Updated on 30 January 2020
Chapter 2: PLACE AND FORMAT OF COUNCIL PROCEEDINGS
Section 12: Informal interactive dialogues or discussions
2019 presidential note provides for expanding transparency with regard to the Council’s unofficial meetings and other activities
On 27 December 2019, after two years of negotiations in the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG), under the chairmanship of Kuwait, the Security Council adopted presidential note S/2019/992 on the subject of informal activities which are not indicated on the Council’s official monthly programme of work (POW).
S/2019/992 comprises only one paragraph, which states that
“all activities not currently listed in the Council’s monthly provisional programme of work are to be listed in an unofficial addendum document prepared by, and at the discretion of, the President of the Security Council.”
This new note responds to the Security Council’s ever more complex schedule. The official monthly programme of work, posted on the Council’s webpage, indicates not only formal meetings and informal consultations, but also such informal monthly activities as the breakfast of the permanent representatives, the political coordinators’ meeting to finalize the POW, the luncheon with the Secretary-General, end-of-presidency receptions and, when they occur, such occasional activities as missions to the field, retreats with the Secretary-General, and the annual Finnish Workshop.
On the other hand, the official monthly programme of work does not indicate Informal Interactive Dialogues and "Toledo" style wrap-ups (which are activities of the Security Council chaired by the Council President), Arria-formula meetings (which are not Council activities), and other events such as meetings between members of the Security Council and of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council when these take place, every other year, in New York.
Having an incomplete picture of the Security Council’s full monthly programme has been felt to be a problem not only for non-Council Member States and others who wish to closely follow the Council’s work, but also for the Council members themselves. In the IWG, the initial proposal was to include more informal activities on the regular work programme, but there was not full consensus to do so. Presidential note S/2019/992, by authorizing preparation of an unofficial addendum to the POW, offers a compromise solution.
There is a precedent for such an addendum in the “Tentative and provisional programme of work of the Security Council subsidiary organs” which, beginning in 2014, has been posted on the “Subsidiary Organs” page of the Security Council website. This POW indicates both formal and informal meetings of the Council’s sanctions committees, counter-terrorism committees, and thematic working groups. It also gives the dates for the submission of reports by groups of experts affiliated with these subsidiary organs.
The supplemental subsidiary organs POW, viewed together with the programme of work for the Security Council itself, has given a more comprehensive view of the Council’s overall monthly workload. This has been helpful to individual Council members, especially those with smaller delegations, in planning in advance for their attendance at the wide range of Council activities. It has also enhanced Council transparency vis-à-vis interested non-Council Member States and others interested in particular questions under consideration by the Council. The new unofficial addendum to the Council’s regular programme of work can be expected to further expand such benefits.
It remains to be seen, however, how many Council presidencies will in fact prepare and update such an addendum, since S/2019/992 leaves the choice to do so to their discretion. The new note having been adopted in December 2019, the first presidency to prepare an addendum was Viet Nam, serving as Council President for January.
(This update supplements page 560 of the book.)