15 OCTOBER 2014


An updated edition of the definitive book, The Procedure of the UN Security Council, published by Oxford University Press, was recently launched in New York. This edition has been co-authored by former UN staff member Loraine Sievers (DPI, DPA, and Office of the Iraq Programme) and Oxford scholar Sam Daws, who formerly served in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. The book is a one-stop handbook and guide, with meticulous referencing, which for over 40 years has served diplomats, UN staff and scholars alike in providing unique insight into the inside workings of the world's preeminent body for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Thoroughly grounded in the history and politics of the Council, this latest edition brings to life the ways in which the Council has responded through its working methods to a changing world. It contains over 450 pages of new material documenting the extensive innovations in the Council's procedures over the past two decades. It explains the Council's role in its wider UN Charter context, and contains detailed analysis of voting, with an emphasis on various considerations relating to the veto. Importantly, the book clearly and systematically deciphers for readers the complex system of the Council's various meeting formats, including a comprehensive history of "Arria-formula" meetings and the origins of "informal interactive dialogues". For many of the procedures employed during the conduct of the Council's formal meetings which today are taken for granted, the book usefully traces their historical and legal background. This new edition includes a vastly expanded chapter on the Council's increasingly important subsidiary bodies, including information on the remarkable expansion in UN peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions, sanctions and counter-terrorism bodies, and international legal tribunals. It also elaborates on the Council's significant relationships with other bodies, including the General Assembly, the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and specific regional organizations.

The volume uniquely illuminates the personalities behind the Council's work, ranging from the diplomats who sit on the Council itself to the Secretary-General, and those affected by the Council's decisions. It provides an insightful history of the contributions and evolving role of the elected Council members, and offers a detailed description of how each rotating Council President carries out his or her responsibilities across a wide range of Council activities. The book includes engaging behind-the-scenes anecdotes which throw light on the Council members' interactions with each other.

This new edition breaks new ground in discussing the relevance of the various formats of decisions taken by the Security Council - resolutions, presidential statements, letters, notes by the President - and assesses the Council's evolving practice relating to the attributes which render Council decisions binding. The book also traces the increased reference in Council resolutions to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and sorts through the issues which have arisen as a result. The book concludes with a chapter reflecting on the overall importance of procedures and working methods to the Council's legitimacy and effectiveness, addresses criticism of those procedures and working methods, and looks ahead to possible procedural consequences of a future expansion of the Council.

Marking the end of the United Kingdom presidency of the Security Council in August 2014, Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, in conjunction with the book's Publisher, presented the other 14 Council Permanent Representatives with copies of the new edition. It is timely that the book will be available in New York, including at the UN Bookshop or ordered directly from Oxford University Press, prior to the holding in October of the Council's yearly open debate on its working methods, for which it is expected to provide new insights to inform that discussion.

A companion website to the book, www.scprocedure.org , maintained by Loraine Sievers, provides updates to the information contained in the book. The website follows the same organization as the book itself, which is divided into these ten chapters:

I: The Constitutional Framework
1: Role of procedure
2: The Charter
3: Role and function of the Security Council
4: Provisional Rules of Procedure
5: Further documentation of procedures

II: Place and Format of Council Proceedings
1: Formats of meetings
2: Formal public (open) meetings
3: Formal private (closed) meetings
4: "Periodic meetings", summits, and high-level meetings
5: Thematic debates
6: "Orientation debates"
7: Wrap-up meetings
8: Meetings away from Headquarters
9: Place of meeting at Headquarters
10: Informal consultations of the whole
11: "Arria-formula" meetings and "Somavía-formula" meetings
12: Informal interactive dialogues or discussions
13: Other informal formats
14: Interpretation and translation

III: The People
1: The President
2: Permanent members
3: Non-permanent members
4: Regional and other groups
5: "Groups of friends"
6: Political coordinators and experts
7: Credentials
8: Representation of China and of the Russian Federation
9: Permanent Missions and representation
10: Secretary-General and the Secretariat
11: Individual actions can make a difference

IV: The Council Convenes
1: Convening a meeting
2: Rejection of items
3: Agenda and Summary statement of matters of which the Council is seized
4: No requirement of a quorum
5: Notice of meetings
6: Timing of meetings

V: Conduct of Meetings and Participation
1: States invited to participate in Council proceedings
2: Individuals invited to participate in Council proceedings
3: Participation of Palestinian officials
4: Order of speakers
5: "Right of reply" or "further statements"
6: Motions, proposals, and suggestions
7: "Blue" draft resolutions and order of submission
8: Non-member submission and co-sponsorship of resolutions
9: Amendments
10: Points of order
11: "Precedence motions"
12: Rulings by the President
13: "Stopping the clock"

VI: Voting
1: Substantive decisions and the veto
2: Insufficient affirmative votes
3: Procedural matters and the "double veto"
4: Voting on the establishment of subsidiary organs
5: Voting on amendments
6: Separate voting on paragraphs
7: Interruption of voting
8: Unanimity, consensus, and adoption by acclamation
9: Abstentions
10: Non-participation in the vote
11: Absences
12: Finality of the voting process
13: Statements before or after the vote
14: Draft resolutions withdrawn or not brought to a vote
15: Reconsideration of texts not adopted

VII: Decisions and Documents
1: Formats of decisions
2: Decisions in the context of the Charter
3: Resolutions
4: Statements by the President
5: Decisions to recommend appointment of Secretaries-General
6: Decisions relating to UN membership
7: Letters by the Council President
8: Notes by the President
9: Statements by the President to the press
10: Monthly forecast and calendar
11: Reports of the Secretary-General
12: Communications
13: Communications from private individuals and NGOs
14: Compendium documents
15: Categories of individual documents

VIII: Subsidiary Bodies
1: Military Staff Committee
2: Peacebuilding Commission
3: Subsidiary bodies concerned with Council procedure
4: Subsidiary bodies concerned with United Nations membership
5: Subsidiary bodies concerned with the maintenance of international peace and security
6: Thematic subsidiary bodies
7: Appointment of bureaux of subsidiary bodies
8: Reporting by subsidiary bodies

IX: Relations with other Organs and Entities
1: General Assembly
2: Economic and Social Council
3: Trusteeship Council
4: International Court of Justice
5: United Nations agencies, funds, and programmes
6: International Atomic Energy Agency
7: International Criminal Court
8: Special courts, tribunals, and investigative panels
9: Regional and subregional organizations

X: Concluding Reflections