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We commend you for convening this timely open debate. The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Promoting international peace and security is part of the EU’s raison d’être, and at the core of our international engagement. The EU Treaty guides the EU structures to "Preserve Peace, Prevent Conflicts and Strengthen International Security".
While the EU has a long history in promoting and exercising peace, the EU Global Strategy recently set conflict prevention as our top priority further enhancing our engagement for a more integrated approach to preventing and resolving conflicts. In the 2009 Concept on strengthening EU capacities, our member states have given a strong mandate to promote, leverage, support, and fund mediation and dialogue efforts.
Today, the EU is engaged in some forty mediation or dialogue processes worldwide. Sometimes, the EU is in a leading and visible role, such as facilitating the Belgrade and Pristina dialogue, sometimes discretely, such as in reaching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran.
The EU is ready to do more. We are currently further strengthening our capacities and structures for mediation and dialogue support. We look forward to increasing joint initiatives with our partners, including enhancing dialogues with the UN and the AU.
In this chamber, the UN Secretary-General stated that prevention is not a priority, but the priority. He also launched several initiatives and introduced innovations in the field of mediation. We strongly agree with his vision and commend his commitment.
The high-level advisory board is for example an important addition to the UN toolbox.
Over the past years, there has been important progress in professionalizing mediation support. This is in part thanks to the Groups of Friends, led by Finland and Turkey. At their initiative, the Secretary-General issued his “Guidance for effective mediation” providing principles for managing peace processes. This is a concrete achievement setting a standard for mediation engagements.
The UN has been at the forefront of these efforts. I would like to pay tribute to UN Secretariat and the establishment of a Mediation Support Unit ten years ago, providing discreet yet crucial policy and operational support. The EU is a proud supporter of the Mediation Support Unit, we commend its work and we hope it will be further strengthened. Our Service for Foreign Policy Instruments has provided some 15 Million euros for UN mediation projects worldwide over the past years.
With the number of conflicts on the rise, their nature changing and tensions in our societies increasing, it is necessary to re-double our commitment to mediation and conflict prevention. As we look at this Council’s agenda and beyond, we should collectively do more, better and earlier.
The recent UN–World Bank report Pathways for Peace made a convincing business case for conflict prevention. Scaling up preventive action could save up to 70 billion dollars a year.
We need to take the next step in conflict prevention and mediation. Early warning needs to be matched with early action. The earlier we make use of mediation and mediation support, as the Secretary-General encouraged in his report to the GA, the better. This Council can be a powerful force to resort to mediation early on, and should place preventive mediation at its heart.
From the highest levels to the local actors, peace processes are more than reaching an agreement with those who hold apparent power or guns. To sustain an agreement, we have to involve elites and local levels alike. Together with the UN, we have worked on insider mediators supporting local-level initiatives. Also, the inclusion of women and youth is not an option, but an imperative. We cannot reach sustainable agreements with only half the population is involved. The EU has worked to make the difference on the ground, such as for example in Syria.
Inclusion of the youth is another precondition for achieving sustaining results in peace processes. EU High Representative Mogherini has identified creating open spaces for young people and promoting funding for youth work at all levels as important steps in order to harness the positive potential of youth-led peace initiatives, while also reaching out to the marginalised young people.
Together with the UN, EU is soon organizing a retreat of mediation structures in regional and international organisations to further improve our engagements. Working together has practical benefits. In CAR, we supported a capacity-building and a strategy retreat of the African Initiative Panel involving not only the CAR government, AU, UN, ECCAS, ICGLR, and countries of the region, but also NGOs, such as Sant'Egidio, HD Centre and ACCORD. By bringing these actors together, we made progress towards a common vision for the peace process. This coordinated support is essential for peace in CAR and we invite all actors to join these efforts.
Today, we have the technical means to better support mediation. The missing ingredient we now need is political support. This is where this Council can play a crucial role. It is our collective responsibility.
The EU is ready to play its part. When the EU engages in a peace process, it is a sustainable, long-term, and comprehensive commitment that stands, and respects the UN values. The EU can mobilise a number of tools from peace operations to development assistance. Yet, the political purpose and building effective and lasting peace should always remain the main objective.
It is also a way to respect the legacy of those who have dedicated their lives to defending peace and human rights. Among them, Kofi Annan was a prime figure whose legacy should inspire us all. As he once stated, 'we have the means and the capacity to deal with our problems, if only we can find the political will'.
The Council’s mandate is to maintain peace and security. Enhancing our action in conflict prevention and mediation is not an option for peace, it is a necessity.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.