European Union External Action

United Nations (UN)

10/06/2020 - 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 alone, but require cooperation and coordination based on universal values and rules. Today’s interconnected world and the challenges we face, show that global cooperation is more necessary than ever. The outbreak of COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated this.

While marking the 75th Anniversary, the European Union reiterates its commitment to the rules based international order, with the United Nations at its core. 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.

The current crisis has shown how crucial multilateral institutions are to global health, prosperity, and security. The EU and its Member States are the largest donor to WHO and are at the forefront of the global response assisting those most in need to address the humanitarian, health, social and economic consequences of the crisis. In line with the UN Secretary-General’s call to “recover better”, we need to work together for a recovery that builds more sustainable, inclusive and equitable societies. And we were one of the earliest and loudest backers of his call for a global ceasefire.

The United Nations is both a key EU partner and an indispensable global forum to deliver 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. In recent years, the EU has intensified its engagement as a global player and is translating multilateralism into action, in line with the Council Conclusions on EU action to strengthen rules-based multilateralism and the Council Conclusions on the priorities to be followed by the EU in United Nations human rights fora in 2020.

Cooperation between the EU and the UN system, including the UN Secretariat and the 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 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. This enables EU representatives to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States in the UN. 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. 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.

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. We are investing in partnerships to support the multilateral agenda in the most effective and strategic way, while remaining true to the rules and principles of the UN Charter.

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 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.

Supporting human rights and gender equality

The EU remains a global leader in advancing human rights worldwide and retains the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, as fundamental principles which are central to the UN agenda. The COVID-19 pandemic risks to have a serious impact on the most fragile, but only by adopting a human rights-based approach can we guarantee an effective response and ensure that no one is left behind. Gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls and the realisation of all their human rights are essential for more equal, inclusive and resilient societies.

Promoting peace and security

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 is the first of eight new joint priorities to reinforce the EU-UN Strategic Partnership on Peace Operations and Crisis Management for 2019-2021.

Acting against climate change

The EU will continue to be at the forefront of the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. With its European Green Deal, the EU set up a roadmap for a sustainable, climate-neutral and resource-efficient future and intends to strengthen its commitment also at a global level for a swift and full implementation of the Paris Agreement. To “build back better” – as stated by Secretary General Guterres– recommitting to the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement is crucial.

UN Reform for a multilateralism that delivers for all

The best way to preserve and reinforce the credibility of the UN system is to make it more effective. As the European Union, we will always be at the forefront of those advocating a more effective, efficient and sustainably financed United Nations, in full support of the UN Secretary-General’s reform agenda. We are committed to a United Nations that delivers for all.

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