Thank you to Finland and my fellow panellists and sponsors of this initiative. And to the Deputy Secretary-General for his support and personal interest in improving UN sanctions.
Obviously, my own country strongly believes in the value of sanctions. They are fundamental to the operation of the collective security framework enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
We have focused particular attention on raising their effectiveness during our term on the Security Council, including through our management of three of the Council’s sanctions committees.
During this time we have observed significant and positive developments in Council practice in relation to sanctions measures. The Council continues to apply sanctions to new situations and in fact to devise innovative ways to ensure their effectiveness, and to mandate integrated UN Missions to assist sanctions committees and expert groups in monitoring implementation of sanctions measures.
But, to be frank, we have also observed a certain reticence in relation to sanctions.
This seems to be based on a very outdated notion, that sanctions are somehow oppressive, coercive or punitive. In reality, sanctions as currently applied by the Council are increasingly a partnership between the affected country, its regional partners and the Council.
For example, the Council recently applied sanctions to the situations in the Central African Republic and Yemen. The first acts of the respective Council committees established to administer those sanctions were meetings with those countries and their neighbours to discuss how to work together to implement the measures. Similarly, government representatives from Somalia, Cote d’Ivoire and Afghanistan have recently briefed the Council Committees relevant to their situations.
This review is timely because we as Member States need to break this taboo that has arisen around the subject of sanctions. Only then can we achieve the protection and preventive intent of sanctions.
As a co-sponsor of this project, Australia will chair a working group to examine how the UN system comes together, both internally and with all relevant States, in giving effect to the sanctions decisions made by the Council.
The working group will not examine the question of when, or for how long, the Council should apply sanctions to particular situations: it will focus exclusively on what happens after the Council has made its decision to apply sanctions.
The working group will aim to develop a blueprint for the optimum implementation of the Council’s decision to apply sanctions, including a mechanism that would both allow collective discussion of sanctions implementation issues that cut across multiple sanctions regimes, as well as facilitate the provision of technical assistance to relevant states.
To meet this objective, the working group will consult with all relevant stakeholders through a series of thematic workshops, to run from late June to the end of July 2014 here in New York City.
These stakeholders include the Chairs of the various sanctions committees, the coordinators of the expert groups established by the Council to assist the committees, the Al Qaida Ombudsperson and the Focal Point for Delisting: our consultation will aim to see how each interacts with its component parts, with relevant Member States, and with the Secretariat, to deliver the outcome desired by the Council in the application of sanctions.
We will look at the capacity each of these entities has to deliver the mandate set for it by the Council.
This will include examining what goes into chairing the committees, as well as the support provided to the Chair and the Chair’s Mission to prepare for and carry out the function such that all Committees are managed to the same standard.
It will also involve assessing the dynamics and the potential of the expert groups that assist sanctions Committees, including their interaction with their assigned Committee and the Council, but also with each other, with Member States and with regional and international organisations.
And of course the Working Group will look into the substantive advice and support the Secretariat provides to these various players, and to facilitating the necessary interaction between these players and the various UN Missions, Offices and Programmes in the field with Council mandates relevant to sanctions.
The Working Group will also consult with the Secretariat to examine how other security-enhancing instruments of the Council, such as peacekeeping and special political missions, security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, support – or could better support – the Council’s sanctions decisions, as well as Member States’ implementation efforts.
And most importantly of all, we will consult with the Member States with the greatest stake in the effective implementation of the Council’s sanctions decisions. We will look at what support is available to Member States to give effect to the Council’s decisions, bearing in mind that Member States carry the most significant share of the burden of making sanctions work.
In concluding, I should simply repeat that my own country is very seriously committed to more effective, efficient and contemporary sanctions regimes within the UN. We will work diligently with all other members of the project and with Member States to achieve this.