Updated on 30 January 2020
Chapter 7: DECISIONS AND DOCUMENTS
Section 11: Reports of the Secretary-General
2019 presidential note makes a stronger commitment to the timely availability of reports by the Secretary-General for all participants in Council meetings
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/2019/995. This note is on the subject of the timely availability of reports by the Secretary-General to relevant participants in Council meetings, especially troop- and police-contributing countries.
At the request of the Security Council, the Secretary-General submits an ever-increasing number of reports related to matters before the Council. In 2019, he submitted 113 such reports, the vast majority of which were considered at formal Council meetings and/or informal consultations. And of the Secretary-General’s reports, a large number relate to the mandates of peacekeeping operations established by the Council.
Given the heavy reporting requirements placed on the Secretary-General, it is understandable that it has sometimes proved difficult to submit these reports within the deadlines stipulated by the Council in its resolutions or other decisions. So while the quality of these reports has been appreciated by Council members, and other participants in Council meetings, frequent delays in receiving the reports have been an ongoing source of difficulties for the Council.
Late reports have been particularly problematic with respect to Council meetings held with troop- and police-contributing countries since, under the 2009 “New Horizon” agenda, such meetings are normally to be convened one week before the Council holds its discussion on the renewal of any peacekeeping operations.* Thus a series of presidential notes, the latest being S/2017/507, had made it explicit that at least four working days before the Council is scheduled to consider reports by the Secretary-General, these reports “should” be made available not only to Council members, but also “to all participants in meetings of troop- and police-contributing countries”.
However, by 2018, when Kuwait took up the chairmanship of the IWG, it was apparent that reporting delays were continuing to have a negative impact, particularly on meetings with troop- and police-contributing countries. For this reason, presidential note S/2019/995 introduces an amendment to paragraph 64 of S/2017/507. In the second sentence of that paragraph, the word “should” has been replaced by the word “will”, such that the paragraph now reads:
“The members of the Security Council agree that reports of the Secretary-General should be circulated to Council members and made available in all official languages of the United Nations at least four working days before the Council is scheduled to consider them. The members of the Security Council also agree that the same rule will apply to making such reports available to relevant participants in Council meetings at which those reports are discussed, including the distribution of the reports on peacekeeping missions to all participants in meetings of troop- and police-contributing countries.” (our emphasis)
This amendment having been brought to the attention of the Secretary-General, it is hoped that the year 2020 will see marked improvement in the timely availability of his reports.
(This update supplements pages 436-437 of the book.)
* See S/2017/507, para. 91(d).