Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at the VTC of UNSC Members on the working methods of the Security Council
I thank Ambassador Inga Rhonda King, Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ms. Karen Landgren, Executive Director of the Security Council Report, and Dr. Edward Luck for their briefings.
Russia extends its appreciation to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for chairing the Informal Working Group on Documentation and other Procedural Issues.
We thank the Estonian Presidency for organizing this open VTC on the working methods of the Security Council. We all need to keep the issues related to functioning and effectiveness of the Security Council on the radar.
The pandemic gave an unexpected boost to the topic that we discuss today. I would like to thank our colleagues from China and the Dominican Republic for their very professional and effective stewardship in their capacities as Presidencies in March and April respectively. Now our Estonian colleagues are also on the right track. Despite somewhat protracted discussions on the provisional working methods in these extraordinary circumstances, the Council was eventually able to agree on the modalities. We see that today the Council operates rather fine in the circumstances that we find ourselves in. We welcome this fact and appeal to stick to this modus operandi that we agreed on.
We have all the instruments that allow us to work nearly as intensely as we used to or sometimes even more intensely these days. We have everything, including the records. The only thing is – they are called differently, but for this there are legal reasons that cannot be ignored.
I heard today that we need to devise contingency plans. I think we already have, and today we operate under these plans. But we need further contingency plans relating to our operation and functioning in the post-lockdown environment. This time will inevitably come. We have to start preparing for this now.
We have always stressed that issue of the working methods of the Council is a delicate one. We are pleased that the Informal Working Group adopted a number of important provisions to improve the work of the Security Council at the end of 2019.
Russia has always consistently supported the Council’s efforts to improve its working methods. We share the intention to make the work of the Council more democratic and transparent. To give you an example: at the beginning of this week we strongly advocated for an open VTC with the participation of OPCW Director General F. Arias given the fact that a lot of questions that we planned to ask him are definitely of an interest to the public. Syria, as an interested party, also advocated for that. It is a pity that our initiative was not supported by those colleagues who champion support for transparency on other occasions. Having said this, we fully support those who advocate that a balance between efficiency and transparency should be found. We truly believe that the Council can and should do more for the sake of improving effectiveness of its work.
We welcome the progress that has been made in recent years, and we thank our Japanese and Kuwaiti colleagues for their painstaking efforts in 2017 and 2019. As a result, we have a renewed Note 507 and stress that its provisions are still to be implemented in full.
I would like to specifically stress the issue of penholdership. As we are all aware, Note 507 reiterates that any member of the Security Council may be a penholder, and that more than one member may act as co-penholder. However, the reality is that three Permanent Members remain today sole penholders on most of the country-specific dossiers on the Council’s agenda.
We would like to use this opportunity to draw your attention in this regard to our draft Presidential Note on penholdership. We are ready to actively and constructively engage with all Council Members in order to adopt it. There is no doubt that this would be a step in the right direction helping us to enhance the effectiveness of the Council’s work and ensure that drafting of Council documents is conducted in an inclusive way enabling full participation of all members of the Council. And the products themselves will be better from the outset and easier to edit and agree upon.
We consistently raise the issue of humanitarian delistings and exemptions. There is a lot to analyze and enhance here.
Another “food for thought” is the idea of extending the Ombudsperson institution across all Sanctions Committees. We believe it would become a significant step forward in improving the fairness and transparency of the sanctions regimes and enhance the rule of law in the implementation of the Council’s decisions.
We are confident that the Council should stick to its priorities, focus on major issues of great urgency that represent the threat to the international peace and security. We once again appeal not to overload and abuse Security Council’s agenda by consideration of thematic subjects that are on the agenda of the General Assembly, ECOSOC or other bodies of the UN.
Efforts to improve Security Council’s working methods can bring about practical results only when Council members reject politicized approaches and coordinate their initiatives on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s concerns and priorities.
With regard to the subject of today’s discussion, we would like to highlight the issue of submitting of the report of the Council to the General Assembly. As we all understand this document remains a sort of an outreach to the UN wider membership in the General Assembly. We are satisfied with the progress in the preparation of the Report for the year 2019. It proves the ability of the Council to operate in a constructive manner with the aim to reach consensus. It is our hope that this time the Council would be able to respect the self-established deadline of adopting it no later than May 30 even though we all agreed such a deadline would be in effect starting from the 75th session of the General Assembly.