Statement delivered by Jim McLay, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 29 January 2015.

As a newly elected member of the Security Council completing our first month of service, New Zealand thanks Chile for its very able stewardship during January, not least in the thematic debates your promoted, Sir, and the important visit to Haiti, which you proposed and which give us a great deal of valuable information. We also commend your scheduling of meetings at short notice when the need arose, and your use of the full range of available tools for members to engage informally in discussions on critical emerging issues. I would highlight, in that regard, the informal interactive dialogue on the Central African Republic Commission of Inquiry and the Arria formula meeting on human rights and peacekeeping operations.

In discharging its day-to-day duties, it is very important that the Council not lose sight of its responsibility on behalf of the broader United Nations membership to respond quickly to emerging threats to peace and security. When urgent matters do require our attention, New Zealand encourages all members to work constructively together to reach swift agreement on the Council’s public positioning. If, for example, in just the past week, we had remained silent on the most clear-cut issues — and I think in particular of events in Nigeria, Yemen and Lebanon — and if we had been unable to agree on even the simplest language of condemnation or concern, then the Council’s relevance could have and would have been called into question. Acting swiftly and speaking with unanimity will help ensure that ongoing relevance. Making that comment, I find myself very much aligned with the similar comments made by my colleague, the representative of Angola.

Reflecting on the Council’s work in January, New Zealand has viewed a number of issues with very deep concern, not least the continued perpetration of atrocities by Boko Haram. We welcome the efforts of Nigeria and the region to combat that threat, including the establishment of the multinational task force. Boko Haram is, without a doubt, a significant threat to international peace and security, and New Zealand hopes that the Council will support regional efforts to combat that threat, and extends its hand of support to Nigeria in its efforts to combat Boko Haram.

In the absence of regular conflict-prevention briefings, it is very important that the Council take every other possible opportunity to be briefed by the Secretariat on emerging issues, including, if necessary, by doing it under “Any other business”. We welcome such developments during January, in particular in respect of Yemen, on which we had two such briefings at short notice. Obviously, the Council, with its very full agenda, must find a balance between responding in a timely manner to events through its products and statements and ensuring that such messaging is representative of all 15 members.

In that regard, New Zealand thanks its fellow Council members, both permanent and elected, for their ongoing work as penholders on particular issues and situations. That is important work on behalf of the Council. We do, however, regard it as essential that all members be given adequate time to consider both formal and informal texts, particularly when the relevant timelines are well-known, well-established and known in advance, such as with dates for the renewal of mandates, and that, where necessary, there be adequate time for face-to-face negotiations on the texts in question.

Wrap-up sessions can be valuable opportunities for us to reflect on the way we have gone about our business during the month under review, and to assess how those methods might be improved. Moreover, a measure of public and therefore transparent self-reflection can also provide the broader United Nations community with some insight into the workings of the Council, particularly given that so much of our business is inevitably transacted in the consultations room, through email exchanges or in small informal groupings of Council members. While New Zealand feels that there is real utility in this wrap-up format, not least from a transparency perspective, we believe we should make even more efforts to ensure that these meetings are dynamic and relevant. We specifically suggest that future presidencies consider recommending to the Council that these sessions be opened up to allow representatives of regional groups to participate under rule 39 and to give us their assessment of the way in which the Council is going about its work on their behalf.