Remarks for a UN Security Council Debate on Working Methods of the Security Council

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
June 6, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President and thanks to today’s briefers. Welcome to the ministers who are joining us for today’s open briefing.

The United States extends its appreciation to Kuwait for chairing the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Procedure this past year. Under Ambassador Al-Otaibi’s leadership, this body has engaged in a number of collaborative discussions that address the Security Council’s work and effectiveness.

We are pleased to participate in this annual debate with the working methods of the Security Council. It provides an opportunity to reflect on this body’s successes and challenges over the past year.

On the specific matter of “Note 507” and Security Council procedure, the United States would also like to once again recognize Japan’s, and Ambassador Bessho’s, leadership in chairing the working group’s negotiations on this document two years ago. We were pleased that the working group adopted a number of innovative and useful provisions that improved the work of the Council.

Mr. President, while we believe today’s discussion – and our tasks in the coming months – should focus primarily on the implementation of revised Note 507, the United States is open to changes that would improve the Council’s work, and we will continue to actively engage in the process to further improve working methods.

We will continue to assess new proposals to improve the Council’s working methods through several lenses. We will ask whether a new idea is practical, realistic, and whether it enhances efficiency. We will also ask whether the idea is designed to retain flexibility and avoid rigidity.

Mr. President, informal Security Council consultations can serve as important venues to exchange views, but too often speakers in consultation read from prepared remarks. Several recent Council Presidents have encouraged greater interactivity during informal consultations – and we commend those efforts. We believe strongly that informal consultations should remain just that – informal.

We have seen innovation in cooperation between consecutive presidencies, most recently in the consecutive presidencies of France and Germany. Closer collaboration among the Presidents from the previous month, current month, and following month enhance the continuity of the leadership of the Council and make us stronger as a whole.

Mr. President, we take very seriously that the Charter gives the Council the role of maintaining international peace and security, acting on behalf of the entire UN membership. While the Council remains the master of its own procedure, we recognize that our procedural work, as well as our substantive work, is ultimately for the benefit of the greater international community.

We thank Kuwait for chairing today’s open debate and look forward to continuing our work in the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Procedure.

Thank you.