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Updated on 3 July 2018

Chapter 3:   THE PEOPLE

Section 3:   Elected members


Consensus reached that flag installation ceremony for new members will be an annual event


On the morning of 2 January 2018, the first working day of the New Year, the Security Council President (Kazakhstan) organized a flag installation ceremony honouring the incoming members of the Council.  The event took place at the Security Council’s press stakeout area.  There, the national flags of the fifteen Council members are displayed in two groups, in stands to the right and left of the podium.  All permanent representatives of the six[1] incoming members – Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru and Poland – were present for the ceremony, as was Peru’s Foreign Minister.  The UN press corps was invited, and the event was filmed by UNTV.


The ceremony began with introductory remarks by the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan, in his capacity as Council President.  He stated that the purpose of the event was to create for the incoming members a kind of “dignified” entrance to the Security Council, and to recognize each of them for having been chosen by the wider UN membership for the serious responsibility of serving on the Council.  The President observed that it was also a fitting moment to commend the dedicated efforts of the outgoing members.  Moreover, he expressed the hope that the flag installation ceremony would become an annual tradition of the Council.


After the President’s remarks, the names of the six new members were announced one-by-one, in alphabetical order.  After each name was read out, the Permanent Representative of that country[2] stepped forward to place his or her flag in the designated slot in one of the two stands.  Once all six flags were in place, intermingled with those of the other nine Council members, a group photo was taken.


On 31 January 2018, the last day of Kazakhstan’s Council presidency, the country’s Permanent Representative, in his capacity as Council President, sent a letter (S/2018/254) to the Secretary-General thanking him for the assistance of various offices of the UN Secretariat in facilitating the ceremony.  In terms similar to those he had used during the ceremony, he described the purposes of the event.  He then added that “The members of the Security Council are united in the conviction that, with the continued support of the Secretariat, the flag installation ceremony each January will become a meaningful annual tradition.”


As noted in the book (pages 426-428), a number of letters sent by the Council President on behalf of all Council members constitute “decisions” of the Council.[3]  In such cases, the President is acting “under the authority of the Security Council”, pursuant to Rule 19 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure, to represent the Council “in its capacity as an organ of the United Nations”.  Accordingly, the President’s letter of 31 January 2018 can be considered as conveying to the Secretary-General the consensus of the Council members that a flag installation ceremony welcoming the new members should become an annual event.  Moreover, the letter, written very diplomatically, in effect requests the assistance of the Secretary-General in this connection when it states that “Your personal support in this endeavour would reinforce the important contribution that the elected Council members make to further the purposes and ideals for which the United Nations stands.”


In view of the consensus conveyed in Kazakhstan’s letter, it will next fall to the Council presidency in January 2019 of the Dominican Republic, itself an incoming member, to prepare and conduct the second annual flag installation ceremony.


(This update supplements Chapter 3, Section 3 of the book.)



[1] Pursuant to Article 23(2) of the Charter, normally five members are elected annually for two-year terms on the Council.  However, during the 2016 elections, Italy and the Netherlands decided to split between them the 2017-2018 term earmarked for the Western European and Other States Group in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1991 (XVIII) (see related article on this website).  As a result, in 2018, six new members joined the Council, rather than the usual five.

[2] In the case of Peru, the Foreign Minister and the Permanent Representative together installed their country’s flag.

[3] In such cases, these letters are entered in the annual volume entitled Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council.  Of course, not all letters sent by the President publish decisions, since some merely circulate information.



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