Statement by Ireland at the GA debate on the Annual report of the Security Council for 2018
Speech12 September 2019
Ireland welcomes the holding of today’s debate. It is important for a number of reasons. First, it is an obligation under the UN Charter for the Security Council to submit an annual report to the General Assembly for its consideration. Second, the members of the Security Council, elected or permanent, act on behalf of the general membership; debates such as these are critical in assessing the work the Council does on our behalf, and holding the Council accountable for its actions (and indeed the occasions where it fails to act). Finally, this debate allows the membership to give its views on a lengthy and important report which is intended to cover the entire work of the Council and its subsidiary bodies over a 12-month period.
While we welcome the additional time you have provided, Madam President, since receipt of the Report for the Assembly to consider its contents, we do nevertheless regret the failure of the Council to submit the report in the Spring. Abiding by the agreed schedule would allow for both a more-timely assessment of the Council’s work, and also a more substantive engagement by the overall membership on issues arising.
This is an example of why we strongly support efforts to improve the working methods of the Council. They are not an end in themselves, but improved working methods (which include implementing agreed procedures) increase the accountability, transparency and coherence of the Council. I would add that being seen to act in accordance with procedures, and on behalf of the broad membership, enhances the Council’s legitimacy and authority.
The Report, while welcome, does not offer the kind of self-critical analysis that would provide a basis for improving how the Council operates. The introductory narrative section should, we feel, be expanded, and should endeavour to assess the effectiveness of the Council in carrying out its tasks, both in terms of how it functions, and, more importantly, how it addresses its core task of maintaining international peace and security. We recognise that the requirement for unanimity among Council members may make a frank assessment more difficult. But innovation is possible; for example, the views of departing members could be specifically cited without a need for unanimity on their contributions.
We note that the number of vetoed and non-consensus resolutions has been rising for several years. In 2018, three draft resolutions were vetoed, while four tabled drafts failed to be adopted due to insufficient votes. Overall, fewer resolutions were adopted than in 2017. There were also more procedural votes than heretofore.
In some of these cases, one Permanent member used its veto to block Council action. This is unacceptable. We wish to see an end to the use of the veto, particularly in cases of actual or potential mass atrocity crimes.
While there are serious divisions on the Council, nevertheless, even on the most difficult issues, progress can occur. We commend, for example, the work of Kuwait and Sweden who were instrumental in ensuring the Council adopted a resolution renewing the cross-border delivery of aid in Syria, and a resolution demanding a month-long humanitarian pause for the delivery of aid following an escalation of the conflict in February.
We welcome too the increased Council focus on key thematic issues, including women peace and security, protection of civilians, conflict prevention and sustaining peace, and drivers of conflict such as hunger, climate and scarce natural resources. However, despite the good work of elected members in particular, mainstreaming these thematic priorities across individual country situations remains a work in progress.
As a country seeking election to the Security Council, we will continue to work to ensure the Council is accountable to the wider membership, and is as effective as possible in working to maintain international peace and security.