Working Methods of the Security Council

Since 2006 Switzerland has aimed to improve the working methods of the Security Council. In accordance with the UN Summit Outcome document of 2005, the objective is to promote the involvement of states not members of the Security Council, to increase the Council’s accountability to the whole UN membership and to improve the transparency as well as the efficiency of its work.

Switzerland pursues the improvement of the Council’s working methods as a member and coordinator of a group of states called   “Accountability, Coherence and Transparency” (ACT). This group was founded in May 2013 building upon the work of the earlier smaller group of five countries (Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Singapore) called the Small 5 (see below). ACT mobilizes a network of 22 states from all different geographical regions.

The group is organized in several teams working on different topics (multi-issues), on different tracks (multi-tiered) and advancing at different speeds (multi-speeds). ACT recognizes and commends past efforts of the Security Council in the domain of the working methods but considers that the current implementation of measures already adopted remains inconsistent and unsatisfactory. In addition further measures are needed to enable the Council to genuinely and efficiently carry out its mandate.

Some of the proposals include: 

  • more open and interactive sessions of the Council; a transparent program of work and stocktaking after each presidency;
  • develop the use of prevention measures (Chapter VI of the UN Charter);
  • improve cooperation with regional organizations (Chapter VIII of the UN Charter); 
  • closer consultation with troop-contributing countries, neighboring states and regional organizations in the planning and conduct of missions;
  • voluntary renunciation of the veto right in cases of atrocity crimes (genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes).

 ACT Fact Sheet

2 May 2013 ACT - the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group - Better Working Methods for Today’s UN Security Council

As the coordinator, Switzerland announces the official launch of the new group of states called ACT on 2 May 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Presentation ACT

16 May 2012 - Statement of Switzerland on behalf of the Small Five in the General Assembly

The Small Five have decided to withdraw the resolution recommending improvements of the working methods of the Security Council.

28 March 2012 S-5 tables GA resolution

The Small Five have tabled a draft resolution recommending improvements of the working methods of the Security Council: a series of measures to improve transparency and accountability relating to the Security Council’s proceedings as well as dialogue between the Council and the membership at large. This step had been preceded by informal consultations during which the S-5 received predominantly positive feedback. More than 100 delegations declared informally that they would support the text in case of a vote. However, a few days before the General Assembly debate scheduled for 16 May 2012, it became clear that part of the UN membership was not ready to take action on this draft resolution. In order to avoid a controversy over procedural questions, the S-5 decided to withdraw its draft resolution: It was presented in the General Assembly but not put to a vote.

14 April 2011 S-5 present new proposals

Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland – acting as S-5 („Small Five“) – presented Member States with a set of new proposals for improving the working methods of the Security Council. Among them are recommendations to enhance the accountability and the accessability of the Council as well as proposals for voluntary restrictions in the use of the veto. S-5 hopes to enter into a dialogue with the Security Council on these proposals and will consult them widely with the membership. Depending on progress made and support received, it is not excluded to submit the proposals in the form of a resolution to the General Assembly.

19 February 2009 Start of intergovernmental Negotiations

Informal negotiations on Security Council reform started in the context of the General Assembly. The process follows an agreed working plan addressing the following issues: categories of membership, the question of the veto, regional representation, size of enlarged Council and working methods of the Security Council.

12 November 2008 Switzerland and Liechtenstein criticize lack of review mechanism in sanctions regime

In the Security Council open debate on three sanctions committees (counter-terrorism committee, 1267 committee, 1540 committee), Swiss Ambassador Peter Maurer, speaking on behalf of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, put emphasis on the lack of an independent review mechanism concerning delisting. Ambassador Maurer warned of negative effects on the Security Council’s sanctions regimes: “If we do not see substantive change with regard to our due process concerns, cooperation and support for such activities will erode politically and endanger cooperation in the future.” 

20 June 2008 S-5 ask for Security Council meeting

On behalf of Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland, Ambassador Peter Maurer in a letter to the President of the Security Council asked for a Council meeting on Working Methods.