UN Security Council: Behind closed doors

About a hundred times a year the United Nations Security Council meets in formal session - a high international executive deciding issues of war and peace. But many of the non-permanent members believe that the secret discussions behind public sessions are serving the world poorly. In the case of Rwanda, badly informed decisions condemned a million to death.

The World Today Published 1 August 2000 Updated 28 October 2020 6 minute READ

Linda Melvern

In early 1994 the New Zealand Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Colin Keating, outlined proposals for Security Council reform. In the run up to the fiftieth anniversary year most other ideas centred on an increased membership of the Council, but Keating’s proposals challenged the way in which the Council operated.

New Zealand was one of the Council’s ten non- permanent members, and Keating was concerned that most of the Council’s business was conducted in secret, informal sessions. A lack of transparency in decision making bothered Keating, and one of his suggestions was to record the Council’s secret deliberations on closed-circuit television so that other UN members could know the issues discussed, know what the Council was doing and the policies pursued. The proposal did not go down well with the permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

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