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EU Statement – UN General Assembly: the Secretary-General’s Priorities for 2022

21.01.2022
New York

21 January 2022, New York – European Union Statement by H.E. Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Informal meeting of the plenary on the priorities of the Secretary-General for 2022

Mr President, Mr Secretary-General, distinguished colleagues,

 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.

 

North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

 

Mr Secretary-General, thanks for presenting your priorities for 2022, which the EU very much shares. We are facing countless challenges we are facing - often aggravated by the pandemic: the triple planetary crisis (climate, nature and pollution); rising inequalities; decreasing trust in public institutions; the deteriorating human rights situation with worsened gender inequalities, geostrategic tensions and ongoing and new conflicts. We need stronger investments from all in a multilateral system that delivers on these challenges, with the UN at its core. The state of our world calls for urgent actions.

 

Your report ‘Our Common Agenda’ has responded to this call by identifying inefficiencies and areas for improvement, and by making recommendations on how to put the ship back in order. We very much share the sense of urgency to strengthen and improve our system based on ‘Our Common Agenda’.  The EU will engage constructively in the forthcoming GA consultations on ‘Our Common Agenda and seek meaningful outcomes along your recommendations. We  encourage all parties to seize this opportunity to engage actively, including with civil society, youth the private sector and build on the strong popular engagement around the globe similar to what was done leading up to the 2030 Agenda.

 

The EU and its Member States will be fully engaged towards the three milestone summits, starting with the ‘Transforming Education Summit’ this year. Would you be able to already share timelines regarding its preparation?

 

The consultations and the following months will also be important to shape the process towards the ‘Summit of the Future’ next year. The EU and its Member States stand ready to engage actively in the various tracks you have outlined leading up to this Summit. Making the process as inclusive and operational as possible will be key – the upcoming consultations should lead by example. We will also need a well-defined process and roadmap for the next 18 months.

 

The starting point of for engagement will be to ensure the equal treatment of all UN pillars. All three pillars are closely interlinked - if we fail on one, we fall behind on the others. A most pressing objective is to overcome the pandemic by ensuring no one is left behind. Starting with providing equitable and timely access for all to safe, quality, effective and affordable vaccines, by supporting your call for global access to vaccines. The EU and its Member States, acting as Team Europe, will continue to lead in this effort. We must also prevent or at least mitigate future pandemics. An international instrument is of great importance in this regard, as is the strengthening of WHO.

 

To build back better and greener and reduce growing inequalities we must redouble our efforts towards implementing the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, which remain our political roadmap, in particular for the most vulnerable. This requires scaling up both political commitments and financing, in particular regarding debt treatment and investment in infrastructure. The EU’s new ‘Global Gateway’ strategy launched last month can bring a significant contribution in this regard.  We also need to invest in social protection, inclusion and decent jobs as key to leave no one behind and to eradicate extreme poverty. How can the delivery on the SDGs – in particular at country level – be further improved?

 

We must act on the triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution –, starting with implementing what has been agreed at COP26. We encourage you, Mr Secretary-General, to remain highly engaged in ensuring follow up on commitments from Glasgow and ensure higher ambition at COP27 in Egypt, such as net zero emissions, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, reversing biodiversity loss and preparing for the implementation of an ambitious and transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Stockholm+50 in June will be an opportunity to focus and advance on these and other climate nexus areas. We are at your disposal for any effort here.

 

2022 is also a critical year to advance the Oceans Agenda with various high-level conferences starting with the One Ocean Summit in France in February and leading up to the UN Ocean Conference - co-hosted by Kenya and Portugal. You can count on the EU’s strong commitment here as well as in preparation towards the 2023 UN Water Conference.

 

The EU reiterates the centrality of universal human rights and democracy and supports your endeavour of establishing a new social contract anchored in human rights. The latter will also require a new vision for the rule of law - one that puts people at the centre of our justice systems to achieve access to justice for all.

 

Your Call to Action for Human Rights provides a framework for all of us to “take action” towards streamlining human rights across all UN pillars. Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls must remain at the core of our efforts. We must further ensure sufficient funding for the human rights pillar. The EU also welcomes recent initiatives to address emerging risks for human rights, including within your Digital Roadmap, which is a valid compass in ensuring that the digital space is safe and digital technologies contribute to overcoming the digital divide. We also look forward to engaging towards a truly human rights-centred Global Digital Compact, and welcome information on the envisaged process. What initiatives do you intend to pursue to further implement your Call to Action?

 

Humanitarian needs are also at an all-time high and humanitarian space increasingly challenged. The EU remains fully committed to advancing the humanitarian agenda, including the promotion of the respect of IHL and humanitarian principles, notably the protection of humanitarian and medical workers and a safe and unimpeded humanitarian access.

 

Mr Secretary-General, we are increasingly concerned about the polarised climate in international affairs and its impact on the UN’s ability to prevent and resolve conflicts. A new nuclear arms race must be avoided. Hybrid warfare, cyber-attacks and new autonomous weapons are becoming a reality. We must also collectively step up our efforts, in particular with a focus on the rule of law and accountability, and towards solving the root causes of conflict. Against this new normal, a “new Agenda for Peace” is much needed – one that aims at reducing strategic risks, strengthens prevention, mediation, conflict resolution and peace-building, and favours diplomacy and dialogue. The EU stands ready to engage and contribute substantially to this new Agenda.

 

How do you see the process and timeline of this new Agenda as one of the key deliverables for the Summit of the Future?

 

Peace and security require the full respect of international law and the rules-based order and upholding the fundamental principles of security and territorial integrity - questioned across the globe, including on the European continentWe see the tremendous potential of the UN’s convening power and the unmatched legitimacy of your good offices in the pursuit of peace and political solutions to conflict. In times of geopolitical divisions, your role, Mr Secretary-General, becomes all the more important. You can count on our consistent constructive support in the full exercise of his active moral and political role. 

 

 I thank you.