Updated on 26 February 2016
Chapter 8: SUBSIDIARY BODIES
Section 5(a): Fact-finding and other missions by Council members to the field
Council business conducted at Headquarters while a Council mission is in the field
On page 493, the book explains that “The various types of ‘Security Council missions’ to the field, during the time when they are in process, are considered to be subsidiary bodies of the Security Council.” This means that just as the Security Council can conduct business at UN Headquarters at the same time that a Council sanctions committee or working group is meeting, so, too, can the Council conduct business at Headquarters while representatives of Council members are on a mission to the field.
In this connection, it will be recalled that Article 28(1) of the Charter provides that the Council “shall be so organized as to be able to function continuously”, and that each Council member “shall for this purpose be represented at all times at the seat of the Organization”.
In order that the Security Council will remain fully functional at Headquarters during a mission to the field, often the Permanent Representative of the country holding that month’s Council Presidency will remain at Headquarters, and another diplomat from that country will go on the Council mission. This was the arrangement followed by Uruguay during its Presidency for the month of January 2016, during which the fifteen members of the Council undertook a mission to Burundi and Addis Ababa.
However, when representatives of Council members are on a mission to the field, the Council tries to minimize its activity at UN Headquarters so as not to undercut the importance of the mission taking place. Yet occasionally, matters arise which cannot await the return to New York of the Council representatives travelling abroad, in which case the Council proceeds to conduct business at Headquarters at the same time.
Two such instances occurred during the Council’s mission to Africa from 21 to 23 January 2016: On 21 January, the Permanent Representative of Uruguay, in his capacity as Council President, issued a press statement on behalf of the Council on the terrorist attack which took place in Kabul on 20 January (press release SC/12215). On 22 January, he issued a press statement on behalf of the Council on the attack perpetrated by Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, Somalia, earlier that same day (press release SC/12216). (This update supplements pages 492 to 498 of the book.)