posted on Wed 6 Nov 2019 5:02 PM
Hitting the Ground Running: Annual Workshop for Incoming Council Members

The 17th annual workshop for incoming members of the UN Security Council, titled “Hitting the Ground Running”, will be held on 7 and 8 November on 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 and Peacebuilding Affairs. Former head of UN Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno will give the keynote address during the opening dinner.

The workshop provides an informal and interactive environment for frank discussion among current and incoming Council members; elected in June, Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, and Vietnam will serve on the Council in 2020-2021. Although incoming members now have many more opportunities to learn from the current Council members, for many years this workshop was one of the few forums where they could get a sense of the some of the challenges, as well as of the Council’s methods and dynamics, that they would face when taking their seats on 1 January.

Following the workshop, a report of the discussions, which are conducted 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.  The substance of the discussions is shared, but other than the remarks at the opening dinner, comments are not attributed to any of the participants. Reports of this workshop since it began in 2003 can be found here.

In the early days, a range of topics was discussed, including the role of the political coordinators, the Council’s growing workload, and cooperation with other UN organs. However, starting in 2007, the agenda began to focus largely on three main areas: the performance of the Council in that year and the challenges ahead; working methods and subsidiary bodies; and lessons learned.

In the first session, participants assess the performance of the Council in fulfilling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Members are encouraged to examine where the Council could do better. This session is also expected to identify priorities, as well as anticipated challenges, for the year ahead.

The second session usually focuses on developments in the Council’s working methods and what can be done to improve them. Among the areas likely to be covered are the implementation of Note 507, the work of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, visiting missions, improving the drafting of outcomes, and the penholdership system. The experience of chairing subsidiary bodies is also a possible topic of discussion.

The third and final session of the workshop will allow outgoing members (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru, and Poland) to reflect on their time on the Council and to share lessons learned. This session offers an opportunity for the departing members to share their insights of being on the Council and to give the incoming members advice on how best to prepare for their two-year terms.