Updated on 30 January 2020

Chapter 2:   PLACE AND FORMAT OF COUNCIL PROCEEDINGS

Section 7:   Wrap-up meetings

2019 presidential note seeks to improve the conduct and scope of “Toledo-style” wrap-up meetings held at the end of Council presidencies

 

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/2019/994 on the subject of wrap-up briefings given to non-Council Member States at the end of Council presidencies.

 

S/2019/994 begins by recalling that in the comprehensive presidential note on working methods S/2017/507, the Council members had encouraged each month’s President “to hold an informal briefing session with the wider membership on the work of the Council at the end of its presidency, as appropriate”.  While both S/2017/507 and S/2019/994 state that “A formal wrap-up session may also continue to be organized”, the focus of S/2019/994 is on informal briefings.[1]

 

Paragraph (b) of S/2019/994 encourages Council Presidents “to utilize the ‘Toledo-style’ format during such informal briefing sessions, whereby members of the Council present the activity of the Council for the month jointly and in an interactive manner”.

 

A related article on this website explains that Spain, at the close of its October 2015 Council presidency, introduced a new format for informal wrap-up meetings to be led by the outgoing President jointly with one or more other Council representatives.  These wrap-ups were called “Toledo-style” in honour of the Spanish city of Toledo, which is renowned for the cooperative relations there between Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities during the Middle Ages. 

 

As explained by a representative of Spain, “Toledo-style” wrap-ups are more than “a mere recapitulation of the work of the Council over a given month”.  Instead, a group of permanent representatives “respond to questions and comments from the membership about what has and has not been achieved during the month”.[2]  A representative of the United Kingdom has noted that “Toledo-style” wrap-ups have the same benefit as formal wrap-up meetings in terms of transparency, “but they have the added benefit of allowing interactivity and allowing all General Assembly colleagues to ask us questions.”[3]

 

Nonetheless, after four years of experience with “Toledo-style” meetings, Council members came to feel that the conduct of these wrap-ups could be improved.  To that end, paragraph (c) of S/2019/994 encourages Council Presidents “to forgo detailed summaries of the Council’s activities during the month in favour of a more analytical discussion with non-Council members and utilize more time to hear their feedback”.

 

In order to broaden the comprehensiveness of “Toledo-style” wrap-ups, paragraph (d) provides that Council Presidents “may invite the lead or co-leads of a Council visiting mission that was held during that month to actively contribute to the wrap-up session”.

 

So as to maximize attendance at these wrap-ups, paragraph (e) of S/2019/994 encourages Council Presidents “to announce the date of the wrap-up session with sufficient time to allow for adequate preparation by all participants”. 

 

Paragraph (e) also contains a phrase that is ambiguous in English, and which has been interpreted in one direction in the Chinese and French versions of the note, and in the other direction by the Russian and Spanish versions.

 

In English, the full sentence reads:

 

“The members of the Security Council encourage the President of the Security Council to announce the date of the wrap-up session with sufficient time to allow for adequate preparation by all participants and request the inclusion of the wrap-up session in the Council’s monthly programme of work and the Journal of the United Nations.”  (our emphasis)

 

From the English, it is not clear whether the members encourage the President to request the inclusion of the wrap-up session in the programme of work (POW), or whether the Council itself is requesting its inclusion.  The Chinese and French translations give the meaning that the President is encouraged to make the request; the Russian and Spanish versions give the meaning that the Council members are making the request.[4]

 

Either way, as noted in a related article on this website, some Council members have been reluctant to include all of the Council’s informal activities on its monthly programme of work.  It is therefore noteworthy that S/2019/994 provides for including “Toledo-style” wrap-ups in the POW in the future.  Nonetheless, under Viet Nam’s presidency, the first since the adoption of S/2019/994, notice of the “Toledo-style” wrap-up held on 31 January 2020 was not included in the official January programme of work.  Rather, it was instead noted on the unofficial addendum prepared pursuant to presidential note S/2019/992 (see the article referenced earlier in this paragraph).

 

(This update supplements pages 52-56 of the book.)

__________________________

[1] The last formal wrap-up was convened by Ukraine in February 2017.

[2] S/PV.7740 of 19 July 2016.

[3] S/PV.7616 of 29 January 2016.

[4] The meaning in the Arabic version has not yet been determined.

 

 

The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 4th Edition is available at Oxford University Press in the UK and USA. 

The Procedure of the UN Security
Council, 4th Edition

ISBN: 978-0-19-968529-5

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