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Mr Secretary General,
The European Union and its Member States welcome this opportunity to hear about your priorities for 2020.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Serbia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
This year the United Nations is celebrating its 75th anniversary. An organisation that for three quarters of a century been the cornerstone of multilateralism and the rules-based international order. For the EU and its Member States, working closely with the UN in all our actions has been deeply enshrined in our DNA. Looking at the increasingly complex challenges we are facing today, the world requires even more – not less - global cooperation and solutions. With a strong UN at its core!
We stand ready to work closely with all partners – inside this chamber but also with civil society representing "the peoples of the UN", - to use this anniversary towards building an organisation that delivers for all. We count on your guidance and leadership, Mr Secretary-General, in making sure all voices are being heard. For this, we need the broadest-possible participation by civil society, including our youth, to hear from them how they see “the UN we need” in delivering even better. UN@75 should send the strong signal that the UN listens and is open to all. We welcome the appointment of Qatar and Sweden as co-facilitators for the UN75-declaration and look forward to working very closely with them and all partners.
We will continue to support you in ensuring that the UN is managed in the most effective and efficient way. This means implementing the different reform strands and we commend you for the progress already made. The benchmarks of success are clear: less bureaucracy, better outputs and a stronger delivery of mandates. But we also need to make sure that the Secretary-General has the necessary resources to run this organisation and that all mandates are adequately financed. It starts with all Member States paying their contributions on time, in full and without conditions. We believe the first annual UN Budget as approved late December will allow you to deliver, Mr Secretary-General. At the same time, we need to continue to seriously reflect on the UN’s liquidity crisis and draw our lessons.
2020 will also be a pivotal year for delivering on key policy priorities. The UN agenda provides many opportunities to demonstrate the political will that is needed to fill with life what you have called an ambitious 'Decade for Action' – notably for the implementation of the SDGs, which continue to serve as umbrella for many of our key priorities. The SDG Summit last September provided fresh political momentum - but more action is needed at all levels.
The World Economic Forum just ranked the top five global risks for 2020: all of them are linked to climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental disasters. 2020 must be the year of action to address those challenges. Starting with climate change - the defining issue of our times. Last September’s Climate Action Summit showed that finally all actors– governments, citizens and industry leaders alike - have understood the urgency and are ready to change course. This determination must now be mirrored in ambitious action, starting with the COP26 in November. With the European Green Deal as proposed by the European Commission
last December, the EU has shown its readiness to play its part in becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050.
2020 is also the year for the world to agree an ambitious global biodiversity framework. The UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon and the UN Biodiversity Summit, which should take place during high-level-week, shall play a key role in providing the necessary political momentum and commitment from all stakeholders. We will also continue to work on strengthening international ocean governance, stepping up efforts to get an international legally-binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (BBNJ).
The defence and promotion of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms will also remain a cornerstone of our work. 2020 will be a particular important year for the advancement of gender equality, women empowerment and - more broadly - the rights of women and girls. The 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 20th Anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 on 'Women, Peace and Security' are opportunities for all of us to reflect on the challenges ahead and pave the way for more ambitious reforms in the years to come.
We must also continue to speak out loud and clear against those trampling human rights. We must better protect Human Rights Defenders and ensure their voices are being heard, including by the full and meaningful participation of civil society, NGOs and indigenous peoples in this chamber.
Last but not least, the EU and its Member States remain strongly committed to further strengthening the UN’s conflict prevention and mediation capacity. Dialogue remains the best and least costly tool to prevent and resolve conflicts.
Take Libya: Last Sunday’s Berlin Conference, hosted by Germany under UN auspices, was an important first step to re-launch a political process. The EU and its Member States will put all their efforts to supporting the full implementation of the conference commitments.
Take Iran: The JCPOA remains a significant achievement of sustained multilateral diplomacy following years of negotiations. In light of the ongoing dangerous escalations in the Middle East, preserving this agreement is now more important than ever.
Take Syria: Nine years of devastating conflict illustrate that military means cannot substitute dialogue and mediation. Ultimately, only a UN-facilitated political solution agreed by all parties based on UNSC Resolution 2254 can end the suffering.
Take Ukraine: The EU welcomes the recent Normandy 4 Summit and encourages further progress on the exchange of detainees. Implementation of the Minsk agreements remains the only way to reach a sustainable and peaceful solution, while upholding Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Furthermore, the EU and its Member States attach great importance to the 2020 review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. It comes at an important juncture and provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate our ambition towards strengthening UN peacebuilding efforts. To get it right, we need a cross-pillar approach in line with the 'Sustaining Peace'-agenda, but also increased financial support, including to the Peace-Building Support Office, which has already shown clear added value.
To conclude, Mr Secretary-General, rest assured that you can count on our full support in turning your priorities, which are very much shared priorities, into concrete action and results. Thank you.
* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.