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For More UNSC Transparency, ACT Is Launched, Open to the Press?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 2 -- Should the UN Security Council become more Accountable, Coherent and Transparent? That was the question as the new ACT grouping was launched Thursday in the UN's ECOSOC Chamber.

  After the proponents spoke, the UK Political Coordinator said his country will meet with ACT while preparing the Program of Work for its Council presidency in June. He noted, however, that the Security Council is the master of its own procedures.

  But who's being served by these procedures? Ireland's Permanent Representative described the Council's debates as "ritualistic;" Uruguay's PR complained ever so diplomatically about the recent radical shift in UN Peacekeeping -- away from its previously claimed impartiality, we say -- without sufficiently consulting the Troop Contributing Countries.

  The Swiss Permanent Representative, who has been working particularly hard on this since the Small Five initiative was essentially killed off by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's lawyer Patricia O'Brien last May, opened the floor not only to members states, but then to NGOs and to the media.

  Inner City Press, descending from the dark back of the ECOSOC chamber, with its unfinished ceiling, was given the floor and asked if ACT will question why the wrap-up sessions at the end of the month are closed to the press and public, along with meetings like that on Jordan and its Syrian refugees. This is an issue another new group, the Free UN Coalition for Access, is working on.

  Also, Inner City Press asked, why are impacted countries always kept out of the Council's consultations, loitering in the Quiet Room or at the stakeout with the press?

  Norway's representative -- not its Permanent Representative as the UK political coordinator called her -- said these issues would be considered going forward, ACT is just beginning. We wish it well.

  There are those they don't, who think it is still a threat to more fundamental Council reform. Japan's representative spoke, and brought up the O'Brien letter. For an analysis of the effects of various reform proposals, see PfC. Watch this site.

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