European leaders tell UN collective sense of purpose needed to maintain peace

Addressing the General Assembly this afternoon, Liechtenstein’s Foreign Minister, Aurelia Frick, said acts of aggression perpetrated against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of parts of its territory underline the need to enforce international law. The call for accountability is growing louder, said Ms. Frick. Victims of the gravest crimes around the world are placing their hopes for justice with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). But for truly collective work to maintain peace and security, we need a collective sense of purpose. It is difficult to reconcile that a single Security Council member can block action required for the UN to fulfil its purposes and principles- “with no questions asked.”“We do not accept the veto as a reality of the Charter,” she said. With the rise of religious intolerance civilians in both Syria and Iraq, civilians are left “at the mercy of the sickening brutality of ISIS,” she said, adding that “there is nothing Islamic about this barbaric act committed by ISIS.” Ms. Frick also expressed concern of the “disturbing” rise of anti-Semitism. She further emphasized the importance of involving women in peacebuilding processes. “Men have always been in charge of making war, and men have been in charge of making peace. Their record is not impressive,” she said. There can be no sustainable development without the full empowerment of women. Echoing that, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said that without the full and equal participation of women in all spheres of society, including in decision-making it will be impossible to make real and lasting progress on the development front. “In Iceland and other Nordic Countries the revolution in women’s education and the high-level of female participation in the labour market have been the basis of welfare and economic prosperity,” said Mr. Sveinsson. Along with women’s empowerment, the new sustainable development agenda must address food insecurity and ensure access to affordable and modern energy. With improved infrastructure and better management, the economic benefits from marine fisheries could be increased by 50 billion dollars per year- imperative to Iceland’s development. Mr. Sveinsoon said the UN must take centre stage in maintaining peace and security, whether in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, or Gaza. He called for an end to the blockade of Gaza and condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas as well as Israel’s disproportionate use of force. “The Security Council is seriously undermined when it proves incapable of defending civilians that are subject to foreign occupation,” said Mr. Sveinsson. Among the European leaders taking the floor, Jose Badia, Minister for External Relations and Cooperation of Monaco, said the lofty aspirations set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had guided the early steps of the new century and had in the past 15 years pointed the way forward as regarding sustainability, inclusivity, transparency and good governance. Yet, in some parts of the globe poverty remained stubbornly entrenched and climate change holds the fate of the entire world in it hands and requires urgent attention and cooperation for solutions. José Badia, Minister for External Relations of the Principality of Monaco, addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton Meanwhile, conflicts arise and transform, becoming ever more complex. Monaco had condemned abject acts of violence wherever it took place, and as such supported the resolution adopted in the Security Council last week on disrupting the activities of foreign fighters. While Monaco condemned the heinous actions of all terrorist groups, it would note that there is a necessity to address the root cause of terrorism. No doubt, such activities would address marginalization, joblessness and poor education. Disaffected youth across the globe should no doubt be the focus of such efforts. In all this, he said the protection and promotion of protection of human rights must be central.“We need to define the nature of the world in which we live,” he said calling for action to address the needs of the most vulnerable people and to ensure economic independence for women and young people. Indeed, the post-2015 development agenda must be broadly inclusive and address environmental needs, especially regarding the world’s oceans. In a world beset by warfare and terror on many fronts, the United Nations seemed too often to be “hamstrung and stymied” in situations where it needed to be decisive and strong, said Charles Flanagan, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, as he called for new approaches to the work of the world body, in particular, the Security Council. While Ireland was in favour of abolishing the Council’s veto power, it welcomed an initiative by France, supported by Mexico, to better regulate the use of the veto by Permanent Members, and supported an increase in the Council’s membership “to more closely reflect regional balances” and “the current realities of population and economic weight in the world.” Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan of Ireland addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton Outlining his country’s position on challenges to peace in the Middle East, the Minister said that the only true basis for peace and security between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples was in the realisation of a just, negotiated two-State solution, adding that “all actions or policies which impede that prospect must be avoided.”In neighbouring Syria, too, the solution to the civil war was not a military one, and he urged countries to support Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura’s efforts to promote a political settlement based on the principles of the Geneva Communiqué of 2012, which calls for establishment of a transitional government to lead to free and fair elections. Violations of international law by all sides to the conflict must be confronted and referred to the International Criminal Court, he added. Flagging the growth of extremism across the region, he called on the international community to unite and mobilise, on an urgent basis, to confront the threat.The most dangerous political crisis to occur in Europe for several decades was in Ukraine, the Minister said, where the only sustainable solution was the path of diplomatic dialogue based on the principle of respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty, and with clear guarantees on border security, disarmament of illegal groups and the withdrawal of foreign forces.Also speaking today, Mårten Grunditz, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations, told the Assembly that his country joined collective efforts to tackle the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at the request of the Iraqi Government, stressing the importance of political engagement to resolve that issue, as well as conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear dossier, and Israel-Palestine negotiations. Mårten Grunditz, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN, addresses the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Loey FelipeHe welcomed action on Ebola, noting Sweden’s support to those efforts. Peacebuilding support has also been given to Somalia and Liberia. Criticizing “Russian acts of aggression” in Ukraine, he stressed the need for the world to “react resolutely”, particularly given that the “attacker” is a permanent member of the Security Council. Greater efforts are needed to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals, and a transformative and universal new framework for sustainable development is needed with a consensus on financing and effective partnerships.Mr. Grunditz went on to say that women are essential to development and peace, and underlined that gender equality “is just and smart economics”. Closer to home, he noted Sweden’s economic growth was decoupled from its greenhouse gas emissions, with 60 per cent growth coming despite a 20 per cent reduction in emissions since 1990. His country had helped initiate the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and he looked forward to the Paris meeting in 2015 that will aim to seek a universal, binding climate deal.

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