Other Statements of the 51st General Assembly
27.01.2002 / 20:41
Remarks of H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on Reform Processes Within the UN, UN UniversityTokyo, November 8, 1996 Statement by Mr. Dusan Rovensky, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations,
Remarks of H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on Reform Processes Within the UN, UN University
Tokyo, November 8, 1996
Statement by Mr. Dusan Rovensky, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters
New York, 29 October 1996
Statement by Mr. Ivo Sramek, Representative of the Czech Republic at WGFS
New York, 3 August 1996
Statement of H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Special Committee on Peace-Keeping Operations
New York, April 3, 1996
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The Working Group on Strengthening the UN System
New York, 12 March, 1996
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The Working Group on Security Council Expansion and Reform
New York, 27 February 1996
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The Working Group on Security Council Expansion and Reform
New York, 26 February 1996
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The Working Group on Security Council Expansion and Reform
New York, 1 February 1996
Remarks of Ambassador Karel Kovanda on Reform Processes
Within the UN, UN University, Tokyo
It is important to mention at the outset that the following remarks do not necessarily represent the positions of my Government and should be considered as my personal views. They are the result of reflection in the course of the more than three years that I have served as the Czech Permanent Representative at the UN. During this time, my delegation served for two years on the Security Council, in January this year I was elected Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, and we have been fairly active in several of the working groups dealing with UN reform. Still and all, these remarks are more the reflections of a former academic, of a lapsed political scientist, that is to say, one unequipped with all the latest tools of theory and of jargon, rather than of a diplomat; and some of them may, I fear, be found undiplomatically blunt. Hence the particular importance of this caveat.
Turning now to the subject matter under discussion: Earlier this year, the General Assembly adopted resolution 50/227. It was sponsored by Venezuela and contained a number of suggestions on "restructuring and revitalizing" the UN in the economic and social fields. I will use the example of 50/227 as a starting point in exploring what is being done in UN reform, what can be done and how, and what some of the obstacles are.
However, allow me a detour first. Last year, during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of signing the UN Charter, President Clinton spoke in San Francisco. He discussed his vision of what the UN should do and suggested that it should focus on what it does best. He highlighted several such areas, and the US delegation has since consolidated this vision further. Today, the USA advocate that the UN should concentrate on its following four "core purposes": maintaining peace and security; responding to humanitarian emergencies; developing international legal and technical norms; and promoting sustainable development. And it should revamp its organizational structure accordingly.
The important issue here is not what precisely is selected and defined as core purposes but rather that the focus is on the content of UN's work, with the implication that precisely its content should drive its organizational form. This approach is taken by many others as well, particularly by outside observers; quite randomly, and just because I read it most recently, a report of the Stanley Foundation talks about "a common vision" for the UN.
This is an approach one frequently finds in the private sector. A company in need of reform, revamping and restructuring will often seek to identify its central reason for existence, which it would formulate as its mission. It often turns out that there is an important difference between business as usual, i.e., the product or service the company has been manufacturing or providing for years, more or less automatically, and the mission of the company - once its top management sits down to reflect on what this mission actually should be. A hotel might decide, rather traditionally, that its mission is to provide the best possible night rest for its customers - but instead it might decide that it really wants to operate in a broader segment of the leisure industry. Xerox Corp., which we all know as a copier manufacturer, defines itself not as "a copier company" but as "a document company".
In the private sector, defining the corporate mission and formulating what is known as the corporate mission statement is a non-trivial exercise. Outside consultants are frequently invited to help management with the thinking process. However, once the mission is identified, the rest follows: objectives in terms of production lines, acquisitions, divestitures, and the like, are established, strategies are developed to attain those objectives, specific plans are elaborated to flesh out those strategies. None of this is easy but all of this is informed by a unifying logic provided precisely by the corporate mission. The mission drives the corporate reorganization. And let me suggest that President Clinton's words may be viewed in this light, they may be viewed as an effort at formulating a mission statement for the UN, at initiating a mission-driven reform of the UN.
One of the reasons the UN needs reforming is the way it operates: its obsolete, rigid and dysfunctional methods and practices, its dozens of organs, agencies, subcommittees, commissions and the like with repetitive and redundant agendas (to describe it with a repetitive and redundant expression), its overall organizational structure which can best be represented with a spaghetti graph, its arcane and frequently irrational financing mechanisms. Resolution 50/227 attempted to straighten out some of these practices, disentangle some of these spaghetti. Throughout this rather extensive document we will find segments such as paragraph 40, stipulating that the annual substantive session of the Economic and Social Council will last only four weeks instead of the five that has been customary till now, thus introducing some economies. Paragraph 67 calls for a review of Ecosoc's agenda, including discontinuing irrelevant items or those duplicative of General Assembly items. And so on.
In short, in its specific recommendations and stipulations, Resolution 50/227 focuses less on content, less on what the UN should be doing, and more on how it should be doing whatever it is that it does. It suggests no alternative formulation of the UN's mission, not even in the economic and social fields, but rather focuses on the form activities in these fields should take. Let me describe this approach asform-driven reform effort.
Form-driven is easier - or is it?
Resolution 50/227 was developed in a working group of diplomats who usually focus on issues of the GA's Second Committee and/or on Ecosoc, chaired by Ambassador Oscar de Rojas, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Venezuela. (Hence Venezuela's sponsorship of the actual resolution.) This was not one of the five "high-level" working groups that currently operate in the General Assembly. It is fair to say that the results of the de Rojas group were modest. There is nothing radical, nothing revolutionary, nothing thoroughgoing in resolution 50/227.
Yet even those specifics that the resolution does contain will not be easy to implement. Take a tiny example which should be of interest to this audience: the question of the UN University. Currently, this item is every year on the agenda alternately of the General Assembly and of Ecosoc. Additionally, the UNU reports to Unesco. And it publishes its Annual Report. In my capacity as Ecosoc Vice-President, I have timidly started to enquire whether it is really necessary that the UNU be discussed in New York every single year. Would it not suffice that it be on the agenda either of the GA, or of Ecosoc, and therefore only once in two years? I have only started consultations on this; but the point is that even the slightest change of form - in this case, deleting a single item from Ecosoc's agenda, an item which is duplicated in the GA - requires appropriate consultations, requires reaching a consensus of all interested parties, ahead of time if at all possible, requires careful, quiet and delicate diplomatic efforts behind the scenes before a given issue can be presented for a decision.
Consider another element of 50/227. In paragraph 71 it asks for an examination of "the role, working methods and relationship with other bodies" of four organs: the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the Committee for Development Planning, the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of Energy and on Energy for Development and finally of the Committee on Natural Resources. The hope (diluted in the final drafting) was that these four bodies could simply be folded into the Commission on Sustainable Development: a logical streamlining effort but by UN standards, practically a revolution. In the several years that I have been working at the UN, I recall only one merging of bodies: when the Special Political Committee and the Fourth Committee were merged into one, during the 47th GA. On the other hand, we are familiar with various valiant but vain attempts to rationalize of the UN's organizational structure, from the ill-fated Nordic project which withered on the vine in 1993 to efforts, so far futile, to merge INSTRAW, the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, and UNIFEM, the UN Development Fund for Women.
This is why paragraph 71 of 50/227, even diluted, is rather farther reaching than an outsider may appreciate. But implementing its intent will not be easy. During its 1996 substantive session, Ecosoc adopted resolution 1996/41 which in part deals with breathing life into this paragraph. How? Instead of actually doing something, which is what Canada had proposed in its original draft, the resolution requested a comprehensive document from the Secretary-General, decided to begin (!) consideration of these functional committees during Ecosoc's substantive session in the summer of 1997 and decided to take an actual decision (if any can be agreed on) only in the fall of 1997; that is to say, just about a year and a half after agreement was actually reached on paragraph 71 of resolution 50/227.
The five working groups
Examining in some detail resolution 50/227 yields one tentative conclusion: the form-driven approach to UN reform is very difficult, cumbersome, slow and ineffectual. I will return to this observation after reviewing the work of the five working groups which have, in some cases for several years, been focusing on various other aspects of UN reform. Some of them are officially designated as "high- level", meaning that permanent representatives are expected to take part in their work. They are all "open-ended", which implies that any country can participate, that membership is not elective, limited or restricted in any way. The following working groups are currently functioning, and the logic of their ordering is simply that which suits the logic of my exposition:
o On strengthening the UN system
o On financial reform
o On the expansion and reform of the Security Council
o On an Agenda for Peace
o On an Agenda for Development
Strengthening the UN system
The working group on strengthening the UN system is frequently referred to as "the Essy group", after Amara Essy, the President of the 49th GA, who recommended its formation. It was established by GA resolution 49/252 and is the youngest of the batch. I have listed it first because, similarly to the de Rojas group, it deals exclusively with matters of form; it is unmistakably devoted to form- driven reform.
Originally, its designers felt, hoped perhaps even, that the Essy group could examine the vast and rapidly growing literature on UN reform and that from this literature, as well as from the other working groups which had labored for a couple of years by the time the Essy group was established, it could draw - by consensus - "appropriate" ideas and proposals. Suggestions that by picking out the raisins from the results of other groups it might turn into an "umbrella" working group were, however, summarily rejected by a number of countries. And while it has avoided the Scylla of encompassing absolutely everything in the UN, it has to navigate very carefully to avoid the Charybdis of micromanagement.
The Essy group has focused its attention not on everything, but rather on everything else; gleaning from the field of the UN those topics that other working groups ignored. After some discussion, it has focused on the work of the General Assembly and of the Secretariat. (The temptation to micromanage is necessarily tremendous.) Nevertheless, despite the considerable efforts of the group's two co-vicechairmen who have been playing more activist a role than is customary, its results have been slim and anything but far-reaching.
The group's report to the GA about its work, in document A/50/24, contains Annex II which reflects the content of the discussions. Of particular interest is a sampling of issues on which consensus has so far eluded the group. They range from "stimulating a more interactive discussion between the Security Council and the General Assembly", to how exactly should a GA agenda item be reopened in a given year, to "radical" ideas of merging the First and the Special Political and Decolonization committees, to whether the Secretary-General should under certain circumstances have the authority autonomously to redeploy human and financial resources. Clearly, these disagreements are not earth- shattering; it follows that where consensus was actually reached, it was even more timid. I have mentioned that form-driven reform is very difficult. The results to-date of the Essy group corroborate that.
But this is the nature of form-driven reform: tug away, slowly, bit by bit. Another year of discussions may yield more results - though nothing nearly as far-reaching as what the original enabling resolution envisaged, nor anything that would seriously, let alone systematically, take into account the reams of paper that outside thinkers have covered with proposals for UN reform.
The financial group
Though there might be some argument about it, the high-level open-ended group on the financial situation of the UN also, it seems to me, focuses on form, on formal aspects of the UN, rather than on content, on the UN's mission. It was established at the very end of 1994 (by resolution 49/143) and charged with one fundamental task: steer the UN out of the constant financial straits it had been operating in during the previous several years. Elevating the discussion to the political level, away from the technical wizards of the Fifth Committee, was one rationale for creating the group.
The UN financial crisis is in my view the consequence of two factors. They are, one: tremendous arrears, especially of the USA, and two: the current system of assessment of dues, which many countries consider inadequate, even outright unfair, and thus perhaps illegitimate.
In light of the perceived inadequacy of the system, the US are bent on unilateral steps. They are proposing a ceiling of 20% of the UN's regular budget for any one contributor (whereas today the US should be paying 25%), and have decided to pay only 25% of its peace-keeping budget (whereas they should be paying about 31%). In addition, they have been treating very cavalierly even the obligations which they do recognize. The net result is that today, the US have arrears of over 1.6 bil USD.
It is often observed that the purpose of these withholdings is to force the UN to effect necessary reforms. Indeed, the US Secretary of State is every so often supposed to certify to the US Congress that reform processes in the UN are underway before Congress will release another payment.
This method of extracting reform through financial duress faces, however, a couple of problems. One problem is its very feasibility. In the private sector, the phenomenon of a corporation undergoing radical financial restructuring (which really is akin to reforming under duress) is a familiar one. When in trouble, the corporation is forced - often by outside creditors or other stakeholders - to take radical measures, to downsize, to slash and cut, leaving no space for managers' pet projects (if they have no other merit), or even for pet managers. But obviously, the appropriateness of employing such a method to a governmental, let alone an intergovernmental organization is open to question. As it stands, one detects a great deal of resentment in the corridors of the UN, both among Secretariat staff members (which is not surprising) but also among delegations, related to the efforts of the largest contributor to extract reform through financial duress.
Moreover, in the private sector, not even financial restructuring always works and on occasion a corporation goes bankrupt. I will not elaborate on what bankruptcy would mean for the UN and how desirable it might or might not be. A side point here, though: one important difference between the UN and the private sector is in the ability and flexibility in raising funds. The UN is tremendously constrained in this respect, and the working group dealing with financial reform doesn't even touch the issue of alternative sources of revenue. Let me add, for completeness sake, that the question of alternative sources of revenue was taken up by Ecosoc in the summer of 1996, but very very gingerly. Just how gingerly, is evident from Resolution 1996/48 concerning this issue. (You will have guessed correctly: its main provision is to request a report from the Secretary-General.)
The US approach meets with skepticism on another count as well. Let us for the sake of the argument assume that forcing reforms is the real motivation for US non-payments, that non-payments have nothing to do with the US domestic political agenda. The question is, even if the UN did put in place all the reforms the US would like to see, what guarantee is there that the US would then pay their dues in full and on time? Many feel there is no such guarantee. And even today, this factor undercuts the effectiveness of various US reform proposals. So you have a proposal? a skeptical diplomat would say, How very nice. Well then, please pay your dues first, and we'll gladly consider your proposal later.
Indeed, there are independent grounds for skepticism. Consider the case of Unesco. One recalls that the USA left Unesco in 1984, charging gross mismanagement. Unesco went on to mend its ways considerably. Since 1993, the USA have been prepared to rejoin - but "budgetary constraints" have prevented this. Thus the dance around US Unesco membership does not do much to dispell skepticism concerning US payment discipline, even if the UN were to reform itself from top to bottom.
A substantial, elaborate and comprehensive proposal on revamping the method of assessing financial contributions, outlined in document WGFS/31, has been submitted in the working group on finances by the European Union. Fairness requires that I add right away that the Czech Republic has associated itself with this proposal. Its salient provisions are that assessments to the regular budget would be based on a country's capacity to pay, that it would completely revamp the method of assessing contributions to the UN's peace-keeping budget and that it would lower or even perhaps eliminate the floor, i.e., the minimum portion of the UN regular budget that even the smallest country is called on to pay, which today constitutes 0.01%.
The proposal has, however, not received particularly wide support, at least not to date. It would considerably increase the payment obligations of several countries, especially those whose economies have done particularly well since the last time the scale of assessments was modified, in the early seventies. Not surprisingly, these countries are not ecstatic about it. For more that 50 countries, especially for some of the smallest or least developed ones, the EU proposal would amount to relief in payments for the regular budget. It would, however, increase the burden of their peacekeeping contributions.
When it comes to money, it really is every country for itself: Countries are prepared to accept only such financial reform that is advantageous or at least neutral from their point of view and reject any increase in their total burden. There is little sense of contributing fairly to the common good. And US arrears frequently serve as a foil for rejecting any reform whatever.
The Security Council group
The Security Council working group also deals with form-driven reform. Nothing in its charter, in its description or in the discussions that I am familiar with asks the question, What should the Security Council actually do? I hasten to add that elsewhere, the question does surface; elsewhere in the UN, on other occasions, it elicits suggestions concerning, for example, the social and economic roots of various dangers to international peace and security, the main concern of the Security Council, and whether therefore the SC shouldn't broaden its own focus. But in the working group, voices addressing the content of SC deliberations are scarce if not totally absent. Certain aspects of what the Security Council should do - and especially what it should not do - arrive on the Council agenda through the back door: and I recall many an occasion when the Council, dealing with issues such as Bosnia or Rwanda, had to tread very carefully to assuage particularly China's sensitivity about taking up human-rights issues, which China felt should be dealt with by other UN organs.
Instead, deliberations of the Security Council working group have focused on power, and on transparency. The code for power is the size and composition of the Council, its possible expansion by additional permanent and/or non-permanent members, and the issue of the veto. Connoiseurs will recognize that these issues constitute what used to be called "cluster I" of the working group's agenda. The two main fundamentally contradictory proposals currently battling for acceptance are the "2+3 formula" and the formula for "frequently-rotating" mid-sized powers. Of course, there are many varieties of these two paradigmatic approaches. I will not elaborate on them any further, nor will I gauge the chances, if any, of one or the other to prevail. Let me note, however, that the issue of Security Council composition deals with two aspects of the Council's current crisis, namely with its perceived lack of legitimacy and its perceived lack of representativity. Not surprisingly, there has been no agreement on how to expand the Security Council, though the verbal barrage between delegates is on occasion refreshingly sharp.
Lack of transparency is the third aspect of the Council's crisis. This issue is addressed in what used to be called "cluster II" of the working group's agenda. Questions under this rubric include cooperation between the Council and other UN organs, availability of Council information to non-Council members, in particular troop contributors, and other such matters. Perhaps I may be allowed to mention in this context a specific Czech initiative which calls for a broader interpretation of Article 31 of the Charter, allowing a Council non-member to participate in the Council's informal consultations (which today are hermetically closed to all outsiders) when issues affecting the particular non- member are on the agenda. All of these constitute efforts at form-driven reform par excellence. And since they do not require Charter amendments, they have a greater chance of being resolved.
At this stage, however, the working group has gotten precisely nowhere on these issues as well; one reason being that it has tried to preserve consensus at all cost. This approach might be abandoned during the current GA whose President may be determined to resort to voting if that's what it takes to break the logjam. And let us just bear in mind that what is in fact the most fruitful method for deciding on how to reform, is open to question.
I have argued that the de Rojas group was after form-driven reform and that it reached only very modest conclusions, embodied in resolution 50/227. Further, I have suggested that the working groups on strengthening the UN system, on the UN financial situation and even on the Security Council should be viewed as focusing on form-driven reform. And I have demonstrated that the results to-date of these three working groups have been even more modest than those of the de Rojas group.
How about the other two working groups, on an Agenda for Peace and on an Agenda for Development? While it might be too dramatic to describe their work as striving for mission-driven reform, at least they focus on the actual content of UN's work. Have they been any more successful? Let us examine their results.
Agenda for Peace
An Agenda for Peace is of course the name of the report the Secretary-General submitted four years ago, in an effort to answer the many challenges the UN was facing in the area of international peace and security following the end of the Cold War. This is where many of us encountered for the first time concepts such as preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peace enforcement or post-conflict peace building, concepts which have since become familiar. In January 1995, the Secretary-General issued a "supplement" to an agenda for peace (A/50/60, S/1995/1), the purpose of which was to highlight "certain areas where unforeseen, or only partly foreseen, difficulties" had arisen and, importantly, where it became incumbent on Member States to take "hard decisions". It met with immediate acclaim and the Security Council, for one, engaged in one of the richest, most thought-provoking and wide-ranging discussions I recall in that body (3492nd meeting, 18 and 19 January, 1996).
In March 1995, a certain number of countries felt it would be useful the examine the concepts of the two documents in greater depth and to reactivate an earlier working group on an Agenda for Peace. Perhaps members could finally manage to make "hard decisions"? The group was expected to submit a draft resolution to the 49th GA. But, to be able even to begin dealing with the problematique, it decided it had to focus on only a few selected topics from the extensive roster of agenda-for-peace concerns, and work in sub-groups. Four such sub-groups were established:
o On UN-imposed sanctions: focusing on the impact of sanctions on target countries, their impact on third countries, and the work of Security Council sanctions committees
o On coordination: of the UN with its members, within the UN system, of the UN with regional organizations and of the UN with NGO's
o On preventive diplomacy and peace-making
o On post-conflict peace-building
Not surprisingly, the working group didn't get terribly far during its first few months of deliberations. Its life was therefore extended through the 50th GA. But amazingly, even by the end of the 50th GA it did not manage to present a draft resolution for approval. In fact, only the sub-group on coordination managed at least to produce a position paper in an orderly way (WGAP/96/1). The sub- group on sanctions agreed on a text only after some very difficult and bitter last-minute back-stage maneuvering (WGAP/96/2). The other two sub-groups, which between them were dealing with preventive diplomacy, peace-making and post-conflict peace-building, never agreed on a text at all. They may do so during the 51st GA; the group might eventually finish its work and then be mercifully disbanded. But my point is this: here is one working group which with some stretch of the imagination can be described as attempting mission-driven reform - and its results have so far been abysmal.
There are important lessons here. The two sub-groups which produced no results splintered on one sharp rock; namely, to what extent do the novel aspects of maintaining international peace and security, the aspects described by the UN's new terminology, require consent of the local government? In other words, may an outsider unilaterally decide that a situation is ripe for preventive diplomacy? May an outsider decide that following a conflict, a peace is still too fragile and that peace-building is indispensable? These are important questions which we contemplate in the wake of daily reports from the Great Lakes region, from Afghanistan, from Liberia. And note: these are important questions which would hardly have come up in 1945, before the UN became a universal organization. They are questions which result from the recent, maybe actually post-Cold-War, process of internationalization of domestic politics: a process by which civil wars, domestic turmoil or even mass violations of human rights have become issues of concern to the international community. This process has dramatically changed the nature of peace-keeping, as has been discussed ad nauseam, and has strengthened the challenges to international peace and security.
Agenda for Development
Four years ago, the General Assembly asked the Secretary-General to prepare an agenda for development. He did so in the spring of 1994 when he issued an extensive report on this topic (A/48/935). At the time, several members of the G77 were dissatisfied with the report and felt the General Assembly should provide its own reply.
An ad-hoc working group was consequently established and work started on a document containing such a response. Surprisingly, the language in it came mostly from the EU and other donors, with the G77 playing a reactive rather than an active role. The document, with its incredibly convoluted structure, is still unfinished (its latest version is contained in A/AC.250/CRP.2 of 6 August 1996).
The first two of its three segments comprise an introduction and something of an inventory of what actually exists. Reaching agreement on these first two building blocs has been very tough and a number of issues are still outstanding. The crux of the document, however, is in its third segment, on institutional issues. Reaching agreement on the third segment has been even tougher and so far completely unsuccessful. The working group has been extended into the 51st GA during which it intends to complete its work, for what it's worth.
Every step of the way, every phrase and expression of this document seems to be subject to conflict. Its preparation seems to elicit all the worst aspects of the entire UN-based reform process: decision- making by blocs of countries, endless suspicions about the motives of others, demagoguery, foot- dragging, one-up-manship. The document is probably destined for the rubbish heap even before it's born, or perhaps I should say stillborn. And yet development is of critical importance to so many UN members. They are frustrated by the declining commitment of many donors. But attempts to snare donors in a web of mere words are bound to be unsuccessful, even counterproductive.
o Form-driven reform of the UN is slow, plodding, ineffectual and at best it only snips at the corners of the problem. Mission-driven reform is what would really be required. The two reform working groups which deal with the content of UN work, even if not exactly with the even more fundamental question of its mission, have so far produced nothing. Mission-driven reform itself is just about impossible.
o Still, mission-driven reform is what many outside observers and some delegations to the UN call for. Many have produced visions of where we ought to be, sometimes complete with annotated revisions of the Charter. Nobody, however, has produced a road map of how to get the hopelessly fragmented UN membership from here to there. How do we persuade everyone else to subscribe to our mission statement, join our vision of where the UN should be in the 21st century, so that we would all get there hand in hand?
o After World War II, there was a short glimmer of euphoric expectation that the world of the victorious powers would cooperate. Cooperation collapsed on the East-West divide. After the Cold War, there was a short glimmer of euphoric expectation that the universal world would cooperate. Cooperation may again be collapsing because the word "universal" doesn't mean much. Different countries would write very different mission statements for the UN; many would simply write - keep the UN the way it is: we get enough out of it as it stands, and any change would be likely to diminish our return on our investment.
o The UN decision-making customs, mechanisms and machinery are a critical obstacle to UN reform, if not the single greatest one. An important aspect of the machinery is the bloc nature of rallying behind positions. The East-West divide has disappeared but the North-South divide is ever more prominent. Several groups have become established if not entrenched, including the G77 and the EU with its associated members. Many reform issues are argued along this divide - and consequently, few are decided. Discussions on Security Council reform are an important and, cynically speaking, a refreshing exception to this generalization. Only a relatively small number of countries (or of diplomats!) are ready, willing and able to play the difficult and seldom rewarding role of "the honest broker".
o An important consequence of the bloc nature of decision-making is mistrust. Any proposal by one group will be examined for its possible hidden agenda by other groups. Mistrust fuels calls for greater transparency in all decision-making. In some aspects of UN's work, such as practices of the Security Council, secretiveness is indeed obsessive. In other aspects, the insistence on deciding everything out in the UN commons, under the glare of sunlight and spotlight, promotes grandstanding and diminishes the tendency to compromise. The price paid for mistrust is the motif of the prisoner's- dilemma parable in game theory. Would somebody please analyse the UN reform process from this perspective?
o One little noticed and little studied consequence of the paralysis of decision-making is the growing role of the UN Secretariat. The governing bodies of the UN, perhaps with the exception of the Security Council, depend on the Secretariat not only for implementing their decisions but frequently even for providing ideas in the first place: as I have illustrated with one or two examples, the solution to anything pressing is to have the Secretariat prepare another report. The Secretariat takes upon itself this function because it well-nigh has to. In turn, its readiness to step into the breach allows UN members to be irresponsible - certainly as a group.
o A private corporation would have outside consultants assist with developing its mission statement and the business documents which would follow. So far, however, the UN diplomatic world has bought into none of the profusion of ideas that outside organization have presented. Why is this? Indeed, the one working group whose charter actually enjoined it to study such proposals has abdicated on that task. Is the UNU going to be different? How will UNU go about not only creating a research project but also outlining how its conclusions would be implemented?
o I am personally skeptical that anything of substance will emerge from the working groups. To be sure, reform efforts proceed in other ways as well, not least exerted by the Secretariat itself. But the several high-level open-ended working groups which embody the intergovernmental process have so far had at best a marginal effect on form-driven reform, and zero effect on mission-driven reform. Should we then give up on it? If we cannot have what would satisfy us, should we be satisfied with what we can have?
For many, satisfaction merely with what we can have will not be palatable. As we look at the UN in the 21st century, we should consider the possibility that Article 109 of the UN Charter will be finally invoked, leading to a General Conference of UN Members. And we cannot ignore an even more radical possibility: that frustrated UN members might decide that the desiccated UN shell is irredeemable and will follow the example of the Uruguay Round - which jettisoned GATT and created a brand new WTO.
Statement by Mr. Dusan Rovensky, Deputy Permanent
Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations,
Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the
Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters
The Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters has been active for the past three years. Its deliberations have attracted wide attention of the members states of the United Nations. Its discussions have been far-reaching and detailed. They have encompassed all aspects of Security Council work.
Out of this lively debate many interesting proposals have emerged with regard to the future composition and working methods of the Council. They offer a rich selection to choose from, and as a next step the group should do just that. It should begin with the selection process. It is clear that many proposals, especially those aimed at improving Security Council´s working methods and transparency, have received wide support in the Working Group and, with a good-will on the part of all concerned, their adoption should not pose a major difficulty.
For practical reasons, let us separate proposals which would require U.N. Charter amendments from those which would not. Numerous delegations have voiced the view that many of the proposals aimed at improving working methods and transparency of the Security Council and its relationship with non-members of the Council and with other principal organs of the United Nations, proposals which have enjoyed overwhelming support, could be implemented by other means than by Charter amendments. They could therefore be adopted without unnecessary delay.
It is in our view both desirable and achievable that the Open-ended Working Group submit recommendations concerning changes in the composition and working methods of the Security Council before the end of the Fifty-first session of the General Assembly.
let me now briefly recapitulate the salient features of the Czech position towards the reform of the Security Council. We support an increase in both permanent and non-permanent seats, while insisting on safeguarding rapid and effective Security Council action. We recognize that an inordinate increase in the number of permanent and non-permanent members would hinder effectiveness of the Council. Therefore we advocate a modest expansion in both categories.
We oppose new categories of membership under whatever guise they may be proposed.
The criteria for new permanent members of the Security Council should include, inter alia, their level of commitment to maintain international peace, to promoting development and to meeting financial obligations toward the United Nations. We believe Germany and Japan are suitable candidates, and support expanded representation of Africa, Latin America and Asia.
As far as the reform of Security Council´s working methods is concerned, several proposals have been submitted, including the Czech proposal for a broader interpretation of articles 31 and 32 of the U.N. Charter, which would enable non-members of the Council to participate in its discussions. This proposal was elaborated further, especially by Argentina and New Zealand, and has received wide support from member states. We hope that it will be included in the recommendations which the Open-ended Working Group will eventually submit to the General Assembly.
Finally, Mr. President, let me express my delegations support for the report of the Open-ended Working Group, which we find to be both a concise and an accurate description of the activities of the Group during the Fiftieth Session of the General Assembly. We endorse the recommendations contained therein. We thank Ambassador Breitenstein of Finland and Ambassador Jayanama of Thailand for their excellent work as Co-Vice-Chairmen and we assure them of our continued support.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Statement by Mr. Ivo Sramek, Representative of the Czech
Republic at WGFS
First of all, I'd like to emphasize that the Czech Republic has aligned itself with the proposal of the European Union. At the same time, we agree with those who see that there is a proven relationship between the scale and non-payment. For some time now the deepening of the financial crisis has been almost proportional to the growing loss of the credibility of the current system, caused by continuous departure of the scale of assessment from the real capacity to pay, and to numerous fruitless attempts to bring the system in line with today's economic reality. The loss of credibility could coincide with the lack of political will for a prompt fulfillment of financial obligations.
Present methodology is full of serious distortions. In many cases the NI/WNI share differs by hundreds, even thousands of percent from the ratio of the adopted scale. One may object that NI is not the sole criterion, but it is certainly the most important one under the present methodology.
We consider the establishment of fair and equitable methodology as the most important task of this group,
the only solution to heal the deep causes of the present financial crisis.
Any system of incentives, disincentives and especially of penalties can be hardly imposed without being accompanied by an equitable methodology. We can hardly expect the countries already overburdened under the present system to agree with the introduction of penalties which would further aggravate distortions resulting from the current unfair assessment.
Saying that, I would just like to make it clear that the Czech Republic belongs among states which have already fulfilled their financial obligations towards the organization despite being seriously overburdened, but it does not mean that we do not understand with those whose indebtedness is the result of the scale which does not sufficiently take into account the changing economic circumstances of member states.
The Czech Republic fully supports the EU proposal of January 24, 1996, which in our opinion represents a balanced package, one that could restore the fairness and equity to the financing of the UN system.
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Special Committee on Peace-Keeping Operations
1. The nature of PKO's since the Cold War
We see PKO's as the most important form of international conflict management. PKO's have experienced a stormy evolution, with an undisputable impact both on the internal reconfiguring of our Organization and on its image outside. Identifying the proper role for PKO's has become an issue of central concern. It goes without saying that the role of this Special Committee in this discussions is bound to be a preeminent one.
Prior to 1989, 13 PKO's of the "classical" type had been in operation at one time or another, with UN forces separating adversaries and monitoring a ceasefire, with parallel efforts at a political settlement of the conflict usually underway. Nowadays, we have some 15 PKO's, many of which are of what some call "the second-generation". They are much more complex, they are multi-dimensional, they reach all the way to peace-building. The requirement that all elements of PKO's be integrated and that they all cooperate closely is a foregone conclusion.
In this context we welcome the General Guidelines for Peace-Keeping Operations that the DPKO issued last October, and two recent JIU reports: Investigation of the Relationship Between Humanitarian Assistance and Peace-Keeping Operations (A/50/572) and Military Components of UN Peace-Keeping Operations (A/50/576). These reports, if they do not fall into the black hole of oblivion, could significantly assist in unifying our view as to how to execute multidimensional operations.
Lessons for the future have to be drawn from post-mortems of past operations, successful and unsuccessful. We welcome the work done by the Lessons-Learned unit of the DPKO concerning the UN operation in Somalia. The booklet they have produced(1) deserves careful study by all of us as we sit here.
Additional lessons are surely to be drawn from UNPROFOR: one of the largest, most expensive and, quite bluntly, another of the least successful PKO's in UN's history. One experience foreshadowed by our experience in Somalia is inescapable: namely that UN peace-keepers are not peace enforcers. We don't know how to do Peace-Enforcement Operations, and let me call them PEO's for short. PEO's, it appears, can best be executed either by regional organizations such as NATO, or by ad-hoc multinational coalitions of member states, under the overall auspices of the SC, in accordance with Art. 53 of the Charter.
However, one important question continues nagging us even as we realize that PEO's best be left to others. Namely, what should the role of the UN be in these circumstances? Do we just wash our hands of the whole matter and rely on the regional organization or the ad hoc multinational force (MNF) to automatically do their job well?
In many instances, if not always, a regional force or an MNF operates side by side with UN observers. Somewhere here is where we see the key to avoiding complications. The two operations ought to cooperate closely, and thereby perhaps provide the degree of UN oversight needed for our own comfort. On another occasion(2), my delegation listed the following prerequisites for such cooperation, which we still feel are valid:
congruence of objectives of both operations, following from
time limits for the MNF or regional force
close cooperation starting in the planning stages
support of countries in the region for the particular PEO model selected
UNMO presence in the MNF or regional force
regular reporting to and discussion in the SC
What prevents the UN itself from engaging in PEO's? One important problem is that while these operations are remarkably complex, the DPKO does not have the capacity to perform the role of operational HQ, yet this would be quite indispensable for the command and control of a UN- managed operation.
In the Agenda for Peace, the Secretary-General suggested creating a "standing force of the UN" to overcome this problem. Many countries, however, have been skeptical about this idea, and we lack a thorough analysis of the legal, political, financial and organizational aspects of such a project. All this entirely apart from considerations ensuing from the UN's financial crisis, and apart from the fact that the UN Charter does not address the question of command of forces provided to the UN.
2. Military Advice
The need for mandates that are clear, unequivocal and attainable, as a condition for the success of a PKO, is another experience we have made. Reflecting upon UNPROFOR in Bosnia, one wonders whether the SC as a body should not have at its disposal some form of professional military advice, among other to assure the best possible formulation of mandates. If so, one wonders whether the Military Staff Committee couldn't provide such advice: after all, this Committee is charged by Art. 47 of the Charter "to advise and assist the Security Council on all questions relating to [its] military requirements,... the employment and command of forces placed under its disposal" and other matters.
During our two years on the Security Council we experienced numerous opportunities when sound professional military advice would have been welcome, but we do not recall a single instance when it was forthcoming from the Military Staff Committee. And yet, we were frankly speaking a little surprised to read in the Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly that the Military Staff Committee "functioned continually", held a total of 26 meetings and "remained prepared to carry out the functions assigned to it under the terms of Article 47." Now that the Cold War is over, perhaps the Military Staff Committee should move from being prepared to carry out its functions to actually carrying them out.
Then again, the Military Staff Committee may be a completely dead duck. If that turns out to be the case, the SC should revert to seeking professional military advice not from its own ranks but from the Secretariat. This would of course necessitate the strengthening of the Office of the SG's Military Advisor, and having him meet regularly with military advisors of SC members. These ideas are contained in the Canadian paper, Towards a Rapid-Reaction Capability for the UN, which we view very favorably.
3. Stand-By Arrangements
The changes in the character of PKO's since the end of the Cold War have led naturally to the need for faster dislocation of UN units in conflict areas. This need could be met by stand-by arrangements, and the Czech Republic has supported this idea from the start. Nevertheless, it has become apparent that this system will have its limitations when it comes to actually dislocating units as fast as needed and wherever needed. Still and all, this system does in our view offer the most realistic way for creating a UN capacity of rapid reaction to crises and conflicts as they erupt.
Several proposals are now in play for such a rapid-reaction capacity. The Czech Republic supports those that take STBA as a basis for developing such a capacity. The latest proposal along these lines is that for creating a Multinational UN Stand-By Forces High Readiness Brigade, developed under Danish leadership by several member states, including the Czech Republic. We also support Canada's proposals for an overall improvement of UN's rapid- reaction capacity. France has also proposed certain promising elements; it will be easier to evaluate them once the concept and the composition of the rapid-reaction units put at UN's disposal is available.
We also support the expansion of PKO planning and analysis function, including DPKO's proposal to create a Rapidly Deployable Nucleus HQ, as a component of Mission Planning Service. Our support is more than verbal: we have offered the services of one Czech officer, at our own expense, for this nucleus HQ. We hope to see this proposal implemented early.
4. Expanding the PKO Special Committee
Given the discussions concerning agenda item 86, of the 4th Committee, and the adoption of resolution A/Res/50/30, we surmise that this year's Special Committee session should give the definitive answer to the question of how to have it expand - given that the question whether to expand it has been answered in the affirmative. In our view, the Special Committee should be expanded so as to include all interested countries contributing to PKO's. We would, however, expand the notion of "contributing countries" so as to include not only those providing military support or military observers, but also those contributing to civilian and humanitarian elements of PKO's and/or providing substantive financial or material assistance to their management.
In this sense we would support Alternative 2 presented by the Chair in its informal outline yesterday. However, we would suggest a significant addition: namely that countries hosting PKO's become members of the Special Committee as well. This suggestion is in line with a recommendation we made in the working group on Security Council expansion and reform, that the host country representative be also invited to meetings of SC members and troop contributors of a given PKO. We especially see no problem with Chapter VI operations in that context; as for this Committee, all host countries should probably be invited.
This formula might bridge the gap between open-ended membership (Alternative 1 of the Chair) and Alternative 2. It would guarantee that all interested parties could participate, while maintaining a workmanlike atmosphere for our deliberations. But having said so, let me also observe that we are not fundamentally opposed to open-eneded membership and will be happy to join the consensus - so long as in the end, the Czech Republic becomes a full-fledged member of this Special Committee.
(1)Comprehensive Report on Lessons Learned from United Nations Operation in Somalia, December 1995, available from DPKO.
(2)Statement of 16 November 1994 at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, on Agenda item 79: Comprehensive Review of the Whole Question of Peace-Keeping Operations in All Its Aspects.
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent
Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The
Working Group on Strengthening the UN System
My capital is still studying issues connected with several of the A cluster of questions, concerning the Secretary-General, in conference report paper (CRP) 6. We here, in our ignorance, do not for example see the purpose of revealing candidates' financial position, which we feel might occasionally dissuade a good person from being interested in the job. And if we wouldn't know candidates' views on issues of the organization, how would they ever get on the short list in the first place? The most important questions in this cluster concern the length of the SG's tenure and whether he or she can be reelected, and the use of veto in the selection process; but we're not ready to speak to these issues here today.
We do, however, have some observations to make on the B cluster of questions, concerning a Deputy-Secretary-General.
In our opinion, the management structure of the Secretariat should not contravene certain generally accepted principles of management too dramatically. One such principle is the effective span of control that any one manager can physically have. One learns in any basic class in organizational theory that a single manager cannot effectively manage more than 10, or at the most perhaps 15, subordinates, and that the optimum span of control is seven. That same organizational-theory class will suggest that an employee should have some face-to-face contact with his or her immediate superior daily, and should have such contact weekly with one's boss's boss.
Against this backdrop, we learn that the SG has no fewer than 62 people reporting to him directly. There is absolutely no way in which he can manage them all effectively. If for no other reason, this tremendous span of control which he attempts to effect should be divided into some reasonable-size units. This is where having a Deputy SG would help quite decidedly. One can imagine, for example, that a DSG would be responsible for administration and management in the broadest sense of the word, with the SG focusing on policy issues and on the strategic positioning of our organization. The parallels with the private sector that such a delineation of functions suggests are not accidental: we could well imagine the SG continuing to fill a role reserved in the private business to a CEO, with a DSG doing the work of a Chief Operating Officer. They would of course be complemented, as is the case today, with a Chief Financial Officer, as in any private company.
But equally good, and perhaps even better, would be the arrangement with several direcvt reports to the SG: for example, four DSG's, responsible for the four areas as outlined in question 8(c) of CRP 6, or one DSG and four USG's, as suggested by the US. The key is that these be the only officers reporting directly to the SG, apart from his personal staff. Whichever way the final decision goes - and that decision would probably be influenced by more nuanced considerations than my delegation is capable of right now - we would feel that rationalizing the management structure of the Secretariat's highest echelons could be of great importance. Such rationalization may well be accompanied by streamlining the size and responsibilities of senior management. How precisely this should be accomplished is a matter we would leave to those closer to the matter, and quite possibly to an outside consultant, a point raised elsewhere in CRP 6.
And while on the topic of the Secretariat's organizational structure, let me admit that in divining it, my delegation feels like the blind man gauging the shape of an elephant. We are not aware of any org-chart, of any organigram, having been provided in recent years, despite - or perhaps because of? - the several reorganizations that the Secretariat has undergone. We would certainly subscribe to the request of the NAM/G77 Joint Coordination Committee that the Secretariat provide one: in the very least, for us to be able to find out who actually are all the 62 persons directly reporting to the SG and what the functions of them all are.
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent
Representative of the Czech Repoublic to the United Nations, The
Working Group on Security Council Expansion and Reform On "Cluster
Throughout our two-year tenure on the Security Council we have encouraged the Council to take steps towards improving its working methods and procedures as well as towards greater transparency and broader dialogue with member states.
1. Briefings by Council Presidency
We welcome them all, even though some of them have turned out to work better than others. The more successful ones include the regular briefings by the Council presidency. We would prefer that they take place every day the council meets in informal consultations, for yesterday's news isn't worth much. Let us not, however forget - and here we're speaking from experience - that some smaller delegations might have difficulties if daily briefings were dictated by some resolution. Thus if we were to institutionalize briefings, let's mandate aminimum frequency - say, twice a week - but not daily, however appreciative we are of those delegations who have the resources and the will to conduct them; and during its own presidency in April 1995, we too conducted them daily.
2. Orientation debates
On the other hand the possibilities for wider dialogue between the Council and non- Council members have not been thoroughly explored and utilized. Although the Council has expressed a readiness to conduct more frequent open, orientation debates, there have been very few of them since this initiative was introduced by France in December 1994. We have noticed, though, that their frequency has increased this year and have taken note of yesterday's British view of their usefulness. These debates, however, suffer of all the problems that formal Council sessions suffer in general: they amount to set-piece theater, often for domestic consumption, they are a palliative for real participation in where the real discussions and negotiations take place. Nevertheless, we encourage the Council to use this mechanism more often. It will depend on us, the membership at large, what use is made of this opportunity.
3. Meetings of troop contributors
The same goes for meetings of Council members, Secretariat and troop contributing countries. These meetings have become a regular item on the U.N. calendar but here, too, the problem is one of quality. These meetings are often formal, with inadequate discussion and exchange of views. This is our own fault. In our view the troop contributors themselves should show more initiative in exploiting the full potential of this consultation mechanism. But as other members have pointed out, Security Council members can also help to make these meetings more productive: by participating, by participating actively, by participating at a high level. The Secretariat can help as well: for example, by scheduling them in smaller rooms, more conducive to real discussions, rather than in cavernous chambers such as this one.
4. Invite host country representatives!
In this connection we have one concrete suggestion to make to further improve the quality of troop-contributor meetings. The suggestion is this: that the meetings' co- chairmen invite also a representative of the country where the operation in question takes place. Quite clearly, having the country that is hosting the PKO represented at the meeting, listening to concerns of troop contributors and voicing its own opinions, would enhance the value of these meetings. It is absurd that even in Chapter VI situations, the host country has no way of directly communicating with countries whose troops are operating in its territory, with its approval. Even under Chapter VII, we feel that in many cases host countries should be invited: but we would be happy to leave to the co-chairs of these meetings to consult and decide case by case when it is appropriate to invite the country in question. To us, it is patently obvious that when for example troop contributors to UNTAES meet, Croatia should be invited as well.
5. The "provisional" in Provisional rules of procedure
Our next point concerns the provisional rules of procedure. First off, the word "provisional" is a red herring. In the first two years or so of its existence, the Council dealt with establishing and modifying its rules of procedure at no fewer than ten meetings. At that time, the word "provisional" may have been appropriate. However, in the 48 years since 1947, it has dealt with these rules only four times, i.e., on the average once in 12 years. Thus since 1947, they have been provisional only in name, and backmin 1947 was the time to scratch that red-herring word from their description. No harm done: we can suggest to the Council that it scratch the word today, and it could do so tomorrow, literally.
6. Dead wood
More important than this red herring is, of course, the content of the rule book. The rules include provisions that are observed in the breach. I challenge this august gathering to spell out the definition of a "periodic meeting" which, according to Rule 4, "shall be held twice a year". These are in fact meetings following Article 28(2) of the Charter, at which members may "be represented by a member of the government or by some other specially represented representative". Well, in our recollection only one such meeting was held during our tenure on the Council, namely one to observe the 50th anniversary of the UN. I'm sure nobody misses these meetings, though, and Rule 4 should be scratched from the book. Quite possibly, other such relics could be unearthed, but we'll gladly leave this to the Councils own Working Group on Documentation and Procedure.
7. Presidential Statements
But how about practices that are not even mentioned in the rule book but which constitute an integral part of Council activity? Take Presidential Statements. These constitute about a half of the official documents of the Council - but are not mentioned in the rule book. What is their legal status? In meetings at which PS's are adopted, no discussion is ever allowed. And I mean never, ever. This results in absurdities like the one this morning when a representative of a member state insisted on taking the floor on the matter at hand - and could do so only with a separate meeting being convened to hear him out. This is an absurdity, maintaining some bizarre fiction about presidential statements. It is an unwritten rule that has evolved in order not to contravene another rule - also unwritten - of the Council. The rules - provisional or otherwise - need rewriting. They have to be re-written by the Council itself which, and we insist on this point, is a master of its own procedure.
8. Informal consultations
Another issue the rule book doesn't know is informal consultations. And this is what allows the charade that permanent members have been playing with our proposal concerning Article 31. The rule book is deemed simply not to apply to informals. But - rule 42 does apply to informals! That's the rule which allows for interpretation into the other five languages. France herself mentioned how important it is to observe that particular rule. Rule 21 also applies to informals. That's the rule according to which the SG shall act in that capacity in all meetings of the Council. And Council members are frequently quite agitated when the SG doesn't send his representative to informals!
9. Back to Article 31
I have picked these two rules at random. The four permanent council members who oppose our suggestion concerning Article 31 of the UN Charter expect these rules which are designed for public meetings of the Council to apply to informal consultations as well. But as for rule 37 of the rule book, which is nothing more than a re-write of Article 31, they find that it would make their work more difficult, even perhaps, in one of the more unusual statements I have heard during this debate, make the discussion of issues more "inflammatory".
In responding to a previous speaker, let me emphasize that we foresee a member state being invited to attend only that agenda item of informal consultations which directly concerns it, that is to say, not an entire session of informals. And let me use this opportunity to thank all those many speakers who over the past two days have voiced their support for our proposal.
Statement of Ambassador Karel Kovanda, Permanent
Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN The Working Group on
Security Council Expansion and Reform, The Working Group on
Security Council Expansion and Reform On "Cluster 2" Issues
Three weeks ago or so I had the honor to present a very simple, very modest proposal to this distinguished group. The proposal amounted to the following: that this working group recommend to the Security Council that it employ Article 31 of the UN Charter as broadly as possible also in informal consultations.
Article 31 was devised to compensate for the witting violation of the principle of sovereign equality which attaches to the election and composition of the Security Council and for the special privileges afforded to its permanent members. In the early years of the UN it served its purpose: i.e., it allowed for interested countries to participate in discussions and the decision-making of the Council. But the venue of Council's discussions and deliberations gradually shifted: so much so that today, it takes place completely in informal consultations, behind hermetically closed doors.
The aim of our proposal is to restore the original thrust of Article 31. Inasmuch as the Council has in its wisdom decided to change the venue of its actual decision-making, so be it; but the interested and concerned Council non-members have to have a way of following the Council wherever it is that it went, be it even the other room, and participating in its discussions.
Nowadays, the Security Council suffers of a crisis of representativity, of legitimacy and of transparency. This became abundantly clear during our discussions last years. The Czech proposal will not help it with representativity: that is strictly a cluster-I issue. Having its non-members attend discussions that are of direct concern to them can, however, go a long way toward toward alleviating its crisis of legitimacy, not to speak of the crisis of transparency.
I wish also to stress just how reasonable our proposal is. We are not calling on the Security Council to blast open the gate and allow everyone in all the time. We are too realistic for that, and indeed our own two-year tenure on the Council militates against such an approach. We stress that it is the right of the Council to invite, not the right of its non-members to be invited. It is up to the Council whom they invite and when, and we fully understand that circumstances may obtain from time to time that will make it prudent not to invite any party. I wish to echo this morning's words of the distinguished PR of Algeria who spoke of moderation.
My delegation has been immensely gratified by the response our modest proposal has met with to-date. During our last meeting, almost 30 delegations saw it fit to give it some favorable mention, including the delegation of Iceland which spoke on behalf of the entire Nordic Group. We have had several opportunities to discuss our paper with several groups, and I am personally very grateful to chairs of those groups who made this possible. Even one or two permanent members of the SC have found our proposal reasonable.
These discussions indicated broad areas of agreement, even complete agreement. They also indicated one or two areas that may require further probing and reflection though none, in our estimate, that would be insoluble, none that would make the proposal unworkable. No deal-breaker, in other words. We will therefore be looking forward with extreme interest to the proceedings of the next couple of sessions and we cherish the hope that our proposal may be ready for early consensual approval by this working group.
An historical and theoretical exposition of our proposal is contained in a short paper that we made available during our last meeting and on other occasions. We have a few copies available here, for interested delegations.
Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent
Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The
Working Group on Security Council Expansion and Reform
The Czech Republic is coming to you today will a small initiative and proposal concerning cluster 2 of the work of this group. The proposal is simple, and amounts to this group making a recommendation along the following lines:
The Working Group "recommends to the Security Council that it employ Article 31 of the UN Charter as broadly as possible also in its informal consultations."
As you know, Article 31 provides that Council non-members may participate in the discussion of questions of interest to them that are on the agenda of the Security Council. The article is respected during formal sessions of the SC, but not during informals. These are not considered to be "discussions", apparently. And yet we know that informals is exactly where matters really get discussed and decided, with formal sessions serving only as a ratification mechanism. It bears noting that this is the situation today; the shape and role of informals has changed several times since they were initiated in the mid-fifties.
Today's situation is not what the founding fathers of the UN had in mind. The founding fathers, especially smaller countries among them, felt that Article 31 is indispensable inasmuch as it helped compensate for violations of the principle of sovereign equality in the composition, elections and powers of the Security Council, especially of its permanent members.
Restoring this role of Article 31 is one benefit of our proposal. Another is that the sense of insufficient legitimacy and insufficient representativeness that many members feel today with regard to the Security Council would surely abate if its informal consultations - where the center of gravity of its work lies - were accessible at least to the country whose business is on the agenda. And the third benefit to all concerned would be the improved understanding (which does not necessarily mean agreement), and even information flow, between Council members on the one hand and the country in question on the other.
The Czech proposal is in line with similar ones mentioned previously in the Working Group. For example, it answers two of the questions the Vice-Chairmen formulated in their non-paper concerning Cluster 2; namely, Could the present system of consultations in the Security Council be made more transparent without adversely affecting its decision-making process? And a little further: If it is useful to have consultations with...parties to a conflict as well as other parties concerned in particular, how could this be done best? (A/49/965, p.22)
The Czech proposal develops the call of the Nordic Group, for example, for further concrete steps to involve the membership at large more closely in the work of the Council (ibid., p.105). Even more to the point, it responds to the Movement of Non- Aligned Countries which has called for enhancing the possibilities for those countries affected by Council action...to present their position publicly to the Council...and to permit these countries to observe the informal consultations of the whole on the relevant issue (ibid., p.98). The Czech proposal thus isn't really inventing anything new; it does, however, strive to provide an appropriate historical and legal framework to the idea, and submits a specific recommendation for the consideration of our working group.
By reference, I am incorporating with this statement of mine a paper which goes into some detail about the history of informal consultations, the role of Article 31, and about our own experiences on
the Council during the past two years which have led us to make this proposal. The paper is available at the side of the chamber and members are invited to study it at their leisure.
In conclusion, I wish to stress one thing: The Security Council itself is the master of its proceedings, and our suggested recommendation therefore does not go into specifics - though some specific aspects are discussed in the more detailed paper. How the Council deals with our recommendation in practice, would be up to its discretion; it could, for example, instruct its Working Group on Documentation and Procedural Issues to devise the appropriate enabling apparatus.
My delegation does, however, firmly believe that the impermeable
cloak of sanctity that envelops informals has turned
counterproductive to establishing the proper relationship between
the Council and members at large. We feel that our Working Group
could start producing some specific output, and that after
appropriate discussion and consideration, this proposal may turn
into an early instance of a concrete recommendation addressed to
the Security Council.