Updated on 15 January 2020
Chapter 8: SUBSIDIARY BODIES
Section 8: Reporting by subsidiary bodies
Côte d’Ivoire takes unusual step of issuing 2018 report of Peacekeeping Operations Working Group in its national capacity
On 17 December 2019, at the annual briefing of outgoing Chairs of the Security Council subsidiary bodies (S/PV.8688), the permanent representative of Côte d’Ivoire spoke about his experiences chairing the Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations from 2018 to 2019. He recalled that this Working Group “seeks to promote triangular cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries.” He then summarized the themes taken up by the Working Group during his chairmanship.
As is detailed in the book (page 559), since the practice was introduced that the Council's subsidiary bodies would submit written annual reports, such reports have been agreed by consensus. As concerns the 2019 annual report of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, in his 17 December 2019 statement, the Ivorian representative noted that his delegation had proposed an exhaustive account of the meetings held, together with a faithful rendition of the positions taken by those participating. He said, however, that the report still had not been adopted, “due to divergent views among certain members of the Council, linked in particular to problems concerning the issue of intelligence in peacekeeping operations.”
Observing that everyone had recognized the quality of the draft report, he affirmed that his country was urging those concerned to make concessions so that the report could be published as a Council document. He added, nonetheless, that “Côte d’Ivoire reserves the right to publish the document in its national capacity, if necessary.”
This turned out not to be necessary. On 30 December 2019, the second-to-last day of his chairmanship, the Ivorian representative submitted the Working Group's 2019 report to the Council President. The report's Introduction provides a qualifying phrase which suggests the basis on which compromise was finally reached:
"The present report contains summaries of statements or interventions made by briefers and representatives of Member States during the meetings of the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations. Its content is not intended to reflect the consensus position of the Security Council on peacekeeping issues." (our emphasis)
What the Ivorian representative did not mention at 17 December meeting was that the Working Group’s report for the previous year still had not been approved. He took action on that outstanding report on 27 December 2019. In a letter addressed to the Council President, he informed her that he was forwarding “the report on the activities” of the Working Group for the year 2018. He added,
“Given that members of the Working Group have been consulted on the text but could not reach consensus, I am submitting the present request for circulation in my national capacity.”
While highly unusual, the action taken by the representative of Côte d’Ivoire to publish the 2018 report in his national capacity was not unprecedented. And interestingly, the last instance of a Chair publishing a subsidiary body annual report in his national capacity occurred in connection with the very same Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations:
In December 2004, when the Working Group members proved unable to agree on their annual report, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Chile, writing in his capacity as Chair of the Working Group, transmitted to the Council President “a personal report”, submitted under his “sole responsibility”, on the activities of the Working Group during 2004. This report was then published as an attachment to a Note by the President. One of the issues in 2004, as set out by the Chair, was that the Working Group had gone beyond the functions initially foreseen for it concerning the relationship between troop-contributors and peacekeeping operations. In his view, however, the Working Group could perfectly well assume operational functions – and not simply functions of diagnosis and analysis as had been the case thus far – in the relationship between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Security Council.
Côte d’Ivoire’s decision to publish the 2018 Working Group report in its national capacity follows closely on recent decisions by Sweden and Equatorial Guinea to reinstate the practice of publishing monthly presidency assessments without full consensus among Council members (see related article on this website). Moreover, it is now accepted practice for some Council members to publish national summaries (and often conclusions and recommendations) with respect to certain Council debates, rather than seeking approval of Council outcome documents. Taken together, these individual initiatives suggest that there may be a growing trend among some Council members to move forward in alternative ways, in their national capacity, at times when full Council agreement may not be achievable.
(This update supplements pages 511 and 559-60 in the book.)
 In 2018: Protection of civilians under peacekeeping operations in difficult conditions; strategic generation of forces in peacekeeping operations; women and peace and security in peacekeeping operations; safety, security and performance of Blue Helmets in asymmetric environments; and lessons learned from the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. In 2019: Relations between peacekeeping missions and host States; implementation of the Secretary-General’s peacekeeping reform initiative (“Action for Peacekeeping”); UNAMID in Darfur; and peacekeeping cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations.
 See page 511 in the book. It is also to be noted that the Department has been renamed "Department of Peace Operations".