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Peter Millett

Ambassador to Libya, Tripoli

Part of UK in Jordan

8th January 2014

Jordan on the Security Council

The New Year saw the usual spate of cartoons about the departure of the old year and the arrival of 2014. For Jordan, the New Year brought the start of the country’s two-year stint on the United Nations Security Council.

This role brings major new responsibilities. But what does it mean in practice? What can Jordanians expect to see as their country grapples with the biggest security issues the modern world is facing? How can Jordan influence the Council’s deliberations?

I suspect that many Jordanians are only aware of the Council’s work when a resolution is adopted or a statement is issued. But a great deal happens in between the big decisions. While no country can dictate the outcome of the Council’s work, the Jordanian delegation’s contribution to the Council’s day-to-day exchanges and negotiations will be important.

As is well-known, the Council has 15 members, 5 of which are “permanent”. The other 10 serve for 2 years; 5 are elected each year, selected so that each geographical region of the world is represented. Jordan was elected to represent the Asian region for the next 2 years.

UN Security Council
UN Security Council

What does the Security Council actually do? Its main role is to maintain international peace and security. It was created – along with other UN institutions – in the aftermath of the Second World War when the international community resolved that such wars should not happen again.

Unlike the General Assembly, on which all 193 members of the UN are represented, the Security Council can take decisions that are binding. If the Council assesses that there is a threat to world peace and security, it can take a range of actions such as imposing sanctions or referring individuals to the International Criminal Court.

Another measure that requires a Security Council decision is to deploy a peace-keeping force. There are 15 peace-keeping operations round the world, many of them in Africa. As one of the main contributors of troops and police, Jordan is well-placed to participate in the discussions on peace-keeping.

The Council’s work is of course controversial. The use of the veto by the permanent members is especially open to criticism. For example, there has been a lot of frustration about the inability of the Council to adopt a strong resolution on Syria after three resolutions were vetoed by Russia and China in the last 3 years. However, when the Council does come together it can deliver real value, such as the resolution which agreed to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

There is also a strong argument that the membership of the Security Council should be up-dated, to reflect the fact that major powers like India, Japan and Germany merit permanent membership. The UK, as one of the permanent members, supports this process of reform, but agreement on the detail has been elusive.

Such controversy is a natural part of the dynamic of a large international organisation that seeks to represent the views of its members. We are without doubt better off with the UN than without it. And if we didn’t have a body like the Security Council, we would want to invent it.

Discussion at international level is crucial. The world is even more inter-connected and inter-dependent than when the UN was created in 1945 with 51 members. Issues of peace and security have an impact across the world. So do the other big issues handled by the UN: the environment, human rights and the eradication of poverty.

For the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jordanian delegation in New York, membership of the Security Council comes at a fascinating time. In the next 2 years, the world will continue to be a complex and fragile place. The threats to world peace and security, especially in the Middle East, will continue to require the attention of the Council. Even in January, when Jordan has the Presidency of the Council, the situation in Syria and the impact of the refugees on neighbouring countries, including Jordan, will be major issues.

As a close friend of Jordan the UK very much welcomes Jordan’s membership of the Security Council. We look forward to working closely together on the Council’s challenging agenda ahead.

3 comments on “Jordan on the Security Council

  1. Dear Peter,
    as already mentiond I ‘ve additional infos about the Arab -League:
    ‘1 Egypt , Capita Cairo,
    #2Algeria , Cap. Algiers,
    Bahrain , Cap.Manama,
    Djibouti , Cap..Djibouti City ,
    Iraq , Cap. baghdad ,
    Yemen, Saana,
    Jordan, Amman,
    qatar , Doha,
    Comores , Moroni,
    Kuwait, Kuwait-City.
    The Lebanon , Beyrouth ,
    Libya , Tripols,
    Maroc, Rabat,
    Mauretania ; Nouachott,
    Oman ; Muscat,
    Palestine , Ramallah,
    Saudi – Arabia, Riad,
    Somalia , Mogadshu
    Sudan , Khartoum,
    Syria ; Danascus

  2. Dear Peter , pls. allow me to add the next follwing lines /informations: Arab-League members are :Algeria , Bahrain , Djibuti , Iraq , Yemen , Jordan (of course), Qatar , Comores , Kuwait , The Lebanon , Libya , Maroc , Mauretania , Oma , Saudi-Arabia , Somalia , R.o.Sudan , South Suda (since June ’11) , Syria , Tunisia ,The Emirates and – last but not least : Egypt .

    Best wishes + take care , Liebe Grüßle aus Stutengarten ,
    P.S.: A followup is in work

  3. Dear Peter ,if you ‘re asking of what the work of the UN Security Council really is , I do full agree to you in 2 topics / issues :
    #1 : International peace and security.
    #2 : Jordan is an ideal state for the presidency (of the council).
    But to be honest : I ‘m only wondering why Jordan has been elected to represent Asia.
    Don ‘t get me wrong : I do strongly believe that this 2 – year-strint will born a lot of positive “fruits” sooner or later.
    But in my opinion it would be even more fantastic if Amman could represent the so-called Arab-League with its 22 member states. Nevertheless : I ‘m deeply convienced that the Jordanians
    will do an excellent “job” during the next 2 years. Plus a more or less better one as probably China and Russia in re. of their Syrian policy by using as permament members their veto.
    “Policy is the art of making unimpossible possible – Politik ist die Kunst , unmögliches möglich zu machen…”
    (Willy Brandt , Peacenobelwinner 1970 )
    Best wishes & take care, Ingo-Steven , Stuttgart

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About Peter Millett

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as Ambassador to Libya. Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015. He was High Commissioner to…

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as
Ambassador to Libya.
Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015.
He was High Commissioner to Cyprus from 2005 – 2010.
He was Director of Security in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
from 2002-2005, dealing with all aspects of security for British
diplomatic missions overseas.
From 1997-2001 he served as Deputy Head of Mission in Athens.
From 1993-96 Mr Millett was Head of Personnel Policy in the FCO.
From 1989-93 he held the post of First Secretary (Energy) in the UK
Representative Office to the European Union in Brussels, representing
the UK on all energy and nuclear issues.
From 1981-1985 he served as Second Secretary (Political) in Doha.
Peter was born in 1955 in London.  He is married to June Millett and
has three daughters, born in 1984, 1987 and 1991.  
His interests include his family, tennis and travel.