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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The following countries align themselves with this statement: The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia.

Mr. Chairman,
At the outset, we would like to warmly congratulate you and the other members of the Bureau on your election. We are confident that you will guide this Committee in its deliberations in a very competent and efficient manner. We also would like to thank the staff of the UN Secretariat for their assistance in preparing this meeting.

Mr. Chairman,

The current mandate of the Special Committee under the terms of General Assembly resolution 62/69 of 6 December 2007 is to continue the consideration of the issues on its agenda, as they are laid down in the paragraph 3 of the said resolution.

The work of the Special Committee last February focused largely on the issue of basic conditions and standard criteria for the introduction and implementation of sanctions, on the basis of a revised working paper submitted by the Russian Federation. This is a long standing item in the agenda of the Special Committee. We recognize that past discussions have been useful for enriching the sanctions debate within the UN. In past years the EU has been actively engaged in this process of reflection with the aim of enhancing the design, implementation and effectiveness of sanctions, and in some cases, EU Member States have taken the lead in the important research initiatives aiming at enhancing the effectiveness and fairness of the sanctions regimes.

The EU has made its position clear in this Committee and elsewhere that sanctions, applied in accordance with the UN Charter, are an important tool for the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security. This has been unequivocally recognized by the World Summit in 2005. Sanctions need to be designed with care, and with due regard to minimizing any adverse impact they may have on the socio-economic and humanitarian situation, for populations and on the third States, so as to uphold their credibility and efficiency. They should be implemented and monitored effectively, with clear benchmarks, and should be reviewed periodically so that they remain in place for as limited time as is necessary to achieve their purpose. In this context the European Union welcomes the important work on the issue of sanctions and related subjects, which has already made progress within the different fora of the United Nations.

In particular, we would like to welcome the final report of the Informal Working Group of the SC on General Issues of Sanctions, under the chairmanship of Greece, which was endorsed by the SC in Resolution 1732 of 21 December 2006. Its task of developing general recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of UN sanctions resulted in an impressive list of best practices and methods which in our view will undoubtedly contribute to making sanctions better targeted and more effective than ever before.

The Security Council has also made notable progress on the issue of listing and de-listing of individuals and entities on the sanctions lists. By Resolution 1730, adopted on 19 December 2006, a focal point and a procedure valid for all sanctions committees has been established whereby requests for de-listing can now be submitted directly by the targeted individuals and entities. The EU welcomes the ongoing deliberations of the Council’s sanctions committees on the further improvement of de-listing procedures to ensure that fair and clear procedures exist for removing individuals and entities from United Nations sanctions lists.

In that respect, the EU welcomes the open briefings for the UN membership as a whole, held by the Permanent Representative of Belgium, Ambassador Johan Verbeke, the current chair of the Al-Qaida/Taliban Committee established under Resolution 1267, on the work of the Committee. The EU further welcomes the Committees adoption of the standard cover sheet in July 2006, as well as the new procedures regarding listing proposals, as foreseen in Security Council Resolution 1735, adopted on 22 December 2006. These are all important steps in the ongoing process of ensuring that listing and de-listing procedures are predictable, transparent and fair.

Mr. Chairman,

While the EU agrees that the issue of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third states affected by the application of sanctions is an important one, the EU would like to note that all current sanctions regimes are targeted in nature. In this context, we also note the most recent report of the Secretary-General on this issue (as contained in the UN Doc. A/62/206, dated 3 August 2007) in which the Secretary-General has stated: “keeping with the Security Council’s shift from comprehensive economic sanctions to targeted sanctions, no sanction committee was approached by any Member State concerning special economic problems arising from the implementation of sanctions”. The European Union also recalls that the reports of the Secretary-General for the past six years have noted that no such communication or report by any government has been made.

Having said that, the European Union believes that the work on the issue of sanctions is indeed bearing fruit. We appreciate the different proposals in the Committee relating to the issue of sanctions, but we continue to hold the view that the Special Committee should avoid duplicating the work that has been assigned, and is carried out elsewhere. We believe that we have come to the point where we have exhausted our deliberations and thus call upon the Committee to conclude its work on this issue as a matter of urgency. It seems that the methods adopted by the Security Council and its committees during the past few years to calibrate sanctions, which are now imposed more finely, are increasingly successful in avoiding unintended effects on socio-humanitarian situations, for populations and third States.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning to the issue of the peaceful settlement of disputes between states the EU once again recalls the duty of all members of the United Nations under Article 2, paragraph 3, of the Charter to settle their international disputes by peaceful means and in such a manner that international peace, security and justice, are not endangered. This is one of the basic principles of the United Nations. It is one of the key principles on which today’s international order is built, and we have noted with satisfaction that the Summit Outcome Document has also reminded States of this obligation and stressed that the relevant provisions of the Charter are sufficient to address the full range of threats to international peace and security.

Mr. Chairman,

Another question which was discussed during the last session of the Committee is the addition of two new items on the agenda. In this regard we must again express caution concerning the inclusion of new items on the Special Committee’s agenda. The EU recalls that reform of the United Nations is an ongoing process initiated by the call for the strengthening of the Organization in the Summit Outcome Document. While some major accomplishments, such as the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, have already been achieved, the process is continuing on many other issues. The EU takes the view that the role of this Committee’s work should be supplementary to that process and considers that it should focus on the legal aspects of UN reform only at the request of the General Assembly.

Mr. Chairman,

The EU would further like to make a few general remarks on the working methods of this Committee. As you will recall, we have always been in favor of improving the work of this Committee, and have welcomed the adoption of the working paper, based on proposals submitted by Japan and a number of other states, by the General Assembly at its previous session (Resolution 61/38). Subsequent progress was, however, limited and the EU favors taking more vigorous steps. It is our hope that this year we will be able to follow the adopted working methods more closely and the EU is certainly ready to carefully consider any new proposal in that regard. Some issues before us have been lingering on our agenda for quite some time now, without any immediate chance of reaching consensus. The EU believes that now the time has come to reconsider or discontinue further discussion on those issues, because, over the years, it has become evident that no considerable progress has been or can be achieved.

We welcome in this regard the conclusion of work of the Committee regarding the consideration of the working paper submitted by the Russian Federation entitled “Fundamentals of the legal basis for United Nations peacekeeping operations in the context of Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations” during the last session. We would like to make an appeal to the Committee to make every effort to achieve similar progress also on other issues.

Finally, Mr. Chairman,

As regards the Repertory of practice of UN organs and Repertoire of the practice of the Security Council, the European Union welcomes the ongoing efforts to reduce the backlog in the preparation of both publications as well as the placement of the advanced versions on the internet. We take note of the current status of the publications and express our continued support for the preparation of both the Repertory of practice of UN organs and Repertoire of the practice of the Security Council and making them available on the internet.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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