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Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the United Nations’ Security Council


New York, 12 March 2019

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Merci Monsieur le Président,

C'est un honneur pour moi de m'adresser pour la troisième fois au Conseil de Sécurité. Permettez-moi de souligner, Monsieur le Président, que je suis fière de le faire alors que cinq Etats Membres de l'Union Européenne sont assis autour de la table – et alors que la coopération et la coordination entre les états membres de l'Union européenne au sein du Conseil de Sécurité s'est intensifiée énormément.

La décision de renforcer cette coordination est venue directement des États Membres – pour des raisons de principe, mais surtout parce que nous sommes conscients qu’ensemble nous sommes plus forts et plus efficaces, et surtout nous sommes conscients que nous pouvons et voulons mettre cette force au service des Nations Unies, du multilatéralisme, d'une approche coopérative des relations internationales.

Nous partageons les mêmes valeurs et intérêts, à commencer par la défense du multilatéralisme et du système des Nations Unies.

L'Union européenne et les Nations Unies sont nées de la même idée fondatrice, après les deux guerres mondiales : l'idée que pour éviter une nouvelle catastrophe il fallait un mécanisme multilatéral. Un mécanisme pour travailler à la construction de solutions gagnant-gagnant, comme seule alternative à une nouvelle guerre continentale et mondiale.

Cette idée est toujours valable. Mais au fil des décennies, notre affinité élective s'est renforcée encore. Il existe une "voie européenne" vers la paix et la sécurité, qui est identique à la "voie onusienne" vers la paix et la sécurité.

C'est une voie construite sur la médiation et les opérations de maintien de la paix, sur le développement durable et la protection des droits de l'homme, sur l’aide humanitaire et sur la construction et le respect de règles partagées.

Notre soutien aux Nations Unies et au multilatéralisme est un choix fondé sur nos valeurs et, en même temps, c'est un choix pragmatique. Car une décision prise dans un contexte multilatéral est par définition plus démocratique et plus inclusive, mais aussi plus solide et plus durable dans le temps.

You will never hear the European Union question whether the UN serves our interests and values. Because we know in Europe that it serves universal interests and values. And we know that this precondition is essential for building sustainable peace and security. Which is in our own ultimate interest, always.

The question we always ask as Europeans is rather what can we do to support the United Nations. Because working with the UN is the best way to serve our collective interests: the interests of peace, security and global progress our collective interest. This is why the EU has increased its cooperation with the UN across all fields of action.

So let me update you on some of our main fields for cooperation with the United Nations, starting with conflict resolution.

Conflicts in our times are more complex than ever. They always have a local, a regional and a global dimension. Solutions can only be built when these three dimensions align, and this is only possible in a multilateral framework.

This is clearly true for Syria. Since the beginning of the war, we have said that the only sustainable solution can come from the UN-led process and from the implementation of the UNSCR 2254.

A negotiated political transition towards a democratic, inclusive, reconciled and united Syria: this is the only realistic path out of the conflict. Anything else would not lead to a stable, sustainable, secure, inclusive and prosperous Syria.

This is why we fully support the UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen in his difficult work.

And precisely to support the UN-led process, this week the EU is co-chairing – together with United Nations – the third Brussels Conference on the future of Syria and the region. To mobilise international support to the UN led political process; to gather pledges to guarantee humanitarian aid for Syrians inside and outside of their country; and to support the countries of the region, starting from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

After eight years of war, while war continues, the people of Syria are still hoping for peace. And there are some little signs of hope that are coming from the region.

The Stockholm agreement on Yemen tells us that steps towards peace can always be possible, even after immense suffering.

We are fully and actively supporting the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. The Security Council's continuous engagement will be crucial to his success and to the implementation of the Stockholm agreement.

The possibility of peace will not turn into reality if we don’t collectively invest all our energy in it. This is also true for Libya, where we are working as the European Union in the closest possible cooperation with the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé, and we are enforcing the UN Security Council Resolution on the arms embargo.

We are coordinating our action directly between the EU and the UN but also through the Quartet – which brings together the EU, the UN, the League of Arab States and the African Union, in a coordination that to me is essential.

Together, we can help Libyan players to truly move towards reconciliation, through a National Conference to be held in Libya and elections with the right conditions in place. The EU is and will continue to support this process, with all our means.

Another country that is clearly at a crossroads these weeks and where EU-UN cooperation is key, is Afghanistan. Last year was the deadliest ever for civilians since the start of the war in 2001. And yet 2019 could be the year of peace.

We are following closely the contacts between representatives of the Taliban and the US government. We believe that the Taliban need to engage in intra-Afghan talks with the Government in Kabul, together with other parts of the Afghan political spectre. These talks should be accompanied by confidence-building measures and a lasting ceasefire.

The European Union has offered to support peace in Afghanistan with five practical contributions that I presented in Geneva a few months ago: first, we can serve as a guarantor of the peace process; second, we can help make the process more inclusive, involving women, minorities and all sectors of civil society; third, we can help with reforms; fourth, we can support the reintegration of former fighters; and last but not least, we can promote regional trade and infrastructure with all the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan. We are now following this up with our partners in Afghanistan, in the region and in the international community, starting with our friends in the US.

I have talked about four conflicts in our greater region, but allow me to also look to this side of the Atlantic. The situation has been deteriorating dramatically in Venezuela. The crisis that affects the country is not a natural disaster; it has political and institutional causes. Its solution needs to be peaceful, political, and democratic. We believe that no military interventions, from inside or outside of the country would be acceptable for us. And a solution cannot be, and should not be, imposed from the outside. We believe that an international initiative can help build a peaceful and democratic way out of this crisis. For this reason, we have set up an International Contact Group with European and Latin American countries, to help create the conditions for a political process that would lead to free and fair presidential elections, in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution and with international standards.

Even when there is no multilateral framework, the European Union tries to build or rebuild one.

And in the meantime, we are working together with the relevant UN agencies to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those in need inside and outside the country, following the key principles of humanitarian law – and avoiding any politicization of the aid delivery.

In all these cases, our strongest interest is to restore peace and security. And this is only possible in a multilateral framework. We always work in support of the UN and for peace.

The UN is the key partner for us on conflict resolution in Africa. From the Central African Republic to Sudan, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Guinea Bissau – wherever there is a peace process and a UN peacekeeping mission, the European Union is there, to support, both politically, financially, and with our own missions on the ground. New threats to peace and security in Africa have a direct impact on the stability of both our two continents that are the closest ones, and particularly I would like to mention the growing terrorism threats and transboundary criminal activities that are challenging our security on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea.

The role of UN peacekeepers has sometimes been questioned.

We believe it is an essential tool towards sustainable peace and security. The EU Member States – taken together – contribute one-third of the UN peacekeeping budget. This is more than any other global power, and we are proud of that.

We also believe in African solutions to African challenges. African Union peace support operations are a vital instrument for the promotion of an international peace and security environment on the African continent and also globally. The African Union is pursuing major financial and institutional reforms in order to become a major player for regional security. I was honoured to be present at the last African Union summit in Addis Ababa a few weeks ago

This is a process we fully support, and we should do it, including through the possibility of utilizing UN contributions for African Union peace support operations authorized by the UN Security Council, and in compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

I would like to mention two cases I particularly care about, which doesn't mean that I don't care of the others/two examples particularly appropriate in these times. First, Mali. I believe that a renaissance of Mali is possible. And I believe that a solution to the problems that Mali is facing can only come from the people of Mali themselves. Just a few days ago, I met with the representatives of the movements that signed the 2015 Peace Agreement, I met them already once, so it was my second meeting with them, to discuss some key political and institutional reforms, including security sector reform.

And the EU is the first supporter of the joint military force created by the G5 Sahel: a regional solution to regional challenges.

As these processes take place, UN presence must be guaranteed. We will continue to support the UN mission MINUSMA with our two European training and capacity building missions on the ground.

Something similar can be said for Somalia. The federal Government of Somalia is working to take full responsibility for the security of the country. While Somali Forces have to step-up and take full responsibility for security in their country, this is the only way to make security in Somalia sustainable, they still rely on the support of their international partners, starting with AMISOM, that the EU continues to support and finance. The transition of responsibilities can only happen gradually, we are aware of that, but it has to happen, in connection to the path of reforms.

The UN and UNSOM have a special role to play in coordinating the international community’s work in the country, and for this reason we look forward to the appointment of a new UN Special Representative.

Clearly, our cooperation with the UN and Africa goes well beyond peacekeeping. But in all sectors, our approach is the same. Africa wants and needs to take responsibility for its own security, for its own economy, for its own present and future, and we want to accompany our brothers and sisters on this path. We have moved from the old donor-recipient relationship, to a partnership of equals in particular during the Abidjan summit one and a half years ago. We set our common priorities together, and we try to understand how everyone can contribute to achieving them.

This new approach is also changing the way we work together in the UN context. For over a year now, we have been working in a trilateral format with the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations. Our common work began on a common challenge: the dramatic situation of African migrants in Libya’s detention centres. We realised together that we could only empty those centres and save lives by working together, and thanks to our cooperation, we have helped over 30,000 people in one year go voluntarily back to their homes or find international protection whenever needed.

This is probably our most innovative contribution to a more effective multilateralism – regional organisations joining forces on the ground and in triangulation with the UN Agencies.

I would like now to mention two more contributions of the European Union to the multilateral system, starting with a region closer to us, to the European Union, reconciliation in the Balkans.

Let me thank you each and every one of you for the constructive approach of the Members of the Security Council to the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

For a full-fledged resumption of the talks, the tariffs that have been imposed by the government of Kosovo must be revoked. The day the tariffs are revoked, I will immediately call for a new meeting of the Dialogue – to reach a legally binding agreement, which should address all outstanding issues and fully normalise relations between Pristina and Belgrade.

As you know, I personally facilitate the dialogue. But the Dialogue does not belong to me, the European Union or any of us around this table, it belongs to the parties. It is up to them to find an agreement that would be acceptable and convenient for both. At the same time, a final agreement will need to be in line with international law, and it will have to be supported by the UN Security Council. Your role is and will be key, and we are ready - I’m personally ready - to intensify our exchanges with all members of the United Nations Security Council on this.

And staying with the Balkans, this year we have already seen something historical happening in the Balkans: the Prespa agreement is another positive example of EU/UN cooperation and a remarkable example of political leadership by the two countries, North Macedonia and Greece. A positive conclusion to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue would give even more hope to the whole region, it would be a model and an inspiration  to Europe and to the world.

I have mentioned a number of geographic priorities, but we all know that most of the challenges we face have a global dimension. So let me conclude on the EU support to global solutions forglobal challenges. From the Paris agreement on climate change to the Sustainable Development Goals: progress on these agreements would have been impossible without the strong commitment of the European Union, and - most importantly - we continue to work and you can continue to count on us for their full implementation.

This is a moment in human history when cooperation among nations and the respect of the rules that govern our international systems are more needed than ever.

The concept of "global governance" risks to be replaced by the old law that "might makes right". We need to avoid that our system of rules is disrupted.

A clear violation of the fundamental principles of our international system came with Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its behaviour in eastern Ukraine. And the situation in Crimea has also led to the militarisation of the Azov Sea. This is what happens when international law is violated: tensions rise and conflicts proliferate. And we all lose.

Russia is an important interlocutor for the EU, and we work well together on several files – from Iran to the Arctic. Yet, it is not a mystery, we are deeply worried about certain behaviours, not only in Ukraine, but also in Salisbury and with espionage against the OPCW.

We have also expressed serious concerns about Russia’s compliance with the INF Treaty. We need to work to preserve the Treaty, and we need to work for Russia to return to full compliance. Europe is not party to the Treaty but is extremely interested in its existence.

The global architecture for disarmament and non-proliferation is being questioned like never before. And to me, this is one of the greatest paradoxes of our times.

Because “deterrence” is no longer enough for preventing a war, given the fragmentation of centers of power in today's world. A new arms race – and a nuclear arms race in particular – can only make the world less secure, not more. Our collective security requires a solid multilateral architecture for non-proliferation and disarmament.

This is why the European Union has worked and will continue to work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran. Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments has been confirmed in fourteen consecutive reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency – the latest just a couple of weeks ago.

Alongside Iran’s implementation, the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the deal. So we will continue to work to preserve the economic dividends of sanctions-lifting. This is a contribution of the European Union and I'd like to thank here France, Germany and the UK, to our collective security, this is also a way to prevent nuclear proliferation, particularly relevant in an extremely tense region. And let me add in this room that it is also a contribution to preserving the credibility of the UN Security Council – which has endorsed the Iran deal through a Resolution unanimously adopted.

We have serious issues with Iran’s behaviour on other matters, starting with ballistic missiles, with human rights and with regional dynamics. But with no nuclear deal in place, any discussion with Iran would be much more difficult, not easier. Dismantling a deal that works will never be a good starting point to advance our collective security interests.

The EU will continue to support all efforts to strengthen and expand the global non-proliferation regime. And you can count on our contribution towards a full, verifiable and irreversible de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. We have imposed the toughest sanctions on North Korea and we have kept at the same time open channels to encourage dialogue at all levels. We are ready to accompany the difficult diplomatic process on the way, with our expertise and our political support.

Our approach is always to build, and never to dismantle. We do not believe that the current multilateral system is perfect. Nothing is perfect. This is why we fully support António Guterres’reform agenda, and we are contributing in practice to a more effective multilateral system.

We need to expand and improve the system for global governance, not to weaken or to demolish it.

When the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees faced a serious funding crisis last year, the EU and its member states stepped in to fill the gap and prevent a sudden cessation of the Agency’s work. We want UNRWA to continue its reforms, that is vital, but we couldn’t afford the collapse of the Agency, and the chaos that would have followed. The Agency’s work is essential first and foremost to the life of millions of people and is also essential to preserve the viability of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. We believe that the only alternative to the two-state solution, is turmoil and violence in the Holy Places. And this is why the European Union and its member states will continue to work with international partners to ensure the two-state solution and protect the Holy Places.

Protecting and reforming the United Nations is our collective responsibility, because the UN is our common home. This is the centre of gravity of the international system, the tool we have to build a more peaceful and cooperative global order.

The UN are not only a covenant of States, they also represent the hope of millions of human beings who still suffer from the same human rights violations that the world collectively decided to ban after the sufferings of World War Two.

The EU is contributing to a stronger and more effective multilateral system. We are investing in our cooperation with the UN system as never before in our history. Because we want to take our part of responsibility for our common home. And I believe that we must all renew our commitment to support the United Nations – politically, financially and diplomatically, here in New York as well as on the ground, in all the peace processes that need a multilateral framework to succeed.

For us Europeans this is the best investment we could do and we will continue to support the UN and its work, in the closest possible cooperation with all our partners and friends that, all around the world, believe in a cooperative multilateral international order- like we do.

Thank you.

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