I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Croatia*, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The EU would like to thank you for organizing todays debate. Since this is the first time we are speaking under your Presidency allow me to congratulate you on the assumption of your duties.
I would also like to extend our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his very pertinent intervention and for his personal commitment to this issue.
The EU also welcomes the Presidential Statement to be adopted today and supports its main objective of promoting a comprehensive strategy for conflict prevention and resolution within the UN system and of strengthening existing frameworks and mechanisms.
The EU is pleased to note the strengthening of a culture of prevention across the UN system. Moreover, in the institutional context recent UN reforms, including the creation of the UN Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, are assisting countries on the path towards sustainable peace and development, thus helping prevent conflict emergence or recurrence.
Further cooperation, coordination and coherence is needed in this field, however, not only among the main UN bodies but also between the UN and international and regional organizations and other relevant actors, including NGOs. We also encourage Member States to focus resources to enhance the UN’s preventive mechanisms, and suggest that regular reporting to the SC on prevention and early warning would help the Council better support this aim.
The EU underlines the primary responsibility of the Security Council for maintenance of international peace and security. We appreciate, in this regard, the contribution of, and partnerships between, the SC and international, regional and sub-regional organizations in the facilitation of political processes, as well as in peacekeeping and post-conflict scenarios.
The EU believes that the UN should be open to using innovative approaches proposed by regional and sub-regional actors, while establishing clear arrangements of cooperation and division of work and responsibilities.
We are particularly pleased with the substantive progress in the cooperation between the UN and the EU in crisis management, in particular the signing on 12 June 2007 of the Joint Statement on UN-EU Cooperation in Crisis Management. The EU looks forward to its implementation. UN-EU cooperation also develops well in the field of conflict prevention, notably through regular desk-to-desk dialogues.
We are encouraged by the Joint Communiqué, adopted on 16 June 2007, between the UN and the African Union, which calls for the strengthening of relations between the SC and the PSC of the AU, particularly on conflict prevention, management and resolution.
The EU has been constant in supporting the efforts of regional and sub-regional organizations, in particular the African Union, and has been actively engaged in initiatives aimed at enhancing peacekeeping capabilities in Africa. We encourage a close relationship between the UN, the AU and sub-regional organizations and we commend them in setting up, with the support of the international community, including the EU, peacekeeping operations on the African continent, notably AMIS and AMISOM, and the UNSC’s decision to deploy a Hybrid operation in Darfur.
The promotion of durable peace and security in Africa, as a precondition to sustainable economic and social development, constitutes one of the major challenges facing the international community in general and the SC in particular.
The responsibility for creating domestic conditions for peace and development rests primarily with the countries themselves. Nevertheless, international assistance in the fields of preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, along with economic and development assistance, remain indispensable.
Ownership and responsibility are important principles of the EU Strategy for Africa, adopted by the European Council in December 2005. We recognise, however, that enhancing Africas capabilities is crucial for African ownership. In November 2006, the Council of the European Union adopted Conclusions on Strengthening African Capabilities for the Prevention, Management and Resolution of Conflicts.
A Joint Strategy between Europe and Africa for the next decade is currently under negotiation and should be adopted later this year at the Second EU/Africa Summit, in Lisbon.
In the area of peace and security, the ongoing establishment of an African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) – including the operationalization of the African Standby Force and the development of the African Peace Support Training Association – is a key initiative and will benefit from broad European Union support.
Sustainable, predictable and flexible funding for African-led peace support operations is another major challenge. In 2004, the EU established the African Peace Facility (APF) to enable us with financial instruments to support African capacities in planning and executing peace operations. The capacities of African sub-regional organizations in conflict prevention are further supported through substantial regional programmes financed by the European Development Fund. Tripartite capacity programmes involving the UN are being considered, notably in West Africa involving ECOWAS.
Women, children and other vulnerable groups are especially affected by armed conflict. The effective implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace and Security” is a prerequisite for achieving, maintaining and promoting sustainable peace. A gender perspective must be integrated into all conflict prevention and peacekeeping activities, in particular when developing preventive measures against gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
The continued failures to protect children in conflict, and the abuses and harms that persist after conflicts have ostensibly ended, underline the need to give high priority to strengthening child protection in conflict. We welcome Resolution 1612 and the mechanisms it created as well as the adoption of the Paris Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups and The Paris Commitments to Protect Children from Unlawful Recruitment in February 2007.
Understanding the multidimensional root causes of conflicts is the basis of conflict prevention: it is far better to prevent than to correct.
Civil society is an important partner in preventing violent conflicts and their recurrence, in strengthening democracy and in promoting human rights. Interaction with civil society improves our understanding of underlying problems or injustices causing instability, and how to address them. In countries emerging from conflict, civil society constitutes a key element of the recovery process.
The EU has given considerable resources to supporting civil society and strongly encourages others to do likewise. UN organs and international and regional organizations should also explore ways of building partnerships with civil society groups to facilitate conflict prevention and the peaceful settlement of conflicts.
There is no peace without justice. Justice and the rule of law are at the core of the peaceful settlement of disputes and of harmonious coexistence both at national and international level. The newly established Rule of Law Unit will contribute, in our opinion, to enhance coordination and support for rule of law issues in the UN system.
Moreover, the role of the International Criminal Court is fundamental. The EU remains firmly committed to the effective functioning of the ICC. We stress the importance of full cooperation with the Court, and call on States that have not yet done so to accede to the Rome Statute.
The EU welcomes the progress made by the Court in recent years and recognizes its positive role in helping to prevent the recourse to violence, promote negotiation and conflict resolution. We believe that the SC has a particular role to play in combating impunity and preventing the most heinous international crimes, as it is empowered to refer situations to the Court.
The EU will continue contributing to international peace and security in every way possible, including here at the UN, where conflict prevention and resolution in particular in Africa must continue to be of the highest priority and urgency.
Thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.