United Nations Cooperation with Regional Bodies Critical, Speakers Stress
In a conflictual world characterized by scattered power, global peace and security would only stand a chance only if nations and regions united against common threats transcending their borders, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy told the Security Council today, amid calls for greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.
In her second briefing to the Council, High Representative Federica Mogherini recalled the common efforts she had carried out with various United Nations agencies around the world in different multilateral formats. Multilateralism would be among the core principles in the European Union’s new global strategy for foreign and security policy, which she would present in the coming weeks. “In times like these, we need each other,” she said. “We need the United Nations.”
Providing an overview of European Union priorities, she urged renewed efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recalling that the regional bloc had pushed to revitalize the Middle East Quartet in 2015, and held several meetings where Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the League of Arab States had joined the discussions.
Last November, the European Union had met with the newly formed International Syria Support Group in Vienna, where all regional and international actors had gathered around the same table for the first time since the outbreak of the war in Syria. Unity was also central for Libya, and the European Union had begun to mobilize a €100 million package to help restart the country.
She went on to say that the European Union had launched its Operation Sophia naval initiative against trafficking networks in the Mediterranean Sea, asking the Council to adopt a resolution authorizing it to enforce the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. As for Ukraine, she said the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented, emphasizing that the European Union did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.
Describing migration and displacement as “one of the great challenges of our era”, she said that she would be in Strasbourg, France, on 7 June to present a plan for a “new migration partnership”. Going forward, the European Union would seek to reinforce old ties and create new ones in bilateral, regional and global relations, she said, adding that while formats could change, the bloc would always return to the United Nations and the stubborn idea of a cooperative world order.
In the ensuing debate, speakers praised the European Union’s cooperation with the United Nations, especially in matters of peace and security, with some singling out its diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear file, its peacekeeping work in Africa, and broader initiatives to combat human trafficking, terrorism and violent extremism. Concern expressed by Venezuela’s representative about the need to respect principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter was echoed by his counterpart from China, who emphasized the importance of upholding sovereignty and independence, as well as non-interference in domestic affairs, among other values.
Other speakers struck a more cautious tone, with the Russian Federation’s representative expressing regret that the quest for a political settlement in Syria had led European partners to take destructive and unilateral actions, engaging in propaganda rather than patient, joint efforts. Likewise in Ukraine, Brussels had played an “unseemly role” in that country’s ongoing crisis, he said, expressing hope that the European Union would insist that Kyiv follow through on its obligations under the Minsk agreements.
On that point, Ukraine’s representative expressed hope that the new European Union Global Security Strategy would reflect the root cause of instability in his country. Its dedication to protecting universal principles of international law was particularly relevant in light of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian Federation’s ongoing military aggression in eastern Ukraine, he said.
Malaysia’s representative said he would like to see the European Union play a more active role as a broker within the Middle East Quartet, given the absence of efforts by the Security Council to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The regional body could use available tools to end decades of impunity, he said, stressing that those involved must move from managing the conflict to addressing its root causes.
Egypt’s delegate expressed hope that the European Union would play an effective role in pushing for greater efforts to support Libya’s Government of National Accord, warning that any delay in that regard could result in the failure of the political process there, strengthening terrorist groups and exacerbating the situation of migrants and refugees.
Also speaking today were representatives of Senegal, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Spain, Uruguay, United States, Angola and France.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, recalled the common work she had carried out with United Nations agencies around the world, in different multilateral formats, saying: “I believe this is the only way we have — as Europeans, as responsible members of the international community — to face these difficult times.” An unprecedented number of people were on the move, with tens of millions fleeing war, she said, noting that cities in Europe had been hit by terrorist attacks. Inequality, insecurity, xenophobia, islamophobia and anti-Semitism were also on the rise. “In times like these, we need each other. We need the United Nations,” she said. In that context, the European Union had placed multilateralism at the core of its common external action.
She said new security threats in the Middle East should push everyone to renew efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because further escalation, especially around holy sites in Jerusalem, would have grave consequences for the region. On the other hand, a peaceful solution could unlock regional cooperation, she said, adding that she had made the Middle East peace process a top priority for European Union action. The trends were clear: violence had amplified mistrust, Israel’s settlement policy was eroding prospects for a two-State solution, and the absence of unity among Palestinian factions was a major stumbling block. In 2015, the European Union had pushed to revitalize the Middle East Quartet, and several meetings had been held, including in New York, where Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the League Arab States had joined the discussions. In Paris, a few days ago, parties had discussed how the international community could help.
Recalling the Council’s July 2015 endorsement of the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, she said monitoring of its implementation continued, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In November, the European Union had met with the newly formed International Syria Support Group in Vienna, where all regional and international actors had finally been at the same table for the first time since the start of the war in Syria. “It is vital that humanitarian aid reaches a greater number of areas,” she stressed, noting that the Union had reopened its humanitarian office in Damascus. In Iraq, progress had been made in the military campaign, she said, underlining the need for rapid stabilization and restoration of services after Da’esh-held areas were liberated. The campaign against the group must be framed by an adequate political settlement and the European Union supported Iraq’s efforts in that regard. Unity was also central for Libya, she said, noting that the European Union had restated its support for the Government of National Accord in Vienna last month. It had also started to mobilize a €100 million package to help restart the country.
The European Union had launched the Operation Sophia naval initiative against trafficking networks in the Mediterranean, she continued, thanking the Council for its resolution endorsing that mission and requesting that it now adopt one authorizing that operation to enforce the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. The need for a political solution in Yemen, and to address the dire humanitarian situation there, was just as urgent as elsewhere in the region, she added. As for Ukraine, that situation was a priority for the European Union, she said, emphasizing that the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented. The bloc did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, and was working with Kyiv to help Ukraine implement reforms, she said, citing a recently approved constitutional amendment to improve the independence of the judiciary. As for its efforts as a global security provider, she said the European Union was following the negotiations to end the conflict in Colombia, and she had recently signed important agreements.
The bloc would host an a major international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels, she said, suggesting that a United Nations police mission could deter further threats to peace in Burundi. In the Central African Republic, the European Union and the United Nations had joined forces to restore the police and gendarmerie, while the regional bloc provided support to the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The European Union’s cooperation had also yielded historic results in building resilience in relation to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and a similar approach had been integral to its response on migration. She said she would be in Strasbourg on 7 June to present, with colleagues in the European Commission, the plan for a “new migration partnership”. Describing migration and displacement as “one of the great challenges of our era”, she said: “Our response is the measure of our very humanity.” Going forward, the European Union would seek to reinforce old ties and create new ones, in bilateral relations, as well as at the regional and global levels. It had supported African-led peace efforts through the Africa Peace Facility, while its cooperation with the African Union, the Arab League, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could only grow stronger, she said.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that, despite the ongoing crisis in relations between his country and the European Union, the two had worked together in areas including religious extremism, drug trafficking and illegal migration, and the settlement of challenges facing the Middle East. In that regard, the Russian Federation welcomed the European Union’s role in securing agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, and expected that its member States would continue to play a constructive, honest and impartial role in seeking a political settlement for Syria. It was important that the European Union maintain an open channel for dialogue with that country’s Government, he said, expressing regret that European partners often allowed themselves to take destructive and unilateral actions, engaging in propaganda instead of patient, joint efforts. Continued pressure on Damascus would not have the desired result, he emphasized, calling for efforts to force Turkey to stop encroaching on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He went on to state that his country was closely following the European Union’s efforts to address the crisis in Libya, and was puzzled by its decision to include key players in that country on its sanctions list, which seemed to be an attempt to punish Libyan politicians. The Russian Federation was also concerned about the flow into the country of fighters belonging to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) from other States, although that should not be used as a pretext for interfering in Libya’s internal affairs, he stressed. The increasing number of deaths in the Mediterranean underlines the need to resolve the root issues that forced so many people to undertake such a dangerous journey, he said. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he said Brussels had played an “unseemly role” in that country’s ongoing crisis, and expressed hope that the European Unions and European capitals would insist that Kyiv follow through on its obligations under the Minsk package of measures.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the partnership between the United Nations and the European Union was one of the most important examples of cooperation between the world body and regional organizations. The strategic partnership covered a number of crises that went beyond the immediate geographic area of the European Union. Noting that the heightening of some crises had resulted in the international community leaving the Palestinian question to the side, he said that had increased tensions in the Middle East region, and there was need for greater efforts by the international community to revive the peace process on the basis of a two-State solution, which could not be accomplished given the recent actions of the Israeli side.
Turning to the situation in Libya, he said that country was going through a critical political phase, which called for greater international efforts to support the Government of National Accord. A major challenge would be to build and strengthen State structures so that the Government could respond to the major political and economic challenges it faced. Egypt hoped that the European Union would be able to play an effective role in that regard, he said, emphasizing that any delay could result in the failure of the political process, the strengthening of terrorist groups and the deterioration of the refugee and migrant situation. Expressing concern about the expanding actions of terrorist groups, he stressed that international efforts to address the terrorist threat should not be confined to the security and political dimensions, but must also send a message to counter the narratives of terrorist organizations, which worked under the guise of religion to attract funds and draw interest.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said regional and subregional organizations could help foster peace by bringing their local conflict-resolution expertise to bear. Noting that the European Union had the institutional mechanisms to finance peacekeeping missions and carried out actions to prevent crises, he welcomed its comprehensive approach to peace and security, and urged a development-focused effort to tackle migration. Citing the bloc’s prevention activities in dealing with the root causes of conflict, he said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) attached great importance to its activities in Guinea-Bissau, expressing hope for its further cooperation in that regard.
YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) said his country’s partnership with the European Union was based on such values as democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Japan cooperated with the bloc on peace and security, economic and other global issues, and they had recently organized joint programmes to improve security situations in Africa, including in Mali. In Niger, Japan had provided radio equipment and vehicles for integral command centres, to which the European Union provided capacity-building training. In the Middle East, Japan and the European Union continued to address humanitarian needs brought on by violent extremism, he said, noting that his country had announced a $6 billion package for stability in the Middle East and North Africa for the period 2016 to 2018. Japan supported United Nations efforts for political solutions in Libya, Syria, Yemen and other regional crises, and valued the Organization’s cooperation with the European Union under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.
GERARD VAN BOHEMAN (New Zealand) said the partnership of the United Nations with the European Union was one of its deepest and most productive. Among other things, it played an ongoing role in supporting implementation of the Minsk agreements in Ukraine, and in seeking to revive the Middle East peace process. In Syria, where the peace process was faltering and the disastrous humanitarian situation deteriorating, “we need to do all we can to resume negotiations on a political transition”, he said, acknowledging the significant humanitarian and development assistance that the European Union and its member States had provided to mitigate the human cost of the conflict there. Turning to the flow of irregular migrants who continued to enter the European Union, he noted that many others perished as they attempted the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. New Zealand had co-sponsored Council resolution 2240 (2015) on international efforts to intercept vessels off the Libyan coast suspected of migrant smuggling, and was ready to consider other contributions that European Union countries could make, in partnership with the Council, to support safety and stability in the Mediterranean as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges of irregular migration.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) highlighted the origins of both the United Nations and the European Union in the scourge of war, saying it was unsurprising that they shared so many values that underpinned the collective ability to protect and maintain international peace and security. The European Union and its member States played an active role in peacekeeping and provided complementary support to United Nations missions, as well as those undertaken by other regional organizations. During the Security Council’s recent visit to Somalia, members had been able to see first-hand the critical role played by the European Union in supporting the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and broader efforts to bring long–term peace to Somalia. It also played a valuable role in promoting peace through various mediation and peace agreements around the world, he said noting that it had been active in promoting the political process under way in Syria. He welcomed the close cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations on Libya, which had helped in establishing the Government of National Accord in that country. It had also provided financial support for quick-impact projects in Libya, which would have immediate benefits on the ground. It had provided practical support to address the ongoing migration and refugee crisis, he said, adding that the United Kingdom would support the European Union’s efforts to build the capacity of Libya’s coast guard.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said his delegation was pleased that the European Union had reserved a major role for prevention in its global security strategy. Spain had recently organized the first-ever international conference on preventive diplomacy, in which high representatives of the bloc had participated, he said, adding that its conclusions would be distributed to the Security Council and the General Assembly in due course. On Iran, he highlighted the very important role played by the European Union in the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan agreed with Iran in July 2015. The European Union had supported stability in Libya and the fight against human traffickers working on its coast, he said, noting that Operation Sophia had saved more than 15,000 lives. The European Union had had a very firm commitment in Africa, to two operations in particular — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), he said.
WU HAITAO (China) said the European Union was an important partner of the United Nations, citing its participation on the Iranian nuclear issue and “hotspots” in the Middle East, as well as its support for the African Union’s peacekeeping efforts. China supported the European Union’s constructive role in United Nations affairs, which must advocate political settlement of hotspot questions through dialogue and respect for sovereignty, independence, non-interference and other values. It should respect each country’s sovereign choice of path to development and maintain a fair view of its human rights situation, he emphasized. Further, it should facilitate synergies with United Nations efforts to foster development, notably by strengthening North-South cooperation and helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. China took a long-term view of cooperation and was ready to enhance efforts to that end within the framework of the United Nations.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said history had shown the need to “treat the disease, not the symptoms” in tragic situations like those in Ukraine and Syria. In the case of the former, there should be a strategic answer on the European Union side to security challenges in the Eastern Partnership, which had originated with the Russian Federation, he emphasized, expressing hope that the new European Union Global Security Strategy would not only reflect the root cause of instability there, but provide for cooperation mechanisms, as well as a stronger role for itself in the conflict-resolution process. The European Union’s efforts and dedication to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and protecting universal principles of international law were particularly relevant in light of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian Federation’s ongoing military aggression in eastern Ukraine, he said, adding that such hybrid warfare could only be countered through bold and coherent strategies based on joint efforts, a clear understanding of the source of the threat and a vision of how to tackle it. In that regard, he urged the Russian Federation to comply with the United Nations Charter, the provisions of General Assembly resolution 68/262 on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international treaties. Calling upon that country also to end its occupation of Crimea, he expressed further urged it to fulfil all its obligations under the Minsk agreements, including the withdrawal of Russian weapons, military forces and mercenaries from Ukraine.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said his delegation placed great value on the European Union’s role in international peace and security, emphasizing that United Nations cooperation with such organizations was essential. Terrorism, migration and piracy were among the challenges requiring synergies and complementarities, he said, recalling that his country had received European migrants following the world wars, while Uruguayans had travelled to Europe for economic and other reasons. The European Union’s response to the Ebola outbreak had helped attainment of a positive outcome, while membership in the Middle East Quartet gave it an important role in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the Balkans, the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) had played an important role in fostering the rule of law in Kosovo, he recalled.
SAMANTHA POWER (United States) said every member State of the European Union was a democracy and none had raised arms against another, a “remarkable accomplishment”. The benefits of Europe’s peace and prosperity had extended beyond the continent, making it an invaluable partner to many Member States. Lessons could be drawn from the European Union about more effectively advancing peace and security, she said, noting that the pressure it had exerted had been critical in bringing Iran to the negotiating table. The bloc was now monitoring implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as coordinator of the Joint Commission. The European Union’s diplomatic pressure sought to end the conflict in Ukraine and to forge and ensure compliance with the Minsk agreements. It had demonstrated how regional organizations could use financial, technical and military tools to help prevent violence. It was managing nine civilian and military forces in Africa, and had provided more than €1.6 billion since 2003 to support capacity-building. Emphasizing that closing borders could not be the answer to monumental challenges like migration, she said they required a common response and redoubled commitment to the principles upon which the world’s common security and humanity depended.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the European Union’s cooperation strengthened United Nations efforts to prevent conflict, restore peace and build stability in post-conflict situations. The long-standing triangular cooperation between the United Nations, European Union and the African Union was a key element of the search for stability in Africa, and the European Union’s participation was particularly relevant in three theatres of operation — the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia. Its role in combating piracy off the Somali coast and its support of UNSOM had been instrumental in fighting terrorism in that country, he said, describing terrorism as the main cause behind the forced migration of millions of people in search of survival, peace and a better future.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), emphasizing that the European Union and its member States must continue to act in accordance with to Charter principles, he said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran demonstrated that dialogue and negotiations were the only way to address challenges to international peace and security. Venezuela called for the Security Council, with support from the European Union, to play a prominent role in finding a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on a two-State solution. The armed conflict in Libya figured prominently on the European Union’s agenda, he said, calling upon the bloc to redouble its efforts in support of dialogue aimed at bringing stability to that country. Noting that the migrant and refugee crisis was costing lives every day, he stressed that security measures, or criminalizing migration, were not appropriate ways to address the issue, which was essentially one of human rights.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) reaffirmed his delegation’s support for enhanced cooperation with regional and subregional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter, welcoming the European Union’s efforts to promote peace and security. However, Malaysia would like to see it play a more active role as a broker in the Middle East Quartet, given the lack of Council efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The bloc could use available tools to end decades of impunity, he said, stressing that, given the “slow death” of a settlement based on a two-State solution, actors must move from managing the conflict to addressing its root causes. Welcoming the European Union’s support for political dialogue in Syria, and its critical support for Syrian refugees in European countries or in the Middle East through its migration policies and humanitarian aid, he proposed that it make similar efforts to address human trafficking and smuggling in South-East Asia. He acknowledged the bloc’s attempts to address Islamophobia as part of its response to xenophobia, urging more dialogue around socioeconomic inclusion to complement its counter-terrorism strategy.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the European Union’s military and civilian missions had supported implementation of the Council’s decisions on many fronts, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. Noting its contribution of more than one third of the regular and peacekeeping budgets, he said more than 1,000 European Union “Blue Helmets” were participants in MINUSMA. It had joined those calling for resumed political talks in Syria, and had spared no effort to help the Government in Libya fight terrorism. It was also working on a draft resolution in the Council that would strengthen intervention on the high seas in situations arms-embargo violations, and was a primary stakeholder in the response to the migrant and refugee crisis. Indeed, the European Union and the United Nations were strategic partners united by a shared vision of the world, where rights were stronger than force, he said.
Ms. MOGHERINI, said the European Union had a legacy of providing for the citizens of Europe, and for promoting peace and security both in the European region and across the world. Its partnership with the United Nations was critical for both organizations. She noted the appreciation expressed by Council members for the bloc’s efforts in several key areas, including the Balkans and Myanmar, and on such the issues as non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and the fight against xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. On migration, she pointed out that Operation Sophia had already saved tens of thousands of lives, emphasizing that the European Union did not wish to see anyone die, whether in the Mediterranean Sea or in the desert. It was doing its part in relation to the migration crisis, which it viewed as a human duty and political responsibility, yet one requiring collective action. “Let’s join forces,” she said, noting that lives were being lost each and every day, often out of the public eye. Underlining that the European Union was trying to manage the migration phenomenon, not to stop migration entirely, she said the crisis was not a “problem” that must be stopped, but a phenomenon that must be managed.