chapter  5
Working methods reform
Pages 21

The council’s working methods are based on the Provisional Rules of Procedure (1982) and a range of ad-hoc and evolved practices. Article 30 of the charter makes clear that the council is the “master of its own procedure,”1 as it states, “the Security Council shall adopt its own rules of procedure.”2 The work of deciding on the rules of procedure was left to the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission, and then later the Security Council itself. On 24 June 1946, the council finally agreed on a set of 60 provisional rules of procedure. Albeit for a few minor revisions, the rules have remained virtually unchanged. The last revision was conducted in 1982 when Arabic was included as an official language of the UN. The rules have never been formally adopted. Advocates of the provisional rules suggest that “they give the Council more flexibility and allow it to adapt better and faster to the changing international environment.”3 Others believe the rules give the P-5 a tactical advantage, a metaphorical rug to be pulled out from under any difficult elected member. On the whole, working methods reform is seen as the unsexy cousin

of the mainstream reform debate. Yet a growing number of memberstates have come to realize the great potential for working methods

methods do not reforms, in many cases, seek to address the real defects that currently inhibit the council’s agency. Reform of working methods, if done well, would have more of an “immediate effect” than expansion.4 Hence, this area of potential reform represents arguably most fertile ground for meaningful improvement. Through the work the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG) and other subsidiary bodies of the council, a number of reforms have been introduced. Implementation has been patchy, however. Generally, the council has innovated through the initiative of its elected members. However, these innovative practices have at times been misused, overused, or disused. This chapter will be divided into two broad sections. The first section

provides an examination of the Note 507, the role of the IWG, and the initiatives of the S-5/ACT. The second section analyzes the various working methods reforms implemented, slated, or proposed, such as meeting formats; the role of the penholder and presidency; and subsidiary bodies. A number of questions will be posed of each: what is the logic of the working method? Does the method have utility? Has the working method taken hold? Is there resistance to its introduction or its continuation?