Updated on 30 January 2020
Chapter 9: RELATIONS WITH OTHER ORGANS AND ENTITIES
Section 1: General Assembly
In 2019, the Council adopts a presidential note intended to promote more timely submission of its Annual Report to the General Assembly
On 27 December 2019, after extended negotiation in the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG), under the chairmanship of Kuwait, the Security Council adopted presidential note S/2019/997. This note represents a new effort by Council members to deal with the chronic lateness of their Annual Report to the General Assembly.
A related article on this website details how missing monthly presidency assessments have made it far more difficult for the Council member designated each year to draft the Introduction to the Annual Report to complete that task in a timely manner. One other main reason that the reports have been delayed in recent years is that divisions among Council members over certain matters on their agenda have led to controversies over how to describe the Council’s handling of those issues in the Introduction.
Criticism of the late availability of the Annual Report has been widespread in the General Assembly, and was specifically raised in a letter of 19 July 2019 from the representative of Switzerland on behalf of the 25 members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group (ACT). The letter stated that the delayed submission of the 2018 Annual Report “clearly undermines the ability of the wider United Nations membership to engage in an adequate manner” in considering it. The letter called on the Council “to explore ways of strengthening the process through rigorous adherence to the time frame agreed to by the Council in the note [S/2017/507]”.
In addressing the issue of lateness, the Council’s new presidential note reiterates the willingness of the Council “to take the action necessary to ensure the timely submission of its report” and, in this connection, recalls that the Introduction of the report is to be completed no later than 31 January. It also restates that the Secretariat, which prepares the factual body of the report, should submit the text of the entire report to the Council members no later than 15 March.
What is new in S/2019/997 is that the Council members set for themselves the specific deadline of 30 May for adopting the report, whereas the earlier presidential note S/2017/507 merely provided that the Council members would discuss and adopt the report “in time for consideration by the General Assembly in the spring”.*
The letter sent by Switzerland also recommended that “finding alternative ways to designate the delegation that should be drafting the report could be contemplated”. This issue had been under discussion in the IWG from 2007 forward, and one suggestion put forward at that time was to institute co-penholdership for the Introduction. Comprehensive note S/2017/507 does not explicitly create such an arrangement, but it does state, in its paragraph 129, that the delegation drafting the Introduction “may, when necessary, seek advice from other members of the
Council.” This, and other ideas for expediting the drafting of the Introduction have been under discussion at present in the IWG. Although no new arrangements in this regard were included in S/2019/997, some of the ideas which have been considered may be implemented without need of formalizing them in a presidential note, at least initially.
(This update supplements pages 585-590 in the book.)
* The presidential note gives the Council members a grace period for implementing the new deadline, in that it will apply not to the 2019 report, but rather to the 2020 report and those following.