We work closely with the EU Member States and partners from around the world to promote and support a strong, effective and efficient United Nations capable of addressing global challenges.
Only determined and cohesive action by the international community can enhance peace and security; effectively tackle the climate and biodiversity crises, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and promote and defend human rights. Only collectively can we defend the universal values of peace, human rights, and human progress.
The European Union – like the United Nations – has multilateralism in its DNA and carries a special responsibility to advance the shared EU-UN agenda.
The European Union's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core, is a central element of our external action. This commitment is enshrined in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union and rooted in the conviction that to respond successfully to global crises, challenges and threats, the international community needs an efficient multilateral system, founded on universal rights and values.
Taking into account the UN's agenda and global issues, each summer, the Council of the European Union adopts EU Priorities for the UN General Assembly, which guides the delegation's work for the year to come.
Partnership in Action
Working closely with the UN Secretariat and UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, the EU has established a broad relationship with the UN on issues ranging from sustainable development and climate action to conflict prevention, crisis management and peacebuilding, human rights, humanitarian assistance, the fight against corruption and crime, global health concerns such as AIDS/HIV, Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lisbon Treaty (2009), which gave the European Union a single legal personality and led to the formation of the External Action Service, the EU's diplomatic service, also paved the way for the EU to be part of an international convention or be an observer (most cases) or member of an international organisation where the statutes allow this, such as the FAO in Rome.
In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/65/276 upgrading the observer status of the EU's participation in the UN to allow it to present common positions, make interventions, present proposals and participate in the general debate each September.
As an observer with enhanced status, the EU has no vote but is party to more than 50 UN multilateral agreements and conventions as the only non-State participant. It has obtained a special "full participant" status in a number of important UN conferences.
With the biggest collective GDP in the UN system, the EU is also the largest contributor, representing about 24 percent of the whole UN regular budget (peacekeeping missions are funded through a separate budget).
EU delegations operate under the authority of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Vice President of the Commission, Mr. Josep Borrell. The HRVP is supported by the External Action Service, which is tasked with working in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States and is comprised of officials from relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission as well as staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States.
The EU Delegation serves both coordinating and reporting functions, covering the breadth of the UN agenda or working with the Member States on burden-sharing. Delegation reports feed into the political agenda in Brussels, which in return creates the framework for operation at the local level.
The New York Delegation is organized into 8 Sections:
Coordination, Press and Information Section is responsible for the overall planning, policy coordination and communications. The team works closely with all delegation sections and with EU Member States’ Missions and EU Headquarters to coordinate common positions on horizontal issues and to provide reporting and analysis on a range of topics. The section is also responsible for all aspects of the delegation’s communications and outreach activities and events.
Legal and Institutional Affairs, Counter-terrorism and Sanctions Section represents the EU in the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the General Assembly and follows the work of the International Law Commission. The Legal Section equally follows issues related to the law of the sea, UN and autonomous sanctions regimes, counter-terrorism, international criminal justice, including international criminal tribunals and mechanisms, and other legal matters. It also advises the Delegation on legal questions.
Political Affairs and Security Council Section follows the activities of the UN relating to international peace and security, including peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and non-proliferation/disarmament issues, in particular at the Security Council and General Assembly, and coordinates as appropriate the position of the EU and its Member States in these fora.
Sustainable Development Section represents the EU in the Second Committee of the General Assembly, accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the rights-based approach to development. The EU supports the UN’s call to build fair globalization, working with all relevant stakeholders to work together towards sustainable, equal and inclusive societies in line with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Humanitarian Affairs Section is responsible for preserving the humanitarian space and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. The EU strongly supports the UN's efforts in ensuring unimpeded access for principled humanitarian aid.
UN Horizontal Issues, UN Budgets, Management and Reform Section, covers the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, responsible for all administrative and budgetary matters of the UN, and where the EU and its Member States act as a last line of defence for migration-related mandates of the UN. By ensuring that these mandates receive adequate and sustainable resource allocations, we also enable their full execution on the ground.
Human Rights and Social Affairs Section represents the EU in the Third Committee of the General Assembly and in other major UN meetings, including the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission for Social Development, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and others (including youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice, international drug control, etc.). It also follows the work of the ECOSOC NGO Committee. The section supports a strong and efficient UN Human Rights System, in line with the values of the EU and its unique role and added value in promoting and protecting human rights around the world. The section coordinates the EU Member States and reaches out to the wider UN membership in support of EU priorities. The EU presents a number of human rights resolutions in the UNGA, including on human rights in the DPRK and in Myanmar, the Rights of the Child, and Freedom of Religion or Belief, and it actively supports a number of other resolutions, for instance on a moratorium on the application of the death penalty, on human rights defenders, etc. It works in coordination with the Delegation of the EU in Geneva, which is in charge of the work of the Human Rights Council.
Administration Section is responsible for providing support services for Delegation staff, offices, and residences, through the authorized allocation of budgetary resources; and liaising with appropriate authorities in the EEAS, the United Nations and the United States, including the U.S. State Department, on all protocol and administrative matters related to EU Delegation staff. The section is also in charge of the logistics of numerous visitors, coordination of meetings and traineeship programme.
In addition to regular exchanges at the expert level, all EU Ambassadors in New York meet with the UN Secretary-General and his team to discuss issues at the top of the UN's agenda. The UNSG and his team are also regular visitors to Brussels, meeting with the EU Council and Commission Presidents, the High Representative and EU heads of government or state. Regular UN Security Council meetings on UN-EU cooperation attended by the UNSG and the HRVP are further testimony to the deepening relationship.