Updated on 15 Sept. 2016
Chapter 2: PLACE AND FORMAT OF COUNCIL PROCEEDINGS
Section 10: Informal consultations of the whole
Permanent Representative breakfasts at the outset of each Council Presidency
At the outset of New Zealand’s first Council Presidency during its 2015-2016 term, the country hosted a breakfast for all the permanent representatives (PRs) of the Council on 1 July 2015. The opportunity provided by this breakfast for an informal dialogue among the permanent representatives was considered so useful that every succeeding Council President has followed suit.
At first, the PR breakfasts were held in addition to the daylong bilateral consultations which each incoming Council President traditionally held on the first working day of their Presidency. Although the PR breakfasts were not limited to considering each proposed programme of work (POW), after a few months it was felt that discussion of the draft POW at the breakfasts was sufficient, such that the day’s bilateral consultations could be dispensed with.
Thus, beginning in November 2015, all Council Presidencies have scheduled the meeting at which the political coordinators give final review to the draft calendar for the same morning as the PR breakfast. (Previously, this coordinators’ meeting had been held at the end of the full day of bilateral consultations.) This new compression of the Council’s final review of the draft POW into a single morning has made it possible to schedule the adoption of the POW for the afternoon of the same day, whereas previously the adoption took place the morning of the second working day of an incoming Presidency.
Since the PR breakfasts were inaugurated, bilateral consultations with an incoming Presidency can still be held on the first working day upon request, but this is now rare.
At a time when the Council’s programme is heavily scheduled, the shortened timeframe for adopting the POW has made valuable extra time available to the Council. In particular, the PR breakfast has made it easier to find time to conduct substantive business on the first day of a new Presidency, as necessary. For example, the Council was able to adopt its POW the afternoon of 1 April 2016, and later that same afternoon, to adopt resolution 2279 (2016) on enhancing the UN presence in Burundi.
One other benefit of discussing the draft POW at the PR breakfast is that if a permanent representative calls into question some aspect of the POW at that time, all 15 permanent representatives are present to reach a solution. Under the previous system of bilateral consultations, such issues would go to the political coordinators to resolve at the end of the day, and this could be cumbersome and time-consuming, especially if instructions from permanent representatives were needed. During some months, problems with the POW still remain to be ironed out during the political coordinators’ meeting, but this occurs less frequently.
Overall, the substitution of the PR breakfast for the former daylong bilateral consultations as preparation for adopting each month’s POW is an example of a small change in working methods which has made a modest, but appreciated contribution to improving the Council’s efficiency.
(This update supplements page 69 of the book.)