Speakers Condemn Unilateral Actions by Certain Countries, Call for Adherence to Charter of United Nations
Seven decades into the world’s grand experiment in multilateralism — with the United Nations firmly at its core — a rising tide of nationalism and deepening divisions now threaten to derail strides made in reducing poverty and preventing a cataclysmic world war, the Security Council heard today, as it discussed ways to further strengthen international relations and combat complex global threats.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said in just days the world will observe the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, “a colossal tragedy and a frightening harbinger of bloody decades to follow”. While the global structures established seventy years ago have a proven track record of saving lives, generating economic and social progress and preventing war, multilateralism today is under immense stress. Warning that trust is declining within and among nations, he added that people are losing faith in political institutions and seem less able to cooperate, even as complex global challenges are on the rise.
Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani (Qatar), Vice-President of the General Assembly, declared: “A fragmented, go-alone-approach to peace and security is not sustainable.” The General Assembly, the Security Council and other United Nations bodies all play crucial, complementary roles, she said, emphasizing that multilateralism in no way represents a threat to national sovereignty. Affirming the Security Council’s pre-eminence in matters of peace and security, she also said it has nevertheless become clear that peace is not just about the absence of war. Instead, today’s development, security and human rights challenges are all interlinked and mutually reinforcing.
Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the International Court of Justice, said multilateralism is critical to sustaining an international legal order. In fact, without a framework for predictability and stability, the rule of law would disappear. Describing multilateralism as the result of human experience and civilization in a world in which all have become neighbours, he said bilateral relations cannot create institutions that are able to decide cases on the basis of objective, established principle. Emphasizing that international law has arisen as a result of the needs of an international world, he spotlighted the emergence of new areas of common concern, stressing that unilateralism is particularly unfit to address them.
Throughout the debate, more than 70 speakers took the floor to outline their visions of multilateralism for the twenty-first century. While many commended the lofty ambitions that gave birth to the United Nations, some voiced concern about the largely “unbridgeable gap” between those goals and the Organization’s achievements. Several delegates questioned elements of the Security Council’s work, describing its application of principles as selective and its membership structure as anachronistic. Still others — citing a range of highly effective treaties and peacekeeping successes — warned against the threat of unilateralism and urged their fellow Member States not to give up on dialogue and compromise.
China’s representative — Council President for November and the convener of today’s meeting — spoke in his national capacity, describing the debate as a clarion call for enhanced multilateralism to better confront today’s challenges. Citing a proliferation of factors driving uncertainty and instability — along with a new resurgence of unilateralism — he said such global threats as terrorism can only be confronted through deeper cooperation. Stressing that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States must be respected, he also joined other speakers in demanding a greater voice for developing countries.
“To blame multilateralism for the dismal situation of the Council,” said India’s delegate, “is […] like blaming Madison Square Garden for the failure of the New York Knicks” basketball team. While the Council has expanded its remit to address more emerging crises it has nevertheless remained rooted in the past. In particular, the Council’s membership structure diverges from today’s global reality, leading much of the world’s population to feel disenchanted. In that vein, he warned against decisions reached by a few powerful States in a “subterranean universe”, ostensibly on behalf of the entire United Nations.
The Head of the European Union delegation — one of several regional blocs participating in today’s debate — observed that, against today’s complex backdrop, diplomacy must be global, regional and local at the same time. Multilateralism is not only a more democratic way to deal with international affairs, but the only realistic way to address national interests. Europeans have advanced those interests over the past 60 years through multilateralism, rather than in spite of it. No State is big and powerful enough to address today’s great challenges alone, he emphasized, adding: “The alternative would not be the rule of nation States; it would be complete chaos.”
The United States’ representative, striking a different tone, said that the taxpayers in her country — the largest contributor to the United Nations — have at times wondered whether multilateralism has been a bad deal. Underlining their right to expect a return for their contributions, she stressed that “multilateralism is not good in and of itself but is a means to an end”. That principle fails when it does not support the goals of peace, security and human rights, or when United Nations bodies such as the Human Rights Council give abusive regimes a pass. Those activities do not deserve the support of the United States, she stressed, warning the United Nations not to take its most generous donor for granted.
In contrast, the representative of the Russian Federation cautioned powerful States not to use their dominance to brazenly circumvent the Council’s resolutions or behave in unilateral ways. Citing attacks on the Middle East peace process, violations of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change — based largely on “imagined sins” by other States — he recalled that false pretexts were also used to justify interventions in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, with disastrous and lingering results across the region. Meanwhile, in the Balkans, States are being dragged into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he said, emphasizing that such alliance-based mind sets are catastrophic for the principles of multilateralism.
Iran’s representative stated: “True multilateralism is founded on inclusion instead of exclusion, cooperation instead of confrontation.” Echoing concerns about the doctrine of withdrawal from international instruments and institutions practiced by a member of the Council, he said that included its exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme. “The world should not allow the United States to pursue its unilateral, arrogant and self-centred policy,” he stressed, adding that such actions would result in a world order founded on power, not law.
Venezuela’s delegate, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, echoed concerns about the growing trend in some States to resort to imposing unilateral sanctions that undermine the Charter of the United Nations and international law as a whole. Stressing that all global challenges should be approached in a just, equitable and collective manner, he expressed concern over the plight of innocent civilian victims where force is used or when sanctions are imposed — including by the Security Council. Calling upon all States to promote the principles of the non-use of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes, he also urged the Secretary‑General to make greater use of the International Court of Justice, the main judicial body of the United Nations.
Ethiopia’s delegate, urging the United Nations to learn not only from its past successes but also from its mistakes, said the main question now is how to render the Organization more effective and efficient in facing twenty-first century challenges. Underlining the need to remain true to the Charter’s preamble — “We the peoples” — he said change must begin at the top, with the Council’s permanent members. Also underlining the continued importance of the Charter principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and non-interference in States’ domestic affairs, he said the United Nations must remain at the core of the world’s multilateral system, adding: “It’s ultimately an Organization we can’t live without.”
Also speaking were representatives of Sweden, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Poland, France, Netherlands, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Bolivia, Peru, United Kingdom, Liechtenstein, Japan, Mexico, Slovenia, Italy, Guatemala, Australia, Pakistan, Spain, Algeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Estonia, Argentina, Singapore (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Hungary, Azerbaijan, Canada, Germany, Cuba, Rwanda, Qatar, Turkey, Brazil, Lithuania, Portugal, Egypt, Ireland, Indonesia, Norway (for the Nordic countries), Georgia, Colombia, Latvia, Kenya, Armenia, Oman, Morocco, Viet Nam, Belarus, Mali, Belgium, Philippines, Ecuador, Malaysia and Bangladesh, as well as observers for the African Union, Holy See and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 6:05 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that today’s meeting is taking place just days before the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, “a colossal tragedy and a frightening harbinger of bloody decades to follow”. At the time, while Europe was a multipolar continent, that was not enough to keep violence at bay. Indeed, without mechanisms for international problem-solving, war erupted again and lasted for years. It took a second global cataclysm to trigger the establishment of the multilateral arrangements still in place today. Those structures have a proven track record of saving lives, generating economic and social progress and preventing a third descent into world war. This is evident in recent inspiring developments ‑ including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as critical peace operations authorized by the Council itself.
Describing those missions as “important expressions of multilateralism in action”, he said peacekeeping has helped many countries to recover from armed conflicts and has provided crucial bulwarks against chaos and bloodshed. Recently, 151 countries and four leading international and regional organizations have expressed support for the “Action for Peace” initiative, which aims to strengthen those collective partnerships. However, other multilateral efforts are simultaneously under immense stress, he warned.
“This is a time of multiplying conflicts, advancing climate change, deepening inequality and rising tensions over trade,” he said, adding that people are moving across borders in unprecedented numbers in search of safety or opportunity. The world is also still grappling with the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as the potential dangers of new technologies. “There is anxiety, uncertainty and unpredictability across the world,” he stressed, underscoring that trust is on the decline both within and among nations, and people are losing faith in political establishments.
In the context of such challenges, it is very dangerous that people around the world also seem less able to cooperate with each other, he continued. Calling on Member States to inspire a return to international cooperation, he declared: “We need a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system.” Calling for a stronger commitment for a global rules-based order with the United Nations at its centre, he also underlined the importance of building closer links with civil society and other stakeholders. The Charter of the United Nations endows the Council with special stature, power and responsibilities. It also bears the burden of the Organization’s overall reputation. “I think we can all agree that crises in Syria, the Middle East peace process and elsewhere have shaken popular faith in the potential of the international community to deliver solutions,” he said.
Urging Member States to overcome divisions between them, embrace the United Nations prevention and peacebuilding agendas and make greater use of mediation and other tools set out under Chapter VI of the Charter ‑ resulting in a critical surge in diplomacy ‑ he said States must also make greater investments in building a fair globalization process that works for all. There must be no room for demonizing minorities, immigrants and refugees or for stifling the diversity that enriches societies. Meanwhile, efforts to reform the United Nations itself also have a crucial contribution to make, especially in bolstering the Organization’s resilience and the principles enshrined in its still-visionary Charter. “Such a commitment is needed now more than ever ‑ from all around this table and around our world,” he concluded.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), Vice-President of the General Assembly, said that multilateralism is at the heart of that presidency. However, the headwinds against multilateralism are present and clear. “In a world of ever-increasing interdependence and close inter-relation between human rights, development and peace and security, we have no choice but to collectively champion multilateralism,” she stressed. In peace and security matters, the multilateral mechanisms have allowed for frank dialogue, mutual support and joint action. “A fragmented go-alone approach to peace and security is not sustainable,” she said, calling on all Member States to reaffirm their commitment to the principles and pillars of the United Nations Charter to strengthen the international legal order and to maintain binding international cooperation.
One of the key objectives of multilateralism is inclusion of women and youth, which in turn is key to achieving development, peace and human rights goals, she said. In that context, international cooperation is necessary to address inequality, exclusion and alienation and to foster greater economic opportunities, decent work, political participation and social protection. To boost and uphold multilateralism for all those purposes, mutually reinforcing and coordinated efforts among the main organs of the United Nations must be continued to be fostered.
The General Assembly, the Security Council and other United Nations entities all play crucial, complementary roles within their respective mandates, she continued. The President of the General Assembly commits to facilitating greater synergy within the Organization, taking advantage of renewed interest in revitalization of the Assembly and reform across all the Organization’s pillars. Regular consultations and periodical exchanges of information with the Secretary-General and the President of the Economic and Social Council on important issues of peace of security will therefore continue.
Emphasizing that multilateralism in no way represents a threat to national sovereignty, she said that the role of the General Assembly President is to serve as the de facto “guardian of multilateralism”. She urged Member States to stand together to uphold international law and a system based on rules, dialogue and cooperation. Affirming the Security Council’s pre-eminence in peace and security matters, she noted that it has become clear that peace is not just about the absence of war. Development, peace and security and human rights are all interlinked and mutually reinforcing. “Only by embracing multilateralism can we address the main challenges to international peace, security and prosperity”, she concluded.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that it is troubling that multilateralism is so frequently being questioned. She noted that many were asking whether the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would be at all possible in today’s political reality. Perhaps the answer to concerns lay in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Multilateralism delivered conditions for economic growth after World War II and it was multilateralism that allowed the international community to reach its objective of halving extreme poverty after 2000. To enhance multilateralism, the commitments of the 2030 Agenda need to be fulfilled. The High Level Political Forum, under the auspices of the General Assembly in September 2019, will provide an opportunity to take stock, address solutions and catalyse action towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
She highlighted that the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council have cooperated in the past when the Economic and Social Council Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on African countries emerging from conflict worked closely with the Security Council Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict in Africa in Guinea-Bissau and Burundi from 2002 to 2007. Members of the Security Council may wish to consider whether the use of Article 65 of the Charter, on the exchange of information between the two organs, could be a way to strengthen dialogue.
She also expressed optimism that more coherence could be brought across the three main pillars of the United Nations. The working relationship between the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission is becoming stronger. The Economic and Social Council also provides the space for non-governmental organizations to give voice to their hopes and dreams for the future, she said, noting that its Commission on the Status of Women is also a space for accountability. In addition, its Youth Forum is a space for integrated dialogue on youth, peace and security.
While the silos between the main organs must continue to be broken down, it was also clear that the organs were in need of reform, she said. Still outstanding is the much-needed reform of the Security Council. Of critical importance is the ongoing work on the revitalization of the General Assembly and the efforts to align the work of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in light of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. With the 2030 Agenda, the international community pledged that no one would be left behind. It should be guided by this principle. This should be the basis for a reaffirmation of the commitment to multilateralism.
ABDULQAWI AHMED YUSUF, President, International Court of Justice, said that it is only through support to multilateral rules, such as the Law of the Sea, that an international framework of regulations can be sustained. Otherwise the complicated interrelationships of nations will resemble a spider web that collapses on itself. In fact, without a framework for predictability and stability the rule-of-law would disappear. Multilateralism is the result of human experience and civilization, in a world in which all have become neighbours. Bilateral relations cannot create institutions that can decide cases on the basis of objective, established principle. For the Court, multilateral conventions provide much of the basis of adjudicating cases. The Court must in turn rely on multilateral institutions such as the United Nations to ensure that Member States comply with its decisions.
The Court serves to reinforce multilateralism in many other ways, including by adjudicating exceptions to conventions and allowing the widest possible accessions to those instruments, he said. The Court is also essential in determining whether international rules are universal or only apply to certain cases. International law has risen because of the necessities of international life and the increase of the collective efforts of States. The increase of such efforts and the emergence of issues of common concern have made unilateralism increasingly inapplicable to the state that the world is in today.
MA ZHAOXU (China), Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, stressing that today’s meeting aims to send a clarion call to affirm the need for multilateralism to confront the challenges of today’s world and to strengthen the Security Council’s functioning in that context. Proliferation of drivers of uncertainty and instability are on the rise along with a new resurgence of unilateralism. Strengthening multilateralism and the role of the United Nations to preserve a rule-based multinational order is the only viable answer to today’s complex challenges and, as such, it represents the right direction of history. Consultation among States according to agreed rules in an atmosphere of respect is essential in that light. “The United Nations is the banner of multilateralism,” he said, adding that, as a founding Member of the Organization, his country is interested in the progress of humanity as a whole. For that purpose, Charter principles must be strictly adhered to along with basic international norms.
Such threats as terrorism can only be confronted through deepened cooperation, while conflicts must be settled by dialogue and negotiation, he continued. Sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States must be respected, and developing nations must have a greater voice. He expressed his hope that the Organization will be able to fully play its role in all those areas and called on all States to demonstrate unity, wisdom and courage for that purpose. Noting that his country is a large contributor to peacekeeping, he also called for the Council to strengthen mediation and the use of good offices, better support peacekeeping operations and give primacy to conflict prevention. Affirming that China has also been at the fore of efforts to achieve development goals on a national platform as well as many other countries, he said that it stood ready to stand with all States to build a better world through cooperation.
IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden), noting that a rules-based international order, with the United Nations at its core, and multilateral cooperation are the cornerstones of her country’s foreign policy as well as the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, cautioned that short-sighted and narrow interests stand ready to exploit the Organization’s shortcomings. Spotlighting examples of collaboration in peacekeeping and climate action, she said these achievements must never be degraded to mere ink on paper. “We must embrace a paradigm of prevention,” she stressed, calling on the international community to identify root causes of conflicts and respond comprehensively. Calling for a renewed discussion on limiting the use of the veto and reflecting the realities of today’s world in the Council through enhanced African, Asian and Latin American representation, she said, “we also need a shift in narrative. We should not only defend multilateralism, we should go on the offensive.”
KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) said that global challenges, such as terrorism, poverty, disease, protracted wars, human rights violations and climate change, are aggravated by unpredictable regional and global security as well as the erosion of international legally binding norms, external interference and proxy wars. Kazakhstan’s commitment to multilateralism with the United Nations at its core — along with transparency, impartiality and honest brokerage — have been the hallmarks of its tenure on the Security Council. Urging States to stand together in defence of a rules-based order — and to prevent international norms from being “torn apart by narrow vested national interests” — he said multilateralism must be reinvigorated through decisions taken in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on development financing, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to be adopted in Marrakesh. Spotlighting the need to strengthening United Nations partnerships with regional organizations, he called for a coherent approach to combatting terrorism. In that vein, Kazakhstan’s recent launch of a “Code of Conduct towards Achieving a World Free of Terrorism” aims at bringing countries together behind that goal.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) called for concerted efforts to promote multilateralism and counter attempts by some powers to use their global dominance to brazenly circumvent Council resolutions. Such States describe themselves as friends of multilateralism, and brand those who disagree with them as enemies. However, consistent attacks against the Middle East peace process, agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Paris Agreement, among others, prove otherwise. The States carrying out those activities base their decisions on imagined sins, including the existence of weapons of mass destruction or interference in elections; evidence is not deemed necessary. Recalling that such false pretexts were also used to justify interventions in Yugoslavia in 1999, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 — with the latter two having disastrous consequences across the region — he went on to note that today foreign intervention continues in Syria, resulting in extremism and terrorism. Meanwhile, in the Balkans, States are now being “dragged into NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]”, he said, adding that such alliance-based mind sets are catastrophic for the principles of multilateralism. The most critical principles established within multilateral structures include the sovereign equality of States and the prohibition of the use of force except when sanctioned by the Council or in self-defence. Stressing that it is critical to respect international law — “law, not rules” — he said States are duty bound to actively avoid confrontations and refrain from meddling in the affairs of other nations.
NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) noted that the United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations regular budget; provides 13 per cent of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) budget; and 42 per cent of support for refugees, among many other offices and agencies. Nevertheless, there are times when the American people question whether multilateralism has been a bad deal and, at times, that conclusion has been correct. Multilateralism requires that all States contribute to the common good. Everyone should benefit. As well, United States taxpayers have a right to expect to get a return for their contributions.
Multilateral organs, such as the Council, can achieve great things when all contribute to a common goal — as recently seen in its successful pressure campaign on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. However, “multilateralism is not good in and of itself, but is a means to an end”, she cautioned. It fails when it does not support the goals of peace, security and human rights. When the Council gives the Cuban regime a pass on its human rights violations or when the Human Rights Council hosts some of the world’s greatest human rights abusers, those activities do not deserve the United States support. Next month, the United Nations will make important decisions about how to distribute the costs of its peacekeeping operations. The United States contribution of 25 per cent is more than fair, especially against the backdrop of low contributions from other States. “This is not just a question of fairness,” but of the success of multilateralism itself, she said, warning the United Nations not to take its most generous donor for granted.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), noting the complex threats faced by the international community today, pointed out that the consequences of conflict or terrorism in one area of the world, such as the Middle East, can impact other countries no matter where they may be. International challenges require international solutions, with the United Nations Charter being the cornerstone of the framework for such efforts. Friendly relations between States and respect for the sovereignty of all countries are critical for abiding by that document. Noting that his country had recently sponsored a meeting on the importance of the Charter, he added that Kuwait’s liberation in 1991 is a historical example of international cooperation in peace and security. Affirming that small countries are particularly in need of international order, he expressed concern at the recent devaluation of multilateralism. Cooperation was needed for assistance disaster relief, sustainable development, curtailing of climate change and many other efforts. In that context, he stressed the need for United Nations reform to strengthen the Organization’s role as the centre of multilateralism.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), noting that supporting multilateralism is embodied in her country’s active membership in the Council, said this year, her nation will host a Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. The full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement is inextricably linked to the 2030 Agenda. Highlighting the importance of cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, she added that the European Union remains one of the best examples of a successful multilateral project. After centuries filled with bloody conflict, Europe now enjoys the most prosperous period in its history, she said, stressing that tackling the new threats to international peace unilaterally is not sustainable.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said that respect of the rule of law prevented the law of the jungle prevailing. Treaties and Security Council resolutions are central in that respect. He stressed that a collective approach to a peaceful settlement of disputes is at the core of the United Nations. “Nationalism will only lead to collective disaster,” he warned, adding that, in a complex, multipolar world, the revival of the dominance of the strongest is particularly dangerous. The United Nations must become fit for the evolving situation, but Member States must also be able to unite to face challenges, on a range of issues tied to peace and security. The results of disunity can be seen in the crisis in Syria. Rejection of signed agreements on climate change and in other areas is also having negative impacts. Avowing that the principle of sovereignty does not contradict with the need for rule of law, he stated that the sovereign equality of States is the bedrock of multilateralism. He added that regional cooperation is also vital, and the means of all cooperation must constantly be developing and creative, open to civil society and cognizant of technology, as laid out in the 2030 Agenda. He pledged his nation’s focus on combatting inequality in leadership roles and issued an invitation for upcoming events on cooperation and peace the country is sponsoring. Affirming the need for constant reform of the organs of the United Nations for its role in multilateralism, he urged fellow Permanent Five members to cooperate with his country’s initiative to refrain from using the veto when there are cases of severe threats to human rights.
LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) said that multilateralism is the only credible answer to challenges such as climate change, migration, transnational crime and terrorism. They cannot be addressed unilaterally or bilaterally. There is a trend, however, including in the Security Council, where the multilateral approach is being challenged and undermined. This is a worrisome trend. When the multilateral system becomes paralysed, especially in the context of international peace and security, it is innocent people who suffer. Too often, the Council fails to act; in Syria, in Yemen, in Myanmar. In the absence of action, ordinary citizens become victims and impunity reigns. Her delegation supports the efforts of the Secretary-General to reform the United Nations to make the Organization fit to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. The world stands to gain from a Council that is more agile and effective in its operations and with a composition that is a better reflection of the world today.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), aligning himself with the African Union, said that multilateral organizations must constantly incorporate changes to adapt to the complex modern world. Bilateralism and unilateralism can no longer foster the necessary principles of dialogue, non-interference and equality between States, as well as respect for biodiversity. It is increasingly clear that the United Nations cannot be fully effective as the nucleus of multilateralism without reform to ensure equality between States, lest it becomes just the instrument of the strongest. Disguised unilateralism is often the result, particularly in relation to the building of coalitions by strong States. Such States must realize the efficacy of working through the multilateral system. A new normative model, based on democracy and equality, is needed. His country has focused on building solidarity and for that reason it has become a host of international forums.
GBOLIÉ DESIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), aligning himself with the African Union, expressed alarm over the erosion of support for the multilateral order which is necessary in finding solutions to complex modern problems. Creating and adapting international frameworks to effectively face such challenges is therefore vital. In that context, cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in areas of peace and security must continue to evolve. Reform of the United Nations could also make it more effective as the centre of multilateralism and peaceful resolution of conflict.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) said that building the multilateral system through the United Nations has been one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Unfortunately, a lack of respect for the Charter and the growing trend of powerful States picking and choosing which principles they will respect has degraded multilateralism. Such attitudes are preventing progress in a host of areas, from climate change to peace and security. Further, unilateral action has resulted in destabilization of entire regions. The use of force is lawful only when exercised in self-defence or when authorized by the Security Council, she said, voicing her rejection of all unilateral use of force that violate principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Council must strongly support those principles, decision-making by consensus and the peaceful settlement of disputes. For that reason, the United Nations and the Council must be reformed to be more democratic and representative. Dialogue with those who are doubtful of the value of multilateralism must continue in forums such as today’s meeting.
TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the African Union, said multilateralism has never been needed more than it is today. While the United Nations should draw lessons from its past successes, he urged its Member States to also have the courage to learn from its mistakes. “It’s ultimately an Organization we can’t live without,” he said. However, the question is how to make it more effective and efficient in facing the challenges of the twenty-first century. Outlining such crises as growing inequality, climate change and ongoing conflicts, he said “at this juncture in human history, we need the United Nations more than ever before”. The Organization must be able to take stock of its own weaknesses and remain true to the Charter’s preamble — “We the peoples” — while enhancing its ability to take preventive action to ward off conflicts. It is regrettable that the United Nations and the Council remains unable to take full advantage of the Charter’s provisions, including those under Chapter VIII regarding partnerships with regional organizations. Change must start at the top with the Council’s permanent members, he stressed, underlining the core principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and non-interference in States’ domestic affairs.
FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru) expressed deep concern over the emergence of conflicts and accelerating threats to peace and security driven by such global challenges as inequality, climate change, the build-up of armaments and organized criminal networks. The United Nations has played a decisive role in building a better world since the end of the Second World War, but in many cases progress has remained unequal. Reforms must aim at strengthening international cooperation, not weakening it. It is also crucial to continue to build the Organization’s political, legal and institutional heritage and to reform the Security Council’s membership to better reflect current realities. That organ’s work must always be carried out in line with the principles of international law and justice, he said, urging members to work more closely with the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. Spotlighting the importance of adhering to other recent global agreements, he also voiced support for the Secretary‑General’s proposed reforms and his focus on gender equality, as well as strengthened cooperation with regional organizations and civil society groups.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said that since the Organization’s foundation, it has faced an almost unbridgeable gap between its high ambitions and its ability to deliver. Today, a proliferation of threats faces the global community, ranging from climate change to human trafficking and terrorism. However, effective collective action to address those challenges cannot be executed only through consensus; some parties continue to commit gross abuses of human rights or genocide, use prohibited weapons or commit other serious crimes. The Council must have the courage to use the lessons it learned in such places as Srebrenica. “If we are blocked by one or two members” in such cases, it is not an expression of Charter principles, but rather an abuse of a veto. Under Chapter VI of the Charter, the Council can investigate any dispute and determine whether it threatens international peace and security. In that regard, the more that some countries try to stifle the Council’s discussion of important issues — including the abuses by some Governments of their own people — the more likely drastic action will ultimately be required. Voicing support for broad-based reform of the United Nations and related organizations, she called for changes to WTO aimed at warding off the temptation of protectionism and of the International Monetary Fund to help combat inequality. Members of the Council — but also of the General Assembly — must recommit themselves to multilateralism, while avoiding the temptation to use today’s thematic topic as a platform for mutual adoration.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) recalled that, following the world wars and the collapse of the League of Nations, “the experiment of States with multilateralism” and with the Council at its helm has stayed the course over the last seven decades. While it is also evident that the Council now faces manifold crises — including those related to its performance, credibility, legitimacy and relevance — “to blame multilateralism for the dismal situation of the Council is […] like blaming Madison Square Garden for the failure of the New York Knicks” basketball team. On the one hand, the Council has expanded its remit by broadening definitions of violent conflicts, addressing issues of nuclear proliferation, providing humanitarian access and recognizing a new generation of challenges related to terrorism, drones and climate change. On the other hand, it has remained rooted in the historical events that gave birth to it. Its membership, for example, diverges from today’s distribution of global power and is unable to accommodate contemporary realities. Large parts of the global population feel disenchanted as a result, while the Council’s working methods and its huge range of subordinate bodies remains byzantine. Warning against decisions that are reached by a few States in a “subterranean universe” — ostensibly on behalf of the entire United Nations — he expressed concern over the use of the veto power and called for a renovation, reinvigoration and reform of multilateralism as practices within the Security Council.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the United Nations is the “ultimate expression of the rule of law at the international level”. A key element of its Charter — and a fundamental task for the Council — is to enforce the rules governing the use of force, he said, pointing out that the Charter has made the use of force illegal except in the cases of self-defence and under the 15-nation organ’s authorization. “In recent years, we have witnessed a widening interpretation by some of which actions qualify as self-defence, without much discussion or consequence,” he stressed, expressing regret that there have also been several instances of the use of force without prior Council authorization as well as attempts to expand the rules enshrined in the Charter. However, those actions have been limited to a small number of States, and a process of codifying the laws and norms on the use of force has continued in an open-ended, inclusive and transparent manner. Among other things, a successful process under the framework of the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute developed a legally binding definition of an act as well as a crime of aggression, and those items were ratified following a consensual activation decision in December 2017.
JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of Delegation of the European Union, said the world needs commonly agreed rules and effective global institutions to ensure stability, security, respect for human rights, prosperity and development. Rather than a constraint, a rules-based international order is a safeguard for all, enabling both large and small nations to benefit from a safer, fairer and more sustainable world. Moreover, with the emergence of new, multilevel relations, diplomacy must be global, regional and local at the same time, which can only be managed through multilateral frameworks.
Multilateralism is not only a more equal and democratic way to deal with international affairs, but the only realistic way to address national interests, he said. Europeans have advanced those interests over the past 60 years through multilateralism, rather than in spite of it. Adding that no State is big and powerful enough to address today’s great challenges alone, he stressed that an effective multilateral system with a strong United Nations at its core is needed. “The alternative would not be the rule of nation States; it would be complete chaos,” he said. “The alternative to a rules-based global order is a global disorder.”
KORO BESSHO (Japan), noting that his country is a proactive contributor to peace, highlighted its support for peacekeeping operations, including through the Peacebuilding Commission and by providing training for engineers and medical personnel through Triangular Partnership Projects. As a leading trading and maritime nation, Japan seeks peace and stability on the high seas and in its airspace. It embraces the international law of the sea, based primarily on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as indispensable for undertaking maritime activities smoothly. Noting that the Council’s composition has not kept pace with the changes in the world, he called for reform to enable it to tackle twenty-first century problems.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), stressing that it is illusory to think that States by themselves can solve problems of a global nature, added that multilateral fora were created so nations could discuss problems and find shared solutions. His country defends multilateralism as a matter of principle, not only because it is a peace-loving State but also because “effective global governance is at the heart of our self-interest”, he said. While the architecture of multilateralism could be more efficient, defending the United Nations should be simple. Calling for a deeper analysis of the critiques against the Organization, he questions if such comments are for everyone’s benefit. Commending progress made in the reforms of the United Nations, he also called for a more democratic, transparent and effective United Nations that is good for everyone and not just a handful of countries.
DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, noted that the world is facing complex, multidimensional challenges and threats affecting peace and security, the environment and economic stability. Given unprecedented global interdependence, “no single nation can hold the answer to all for everyone”. Accenting international cooperation, she underscored that the role of the United Nations must be promoted by insisting on a democratic system based on rules and respect for the Charter. Given the United Nations is uniquely equipped to discharge its job globally, and on the ground, it must have reliable partners in regional and sub-regional organizations. Global threats are a wake-up call for stronger internationalism and multilateralism, with a strong United Nations at the centre, taking into account the needs of all.
SAMUEL MONCADA ACOSTA (Venezuela), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized his commitment to the promotion of multilateralism, adding that the United Nations and its Charter are indispensable tools in the maintenance of peace and security. The United Nations is the only global body with unquestionable legitimacy and is the central multilateral forum for addressing global topics. He expressed concern over the growing trend in some States to resort to imposing unilateral measures that undermine the Charter and international law as a whole. The promotion of multilateral organizations as the most appropriate sphere for international dialogue and cooperation is one of the main guiding principles of the Non-Aligned Movement.
He underscored that all the challenges currently faced globally should be approached in a just, equitable and collective way. This commitment is evident in efforts to adopt a General Assembly resolution to establish an international day of multilateralism and diplomacy for peace. He also expressed concern for innocent civilian victims where force is used or sanctions are imposed, including sanctions by the Security Council. He called upon all States to promote the principles of the non-use of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest. He urged the Secretary‑General to make greater use of the International Court of Justice, which is the main judicial body of the Organization and has played an important role in the promotion of the peaceful settlement of disputes.
MARIA ANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), associating herself with the European Union, said that the need for multilateralism has never been greater. Yet, the multilateral order is under strong criticism and its efficiency is being increasingly questioned, not only by Governments but by the people. The aggravation of social and economic inequalities has undermined public consent for common rules and shared principles. Multilateralism is seen as unable to find solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Consequently, multilateral institutions are often perceived as distant, ineffective and therefore irrelevant, despite positive results that have been reached in the past. Ineffectiveness and irrelevance, whether perceived or real, can drive a wedge between multilateral institutions and the people they serve. There is clearly an issue of trust, an issue that the Secretary-General has underlined. The response should be to reform and recommit: reform the way in which the multilateral system works to make it more relevant; and recommit to renewed multilateralism as the only way that the international community can come together to find effective solutions to global challenges.
JORGE SKINNER-KLEÉ (Guatemala), recalling that the Organization was created to prevent the scourge of war, noted the breakdown of trust between cultures and the incessant violation of human rights. The Council cannot abdicate from its responsibility or turn into a passive spectator when whole populations are at risk, he said, calling for an international order based on reason, justice and mutual benefit. An international order based on rules requires powers to work together rather than in competition. Multilateralism has a real impact on all inhabitants on this planet, he said, highlighting peacekeeping as a positive and strategic association between States. Despite the imperfections of multilateralism, the United Nations continues to be the only forum to meet the hopes of all people who yearn to achieve sustainable development.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, underscored that “true multilateralism is founded on inclusion instead of exclusion, cooperation instead of confrontation”. Climate change is a perfect example of a transnational issue that cannot be managed by one country alone. Calling on the United Nations to act decisively to preserve multilateralism, he expressed support for the Non-Aligned Movement’s proposal to designate an “International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace”. The doctrine of withdrawal from international instruments and institutions practiced by a member of the Council has resulted in that State’s withdrawal from the Human Rights Council, the Paris Agreement and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the last of which is the result of intensive negotiations to solve a manufactured crisis. “The world should not allow the United States to pursue its unilateral, arrogant and self-centred policy,” he said, adding that such actions would result in a world order founded on power, not law.
TEGAN BRINK (Australia), noting the current challenges to multilateralism, said that the world is safer and more prosperous when differences are managed and challenges are met by agreed rules and not by the exercise of power alone. In that context, the role of the United Nations is paramount. A rules-based order is critical to face security challenges — such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons — as well as maintain free trade and the exchange of ideas, strengthen respect for human rights, uphold overflight and navigation rights and peacefully resolve disputes. Her country placed particular importance on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for the stability and prosperity of its region. Voicing her support for United Nations reform in order to better support a rules-based international order, she added that the Human Rights Council must ensure that its members uphold the highest standards.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), praising the accomplishments fostered by the United Nations in the pursuit of internationally-shared goals for the common good, said that today such multilateralism is under assault. “Driven by forces of illiberalism and protectionism, jingoism is gaining ascendency over reason, intolerance over acceptance and bigotry over humanity,” she stated. Nonetheless, listing the complex challenges faced by the world, she stressed that international cooperation remains imperative. A rules-based order with the United Nations at its core remains a fundamental element of her country’s foreign policy. Charter principles of sovereign equality of States, non-inference and peaceful settlement of disputes are critical. As true multilateralism means that decision-making bodies must be fully representative of the aspirations of all Member States — small, medium and large — her country embraces Security Council reform for those purposes. She reaffirmed, at the same time, that the United Nations remains the best vehicle for advancing modern civilization to a higher level and creating a peaceful world order.
AGUSTÍN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said that a renewed commitment to multilateralism is even more necessary than ever. All States have a responsibility given their shared challenges such as climate change, economic inequality, gender inequality, migration flows, terrorism and other forms of violence. No State should avoid its obligations as established by the Charter of the United Nations. Only global compacts can appropriately address global challenges, he said, underscoring that respect for treaties and the value of international norms are the basic tenants of legal certainty and stable international relations. Security, prosperity and the values underpinning human rights cannot be strengthened alone or separately. Without peace and security, there can be no social development or respect for human dignity. Violations of human rights are in themselves a threat to international peace and security and must be taken into consideration by the bodies conferred this responsibility by the Charter, particularly the Security Council, he said.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), pointed out that it cost humankind two world wars to bring about an instrument aimed at preventing another cataclysmic event. Now, after more than seventy years of existence, it is clear that the United Nations needs to adjust its structures in order to be more relevant and more efficient. Too many important issues have lingered for too long, he said, highlighting the revitalization of the General Assembly and Council reform. Some issues, such as the question of Palestine, haunt the agenda of the United Nations and cannot but be seen as a failure of multilateralism. Regional conflict, old and new, is a constant litmus test for the Organization. Multilateralism and patriotism are not contradictory, he said, calling on the international community to draw inspiration from those who wrote the United Nations Charter, which they did while the Second World War was happening.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) said that the aspirations set out in the Charter are more important today than they have ever been, because of increasingly complex conflicts. Recalling how Member States were able to mobilize the international community to isolate and defeat the racist regime in his country, he said that the United Nations is a beacon of hope. History has taught many painful lessons, he said, highlighting the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the Srebrenica massacre. To prevent such tragedies from ever recurring, it is vital to collectively correct any trajectory that might lead back to the mistakes of the past. The Council’s central mandate should not be undermined by narrow self-interest, he said, also spotlighting the significant strides in the continuously growing relationship between the Council and the African Union, in support of home-grown peace initiatives.
MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) said today’s debate is timely and occurs in a context which is complicated and difficult. There has been a resurgence of conflicts that were thought to have been laid to rest, as well as cybercrime, sectarian introspection, climate change and an increase in nationalism. In the face of these challenges, the global community is at a crossroads. More than ever, the multilateralism enshrined by the United Nations is crucial and it is the only path to salvation. The path to peace and security is long and hard, he said, noting that multilateralism could be better protected. The central role of the United Nations is a reminder that the system remains at the heart of the global governance system. His country supports the United Nations reform process and the Organization must rethink the way it works. Development cannot be promoted without multilateralism and the same is true of sustaining peace, he said.
DOMINIQUE MICHEL FAVRE (Switzerland) said the central institution of the multilateral system — the United Nations — was built so that future generations might be saved from the scourge of war. The Charter of the United Nations remains the common denominator and starting point for ongoing dialogue, envisaging friendly relations among nations and global cooperation to solve international problems. Important milestones have been achieved over the past seven decades, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, but a strong multilateral system remains as important as ever. The international community must continue to support multilateral institutions, from the Human Rights Council to WTO and the International Criminal Court. Such support means ensuring a strong United Nations that is fit and able to respond to current crises and create better conditions on the ground.
CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) said that today’s reality is a far cry from what the founders of the United Nations envisioned. Protracted armed conflicts, large-scale human rights abuses and complex cross-border issues, such as terrorism and human trafficking, are just a few of the challenges faced. Amid the slow progress in the international community’s efforts to address these items, multilateralism and the United Nations are being viewed with increased scepticism and suspicion. The United Nations must stand up to challenges, and what is called for is not a perfect, but a more relevant Organization. Multilateralism helped bring the Korean Peninsula back on the road towards peace. In particular, the unity of the Security Council has played a critical role in this regard. As work towards complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Peninsula continues, the Council should be united in supporting the ongoing process of negotiations towards a diplomatic solution, while faithfully implementing the relevant resolutions in place. The Republic of Korea is a country whose existence is a living testament to the relevance and competence of the United Nations. Had there been no help from the United Nations from the time of its foundation, to the Korean War, and in the post-war reconstruction, the Republic of Korea as it stands today would not exist, he said.
SVEN JURGENSON (Estonia) expressed his strong support of the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts to make the United Nations more responsive and effective. Increasing the transparency and accountability of the United Nations system should be a part of the ambitions of the global community, he noted. Although in recent times there has been a growing disunity on a number of topics, it is clear that the international community needs the Security Council to uphold and promote international law by responding decisively to grave violations of international law. Modern conflicts threatening international peace and security are characterized by ever broader use of new technologies. Being ready to respond to these challenges is important to ensure that the United Nations peace and security architecture stays relevant. International law is applicable even when cyber means are used to threaten peace and security, he said.
MARTÍN GARCÍA-MORITÁN (Argentina) highlighted the fundamental role that the United Nations plays in maintaining international peace and a stable global order. Protecting that order is a shared responsibility, he said, noting that international peace is increasingly jeopardized by new threats such as cybercrime. An important pillar of multilateralism is conflict prevention and peaceful dispute settlement. In that regard, the General Assembly, as the most democratic body in the United Nations, can facilitate that. The Assembly has the power to make recommendations granting a mandate to the Secretary-General to act as a mediator or exercise his good offices. Also stressing the role of the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial body of the international community, he advocated for the universality of the Rome Statute.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that there is no doubt that multilateralism is at a crossroads. In his remarks to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General spoke of a crisis of confidence in multilateralism, resulting in a “trust deficit disorder”, especially among major players. The lack of trust and polarization among Security Council members is not new. However, it comes at a time when the world expects them to work closely to resolve global issues and transnational problems. The lack of trust between major players has also affected the rules-based multilateral trading system, of which WTO is an important component. The spectre of a prolonged trade war could seriously damage global economic prospects.
He went on to say that ASEAN has been actively promoting political-security dialogue and economic integration. Regional organizations complement and reinforce the work of the United Nations in areas such as peace, security and sustainable development. However, for such bodies to be successful, they must operate in a world that is governed by a rules-based multilateral system. For over 50 years, ASEAN has put into practice the principles of a rules-based multilateral system. Through dialogue and consensus, it has established a framework to manage differences and has helped to build peace and mutual trust in the region. Its success is a testament to the fact that more multilateralism, not less, is needed to overcome the challenges of today. If multilateralism is to be effective, the United Nations needs to be reformed and strengthened.
FATIMA KYARI MOHAMMED, Permanent Observer of the African Union, said the rising tide of nationalism, emerging pattern of unilateral actions and deepening rifts in international relations have seriously affected existing norms and established practices of international law. Declining commitment towards the United Nations, including the fulfilment of financial obligations, highlights the current turmoil of the international multilateral order. The international community must reiterate its commitment to a rules-based system, as only strong multilateral institutions can collectively tackle global challenges, transcend differences between societies and achieve the greatest possible benefits.
She also emphasized the need to strengthen the leading role of the United Nations in coordinating international responses to the world’s most pressing challenges. “The past seventy years since the Organization’s founding has witnessed substantial gains which should be recognized and defended,” she said. Yet, the global community should also acknowledge the pressing need for improvement, including the long-stalled Security Council reform process to better reflect geo-political realities and correct the historical injustice done to Africa. Adding that about 70 per cent of the Council’s work is focused on that continent, she highlighted the importance of adequate representation for Africa.
KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the European Union, said that the multilateral system established after the Second World War and the United Nations itself are under pressure from emerging and recurring challenges. Reforms are inevitable, she said, adding that the current transformation of the Organization has the potential to enhance multilateralism. The reform of the Council is also long overdue, she stressed, noting that the modernization of the United Nations cannot be considered complete until the Council adapted to the realities of the twenty-first century. “We Member States love talking about multilateralism,” she said, but need to get much better at listening to, trusting and cooperating with each other.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community must promote and support a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system. All States must strictly comply with their international obligations, especially those relating to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. The aim of ensuring a peaceful, just and prosperous world is hardly achievable if universally accepted values, norms and principles are overtly disregarded to whitewash aggressions and other illegal acts. The global system must also faithfully implement international treaties in harmonizing international relations as well as confronting threats and challenges to peace and security.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada) said when his country considers the principle of multilateralism it thinks of the many peacekeepers working to protect civilians around the globe. He welcomed the fact that fewer people died in the first decade of this century than in any decade during the twentieth century and that over 80 million people in 80 countries are assisted by the World Food Programme (WFP) every year. “While the system is imperfect, most of us see benefit in it,” he said, emphasizing that no one nation can face the looming challenges of the twenty-first century alone. “Multilateralism is inherently a positive agenda about collective effort for common gain,” he said. However, there are also serious challenges and the global playing field is nowhere near level. Too many people are left behind and the rules, unfortunately, are not applied to all. Stressing that accountability must not be a luxury afforded only when circumstances allow, he said the Charter obliges all States to act in the best interest of humanity and ensure the equal rights of all men and women, and of all nations large and small. “Looking forward, the challenge to multilateralism is fundamentally whether we choose to live up to our obligations,” he said, underlining the need to adhere to global agreements on climate change, migration, refugees and sustainable development. Member States also need to commit to reforming the United Nations and their own institutions to make them more transparent, inclusive, effective and accountable.
HARALD BRAUN (Germany), aligning himself with the European Union, said that while everybody speaking today is lauding multilateralism, there are plenty of individual States who do not abide by a Council resolution or the ruling of an international arbitration court because they feel restrained. “There may be many resolutions we won’t like too much, but we have to see it as a long-term investment,” he said, adding that such rules create reliability and predictability. More so, rules are meant to be upheld, he stressed, noting that his country was responsible for some of the worst crimes, including the Holocaust. It was important to have the Nuremberg Trials and hold those responsible accountable. Turning to reform, he said that multilateralism is a work in progress and Council reforms are urgently needed to preserve the United Nations legitimacy.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, cited the Secretary‑General’s reference to a “trust deficit disorder” affecting people’s faith in political establishments. Noting two opposing perspectives on multilateralism — one based on negotiation and the other on might — he expressed hope that the open debate would send a clear message in favour of “the force of law rather than the law of force”. Every member of the international community must act from a profound sense of responsibility, choosing multilateralism over protectionism and isolationism. Addressing global poverty, he said: “We must reaffirm the common conviction that everything is interconnected.” The key to rebuilding broken trust is to work in solidarity with less fortunate brothers and sisters.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that in addressing global challenges it is crucial to preserve multilateralism, particularly through strengthening the central role of the United Nations. In this regard, she is committed to the principles of the Charter. Most notably this includes sovereign equality, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence of States, non-intervention of affairs of internal jurisdiction, abstaining from the use of force and peaceful dispute settlement. The blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States runs counter to international law and the Charter. The vulgar manipulation and double standards in areas such as human rights by the United States Government are an attack upon multilateralism and pose a threat to the peaceful norms of coexistence between States. She strongly rejected the statement made earlier in the Security Council by the Permanent Representative of the United States against the Government of Cuba and its people. The United States Government does not have the slightest moral authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else on human rights. The United States does not respect the right to life nor security or food, nor does it recognize the rights of boys and girls. That country is responsible for crimes against humanity. It has used nuclear weapons against civilians and intervenes in the internal affairs of most States.
ROBERT KAYINAMURA (Rwanda) said that the authors of the Charter were convinced by their bitter experience of wars that multilateralism was the only way to save human kind from destruction. Multilateralism is not perfect. The question is how to make it work in the current context. While pursuing national interests, it is important to recall that “the people we serve have common aspirations”, he said. Calling for continued cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, he noted that African nations have made their position clear on key issues such as Council reform. Security challenges are multiplying in number and complexity. They need an inclusive decision-making process, he said, highlighting the United Nations-African Union partnership in the Sahel region and Chad Basin as a successful example of multilateralism.
JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar) said that the challenges facing the world today are particularly significant. Multilateral diplomacy plays a key role in respect for international law and in promoting international cooperation. The United Nations has become the conscience of humanity, guiding the international community. It is a platform that has united the globe for more than seven decades. Its aim is to prevent conflicts, to encourage development and preserve human dignity. He emphasized that the current international order is at a difficult stage full of crises and conflicts. Therefore, progress needs to be made to achieve the goals of the United Nations as a multilateral system representing the entire international community. The commitments of Member States mean that efforts must be made to ensure that the Organization can meet international challenges. The United Nations has played a crucial role in preventing conflicts and crises created by irresponsible policies, he noted.
FERIDUN SINIRLIOGLU (Turkey) said international institutions and rules help resolve disputes peacefully. These rules and institutions are not perfect and are in need for reform. Unilateralism and exceptionalism are departures from common values and responsibilities, therefore the international community must commit itself to a rules-based system. “The new age of multilateralism can only start at the United Nations,” he said, calling for greater transparency from the Security Council. Greater transparency will result in greater accountability. To more effectively prevent conflict, Member States must address the root causes of poverty and promote human rights. “Local ownership should be at the core of collective efforts within the United Nations,” he said. The Global Compact for Migration demonstrates the success of engagement at the local level and “is an inspiring testament to the importance of multilateralism”.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) said that unfortunately the multilateral system is in jeopardy because the United Nations is not adequately equipped to face current challenges. Entire regions are still excluded from permanent representation in the Security Council. It is crucial to increase both non-permanent and permanent seats. Several Member States also feel that they do not have to cooperate within the multilateral framework. While it needs reform, he stressed the Security Council is still the only legitimate forum to handle international peace and security matters. However, it should not intrude on the responsibilities of other organs and bodies. Selectivity in applying principles is also a problem, as shown in the non-proliferation agenda, where nuclear disarmament has not been pursued. He also stressed the importance of maintaining the prohibition on the use of force, with exceptions kept strictly limited to self-defence. He pledged his country’s continued determination to help keep the United Nations strong in order for it to strongly underpin multilateralism.
AUDRA PLEPYTÉ (Lithuania), pointed out that since the end of the Second World War, multilateral institutions have helped several countries to avoid catastrophic wars. “We all know the diagnosis of current global affairs,” she said, highlighting the protracted conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, and Yemen. The commitment to stronger global governance should translate into effective reform of the United Nations system. The very reason for the existence of the Security Council is to enable prompt and effective action by the United Nations, as delegated by the Charter. Restraining the veto use, inter alia, would make the Council’s responses to ongoing crises more coherent and reliable, she said, stressing that “justice cannot be vetoed”.
NUNO VAULTIER MATHIAS (Portugal) stated that multilateral organizations continue to be privileged platforms for constructive and inclusive dialogue among States, given none can address all threats on its own. Accordingly, it is crucial to preserve and strengthen the United Nations and its irreplaceable capacity to advance a comprehensive and transversal concept of peace that promotes human rights and sustainable development. Conflict prevention must be improved by developing early warning systems that entail immediate action by the international community, although lasting peace can only be achieved by addressing the root causes of conflict.
MOHAMED EDREES (Egypt) expressed concern that, despite the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, some States have taken up a selective approach to international issues that leads to “opportunistic multilateralism”. Such an approach erodes trust in international institutions, as well as their credibility, and undermines the international community’s ability to resolve ongoing crises, such as the ones unfolding in Yemen and Syria. Structural irregularities must be addressed to prevent hegemony in the Council and greater commitment to multilateral action is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and maintain peace and security, he said. For the Organization to fulfil its mission, respect for the Charter must guide decision-making and lead to the allocation of resources, not mere statements, he affirmed, warning against the growing dependence on voluntary funding. Regarding peacekeeping operations, he stressed the need to establish performance-assessment frameworks, allocate sufficient resources and ensure that operations’ structures are commensurate with the situation. He stressed that there is only one force that can restore order in the face of chaos: principles that transcend individual interests.
ROBERT MARDINI, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that as “guardians” of international humanitarian law, there are distinct multilateral relationships with States that show how effective multilateralism can have a long-lasting impact. The Geneva Conventions will celebrate their seventieth anniversary in 2019. Adopted in 1949, they have been universally ratified by States and are core to international humanitarian law. To this day their impact is felt on the ground and are proof that multilateralism can work. International humanitarian law mitigates suffering and the impact of armed conflict on people’s lives, it regulates and limits the methods of warfare, and is principled and people-centred. Multilateral cooperation is necessary for humanitarian action to be effective, and these rules, painstakingly developed, create important multilateral consensus on the limits of violence, he said.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said to strengthen multilateralism and the role of the United Nations some issues are obvious if not easy. The international community must carry out multilateral agreements and make the multilateral agenda relevant by prominently involving constituencies such as women and youth. Partnerships are essential, and the United Nations must strengthen its capacity to engage with local, national, regional and international partners, especially regional and subregional organizations, civil society actors and the private sector. The successes of international organizations in areas such as health, education and children should not go unnoticed or unreported. Reform of the administrative and budgetary structures of multilateral institutions is necessary, as well as political reform at the United Nations. “And none is more necessary than in the Security Council”, she added. In addition, the international community needs to combat the narrative that collective engagement diminishes the sovereignty of individual nations. As the concept paper points out, the most basic principle of multilateralism is that issues in the international arena must be dealt with in a fair and just manner. For a small State like Ireland, that means the voice of every State is heard and their concerns objectively weighed.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) expressed concern over the growing resort to unilateralism and isolationism. Countries are withdrawing from internationally-agreed commitments and some are using coercive measures to achieve national policy objectives. Many of the world’s biggest problems now are exactly the results of these kinds of irresponsible actions. “The world must not be seen as a zero-sum game,” he stressed. The survival of multilateralism ultimately depends on United Nations capacity to adapt to new challenges. Stronger multilateralism requires a stronger United Nations. United Nations reform is critical to ensure the Organization remains relevant and fit for purpose. He also highlighted the role of social media in engaging with the wider international community. It can also help boost credibility and enhance the trust among countries.
TORE HATTREM (Norway), also speaking for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, warned that multilateralism, and the norms that underpin it, is under pressure. Agreements like the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement are the result of multilateral cooperation and are crucial to addressing global challenges. “We must step up our collective efforts to prevent and curb conflicts and war,” he said, calling for greater understanding of the links between human rights, sustainable development and peace. Terrorist threats require global responses that comply with the rule of law and human rights, he said.
He encouraged the Security Council to make full use of its mandate to engage in, support and promote mediation efforts. However, mediation cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach. Social and economic development are crucial to address the root causes of conflict. International organizations are often best placed to lead mediation efforts, he said, welcoming a strengthened United Nations-African Union cooperation. “The World Trade Organization is an essential multilateral tool,” he said, adding that free trade agreements contribute to economic growth and eradication of poverty. He also called on Member States to support the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said that the only alternative to a rules-based international order is chaos. Hence it is a common duty to strengthen the multilateral system by relevant reforms that make the United Nations more fit to be at the core of the system. In that context, he welcomed the Secretary‑General’s proposals. Unfortunately, he added, his country has been deeply affected by the disruption of the rules-based order due to what he called the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation that preceded a similar fate for Ukraine. The blatant violation of fundamental norms and principles of international law, along with disregard for the territorial integrity of sovereign States, was a massive blow to European security and the entire international order. This destruction was extended by the Russian Federation’s misuse of the veto power, by blocking the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia while being a party to the conflict. It is therefore crucial to reform the Security Council and the United Nations in general to ensure cohesion, inclusivity and respect for international law.
FRANCISCO ALBERTO GONZALEZ (Colombia) said the international community must reform its methods to be more efficient. To that end, the principles of the Charter must be implemented jointly, as they are the cement that holds together the edifice of the Organization. Moreover, given the numerous actors involved in international relations today, the capacity of States to address the demands of society and safeguard common good must be strengthened, he affirmed. Emphasizing the need for the Organization to be adaptable and flexible, he said the Council must become more democratic, representative, transparent and effective. To protect future generations from the scourge of war, he called on the Organization to focus its work on prevention and act fast and in a coordinated manner to generate results on the ground.
ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia) noted the United Nations was founded to “put an end to the world where might makes right, where big Powers dominate and dismember their neighbours.” Since regaining its independence and acceding to the United Nations in 1991, Latvia has been a staunch supporter of multilateralism, international law and the principles of democracy. He stated the United Nations is the core of the multilateral system — “the proper place for finding global solutions to global problems”. Given such pressing issues as terrorism, climate change and migration, the United Nations is more relevant now than ever, but inaction by the Member States of the Security Council in the face of mass atrocities runs counter to the spirit of the Charter.
LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya) wondered why globalization has led to the loss of momentum in multilateralism. Globalization is about the cherished ideal of open markets driving the global economy to achieve unprecedented levels of economic growth and development. It has lifted individual standards of living in many parts of the world, uplifting masses from abject poverty. As many experienced new found political and economic freedoms, many countries graduated from lower income to higher income within a relatively short time span. Multilateralism requires a certain Government responsiveness and purposeful adaptability to keep up with globalization. This is the bane of multilateralism as many modern States remain reluctant to shift away from the pre-nineteenth century nation-State governance model, closely reflecting the peace of Westphalia. The United Nations should be at the forefront of restoring multilateralism to bridge its gap with globalization. Adherence to international norms and practices developed through mutual consensus should be the guiding light in this task.
SOFYA SIMONYAN (Armenia) said that she supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to prioritize prevention in the ongoing reform of the United Nations system. Armenia is duty bound and resolute to contribute to this concept, with a focus on early action to prevent grave violations. Armenia’s track record is well known, and the United Nations resolutions tabled by her country serve the purpose of the elaboration of strategies for the prevention of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms has been at the centre of the fundamental democratic transformation in her country, as manifested by the peaceful revolution in Armenia in the spring of 2018. The domestic transformations that took place in May demonstrated the commitment to embrace policies for inclusion, equal rights and opportunities, development and peace at the national, regional and international levels.
KHALIFA BIN ALI ISSA AL-HARTHY (Oman), affirming the importance of the United Nations and multilateralism to face challenges in international peace and security, said that global issues require global solutions. Cooperation by all States, big and small, is therefore needed in the effort. For the principles of multilateralism to be respected, double standards must be avoided in that context. Realizing that some countries have re-embraced unilateralism, he expressed hope that all States will re-affirm the importance of strengthening the multilateral system.
MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco) said multilateralism is a necessity and an obligation, not an option, in the face of emerging challenges such as the expansion of terrorism, the multiplication of conflicts and hotbeds of tension, and unemployment amongst young people, which has led some of them to succumb to the dark rhetoric of radicalism and terrorism and fall prey to transnational crime and trafficking networks. The purposes of the Charter must be achieved with a comprehensive and multidimensional approach focused on the rule of law, in all international relations matters, he emphasized. Underlining that Morocco has placed its foreign policy within a framework of preventive diplomacy, he said that constructive and responsible dialogue is essential to the peaceful resolution of disagreements. Morocco has worked to foster unity in the Maghreb, the Arab world and Africa, he affirmed, citing his country’s efforts to help Malians and Libyans overcome crises.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), allying himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that upholding multilateralism is more important than ever as the peace and security of the world faces increased and more complex challenges. To make the multilateral system more effective, he called on all Member States to take concrete measures to preserve the rules-based international order in which all matters are dealt with in a fair, just and equal manner. Multilateral mechanisms, first and foremost the United Nations, must also change to be more effective, more transparent and more accountable to Member States and all peoples. In that regard, he supported swift implementation of the reform initiatives put forth by the Secretary-General. His country will continue to strive for a peaceful, prosperous, sustainable and equitable world as a committed Member of the United Nations.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) said the principle of multilateralism is not only being neglected today but totally ignored, with many instances of cyberwars, unilateral sanctions, provocations and bullying as well as the undermining of the international disarmament architecture. Belarus has always abided by the principles of multilateralism and mutual respect, he stressed, noting that the country is also a major donor to stability and security processes as well as the only post-Soviet country that has never been involved in conflict in the region. Expressing support for the deployment, on mutually acceptable terms, of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine — and pledging to help contribute to it — he underlined the importance of settling conflicts between “east and west” and recalled that Belarus hosted a meeting of the Munich Security Group in Minsk just last week. “It is better to have years of negotiations than one day of war,” he said, noting that dialogue provides all people with the chance to achieve peace.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that at a time when multilateralism is called into question, the United Nations remains the very foundation of the concept. Embodying the deeply felt aspirations of people worldwide for peace, security, development and human rights, the United Nations represents a better future for all peoples and gives all nations — powerful and not — the opportunity to participate on equal footing in international issues. Noting the prevalence of issues including terrorism, cybercrime and climate change, he said only a multilateral approach can address them. Despite a difficult national situation, Mali continues to send its sons and daughters on peacekeeping missions because of the importance of the United Nations. With multilateralism at a crossroads, there is an opportunity to re-energize it, and Mali remains committed to that cause.
KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union, noted her President had recently made an emotional speech in support of multilateralism. Belgium spent centuries as a battleground between other countries but is now enjoying the longest period of peace in its history. Her Government, therefore, supports the three pillars of the United Nations as the best way to prevent conflicts. However, she stated the Security Council must illustrate its practical usefulness for men, women and children worldwide, addressing the root causes of conflict, fighting impunity and protecting civilians, especially children in armed conflict. All Member States of the Council must ensure their actions do not contribute to conflict or crisis and must use existing multilateralism instruments to strengthen its actions. She noted her Government has shown its support by contributing €2 million to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
ARIEL PENARANDA (Philippines), aligning himself with ASEAN, warned against unilateral acts that can jeopardize the environment conducive to peace, stability and progress the international community seeks to foster. As a founding Member of the United Nations, the Philippines actively promotes multilateral processes, he assured, citing his country’s advocacy for the Global Compact for Migration. Urging sincere cooperation and unity to fight against terrorism, he said this scourge represents the most pressing threat to peace and security. While reiterating his country’s strong support for multilateralism, he stressed that the United Nations and its agencies must respect and uphold the sovereignty of States. No agency or group can be more effective than States, as they are in the best position to fix the problems they created, he emphasized.
HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador) said the United Nations is a moral reference for the achievement of international peace and security and defending the rights of people around the globe. As no State is immune to global threats, “there cannot be just one response”, and all must work together to combat them and uphold international law, she said. Describing the latter as the “backbone” of the global system, she said no lasting peace can be achieved without justice and accountability. Calling for enhanced efforts to reform the United Nations system in such a way as to render its actions more coherent and less fragmented, she said the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda — which requires the greatest cooperation among all countries — is an important example of today’s challenges and opportunities.
KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia), allying himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said Member States must remain united in their collective response to challenges and in upholding the purposes and principles of the Charter. In its 73 years, the global multilateral system underpinned by the United Nations has paved the way for great strides by nations in such fields as trade, socioeconomic development, poverty eradication, promotion and protection of human rights, countering terrorism and addressing environmental concerns. However, the evolving nature of today’s threats and non-traditional security challenges now threaten to undermine many of the gains achieved. Citing the United Nations inability to resolve some longstanding protracted conflicts, including helping the Palestinian people realize their right to self-determination, he said the Council’s approach to that issue stands out as an example of selective inaction in implementing the Charter’s purposes and principles. Among other things, he called on States to work together to reform and strengthen the United Nations as the only way forward.
FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stated multilateralism remains “a critical guiding light for a rules-based order in the dark tunnels we often find ourselves in”. Despite limited results in managing conflicts, the United Nations remains “the most reliable address to raise concerns over the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflicts in any given situation.” Noting the rapid advancement of science and technology will subject the conventional notion of humanity to challenging questions, he pointed to the need for global responses. Noting that the growing temptation to take recourse in protectionism, intolerance and xenophobia may be politically expedient, he stressed the multilateral process — although slow and painstaking — is worth all efforts invested. Those who doubt multilateralism should consider Bangladesh, a nation born in war and once “dismissed as a basket case”, which has now become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with that principle as its mainstay. He noted that in the aftermath of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, his country had no option but to call upon the United Nations and particularly the Council until a lasting solution is reached.