I commend you, Mr. President, and the Government of Lithuania, for convening this timely discussion on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, focusing in particular on the European Union.
We are honoured to welcome High Representative Lady Ashton.
The principle of establishing stronger partnerships with regional organizations is embedded in the very DNA of the United Nations.
With great vision and foresight, Chapter VIII of the Charter lays out the critical role of regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.
Today, we know more than ever before that the effectiveness of the United Nations rests in large measure on our cooperation with regional bodies.
We draw on [their] expertise. We maximize impact by coordinating our efforts.
Pooling resources and pursuing a common approach is not only efficient, it is essential.
Conflict prevention, mediation, crisis management, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peacebuilding are complex endeavours. No single country or organization can possibly meet these challenges alone.
That is why we have strengthened relationships with regional bodies – both to facilitate a swift response when crises erupt and to allow for long-term joint engagement.
We have made important progress, including through liaison offices, joint envoys, and cooperation agreements.
Joint mediation deployments have become more common, allowing the international community to put forward a united front.
Our cooperation with the African Union has made a difference in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Somalia. The United Nations is keen to deepen the partnership with the AU Peace and Security Architecture. I also commend the mediation efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in South Sudan.
In Asia, UN cooperation with ASEAN has grown significantly since we signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007. We look forward to working with its new Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, launched in December.
We are engaging in extensive collaboration with the Organization of American States in areas such as mediation and dialogue as well as the fight against illicit trafficking.
The partnership with the League of Arab States has been essential for our efforts to support inclusive political processes in the Middle East and North Africa and work for peace in Syria.
And, of course our cooperation with the European Union stretches across our agenda and around the world.
Throughout its history, the European Union has taken pioneering, forward-looking steps in promoting cooperation among nations, both within and, increasingly, beyond its borders.
The EU's many and generous contributions to the UN embody the kind of multidimensional approach that is needed to foster sustainable peace and development.
The UN and the EU increasingly work side–by-side on the ground in peacekeeping and civilian crisis management operations, and through preventive diplomacy.
The European Union has also been a valuable partner to the UN Peacebuilding Commission, a champion of human rights and a steadfast partner in promoting the Millennium Development Goals, advancing gender equality and tackling climate change.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The topic of today’s debate could not be more timely. The United Nations and its regional partners face an urgent test.
The dark clouds of mass atrocities and sectarian cleansing loom over the Central African Republic.
Public lynchings, mutilations, and other horrendous acts of violence are spreading mayhem and fear. All Central Africans have been victims, Muslims and Christians alike. Most recently, there have been large-scale attacks on Muslims in towns such as Bouali, Boyali and Bossemble, where peacekeepers have not been able to deploy.
I am deeply concerned by the cycle of revenge and reprisals. Entire Muslim communities are fleeing for their lives.
Some have called it an “exodus of historic” scale. Antonio Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, was in the C.A.R. this week and described a “humanitarian catastrophe of unspeakable proportions.”
The local Red Cross reported finding a mass grave in Bangui. Public records confirming identities and land ownership are being deliberately destroyed. Citizens and officials are fanning the flames through hate speech.
We must do our utmost to prevent further atrocities and retaliatory violence, in particular the widespread and coordinated targeting of Muslim communities.
And we must understand what else is at risk. The very fabric of society, woven over generations, is being ripped apart. Communities that have no history of violent conflict are on a course that, if left unchecked, could lead to decades of debilitating conflict.
Peace, security, human rights, development – everything we at the United Nations stand for and seek to promote is under assault.
We must live up to the promises made around this table to act swiftly and robustly in the face of such bloodshed.
We cannot claim to care about mass atrocity crimes and then shrink from what it means to actually prevent them.
Our commitment to protect civilians is only as meaningful as the political, military and financial muscle deployed to defend them.
Our responsibility is clear: We must stand with the people of the Central African Republic.
I commend the Economic Community of Central African States and the African Union for their intensive efforts to address the crisis and for the establishment of the African-led International Support Mission in the C.A.R., MISCA.
I pay tribute to the courage and determination of the MISCA forces doing their utmost to stem the violence and protect civilians. I appeal to the international community to urgently provide MISCA with the support it so clearly needs to save lives now.
I thank the Government of France for deploying its forces, and I look forward to the forthcoming military contributions by the European Union, to be coordinated with the MISCA operation.
I am committed to do everything in my power to prevent further atrocities and reduce the risk of de facto partition of the country.
Now we must act together, we must act decisively and we must act now to prevent the worst.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am duty-bound to bring to the Council’s attention my best possible advice on how to address threats to international peace and security.
I intend to return to the Council on Tuesday with recommendations for containing and then ending this crisis. I look forward to discussing with you what it will take to urgently curtail the violence, save lives, protect human rights, support the delivery of humanitarian assistance and strengthen command and control of the forces on the ground.
This will be a crucial opportunity to fortify our collective efforts -- a chance to show that cooperation between the UN, AU, EU and others can help the people of the C.A.R. at their time of need.
As we heighten our efforts to protect people, we must also pursue accountability for human rights violations. The International Commission of Inquiry mandated by the Security Council will become operational this month. I welcome the decision of the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary investigation into the violence.
The international response is building strength but does not yet match what is required.
It is critical to do everything we can to support efforts of President Catherine Samba-Panza in her courageous efforts to stabilize the situation, promote dialogue and find political solutions. The international community must work together with the [national] authorities, religious leaders and all stakeholders to strengthen reconciliation efforts in an inclusive and transparent process.
Let us pledge here and now to ensure that the people of the C.A.R. have the lifeline of support and protection that they need. Let us commit to the strongest possible cooperation and coordination between the United Nations, the AU and the European Union. Let us show what solidarity and concerted action can achieve for the people of the Central African Republic.
Thank you for your leadership.