8185th Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of International Peace and Security

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21-Feb-2018 02:46:41
Adapt peacemaking, security tools to overcome humanitarian crisis, emerging crisis worldwide, particularly in Syria, speakers urge Security Council at 8185th meeting.

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The Security Council must swiftly and effectively discharge all its power and responsibilities to overcome emerging threats and prevent massacres, genocide and the killing of civilians around the world and immediately in Syria, members heard today while they considered the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

“We have to rebalance our approach to international peace and security,” United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres said, appealing for the Council’s action to swiftly end the violence in eastern Ghouta, Syria. “Our goal must be to do everything we can to help countries avert the outbreak of crises that take a high toll on humanity.”

Outlining ways to do so, he said crisis and conflict prevention were the starting point, with Chapter VI of the Charter describing the available tools — negotiation, enquiry, meditation, conciliation, judicial settlement and other measures. While the term “peacekeeping” was not in the Charter, that flagship United Nations activity must adapt to new challenges to avoid turning the Organization into “crisis babysitters”, and the aim was to refocus peacekeeping with realistic expectations, with well‑structured, well‑supported and well‑equipped forces and with support from host countries, he said, emphasizing that the Security Council must provide clear and focused mandates.

In a similar vein, former United Nations Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon said efforts to strengthen the Council and the Organization included addressing the root causes of conflict and working to prevent conflicts before they escalated. Further, Council reforms must make it more flexible in its decision‑making process in order to effectively respond to non‑traditional and transnational security challenges such as climate change, terrorism and violent extremism, nuclear proliferation and cross‑border insecurity.

The primary responsibility of preserving peace and security lay with the Member States, he said. For its part, the Council must focus more on Syria, violence between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon, the possibility of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) moving into vulnerable places such as Libya and the risk of terrorism and violent extremism in places like the Sahel region in Africa. In terms of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he welcomed the recent resumption of inter‑Korean dialogue. Going forward, the United Nations, and especially the Council, must continue to strengthen the driving ideal of multilateralism, overcoming whatever challenges may loom over the horizon.

Recalling past experiences, Marcel Amon‑Tanoh, Côte d’Ivoire’s Foreign Minister, said the hard lessons learned after the massacre in Srebrenica and the genocide in Rwanda had demonstrated that reform efforts were already making changes, highlighting achievements, including in his country, Cambodia and Haiti. Many members pointed at the international community’s effective use of the Charter in liberating Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1991, with some citing successes in Colombia and Liberia and with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.

But, some representatives highlighted chronic Charter violations, including the Russian Federation’s destabilizing actions in Ukraine, the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme. Many urged the Council to take united action on such situations and to effectively implement relevant resolutions. Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, called for deeper unity among Council members, warning that the veto had too often been used by permanent members to prevent effective and timely action.

Some permanent Council members raised other concerns. The United States’ delegate said the United Nations had fallen short of the ideal of sovereignty, adding that the principle was no excuse to use violence and rape to expel a people, as the “Burmese authorities” were doing, nor was it an excuse to gas its own people, as the Syrian regime was doing. She emphasized that the Security Council must be willing to act when Member States violated rights.

The Russian Federation’s representative pointed at many instances of the unlawful use of force and change of regime by force, perpetrated under the pretext of such controversial principles as the “responsibility to protect”. Recalling that the General Assembly in 2017 had passed a resolution on establishing a more just world order, he said most Member States had supported the text, which should now be urgently implemented. Echoing a call for the Council to take prompt action on the situation in eastern Ghouta, he asked members to convene an open meeting on that situation tomorrow to ensure that all parties could present their interpretations and deliberate a way forward.

More broadly, Council members offered suggestions on how to use the Charter’s tools to build a more peaceful, just world. Peru’s representative said the United Nations must make itself more active in Chapter VI principles, playing its role in mediation and conflict prevention. In that regard, the new mediation advisory board was a positive step, he stressed.

Equatorial Guinea’s delegate said the Charter was flexible enough to address emerging threats, but efforts must be made to modernize its procedures. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s representative said “unfortunately, we are yet to take advantage of what the Charter can offer to help us overcome the constraints of self‑defeating policies based on narrow national interest calculations” and warned that such policies led to double standards and undermined the Council’s very credibility.

Also delivering statements were ministers, high‑level officials and representatives of Poland, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom, China, Sweden, France, Netherlands and Bolivia.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:54 p.m.
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