The Arria Formula Forum has enabled non-members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to engage in dialogue with UNSC member states since 1992, first institutionalized by UNSC Chairman Ambassador Diego Arria. During the Venezuelan presidency of the Council in March 1992, Ambassador Arria was contacted by Fra Joko Zovko, a Croatian priest who wanted to convey to Council members an eyewitness account of the violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Arria decided to invite Council members to meet Fra Joko in the UN delegates’ lounge “in an informal way”. This therefore gave Arria the idea of institutionalizing the innovative informal meeting format known as the “Arria Formula” during his presidency in the 1990s. Since then, subsequent Arria meetings have been moved from the Delegates’ Lounge to a UN conference room in the basement and benefited from simultaneous interpretation. More recently, many Arria meetings have been held in large UN conference rooms such as, for example, the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
A non-paper prepared by the Secretariat in October 2002 described the format as “very informal and confidential meetings which allow members of the Security Council to have a frank and private exchange of views, within a flexible procedural framework, with people the inviting member or Board members (who also act as facilitators or organizers) believe it would be beneficial to hear and/or to whom they may wish to convey a message.”
Samuel Brownback, Goodwill Ambassador for Religious Freedom, delivers remarks during the Security Council’s Arria Formula Meeting on Promoting the Safety and Security of Persons Belonging to Religious Minorities in Armed Conflict at the Headquarters of UN, ECOSOC chamber. Credit: UNSC
According to the UNSC, Arria Formula meetings have been used over the years to meet with a range of actors, including:
- high-level delegations from member states not represented on the Council (Arria meetings were sometimes convened for special meetings with visiting heads of state who wished to meet the Council – for example, in the 1990s such meetings were held with the Presidents of Croatia and Georgia Formal “private” Council meetings or “informal interactive dialogues” are more common for these purposes now.);
- representatives of non-state actors;
- mandate holders of the follow-up procedures of the Commission on Human Rights and, more recently, of the Human Rights Council;
- heads of international organizations;
- senior UN officials;
- representatives of NGOs and other members of civil society; or
- representatives of territories not recognized as States who are stakeholders in matters submitted to the Council.
One example of the Arria Formula meeting on the working methods of the Council was the February 13, 2013 meeting on the security dimensions of climate change, at which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among the speakers. An Arria Formula meeting was also organized by Senegal in April 2016 on “Water, Peace and Security. This year.
On October 19, 2018, an Arria Formula meeting was convened on “Silencing the Guns in Africa” which was, at the time, organized by Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, South Africa South and AU. The discussions served to prepare the public debate on February 27, 2019 and the adoption of a resolution on the matter.
Similarly, on January 31, 2019, the Arria Formula meeting on “Preventing and Combating Terrorist Financing” hosted by Australia, France, Indonesia, Peru and Tunisia proved to be extremely meaningful and useful. to prepare an open debate on this issue. held on March 28. The UNSC adopted Resolution 2462 which instructed all States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts. In August 2016, an Arria meeting on the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, Syria, marked the first occasion that such an informal UNSC meeting was webcast on UN television, with footage later archived on the UN website.
In 2022, UNSC Arria Formula meetings have expanded to include non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-state representatives, journalists, high-level delegations from member states not represented on the board, representatives of the civil society and non-state organizations. actors, and representatives of territories that are not recognized as States and more. These UNSC meetings, which do not respect specific dates or times, are particularly “informal” and flexible in nature. They may be held if chaired by a member of the UNSC on matters that concern the council.
As these meetings are not formally part of the UN Charter, they do not require adherence to the provisional rules of procedure that define the UNSC. The UNSC President announces Arria Formula meetings at the beginning of each month during the regular Council schedule. Meetings begin with a statement from the convening council member in a rather private setting. However, these meetings can be vetoed by members of the Security Council.
UN Security Council meetings under the Arria formula in Moscow on the war in Ukraine
Russia convened the meeting under the Arria formula of the UN Security Council on the topic: “Threats to international peace and security emanating from military biological activities in regions of the world” during its military invasion in Ukraine in April. These were open exchanges on the challenges posed by military biological activities that can have devastating consequences for international peace and security as well as for the world’s population.
The UNSC invited the rapporteurs and member states, all of whom presented views, evidence and supporting documents on how to maintain the biological weapons ban regime, with the Russian Federation accusing states to operate Biolabs in Ukraine and conduct research on banned viruses. and other biological weapons.
An Arria Formula meeting was also convened by France and Albania on the topic “Ensuring Accountability for Russian Atrocities in Ukraine”. On May 6, Russia convened a meeting under the Arria Formula titled “Mass Systematic and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law and Other War Crimes Committed by Ukrainian Military Personnel and Militia Uncovered During the ongoing special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces”.
The briefers included Anne-Laure Bonnel, a French investigative journalist; Asya Zuan, journalist at “NewsFront”; Sonja van den Ende, Dutch investigative journalist; Giorgio Bianchi, Italian photojournalist, documentary photographer and filmmaker; and Patrick Lancaster, an American investigative journalist. The meeting was held in the ECOSOC room. Russia has provided “evidence of violations” of international humanitarian law by the Ukrainian military and government, accusing the latter of “systematically subverting” the interests of Russian ethnic minorities in the country.