Permanent Mission to UN

Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cuba, H.E. Ambassador Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, before the General Assembly under Agenda item 11: "Report of the Security Council (A/55/2)." New York, 17 October 2000.

Mr. President:

We thank Ambassador Martin Andjaba of Namibia for introducing the annual report of the Security Council to the General Assembly. We also thank the other members of the Security Council and the Secretariat for the work they did to prepare this large amount of material.

Without failing to recognize its value as part of the institutional memory of the Council, we reiterate that this kind of information is far from what we hope to receive and what we need. The annual report is not a privilege granted to the Member States represented in this Assembly; it is an obligation clearly established in Articles 15 and 24 of the Charter. We have the legitimate right to expect a proper accounting from the body to which we have entrusted with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and which, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter, acts on behalf of all the Member States.

In 1996 the General Assembly adopted resolution 51/193, with the precise objective of ensuring that the reports of the Security Council to the Assembly would provide a timely, substantive and analytic account of its work. However, most of the proposals contained in this resolution continue to be ignored. The Assembly should therefore undertake a consideration of the reasons for this non-compliance and take action to remedy the situation.

The General Assembly still does not receive the special reports that should be submitted by the Council, in accordance with Article 24, paragraph 3, of the Charter. The presentation of such reports would in no way prejudice the work of the Council. On the contrary, it would be beneficial for all. It would enable the Assembly to make useful recommendations on the work of the Council and make possible active and continuous relations between the two bodies - something that is lacking at present.

Greater transparency in the work of the Council is urgently needed. In an increasingly interdependent world, decisions taken by that body have a growing effect, directly or indirectly, on all Member States. In addition, when those decisions are implemented, the financing comes from all the Member States and not solely from those States taking the decisions.

In the specific case of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, we must express appreciation for the constant efforts made by Argentina and Jamaica to keep the countries of the region as informed as possible on the work of the Council. But such efforts alone are not sufficient.

According to its own rules of procedure, the Council must meet in public unless it is decided otherwise. However, the rule has become the exception. The Council continues to carry out most of its work behind closed doors, despite the fact that the majority of Member States have emphatically and repeatedly stated that this is unacceptable. The Council's provisional rules of procedure are not even applied during these closed meetings.

We welcome the fact that, although such meetings remain the exception, over the past year there has been an increase in the number of open meetings of the Security Council. This trend should be maintained, but the objective is not merely to have an increase in quantity; open meetings should provide non-Member States a real opportunity to make an effective contribution to the work of that body. Too often we witness lengthy open debates in the Security Council that ultimately have no effect on the resolutions or presidential statements adopted, since the texts have been agreed on previously in closed meetings among the Council members.

So long as the current practice remains in place, the annual report of the Council must include detailed information on the discussions held behind closed doors. At present we are told only how long the meetings lasted. In general the monthly reports of the Council President offer little or no analysis. The presentation of these reports must become the rule, and we must establish parameters for the minimum information that must be contained in them.

We are concerned by the trend in the Security Council to discuss issues and adopt texts ruling on questions of a general nature - activities that far exceed the responsibilities entrusted to that body by the Charter. This approach is being used with increasing frequency by the Council in order to legitimize its actions in the economic, social and humanitarian spheres.

The Council must not assume tasks entrusted to the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies. Instead, its efforts should be focused on achieving greater coordination and cooperation between it and the Assembly and other bodies, as established by the Charter. As to the increasingly complex mandates adopted by the Council, there can be no excuse for its failure to adhere strictly to the principles of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.

We welcome the inclusion in the Council's report, for the second consecutive year, of the reports of the sanctions Committees. At the same time, we reiterate that these Committees' working methods are affected by the same distortions evidenced in the Security Council's meetings and need to be reviewed. The meetings of sanctions Committees must, as a rule, be open and when they are held behind closed doors on an exceptional basis, detailed information on the deliberations must be provided in the Council's reports. The countries affected must have the full right to participate in the discussions of the sanctions Committees.

Sanctions regimes cannot become punitive instruments against some countries based on the hegemonic interests of certain Council members, as, unfortunately, now occurs in well-known cases. It is paradoxical that the very countries that are determined to preserve sanctions regimes which reflect their own national interests and affect innocent civilians are also among those that try to convince us of the value of so-called humanitarian intervention. This is a clear example of hypocrisy and double standards.

While the Council's annual report reflects the fact that most of the items on its agenda involve Africa, attention and available resources also remain focused on that continent. The undeniable truth is that Africa has more armed conflicts today than any other continent. More than one third of African countries are presently or have recently been involved in conflicts. It is clear that, beyond rhetoric, we need practical action and the necessary political will to find solutions to the growing and pressing problems of an entire continent, which are due primarily to their colonial past and to the current poverty, marginalization and underdevelopment in which African nations are mired.

We are convinced that many of the problems that we have addressed will be satisfactorily resolved only if there is complete reform of the Security Council, which is undoubtedly the most delicate and urgent task of United Nations reform as a whole. It should not, however, be cited as an excuse for maintaining the status quo while such reforms are being developed. As clear proof of the genuine will to move forward, we hope that the comments and suggestions that have been made and will continue to be made in this debate will be taken duly into account by the members of the Security Council.

Thank you very much

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