Press Releases

    27 September 2002


    NEW YORK, 26 September (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council, this morning, adopted without a vote its annual report to the General Assembly for the period 16 June 2001 to 31 July 2002.

    The report (to be issued as document S/2002/1068) notes that the year under review was one of the busiest in the history of the Council, as it assumed major new responsibilities with the adoption of resolution 1373 (2001) and the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. At the same time, work continued in priority areas, such as the Middle East and Africa. Important progress was made in East Timor and in the Balkans. Also prominent on the agenda during the period were Iraq and Western Sahara.

    Briefing the Council on the report, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalomoh said the draft had been prepared by the Secretariat in line with the revised format agreed upon by the Council in 2002. The format provided a guide to the activities of the Council in a concise manner. Of particular interest was the introduction to the report, containing an analytical summary of the Council’s activities.

    The representative of Singapore said the report had been dramatically reduced in size from 571 pages to 291 pages. Introducing the details of improvements in an explanatory note, he said those details had been provided because the Security Council was one of the most conservative institutions in the world, especially as concerned its working methods and procedures. Its rules of procedure, for example, remained provisional after 57 years. He suggested that those recent improvements in its working methods might be codified. He also suggested applying criteria in evaluating the Council's performance, such as whether or not lives had been saved by the Council’s work and whether it had become more transparent in its working methods.

    Noting that the report had been improved considerably, as it was more analytical, reader-friendly and cheaper in production, Council members commended the Singapore delegation for its efforts, as well as the delegation of the United Kingdom for providing the report’s analytical introduction. However, improvements could still be made, they said, not only in the presentation of the report, but also in the Council’s working methods and procedures, in order to enhance transparency and cooperation with other bodies of the United Nations. The Counter-Terrorism Committee was cited as an example of the Council's flexibility in adapting to new circumstances.

    The representatives of France, Norway, United Kingdom, China, Ireland, Mexico, Guinea, Syria, Mauritius, United States, Cameroon, Colombia, Russian Federation and Bulgaria commented on the report.

    The meeting, which began at 10:47 a.m., was adjourned at 1:10 p.m.


    The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, TULIAMENI KALOMO, said the draft annual report had been prepared by the Secretariat in line with the revised format agreed upon by the Council in 2002. The format provided a guide to the activities of the Council in a concise manner. It was the first report prepared in accordance with a note of the President of the Council contained in document S/2002/199, aimed at enhancing the report's quality. Of particular interest was the introduction to the report, containing an analytical summary of the Council’s activities. The draft report had been distributed in September 2002 to the Council members and to those Member States whose terms of office in the Council had expired on 31 December 2001, for review and comments, if any. A corrigendum requested by one Council member was also before the Council.

    KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that today’s meeting was historic because it was the first time the annual report was discussed openly before being submitted to the General Assembly for its consideration. He said he was pleased to have contributed, along with colleagues on the Council, to the improvement of the format and content of the report. The report had been dramatically reduced in size from 571 pages to 291 pages. More statistical information had been provided on the Council’s deliberations and activities.

    Introducing the details of improvements in an explanatory note, he said the details had been provided because they Security Council is one of the most conservative institutions in the world, especially as concerns working methods and procedures, with its rules of procedure, for example, remaining provisional after 57 years. The Council had, though, improved those working methods over the past view years, as acknowledged by the Secretary-General, partly as a result of the open-ended working group. As part of reform, the Secretary-General felt such recent changes might be recorded and codified.

    The report, he said, had been criticized because of its lack of analysis towards evaluating the performance of the Council. He set out suggestions to be considered by the General Assembly towards that effort, such as whether or not lives had been saved by the Council’s work and whether it had become more transparent in its working methods over the period.

    Any objective evaluation of the Council’s performance over the past year would, in that view, result in a positive overall assessment, he said. On the positive side, he mentioned work on terrorism, East Timor, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. On the negative side, he mentioned sanctions, the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Liberia and work on refugees and internally displaced persons.

    JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said, thanks to the efforts of Singapore, there was now a report, which enabled everybody to find an assessment of the work accomplished. Money had been saved, as well, and the report had been transformed into a genuine work instrument. The analytical introduction had been a good start. There had been progress in improving the Council’s working methods, as well, regarding the Council’s organization, while preserving the necessary flexibility.

    He said the Council had never had so many open meetings as during the covered period and had shown openness to civil society, greatly improving transparency. The ability to work with Member States had been improved. The Council missions had become a necessary tool to work with countries concerned, as well as with regional organizations. Sanctions today were more refined and targeted. Time limits had been introduced, as well as attention to humanitarian consequences. Regarding Singapore’s suggestion to "codify" improvements, he preferred a more pragmatic approach, without being bogged down in codification.

    OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said he attached the highest importance to transparency in the Council’s working methods. The Council was a political organ to resolve conflicts and threats to peace and security, which implied that working methods needed flexibility. Although public meetings had been used to share views with Member States, a larger proportion of briefings and material prepared by the Secretariat should be made available to the public. The Council had established a mechanism for more informal consultations with the troop-contributing countries, which allowed those countries to raise issues important to them.

    The Council missions to Ethiopia and Eritrea and to the Great Lakes region had proved that those missions were useful in engaging the parties to a conflict. Concerning costs, he said the size of those missions might be reduced to six to eight members. The use of panels of experts to provide information on violations on arms embargoes might play an important role in forcing actors to pay a political price for actions that ran counter to security and peace.

    JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the changes in the report had been valuable, and he thanked those who had worked on it. The Council had, in the past several years, been improving its working methods. But the intensity of what was being demanded of the Council was remarkable, and both the quantity and quality of its work had increased. The Council was primarily responsible for international peace and security, but not totally responsible; it was the responsibility of all Member States.

    For example, he said, in Afghanistan, the United Nations could provide the framework for progress, but much of the substantive work had to be done by others. In Africa, new strategies for peacekeeping could be provided by the Council, but other instruments had to perform most functions, especially those on the ground. If those activities were not performed, the Council was hamstrung. He noted that consensus-building had also increased on the Council, with most resolutions adopted unanimously.

    He said that some issues relevant to the Council’s work had been prevented from coming before the Council and none of those areas had benefited from that fact. He said that further transparency was also desirable. Criticism, he said, could be directed at the Council by the General Assembly, but he hoped that body would be cognizant of the realities and offer that criticism in a constructive manner.

    WANG YINGFAN (China), thanking those who had worked on the new format for the report, said he hoped the positive momentum of the past year could be maintained. The Council had taken important actions in a timely manner, especially in the international fight against terrorism and the matter of Afghanistan. There had been constructive work in Africa, as well, though the Council should redouble its efforts to coordinate with regional organizations there. There were many questions on how to proceed in the Middle East and in other areas, and those should be considered carefully in the year to come.

    GERARD CORR (Ireland) said, thanks to the efforts of Singapore’s delegation, the report had been made shorter and more analytical. The Council stood at the centre of the multilateral system of international cooperation and dealt with a wide canvas of issues. In safeguarding its mandate, it was right to be on the conservative side. There was always an intersection between the powers of capitals and the multilateral activities, which was as it should be. But, Council members also had the sense they were servants of the ideal that cooperation among nations to safeguard the peace was indispensable. The issues the Council dealt with were often untidy, and there was rarely a straight line from a to z. The Council had, therefore, to use its best judgment.

    Regarding procedures, he said the Council must not encroach on other United Nations bodies or their roles. However, the United Nations family and institutions needed to talk more to each other. More follow-up of Council decisions and implementation of resolutions was needed. He supported establishing more working groups of the Council, such as the ad-hoc working group for Africa. Council missions were very valuable instruments, but could be smaller. Wrap-up debates were a worthwhile evaluation. He favoured the concept of the monthly wrap-up debates being open to non-Council members.

    He said 11 September had overshadowed the Council’s work, and the Council had acted resolutely and decisively. Afghanistan had shown important progress. It was now important to stand by the people of Afghanistan in reconstruction. The international community must be seen to be effective in its engagement with Afghanistan. On the Middle East, progress had been made in resolution 1397 (2002) endorsing the vision of two States. It was important to redouble the efforts to achieve that vision. The Council had been very engaged in Africa, and with the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), there was a real prospect for advancement, which required an enormous level of engagement on the part of the international community.

    ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said it had indeed been an extraordinary year for the Council, and in the remaining months it might be confronted with the most important events in its life. The report was published at a time when the Council was under immense scrutiny. He was, therefore, happy that the report included an analytical section and was improved in its presentation. He was pleased by, but not yet satisfied with, the result and hoped there would be more evolution in the analytical area, such as adoption of precise indices and a section on proposals to improve procedures and methods.

    He said non-permanent members should make extraordinary efforts to bring the Council much closer to the Organization’s membership and to ensure that its working methods were more transparent. The monthly wrap-up meetings should provide an opportunity for an interactive discussion between members and non-members. He welcomed the increasing trend to hold more meetings in which the entire United Nations membership could participate. He would work to institutionalize procedures and rules that had been provisional for more than 50 years. His commitment to transparency was unswerving, he said.

    MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said that the new report was part of reforming and strengthening the working methods of the Council, and was a clear improvement over previous reports. It was more analytical and took account of the criticisms of Member States. During the period under review, it was undeniable that working methods had improved and activities had broadened. Missions to the field had turned out to be quite useful. But, efforts to improve the Council were still in progress. Greater coordination and openness was still needed, for example. The Council should continue considering the most effective ways to achieve its objectives, given the determination and collective will of its members.

    FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said he supported the format and substance of the new report and thanked those who had worked on it. He further supported the suggestions of several Council members concerning further improvements to the methods of work. Paying tribute to the Council’s work on terrorism, he said that, unfortunately, there were also issues in which resolutions had not been implemented.

    Lack of follow-up to implementation of those resolutions would have repercussions on the credibility of the Council, he said. He mentioned, in particular, resolution 1435 (2002), which had been adopted only two days ago. The new practice of openness was important, so that the Council could hear the views of all Member States. Syria looked forward for more serious work on improving the methods and procedures of the Council.

    JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said, compared to last year’s report, the current one was more reader-friendly, more organized and had resulted in substantial savings. During the period covered, there had been a marked improvement in the working methods of the Council. There had been more public meetings with greater participation of non-Council members and more open briefings. In several wrap-up sessions, members, as well as non-members, had had the opportunity to express their views in a more candid, frank and open manner. Brainstorming sessions had helped in the preparing of comprehensive approaches on many complex issues. The outcome of those and other procedural innovations had resulted in a more vibrant Council, with an interactive and animated exchange of views on many issues.

    During the period covered, the Council had not only reacted to threats to international and regional peace and security, it had also been proactive. However, in the Middle East, the Council had not been able to make real progress in helping with the peace process. The implied condoning by the Council of non-compliance of Council resolutions by some Member States had prevented the body from attainting the desired result. Collective interests should not be sacrificed at the altar of national interests. Preserving unity should be the "guiding mantra", which every Council member must strive to achieve. Without such unity, he said, it would be difficult to project a credible and undivided image, which might give a wrong signal to the parties concerned.

    JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said it had been a year of considerable success, as well as improvement in the Council’s working methods, demonstrating its flexibility and creativity in dealing with new circumstances. The streamlined and improved report reflected the progress achieved in balancing transparency with efficiency, as exemplified in the Counter-Terrorism Committee. The United States had worked closely with Singapore in drawing up an index to provide a guide to Member States on the Council’s work. He appreciated Norway’s efforts for a new mechanism that improved the dialogue between the Council and troop-contributing countries.

    He noted that the traditional complaints about lack of transparency had been overtaken by events, as demonstrated by the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. The goals of the sweeping resolution 1373 (2001) could only be achieved by sharing information and transparency. The Committee was a good example of the Council’s flexibility and creativity in adapting to new circumstances. He would support efforts to improve transparency, while maintaining effectiveness. Issues such as peacekeeping, fighting terrorism and Iraq implied the necessity for being frank and effective. There should be no mincing of words in addressing such subjects as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade being terrorist organizations, and addressing the issue of Iraq in the coming days.

    MARTIN BELINGA EBOUTOU (Cameroon) thanked those who had worked to improve the format of the report, particularly Mr. Mahbubani of Singapore and his co-workers. The General Assembly would now be able to shoulder its own responsibilities and give effective study to the Council’s work over the past year.

    The document did not, however, do justice on the work of the working group on sanctions, and he spoke of the real headway that had been made in that body in regard to procedures of the group, effects of sanctions on third States, monitoring and other areas. There had been differences in orientation on sanctions on Member states, and there will be meetings on sanctions in the next few days.

    ALFONSO VALDIVIEZO (Colombia) said that the new report did, indeed, describe accurately the work of the Council in a certain way, but it still was comprised mostly of lists of activities. The introduction was certainly an improvement. The report, as it was now prepared, does allow greater study by others in the Organization and could lead the way to changes in the Council.

    The report, he said, also provided a lesson that it was possible to make such changes. It was a concrete demonstration of transparency and the complementarity of the Council and the General Assembly. Revision of the report was a continuous process and should respond to further work on reform. There should be more detail on missions, for example, including costs. In some areas, the rigid format was not useful. Most importantly, there should be more exercises in self-criticism.

    ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation), thanking those who worked on the report, said there had been an increase in transparency in the Council’s work, and the report showed improvement in working methods. The conciseness and analytic introduction of the report were also laudable, but the actual output of the Council was much more significant.

    Council President STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), speaking in his national capacity, also thanked those who had worked on the report for its improvements. The morning’s discussion, he said, had gone in two directions: analysing the new format of the report; and discussing the work of the Council, in general. He agreed that the Council had to find a way to meet more often to discuss its strategy. The yearly retreat was not enough. He supported the idea of the representative of France for a text distributed beforehand, followed by a discussion on the basis of those texts.

    The workload of the Council, he said, had certainly increased, which required that the Council cope better, but also do more. The time spent in deliberation was increasing exponentially, making it harder to communicate with other actors. It was truly a problem that had to be confronted. The role of those actors was increasingly important, including that of regional organizations, as illustrated by developments in the Balkans and Africa. In that regard, he hailed the creation of the African Union. The role of individual representatives was also important, he said, in missions to conflict regions.

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