posted on Wed 4 Nov 2015 6:02 PM
Finnish Workshop for Incoming Members of the Security Council

The 13th annual workshop for incoming members of the Security Council will be held on 5-6 November, commencing tomorrow evening (5 November), in Long Island, New York. The workshop is convened by the government of Finland in cooperation with the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University and the Security Council Affairs Division of the UN Department of Political Affairs. Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General, is slated to be the keynote speaker at the opening dinner.

The programme, called “Hitting the Ground Running,” aims to provide an informal and interactive environment for frank discussion among current and incoming Council members. It introduces the new members to the demands and expectations of being an elected member, takes stock of the Council’s performance over the past year and provides a rare opportunity to have a less structured discussion about the Council’s work. Following the workshop, a report, taking into consideration that the discussion is under the Chatham House rule, is published as an annex to a letter from the Permanent Representative of Finland to the president of the Security Council (i.e., the substance of the discussions is shared, but comments are not attributed to any of the participants, other than the remarks at the Thursday dinner).

The “Finnish Workshop” is traditionally attended by high-level diplomats from the fifteen current members of the Council and the five incoming members. (On 15 October, the five incoming members—Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay—were elected by the UN General Assembly to serve on the Council for 2016-2017.)

The workshop will have three sessions on: the state of the Council in 2015; working methods and subsidiary bodies; and lessons learned.

In the first session, participants are likely to assess the performance of the Council over the past year. Among the issues that may be discussed include the relationship between the volume of the Council’s output (i.e., resolutions, presidential statements and press statements) and its actual impact in preventing, managing and resolving crises; how to enhance the Council’s conflict prevention role in relation to the Secretariat, civil society and regional and sub-regional actors; and the effectiveness of its collaboration with regional and sub-regional bodies. The session might provide an opportunity to discuss how the findings of various initiatives conducted in the past year—e.g., the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, the Global Study on the implementation of Resolution 1325 and the review of the Peacebuilding Architecture—can help to inform to work of the Council.

The second session will focus on working methods and subsidiary bodies. Topics that have been discussed in the past, which may be revisited this year, include: how to make informal consultations more interactive and strategic; how to broaden member participation in the penholder system, which has developed in recent years and is largely controlled by the P3; and how to make the process of selecting chairs of subsidiary bodies, which is managed by the P5, more interactive and transparent. The process by which a new Secretary-General is recommended by the Security Council and appointed by the General Assembly may feature prominently in the discussion. (Please see our recent research report, Appointing the UN Secretary-General.)

The third and final session of the workshop will allow outgoing members (Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria) to reflect on their two years on the Council and provide insights into the lessons they have learned along the way. This session offers an opportunity for the outgoing members to highlight the challenges and opportunities of being on the Council. Topics that may feature in this session include the institutional culture of the Council, the organisation of delegations’ missions in New York, relationships between respective missions in New York and capitals and interaction between permanent and elected members of the Council.