The Security Council encouraged the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations to strengthen their cooperation to prevent and resolve conflicts, improve collective security and maintain international peace and security, as the 15-member organ today convened via videoconference to discuss ways to do just that.
Through a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2021/9), adopted unanimously, the Council recognized that regional and subregional organizations are well-placed to understand the root causes of conflict in their respective areas and to promote confidence-building measures and political dialogue at various levels.
It acknowledged efforts to strengthen stronger ties between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, adding that more thought should be given to boost the capacity of the latter in such areas as conflict prevention, crisis management, post-conflict stabilization and sustaining peace.
It went on to encourage regional and subregional organizations to make use of their comparative advantage to promote confidence-building and dialogue and to improve their readiness to assist their member States, in line with the Charter of the United Nations and other arrangements, to prevent and peacefully resolve conflicts.
The Council adopted its text at the start of its virtual meeting on “Enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in enhancing confidence-building and dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution”, during which high-level speakers stressed that such cooperation is more critical than ever in an era of increasingly complex and urgent global crises.
Secretary-General António Guterres said that collaborative effort with regional and subregional organizations “has grown exponentially” since 1945 — the year the United Nations was founded — on a roster of crucial issues ranging from counter-terrorism and the women, peace and security agenda to urgent efforts to confront the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year.
He cited multilateral efforts in hotspots worldwide, highlighting how in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Nations worked with the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe to advance dialogue, trust-building and reconciliation. Following the 2020 military coup in Mali, the United Nations worked with the African Union to support the efforts led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards establishing a transitional Government, and collaborated with the African Union in supporting Libyan-led efforts there to establish a ceasefire and promote national reconciliation. In Bolivia, the United Nations worked with the European Union and the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis following the 2019 general elections, proving how working together and supporting complementarities helps drive political solutions.
The United Nations has been working closely with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 2011, he said, a relationship more crucial than ever in light of the crisis in Myanmar, requiring a robust international response to “help find a peaceful way out of the catastrophe”. Stressing his vision of multilateralism, he said that he remains committed to promoting even greater efforts in conflict management and resolution.
Echoing concerns over the crisis in Myanmar, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, stressed that today’s meeting is well-timed as all parties have a “fleeting window” to cooperate through strong action to halt atrocities in that country and prevent the escalation of violence. Condemning the violence since the February military coup, in which security forces have killed 700 people including 50 children, he called it a “pivotal moment” in the urgency of cooperation in preserving peace and security and saving human lives.
He also emphasized the regional importance of ASEAN, noting that he was able to gain entry into Myanmar in 2007 and meet with the country’s military leaders. That was only possible thanks to the bloc’s full engagement in the process. However, the ASEAN response to the current emergency has been divided, and he appealed to its leaders to step up and help Myanmar now. ASEAN must make clear to Myanmar that the situation is so grave it cannot be considered an internal matter, as the violence is inconsistent with the Association’s charter and violates international law. Calling for the bloc to insist that a high-level delegation visit the country, he added that the Security Council must move beyond statements to concrete action to halt the bloodshed, given its responsibility to protect Myanmar’s civil population in a context where violence may constitute crimes against humanity.
As conflicts continue to emerge and deepen worldwide, he stressed that the United Nations cannot deal with such crises on its own. In recent times, multilateralism has faced immense difficulties in holistically addressing such crises as some States prioritize nationalism and isolationism. Regional and subregional organizations have unique roles to play in enhancing dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution, he said, noting his extensive efforts during his decade as Secretary-General to enhance cooperation between the United Nations and all of those blocs.
In the ensuing debate, Heads of Government and State, representatives and speakers for five regional groups agreed on the importance of stepping up all multilateral and multi-organizational efforts to prevent violence and resolve conflict in global crisis points. Speaking in his national capacity, the President of Viet Nam and Council President for April noted conflicts have claimed 500,000 lives worldwide in the past five years, amid waning trust between States and in multilateral institutions, making greater international unity more crucial than ever. Other speakers noted that that regional and subregional organizations often know best how to mitigate tensions and to deal with the aftermaths of bloody conflicts, with the President of Estonia adding “And for that, they must not stay silent when freedoms are suppressed.” Collaborative efforts are also crucial in the wake of environmental or natural hazards, such as the volcanic eruptions that devastated Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, forcing a massive evacuation of nearly one-fifth of the country’s main island. Without effective cooperation between the country, the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, the country’s Prime Minister stressed, “our life and living would have become wholly unbearable,” urging the international community to help the country “in its hour of midnight need”.
Several speakers highlighted the prominence of African issues, with the representative of the African Union noting that coordination between the United Nations and that bloc is now the rule rather than the exception, with 70 per cent of the Council’s agenda dealing with Africa. Kenya’s President added that close cooperation with regional blocs such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and ECOWAS has enabled the Council to facilitate peace agreements and reduce conflict escalation, which can only remain a central concern and initiative given nearly half of all global peace operations are taking place on the continent.
NGUYEN XUAN PHUC, President of Viet Nam, Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, saying that regional organizations, established — like the United Nations — in the aftermath of the Second World War, have thrived in many parts of the world, facilitating dialogue, peace and reconciliation. He noted that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Viet Nam chaired in 2020, is working with China to negotiate a code of conduct in the South China Sea and helping to stabilize the situation in Myanmar. However, while peace, cooperation and development remain the prevailing global trend, the world today is riddled with challenges, he said, emphasizing that in the past five years, conflicts have claimed 500,000 lives. Given waning trust between States and in multilateral institutions, greater international unity is more crucial than ever.
Setting out several proposals, he said that the United Nations should take the lead in conflict prevention through an increased exchange of experiences and best practices in the areas of confidence-building and dialogue. Regional organizations, for their part, should — with their practical experience and resources — bolster cooperation with the Organization. Emphasizing the need to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said that regional organizations must integrate the development frameworks and initiatives of the United Nations into their own development plans while also narrowing political, economic and cultural gaps among themselves. He went on to say that the Council must continue to acknowledge and respect the perspectives, role and contributions of regional organizations, which in turn should strengthen their conflict prevention and resolution efforts, in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations. That can only happen when Member States trust each other and share a common political resolve, he added.
KERSTI KALJULAID, President of Estonia, noting the crucial role of regional organizations in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, said that regional and subregional organizations often know better how to mitigate tensions and to deal with the aftermaths of bloody conflicts. They have a key responsibility in preventing violent conflicts and atrocity crimes, and they can build pressure to stop atrocities and open a door for negotiations. “And for that, they must not stay silent when freedoms are suppressed.” Accountability between a State and a society is the only way to a less violent world, she said, describing the unfolding tragedies in Belarus, Yemen, Syria and Myanmar as clear proof in that regard. She emphasized ASEAN’s critical role in pressuring the army in Myanmar to stop killing its citizens, saying that it is important for the Association to hold a summit dedicated to that grave situation.
Democratic governance also reassures the peaceful coexistence of States, she said. Multilateral cooperation — founded upon the democratic debate, transparent information sharing and confidence-building measures — leads to more peaceful coexistence. She noted that the number of people in the world living in democracies has grown from 1 billion to 4 billion over the past 65 years, adding that the European Union is among the best examples of effective regional multilateral cooperation. She added that respect for territorial integrity and the prohibition of the use of force are fundamental principles of international law at the core of the United Nations and many regional organizations. However, in Europe, the Russian Federation is pursuing its military build-up along the Ukraine border and occupied Crimea. Its actions, which it failed to explain at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) last week, run counter to OSCE confidence-building mechanisms, including the Vienna Document. She concluded by encouraging regional organizations to play a bigger role in securing regional stability and to work actively with the United Nations, which remains the cornerstone of multilateralism and a forum where everybody has a voice.
UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, noting that nearly half of all global peace operations are taking place in Africa, said that close cooperation with regional blocs such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has enabled the Council to facilitate peace agreements and reduce the escalation of conflict in many countries. However, there are still too many conflicts brewing in Africa, a situation that destroys livelihoods, erodes socioeconomic gains and deters development. He stressed the need to recognize and support regional peacekeeping organs, with the Council — and its Presidents and penholders in particular — engaging in more comprehensive consultations and building on regional efforts. “History and experience remind us that the closer you are to a problem, the better you understand its complexity and its workable solutions,” he said.
More attention must be given to the cross-border dimensions of conflict, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations should consult more closely with neighbouring States and not shift threats onto their territory, especially when terrorists are involved. The Organization also needs to be more innovative with regard to the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation of former combatants, as well as in helping countries emerging from conflict. He spotlighted Kenya’s own efforts in those areas, adding that it stands ready to do more if requested. He went on to say that “we must do a better job at burden sharing” and that conflict resolution must be given the same level of urgency as humanitarian assistance if cycles of violence are truly to be brought to an end.
RALPH GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that the country has been in the throes of a series of explosive volcanic eruptions for the past 11 days. As a consequence, nearly one fifth of Saint Vincent’s population has had to be evacuated, “a monumental challenge of humanitarian relief”. Without effective cooperation between the country, the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, “our life and living would have become wholly unbearable,” he said. The relief effort would be stymied and the prospects for recovery and reconstruction would be dismal without enhancement of that cooperation. “The global community is being summoned to action to our aid in the name of humanity and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and it cannot allow itself to make haste slowly,” he said. He noted that regional arrangements such as ASEAN, the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are often better placed to support peace processes than those entities that are far removed from the unique and specific histories, cultures, politics and material circumstances of development. He called on the international community to “please help Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in its midnight hour of need.”
WANG YI, Special Representative of President Xi Jinping and State Councilor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the complex interplay of traditional and non-traditional issues requires regional and subregional organizations to work together in supporting multilateralism and enhancing peaceful development. The international community must support the norms of the Charter of the United Nations, the bedrock of international political cooperation, including avoiding interfering in other States’ internal affairs. Calling for peace talks to find political settlements for hotspot issues, he noted enforcement operations must be authorized by the Security Council, with the international community creating synergies for peace. Stepped-up cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations like ASEAN and the African Union is “a step in the right direction”, he said. The international community must provide sustainable support to help silence the guns in Africa and support ASEAN in deescalating the situation in Myanmar. For many regional hotspots, he said the ultimate way forward lies in development. China has consistently supported stronger cooperation with regional and subregional organizations and will donate 300,000 doses of vaccines to peacekeepers, especially in Africa, and continue to forge synergies in helping find African solutions to African issues.
MARCELO EBRARD CASAUBON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, also speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said his Government is committed to multilateralism and promotes peaceful settlement to disputes through regional and subregional organizations, helping build trust between parties. He recognized efforts by ASEAN to find a peaceful solution to crisis in Myanmar, as well as the work of the African Union, a clear demonstration of its capacity to act effectively, and further cited ECOWAS and its actions geared to democratic transition in Mali. Regional organizations need to play a central role in fighting the pandemic and key Security Council and General Assembly resolutions must be supported to help provide equitable access to vaccines. He noted that efforts in fighting the pandemic have led to greater efforts for integration in Latin America, with cooperation between States leading to greater production of vaccines and facilitation of contacts between States and pharmaceutical companies. The magnitude and diversity of the crisis demands deep-seated reflection on its effects and inequities, with CELAC also allowing people to express views against greed, hoarding and lack of access to vaccines in the region.
OTHMAN JERANDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians Abroad of Tunisia, called for a greater level of cooperation between the Council and regional organizations. Doing so would lead to more effective responses to various situations, he said, emphasizing how global challenges have been multiplied by the pandemic. Particular attention should go towards interaction between the United Nations, the League of Arab States and the African Union, which would enhance the understanding of the root causes of conflict in the Arab and African regions. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s proposals on ways to strengthen cooperation, saying that the magnitude of challenges facing the world requires a review of ways to address international peace and security.
SIMON COVENEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence of Ireland, said that regional organizations are powerful examples of confidence-building. He pointed to the European Union’s role in supporting peace on the island of Ireland, including through the PEACE cross-border funding programme that aims to forge constructive human relationships across all layers of society. “By enhancing engagement with regional organizations, this Council can draw from country and thematic experience, built on local understanding and expertise.” Regional organizations must work together in support of the United Nations, he said, adding that regional confidence-building measures and dialogue require sustained investment. The recent establishment of the European Peace Facility will enable the European Union to support the growing role in peacekeeping played by the African Union and subregional organizations. He went on to state that “peace is made by people” and that much can be done to augment the role of women and young people in peace efforts.
The representative of the United States pointed to ongoing work with the African Union to address crises from Somalia and Darfur to Ebola response in West Africa. A strong United Nations-African Union partnership is crucial to addressing the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, and the unfolding humanitarian and human rights crisis which has caused hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. She went on to commend the Organization of American States for identifying traditional and non-traditional measures to address challenges, including brokering agreements to resolve territorial disputes between Belize and Guatemala, and Costa Rica and El Salvador. Similarly, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission plays a vital role in reporting on violence in Ukraine and must be allowed to operate unhindered. She further cited European Union military training missions in the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia which directly support United Nations peacekeeping efforts, emphasizing that the United States also looks to ASEAN to play a strong role in encouraging conflict prevention, mediation, preventative diplomacy and peacebuilding.
SUBRAHMANYAM JAISHANKAR, Minister for External Affairs of India, said the world order that emerged after the Second World War is under serious threat, with Member States facing a raft of new challenges — including terrorism, radicalization, drug trafficking, organized crime and the security implications of new technologies — which require coordinated and concerted action across borders. “We think that enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations will be an important factor in successfully addressing contemporary challenges and conflicts.” He underscored India’s close relationship with regional organizations, emphasizing that its ties with ASEAN are a pillar of its foreign policy and the foundation of its “Act East” policy. India’s vision of a free, open and inclusive South-East Asia, underpinned by international law and rules-based order, is based upon ASEAN centrality and the common pursuit of progress and prosperity. India also remains committed to building on the momentum of regional cooperation through the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation and its development partnerships with the African Union.
TARIQ AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth, the United Nations and South Asia of the United Kingdom, said the World Bank reports that by 2030, two thirds of the world’s extreme poor could be affected by fragility, conflict and violence. The Security Council’s agenda is a “tragic testimony” to that reality, as in the last two weeks alone, it has discussed conflicts in Yemen, Mali, Syria and the Great Lakes region, among others. Noting that regional and subregional organizations can restore trust between conflict-affected communities, he cited work by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in reducing tensions and preventing conflict. Confidence-building and dialogue must be part of a broader strategy, he said, noting the unique role of ASEAN in addressing the crisis in Myanmar. He also cited the 2017 United Nations-African Union joint framework for enhanced partnership in peace and security, which was instrumental in the 2019 peace agreement between the Government of the Central African Republic and 14 armed groups, calling on all political actors to remain committed to it. The nature of conflict has changed, with violence increasingly intra-State in nature, but carrying the potential to destabilize peace and security on an international level. Ultimately, where national and regional efforts fail, the Council has primary responsibility for international peace and security.
AUDUN HALVORSEN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the international community needs more, not less, cooperation to confront global challenges. Regional and subregional organizations play an important role in the prevention of conflict and bring added value to resolution efforts, given their advantage of geographical proximity and strong local networks. He cited ASEAN’s constructive role in the addressing the dire situation in Myanmar, which poses a grave threat to regional peace and security. The situation in and around Ukraine is another case in point, he said, calling on the Russian Federation to reverse its recent military deployments. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s presence and reporting is essential, and he urged all parties to provide it unhindered access to all parts of Ukraine, in accordance with its mandate. He also pointed to the role of the African Union in preventing conflict and building trust, dialogue and confidence throughout the continent, as well as efforts by ECOWAS to promote a peaceful transition in Mali. The United Nations must lead by example in ensuring the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in its peace processes, he added, which is equally important in regional and subregional organizations.
The representative of Niger said terrorism, mass displacement, climate change, cybercrime and public health crises such as the pandemic require collective action by the international community. Emphasizing how complex challenges can vary between regions, he said that priority should be given to regional players, which have the appropriate mechanisms and a better understanding of root causes. He spotlighted the ability of ECOWAS to manage pre- and post-election crises in West Africa, even with limited resources, in close cooperation with the United Nations and the Council. The African Union’s peace and security architecture, together with its Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020 — known as the Lusaka Roadmap — will bolster the concept of “African solution to African problems”. He went on to stress the importance of addressing the continent’s poor level of representation in the Council and developing sustainable financing mechanisms for peacekeeping operations led by the African Union and others. Moreover, countries on the Council’s agenda must be able to play a key role in discussions and decisions which affect them.
The representative of France expressed support for more effective multilateralism with the United Nations working most closely with regional organizations in line with Chapter VIII of the Organization’s Charter. Such groups know the roots of crises and ways to resolve them. She drew attention to the European Union’s efforts, including the Joint of Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, “which is important to preserve”, as well as its efforts in the Sahel and the Western Balkans. She also applauded ECOWAS’s response to the coup in Mali and the African Union’s efforts in Tigray and the Central African Republic, and looked forward to the upcoming ASEAN summit on “Burma”. Emphasizing the work of OSCE in Donbas and on the Ukraine border, she said that that entity is an appropriate framework through which the Russian Federation should engage in de-escalation. She also underscored the work of the International Organisation of La Francophonie in supporting electoral processes, such as in Haiti.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations must be carried out in line with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. Bodies such as the African Union, ASEAN, the League of Arab States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the OSCE can complement United Nations efforts in their respective areas of responsibility and their mandates. In most cases, they are better acquainted with the situation on the ground and should play a role in resolving problems, with the Council authorizing the use of coercive measures. Given that more than half the issues on the Council’s agenda concern Africa, it would be natural to combine the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union, she said, welcoming yearly meetings between the Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. She also hoped that the upcoming ASEAN extraordinary summit on Myanmar will produce tangible results. She went on to say that her country is in favour of increased cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the latter’s involvement in peacekeeping operations, as well as stronger ties between the Organization and the OSCE, which hopefully will remain an honest broker in Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. She concluded by saying that she would not respond to “inappropriate remarks” made by the President of Estonia.
DATO ERYWAN PEHIN YUSOF, Foreign Minister II of Brunei Darussalam, speaking as Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said the bloc has withstood the test of time, having lifted many out of poverty and ushered in decades of prosperity, development and peace. The United Nations has played an important role in its history, particularly by supporting conflict prevention through preventive diplomacy and confidence-building measures, as illustrated by peacebuilding between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. In Myanmar, he called on all parties to seek a peaceful solution and pursue constructive dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy, stating that ASEAN is prepared to help. He expressed hope for continued close cooperation with the United Nations in keeping the region secure and promoting the rule of law and a rules-based regional architecture, with ASEAN at its centre. He said it is vital for States to strengthen multilateral cooperation to address both current and emerging global and regional challenges, underscoring the importance of upholding the Charter of the United Nations and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
ANN LINDE, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said the women, peace and security agenda remains a priority. To build confidence in peace efforts, she called on the Council to place women and girls at the centre of political and conflict-related processes. The OSCE is committed to respect for international law, human rights law and democracy, as the rule of law is central to maintaining lasting security and building confidence within and between States. The importance of the “Vienna Document” for military risk reduction was illustrated when its “Mechanism for Consultation and Co-Operation as Regards Unusual Military Activities” was activated by Ukraine in seeking information from the Russian Federation. Close cooperation with the United Nations in OSCE field presences is crucial, as they assist host countries in putting commitments and principles into practice and fostering local capacities. She pointed to the OSCE’s largest field operation — the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine — and its close working relationship with United Nations agencies there on issues related to human rights and gender equality.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Secretary-General of the Arab League, urged the Council and United Nations agencies to partner with his organization and concerned Member States to shore up the pillars of peace, stability and sustainable development. Problems in the Arab region must be tackled together, with the United Nations playing a key role. Getting Syria out of its vicious cycle of conflict is getting increasingly difficult and the cost of post-war reconstruction is going up by the day, he said, adding that Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as the Houthis reject any efforts to end the conflict or to make any compromises. Pointing to positive developments in Libya, including a ceasefire and elections planned for the end of 2021, he said that through pooled efforts, peace and stability can return to that country. He added that the League is doing all it can to rebuild peace and stability in Somalia and Sudan. He went on to say that Palestine remains a priority for the League, adding however that the Council bears primary responsibility to ensure a just and lasting peace based on the two-State solution and all relevant resolutions aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and illegal settlement activity.
The representative of the European Union said that everyone’s best interests are served by an international rules-based order in which human rights are respected and conflicts are resolved peacefully. Recalling that the Union is facilitating talks in Vienna on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said that everything the bloc does is in close cooperation with the United Nations and in line with the Charter. Regional and subregional organizations are uniquely placed with regard to early warning mechanisms and mediation, he said, emphasizing that the European Union is the product of 65 years of consensus-building to overcome division and build peace. He surveyed the Union’s mediation efforts in several areas, including the Western Balkans where much progress has been made in dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Emphasizing that protracted animosity is not synonymous with lasting peace, he said that the bloc has co-chaired the Geneva dialogue on Georgia with the United Nations and OSCE. The Union and its member States are also the biggest contributors to the OSCE Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, he added. He went on to say that the success of any effort to build confidence and promote dialogue hinges on inclusivity.
The representative of the African Union said that cooperation, consultation and coordination between the United Nations and African Union is now the rule rather than the exception as relations between the two become more structured. Underscoring the complexity of Africa’s peace and security challenges, she said that the African Union is prioritizing deeper cooperation with regional mechanisms with a view to addressing root causes at the national, regional and continental levels. She drew attention to the African Union’s support for peace processes in Sudan, Mali and the Central Africa Republic, adding that violent extremism in the Sahel, the Lake Chad region, Somalia and Mozambique call for enhanced cooperation. Noting that 70 per cent of the Council’s agenda deals with Africa, and that the continent accounts for 28 per cent of all Member States, she said that the role of the three African members of the 15-member organ is to reflect and defend the views of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. As such, the role of the “A3” must be strengthened, she said, adding that the African Union’s ability to act is limited when Member States invoke the principle of non-interference on the basis of sovereignty.