With the United Nations marking its seventy-fifth anniversary in 2020, it is time for Member States to consider reforming the Security Council to make it more representative and more effective, delegates said today as the 15-member organ concluded its open debate on upholding the Organization’s Charter.
Eritrea’s representative said the Council needs transparent rules and procedures for invoking Chapter VI on the pacific settlement of disputes and Chapter VII on action with respect to threats to peace, breaches of peace and acts of aggression. Political considerations could lead to selective and inappropriate application of the rules if Council resolutions are not clear and consistent, she stated.
The representative of Barbados said the Council should better reflect the security challenges faced by the family of humanity, as represented by the membership of the United Nations itself. Among other changes, she said the Council should include a rotating seat for small island developing States.
Austria’s representative said States should refrain from actions that violate the Charter’s prohibition on the threat or use of force, and that fair and clear procedures — including an independent review mechanism — remain prerequisites for the imposition of sanctions. The Council should also ensure that procedural human rights guarantees are institutionalized in all sanction regimes, he added.
Brunei Darussalam’s delegate called on the Council to use the debate as an opportunity for self-reflection. It should also further enhance its partnership with regional organizations to address global challenges, she said.
Djibouti’s representative, in the same vein, urged Member States to collectively reflect on the decision-making process in the Council, saying that ongoing divisions and conflicts of interpretation of the Charter of the United Nations have undermined the organ’s credibility and ability to respond to crises.
Lebanon’s delegate said the actions of Council members must speak louder than their words and that its resolutions — especially regarding occupation, mass atrocities and human rights — must be implemented.
Bolivia’s representative, meanwhile, said worsening geographic tensions are undermining disarmament efforts, with the constant erosion of arms control treaties casting clouds over their effectiveness.
Turkey’s representative said the 2020 anniversary is an opportunity to teach young people about the Charter’s values and the Organization’s achievements. They must learn what it would be like to live in a world with no rules, or by a set of rules imposed by the most powerful States.
The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said that while most nations agree with the United Nations role in conflict prevention and resolution, some parties disparage multilateralism and mock the Council, even claiming that the organ has no role to play in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
Also speaking today were representatives of Morocco, Montenegro, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mozambique, Malta, Bahrain, Angola, Bulgaria, Nepal, Senegal, Colombia, Qatar and Syria.
The meeting began at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 5:03 p.m.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) described the Charter of the United Nations as a “political contract” between nations, with peace, development and human rights as its three pillars. He called on the Security Council to show unity and take joint action in addressing grave challenges facing the world today. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s reform initiative, saying it will strengthen the Organization’s conflict prevention role. He went on to say that Article 12 of the Charter — which stipulates that the General Assembly shall not make any recommendations with regard to a dispute or situation that the Council is addressing — must be fully respected, and that the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be promoted and protected.
DRAGANA ŠĆEPANOVIĆ (Montenegro), associating herself with the European Union, spotlighted emerging challenges facing today’s world, which range from climate change to terrorism to nuclear proliferation to refugee and migration crises. Cooperation is a prerequisite for success in addressing them, she stressed, calling for more efforts to address the root causes of conflict before they escalate. To effectively respond to non-traditional and transnational security challenges, the Council should also undergo needed reforms and demonstrate a stronger and renewed commitment to the tools provided in the Charter, she said.
MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti) underlined the important role already played by the United Nations in advancing the causes of peace, development and self-determination. “Much of the international infrastructure for resolving […] disputes is already in place”, he said, citing the Charter’s creation of the International Court of Justice as a permanent venue to settle disagreements between States. The Court’s jurisdiction has been frequently invoked in recent years on issues regarding international boundaries, which have themselves become increasingly important. Urging States to follow Djibouti’s example in accepting the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction, he also said there is an urgent need to adapt the tools of the United Nations to the world’s current realities and emerging transnational threats. “We also need to collectively reflect on the decision-making progress in the Security Council”, where continued divisions and conflicts of interpretation of the Charter have undermined the organ’s credibility and ability to respond to crises, he said.
RUBÉN DARÍO CUÉLLAR SUÁREZ (Bolivia) warned that at this uncertain time for global peace and security, geographic tensions are worsening worldwide, undermining efforts on disarmament. In the field of arms control, the world has seen constant erosion of arms treaties, casting clouds over the effectiveness of these instruments. Some countries’ domestic policies are not aligned with democratic freedom, leading to conflict and instability. The use of force, which the world has seen recently, should be the last instance. Member States must comply with the Charter and resort to dialogue. The International Court of Justice is the main judicial body and plays an important role in pacific settlements of disputes before the use of force.
JAN KICKERT (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said that while the United Nations may have succeeded in preventing the scourge of a new world war it has not been able to prevent regional ones. The world also remains far from realizing the fundamental rights, dignity and worth of every human being. “Lately, we could get the impression that some countries believe they are above the law,” he said, especially as regards the Charter, legally binding Security Council resolutions and human rights obligations. Calling for stronger efforts to prevent violence and conflict, he urged Member States to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice without any reservations. Countries should also refrain from actions that violate the Charter’s prohibition on the threat or use of force, he said, adding that fair and clear procedures — including an independent review mechanism — remain prerequisites for the imposition of sanctions. The Council should also ensure that procedural human rights guarantees are institutionalized in all sanction regimes, he said, calling on the Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, of which Austria is a strong supporter.
NOOR QAMAR SULAIMAN (Brunei Darussalam), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), described the Charter as a meaningful compass that has seen the international community through both significant advancements and difficult times. “The Charter has also been a means of empowerment”, she said, especially by ensuring the equal participation of small States such as Brunei Darussalam. However, today the Council is meeting against the backdrop of backsliding on such multilateralism. Calling on the Council to use the debate as an opportunity for self-reflection, she said countries around the world look to its leadership for global collective security. Its partnerships with regional organizations, such as ASEAN, are crucial to addressing global challenges and should be further enhanced — including in the areas of preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention, she said.
SERHAD VARLI (Turkey) said the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations is a compelling opportunity to educate young people about the values of the Charter and the achievements of the Organization. They need to know what it would be like to live in a world governed by no rules, or by a set of rules imposed by the most powerful States, he said. On the Council, he said it must serve all of humanity, not the interests of a few Member States. He went on to say that the statement made earlier by Syria’s representative contained as usual delusional remarks about Turkey, and that Egypt’s delegate had made some misleading remarks about the recent memorandum of understanding between Turkey and the sole legitimate Government of Libya, which fully complied with international law and Council resolution 2259 (2015).
DAOVY VONGXAY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning himself with ASEAN, said it is high time for all countries to reaffirm their strong political will and commitment to strengthening multilateralism by upholding the Charter and international law. Emphasizing the connection between peace, development and human rights, he said the Council in particular should enhance its central role in the maintenance of international peace and security. Every Member State should meanwhile honour their commitments and fulfil their international obligations and responsibilities in good faith.
ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that today the logic of peace and mutual respect is being drowned out by the rhetoric of war and confrontation. While the Council is appropriately called upon to assert its central role in maintaining international peace and security, he welcomed also increasing attention to the nexus between security and development and called for the allocation of more resources to the Peacebuilding Commission, in order to better address the broader demands of human security. Meanwhile, the Sustainable Development Goals — which are inextricably linked to security — can only be achieved if the right conditions exist to ensure peace, stability, political freedoms and economic prosperity. Existential challenges to humankind, such as climate change, can only be addressed collectively, he added.
Ms. FRAZIER (Malta) said that as a State that embraces the principles and responsibilities of the Charter, strengthening the international multilateral system has been a constant pillar of her country’s foreign policy since joining the Organization in 1964. The Charter provides a common safety net for inter-State relations in the pursuit of peace and security. “We cannot shy away from working together”, she said, stressing that global issues require global solutions. Effective multilateralism remains the best way to advance the national and collective interest.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said that for small States like hers, the United Nations is the guarantor of their sovereignty and independence. When the Charter was signed, she added, only 4 of the 850 delegates were women. “We came a long way, but we still have a longer way to go.” Regarding the Council, she said its unity is more urgent today than ever. Its members’ actions must speak louder than its words, and its resolutions — especially those regarding occupation, mass atrocities and human rights — must be implemented. She added that at a time when the international community is grappling with “crisis overload”, conflict prevention must be the Organization’s overarching concern.
HATEM ABDULHAMEED MOHAMED SHARIF HATEM (Bahrain), noting that 2020 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations founding, said the Charter remains a key document to settle disputes. Therefore, his country deems it important to implement the provisions of the Charter, including good neighbourliness and peaceful settlement of disputes. Collective efforts must be made for implementation of these provisions. His country is committed to achieving the objective of peacefully resolving conflicts.
MARIA DE JESUS DOS REIS FERREIRA (Angola), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that any military intervention must be approved by the Security Council, stressing the tools available under Chapter VI and VIII. The United Nations spends far more on responding to crisis than preventing conflicts. The approach to international peace and security must be rebalanced. The 15-member organ must be reformed to be more flexible in its decision-making to effectively respond to non-traditional and transnational security challenges such as climate change, terrorism and violent extremism, nuclear proliferation and cross-border insecurity. This has to happen not only because international peace and security issues are at a critical juncture, but because multilateralism is also under threat. The Council must continue to improve their working relations with the other interconnected pillars of the United Nations system and also increase its focus on the concept of sustaining peace.
GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria) expressed his delegation’s support for the recently launched initiatives “Alliance for Multilateralism” and “Good Human Rights Stories”, also voicing deep concern about the crisis of multilateralism. With a view to strengthening multilateralism, Bulgaria attaches great importance to good neighbourly relations, regional stability and mutual cooperation and puts special emphasis on finding and implementing definitive, inclusive and binding solutions to bilateral disputes in the Western Balkans and dedicating additional efforts to reconciliation.
SOPHIA TESFAMARIAM (Eritrea) said the Council has been ineffective and inconsistent in securing peace around the world. In some instances, its actions have contributed to untenable situations and prolonged the suffering of millions. Many people are grappling with intractable conflicts while the Council — constrained by geopolitics, double standards and conflicting interests — remains impotent. When it does act, the Council tends to managing crises, not ending them, she added. The principles of the Charter must be strictly observed and the Council should be duty-bound to enforce peace accords. She added that over time, the Council has assumed quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial functions beyond its powers and functions, hence the need for transparent rules and procedures for invoking Chapter VI on the pacific settlement of disputes and Chapter VII on action with respect to threats to peace, breaches of peace and acts of aggression. She went on to say that there is a tendency for situations in which Chapter VII has been invoked to become entrenched, remaining on the Council’s agenda for extended periods. Political considerations could lead to selective and inappropriate application of the rules if Council resolutions are not clear and consistent.
GHANSHYAM BHANDARI (Nepal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country’s Constitution recognizes the Charter as guiding principles of its foreign policy. The role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security has been included in the school level curriculum to increase the awareness of Nepali citizen’s rights from a formative age. As the birthplace of the Buddha, his country’s culture and world view are imbued with peace, compassion and harmony. The Organization’s reform should make it more responsive to the development needs of the countries such as least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.
ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and African member States of the Council, warned against violations of the provisions enshrined in the Charter, as the foundational treaty is a “recipe” for peace. Stressing the need to respect the Charter, which is the fundamental law of the planet, he stressed that no State can meet the challenges of today in isolation. Unilateral actions violate the spirit of the Charter and put at risk the gains made since the Second World War. The Council must prioritize peaceful settlement of disputes over coercive measures. In that regard, the organ should make more use of Chapter VI tools than Chapter VII measures, which are more costly.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that despite being unjustly denied full membership in the United Nations — as well as the fundamental right to self-determination — it has pledged to respect the Charter and act in accordance with its purposes and principles. Noting that the overwhelming majority of States agree with the United Nations critical role in preventing and peacefully resolving conflicts, he said some parties nevertheless trample the Charter and seek only to benefit themselves. They disparage multilateralism and mock the Council, even claiming that the organ has no role to play in resolving such conflicts as the one between Palestinians and Israelis. Warning that flagrant and ongoing violations of the Charter have been gravely counterproductive and damaging, he said Israel continues to violate the right to self-determination, kill and injure civilians, destroy homes and threaten annexation — all without consequence. Welcoming the International Criminal Court’s decision to open a formal investigation into alleged war crimes in Palestine, he called for an expeditious ruling, declaring: “This — accountability — is how impunity must be answered and stopped.”
NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia) said the United Nations remains best suited for effectively tackling the key issues facing humankind. There have been failures, however, and for that reason, the Charter must be adjusted to changing realities, with the Organization moving forward with Council reform. The world needs an organization that can take strong, effective and timely decisions, she said, adding that Colombia supports the Secretary-General’s efforts to strengthen the United Nations.
TALAL RASHID N. M. AL-KHALIFA (Qatar) said the Charter remains one of humankind’s best creations. However, non-respect for its provisions is among the main reasons for conflict and threats to international peace and security leading to the loss of innocent lives. He highlighted the importance of upholding the principles and purposes of the Charter as well as Qatar’s support for multilateralism and the resolution of crises through dialogue, mediation and the promotion of human rights.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON (Barbados) said the United Nations, and its Security Council, must act as “the conscience of humanity”. But the Council cannot properly do so unless it better reflects the security challenges faced by the family of humanity, as represented by the membership of the United Nations itself, she said, calling for the reform of the 15-member organ that includes a rotating seat for small island developing States, among other substantive changes. Her country advocates for multilateral approaches over unilateral ones, and for dialogue and diplomacy over weapons and war.
AMMAR AL ARSAN (Syria), taking the floor a second time, in response to remarks made by the representative of Turkey, said that that “regime” does not recognize the legitimacy of his country’s Government, saying that the legitimacy stems from support of its people. His country’s Government will never seek recognition from that criminal regime, which infiltrated the national border by sending tens of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters into Syria. The representative of Turkey said the two countries are no equals. “You have no equal in terms of irresponsible behaviour”, he said, with such actions including destabilizing Libya by sending mercenaries and occupying north-east Syria through warmongering and supporting a group designated as a terrorist organization by the Council.
Mr. VARLI (Turkey), making a further statement to reject the statement made by his counterpart from Syria, said that the delegate set the standards low, adding that Turkey’s statement remains valid.