Dear co-facilitators, dear Under-Secretary-General, colleagues,
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Georgia and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
Let me start by thanking the co-facilitators for their very concrete drafting exercise towards meeting the objective set by the modalities resolution: a “concise, substantive, forward-looking and unifying declaration that captures the collective commitment of Member States to multilateralism and to the United Nations and their shared vision for a common future.”
We believe the zero draft sets an excellent basis for meeting this objective and getting this important declaration agreed by consensus so that our leaders can formally adopt it in September. The EU also commends the drafters for the very refreshing language that speaks directly to our citizens – underlining we are in this together and putting the people at the centre of this commemoration.
We also believe the draft strikes the right balance between the introductory part and operational paragraphs and makes a very good case for the need for closer international cooperation - with the UN at its core. The ongoing response to the pandemic, which continues to require us to adjust our priorities and working methods, demonstrates that key global challenges can only be addressed collectively - in close coordination and complementarity with measures taken at the national level. We therefore support the importance attached in the text to the Covid19 response, which will keep us occupied far beyond September.
At the same time, it is important that while the pandemic will disappear in the hopefully not so distant future, our other key priorities are there to stay as part of the building-back better approach. The EU considers these key priorities well-reflected in the draft, well-balancing traditional priorities with emerging ones such as the digital space.
We particularly like the strong focus on women and girls - in the year of the 25th anniversary of Fourth World Conference on Women the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action -, youth and partnerships – making clear that we need to better accommodate civil society across the board as to ensure our priorities and actions reflect the real needs of our citizens. The focus on building – or rather re-building - trust is also much appreciated.
The basis for a meaningful declaration is there – and could be even further improved with some fine-tuning and reinforcements here and there. We will submit concrete suggestions in writing. The two areas where we believe the text would benefit from even stronger language relate to Human Rights and Climate Change – the two issues featured most prominently in the Global Consultation with our citizens and as core parts of the SG’s four horsemen.
On Human Rights: We note that human rights are not listed as a concrete action by itself, but rather spread across various action points as to support the argument of human rights as a cross-cutting nature. The SG’s Call to Action in response to the rising number of human rights violations globally and his recent warning of Covid19 turning into a human rights crisis are clear evidence to a negative trend, which justifies featuring this issue even more prominently in this Declaration. When it comes to the para on ‘Women and Girls’, we would also like to see a reference to ‘Women’s Rights being Human Rights’ and reinforced wording on gender-equality and empowerment of women and in this para as well as in the introductory part.
On climate change and the environment: The Secretary General has been very clear that our collective efforts on fighting climate change – the existential issue of our time– must be scaled up rapidly and substantially if we want to avoid a ‘point of no return’. The EU fully concurs with this sense of urgency, which you echoed in this text. We commend the para being placed high up in the text as to reflect this urgency, including the call for swift actions towards reducing emissions in line with the Paris accord as well as the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs our comprehensive plan of action. We also support your reference to Covid19 as a historic opportunity to build-back better and greener. The EU would support even higher ambition, for instance by referring to the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
Some additional observations if I may:
- We strongly appreciate the specific para on partnerships, which would benefit from listing additional groups, including women, youth, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTI community, persons belonging to religious communities as well as human rights defenders and local representatives. We would also like to see references to closer civil society engagement strengthened throughout the text.
- We would also like to see a reference to humanitarian assistance added to the action points. This could be accommodated in the ‘Leave no behind’ section for instance.
- On Peace and Security: The EU would like to see a reference added to prevention as part of the diplomatic toolbox. The Security Council’s role as to maintaining international peace and security, including upholding the prohibition of the use of force in line with the UN Charter, would also deserve a reference.
- We value the importance attached to international law, and would in fact like to see it further strengthened, given the UN’s leading contribution to its progressive development. We would also welcome references to IHL and our commitment to fight impunity and ensure accountability, including the role of the ICC
- On ‘Upgrading’ the UN: Though the EU strongly supports strengthening the UN, the reference to an ‘upgrade’ may imply we would want the UN to do more, rather than focus on doing better what it is doing already. Strengthening the UN might be a better fit. A stronger UN also includes sustainable and predictable funding.
Let me conclude by reiterating the EU’s deep appreciation by the co-facilitators for coming up with this very good draft in very difficult circumstances and rest assured that you have a close partner in the EU to bring this important project to a successful conclusion based on this very good basis.