— CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY —
The European Union and its Member States are please to participate in this thematic debate on this Special Committee which will be focussed on conciliation.
We look forward to this interesting exchange.
The EU and its Member States attach great importance to all peaceful means of dispute settlement under Article 33 of the UN Charter, including conciliation. While conciliation has been rarely resorted to in the last decades – States having preferred the flexibility of political mediation or the legally binding nature of arbitration or judicial settlement -, it is one of the dispute settlement mechanisms provided under important multilateral treaties, such as the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties between States, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or Between International Organizations.
In this context, it is important to recall that the European Union is, in fact, a conciliation project in itself – indeed this is our raison d’être as well as part of our everyday efforts as we continue to work together as a multilateral entity and strengthen our foreign policy. We have integrated conciliation into institutional set-up, from elections to budgets. It is part and parcel of our public administrative culture and fills the pages of many European law textbooks.
But let me address it through the lens of our political culture.
Technically speaking, conciliation is an alternative dispute settlement: it is voluntary, flexible, and often a confidential process that should take into account the interests of the parties. The goal is to find an amicable solution with the help of a conciliator who should act as a third party. Conciliation is close to mediation, possibly with the difference that conciliation is more structured and the third party suggests and advises on a final solution to the parties on the basis of legal and factual considerations. Conciliation is in essence a political and legal practice, which makes it distinct from other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Whilst there is no need to get caught up in the terminology as such, conceptual clarity is need as we are sensitizing our diplomatic cultures to the domain of resolution and mitigation of conflicts. Whilst we can support mediation approaches in most conflict theatres, we can advocate for conciliation throughout the different foreign policy spheres, from peace-making to humanitarian and development domains.
As we follow through our Integrated Approach to Security and Peace, from conflict prevention to mediation, crisis management and reconciliation, there is a strong need for conciliation. This is particularly true in situations where we see gaps and recognise conflict drivers that divide societies. This is why we advocate for integrated conflict analysis in our engagements, especially in fragile societies. They aim at allowing us to observe and understand and possibly prevent the divisions beyond the surface so these can be addressed in time.
The European Union in its external relations supports a number of states in the setting up of conciliation mechanisms, especially on the African continent, where societies are rapidly evolving and face challenges that require home grown, in country solutions.
Conciliation is also central in our efforts to support credible and peaceful elections, as well as in the prevention of election violence. The EU is often well-positioned to convene competing parties or candidates and resolve disputes that may otherwise escalate. The EU's approach is based on our own ability to seek consensus amid diversity in our own decision-making.
We stressed in a previous debate the importance of re – conciliation, the lack of which can become a conflict trigger and accelerator and the effective practice of which can build sustainable peace. It is a process that enables the restoration of social relations on the basis of fundamental values such as human dignity, respect for human rights, the right to life and the right to physical and psychological integrity. It is a complex, endeavour as it is about building structures and institutions that allow for conflict transformation. And here it is indeed important to mention the Peacebuilding Commission as an important platform in ensuring that conciliation is part and parcel of peacebuilding.
Mr Chairman, the EU cooperation through effective multilateralism remains the best way to advance national as well as collective interests. Thus, we will continue to promote multilateral solutions with the UN at its core as a cornerstone of our external policy.
Thus for the European Union conciliation is not just about technical, financial or political support; it is part of our historical make-up and way of giving space for dialogue for solutions. We are ready to support our partners on this as a commitment and as expression of the values of democracy, human rights and peace, which are the very values the UN stands for.