United Nations (UN)

United Nations (UN)

20/09/2019 - 10:00
Relations with International Organisations and Fora

The European Union and the United Nations are natural partners. We are the world’s leading proponents and defenders of a multilateral and rules-based global governance system.Together, we respond to global crises, threats and challenges which cannot be addressed by individual nations acting alone, and require cooperation and coordination based on universal values and rules.

The need to promote multilateral solutions, a key principle of the EU's international action under the Treaty on European Union, is more urgent than ever. As reflected in the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, multilateralism with the UN at its core is a cornerstone of the EU's external policy. Our interest lies in a multilateral system that is rules and rights-based, protects the global commons, promotes shared public goods, and delivers benefits for citizens in Europe and across the globe. Cooperation through effective multilateralism remains the best way to advance national as well as collective interests.

In recent years, the EU has intensified its engagement as a global player and is translating multilateralism into action, in line with the EU Global Strategy and the Council Conclusions on EU action to strengthen rules-based multilateralism. On the vast majority of global governance issues, the EU works closely with the UN and in the UN. The United Nations is both a key EU partner and an indispensable global forum to coalesce around the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to promote peacebuilding and sustaining peace, to tackle crises and violent conflicts as well as to address climate change.

How does the EU work at the United Nations?

Cooperation between the EU and the UN system, including the UN Secretariat and the various UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, spans across all policy areas. The UN General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. The added value of the EU is to coordinate among its 28 Member States to present a unified position.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/65/276 upgrading the observer status, allowing the EU to present common positions, make interventions, present proposals and participate in the general debate each September. Being an observer with enhanced status, enabled EU representatives to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States in the UN. Since then it is also the President of the European Council who delivers the EU statement in the general debate, and no longer the rotating Presidency, bringing EU representation in New York in line with Lisbon Treaty provisions. The EU has obtained a special “full participant” status in a number of important UN conferences.

The EU coordinates its voting within the UN General Assembly’s six main committees and other bodies and agencies such as the Economic and Social Council. To this end, more than 400 coordination meetings have been held this year at the EU Delegation in New York to develop a common EU stance and speak with one voice. Article 34 of the Lisbon Treaty also stipulates that EU members on the UN Security Council must act in concert and foster the interests of the EU. The strong presence of EU Member States on the UN Security Council has been contributing to a positive momentum. In 2019, the EU has so far delivered 24 statements in the UN Security Council and 72 in other UN fora, including those at high-level events and meetings.

What are the EU’s priorities at the United Nations?

From deepening EU-UN political partnership to working together in advancing and shaping the multilateral agenda, EU-UN cooperation is both stronger and more important than ever. Today, the EU is a point of reference for the global network in support of effective multilateralism. In this endeavour, we are investing in new partnerships to support the multilateral agenda in the most effective, strategic and flexible way, while remaining true to the rules and principles of the UN Charter. The trilateral AU-EU-UN cooperation is an example of effective multilateralism in action, a new paradigm of joining forces with international and regional actors to address global challenges.

For the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, the EU will sharpen the focus of collective engagement and galvanise joint efforts on conflict prevention, peace and security. It will continue to demonstrate leadership in advancing our common positive agenda, promoting and protecting human rights worldwide and working with partners on key issues such as the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change The EU will expand its engagement to address the major global challenges of our era such as digitalisation, migration, forced displacement, humanitarian response, counterterrorism, non-proliferation. We will continue to invest in a strong and effective UN. The EU, together with its Member States, will strengthen partnerships, promote human rights and the rule of law, and support peace, security, democracy and sustainable development for all.

Global Security Provider

The EU has been enhancing its capacity to act as a security provider, its strategic autonomy and ability to cooperate with partners. These goals are best served when we are not alone and in an international system based on rules and on multilateralism. In this context, the EU and the UN agreed to reinforce cooperation between missions and operations in the field. Women, Peace and Security has been identified as the first of eight new joint priorities to reinforce the EU-UN Strategic Partnership on Peace Operations and Crisis Management for 2019-2021.

Major contributor

Collectively, the EU and its Member States are the single largest financial contributor to the UN system. The level of the contributions of the 28 EU Member States amounts to almost 30% of the regular UN budget and more than 31% of the UN peacekeeping budget. In addition, the EU and its Member States also provide about a quarter of all the voluntary contributions to UN funds and programmes. The European Commission alone contributed €2.92 billion to support UN external assistance programmes and projects in 2018.

UN Reform is moving ahead

The best way to preserve and reinforce the credibility of the UN system is to make it more effective. The EU’s priority is to uphold, strengthen and reform the UN and to empower the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to deliver on his ambitious reform package.

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in 2020, we are committed to a rejuvenated United Nations that delivers for all. The EU welcomes the elaboration of the three mutually reinforcing UN reform tracks: peace and security; development; and management and supports the efficient implementation of the UN Secretary General’s ambitious reform package.

Reform implementation is linked to the sustainable financing of the UN. As the largest financial contributor to the UN, promoting the sound and stable financial footing and management of the United Nations is one of the priorities of the EU and its Member States.

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