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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.

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. 

The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement. 

We welcome the initiative taken by the United Kingdom to hold this open debate on conflict prevention and natural resources. However, we regret that the Council was unable to speak with one voice on this important issue. 

I would also like to thank the Deputy-Secretary General, as well as World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey and Kofi Annan as Africa Progress Panel Chair for their statements. 

Mr President, 

Managing, extracting and exploiting natural mineral resources are often cited as a key factor in triggering, escalating or sustaining violent conflict. There is also a worrying correlation between military activity linked to the illegal extraction of natural resources and episodes of sexual violence. 

For instance, the African Great Lakes region is characterized by both instability and mineral-rich soil. The illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources has led to the development of a number of initiatives: some aimed at delinking the trade of minerals sourcing from the control of armed groups; others promoting good governance and transparency of financial revenues or the adoption of principles of responsible business. 

The impact of these and other existing initiatives has to be assessed against their objectives; they cannot address the root causes of violence and instability by themselves. Experience shows that, to curb the linkages between instability and violent conflict in mineral-rich countries, a more comprehensive approach is needed, deploying the full range of development, trade, security and diplomatic instruments at the disposal of the international community, and ensuring a human rights perspective. 

Mr President, 

For its part, the EU has focused on promoting a conflict sensitive management of international diamond trade and the forestry sector, as well as on the transparency of revenues generated by the extractive industry. We have adopted policy frameworks and business standards relevant to the promotion of transparency of the supply chains. Some examples are: 

  • The EU played a crucial role in the set up and implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS needs to be strengthened to meet future challenges in the global diamond supply chain and provide assurance for consumers that diamonds are not tainted by violence. One of the unique features of the KPCS is its tripartite structure involving governments, industry and civil society. We take this opportunity to call on all parties involved to recognize the full diversity of opinions within – and about – the KPCS and continue working together to enhance the scheme’s credibility.
  • The EU also supports the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (ICGLR) launched by the ‘International Conference for theGreat Lakes’. The EU will provide technical assistance that will contribute to build the capacity of the ICGLR and of its Member States’ national administrations in relation to natural resources and conflicts, notably through the establishment of a regional certification scheme.
  • As regards the UN, the EU is fostering a UN inter-agency approach through the ‘EU-UN Partnership on Land, Natural Resources and Conflicts’, also with the World Bank and other international stakeholders. Participating agencies are leveraging their respective skills and knowledge to better assist third countries to prevent and address natural resources-related conflicts. Furthermore, the EU sees the role of the UN Peacebuilding Commission and encourages it to enhance its interaction with the UNSC in this area. The EU is also supporting the implementation of the UN Guiding principles on business and human rights.
  • The EU is funding the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). And, as regards internal legislation, in 2011, the European Commission proposed a reform of the accounting and transparency directive which requires EU oil, gas, mining and timber companies to publish specific payments to partner governments. The reform was politically agreed in May 2013 and we envisage the entry into force in August 2013.
  • The EU has also adopted the OECD’s ‘Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risks Areas”. In addition, the European Commission is considering a comprehensive EU supply chain initiative for responsible sourcing of minerals originating from conflict areas. In this respect, the European Commission launched a public consultation on March 2013 to collect views from stakeholders. On this basis, the Commission expects to publish a communication and a legislative proposal later this year. 

Mr President,

In our experience, it is important that the international community, including the Security Council and relevant UN bodies, build on existing initiatives and seek convergence and complementarities. Inclusiveness and partnership of all stakeholders at all stages of the value chain are also essential. Finally, natural resources play a critical role in fuelling and financing conflict, but also in creating strategic incentives for peace-building and peace-supporting action. Peace agreements have to create conditions in which belligerents have more of an incentive to become part of a peace economy than to remain in the shadow economy. The implementation of legitimate methods of exploitation and trade of concerned minerals should be encouraged by specific incentives. It is therefore important that all initiatives are undertaken pursuant to relevant international law, have appropriate safeguards and are carefully judged for their impact on domestic reform, conflict, poverty and insecurity. 

Thank you very much.

*Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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