Updated on 2 June 2016
Chapter 2: PLACE AND FORMAT OF COUNCIL PROCEEDINGS
Section 11: "Arria-formula" meetings and "Somavia-formula" meetings
Summaries of “Arria-formula” meetings published as Security Council documents
On 19 May 2016, the representatives of Angola and Spain transmitted to the Security Council President a summary of the “Arria-formula” meeting they co-hosted on 29 March 2016, with a request that the summary be issued as a Security Council document (S/2016/462). The “Arria-formula” meeting was on the topic of “Food security, nutrition and peace”, an item which does not appear on the Council’s Summary statement of matters of which the Security Council is seized (S/2016/10 and weekly addenda).
The publication of summaries of “Arria-formula” meetings as Security Council documents has been rare. As was noted on page 76 in the book, in 2006 and 2010, the Council agreed to the publication of a Secretariat background note which explicitly states that “Arria-formula” meetings “do not constitute an activity of the Council”. As the book points out, to underline the informal nature of “Arria-formula” meetings, they are not indicated on the Council’s monthly calendar, nor are they recorded systematically in the Council’s Annual Report, although they are occasionally mentioned in the Report’s Introduction.
The first “Arria-formula” meeting was held in 1992, and it was not until 15 years later, in 2007, that a summary of an “Arria-formula” meeting was issued as a Security Council document. This occurred at the initiative of the representative of the United Kingdom, who requested publication of a summary of the “Arria-formula” meeting which he hosted on “Security sector reform” in February 2007 (S/2007/107). In December of the same year, the representative of Slovakia similarly requested publication of a summary of the “Arria-formula” meeting he convened that month on “Enhancing and widening interaction and dialogue between the Security Council and other United Nations Member States, as part of the implementation of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document” (S/2007/784).
After the issuance of the two 2007 “Arria-formula” meeting summaries, no such summaries were issued as Security Council documents until 17 July 2014. On that date, Australia, France and the United States requested publication of a “non-paper summarizing the informative discussion” that took place during the “Arria-formula” meeting they co-hosted on 17 April 2014 to discuss the report of the Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (S/2014/501).
The 2014 non-paper included the qualification that it was “a co-conveners’ summary of the comments by the participants during the meeting” and that it did not “prejudge endorsement of their content by Australia, France, the United States or any other Member State”. The transmittal letter of the non-paper stated that the three representatives believed that the Security Council “should formally discuss the commission’s findings of widespread and systematic human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its recommendations to the Council, and consider appropriate action.” This presaged the formal request made by ten Council members in December in 2014 for the Council to take up, as a new agenda item, “The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (see related article on this website).
A fourth summary of an “Arria-formula” meeting was published as a Security Council document on 16 December 2015. This summary related to the “Arria-formula” meeting convened on 30 November 2015 by the representatives of Angola and Lithuania on the impact of the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons on poaching in Africa (A/70/614-S/2015/953).
The Angola-Lithuania summary, unlike all other summaries to date, was published as a joint document of the General Assembly and the Security Council. The summary contained a disclaimer stating that it had been “prepared by the Co-Chairs under their own responsibility and reflects their interpretation of the main points under discussion. It does not represent a full record of all the issues discussed, nor should it be seen as reflecting the consensus view of States on any of the specific points covered.”
The 2007, 2014, 2015 and 2016 “Arria-formula” meeting summaries each contained a listing of suggestions or recommendations generated during the meetings. The Angola-Lithuania summary also contained a Conclusion, which reads
“It is the view of the Co-Chairs that most interventions at the meeting reaffirmed the link
between the security and stability of some countries or even whole regions and the poaching activities that are facilitated by illegal arms transfers. It is our belief that the Security Council
should increase the attention it dedicates to this issue both in country-specific situations and horizontally. We also consider that a meeting in a formal Security Council setting with a
concrete outcome would be beneficial and hope that members of the Security Council will
undertake to do so in the near future.”
The 2016 summary of the “Arria-formula” meeting hosted by Angola and Spain took note of recommendations made during the meeting as to how the Security Council might subsequently address the topic of food security, nutrition and peace. However, the co-conveners did not make any explicit recommendations in this regard, but merely stated more generally that the topic “should continue to feature prominently on global agendas and the international community should strengthen efforts to work together on this matter in a more integrated and complementary manner”.
Not all Council members agree that summaries of “Arria-formula” meetings should be published as Security Council documents. Some members hold that this runs counter to the fact that “Arria-formula” meetings are not official Council activities, and can be held without the full consensus of all fifteen Council members. However, those Council representatives which submitted the summaries of the 2007, 2014, 2015 and 2016 “Arria-formula” meetings requested that the summaries be published under their names. For that reason, publication of the summaries did not require consensus, whereas consensus would have been required for the summaries to be published in the name of the Council President (see page 438 of the book).