114th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 72nd Session

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12-Sep-2018 00:18:19
Security Council must enhance accountability, stick to specific mandate, delegates say, as General Assembly takes note of its 2017 report at 114th plenary meeting.

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The Security Council must enhance its accountability and only consider issues under its specific mandate, the General Assembly heard today, as it took note of that organ’s 2017 annual report.

Gholamali Khoshroo (Iran) said that, in recent weeks, issues promoting the national motives of certain members have been placed on the Council’s agenda. In many instances, such matters are related to the internal affairs of sovereign States, interference in which the Charter explicitly prohibits. This must come to an end, he emphasized, noting that Member States have long called upon the Council to avoid considering issues that pose no threat to international peace and security. That long-standing demand must be heard, he continued, stressing that, in carrying out its functions, the Council must remain accountable to the General Assembly, bound to the Charter and act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Expressing concern that the Council has excessively resorted to its Chapter VII functions, he said there have been too many cases in which the sovereign rights of States, as well as human rights, have been seriously violated. Chapter VII must be invoked as intended, he said, stressing: “It is a measure of last resort.” Furthermore, it is a matter of deep concern that, earlier in 2018, one permanent member openly violated Council resolution 2231 (2015), which endorses the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iran nuclear programme. Moreover, that member openly invited other Member States either to disobey that resolution or face punishment. “If unchecked, this alarming trend will further tarnish the credibility of the Organization and this Council, eroding the rule of law and leading to international disorder,” he warned.

Wei’en John Khoo (Singapore) also raised several concerns, expressing disappointment at the late distribution of the 243‑page report and the last-minute scheduling of today’s debate. Questions also remain about how the Council is being held accountable, given that the Assembly annually approves $7 billion to fund relevant mandates. Offering suggestions on improving the report with a view to helping Member States and the wider international community better understand and assess the Council’s work, he said the monthly reports of individual members should be annexed to the annual report.

The Secretariat should also make greater use of technology to make the annual report more useful and user-friendly, he continued, adding that more can also be done to make the report more visible on the Council’s website. Such efforts should be coordinated with the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, which is mandated by the Assembly to provide comprehensive coverage of the Council’s interpretation and application of the Charter. Equally important is leveraging the Council’s existing online presence to ensure that Member States have the necessary tools to track how mandates for specific missions evolve and to gain easy access to information.

Prior to the discussion, Security Council President Jonathan Cohen (United States) presented the Report of the Security Council (document A/72/2) and summarized its work during 2017. Among other actions, Council members undertook five visiting missions and considered several cross-cutting issues, including the protection of civilians in armed conflict, sanctions and cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.

In other business, the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s notification — under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the United Nations Charter (document A/72/300) — which includes provisions that the Secretary-General is mandated to notify the Assembly of matters relative to the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as a list of items on the Security Council’s agenda.
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