A rare event occurred within the United Nations premises on Friday, 1st March. For the first time in history, the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council for March and April was given to France and Germany. German Ambassador to the U.N. Christoph Heusgen welcomed the development. The Ambassador cited that the joint presidency of the U.N. Security Council will unfold the true dynamics of European cooperation in modern international peace and security problems.
As an institution, the U.N. Security Council is governed by a rotating presidency each month to be shared among the fifteen members of the Council. The Security Council is comprised of five permanent members, the winners of World War II, namely Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. The ten members are rotating on a biennial basis and are chosen by majority vote within the U.N. General Assembly premises.
France was selected to lead the institution for March with Germany following suit on April. However, the delegations of both countries agreed to share presidencies in these two tenures. Despite the positive signs emitted from the cooperation of both states in the presidency of U.N. Security Council, they have to accommodate several emerging problems of the international community. These entail among others strengthening enforcement regimes on states to respect international humanitarian laws and discovering the role of women in conflict. Other issues revolve around the creation of new frameworks to combat the expansion of transnational and religious terrorism and the renewal of the Mali peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) mandate. Besides these peripheral issues, the joint presidency would have to provide interim solutions on pressing issues such as the successful hosting of a month-long disarmament conference within the U.N. premises, which is expected to begin in early April. Interestingly, the U.N. disarmament conference comes as a follow-up to the suspension of the INF Treaty by Russia and the U.S. in February. Further, the joint presidency would have to reassess the security situation in Syria, the humanitarian plight in Yemen and Venezuela’s political transition.
France is a permanent member of the Security Council and often undertakes the presidency of the U.N. institution. Germany last assumed the presidency office in 2011 and 2012. Germany has long pressed for a progressive democratisation of the Security Council, including possible abolition and/or diminution of veto powers and addition of new permanent members. So far, the permanent members do not appear willing to surrender part of their increased sovereignty status within the Council’s ranks.