"How we work has a direct bearing on the impact that we have in the real world."

Statement by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of the UK Mission to the UN at the Security Council Open Debate on Working Methods

UN Security Council

Mr President,

The Working Methods of the Security Council are absolutely key. Done well, they facilitate our work, they provide a framework for our deliberations, and they allow us to take decisions that can help maintain international peace and security. Done less well, they prevent all that. Japan wrote the working methods bible – S507– and it’s right that Japan is updating it. How we work has a direct bearing on the impact that we have in the real world. The UK, like most of the rest of the General Assembly membership I’m sure, wants this Council to be more transparent, more inclusive, more interactive, more action oriented, and more efficient.

Let me highlight two areas where I think we can improve our efficiency.

The first, speaking limits. To be efficient in our deliberations, I hope that everyone can distil their points on any particular issue into five minutes, or today four minutes.

Taking excessive time over interventions is counter-productive. People switch off. The shorter an intervention, the more likely it is to have impact. We cannot, in any case, hope to cover everything that there is to say about the topic. So let us all – Council members, non-Council members, briefers – focus only on the things that really matter to us and stick to time both here and in consultations.

And second, building on one of François’ points, our Programme of Work is overloaded. It’s driven more by reporting cycles than by what is happening in the real world. The globalised world is getting more complex, and we must ask ourselves if we are keeping up. So far, we have reviewed the periodicity of mandate and reporting cycles to try to address this. But I think we need to go further.

Instead of receiving a Programme of Work filled on the basis of reporting cycles, incoming Presidencies could set out what reports we expect to receive in a month and ask if there is a need for a meeting. This should cut out some meetings. We will always have the option of adding a meeting to the Programme should the need arise, or of raising an issue under other matters.

Finally, one of the risks to the Security Council – perhaps the greatest risk – is irrelevance. If we keep sticking to the status quo in our working methods, that risk will grow. We will need a more radical approach to remain relevant. I support many of the proposals already put forward in the course of this debate. Let’s get on and implement them.

Thank you.

Published 20 July 2016