Mr. President, Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the honour to address the Security Council speaking on behalf of the European Union.
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 Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The creation of the African Union and its organs has been one of the most promising developments over the last years. It is therefore highly appropriate to focus this discussion on Africa. The very presence of such distinguished guests gives particular weight to the significance of the discussions at todays debate.
I would like especially to thank the Secretary-General for his introductory remarks and his personal commitment to promoting the dialogue between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations.
The European Union is firmly committed to, and actively supports effective multilateralism. In this context, the importance of regional organisations and their potential in preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, peacemaking and post-conflict peace-building has grown considerably over the past years. It is only to be expected that their contribution in the predictable future will keep steadily increasing.
We have taken good note of the Secretary-Generals report on the relationship between the UN and regional organizations, which in particular highlights the existing challenges and shortcomings and presents recommendations to address them. We need to place the relationship between the UN and regional organizations on solid ground and further build AUs capacities, which is essential for strengthening this relationship.
Furthermore, the development of a stronger international society, well-functioning international institutions and a rule-based international order with the UN at its core is a central objective of the EU, which recalls the primary responsibility of the Security Council for maintaining international peace and security. Regional organizations can reinforce and complement UN efforts through an active role in maintaining international peace and security, in the spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, as also stressed in SC resolution 1631 (2005). The EU seeks to strengthen cooperation with the UN on, inter alia, areas of crisis management and peacekeeping operations, counter-terrorism, human rights, sustainable development and climate change. In the last years, the EU has made significant progress in the development of its own crisis management structures. This has allowed the EU to deploy numerous civilian and military operations, many of which in support or at the request of the United Nations.
Under the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy, and in addition to individual EU member states commitments, the EU continues to support peacekeeping efforts in Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau as well as in Chad and the Central African Republic, in line with substantial EC support. We remain committed to further develop our relationship with the UN, especially by working closely together in implementing the Joint Statement on UN-EU cooperation in crisis management signed in June 2007. This increasing co-operation also needs strengthened mechanisms of dialogue and exchange and we will continue to work with the UN Secretariat in this regard.
The Second EU-Africa Summit held in Lisbon in 2007 laid down the foundations of a strategic partnership, which marked the adoption of three important documents; a Joint EU-Africa Strategy, an Action Plan and the Lisbon Declaration. Reaching a new milestone in our cooperation, we have surpassed the traditional donor-recipient relationship as the new Joint Strategy not only identifies important objectives including the strengthening of peace, security, democratic governance and human rights as well as key development issues, but also commits the two sides to work together in the multilateral framework to address effectively global challenges, such as climate change. The results of this strategic partnership will be reviewed at the Third EU-Africa Summit scheduled for 2010.
In the field of peace and security, the first priority of the partnership aims at the strengthening of the dialogue to reach common positions and implement common approaches on challenges to peace and security in Africa, Europe and globally. One of the latest achievements is the opening of an EU Delegation to the AU in Addis Ababa which will help us not only to further intensify the political dialogue between the UN, AU and other partners but also to better coordinate and execute EU cooperation activities.
The second priority is to work together towards the full establishment of an effective functioning of the African Peace and Security Architecture, in particular through the African Stand-by Force, the Continental Early Warning System and the regional mechanisms and organizations. In this context, we welcome the inauguration of the Panel of the Wise on 18 December 2007 and the EU looks forward to a closer cooperation with this eminent body.
The third priority is to provide predictable and sustainable financing for Africa-led Peace Support Operations to ensure that the AU and regional mechanisms will be able to plan and conduct peace support operations. Substantial support has been provided to capacity building at regional and sub-regional level as well as to specific African-led peace operations, including the AMIS operation in Darfur, the AU Mission in Somalia and the FOMUC mission in the Central African Republic. These operations have been supported by the Peace Facility for Africa, through which 350 million has already been committed, and by bilateral contributions of EU Member States. Furthermore we are working with the G8 and other members of the international community to contribute to the funding of African-led Peace Support Operations.
A culture of prevention is indeed gaining ground as is the understanding to strengthen and give support to the tools used when responding to situations that could potentially lead to violence. In parallel, more attention has been given to addressing the root causes of conflict. Conflict prevention lays at the forefront of EUs security concerns and we are firmly committed to ensure that a culture of conflict prevention permeates all areas of our Common Foreign and Security Policy and our other external policies. Development instruments are put to contribution to support African conflict prevention strategies and actions at national, sub-regional and regional level. The sooner we act in preventing conflict the greater the chances of success.
Because of this, we deeply appreciate the Secretary-Generals report on the implementation of SC resolution 1625 (2005) and we welcome the recommendations set forth.
As noted in the Secretary-Generals report, the EU would also like to acknowledge that the Security Council, in particular with regard to conflict prevention in Africa, has increasingly become more engaged with timely response to tensions with the potential of further escalation and in taking and encouraging preventive action in line with SC resolution 1625 (2005). The EU recognizes the importance of different conflict prevention tools as highlighted in the report. The use of quiet diplomacy and preventive mediation, such as the Mediation Support Unit of the Department for Political Affairs as well as the effective use of sanctions and the Secretary-Generals good offices are essential in de-escalating potential violent conflicts.
The EU believes it is essential to include civil society in conflict prevention as it promotes encouraging links between the civil society and the government, as well as local ownership. Moreover, women should play a positive role in conflict prevention as reaffirmed by the Security Council through the adoption of resolution SC 1325 (2000). While a greater awareness of their inclusion has been noted, women are still under-represented in formal stages of conflict prevention. Similarly, the implementation of SC resolution 1612 (2005) on children affected by armed conflict continues to require further application. The EU has taken important steps by incorporating these principles into planning documents for ESDP missions and development instruments such as the Instrument for Stability that addresses the need of strengthening the network among such actors.
Moreover, the EU considers the Peacebuilding Commission to be an important achievement of the UN reform process. We welcome the engagement the PBC has shown in Burundi and Sierra Leone in the first year of operation and welcome the placing of Guinea-Bissau on its agenda. Through the European Development Fund and other EC instruments, the EU plays a major role in assisting these countries to meet their peacebuilding challenges. The recent launch of the ESDP mission in support of the security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau further reaffirms the EU readiness to use its full policy mix of instruments in support of the work of the PBC.
The EU remains committed to international justice that is particularly relevant in the conflict areas. We firmly believe that there can be no impunity in particular for the most serious crimes and that there can be no longstanding peace without justice. The EU reiterates that the ICC is an essential means of promoting respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, thus contributing to freedom, security, justice and the rule of law as well as contributing to the preservation of peace and the strengthening of international security.
While the primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with Members States, the international community is crucial in providing the much needed support, especially through regional and sub-regional organisations. The recent support provided by the UN and the EU to such organisations in their efforts to improve relations between political parties in Kenya as well as ongoing international and regional efforts in dealing with the humanitarian and security situations such as those in the DRC, Sudan and Somalia only reaffirm the need for furthering cooperation with regional organisations. The EU remains very concerned about the political situation in Zimbabwe and will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground and support efforts towards ensuring democracy, stability, economic recovery and respect for human rights. The EU supports the extraordinary SADC Summits call for the expeditious release of the Presidential election result, in accordance with the due process of law. It reiterates its concern at the prolonged and unexplained delay in releasing the Presidential results which is undermining the credibility of the process.
In conclusion, Mr. President, the Secretary-Generals reports identify to a large extent appropriate measures to strengthen the AU as an effective and efficient actor for peace and security. With the EU-Africa Joint Strategy and its Action Plan we are working in that same direction. The reports therefore provide an excellent opportunity to give more concrete substance to a strong partnership between the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union.
I would like to thank the Presidency of the Security Council for convening this constructive debate. Let me reaffirm that it is a priority for the European Union to continue providing its expertise and resources to peace and stability in Africa as a partner of both the UN and the AU.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.