13 January 2022
Chapter 8: SUBSIDIARY BODIES
Section 7: Appointment of bureaux of subsidiary bodies
Security Council appoints Chairs and Vice-Chairs of its subsidiary bodies for 2022
In a Note by the President dated 12 January 2022 (S/2022/2), the Security Council will shortly announce the bureaux of its subsidiary organs for the year 2022.
These appointments were arrived at through a selection process set out in presidential notes S/2017/507 and S/2019/991. In accordance with paragraph 113 of the former, consultations on the appointments were “facilitated jointly by two members of the Security Council”. As explained by the representative of Japan in a 2016 press conference, the co-facilitators are the elected member serving as Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG) and one permanent member. Thus for the 2022 selection process, the elected member co-facilitator was Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
S/2017/507, paragraph 111 states 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.” For the 2022 chairmanships, while the process was launched within a reasonable time after the election of the new incoming members (I5) in June 2021, it took until 12 January 2022 for the appointments to be formalized. This delay meant that many of the incoming chairs had insufficient time to fully benefit from mentorship and in-depth briefings by the outgoing chairs.
One of the problems that presented itself during the selection process for the 2022 bureaux was also a factor during the process for apportioning the 2021 chairs. That is, some of the particular subsidiary body assignments that become available during these alternate years draw competitive interest from among the I5, while other chairmanships are seen as undesirable.
For the 2022 cycle, subsidiary bodies of interest included the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG). Chairing this working group provides that Council member with a unique and visible role in promoting the improvement of the Council’s working methods. Two of the Council’s three counterterror bodies are also occasionally subject to competitiveness: the resolution 1373 (2001) Counter-Terrorism Committee and the 1540 Committee on preventing non-state entities from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.
The incoming members will be chairing the following subsidiary organs for 2022 (footnotes below give the specific subjects of subsidiary bodies which, owing to political sensitivities, are not part of their official names):
Committee established pursuant to resolution 1636 (2005)
Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014)
Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions
Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan
Informal Working Group on International Tribunals
Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan
Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic
Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations
United Arab Emirates:
Committee established pursuant to resolution 2048 (2012) concerning Guinea-Bissau
Working Group established pursuant to resolution 1566 (2004)
Brazil, the fifth incoming member, will not be chairing, or vice-chairing, any of the Council’s subsidiary bodies in 2022. Brazil reportedly took this decision because there was not consensus to allocate to it the chairmanships in which it was interested. In contrast, during its most recent prior term, 2010-11, Brazil chaired two sanctions committees and served as Vice-Chair to other bodies. It remains to be seen whether the country will agree to chair any subsidiary bodies in 2023, the second year of its present term.
In current practice, there have been only partial precedents for an elected member not to chair any subsidiary organs. Bolivia in 2017-18, and South Africa in 2011-12 and 2019-20, each took a position that because of their strong reservations about sanctions, they would not chair any sanctions committees. Bolivia, however, did serve as Chair of the 1540 counter-terrorism committee. South Africa agreed to serve as Vice-Chair to a few sanctions committees, as well as the CTC during its most recent term, and also chaired a working group during its two most recent terms.
For the elected members remaining on the Council for the second year of their terms, their chairing responsibilities for 2022 will remain those decided in 2021, as detailed in a related article on this website, with India additionally taking on the chairmanship of the resolution 1373 (2001) Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), as described below.
The general consensus among Security Council members has been that it is best for each elected member to chair the same subsidiary body for two successive years. Occasionally in the past, however, agreement has been reached for an elected member to chair a subsidiary body for a single year. Up until 2021, presidential notes did not indicate such arrangements. However in 2021, the presidential note set out in a footnote a future arrangement for the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), stating that India would chair the committee until the end of 2022, after Tunisia left the Chair. It is anticipated that a similar footnote in S/2022/2 will state that the United Arab Emirates will chair the CTC until the end of 2023, after India leaves the Chair.
As was indicated in the 2021 presidential note, for 2022, Mexico, a continuing member, has taken on the position of Vice-Chair for the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. Mexico has a historical connection to this working group, having served in 2009-10 as its second Chair.
For 2022, the majority of Vice-Chairs will 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. As has been their practice, in 2022 neither China nor the United States will hold positions as Vice-Chairs.
In some cases, chairmanships of the Council’s subsidiary bodies rotate among the various regional groups to which Council members belong. A noteworthy example is the Counter-Terrorism Committee, which has been chaired by members from all five of the UN regional groups. Moreover, two of its Chairs have been permanent members. In other cases, chairmanships have had continuity within a regional group. For example, since 2007, the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) relating to the DPRK nuclear weapons programme has been chaired by a Council member from the Western European and Other States Group. In yet other cases, a chairmanship has stayed within one regional group for an extended period of time and then rotated. From 2012 to 2019, the chairmanship of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals was held by a member of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States. Then for 2020-21, the chairmanship passed to Viet Nam (from the Asia-Pacific Group), while Gabon (of the Africa Group) will chair in 2022.
For many elected members, chairing a key subsidiary body can be one of the high points of their term, and the means by which they make one of their most significant contributions to the Council’s work. In particular, serving as Chair can sometimes give an elected member a leadership role when the matter for which their subsidiary body is responsible comes up for consideration in the Council itself. This latter function is one which the elected members are committed to enlarging, especially to include a more formal “penholding” role in the drafting of relevant resolutions and other Security Council outcome documents (see related article on this website).
At the same time, chairmanships can be very demanding assignments for elected members, requiring a significant commitment of time and personnel, and sometimes placing them at the centre of controversies. Consequently, the elected members have called for a wider division of labour whereby the permanent members would assume some subsidiary body chairmanships. This issue has been under lively discussion in the IWG and was one impetus towards adoption of the 2019 presidential note referenced above (S/2019/991), paragraph (b) of which states:
“The members of the Security Council stress that this informal consultation process [for designating Chairs] should take into account the need for a shared responsibility and a fair distribution of work for the selection of the Chairs among all members of the Council, bearing in mind the capacities and resources of members.” (our emphasis)
Previously, this question was also addressed in a 2018 letter signed by that year’s elected Council members and the 2019 incoming members (S/2018/1024). The letter emphasized “the need for fair burden-sharing and an equal distribution of work among all members of the Security Council, including its permanent members.” It added that “This principle should apply to the distribution of the chairmanships of the subsidiary bodies of the Council”.
The book (pages 556-57) notes that the general trend for elected members to chair subsidiary bodies began in the Council’s ﬁrst decades. The book adds that
“The rationale for this practice has been obscured, but it may relate to an understanding reached in 1946 among the wider UN membership that the permanent members [of the Security Council] would have virtually continuous membership in some of the other United Nations principal organs or their governing bodies. As part of that understanding, it was reportedly agreed that the permanent members would not serve on the bureaux of those organs or governing bodies, so as to give the opportunity to other Member States to serve in leadership positions. It is possible that, in parallel, the same principle was applied to the bureaux of subsidiary organs of the Security Council.”
There have, nonetheless, been a few instances when permanent members have chaired subsidiary organs of the Council. The Committee of Inquiry established by resolution 496 (1981) in connection with Seychelles was chaired by France. The United Kingdom was the ﬁrst Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the Russian Federation served as the third Chair. Moreover, France was the ﬁrst Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conﬂict.
The signatories of the 2018 letter also advocated that “as a general rule, no member should chair more than two subsidiary bodies”. As it happens, for 2022, five elected members will hold more than two chairmanships of subsidiary bodies officially announced in the presidential note:
Albania – four
Gabon – three
Ghana – three
India – three
Norway – three
In addition, Ireland and Mexico co-chair the Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security, such that they also hold more than two chairmanships. (Kenya and Norway are co-chairs for 2022 of the Council's other main informal subsidiary body, the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security.)
The difficulties in finalizing this year’s selection of Chairs indicates that although progress has been made in improving the negotiating mechanism itself, more effort will need to be made to work out the political dimensions of apportioning both the more desirable, and the less desirable, chairmanships. In this light, it would appear helpful if the available chairmanships were to be discussed amongst future incoming members as early as possible.
(This update supplements pages 556 to 559 of the book.)
 12 January 2022 was not the most delayed finalization in the Council’s history. That occurred in 2010, when the presidential note setting out the chairmanships could not be issued until 31 January.
 In this connection, it has been useful that a “Best Practices” guide for Security Council subsidiary organs was prepared in 2018 by a group of former Council members under the leadership of Sweden.
 Some chairmanships which incoming members occasionally are not keen to assume were not open in 2022. These include: the 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; the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) (relating to the DPRK nuclear weapons programme); and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya.
 Relating to individuals and entities subject to the assets freeze imposed by resolution 1483 (2003) in connection with Iraq.
 Relating to suspects in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
 Relating to Yemen.
 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”.
 It is of interest that India previously chaired the CTC in 2011-12.
 France: Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism; Working Group established pursuant to resolution 1566 (2004); 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); Working Group established pursuant to resolution 1566 (2004); and United Kingdom: Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004); Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations.
 United Kingdom (2001-3); 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); Peru (2018-19); Tunisia (2020-21); India (2022).
 Italy (2007-8); Turkey (2009-10); Portugal (2011-12); Luxembourg (2013-14); Spain (2015-16); Italy (2017); Netherlands (2018); Germany (2019-20); Norway (2021-22).
 Guatemala (2012-13); Chile (2014-15); Uruguay (2016-17); Peru (2018-19).