The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 4th Edition is available at Oxford University Press in the UK and USA. 

The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 4th Edition

ISBN: 978-0-19-968529-5

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Updated on 11 January 2016

Chapter 7:   DECISIONS AND DOCUMENTS

Section 4:   Statements by the President

 

Presidential statements adopted in 2015 which contain mandatory language

 

The book (pages 374-380) notes that there is no legal hierarchy created among Security Council decisions based on the format in which the decisions are “published”.  That is, the implementation and enforceability of each Council decision is determined not by whether it takes the form of a resolution, presidential statement or letter, but rather by its substantive content.  The 1995 edition of Bruno Simma’s The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary (Oxford University Press, p. 464) affirmed that the distinction between the formats in which Security Council decisions are published is “purely formal’’ and “does not entail any normative difference”.

 

This lack of hierarchy among Council decisions contradicts a commonly held belief that the only substantive decisions provided for in the UN Charter are those adopted as resolutions. In fact, the word “resolution” does not appear anywhere in the Charter.  Rather, in Articles 25 and 27, the Charter refers only to “decisions” of the Security Council. 

 

Yet although Council decisions published in various formats may have legal parity depending on their contents, the Council members do weigh political and practical considerations when deciding on the format they will use for a decision.  Because of the widespread perception that a decision published as a resolution carries more weight than presidential statements or letters, or is more authoritative, most mandatory provisions are contained in resolutions.  Nonetheless, during 2015, the Council adopted several presidential statements which contain mandatory language.  These include (emphasis added):

 

S/PRST/2015/4 of 19 January 2015 on Boko Haram:

 “The Security Council demands that Boko Haram immediately and unequivocally cease all hostilities and all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law and disarm and demobilise.  The Security Council demands the immediate and unconditional release of all those abducted who remain in captivity, including the 276 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.”

 

S/PRST/2015/5 of 6 February 2015 on Mali

 “The Security Council therefore demands that all parties, including those who are not signatories to the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement, cease immediately all hostilities and reject violence.  The Security Council demands that all parties fully respect the ceasefire agreement signed on 23 May 2014, as well as the declaration of the Cessation of Hostilities signed in Algiers on 24 July 2014.”

 

S/PRST/2015/8 of 22 March 2015 on Yemen:

 “The Security Council demands that all parties fully implement all Council resolutions on Yemen, including resolution 2201 (2015).”

 

S/PRST/2015/10 of 24 April 2015 on Syria

“The Security Council demands that all parties to the Syrian domestic conflict immediately put an end to all forms of violence . . .”

 

S/PRST/2015/12 of 11 June 2015 on the Central African region:

 “The Council demands an immediate end to all attacks by the LRA . . .”

 

S/PRST/2015/15 of 17 August 2015 on Syria

 “The Security Council demands that all parties work urgently towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, aimed at bringing an end to all violence, violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law and the launching of a Syrian-led political process leading to a political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their future . . .”

 

S/PRST/2015/17 of 20 October 2015 on the Central African Republic

 “The Security Council demands that all those who seek to weaken the transitional government from within and outside the CAR, including militias and non-state armed groups, cease all forms of violence and destabilizing activities immediately, lay down their arms, and fully implement the agreement for Cessation of Hostilities and Violence signed on 23 July 2014 in Brazzaville, Congo as well as the agreement on principles of DDR and SSR adopted at the Bangui Forum of May 2015.”