Estonia advocates accountability, coherence and transparency. These principles are key in governing our state. We consciously apply them, as we believe they will make our governance more effective, but also better understood by people. We believe that the same principles would have a larger effect at the regional or global level and therefore should be cherished and used by different international organisations, including the United Nations.
The Security Council, as a body representing all the members of the United Nations, could also benefit from these principles. The Security Council should be kept accountable by the UN member states, by ensuring more transparency in its action and more cohesiveness in deeds and decisions. It is a shortcoming of the Council that its Rules of Procedure are still provisional. It is very much up to the Council members to make use of the existing procedures and different outreach formats of the Council to achieve a better outcome of their work.
The Security Council’s open debates, briefings by the incoming and outgoing Presidencies, making monthly work plans of the Council open and available, drafting Annual Reviews of the Council’s work, meetings in Arria-format are positive steps forward and contribute well to the UN global governance agenda. Estonia supports all these efforts support the cause after its election as a non-permanent member to the Council.
Based on these convictions and aims Estonia joined the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group in the UN that is a cross-regional group of 27 small and mid-sized countries working together to improve the working methods of the Security Council. The ACT mission statement is: “[t]he UN Security Council (UNSC), in its present composition, shall work in a more transparent, efficient, inclusive, coherent, legitimate and accountable way, both within its own structure, but also in relationship with the wider membership.
Topics covered by the ACT group include, inter alia, transparency and coherence in the Council’s working methods and the use of the veto by its permanent members, especially in the case of mass atrocities; the role of the Council in conflict prevention; UN election processes, namely that of the Secretary-General; the Council’s relationship with regional organizations; and the ACT led Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
On behalf of the ACT Group and following its own principles, Estonia together with Costa Rica led the process of making the recent election of the UN Secretary-General more transparent and inclusive. The two co-chairs of the Group were instrumental in reaching an agreement by consensus to carry out the selection and appointment in a clear and structured manner. The final result showed clearly that there is a merit in taking initiative.
The process opened with a joint letter by the Presidents of General Assembly and the Security Council containing a description of the entire election process and by circulating the names of the candidates for the position of the Secretary-General to all member states. The decision to conduct informal dialogues and meetings with candidates contributed greatly to improving the selection process.
The resolution appointing the new UN Secretary-General was historic. While all previous Secretaries General had been appointed following the approval of a resolution submitted by the Security Council to the General Assembly, then this time, the General Assembly drafted the resolution based on a proposal from the Security Council. The resolution was approved unanimously.