8699th Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of International Peace and Security - Part 1

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09-Jan-2020 03:14:01
Marking seventy-fifth anniversary of United Nations Charter, Security Council calls on Member States to uphold founding document’s principles.

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Secretary-General Appeals for Restraint, Return to Unifying Framework, as Delegates Voice Deep Concern about Escalating Tensions in Middle East

The Security Council issued a presidential statement today reaffirming its commitment to the Charter of the United Nations — adopted 75 years ago this year — and calling on Member States to fully comply with the purposes and principles of the Organization’s founding document.

It approved the text at the start of a ministerial-level open debate on upholding the Charter to maintain international peace and security, with António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders, delivering opening remarks.

Through the presidential statement (document S/PRST/2020/1), the 15-member body reaffirmed its commitment to an international order based on international law as the indispensable foundation of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.

It also reaffirmed its commitment to multilateralism and the central role of the United Nations, encouraged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to assist Member States and regional organizations in upholding the Charter, and stressed its determination in upholding the Charter in all of its activities.

The Secretary-General, setting the tone for the debate, said the most effective way for Member States to collectively face global challenges is to strengthen their commitment to the Charter — a resilient, adaptable and visionary document — and to the very notion of international cooperation.

“At this time when global fault lines risk exploding, we must return to fundamental principles,” he said. “We must return to the framework that has kept us together. We must come home to the UN Charter.”

Ms. Robinson said the world is facing two distinct existential threats — nuclear proliferation and the climate crisis — but that responding to them is made harder at a time when multilateral cooperation is being undermined by populism and nationalism.

“The gravity of the current situation in the Middle East means that dialogue and negotiations are urgently needed,” she said, calling on Member States participating in the meeting to consider what the United Nations can do to bring them to the table in the spirit of the Charter.

Speaking as a woman and a grandmother, and recalling that 2020 marks the twentieth anniversary of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, she added: “If women had equal power in the world today, I believe we would have a very different — problem-solving — way of dealing with the challenges.”

In the ensuing debate, ministers, senior officials and representatives reaffirmed their countries’ faith in multilateralism and the Charter, which many described as the linchpin of international law. Many noted, however, that the world has changed since 1945 and that the Council, in particular, ought to make better use of the tools set out in the Charter to prevent conflict from erupting.

Tension in the Gulf region and elsewhere in the Middle East also figured prominently in many statements, with many expressing deep concern and echoing the Secretary-General’s appeal for restraint.

The United States’ representative said her country had taken defensive military action in direct response to attacks carried out by Iran, whose Government had threatened United States lives. She emphasized that the United States acts decisively in the exercise of its inherent right of self-defence to protect its citizens when necessary, as recognized by the Charter.

Iran’s delegate countered that the United States has threatened and attacked Iran and other sovereign States in utter disregard for the Charter. “To protect multilateralism, we must never appease unilateralist regimes,” he said, calling for a rejection of coercive unilateral measures.

Phạm Bình Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, Council President for January, speaking in his national capacity at the outset of the debate, said unequal opportunity, unilateralism and the abandonment of multilateral efforts are fuelling protracted conflicts, and that power politics, coercion and interference in State affairs only exacerbate tensions. “In such difficult times, the United Nations Charter proves to be more relevant and essential than ever”, he said.

The Head of the European Union delegation, echoing that view, said the Charter — written in the darkest days of history — is as relevant today as when it was first signed. “There is no need to question that multilateralism and international law works […] for all of us”, he said, adding that side-lining the rules-based order would prompt a return to chaos and violence.

Niger’s representative said that over the centuries, multilateralism has made progress only in the aftermath of major conflicts, with the objective to establish rules and institutions to promote peaceful international relations. The teachings of history must not be forgotten, he said, adding that national interests are better defended when States cooperate.

Brazil’s representative put a spotlight on Chapter VII of the Charter, saying that the authorization of the use of force must be limited in its legal, operational and temporal dimensions, with the Council establishing panels of experts to monitor implementation. It is also time to renew the Council by expanding its membership, he said, noting that Africa lacks a permanent seat.

Egypt’s delegate warned against double standards on the question of Palestine. He also stressed the importance of mediation and good neighbourliness in international relations, emphasizing that the United Nations is not the babysitter of crises.

Ministers, senior officials and representatives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Estonia, Germany, South Africa, China, France, Indonesia, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Timor-Leste, Nicaragua, Haiti, Ukraine, Kenya and Thailand also spoke.

Also speaking were representatives of Japan, Lithuania, Syria, Liechtenstein, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Latvia, Poland, Republic of Korea, Australia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Albania, Italy, Singapore, Cyprus, Armenia, Guatemala, Mongolia, Philippines (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in its national capacity), Panama, Romania, Argentina, Mexico, Norway (also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden) and India.

The meeting began at 10:00 a.m., suspended at 1:15 p.m., resumed at 3:03 p.m. and suspended at 6:04 p.m.

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