Updated on 7 January 2018

Chapter 8:   SUBSIDIARY BODIES

Section 7:   Appointment of bureaux of subsidiary bodies

Security Council appoints Chairs and Vice-Chairs of its subsidiary bodies for 2018

 

In a Note by the President dated 2 January 2018 (S/2018/2), the Council announced the bureaux of its subsidiary bodies for the year 2018. 

 

An article on this website describes the breakthrough Note by the Council President, S/2016/619, which institutionalized important advances in the selection process for the bureaux.  Those 2016 guidelines were incorporated into the new comprehensive Note by the President on the Council’s working methods, S/2017/507, which was adopted on 30 August 2017 (see related article on this website). 

 

The two most noteworthy provisions of the new selection procedure are the following: 

 

1)  Paragraph 11 of S/2017/507 provides a recommended target date by stating that the Council members “should make every effort to agree provisionally on the appointment of the Chairs of the subsidiary bodies for the following year no later than 1 October.”

 

2)  Whereas previously, by an informal arrangement, only permanent members of the Council facilitated the appointment process, paragraph 113 of S/2017/507 provides that the consultations on the appointment process “will be facilitated jointly by two members of the Security Council working in full cooperation”.  Although consensus was not reached to elaborate on this arrangement either in S/2016/619 or subsequently in S/2017/507, the Japanese representative, in a press conference at the end of his country’s July 2016 Council Presidency, stated that

 

“The two members in practice will be one elected member of the Council serving as the Chair of the

Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, and one permanent

member.” 

 

For the 2018 appointments, it was not possible for the co-facilitators to garner the agreement of all Council members on the composition of the bureaux exactly on the recommended target date of 1 October.  However, the appointments were finalized the following week, which was about three weeks earlier than in 2016.  And both the 2016 and 2017 timeframes were a significant improvement over the years prior to 2016, when incoming members were sometimes informed of their subsidiary body assignments only days before they were to take up their new responsibilities.  The present overlap of almost three months between the outgoing and incoming bureaux has allowed the new 2018 Chairs to attain a greater level of preparedness through a more prolonged mentorship and more in-depth briefings.

 

As set out in Note S/2018/2, the Permanent Representatives of the incoming members will be chairing the following subsidiary bodies in 2018 (because of political sensitivities, the focus of some subsidiary organs is not given in their official names, and in those cases, the information is provided in the footnotes):

 

Côte d’Ivoire: 

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic

  • Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations

 

Equatorial Guinea: 

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 1636 (2005)[1]

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 2048 (2012) concerning Guinea-Bissau

 

Kuwait:

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions

 

Netherlands: 

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006)[2]

  • Facilitator for the Implementation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)[3]

 

Peru: 

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) (“Counter-Terrorism Committee”)

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014)[4]

  • Working Group established pursuant to resolution 1566 (2004)[5]

  • Informal Working Group on International Tribunals

 

Poland: 

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 1518 (2003)[6]

  • Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan

  • Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan 

 

The four elected members which are remaining on the Council in 2018 for the second year of their terms will retain the chairmanships which they began in 2017.  As well, the Netherlands is assuming both of the positions which were held by Italy during the first year of those two countries’ split term for the 2017-18 time period.[7] 

 

Generally, the chairmanships of the Council’s subsidiary bodies rotate somewhat randomly among the regional groups to which the various Council members belong.  A noteworthy example is the chairmanship of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, which has rotated through all of the regional groups – Africa (2), Asia-Pacific (1), Eastern Europe (3); Latin American and Caribbean States (2), and Western European and Other States (4) – and has, very exceptionally, also included two permanent members:

 

United Kingdom (2001-2003); Spain (2003); Russian Federation (2004-5); Denmark (2005-6); Panama (2007); Croatia (2008-9); Turkey (2010); India (2011-12); Morocco (2013); Lithuania (2014-15); Egypt (2016-17); and

now Peru (2018).

 

Nonetheless, in a few cases, chairmanships have tended to have continuity within a regional group.  For example, since 2007, the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) has been chaired by a Council member from the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG).[8]  Similarly, since 2013, the chairmanship of the Committee related to Iran’s nuclear programme, and the subsequent position of Facilitator, have been delegated to Council members belonging to WEOG.[9]  In addition, since 2012, the chairmanship of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals has been held by a member of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.[10]  Appropriately, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa has, since its inception, been chaired by a Council member from the Africa Group.[11]

 

The majority of Vice-Chairs in 2018 will once again be elected members.  However, as in the recent past, three of the five permanent members – France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom – will serve as Vice-Chairs of several subsidiary bodies:

 

France:  Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism; Working Group established pursuant to resolution 1566 (2004)[6]

 

Russian Federation:  Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities; Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism; Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011)[12]; Working Group established pursuant to resolution 1566 (2004)[6]

 

United Kingdom:  Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004)[13]; Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations

 

As has been their past practice, in 2018 neither China nor the United States will hold positions as Vice-Chairs.  

 

The role of the Vice-Chairs of the Council’s subsidiary bodies is less operational than in the UN’s other principal organs.  That is because in 2009, the Council decided that the Chargé d’affaires of a Chair’s delegation would serve as Acting Chair of a subsidiary organ in the Chair’s absence (see the book, page 558, and a related article on this website).  The purpose of this arrangement has been to provide greater continuity at times when the designated Chair is not at UN Headquarters.  But although the Council’s Vice-Chairs now play a minimal role, their appointments do create a profile of greater regional balance for each subsidiary body, and therefore are not without political importance.

 

As noted in the book (pages 129 and 557), depending on the subsidiary body, a chairmanship can be a very demanding assignment for a non-permanent member, requiring a significant commitment of time and personnel, and sometimes placing that member at the centre of controversial issues.  On the other hand, serving as Chair can give an elected member a leadership role when the matters for which subsidiary bodies are responsible come up for consideration in the Council itself.  Thus for many elected members, holding the chairmanship of a key subsidiary body can be one of the high points of their term, and the means by which they make their most significant contribution to the Council’s work.  

 

In addition to trying to accommodate the preferences of some members to chair certain subsidiary bodies and not to chair others, care must be taken to ensure – particularly in the case of sanctions committees – that a member appointed as Chair has sufficient distance from the problem, geographically and politically, so that it will be seen as conducting the work of the subsidiary body with objectivity.

 

For all these reasons, the selection process for subsidiary body chairs each year requires careful balancing and a spirit of compromise.

 

(This update supplements pages 556 to 559 of the book.)

 

[1] Relating to suspects in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

[2] Relating to the nuclear weapons programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

[3] Relating to implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relating to Iran’s nuclear programme.

[4] Relating to Yemen.

[5] Tasked by the resolution with examining “practical measures to be imposed upon individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities, other than those designated by the Al-Qaida/Taliban Sanctions Committee” (now two separate committees), and “the possibility of establishing an international fund to compensate victims of terrorist acts and their families”.

[6] Relating to individuals and entities subject to the assets freeze imposed by resolution 1483 (2003) in connection with Iraq.

[7] After neither candidate country was able to attain the required number of votes during the 2016 elections for the second seat allocated to a member of the Western European and Other States Group, Italy and the Netherlands agreed to split the 2017-18 term, with Italy serving on the Council in 2017, and the Netherlands, in 2018 (see related article on this website).

[8] Italy (2007-8); Turkey (2009-10); Portugal (2011-12); Luxembourg (2013-14); Spain (2015-16); Italy (2017); Netherlands (2018).

[9] Australia (2013-14); Spain (2015-16); Italy (2017); Netherlands (2018).

[10] Guatemala (2012-13); Chile (2014-15); Uruguay (2016-17); Peru (2018).

[11] Mauritius (2002); Angola (2003-4); Benin (2005-6); Congo (2007); South Africa (2008); Uganda (2009-10); South Africa (2011-12); Nigeria (2013-14); Angola (2015-16); Ethiopia (2017-18).

[12] Relating to the Taliban.

[13] Relating to counter-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

 

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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