posted on Thu 29 Nov 2018 5:08 PM
Hitting the Ground Running: The 2018 Finnish Workshop for Incoming Council Members

The 16th annual workshop for incoming members of the UN Security Council will be held on 29 – 30 November, commencing this evening (29 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. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, speaking in her personal capacity, will provide the keynote address during the dinner this evening.

The workshop, titled “Hitting the Ground Running,” aims to provide an informal and interactive environment for frank discussion among current and incoming Council members (Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa). By bringing together the current 15 members and incoming five members, it allows current members to share information about the demands and expectations of being on the Council. It also assesses the Council’s performance over the past year and looks at the challenges ahead.

Following the workshop, a report of the discussions, which are conducted under Chatham House rules, is published as an annex to a letter from the Permanent Representative of Finland to the President of the Security Council.  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/2018/404, S/2017/468, and S/2016/506.

As in previous years, the three sessions in the workshop will focus on the state of the Council, working methods and lessons learned. In the first session, participants will assess the performance of the Council in meeting its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. This session is also expected to identify priorities as well as anticipated challenges for the year ahead.

The second session is expected to focus on refining the Council’s working methods and strengthening the work of its subsidiary bodies. Among the areas that are expected to be covered are the implementation of the most recent Note 507 and the working methods debate during Kuwait’s presidency in February. In this session, members may discuss issues including: promoting greater interactivity in consultations, making open debates more participatory, maximising the impact of visiting missions, selecting the chairs of subsidiary bodies, and the penholder system. Members may also consider priorities for working methods in 2019 and the role of the Working Group on Documentation and Procedural Matters.

The third and final session of the workshop will allow outgoing members (Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands and Sweden) to reflect on their time on the Council and share the lessons they have learned. 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 how to identify opportunities and build coalitions; manage the expectations of capital and the larger UN membership; and maximise relations with regional groups, the media and civil society. The relationship between elected and permanent members may also be addressed, as well as ways in which elected members can make a difference.