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Security Council - Statements in 1996

L´Ambasciatore          Il Curriculum Vitae dell´ambasciatore Pavel Jajtner Il signor Pavel Jajtner è nato il 31 dicembre 1947 a Havlickuv Brod. Nell´anno 1965 ha ottenuto il certificato professionale come meccanico elettricista. Nel 1967 ha sostenuto

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the Draft Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly
    New York, November 29, 1996

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the situation in Liberia
    New York, January 25, 1996


Statement by Ambassador Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the Draft Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly, Agenda Item A/50/2

The report of the Security Council to the General Assembly should be of interest to the public for two reasons: on the one hand, we are interested in what the Council did; on the other hand, we are interested in how its work is captured in the report.

What the Council actually does is a matter closely followed by most delegation from one day to the next. For the observant non-member of the Council, there should be no surprises here. On this issue, the Council met so many times, on such and such dates; on that issue, so many times, on such and such dates. The Council passed this and that resolution, agreed on this or that presidential statement.

All of this information is amply presented in the report, sometimes in stultifying detail. This is the case despite the fact that in the introduction, we are informed of a twenty-year-old decision of the Council to simplify its reporting. If what we get now is the simplified version of the Council's report, then I wonder what the non-simplified version would look like, in this era when the Council's work has immensely expanded compared with twenty years ago.

Two of the reference books on the desk in my office are the Security Council report, and the collection of SC resolutions published on a calendar-year basis by the DPI. Whatever the difference between them, there is definitely a lot of overlap. They both, for example, contain integral texts of all SC resolutions and presidential statements. Is this really necessary? Couldn't the editors of the two volumes talk, in order to reduce this obvious duplication? Couldn't the Council, in 1996, introduce a different paragraph in the introduction, and instead of mentioning an editorial decision made twenty years ago say something like, "The texts of all SC resolutions have been published in this-and-this document - perhaps of the DPI - and are incorporated in this report by reference"? That would certainly decrease the heft of the report at hand.

This might seem as a proposal of minor import but adopting it would enable us to focus on the rest of the report's content. It would allow us to think of the report in the way one thinks of an annual report of a corporation or perhaps - more aproppriately - of a not-for-profit organization. What we look for in such annual reports is not a listing of every single sale made, or of every single contribution received, but for a synthetic look at the organization's past period. What revenues? What balance sheet? How many grants? That kind of stuff. And, we look for an analytical look as well. Are there trends worth noting? How do last year's results compare with those of the previous year? Of the previous five years?

We find precious little of this in the present report. And yet it should not be so difficult to provide, even if we were to stick to purely quantitative indicators such as the number of documents - resolutions and presidential statements - adopted over a period of several years on major issues of concern. Take former Yugoslavia. How has our preoccupation with this part of the world, even if viewed purely quantitatively, evolved since 1991? What sort of a curve would a graphical representation of these numbers represent? How, in comparison, would the spike of Rwanda look like - especially in the period covered by the report under discussion? The curve of African issues in general?

My delegation would find such an approach useful, certainly as a start. It might be more difficult to embark on a qualitative analysis: i.e., what might the Council report tell us about the general state of international peace and security - that sort of thing. We recognize the tremendous effort of the Secretariat in collating the report, in keeping tabs on every aspect of the Council's work, indeed in producing, in the last analysis, the report we're disccussing. Attempting a qualitative analysis, however, would be beyond what one could seriously expect from them: because analysis is a matter of interpretation, interpretation is a political exercise, and the scrupulously neutral and non-partisan Secretariat staff is bound to eschew this. Correctly so, even if we do feel that what they do end up producing is of greater utility to historians as source material than to diplomats as a source of insight into the Council's workings.

But the Council itself has all the power it could possibly need to shape the form of the report. The fact that something has always been done in a particular way is not a good enough argument for keeping things that way, and frequently is in fact a sufficient argument to do them differently. But it is the Council which must decide to change this. If, then, there is one thought my delegation would like to bequeath to the Council members of 1996, it is this one: have the Council's working group on documentation and procedure start thinking from the very beginning of the year about the shape and content of future reports to the GA.

One can, however, draw nuggets of analysis even from the raw data presented by the Secretariat, especially if one has previous volumes at hand. Consider some of the statistics mentioned in the introduction: They imply that in the period covered, the Council passed 20% fewer resolutions than in the previous year, i.e., 70 compared with 87. This is probably a good sign. However, the Council met almost 10% more often in informal consultations and spent almost 20% more time consulting.

What does this tell us? Has the Council become more talkative, if it needs 20% more time to discuss 20% fewer resolutions? Has it perhaps become more argumentative? Has it become more thorough - has the quality of resolutions improved?

Whatever the interpretation (and admittedly, the facts I presented are biased because I ignored the increase in the number of presidential statements), these statistics indicate one thing: The importance of informal consultations, even if measured merely by the amount of time SC members spend in them, continues to increase. This is a trend that started a few years ago, certainly with the end of the Cold War. (A graph in the report showing the number of hours spent in informals over the past few years would be so helpful here.) And it is a phenonenon which according to UN old-timers hardly existed, certainly not in its current metastatized form, before a separate conference room was constructed for informals in the mid-seventies.

Furthermore, it is a phenomenon that the founding fathers had not counted on. They did not include "consultations of the whole" in the Charter. They did not assume that the bulk of the Council's deliberative work would take place in such a forum. And they certainly did not anticipate that the bulk of the Council's deliberative work would be so totally screened from "the world beyond", so totally insulated even from other members of the UN, including members whose business is actually under discussion.

And so, from a discussion of the Security Council report to the General Assembly one comes to discussing some of the Council's methods. A lot has been said about transparency and about measures the Council adopted in the period under review to open up a bit, so to speak. And let us make the best possible use of these openings! Let us be active in troop-contributors' meetings! Let us attend the regular briefings of the Council Presidency and let us be more probing in our questions!

Still, after our two-year experience on the Council, my delegation has come to the conclusion that fundamental additional steps have to be taken along these lines. Most especially, we suggest that a fundamental reinterpretation of Article 31 of the Charter is needed. And we intend to propose certain initiatives along these lines in the near future, in the appropriate working group.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the situation in Liberia, 3621st meeting of the Security Council

One may wonder how the interests of the Czech Republic are "specially affected" by the situation in far-away Liberia, that we would be granted the privilege of participating in the discussion under Rule 37 of the Council's Provisional Rules of Procedure. We feel that Article 44 of the Charter provides us with grounds to participate, inasmuch as "the employment of contingents" of the Czech armed forces is involved. In fact, the Czech Republic is the only European country that actually participates in UNOMIL. These remarks would thus have been addressed to the troop-contributors meeting but we are grateful to the Council for having provided this opportunity to actually get them on record. It is an honor to speak in the presence of H. E. the Foreign Minister of Liberia.

We find the Secretary-General's report alarming. Hopes concerning the peace process in Liberia have flowed and ebbed, but they definitely crested with the signing of the accord of Abuja. All along, the Security Council has warned, at different times when deciding on the UNOMIL mandate, that if a significant improvement is not attained, that this time might be the last time the mandate is being extended. We do not consider the fighting in Tubmanburg and the casualties suffered by ECOMOG to constitute such an improvement, to state the obvious. We salute ECOMOG and the memory of its fallen comrades, and extend our depest sympathy to their families.

We strongly condemn the attacks by ULIMO-J. Such outbreaks severely stretch the willingness of disinterested countries to continue assisting Liberia. In the light of these events, the Czech Republic has very seriously reflected on the future of UNOMIL and on the purpose of exposing its own participants to the attendant dangers.

In our final evaluation, though, we feel that the conflagration caused by ULIMO-J has not spread into other areas of the country. At this moment, we do not see a pandemic civil war erupting again. The important thing now is to intensify pressure on Liberia's factions to meet their commitments: to provide security guarantees to ECOMOG and UNOMIL, to proceed with disarmament and demobilization. In turn, the factions will need concrete help as their members reintegrate into civilian life.

Upon careful consideration, my authorities have reached the conclusion that withdrawing our support from UNOMIL, modest as it is, would at this time be unfortunate. We therefore support the Secretary-General's recommendation that UNOMIL's mandate be extended by several months, and will continue participating in it. However, as many members have stated many times, the primary responsibility for the future of Liberia lies with the Liberians themselves, including ULIMO-J. In the case of future serious threats to the security of UNOMIL, ECOMOG or indeed of the Liberian people, my country will be prepared to seriously re-evaluate our continuing support for UNOMIL.