Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 4th Committee: General Statement

New York, 15/10/2020 - 00:43, UNIQUE ID: 201014_27
Statements on behalf of the EU

14 October 2020, New York – European Union General Statement, delivered by H.E. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the UN, at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Fourth Committee: General Statement

 - Check against delivery -

 

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. 

The Candidate Countries, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*  and Albania* and the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, align themselves with this statement.

My statement today will cover some of the agenda items allocated to the Fourth Committee, and will be complemented by written statements.      

The EU and its Member States wish to express their satisfaction with the work of United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. We note that owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and its worldwide impact, the Committee intends to hold its 67th session virtually on 2-6 November 2020.

The work and assessments undertaken by the Scientific Committee in assessing the effects of radiation on human health and the environment are important. They continue to play an important role in improving international scientific understanding of levels of exposure to ionizing radiation and its health and environmental effects.

On the basis of its scientific authority, the Committee is essential in supplying the international community with high quality information within various areas connected to the sources, exposures and effects of ionizing radiation. We note that the committee has pursued an active work in spite of the successive rescheduling of its 67th session.  The EU is looking forwards to the successful running of the planned virtual 67th session.

Mr. Chair,

The EU continues to promote the preservation of a safe, secure and sustainable space environment and the peaceful uses of outer space.

In this regard the EU is about to adopt a Space Programme for the years 2021 – 2027 to boost the EU space capabilities in the fields of navigation, Earth-observation, space situational awareness and governmental satellite communication.

We express our satisfaction that COPUOS and consequently UN General Assembly adopted the preamble and 21 Guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. The EU will take steps to examine the implementation of these Guidelines in the EU Space Programme.

We also express our satisfaction with the fact that in June last year COPUOS decided to establish a 5 year Working Group under the agenda item "the LTS of outer space activities" of the Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee.

Mr. Chair,

I would like reiterate the European Union's deep and genuine appreciation for UNRWA’s work and for its dedicated staff who is working in an extremely difficult and challenging context

I wish to reaffirm the commitment of the European Union to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution and an agreement that ends the occupation which began in 1967, ending all claims and fulfilling the aspirations of both parties, including Israeli and Palestinian security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, on the basis of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and internationally agreed parameters.

The EU's firm and united position on these Resolutions and parameters has been set out in detail on numerous occasions. We reaffirm our readiness to work with both parties and our partners in the region and the international community towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations to resolve all final status issues and to achieve a just and lasting peace.

The refugee issue is another internationally agreed parameter for the solution of the conflict. And it has also remained unsolved. It is thus of the utmost importance that UNRWA can continue to provide Palestinian refugees with the necessary protection and essential services and promote their resilience. UNRWA and its services continue to make a key contribution to the viability of the two-state solution, which remains the only realistic way to achieve a just and lasting peace and which can ultimately only be reached through negotiations by the parties. Until such a solution is reached, we will continue to support UNRWA in all its fields of operations, including in East Jerusalem.

UNRWA is an essential provider of vital services to millions of Palestine refugees, and a stabilising force in the region. In particular, the provision of health services for all refugees and education for many young Palestinians is important not only in Gaza and Syria, but also in Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank including East Jerusalem. In this regard, the EU also wishes to reiterate its deep appreciation for the generosity and efforts of the host countries in support of the Agency and the welfare of Palestine refugees.

Mr. Chair

The EU and its Member States are collectively the largest contributors to UNRWA's budget. The EU remains a staunch and predictable supporter of UNRWA, both politically and financially. We commend UNRWA for its ongoing efforts to carry out efficiency gains and for its initiatives aimed at strengthening the management and efficiency of the organisation, and we will continue to support UNRWA in the future also in this regard. As they did last year, the EU and its Member States have also continued answering the Agency’s call for additional funds. The EU welcomes the additional financial support from other and new donors and calls upon all partners to translate this positive step into multi-annual contributions.

Mr. Chair,

In line with international law, including Resolution 2334 (2106), the EU has consistently reiterated its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context. The EU calls on Israel to halt continued settlement expansion, including East Jerusalem, especially in sensitive areas such as Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and E1, which severely threatens the two-state solution and seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States. The EU has also made clear that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. We expect both parties, including any future Israeli government, to act in accordance with international law.

The EU welcomes the announcement on the normalisation of the relations between the state of Israel and the United Arab Emirates and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Bahrain. Israel’s commitment to suspend plans to unilaterally annex areas of the occupied Palestinian territory is a positive step. Any unilateral decision that undermines a lasting, agreed solution should be avoided. The EU reiterates that any annexation would constitute a serious violation of international law.

The political and security situation in Gaza remains volatile, and the humanitarian situation continues to be a matter of grave concern.  All violence, including the firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza, reminds us that restoring a political horizon for peace is essential to reducing violence and containing extremism in the region. We reiterate our call upon Israel to respect the fundamental right to peaceful protest, as well as our call upon Hamas to ensure that protests remain strictly non-violent. We call once again upon all parties to take urgent steps in line with Resolution 2334 leading to a fundamental change in the humanitarian, political, security and economic situation in Gaza, including through an end to the closure policy, full opening of crossing points, and humanitarian access, while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns. Such steps would implement Resolution 2334 (2016) and would increase the chances for a two-state solution

The Palestinian Legislative Council was dissolved in December 2018. Strong, inclusive, accountable and functioning democratic Palestinian institutions based on the respect for the rule of law and human rights are vital for the two-state solution. In this context, taking note of the announcement during UNGA75 by President Abbas to hold elections, a date should be set very soon for elections in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip.  The EU calls upon all Palestinian factions to unequivocally commit to democratic principles prior to elections.

Successful negotiations between the parties are possible, as we had seen last year when an arrangement had been reached on tax revenue transfers. That agreement shows that progress can be made, if there is political will. Both parties should be courageous to use such political will to advance a two-state solution. 

Mr. Chair,

It is still possible to reach peace based on the two-state solution if credible steps are taken.  Ultimately, and as the EU has said previously, it is the lack of implementation of international law that is the real challenge to the achievement of peace and security in the Middle East.  Progress towards a solution to this conflict would also have an impact on efforts to resolve other crises in the region.

Though the nature and features of conflict are changing, UN peacekeeping operations continue to be a vital tool in advancing peace and security in the world. In the EU, we strongly believe that working with, and supporting the United Nations, is the best way to serve our collective interests of peace, security as well as global stability.

The primary importance of political solutions to conflicts, and conflict prevention has to be stressed as well as the crucial role that the Special Political Missions play in this context. Indeed, conflict prevention is one the priorities of the EU-UN’s Strategic Partnership.  UN peacekeeping operations will not be effective if they are not fully resourced, including financially, to deliver on their mandates. We therefore call on all member states to pay their contributions in full and in a timely manner, without conditions, both for the regular and the peacekeeping budgets.

Recognising that true partnerships are built not on words but on deeds, the UN and EU in September signed an agreement on mutual support in the context of their respective missions and operations in the field. This legal framework agreement allows for exchanges and close cooperation between the EU CSDP missions and UN Peacekeeping Operations. In effect, it is a contribution to the implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative and the wider UN reform agenda.

EU Members States are looking forward to continuing to contribute constructively to the work of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping operations (C34). The alignment of the structure of the C34 report with the A4P agenda was the right decision,  it has made the C34 report into an essential vehicle for more efficient and effective peacekeeping through the implementation of the Secretary-General’s initiative.

We continue to underscore that the protection of vulnerable groups, civilians, women and children, must be at the core of peacekeeping mandates, Furthermore, protection focal points and advisors are essential to ensure effective monitoring, reporting and ensuring accountability in the case of grave violations of human rights. UN and Troop and Police Contributing countries should improve the gender balance in all components of peacekeeping operations, as part of their efforts in addressing gender inequality which improves the efficiency of operation. In light of the complex and dangerous environments that missions are operating in, we underline the critical role of information and intelligence for mandate delivery, including safety and security of the peacekeepers and the protection of civilians. We also believe a greater attention to the environmental impact of UN peacekeeping operation must be given.

On the role of regional initiatives as an essential and complementary contribution to peacekeeping, the EU especially values the role of African peace operations and underlines the need for a predictable and sustainable financing from the international community.

Nous félicitons la Secrétaire générale adjointe Melissa Fleming et son équipe pour le lancement de la stratégie de communication globale 2020 qui a, par nécessité et en temps réel, été façonnée par la pandémie de la COVID-19. Les récentes réformes introduites pour rendre la communication plus agile, l'engagement croissant avec toutes les parties prenantes, y compris la société civile, et l'accent mis sur les jeunes comme public prioritaire, se sont avérés essentiels pendant la pandémie. En outre, l’approche proactive du Département, intensifiée de façon stratégique pour soutenir les priorités de l’Organisation pendant la crise,  a prouvé son efficacité à fédérer le sens des responsabilités de chacun pour contrer la pandémie et œuvrer à une environnement plus durable. Cette période difficile a exigé de fournir sans délai des informations précises et fiables et d’une manière qui favorise la compassion et la solidarité entre citoyens du monde. Nous saluons vivement les mesures prises par le Département pour lutter contre la vague de désinformation et de mésinformation qui a accompagné la crise – y compris dans le contexte de la campagne « Verified ». Cette préoccupation est partagée sur tous les continents, comme en témoigne le succès de la déclaration interrégionale sur « l'infodémie » à laquelle ont souscrit 132 signataires, dont les 27 États membres de l'UE et l'Union européenne, en juin de cette année.

Asimismo, damos nuestro firme apoyo a la elección del Departamento de otorgar prioridad a los ODS, el cambio climático y la igualdad de género, a la vez que secundamos la agenda transformadora del Secretario General en su conjunto y sus llamamientos e informes en torno al COVID-19. El 75 aniversario de las Naciones Unidas nos ofrece una oportunidad única para mostrar cómo la Organización hace de este mundo un lugar mejor para todos. Puede contar con el apoyo de la Unión Europea y sus Estados Miembros en todos los ámbitos, desde el llamamiento al alto el fuego global hasta los esfuerzos internacionales para conseguir una vacuna accesible para todos.

No obstante, un valor fundamental de la Organización, el multilingüismo, se ha visto negativamente afectado durante la pandemia, tanto en el seno del trabajo de los órganos de Naciones Unidas, como en la comunicación pública. Precisamente, para disponer de un sistema multilateral equilibrado y transparente que goce de la confianza de nuestros ciudadanos, emplazamos al pleno y justo trato de todas las lenguas oficiales de Naciones Unidas en todas las actividades de la Organización. Esperamos nuevos esfuerzos que aborden este asunto objeto de preocupación para la mayoría de los Estados Miembros.


* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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