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National statements

Briefings by Chairpersons of Subsidiary Bodies of the Security Council

Thematic issues

  • Afghanistan
  • Central Africa
  • Central African Republic
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Eritrea
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Peace and Security
  • Regional Organisations
  • Sahel
  • Sanctions
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Terrorism
  • Yemen

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Mr President

Of all the Council's functions, sanctions are one area in which elected Members have a distinctive opportunity to make a difference. While the Permanent Members may be the architects of the sanctions regimes, the E10 are in essence the engineers: it is our job to ensure they work, through our role as Chairs.

Australia has chaired three Committees – the 1267 Committee on Al Qaida; the 1988 Committee on the Taliban; and the 1737 Committee on Iran. We have also very actively engaged in the Council's other sanctions committees and subsidiary bodies. We have made an effort to demonstrate the positive impact that sanctions can have, given their role in protecting fragile states emerging from crisis or conflict, as well as vulnerable populations in those states, and in preventing escalation or recurrence of violence.

As part of the High Level Review of UN Sanctions that we have co-sponsored with Finland, Germany, Greece and Sweden over the last six months, Australia has consulted with states with the greatest stake in the effectiveness of sanctions – that is, the states to which the measures apply, and their neighbours. What emerged, amongst many other things, was the critical role that Sanctions Committees need to play, in partnership with the Member State and its neighbours and regional organisations.

I will focus on four themes that arose from these consultations: first, greater transparency.

In previous years, today's briefing of outgoing subsidiary body chairs was the only public statement made in the Council about the work of many of those bodies.

There were exceptions: the Iran Committee and the Al Qaida Committee, jointly with the Non-Proliferation Committee established by resolution 1540 and the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the Libya Sanctions Committee have long made their reports to the Council in public meetings.

But generally, the default has been that Committees, to the extent they report to the Council at all, have done so in closed consultations.

That practice is changing. This month, the Central African Republic and Yemen
Committees will again make their reports in the open Chamber. In recent months,
the Sudan and Côte d'Ivoire Committees both reported to the Council in public
for the first time.

The default should be that all Sanctions Committees deliver their reports to the Council in public. Sanctions are part of the collective security framework enshrined in the UN Charter. How they are administered is of interest to all Member States because these measures impose obligations on all Member States.

My second theme is one also just touched on by Ambassador Oh of the Republic of Korea – that of closer engagement with affected Member States. Sanctions – and thus, the activities of the Sanctions Committees – are, of course, of particular and special interest to those States to which the sanctions apply. Our experience on the Council has shown that the greater the engagement between these stakeholder States and the Sanctions Committees, the more effectively the sanctions can deliver the outcomes intended for them by the Council.

In some ways the 1988 (Taliban) Sanctions Regime is a model for such collaborative engagement, thanks to the crucial role played by the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Ambassador Tanin, and his team in New York, as well as to the active efforts of the focal point in the Afghan Government, Isaaq Kamkai. The confidence generated by this relationship means that the Government of Afghanistan allows the Monitoring Team access to all levels of the Afghan National Security Forces, not just in Kabul but across all the provinces, and this significantly enhances the quality of the Team's analysis and the implementation of sanctions.

Over the past two years, this kind of engagement has increasingly become the norm, due to the proactivity of the Committee Chairs. Sanctions Committees now regularly meet with the focus country for the sanctions regime and its regional partners. In recent weeks, the Central African Republic, Libya, Sudan and Yemen Committees have held consultations with the relevant Member States and regional countries. The Somalia and Eritrea Committee also recently met with representatives of those Governments.

Such a practice applies also to the Al Qaida Sanctions Committee, as Al Qaida affiliates and splinter groups threaten the territorial integrity of States. Last year we held consultations with countries of the Sahel and Maghreb to consider how the Al Qaida Sanctions Regime could be made a more effective instrument against the threat posed by Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. This year, we held consultations with Yemen jointly with the Yemen Sanctions Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Committee on how the three Committees could work collaboratively with authorities in Yemen against the twin scourges of organised political violence and Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

This practice will build understanding and trust between the stakeholder countries and the Council's Committees and Expert Groups and this in turn should make the sanctions a more effective instrument to restore and maintain international peace and security.

My third point concerns the synergies across Committees.

The Al Qaida and Taliban Committees have long been incubators for innovations that enhance the implementation and effectiveness of sanctions measures. The trouble has been that much of that innovation, despite its applicability to other sanctions regimes, was being applied only to the Al Qaida and Taliban Sanctions regimes.

It was a surprise to me to find that there was no capacity, either in the Council or in the Secretariat, to consider sanctions in a cross-cutting way. The only way to ensure a unified Council approach was through a bureaucratic and time-consuming process of correspondence between all relevant Sanctions Committees.

Those of you who attended the 25 November briefing in the Council on sanctions during Australia's Presidency know that Australia is promoting the establishment of a capacity to allow cross-cutting discussions of sanctions issues, as well as facilitate the provision of technical assistance to Member States. We have been negotiating a resolution to meet these widely endorsed objectives, and we will continue to do so.

We made an effort from the beginning of our chairing roles to consult with other Committee Chairs to see how we could exploit the obvious synergies in the work of our Committees. For so long as there is no organised coordination mechanism on the work of sanctions, at a time when the Council's use of sanctions is increasing and becoming more complex, the need for future Committee Chairs to continue this consultation amongst themselves will be even greater.

My fourth and last theme is the indispensable role of the Expert Groups that support the work of the Committees. I have had the privilege and very real pleasure of working closely with two such groups, the Al Qaida and Taliban Monitoring Team and the Iran Panel of Experts.

Over the last few months, the Al Qaida Monitoring Team has generated its regular threat assessment, as well as reports on the specific threat posed by the Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and on the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon. These reports have been of stand-out quality and instrumental in the Council's ability to respond to these threats. They underpinned the Presidential Statement adopted by the Council on 19 November. The Team's reporting early next year will be essential to the development of further strategies by the Council to combat the threat from foreign terrorist fighters in particular.

No less impressive is the investigative and analytical work done by the Iran Panel of Experts into possible incidents of non-compliance. I would also like to single out the Panel's outreach activities, which are so critical in helping Member States understand the complexities of the sanctions regime. Particularly at a time when the focus seems to be on the P5+1's negotiations with Iran, the Panel's work in reminding Member States that the Council's measures remain in full and in force is even more important.

To conclude, I will be briefing the Council in my capacity as Chair of the Iran Sanctions Committee on 18 December, so I will reserve my 1737 Committee farewells for then.

But I would like to today take this opportunity to convey my unvarnished thanks and appreciation to the members of the 1267 and 1988 Sanctions Committees; to the Monitoring Team, whose praises I have already sung; to the Al Qaida Sanctions Ombudsperson, Kimberly Prost, for her fierce independence and professional integrity; and to our patient and hardworking colleagues in the Secretariat, without whose support none of our work would be possible.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 4 June 2015
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