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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.

Mme President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro and the EFTA country, Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

Mme President,

The European Union is honoured by your presence in presiding over the Security Council’s deliberations today. We join with you in condemning the execution of Kim Sung Il.

We also welcome the participation by the Secretary-General, the President of the Economic and Social Council and representatives of Care International and the International Center for Transitional Justice in this debate.

The EU is grateful for the opportunity to discuss this important topic. The role of civil society in conflict prevention was discussed in an open meeting of the General Assembly last September. I am confident that our debate today will compliment those fruitful discussions.

The EU firmly believes that strategic partnerships, forged between government and civil society, are essential to successful post-conflict reconstruction. While Government efforts are vital in post-conflict peace-building, they are not always sufficient, in and of themselves, in addressing the myriad of challenges that arise. The enormity and complexity of these challenges is such that availing of all expertise and resources is not only desirable, but necessary. Civil Society and Government can and do play complimentary roles. While Governments may have a comparative advantage over Civil Society Organizations in certain areas, CSOs can play a pivotal role, in particular where functioning Governmental institutions are ineffective or absent. Respective areas of expertise should be mapped out and mutual responsibilities and accountabilities more clearly understood between the two actors.

Mme President,

Post-conflict societies are often polarized societies. It is crucial that bridges of communication are rebuilt between social groups. Post-conflict peace-building must seek to foster the re-emergence of civil society. The process of post-conflict peace-building requires both knowledge and information. Local or national Civil Society Organizations are often invaluable sources in this regard. Even if it is Government which necessarily must take the lead, a policy of inclusion, of partnership, is a sine qua non in effective post-conflict peace-building. Because it is ordinary citizens themselves who are the main targets of peace-building activities, input provided on their behalf by civil society actors is key to its success. Having said this, we also stress the importance of having a good knowledge of one’s collaborating partners. In some instances, civil society actors may be part of the same polarization equation that peace-building efforts are trying to break down.

Civil Society Organizations are often uniquely well-placed to furnish vital grass-root early warning facilities such as where a particular peace-building measure being pursued may inadvertently cause a disturbance or impact in some other unintended negative way. Also, Mme President, the capacity of Civil Society Organizations as funding sources in peace-building initiatives must also be highlighted in the context of our discussions today.

The European Union has consistently recognised the vital role played by Civil Society in Post-Conflict Peace-Building operations. The European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights has funded civil society initiatives that contribute to preventing the outbreak of conflicts or their continuation. I will mention a few examples here:

In Angola, the European Centre for Common Ground has helped, over a period of 12 months, to promote the liberalisation of the media through the training of journalists in the principles of human rights and common ground reporting and programming, the creation of appropriate radio and television programmes and by engaging civil society actors in radio discussion sessions.

In Mozambique, we have a project which intends to strength the capacity of grass root civil society in the field of human rights and democratic action in Zambesia Province supporting FONGZA (Forum of the Zambesian Non-Governmental Organizations) through specific capacity building activities, reinforcement of information collection skills and training of civic educators.

One project in Sierra Leone takes a broad approach to the subject of capacity building for civil society organisations. The focus is to put Non-Governmental Organizations on a new footing with government so as to help promote and protect human rights in a post-conflict environment. A special focus is given to women and children. The project has three objectives (1) to improve the professionalism of human rights Non-Governmental Organizations (2) to enhance their watchdog role through developing their knowledge base and (3) to strengthen their advocacy capacity in order to improve inputs into national human rights policies.

In Georgia, the EU has a confidence-building project in place to promote an environment conducive to a political resolution of the conflict there. The purpose of the project is to contribute to the ongoing capacity-building among both wider and more focused networks of committed peace-building Non-Governmental Organizations and other civil society organisations and structures. Target groups include young and potential leaders from across Georgia and the Caucasus region, women in positions of leadership, ex-combatants and Georgian regional Civil Society Organizations.

Mme President,

I cannot speak of engagement with Civil Society in Post-Conflict Peace-Building without making specific reference to the extensive cooperation between the European Union and certain non-governmental organizations in promoting fuller participation in, and the effective functioning of, the International Criminal Court. Impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes poses a serious obstacle in the way of lasting restoration of peace. In tackling impunity for crimes of this nature where governments are unwilling or unable to do so, the ICC can play a key supportive and supplementary role in future Peace-Building operations.

The EU also attaches considerable importance to the full and equal participation of women in post-conflict peace-building operations and, in this regard, wishes to recall the Agreed Conclusions adopted during the Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year. As the Secretary-General recently remarked “Women, who know the price of conflict so well, are also better equipped than men to prevent or resolve it. For generations, women have served as peace educators, both in their families and in their societies. They have proved instrumental in building bridges rather than walls.”

Mme President,

Governments have in recent years discovered the real benefits that accrue from cooperating with Civil Society actors in post-conflict societies. The Security Council is also aware of the important role that non-State actors can play in this process. The EU encourages the Security Council to reflect further on how it can encourage greater interaction and synergies between these important actors. Future resolutions, for example, might more specifically urge, call upon or encourage newly emerging Governments to cooperate closely with Civil Society Organizations. The EU also encourages Civil Society to continue to provide Security Council members with prompt relevant information, and to seek to identify innovative ways in which the Council could develop or encourage closer cooperation between Government and Civil Society.

Mme President,

Suspicions of old between Governments and Civil Society Organizations have, in large measure, receded in many parts of the world, giving way to genuine and meaningful interaction. The European Union believes that the Security Council is in a strong position to adopt resolutions which preserve and indeed enhance this improved climate. Our debate today should help to crystallize new ideas on how the Council can act as a catalyst in securing even greater integration between these two constituencies.

Thank you, Mme President.

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