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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. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General Pascoe for presenting this valuable report of the Secretary General.

Mediation is a critically important tool amongst the limited responses available to the international community for conflict management. It can be applied at all stages of the conflict cycle, from prevention and peacemaking to the implementation of peace agreements. When it works well, the world’s attention might not even notice that a potentially harmful conflict has been defused. When it fails, extinguishing the crisis requires much more efforts and resources. This is why we need to further improve the practice of international mediation and see to it that negotiated settlements to conflicts bring long-lasting stability with increasing frequency. The Secretary General’s report contains a large number of lessons learned and useful recommendations which now need to be implemented for making mediation even more effective in the future.

The success of international mediation rests on partnership, co-operation and mutual support of all actors concerned. The United Nations has been involved in mediation for over sixty years and enhancing its capacities will further strengthen the collective impact of its mediation initiatives. The EU supported the establishment of the UN Mediation Support Unit within the Department of Political Affairs and continues to contribute financially to its activities, both through the European Commission and individual EU Member States. We also support the proposed system-wide approach to mediation and the development of a Standby team of regional and thematic experts. One of the prerequisites for effective mediation initiatives is the availability of flexible financial and human resources. The Secretary General’s report points to the fact that mediation tends to be most effective when launched early and the European Union regards positively the recent establishment of a mediation start-up fund. In order to further enhance our cooperation in mediation, the European Union and the UN should develop a mechanism of sharing expertise and lessons learned, develop joint training opportunities and work together on the establishment of a roster of mediation experts.

Mr. President,

The European Union supports the promotion of mediation as an efficient and cost-effective instrument of conflict prevention and resolution and is – as underlined in the Secretary General’s report – increasingly engaged in mediation efforts. The involvement of the European Union in mediation is twofold – direct and indirect. There are a number of actors within the EU who, on occasion, play a role in international facilitation, mediation and dialogue processes. The EU Presidency, High Representative Javier Solana or the EU Special Representatives and Members of the European Commission are among the most visible actors. But the heads of European Commission delegations and the heads of ESDP mission are also frequently engaged in mediation activities. The EU is in the process of strengthening and professionalizing its mediation and mediation support capacity so as to use this tool more effectively. We appreciate the continuing cooperation with the Mediation Support Unit in this endeavor.

Like all other regional organizations, the European Union has its own interests which may sometimes compromise our ability to serve as impartial mediators. The EU has therefore developed a system of indirect support to third-party mediators, which also builds on the capacity and knowledge of NGOs. Specifically, the Instrument for Stability administered by the European Commission includes the Facility for urgent actions involving Policy Advice, Technical Assistance, Mediation and Reconciliation. The African Union is also playing an increasingly important role in mediation and the EU is committed to assist in further developing its capacities. Under the African Peace Facility, an Early Response Mechanism has recently been established to support mediation efforts of the AU and other African regional organisations.

Mr. President,

Today’s debate gives us the opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved through mediation and to identify the challenges of negotiated settlements. We should not see mediation in isolation. Peace agreements have too often fallen apart, which has been partly due to the lack of a clear implementation plan. The UN and its partners need to build coherence across the conflict spectrum, including in the post-conflict peacebuilding phase, to improve the effectiveness of mediation, minimize the threat from spoilers and ensure that agreements reached are sustained. As the report points out, it is important that the transitional justice issues are adequately covered in the agreement and that the rule of law is re-established. Where serious crimes have been committed, the culture of impunity often leads to a circle of violence which undermines sustainable peace.

Finally, the EU appreciates Secretary-General’s commitment to improve gender expertise and balance at all levels. Women’s absence from peace negotiations and the lack of gender expertise in mediation teams seriously limits the extent to which women‘s experiences of conflict, and consequent needs for recovery are addressed in those processes. A UNIFEM analysis shows that in 13 major comprehensive peace agreement processes since 2000, not one single woman was appointed as a mediator. These statistics need to change if future peace agreements are to be achievable, representative and likely to secure durable peace. Sustainable peace cannot be managed through the marginalization of such a large and vital constituency.

Thank you Mr. President.

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

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