posted on Thu 2 Nov 2017 12:09 PM
Hitting the Ground Running: The 2017 Finnish Workshop for Incoming Members of the Security Council

The 15th annual workshop for incoming members of the UN Security Council will be held on 2-3 November, commencing this evening (2 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. UN Secretary-General António Guterres is 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 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 opening dinner). Access to workshop reports from the last three years can be found here: S/2017/468, S/2016/506, and S/2015/292.

The “Finnish Workshop” is traditionally attended by senior diplomats from the 15 current members of the Council and the five incoming members. This year is unusual in that there are six incoming members (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, The Netherlands, Kuwait, Peru and Poland), given that The Netherlands is serving the second year of a split term that it is sharing with Italy, which leaves the Council after one year at the end of 2017.

The workshop will have three sessions on: “State of the Council in 2017: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead”; “Working Methods and Subsidiary Bodies”; and “Lessons Learned: Reflections of the Class of 2017”.

In the first session, participants are asked to assess the performance of the Council over the past year and discuss how to improve its work in 2018. In this sense, the Council’s work in relation to conflict prevention, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, peacekeeping, and the protection of civilians may be among the issues discussed.

The second session will focus on working methods and subsidiary bodies. Topics that may be discussed, among others, include: follow up on the adoption of the new presidential note 507 (S/2017/507) on working methods; the selection process for chairs of subsidiary bodies; the best use of different meeting formats; and how to strengthen the relationship between subsidiary bodies and the Council proper.

The third and final session of the workshop will allow outgoing members (Egypt, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay) to reflect on their Council tenures 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 the interaction between permanent and elected members of the Council.