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27 AUGUST 2008
RP PUSHES FOR REFORMS IN UN SECURITY COUNCIL
NEW YORK—The Philippines today called for greater transparency and participation in the Security Council as it joined other Member States in pressing for reforms in the working methods of what is considered to be the most powerful organ of the United Nations.
In the statement he delivered in today's open debate of the Security Council, Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative, outlined several proposals that the body could work on, particularly on its Rules of Procedure, to allow it to move forward on the issue of reform.
"The Rules of Procedure of the Security Council, which have remained provisional for 62 years, must now cease to be provisional," Ambassador Davide said, adding that this would remove any doubt that the Security Council has made the rules of procedure provisional to give it unlimited flexibility to disregard or change it at any time thereby making its future judgments or actions unpredictable.
"Such doubt should not be allowed a moment longer for it would not contribute to the respect and esteem due to the Security Council or to the strengthening of the trust and confidence in it of the Member States," the former Supreme Court Chief Justice said as he also called for greater participation by Member States in proceedings of the Security Council, especially those that are subject to scrutiny by the body.
"Due process and the Rule of Law demand that Member States which are not members of the Security Council but are the subject of Security Council scrutiny should have the right to appear before the Council at all stages of the proceedings thereon to state or defend their position on the issue subject of or related to the scrutiny," the ambassador said.
He pointed out that such participation by Member States is unfairly limited by Rules 37 and 38 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure. Under Section 37 such non-Security Council Member State may be invited to participate only as a result of a decision of the Council, and only when the Council considers that the interests of such non-Member are specially affected, or when such non-Security Council Member brings a matter to the attention of the Council in accordance with Article 35 (1) of the Charter.
"Why should the appearance of such non-Security Council Member be limited to only after a decision has been reached? And why should such appearance be at the discretion of the Council? This is a denial of due process, a violation of the basic principle of the Rule of Law. Due process and the Rule of Law require that a party must be heard before it is condemned," Ambassador Davide said.
He also pointed out that under Rule 38, while any member of the UN invited to participate under Rule 37 or in application of Article 32 of the Charter may submit proposals and draft resolutions, these proposals or draft resolutions can be put to vote only at the request of a representative on the Security Council.
"Why allow the State concerned to submit proposals or draft resolutions when these cannot at all be voted upon unless a Council member so requests? If the proponent State has no friends in the Council, the right given to it to propose is rendered meaningless, an exercise in futility," he said.
Ambassador Davide recommended that Rule 37 be amended to grant a UN Member State which is not a member of the Security Council but which is under its scrutiny the right to be present and to be heard during all proceedings. He also recommended that Rule 38 be amended such that the proposals or draft resolutions submitted by such State shall be deliberated, acted upon and voted by the Security Council without the requirement of a request from a member.
The Filipino envoy also pointed out that in view of the increase in the general membership of the UN, there is a need for the Security Council to hear the views of the general membership by increasing the number of meetings, including its informal meetings, which are open to the general membership. "This will further promote accountability and transparency and tend to enhance more active cooperation of the general membership with the Council on the implementation of decisions taken on such matter," he said.
Ambassador Davide said the Security Council should also comply with the requirements of the principles of accountability and transparency, by considering the wisdom and propriety of the desire of Member States to full information on issues discussed by it. "They expect output documents to be faithfully or truly reflective of the discussions/deliberations in the Council," he said. "In short, they want to know if, indeed, the Council has acted on their behalf per Article 24 of the Charter."
The ambassador said fidelity to this relationship is best reflected in the Annual Report of the Council, which he said, should be comprehensive and analytical, and must indicate the action taken by the Council and the views of the Members during the consideration of the agenda items. He said these will provide the general membership the information as to how the individual Members of the Council justified their position on any issue, especially those concerning a Member State or when a Permanent Member exercised the veto power.
Ambassador Davide also said that the Security Council should also consider releasing periodic reports or substantive summaries to the General Assembly on matters the Council is seized with during the course of each year. Periodic reporting would enable the General Assembly and the general membership to gain a more current appreciation of the status of matters before the Council, he said.
According to Ambassador Davide, many Member States, including the Philippines, believe that this area of Security Council reform is the least controversial and is immediately achievable. "These changes on reform in its working methods could have been successfully pursued much earlier were they not, unfortunately, mingled with or tied to the apron strings of other Security Council reform proposals, such as on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council, or even on the veto power," he pointed out.
He said the open debate is a clear message that reforms in the working methods of the Security Council can, and should, be taken separately from the other reform proposals that are more complex and complicated. "For the Security Council, calls for changes or reforms are becoming louder and stronger," Ambassador Davide said. "In due course, it may even become irresistible." ###
ELMER G. CATO Second Secretary & Press Officer Philippine Mission to the United Nations 556 Fifth Avenue, Fifth Floor New York, New York 10036 Tel. No. 212.764.1300 Extension 38
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