Remarks by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Alternate Representative of the United Nations for Special Political Affairs, At a Security Council Open Debate on Working Methods

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
United States Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
New York, NY
November 26, 2012


Thank you, Mr. President. The United States welcomes today’s discussion, and we thank Ambassador Cabral for his diligent work as Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has the primary responsibility in the UN to maintain international peace and security. To fulfill this most critical of mandates, the Council must continually strive to improve its working methods, with a focus on enhancing its effectiveness and optimizing transparency.

The Council must be able to act quickly and with a high level of flexibility, such as our quick turnaround meetings this month to discuss the situations in Gaza and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We should build on this, while remaining mindful that Article 30 of the Charter mandates the Council to adopt its own rules of procedure.

The Council has also increased the accessibility of its work to Member States and the public. Last year, less than 10 percent of the Council’s meetings were private, compared to almost 30 percent in 2002—a very good trend. The monthly assessments produced by Council presidents provide the broader UN membership with a regular snapshot of the Council’s work. In addition, we intend to propose that the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions hold open meetings, similar to those we already hold for the Counterterrorism, Nonproliferation, and Sanctions Committees. Such meetings would allow the Chairman to explain the Group’s mandate to Member States and to provide another forum to hear views on working methods.

In July, the Council President traditionally meets with Member States to solicit views on the annual Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly. The United States, as Council President in July 2013, looks forward to continuing this practice and receiving suggestions for ways to enhance the report.

The United States values the participation of all Member States in the Council’s open debates, like the one today, and in our various informal discussions as well as in country or region-specific meetings and informal processes like Groups of Friends. In the past, we have also welcomed the chairs of country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission, subsidiary bodies, and sanctions committees to brief the Council or participate in discussions. This important interaction helps the Council mitigate or hopefully prevent the recurrence of the conflicts on our agenda and also consider new threats. Arria-formula meetings, such as the Council’s session with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, are an important tool for us to hear the views of interested Member States and of civil society. We should look for ways to discuss more issues in this manner.

While the Council’s formal meetings make headlines, much of our work occurs outside the Chamber, especially in negotiations on the Councils’ resolutions and statements. On these, Council members should consider carefully the views of other Member States, including those expressed in letters to the Council, and consult with concerned states about the content of Council products.

Mr. President, beyond greater transparency and interactivity, we must keep working to make the Council more effective. Increased use of video teleconferencing has provided the Council better, more timely information on existing and emerging conflicts, enabling the Council to maintain its vital role in early warning and conflict prevention. In 2009, the Council held one video teleconference. In 2011, we held 26.

In addition, comprehensive mandates designed by the Council, such as those supporting the safety and security of women and children, have proven valuable in resolving conflict and assisting stability and recovery in post-conflict situations.

Indeed, a more effective Security Council must remain our collective goal. Increased transparency by the Council and engagement with the broader UN membership can support this goal, but proposals must be carefully assessed to ensure that transparency and effectiveness are mutually reinforcing and not at cross-purposes.

Thank you very much.


PRN: 2012/264