INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON WORLD AFFAIRS
Membership for 2018: Bolivia, China, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, France, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States
The Security Council today is dysfunctional, with an unbalanced membership and ineffective processes. Download our paper on how to reform it as part of a radical overhaul of the UN System:
The Security Council may establish subsidiary bodies as needed under Article 29 of the UN Charter and Rule 28 of its own Provisional Rules of Procedure. (The Rules remain provisional because the Council is an organ of power and should not be bound procedurally.)
Representation: All 15 members of the Council sit on its subsidiary committees and working groups. Standing committees are chaired by the sitting President for the month. Designated members of the Council serve one-year terms as chairs of other committees and working groups.
Mandates: The mandates of subsidiary organs can range from procedural matters (documentation, meetings away from headquarters), to substantive issues (sanctions, counter-terrorism action, peacekeeping operations).
International Courts and Tribunals: The Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1993, following massive violations of humanitarian law during the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. It was the first war-crimes court created by the United Nations and the first international war-crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals at the end of the Second World War.
The Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1994 to prosecute those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda between 1 January and 31 December 1994. It may also deal with the prosecution of Rwandan citizens who committed acts of genocide and other such violations of international law in the territory of neighbouring States during the same period. In 1998 the Rwanda Tribunal handed down the first-ever verdict by an international court on the crime of genocide, as well as the first-ever sentence for that crime.
Both ICTY and the ICTR are subsidiary organs of the Security Council dependent on the UN for administrative and financial support but substantively independent.
Counter-Terrorism Committee: Established after the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the CTC acts under Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005) to bolster the ability of Member States to prevent terrorist acts national borders and internationally. The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) implements the directives of the Committee, conducts expert assessments of each Member State, and supports technical assistance to countries. In practice, the CTC has fallen victim to the divided interests of some permanent members of the Security Council and do more to facilitate terrorism than fight it. A case in point is the Chinese block on the effort by India and the United States to designate as a terrorist Hafeez Saeed, the Pakistani national who masterminded the 2008 attacks on Mumbai that killed 166 people.
Non-Proliferation Committee: Established under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (enforcement action), by resolution 1540 (2004), the Committee aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery. The resolution requires States to refrain from supporting by any means non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems. The current mandate of the Committee runs to 2021.
Military Staff Committee: The Military Staff Committee under the UN Charter is supposed to gear the Council's policy decisions to military action to regulate armaments internationally. It consists of the five members of the Security Council.
Sanctions Committees: These subsidiary bodies oversee the implementation of mandatory sanctions imposed by the Council on States or non-State entities. In theory, the sanctions must be implemented by all UN member States and can be an effective method of nonviolent action to pressure progress towards peace. Historically, sanctions have ranged from comprehensive constraints on trade and other economic relations to narrowly targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, financial or diplomatic restrictions. The consolidated list of Council sanctions is here, and separately, ISIL, Daesh and al Qaeda,North Korea.
Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Bodies: Standing Committees address particular procedural questions, such as the admission of new members. Ad hoc committees are established for a limited time and to address a specific issue.
Peacekeeping Operations: The UN Charter contains no mention of peacekeeping operations. They were invented to deal with the short-term need for international military, police and civilian supervision of politically volatile situations to allow negotiations towards lasting settlements. In practice, most peacekeeping operations have become long lasting and often complex efforts providing cover for the manipulation of strategically important or resource-rich countries/regions in Africa and the Middle East. They undertake a multiplicity of tasks. In some countries like South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, peacekeepers do little more than protect themselves from attack. In other countries they can be called upon to facilitate political processes; protect civilians; assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections; protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.
Political Missions: work to manage situations headed into or out of conflict. They can thus either end in or result from peacekeeping operations. Some merely report on situations with no political movement at all. Download 2017 list.
Peacebuilding Commission: (PBC) is an intergovernmental advisory body of both the Security Council and the General Assembly. It is meant to support peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict. In effect, it replaces the Trusteeship Council, the Charter body that has long been moribund. The PBC brings together regional governments, international donors, financial institutions and countries contributing troops to peacekeeping operations. It advises on and proposes integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding, marshals resources and monitors threats to peace. Countries currently on the agenda of the PBC are Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Central African Republic.
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21 January 2018: Britain was the only permanent member of the Security Council that did not refer to drug trafficking or terrorism during the Security Council's 19 January debate on Afghanistan and Central Asian security. It did not mention by name any of the several terrorist organizations operating in the country, not even the Taliban. Instead of calling for a cessation of terrorism it urged a peace process to end the "insurrection."
Pakistan was not so abstemious for it stood accused of providing safe havens to terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan. In denying that claim it called for a "reality check," saying there was no need for havens abroad because 40 per cent of Afghanistan was not under government control and terrorist organizations earned an estimated $400 million per year from trafficking drugs.
That picture of self-sufficiency ignores the open secrets that Afghan opium is processed into heroin in Pakistan and transported to foreign markets with the active cooperation of its intelligence service and various terrorist organizations. Other missing elements are money laundering and trafficking of arms to terrorists, projects widely believed to be under the control of Britain. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the proceeds from the Afghan drug trade tops $60 billion per year. That revenue is the primary reason for the obduracy of the war in Afghanistan.
All the other permanent members of the Council – China, France, Russian Federation and United States – addressed the issue of terrorism and the narcotics trade. The United States did not specifically refer to the matter of drug trafficking but called for action on the financing of terrorism.
The debate lasted the better part of four hours and focused on the interrelated themes of security and development. Most speakers emphasized the importance of cooperation and connectivity within the landlocked Central Asian region. There are a variety of processes supporting such development, most importantly consultations chaired and coordinated by the Kabul government.
UN TV video of debate The following statements are at times indicated. Russia (39:30); US (47:00); UK (1:03); China (1:18); France (1:31); Afghanistan (2:35); India (3:14); Pakistan (3:28); European Union (3:36)
18 January 2018: A strong exchange between the United States and Russia about Syria brought back a twinge of the Cold War at a meeting of the Security Council on Thursday. The meeting was on non-proliferation and confidence building but its proceedings made clear serious deficits on both counts. (Watch video)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who spoke first (53 minutes into the video), struck a non-confrontational note but Ambassador Nikki Haley who followed (1:04 into the video) minced no words in criticizing Moscow's opposition to and veto of the Council's Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) after it reported that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people.
The Russian representative responded to that at the end of the meeting (2:37 into the video), saying the JIM report had been mendacious and accusing the United States of opposing a Russian proposal to continue the investigative work. Both Ambassador Haley and Mr. Lavrov were long gone by then, but the British representative replied (2:41 into the video).
The Security Council in resolution 2235 (2015) on 7 August 2015, condemned the use of chemical weapons "in the Syrian Arab Republic” and expressed determination to identify and hold accountable those responsible. The resolution established a Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to look into the matter.
JIM’s mandate was renewed for a year in resolution 2319 (2016) on 17 November 2016, but after it reported that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own nationals in opposition-held areas, Moscow used its veto in October 2017 to prevent a further extension.
20 December 2017: The Security Council has made a royal mess of maintaining world peace and most of its "Peacekeeping Operations" do no more than preserve the status quo. But its members want the world to know that they are concerned about the proper environmental management of peacekeeping operations; they have just adopted the following Press statement:
"Members of the Security Council recalled Security Council resolutions 2100 (2013) of 25 April 2013, 2113 (2013) of 30 July 2013, 2245 (2015) of 9 November 2015, 2348 (2017) of 31 March 2017, 2387 (2017) of 15 November 2017, whereby the importance of considering and managing the environmental impact of peacekeeping operations mandated by the Security Council was recognized. They also recalled Security Council Presidential statement S/PRST/2011/15 of 20 July 2011;
The members of the Security Council were mindful of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of the primary responsibility of the Security Council under the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security;
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the basic principles of peacekeeping, including consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force, except in self-defence and defence of the mandate, and recognized that the mandate of each peacekeeping mission is specific to the need and the situation of the country concerned, and that the Security Council expects full delivery of the mandates it authorizes;
The members of the Security Council were cognizant of the possible environmental impact of peacekeeping operations mandated by the Security Council. They underscored the importance that peacekeeping operations endeavor to minimize their impact on the sustainability of the ecosystems where they are deployed, based on sound consideration of the risks, benefits and costs;
The members of the Security Council acknowledged that the modalities in which peacekeeping operations interact with the environment where they are deployed may contribute to the effective and efficient delivery of their mandates;
Mindful of the goals set out by the international agreements on the environment, including the Paris Agreement, the members of the Security Council expressed willingness that United Nations peacekeeping missions, in full conformity with the established mandates, continue consideration for the reduction of their environmental impact, in accordance with applicable and relevant General Assembly resolutions and United Nations rules and regulations;
The members of the Security Council underlined the importance to address comprehensively the environmental impact of peacekeeping operations, in close coordination with the relevant parties involved, including Troop and Police Contributing Countries, also through meetings of the Security Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and of the relevant bodies of the General Assembly;
The members of the Security Council recognized that consideration for environmental management includes taking into account the impact of peacekeeping operations on the historical and cultural heritage in the areas of deployment and how segments of the population may be differently affected by environmental degradation;
The members of the Security Council noted with appreciation the enhanced engagement of the Secretary General on this issue;
The members of the Security Council encouraged Member States to incorporate, as appropriate, environmental guidelines into their national training programs for military and police personnel in preparation for deployment to UN Peacekeeping Operations. They further requested the Secretary General to continue to ensure that civilian personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations receive similar training;
The members of the Security Council encouraged the Secretary General, Troop Contributing Countries and Police Contributing Countries, where appropriate and within existing resources, to share with host States and local authorities best practices regarding environmental management;
The members of the Security Council called upon Member States and in particular host States of United Nations peacekeeping missions to facilitate the efforts of peacekeepers aimed at reducing the environmental impact of peacekeeping missions."
19 December 2017: In a statement to the Press the Security Council has welcomed Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s return to Lebanon (from Saudi Arabia, from where he announced his resignation last month). In welcoming Mr. Hariri's decision to continue his term the Council commended the convening in Paris on December 8, 2017 of a ministerial meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) and attended by Prime Minister Hariri.
ISG Joint Statement
Members welcomed the ISG Joint Statement and its efforts that had contributed to the resumption of the Council of Ministers on December 5, 2017.
Since September 2013 the ISG has brought together the United Nations and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, together with the European Union and the Arab League. It was launched to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty and state institutions and to specifically encourage assistance for the Lebanese Army, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and host communities and government programs and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.
National & Regional Security
In reaffirming their strong support for the stability, security, territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence of Lebanon, the Security Council recalled the need to protect it from the crises destabilizing the Middle East. Members called upon all regional States and organizations to work for the political, social, economic, and financial stability and security of Lebanon.
They also called upon all Lebanese parties to implement a tangible policy of disassociation from any external conflicts, as an important priority. They urged the government of Lebanon to further accelerate its program of reforms to ensure political and economic stability built on a functional, transparent and democratic State, with full participation of both women and men.
Members commended the role of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in maintaining calm along the Blue Line and its cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with the aim of extending the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory. Given the security challenges faced by Lebanon, particularly the terrorist threat, the members of the Security Council commended the role played by all security institutions of the State.
They recalled the importance of implementing previous commitments which require that there will be no weapons other than that of the Lebanese State and called on all Lebanese parties to resume discussions towards a consensus on a National Defense Strategy. They recalled that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are the only legitimate armed forces of Lebanon, as enshrined in the Lebanese constitution and in the Taif agreement.
The members of the Security Council commended the generous and long-standing efforts made by the Lebanese people and the Lebanese authorities to host Syrian refugees. They recalled that any returns of refugees, when conditions allow, must be in full compliance with international law including international refugee law, and with respect for humanitarian principles, and the principle of non-refoulement.
30 October 2017: The prolonged multi-generational tragedy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo calls for words that should be "howled out in the desert air where hearing should not latch them." Instead, the Security Council has issued a statement that might issue from the imponderable Sphinx. Consider as you read the following that the European members of the Council bear primary responsibility for the situation in that unfortunate land.
"The members of the Security Council were briefed on 11 October by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of Congo and head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
The members of the Security Council reiterated their concern at the current political, security and humanitarian situation, in light of the challenges facing the implementation of the 31 December Agreement, the deterioration of the security situation, in particular in the Kasaï region and the East of the country, the increase in abuses and violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in the country, as well as their subsequent humanitarian consequences, disproportionately affecting women and children. They stressed the need for greater attention to the humanitarian situation.
The members of the Security Council expressed concern that, unless political actors demonstrate renewed good faith and political will to deliver on the promises they made to their people on New Year's Eve 2016, the DRC and the wider region are set to face an increased risk of insecurity and instability. They further called upon all political parties, their supporters, and other political actors to remain calm and refrain from violence of any kind. The members of the Security Council reiterated their commitment to act accordingly regarding all Congolese actors whose actions and statements impede the implementation of the agreement and the organization of the elections.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their support to the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, MONUSCO, the African Union and regional organizations in helping to ensure the full implementation of the 31 December 2016 Agreement, in accordance with resolution 2348 (2017). The members of the Security Council called on partners of the DRC to continue to support genuine efforts by national stakeholders towards the full implementation of the Agreement. They took note of the communiqué adopted at the 7th summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region on 19 October 2017.
The members of the Security Council reiterated that effective, swift and timely implementation of the 31 December 2016 Agreement is critical to a credible electoral process and the peace and stability of the DRC, as well as in supporting the legitimacy of the transitional institutions, as it represents a viable road map towards the holding of inclusive, peaceful and democratic presidential and legislative elections. They called for the urgent publication of a credible electoral timetable, in line with the spirit of consensus that prevailed for the signing of the Agreement. They further reiterated their call for the full implementation of the confidence building measures agreed in chapter V of the 31 December 2016 Agreement, some of which are yet to be implemented.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the steps taken by the National Electoral Commission, CENI, towards finalizing the voter registration, with the active support of MONUSCO. They welcomed the offer by the African Union, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the Southern Africa Development Community and the European Union, along with the United Nations to establish a coordinated team of experts to support the preparations of the elections, including in ensuring women’s full and equal participation.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their appeal to all Congolese actors to work for the preservation of the still fragile gains in the path of peace and stability in the DRC, they underscored the responsibility that all Congolese political stakeholders bear, especially by overcoming their differences to reach consensus and upholding the interests and well-being of their people above all other considerations, and strongly urged all stakeholders to redouble their efforts to ensure the inclusivity of all signatories of the Agreement in its implementation.
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that the Government of the DRC bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory, they stressed the need for the full respect for human rights, and for renewed efforts in the fight against impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially in view of the reported killing of civilians by state and non-state actors and disproportionate use of force by elements of the security forces. They reiterated the importance and urgency of prompt and transparent investigations into violations of international humanitarian law and violations or abuses of human rights in the Kasaï region. They reiterated their intention to closely monitor progress of the investigations into these violations and abuses, including the joint investigations by the Government of the DRC, MONUSCO and the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC, in order to bring to justice and hold accountable all those responsible.
The members of the Security Council expressed concern about the increased activities of armed groups in Eastern DRC, including a recent increase in violence against local communities and the DRC armed forces, escalating ethnic tensions, and an increase in internal displacement. They underlined the urgent need for safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors.
The members of the Security Council took note of the strategic review of MONUSCO. They welcomed its focus on the two priorities set out by the Security Council in resolution 2348 (2017), as well as on ensuring increased effectiveness in the Mission, and agreed to thoroughly look into the recommendations of the Secretary General. They reiterated their full support to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and to MONUSCO. The Members of the Security Council are mindful of the financial constraints facing the mission."
4 September 2017: The Security Council today convened its second emergency session in less than a week on North Korea after Pyongyang exploded what it claimed was a Hydrogen bomb on 3 September. The event, the sixth in a series of nuclear explosions conducted by the DPRK, was characterized as a “perfect success in the test of a hydrogen bomb for intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM),” marking "a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force.”
On 31 August, the DPRK rejected the Council’s last Presidential Statement and asserted that its ballistic missile launch of 29 August was the “first step taken by the Korean People’s Army in its Pacific operation and a meaningful prelude to restraining Guam”. The United States has a military base in Guam.
DPRK Media Claims
DPRK official media published photographs of what they claimed to be a hydrogen bomb, conspicuously displayed in front of a payload fairing for a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile. The bomb was described as “a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack”.
UN Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council that this "was a rare reference by the DPRK to the use of EMP, an electromagnetic pulse, which triggered by a nuclear weapon would aim for widespread damage and disruption to electricity grids and sensitive electronics, including on satellites."
UN Confirms Test
UN monitoring stations established under the aegis of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) confirmed the North Korean explosion. The statement from the Vienna-based CTBTO noted that the seismic event it registered measured approximately 6.0 in magnitude. Governmental sources reported a yield as high as 6.3, higher than any previous DPRK test. Expert estimation is that the test had a yield of between 50 and 100 kilotons, more than five times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb, at the low end of the yield of a modern thermonuclear weapon.
The CTBTO also detected a second smaller seismic event at the location of the DPRK test site eight and half minutes after the main event, probably caused by the collapse of the tunnel used in the nuclear test.
"We are alarmed by this dangerous provocation," Mr. Feltman said in conveying Secretary-General Guterres' condemnation of "yet another serious breach of the DPRK’s international obligations ... profoundly destabilizing for regional and international security." The Secretary-General "counts on the Security Council to remain united and take appropriate action," Mr. Feltman continued, noting that "as tensions rise, so does the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculation and escalation." He said the "latest serious developments require a comprehensive response in order to break the cycle of provocations from the DPRK."
"As the Council considers its reaction, the Secretary-General reiterates the importance of responding to humanitarian imperatives regardless of the political situation. The people of the DPRK rely on the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. "
19 July 2016: Just days before its first straw poll to select the next Secretary-General, the Security Council decided it would keep the results of that process secret. The only people it will inform officially are the candidates. (As nothing remains secret for too long at the UN, the results will be known soon after the straw polls are conducted on 21 July.)
The matter was noted with disappointment during a long morning of frank talk about reforming the Council's working methods. Almost every one of the 44 speakers noted the need for greater transparency in the work of the Council, not just in the selection of the Secretary-General but in its relations with the rest of the membership, particularly troop contributing countries. A particular demand was that the Council submit substantive annual and special reports to the General Assembly as required by the Charter
Several speakers were particularly emphatic about the need for more openness in the work of the Council's subsidiary bodies that oversee sanctions regimes and hold closed door discussions of issues before they are brought to open meetings. One speaker noted that the subsidiary bodies took about a thousand decisions a year without the rest of the UN membership knowing anything about it. The subsidiary bodies had also taken it upon themselves to be guided by the rules of anonymity and unanimity in taking decisions; that meant every member had a veto exercised in secret. Unlike the Council itself, the presiding officers of the subsidiary bodies never briefed delegations or the media on their work.
Another speaker observed that Security Council resolutions were supposed to be discussed informally so as to give every member a chance to shape the draft; but that never happened. Several speakers noted that the permanent members (Britain, China, France, Russian Federation, United States) dominated the work of the Council: the president of the Council could not even send out a note on a purely procedural matter without having it reviewed by all five. One speaker said the non-permanent members had to assert themselves collectively if there was to be real change. Another decried the tendency of some States to consider certain countries and regions as their special charge; such mentoring was outdated.
A widely expressed demand was that the Council streamline its work by reducing the number of reporting cycles on various issues on its agenda. Failure to do that would lead to irrelevance, said one speaker. Another said the Council should not take on issues it could not decide.
Council meetings should be real interactive discussions rather than a succession of statements, said one speaker who wanted decisions to emerge from real discussions. Two speakers noted that after 70 years the Council still had "Provisional Rules of Procedure;" it was time to formalize them. [The Rules remain provisional to prevent them getting in the way if there is urgent need to bend or break one or more of them in the interests of maintaining international peace and security.]
Several speakers endorsed the call by France and Mexico for voluntary restraint in the use of the veto; one noted that over 100 States supported the initiative. There was also support for a code of conduct for the Council in the face of serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity. One speaker said there was a significant gap between global expectations of the Council and its performance. Another said it was permanently stained by its failures to act in the face of massive atrocities. On the other hand, the Council was dealing with matters that posed no threat to international peace and security
The discussion on working methods took place a decade after Japan first raised the issue and led the way in defining an agenda for reform. As the current president of the Council, Japan convened the discussion to get input for a comprehensive update of the reform agenda.
UN TV Coverage: Part 1
Speakers are listed in order with figures indicating the minutes into the video when they begin speaking: Japan (presiding); 09 Egypt; 13 Ukraine; 18 France; 24 Malaysia; 30 Spain; 35 Britain; 38 New Zealand; 43 Uruguay; 50 Russian Federation; 55 China; 59 United States; 1.00 Venezuela
UN TV Coverage Part 2 Mexico; 07 Argentina; 11 Switerland; 16 Brazil; 20 Colombia; 24 Pakistan; 29 Iran; 37 India; 43 Hungary; 48 Italy; 52 Poland; 55 Germany; 58 Australia; 1:01 Romania; 1:06 Chile; 1:11 Guatemala: 1:17 Georgia; 1:21 Singapore; 1:27 Estonia; 1:30 Lichtenstein; 1:35 Costa Rica; 1:40 Holy See; 1:45 Norway; 1:49 Belgium; 1:53 Indonesia; 1:58 South Africa; 2:05 Kazakhstan; 2:10 Cuba; 2:17 Turkey; 2:19 Panama; 2:24 Portugal; 2:27 Republic of Korea.
18 July 2016: There has been major progress in the first year of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to ensure that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. US Ambassador Samantha Power ticked off the most significant achievements at a Security Council meeting on 18 July: two-thirds of Iran's nuclear centrifuges dismantled, the core of its plutonium reactor filled with concrete and 98.7 per cent of its stock of enriched uranium sent out of the country. But that doesn't mean everyone is happy. The six-monthly report of the Secretary-General to the Council noted Iran's unhappiness that it has not benefited more rapidly from the lifting of sanctions, especially travel restrictions. Ms Power said the "United States disagrees strongly with elements of this report, including that its content goes beyond the appropriate scope," adding, "We understand that Iran also disagrees strongly with parts of the report." Yet another matter of dissatisfaction was Iran's continuing missile tests despite what Washington sees as a ban imposed by Council resolution 2231 (2015); Tehran interprets the resolution as giving it wiggle- room. The Russian Federation was unhappy that the Secretary-General's Report did not take its views into account on a number of points: Ambassador Vitaly Churkin spent most of a rapid-fire ten-minute statement lambasting it. ""Some of the provisions of the Secretary-General's report have no relation to his mandate, nor to the terms of reference" of the Council resolution, he said at one point. He was scathing also about American and Australian claims -- reflected in the report -- about their naval vessels discovering caches of Iranian arms en route to Yemen (where Tehran is backing a Shia insurrection). Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was not present.
6 July 2016: Could the Security Council spring a surprise and pick a new Secretary-General at the first straw polls on 21 July despite the announcement in June by the French presidency of the Council that the selection would not be made until October?
It is possible, for last December the expectation was that action would come by mid-year, and some recent odd developments might signify an effort to return to that timing.
In past selection processes when permanent members have backed different candidates for Secretary-General there have been efforts to fake each other out. The last time that happened was 1992, when the Organization of African Unity nominated four men to succeed Javier Perez de Cuellar.
In a succession of straw polls in the Security Council beginning on 21 October 1991, Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt and Bernard Chidzero of Zimbabwe emerged as the leading candidates. France backed the francophone BBG who had no experience at the UN but had won fame as the Foreign Minister who accompanied President Anwar Sadat to Israel in 1977. Britain strategized for Chidzero who had been head of UNCTAD (and had a British wife).
There was much spirited lobbying for and against both candidates. Britain’s UN envoy, David Hannay, a dead ringer for the ultra-cynical Humphrey in the BBC sitcom Yes Minister! drew attention to BBG’s age (69) at every opportunity. “He’s the only man I’ve met who bounds up when you’re introduced and declares how well he is feeling!” he told reporters.
The two candidates were neck and neck, and then, as Chidzero seemed to be gathering momentum, there was a sudden reversal in the straw poll on 21 November and his support sank to 7 votes, less than the minimum of 9. He was done in by a decision of Non-Aligned countries on the Council, supposedly coordinated by France, to withhold support. Boutros-Ghali, with 11 votes in favor (none against and 4 abstentions) was picked to be the sixth Secretary-General.
The reason to suspect that similar gaming might occur now is a number of recent stories in the Press urging Britain to oppose the Argentine candidate Susana Malcorra. One last week in the Huffington Post was typical: headlined UK Must Block Susana Malcorra from Becoming Secretary-General it was written by Luke Coffey, the Director of the Foreign Policy Center at the influential Right wing Heritage Foundation, and advanced three reasons why the UK should block Malcorra. She could not be impartial on the Falklands/Malvinas issue; she had exercised bad judgment in the case of Anders Kompass, the whistle-blower who revealed the sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers; and it was the turn of Eastern Europe to have the job. The Telegraph of London carried a similar story earlier in June, and several others have appeared since then.