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The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 4th Edition

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Updated on 12 December 2015

Chapter 5:   CONDUCT OF MEETINGS AND PARTICIPATION

Section 2:   Individuals invited to participate in Council proceedings

 

Irregular invitation to the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission

 

Prior to the Council’s annual open debate on its working methods to be held on 20 October 2015, the President (Spain) circulated an advance copy of its concept note which listed the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) as one of the intended briefers.  Yet when the concept note was published as an official Security Council document (S/2015/793), the PBC Chair was no longer included as a briefer, suggesting that consensus had not been reached among the Council members to have the PBC Chair participate in the open debate in that capacity.  

 

At the outset of the open debate (S/PV.7539), the Council President extended invitations to participate pursuant to Rule 37 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure to the representatives of 43 UN Member States, including Sweden.  Thus the invitation to Sweden’s Ambassador, Olof Skoog, was made to him in his national capacity, rather than his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission.  In contrast, the Council President extended invitations to participate under Rule 39 to the “following briefers”, Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly, and Sven Jürgenson, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  It will be recalled that Rule 39 provides that:

 

“The Security Council may invite members of the Secretariat or other persons, whom

it considers competent for the purpose, to supply it with information or to give other

assistance in examining matters within its competence.”

 

The Deputy Secretary-General spoke during the open debate as the first briefer.  He required no formal invitation to do so since, pursuant to Rule 22, “The Secretary-General, or his deputy acting on his behalf, may make either oral or written statements to the Security Council concerning any question under consideration by it.”  The Assembly President and the ECOSOC Vice-President spoke as the next two briefers, followed by Security Council members.

 

Thereafter, the Council President began giving the floor to the representatives of the UN Member States which had been invited to participate pursuant to Rule 37.  The first of these was Ambassador Skoog, to whom the President gave the floor as “the representative of Sweden”.  However, Mr. Skoog’s first words were to “very much welcome the opportunity to participate in this open debate of the Council on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission”.  After making a statement on behalf of the PBC, Ambassador Skoog then said, “I should now like to say a few words in my national capacity under rule 37 and on behalf of the Nordic countries, namely, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and my own country, Sweden.”  This implied that he did not consider the first part of his statement to have been made pursuant to Rule 37.

 

Other speakers during the debate made statements which indicated that they considered Ambassador Skoog to have participated as a briefer on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission.  For example, the representative of the Republic of Korea thanked “the President of the General Assembly, the Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission for their briefings this morning”. 

 

In addition to the Council President’s extending the invitation to Ambassador Skoog pursuant to Rule 37 and giving him the floor in his national capacity, the President set the Swedish representative apart from the three official briefers in a third way.  That is, he gave Ambassador Skoog the floor after the Council members, whereas the official briefers all spoke prior to them.

 

For whichever Council member(s) had not favoured having the PBC Chair invited as an official briefer for the open debate, the procedure of inviting the Swedish representative in his national capacity and then allowing him to speak on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission appears to have been a workable compromise, since no point of order was raised by any Council member during Ambassador Skoog’s statement on behalf of the PBC.