Global Policy Forum

Portuguese Views on the Arria Formula

Portuguese views on the Arria formula

Views stated by Portugal in the Informal Working Group of the Security Council
(Documentation and other Procedural Questions)

October 27, 1997

1. There is a fundamental element that distinguishes formal meetings from informal consultations: the existence of records.

2. Records promote the consistency of SC decisions as well as of the position of its members. Transparency is also enhanced because it provides non-members of the SC with access to information. Information is correct and undistorted: records are the most reliable source.

3. Of course informal consultations are unquestionably useful. They allow the Council to speed up the consideration of certain matters and have proved to be efficient. But their repeated use has, in a certain way, led to their formalization.

When the SC wishes to hear the Secretariat or other persons or the representatives of States in formal meetings, they are invited under rule 39 or 37. In informal consultations only the Secretariat is invited to participate. To hear representatives of States or other persons, the Arria formula has been used.

4. From the discussion at the Arria formula meeting with Ambassador Arria on October 15, we have taken note of the views expressed, as follows:

A. Arria style meetings must be used when there is a need to preserve informality. They are informal by nature; we should not try to create norms for their use.

B. Arria style meetings have their own function. Their use should not overlap the use of other mechanisms provided for by the Charter and the Provisional Rules. If there is a need for informality Arria style meetings are appropriate. If not use should be made of existing possibilities (Rule 39).

C. Arria Style meetings should be used whenever necessary to gather information, or to convey messages or concerns of the Council. But only when records are not indispensable and it is therefore clear that an informal meeting is the most appropriate for the purpose.

D. As Arria style meetings are informal, any entity can be invited to participate: representatives of international organizations, humanitarian agencies, NGOS, individuals and also representatives of States. What is the most important is that the entity invited should be able to provide the necessary information or appropriate to receive and convey the message: the so-called "question of quality".

E. To be seen as an informal meeting of the Council it must gather consensus on its realization. Otherwise, it is not really an Arria style meeting. As other meetings held in the framework of the SC. they have interpretation and use the conference rooms used by the SC or its subsidiary organs (if there is a criteria for this, there should not be any discrimination vis a vis the invitee or the organizing member).

These conclusions, taken together with the existing practice of the circa 50 Arria style meetings, lead us to the following:


  • Arria style meetings are not the privileged mechanism to hear representatives of States (although 65% of the Arrias have been used for that purpose).


  • Arria style meetings are the most appropriate mechanism if there is no need to keep records, or if the invitee doesn't wish to have them, and, therefore, formality is not appropriate for the purpose of the meeting. If there is a need to keep records use should be made of the existing rules; e.g. Rule 39: Invitation of members of Secretariat and other persons.



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