New York

28 October 2016

Secretary-General's remarks to Security Council Open Debate on Cooperation between United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security [as delivered]

I am pleased to be with you today. I thank the Russian presidency for convening this debate, this morning. 

Before turning to the subject at hand, I wish to say a few words about the latest developments regarding the International Criminal Court.

The world has made enormous strides in building a global system of international criminal justice, with the International Criminal Court as its centrepiece.  The ICC and other international tribunals have secured ground-breaking convictions.

Yet we know that these and other gains have also been accompanied by setbacks and shortcomings.  Prosecutions can take many years. Not all countries accept the ICC’s jurisdiction. Even some of those that do, do not always support the Court fully.  

And some are concerned that the Court has convicted only Africans despite evidence of crimes in other parts of the world.  Indeed, in recent days, three African countries have expressed their intent to withdraw from the Court.  I regret these steps, which could send a wrong message on these countries’ commitment to justice.

These challenges are best addressed not by diminishing support for the Court, but by strengthening it from within. Deterring future atrocities, delivering justice for victims, and defending the rules of war across the globe are far too important priorities to risk a retreat from the age of accountability that we have worked so hard to build and solidify.  

I welcome the Secretaries-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The global peace and security landscape has become much more complex in the last decade. Brutal wars raging across the Middle East and beyond continue to take lives, displace millions and wreck economies. Hospitals, schools and aid convoys are targeted with absolute disregard for international law and basic humanity. The resurgence of ethnic and sectarian tensions in the midst of these conflicts risks trapping nations in chaos for many years to come. 

I am especially alarmed that a wide variety of armed actors are taking advantage of modern technology and globalization to wreak havoc on a horrific scale. Meanwhile, growing xenophobic, nativist and protectionist policies and sentiments in other parts of the world are cause for serious concern.

These challenges transcend national borders and demand a collective response by the international community. 

To rise to the moment, the United Nations has completed a number of major reviews of our work. All emphasized the urgent need to prioritize conflict prevention – in a collective manner that draws on regional and global partnerships. 

This has always been one of my top priorities. After nearly ten years as Secretary-General, I am even more convinced that the international community come together to promote stability and defuse tensions wherever they occur. 

In this context – and in line with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter – we are seeking to intensify our interactions with the heads of regional and sub-regional organizations. I have personally engaged in collaborating with our regional partners for results. 

The impact has been meaningful – but we can do even more. 

Central Asia is the region where we have our closest contact with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Commonwealth of Independent States. 

These organizations regularly exchange information with the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia on terrorism, violent extremism, drug trafficking and other issues of shared interest and concern. 
My Special Representative for Central Asia and the Head of the UN Regional Centre, Mr. Petko Draganov, regularly meets with the organizations’ leaders to discuss our joint agenda and the latest developments. And all three organizations actively participate in supporting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia.

The United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate are in direct contact with counterparts in all three organizations. 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime cooperates with all three organizations on drug trafficking, irregular migration and counter-terrorism. They have conducted joint operational initiatives in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Experts from the three organizations participate regularly at UNODC meetings, including the “Paris Pact Initiative” – a partnership to combat illicit traffic in opiates from Afghanistan. 

On peacekeeping, I am especially grateful that senior officials from the Collective Security Treaty Organization participated in the first-ever UN Chiefs of Police Summit in June to discuss how we can more effectively tackle challenges together. 

Our organizations also work to strengthen confidence-building measures and promote stability in Afghanistan through the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process. 

The United Nations is committed to strengthening this productive partnership.

We all agree on the value of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations – and we should not be afraid to confront the difficulties.

We have much in common – but our strategies may at times pull us in different directions. 

Resources, capabilities and mandates vary. Sometimes, regional organizations may have particular challenges that can limit their role as honest brokers.

That is why it is so important to deepen our strategic dialogue, forge common approaches to emerging crises, and strive to improve our collective responses to peace and security threats. 

In that way, we can make the most of our respective strengths.

Let us use this valuable Security Council meeting to advance our partnerships for the sake of the peoples of these regions and our world.

I thank you very much, Mr. President.