its work.  However, some information was lacking, including more substantial information with regard to such issues as the call for a global ceasefire.  In this vein, the 2021 report should include an analysis of the implementation of the call for a humanitarian pause to ensure COVID-19 vaccinations.  Council reports should not be technical updates, but should include insights into deliberations, more analytical content and explanations about efforts on various issues.  The Council remains the United Nations preeminent body for security and peace, he said, underlining the importance of multilateralism.

ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) said that as the only United Nations body mandated to play a bridging and convening role across all three pillars, the Peacebuilding Commission’s advice to the Council is particularly relevant in cases of complex and multidimensional crises.  He noted the Council made use of that advice on multiple occasions in 2020, on the impact of COVID-19 on peacebuilding contexts, in mandate renewals in the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau, and on regional crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin.  Citing the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable, the Council “took too long to address the consequences of the pandemic, itself”, he said, stressing: “This was a major failure of leadership”.  Multilingualism has also suffered during the pandemic and the move to virtual meetings, creating an inequity for delegations in New York, and particularly hampering participation from the field, from those closest to conflict situations.  The Secretariat and Council members have been too slow to enable technological solutions, he stated, clearly lagging other organs in the United Nations System.  Expressing concern over the participation of women in the Council’s work, he said women briefers and experts need to be prioritized by Council members and Council presidencies when building their monthly programmes of work.  “The problem is a lack of ambition not a lack of women in leadership roles in the area of peace and security,” he said.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile), aligning himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the Council should adopt innovation solutions to ensure more constructive participation of the broader United Nations membership.  The Council’s monthly “wrap up” sessions should enhance these interactions.  Future reports should include more analytical content and details on certain missions, including in Colombia and Haiti.  Council decisions reflect the need to comply with the peace process in these and other operations.  Going forward, he said, strengthening multilateralism is essential.

CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand), associating himself with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, said the pandemic did not stop the Council’s workload, but the inability for the Council to act remains of deep concern.  Regretting to note that its working methods including delays in agreeing on meeting formats, he said members must do their utmost to work effectively.  In addition, the Council must discharge its tasks of maintaining international peace and security, taking prompt action when necessary.  Welcoming today’s debate, he emphasized that the General Assembly has a role to push for a more effective Council.

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) said that the Council’s reports should be more substantial and analytical, with insight into decision-making processes and greater clarity into why permanent members used their right of veto.  The Council’s working methods must be updated to make them more effective, transparent and inclusive.  With conditions improving, there should be more in-person participation of Member States in Council debates, she said, adding that the Council should come up with a strategy for renewing peacekeeping missions which draws on the vision of host countries and troop- and police-contributing countries.  Arria-formula meetings cannot replace official Council meetings nor should they be a tool for political promotion, she said, adding:  “The pandemic cannot be an excuse to move backwards.”

ANDREAS HADJICHRYSANTHOU (Cyprus) said that given the time and labour involved in preparing the report, its presentation should be accompanied by an update on the Council’s work covering the period elapsed.  Despite Council discussions to adapt the report to expectations of the broader membership, he asked for a more strategic overview of the fulfillment of its mandate to maintain international peace and security, as well as more insight related to trends and indicators of conflict.  Above all, the report should adopt a more cooperative approach towards the Assembly, with no questions of hierarchy or antagonism, he said.  The Council must also improve how it relates to Member States directly concerned by the items on its agenda.  He noted the question of Cyprus — one of the conflicts that has been on the Council’s agenda the longest — is unresolved because numerous resolutions not only remain unimplemented but are targeted by efforts to void them.  Citing a corresponding campaign on the ground to create enough faits accomplis to render the resolutions non-implementable, he called for the Council to prevent those efforts by enforcing them and holding those in breach accountable.  Most urgently, the Council must immediately implement decisions on Varosha without further delay.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said that while it would be useful to include documents to and from the Council and meetings in the report, it would be beneficial if it “at least gives an idea of what is going on, on the ground,” with an explanation of why a resolution is adopted or rejected.  It would further be useful to include a short explanation of which aspects of documents were viewed differently by Council members.  Resolutions that are not adopted deserve to be addressed in more detail, he said, citing the example of a widely anticipated October draft on women, peace and security.  He reiterated disappointment over the “indelicate” language used in describing the Russian Federation-Ukraine conflict, as it is crucial that language used be proper and adequate.  First and foremost, he highlighted the reference to a briefing by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson in Office in 2020.  The reference to the “crisis in eastern Ukraine” contributes to a false narrative advanced by the Russian Federation that this an internal rather than international matter, an attempt by the aggressor to disguise its role therein.  He expressed particular disappointment that doctored wording was used in the report as opposed to the actual wording by the OSCE officer.

JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar) appreciated the Council’s efforts to carry out its work amid the pandemic, adding however that it must strike a balance between transparency, on the one hand, and effectiveness and efficiency, on the other, to carry out its mandate as best it can.  He welcomed the efforts made to make the report more inclusive and comprehensive but suggested that it would be useful to strengthen the document’s analytical and objective aspects.  Its presentation is not a mere procedural question, but a Charter obligation that reflects the Council’s responsibility vis-à-vis the Assembly and Member States.  He added that despite divergent views on how to proceed, there is consensus among Member States on the need for Council reform.

MARTÍN JUAN MAINERO (Argentina) said that with the COVID-19 situation in New York improving, the Council should resume in-person meetings with the necessary precautions.  Transparency should be a central principle of its work and its Presidents should conduct their monthly assessments and evaluations on time.  He regretted that the annual report is still a mere general account of meetings and documents with no analytical content.  The Council should review that practice, he said, reiterating his country’s commitment to achieve Council reform with the aim of making the organ more democratic, transparent and inclusive.

RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) noted the Council showed flexibility in 2020 by adopting special measures to carry out its mandate, despite some increased opacity in those efforts.  However, consideration of the annual report must not be viewed as the only instance when the Council is accountable to the Assembly, as synergy is required to make both bodies more effective.  He reiterated expectation for a more analytical document with a certain degree of assessment of Council efforts.  The report must not just be a compilation of meetings held, he said, but a reflection of key trends in peace and security, and it could also rely more heavily on the monthly assessment of each Council presidency.  He suggested the next reporting cycle pay more analytical attention to Council working methods, including its interaction with police- and troop-contributing countries.  Only comprehensive Council reform with new seats in both categories will make the organ more transparent, accountable and effective. 

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia) said the report is not just an informational document but a vital opportunity for the Council to synergize with the Assembly for the benefit of the United Nations as a whole.  The Council must continue to adapt to challenges and opportunities, such as in the flexibility of its approach to working in pandemic context.  As a major police- and troop-contributing country, his delegation welcomed two new resolutions in that domain in 2020, as well as the first resolution on the role of women in those efforts.  He recalled that during the United Nations 75th anniversary celebrations, Member States called for stronger interaction and harmonious collaboration between the Council and Assembly in exercising their respective mandates.  He further stated that the role of regional organizations and police- and troop-contributing countries in conflict situations should be increased.

NICCOLÒ FONTANA (Italy) said that 2020 “undoubtedly was a very peculiar year to say the least,” yet the Council’s report failed yet again to explain its deliberations or why did or did not make progress on many outstanding issues.  The Council’s inaction or, sometimes, paralysis is closely linked to the use or threat of use of the so-called power of veto.  Improved accountability and higher transparency would enhance the quality of interaction between the Council and the Assembly while also providing the Council with more insight to inform its work.  He added that only an enlargement in the number of elected Council members would make the organ more accountable and effective for the sake of international peace and security.

PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) said that year after year, calls for the Council’s annual report to be exhaustive and analytical are ignored.  Today’s report is no different.  Among other things, it does not discuss the impact of the temporary and extraordinary working methods since the start of the pandemic.  Those methods did not ensure the full participation of Member States in open debates.  They also limited the participation of non-Council members in closed consultations on matters which concern them.  Moreover, the report failed to mention violations of Council resolutions, such as resolution 2334 (2016) on settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  He went on to reject using the Council to pressure Member States or to deal with matters which concern the Assembly.

MD MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh) said there should be more regular interaction between the two most important organs in the United Nations, which can only strengthen the multilateral system.  The Council must be more transparent, innovative and inclusive in its operations, with more frequent interaction and greater opportunity for non-members to participate in its deliberations.  The report lacks constructive analysis, he noted, and is merely a compilation of statistics and events.  He called for more interaction between the United Nations most representative organ, the Assembly, and its most powerful, the Council, which should ensure the views of non-member States are included in its deliberations, especially on matters that directly concern them.  The report should further include a summary of votes cast and vetoes used during the year, with that latter enacted only with a special responsibility and judicious deliberation. 

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) echoed calls for a more analytical report.  He noted that despite the pandemic, the Council had demonstrated adaptability in its working methods, holding 81 in-person meetings and 269 video-conferences, and issuing 57 resolutions and 46 statements to the press, which compares favourably with 2019, and pointed to the breadth of activities covering peace and security worldwide, and thematic questions like women, peace and security.  However, he noted with regret that files on Africa take up a sizable portion of Council business, with the worsening condition of refugees and displaced persons, and deterioration of security in West Africa, the Sahel and Lake Chad basin.  Extremist acts in Burkina Faso further demonstrate the continent’s fragility.  He welcomed ongoing cooperation between the Council and the African Union, and regional mediation efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  As a major police- and troop-contributor, however, Ghana is concerned about worsening environments in which peacekeepers are deployed, meaning the Council’s deliberations on components of that issue are relevant and should be encouraged.  However, the organ should be more involved politically with countries encountering terrorism and extremism.  His delegation looks forward to taking its seat on the Council on 1 January 2022.

OBAIDA ABDULLAH ABOU ELABASS ELDANDARAWY (Egypt) said that the Council is accountable to the United Nations membership, yet its report lacks the desired analytical content on megatrends affecting international peace and security, its ability to deal with problems at hand or to signal areas for improvement.  Egypt takes note of the relatively early submission of the region, but the draft should ideally be finalized by the end of January.  Acknowledging the overwhelming burden placed on Council members, but to put things in context, he said that the world needs a healthy United Nations and the United Nations needs a healthy Security Council and the Security Council needs a healthy General Assembly.

MADHU SUDAN RAVINDRAN (India), whose country is an elected Council member, explained that the organ’s working methods are centred on decision-making by consensus.  Going forward, the Council should pay more attention to its reports to the Assembly and not view them as a formality.  Moreover, those reports should include an analysis of United Nations peacekeeping operations, details on how they operate, the problems they face, and why their mandates are revised.  Responding to remarks by a delegation which sought to exploit today’s meeting for its own purposes, he said that the international community is no longer fooled by Pakistan regarded Jammu and Kashmir, which is an internal matter of India.  Issues between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally and peacefully, he said, adding that the onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere.

Right of Reply

The representative of Pakistan responded to India’s delegate, stating Jammu and Kashmir is not a part of India, never was and never will be.  India has no claim other than that of a military occupier, and like all occupiers of the past, will not suppress the people of Kashmir.  No amount of empty rhetoric or dubious grandstanding can do away with the inalienable rights of the Kashmiri people or binding Council resolutions.  “Instead of tilting at windmills, India would be better served by putting its own house in order,” he said, adding that it should focus on peace and security with its neighbours.

For information media. Not an official record.

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