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The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 4th Edition

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Article revised on 17 July 2016

Chapter 3:   THE PEOPLE

Section 3:   Non-permanent members

 

Could Italy and Netherlands create mixed delegations during a split 2017-2018 term?

 

On 28 June 2016, after five rounds of inconclusive balloting in the GA for the remaining vacancy on the Council allocated to the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG), Italy and the Netherlands announced their intention to “split” the 2017-2018 Council term, with Italy serving in 2017 and the Netherlands in 2018, subject to agreement within WEOG (see related article on this site). 

 

Subsequently, commentators wondered to what extent each of the two countries might be able to participate in private Council proceedings during the year when it is not an official member of the Council.

 

In this connection, on page 155, the book details past cases when a Council member included in its delegation a national from another country of its regional group, beginning with an interesting arrangement with respect to credentials initiated by Brazil and Argentina in 2004.  As was reported in the press, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry announced that it would include an Argentinian national in its delegation during Brazil’s 2004–2005 term on the Council.  The arrangement required the Brazilian Government to submit a letter to the United Nations requesting that the Argentinian national be accredited to Brazil’s delegation.  

 

Although no official precedent had previously occurred in the Security Council, similar arrangements had been made with respect to UN bodies such as ECOSOC.  Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, the composition of a Member State’s delegation is the sovereign prerogative of that Member State.  There is thus no prohibition against the inclusion of non-nationals on the delegation of a State, provided that a representative does not serve on two delegations simultaneously.  

 

Brazil’s arrangement with Argentina was replicated two years later when Argentina, having been elected to the Council for 2006–2007, accredited a Brazilian national as part of its delegation.  No legal objections were raised by other Council members in either instance, although disapproval was expressed informally by some, including with respect to the issue of confidentiality. Nonetheless, subsequently a similar arrangement was put into place by two countries of another regional group.

 

An attempt, however, to accredit a representative of a regional organization as part of a Council delegation failed.  After its election to the Council for 2007–2008, Italy sought to integrate an EU representative into its delegation.  Reportedly this initiative “met with firm opposition from France and the UK and a lukewarm reception from Germany”, which would be EU President at the beginning of Italy’s Council term, and the idea was abandoned.  (Nicoletta Pirozzi, “Italy’s mandate at the UN Security Council (2007–2008): A missed opportunity?”, in Jan Wouters, Edith Drieskens, and Sven Biscop (eds.), Belgium in the UN Security Council: Reflections on the 2007–2008 Membership, Antwerp, Intersentia, 2009, p. 66).

 

It was originally thought that the Argentinian and Brazilian nationals accredited, respectively, to the Brazilian and Argentinian delegations might serve merely as advisers and not speak or vote on the behalf of those delegations.  But in fact, the Argentinian diplomat, Martín García Moritán (now Argentina’s UN Permanent Representative) spoke on Brazil’s behalf at formal Council meetings and informal consultations about once each month.  For example, he delivered a statement for Brazil at a meeting on “The situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia” (S/PV.5032) and at a meeting on “Women and peace and security” (S/PV.5066).  Similarly, the Brazilian diplomat, Fernando Apparicio da Silva, spoke on behalf of Argentina during a formal meeting in 2006 on “The situation in Timor-Leste” (S/PV.5432).

 

The Argentinian and Brazilian nationals also voted on behalf of the delegation to which they were accredited in several instances.  For example, Mr. García Martín voted on behalf of Brazil in favour of resolution 1552 (2004) on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/PV.5011).  And Mr. Apparicio da Silva voted on behalf of Argentina in favour of such resolutions as 1690 (2006) on Timor-Leste (S/PV.5469), 1689 (2006) on Liberia (S/PV.5468), and 1729 (2006) on the situation in the Middle East (S/PV.5596).

 

(This update supplements page 155 of the book.)