The United Arab Emirates thanks Estonia for organizing this open debate on working methods. We also extend our sincere appreciation to Karin Landgren of Security Council Report and Loraine Sievers for their briefings, both of whom contribute a great deal to transparency and understanding of the Council’s working procedures, as well as Ambassador Rhonda King of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for her leadership of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and other Procedural Questions.
The pandemic showed the capacity of the Council to adapt in ways that would not have been imaginable before, because it was necessary for the Council to continue to meet and to fulfil its mandate. The Council adopted procedures that would have seemed improbable before the pandemic, such as the adoption of resolutions via a written procedure in lieu of meetings in person.
But the pandemic also revealed certain limitations, as demonstrated for example by the difficulty in formulating an initial response to the pandemic and calling for a global ceasefire.
Since they were only intended to be temporary, the pandemic working procedures did not make provision for all necessary procedural dimensions of the Council’s work that were part of the Council’s practice and procedure prior to the pandemic.
As the Council moves to a return to more in-person meetings, it is time to reflect on which of the Council’s “temporary, extraordinary and provisional” measures are worth retaining in some form and how to do so, which measures worked less well, and what the post-pandemic “new normal” should look like. It is also important for the Council to decide how it will transition from the pandemic working procedures.
The UAE puts forward the following suggestions for the Council’s consideration.
First, the Council’s adaptation to the pandemic demonstrated that it is capable of adapting when it has no choice. But it also showed that the Council could not have adapted without the technology of today. Careful and nuanced consideration is required so that not only the Council’s every day work can continue to benefit from the latest technology and innovation, but so peace operations in the field can also benefit.
Second, the use of virtual meetings platforms makes it possible for the Council to hear more regularly from those in the field and also directly from governments in countries on the Council’s agenda, as well as from ministers and leaders. The Council should ensure that the post-pandemic working methods preserve those valuable avenues for more inclusive and dynamic engagement, including with hard-to-reach field locations. Accessing a wider range of views would also be valuable in the context of mission transitions and drawdowns, when the Council needs to be invested in securing the gains made and sustaining peace.
Third, the Council could explore the possibility of conducting virtual visits to countries on its agenda, including those hosting peace operations. These would not replace in-person visits but complement them to make sure that Council members can interact directly with relevant stakeholders in a time efficient manner. In-person visits are invaluable, and the interpersonal relations developed during such visits are very useful. But if the physical presence of Council members cannot be arranged, the Security Council should consider organizing virtual visits.
Fourth, while there are some clear benefits of virtual meetings, the future status of meetings conducted virtually (whether in whole or in part) requires clear clarification, as to whether they should be considered official or not and how all dimensions of the Provisional Rules of Procedure will be applied.
Fifth, the decrease in the participation of women in the Council’s work over the past year is concerning, especially since they have been hit the hardest by the impacts of the pandemic. Going forward, the Council and Member States should work to ensure adequate access and space for both the formal and informal engagement of women.
The UAE looks forward to playing a constructive role and engaging closely on working methods during our forthcoming Council membership to contribute to the Council’s efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency. The UAE is optimistic that a return to greater diplomacy in person, including between Council experts, will make it easier to achieve more unanimous agreement on Council outcomes.