Updated on 9 May 2015
Chapter 8: SUBSIDIARY BODIES
Section 7: Appointment of bureaux of subsidiary bodies
Acting chairmanship arrangements for Security Council subsidiary bodies
Page 558 of the book described the Security Council’s arrangements for chairing subsidiary bodies in the absence of the appointed Chair:
"For many years, the Security Council followed the practice, widely used throughout the UN
system, that Chairs served in their individual capacities, whereas vice-chairmanships were
held by the entire delegation of the designated Council member. That distinction continues
to be observed in the yearly presidential note announcing the bureaux. In earlier practice,
that meant that when the permanent representative serving as the Chair of a committee or
working group was not available to sign a letter or otherwise represent that subsidiary organ,
no other member of his or her delegation could act in that capacity, but only a member from
the delegation of one of the Vice-Chairs. Concerned that this practice left important gaps in the continuity of the leadership of subsidiary organs, during consultations of the whole in July 2009
the United Kingdom proposed, and the Security Council accepted, that thereafter the chargé d’affaires of a Chair’s delegation would be authorized to chair the subsidiary organ in the
The new arrangements were put into practice almost immediately when, the month after their adoption, in the absence of the Permanent Representative of Austria, another Austrian delegate signed a letter as Acting Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities (S/2009/427). The same Austrian delegate signed a letter under similar circumstances in December 2009 (S/2009/676). In May 2012, a delegate of Portugal signed a letter in the absence of his Permanent Representative, the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) (S/2012/287).
In addition, on 22 December 2011, the Council heard a report by a delegate of Portugal, acting on behalf of his Permanent Representative, the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya (S/PV.6698). In closed consultations held on 23 August 2011 and 21 August 2012, the same Portuguese delegate presented oral reports on behalf of the absent Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006).
Although the number of instances when it was necessary to sign a letter in the Chair’s absence have actually been rare, the arrangements agreed in 2009 were followed by the Council until 2014. On 14 April of that year, the representative of Rwanda, one of two Vice-Chairs of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1572 (2004) concerning Côte d’Ivoire, signed a letter in the absence of the Chair, the representative of Chile (S/2014/266). Then on 16 January 2015, the representative of Nigeria, one of two Vice-Chairs, signed a letter on behalf of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan (S/2015/31), while the incoming Chair of that Committee, the representative of Venezuela, was in the process of submitting his credentials.
It remains to be seen whether the 2014 and 2015 letters mark a return to the practice followed prior to the arrangements agreed in 2009, or whether those two letters were exceptions made in response to special circumstances.