To start off the new year of Security Council meetings, the Dominican Republic as President of the Security Council for the month of January 2019 held a press conference for UN Correspondents on January 2.
The Dominican Republic is one of the five new elected members of the Council for the two year term of 2019 to 2020. The other four elected members are Germany, Indonesia, South Africa and Belgium.
Its position in the monthly Security Council rotation put the Dominican Republic in line for the January 2019 presidency. Mr José Singer Weisinger has been appointed as a special representative by the President of the Dominican Republic to be the nation’s representative on the Security Council. Mr Singer welcomed journalists to the Press Conference explaining that though the Dominican Republic is a founding member of the United Nations, this is the first time the nation has had a term on the Security Council.
He also explained that the practice of his country on the Council will be guided by the principles of its foreign policy and by the principles of the UN Charter.
After reviewing the planned schedule for the activities of the Council during the month of January, he opened the floor for questions.
Several of the questions referred to North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)) and Palestine even though there were no specific references to them in the schedule of the month’s planned topics.
Referring to the special envoy’s introduction, a question was asked about the fact that the UN Charter requires certain due process procedures on the part of the Security Council but the Security Council does not act in accord with these charter obligations.(1)
Specifically in Article 32 of Chapter 5 of the UN Charter, the Security Council is directed to invite any Member of the United Nations, if it is a party to a dispute under consideration by the Security Council, to the meeting where the dispute is being discussed so that the member can participate, without vote, in the discussion relating to the dispute.
In practice this would mean that the Security Council should invite to a meeting a country that is subjected to sanctions and would direct the Council to include that country in the discussion in the Council about the dispute. Such a process would make it possible for the Council to hear the views of all countries that are involved in the dispute the Security Council is considering.
In response to such questions raised by journalists at the press conference, the special deputy representing the Dominican Republic emphasized that “we have to listen to the affected party. I totally agree.” Among the other conflicts referred to in questions from journalists were conflicts in Yemen, Venezuela and the Palestinian situation. The Security Council’s lack of attention to North Korea in its proposed schedule for the month of January was a source of concern among several journalists who raised questions. One journalist asked the special deputy for the Dominican Republic for his nation’s response to Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Speech promising a new form of response if the international community continues to impose sanctions on the DPRK. In response, the special deputy emphasized that dialogue is the only solution to conflicts and if the dialogue has been frozen for any reason, that problem has to be dealt with and addressed. “There is no solution other than dialogue, at least we as a country don’t see any other solution,” explained Mr Singer.
Such statements suggest that there is the potential for more dialogue in the practice of the Security Council if new members to the Council act in line with the principles of the UN Charter as Mr Singer indicated was the goal of the Dominican Republic.
(1) “Any Member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Security Council or any state which is not a Member of the United Nations, if it is a party to a dispute under consideration by the Security Council, shall be invited to participate, without vote, in the discussion relating to the dispute….” From Chapter V art 32 of the UN Charter
(2) Article 32 also applies to inviting to the Security Council states who are not members of the UN. It says, “The Security Council shall lay down such conditions as it deems just for the participation of a state which is not a Member of the United Nations.”