Updated on 16 March 2017
Chapter 4: THE COUNCIL CONVENES
Section 3: Agenda and Summary statement of matters of which the Security Council is seized
The Security Council’s review of its Summary Statement in 2017
The Summary Statement of matters of which the Security Council is seized issued in early January 2017 listed 16 agenda items which were subject to deletion, because they had not been considered at a formal Council meeting during the prior three-year period (S/2017/10 and Corr.1).
Pursuant to Presidential Note S/2010/507, UN Member States had a two-month period in which to send written requests for the retention of any of those items. After the deadline, an Addendum to the Summary Statement was issued which indicated that requests from Member States were received with regard to all 16 of the items subject to deletion (S/2017/10/Add.9). Accordingly, all have been retained on the Summary Statement for an additional year.
In 2016, one agenda item which had been on the Summary Statement since 1975 – “The situation in Timor-Leste” – was deleted (see related article on this website). In 2015, ten older items were deleted from the Summary Statement (see related article on this website).
Twelve of the items which have been retained in 2017 relate to country situations which have not been considered by the Council at a formal meeting since 1949, 1958, 1961, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1991, respectively. As noted in the book,
“Some Member States, including Pakistan, Cuba, Ukraine, the Sudan, and the Arab Group States, felt strongly
about retaining certain older items on the Summary Statement, even if they had not been actively considered
for some decades. As explained to the authors, while they accepted that the Council had no plan to take up the
matters at that time, they felt that deleting the items from the Summary Statement would send the wrong signal
that the matters had been satisfactorily resolved, when that was not the case.”
In 2017, three more recent country situations were retained at the request of UN Member States:
The representative of Georgia (S/2017/27) requested the retention of the agenda item, “The situation in Georgia”, which was last considered by the Council at a formal meeting on 15 June 2009.
The Council has continued to consider the situation in Myanmar periodically in closed consultations, most recently on 17 March 2017. However, since the Council has not taken up “The situation in Myanmar” at a formal meeting since 13 July 2009, the agenda item was subject to deletion in 2017. It has been retained at the request of the United Kingdom (S/2017/90), which is the penholder on the Security Council for that item.
“The situation between Iraq and Kuwait” has been on the Summary Statement since 2 August 1990. The last formal meeting convened explicitly under that agenda item was held on 27 June 2013. Since then, as decided in resolution 2107 (2013), the issues of “missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property” stemming from Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait have become the responsibility of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). In accordance with the resolution, the Secretary-General thereafter has submitted both his report on the situation concerning Iraq, and his report on “missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property” in a similar timeframe. These two reports have then been considered by the Council at a single formal meeting, convened under the agenda item, “The situation in Iraq”. Because since 2013 “The situation between Iraq and Kuwait” has not been used for the formal meetings at which the relevant report is considered, the item therefore became subject to deletion in 2017. The item’s retention was requested by Kuwait (S/2017/141), and accordingly it will remain on the Summary Statement for a further year.
It should be noted that it would be possible for the Council to convene its periodic meetings to consider the Secretary-General’s reports on Iraq and Iraq-Kuwait issues using both relevant agenda items. As a precedent, for many years, the Council has convened its regular meetings to consider the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the issues relating to genocide and other violations in Rwanda which now come under the Residual Mechanism, under two agenda items: the item relating to the ICTY (currently item No. 13 on the Summary Statement), and the item relating to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) (currently item No. 14 on the Summary Statement). Moreover, this practice of convening regular meetings under both agenda items has not precluded the Council from meeting under one, or the other, agenda item when only one of those situations has been at issue.
For 2017, one thematic agenda item was subject to deletion: “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”. The Council last held a formal meeting under this agenda item on 8 January 2009, when it heard a “tour d’horizon” briefing by the High Commissioner. Thus beginning in 2013, the agenda item became subject to deletion. However, each year a member of the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG) has requested its retention, as did Norway in 2017 (S/2016/125). In its more recent practice, the Council has continued periodically to invite the High Commissioner to brief, but has done so at meetings convened under situation-specific agenda items. Therefore, the WEOG States' requests for the retention of the general agenda item, “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, can be seen as largely symbolic, countering the position taken by some UN Member States that the general situation of refugees falls more appropriately within the mandate of UN bodies other than the Security Council.
Through the process for streamlining the Summary Statement agreed by the Council from 1993 through 2010, the number of items on the Summary Statement has been reduced from 207 items in 1993 to 68 items in 2017. (This update supplements pages 229-233 of the book.)