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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
I would first like to address the Resolution on the "International Day of Multilateralism and Culture of Peace".
At a time when the rules-based international order is being increasingly challenged, we attach great importance to reiterating our collective support to multilateralism. This builds on the strong call made by our leaders at the General Debate in September to promote the multilateral system.
Europe’s commitment to multilateralism – with the United Nations at its core – stems from our values and beliefs. But it is also an act of realism. Today's complex threats require complex, articulated responses. Only together can we have a real impact in ensuring sustainable development, peace and security, and the universal promotion and protection of human rights. Only together can we achieve education for all, gender equality and our commitment to leaving no one behind.
The EU is a staunch supporter of dialogue and cooperation. This is why we will continue to defend multilateral diplomacy and its achievements, from the Iran nuclear deal to the Paris agreement on climate change, and to support the essential work of all UN programmes and agencies.
We welcome the efforts of the facilitator to try to accommodate the EU's concerns during the negotiations. As expressed then, the EU is not in favour of the multiplication of international days as a general principle. The most effective way to promote multilateralism lies in our commitments and actions. In addition, we continue to believe that the singling out of one international grouping in the text goes against the principle of multilateralism. We note that the Political Declaration of the Non-Aligned Movement as referred in the text also contains elements which are not conducive to multilateralism.
However, in the spirit of dialogue and cooperation, which we just mentioned, and taking into account the overarching theme of the resolution, we decided to vote yes. We remain ready to engage constructively with all partners to pursue a consensual approach in support of multilateralism.
I will now deliver an explanation of position on the resolution "Enlightenment and Religious Tolerance".
The European Union is founded upon values of non-discrimination, tolerance and respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. Furthermore, promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief as a universal human right and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion or belief are key priorities of the European Union’s human rights policy. For these reasons, the EU has been the main co-sponsor of the resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief for the past number of years.
The EU has always acknowledged the great value and crucial role of education in promoting mutual understanding, tolerance, non-discrimination and respect in all matters relating to freedom of religion or belief, and this is highlighted in both the resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief and our guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief.
In this regard we welcome resolution L.52's focus on education as a tool for promoting religious tolerance, and continue to support efforts by States to encourage in society at large, a wider knowledge of the diversity of religions and beliefs and of the history, traditions, languages and cultures of the various religious minorities existing within their jurisdiction.
We also appreciated the open and collaborative negotiation process, which we believe is positively reflected in this resolution, and we would like to thank the delegation of Uzbekistan for their open and constructive approach.
However, the EU does not support the proliferation of resolutions as a general principle, and therefore was not in a position to co-sponsor this resolution, whose theme is already covered at length in existing resolutions.
Nevertheless, we remain strongly committed to promoting efforts to combat religious intolerance, and for this reason, the Member States of the European Union are in a position to join consensus on resolution L.52.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.