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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.

Summary: 18 August 2015, New York – Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States by Mr. Nick Westcott, Managing Director for Africa, European External Action Service, at the Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: Regional organizations and contemporary challenges of global security”.

Madam President,

I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

Allow me first of all to thank you for taking the initiative to convene this open debate on an important topic. Let me also thank you for the very good concept note and for highlighting the work of the European Union on peacebuilding, conflict prevention and mediation.

The global and European security environment has indeed changed dramatically in recent years. The conflicts, threats and instability in the EU’s immediate and wider neighbourhood together with long standing and newly emerging security challenges,  affecting inter alia Iraq, Libya, the Sahel, Syria and Ukraine, are significantly impacting European security as well as international peace and security, and challenging our common fundamental values and principles.

This changing global environment is outlined in the report of the High Representative to the European Council in June, which launched the work on an EU Global Strategy on foreign and security policy.

This new context also prompted EU foreign and defence ministers in May this year to call for a stronger Europe, with a stronger and more effective Common Security and Defence Policy.

Among the many new challenges, as envisaged in the EU Security Strategy, we see a need to address in particular terrorism and foreign fighters, maritime security, organised crime, including smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings. Further challenges are posed by irregular migration, climate change, ensuring energy security, cyber and space security.

By addressing these conflicts, sources of instability and other security challenges, the EU and its Member States are assuming increased responsibilities to act as a security provider, at the international level and in particular in our neighbourhood, thereby also enhancing our own security and our global strategic role by responding to these challenges together with the international community.

The EU and its Member States, through the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and other policies and instruments, have a strong role to play through the unique EU Comprehensive Approach to preventing and managing conflicts and addressing their causes.

Indeed, preventing conflicts and relapses into conflict, in accordance with international law, is a primary objective of the EU’s external action, acting in conjunction with our global, regional, national and local partners. Since the adoption of the 2001 EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts, or the “Gothenburg Programme”, the EU has developed an Early Warning System, strengthened its mediation and dialogue capacities and established its own mediation support team. In this field, we have developed close co-operation with other regional and international organisations, and were e.g. happy to recently host in Brussels a meeting on preventive diplomacy and mediation with experts from the UN, the League of Arab States, the AU and the OSCE.

More importantly, the European Union has been able to facilitate crucial agreements between Belgrade and Pristina in 2013, and last month between the E3 + 3 and Iran on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) contributing to a comprehensive, long lasting and peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. The JCPOA also strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The nuclear-related provisions of the JCPOA will be monitored by the IAEA. 

Madam President,

In assuming increased responsibilities as a security provider, the European Union will remain committed to effective multilateralism. This commitment stems from our values and beliefs as enshrined in our founding Treaty, according to which the EU “shall contribute to peace, security, sustainable development [and] the strict observance … of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter.” We fully recognise that the world needs an effective UN at the heart of the multilateral system.

The General Assembly itself underlined the EU’s special relationship with the UN in 2011 through resolution 65/276, recognising the EU as a partner and friend of the UN. Indeed, the UN-EU relationship spans the whole spectrum of work of the United Nations.

On peace and security, Chapter VIII of the UN Charter explicitly recognises and encourages regional arrangements. The UNSG has recently built on this in drawing up his report on “partnering for peace” and ”partnership peacekeeping”. We very much welcome this work.

Although we are not a classic regional organisation, we co-operate very closely with the UN at the strategic level, in particular through the UN-EU Steering Committee and the High-level Dialogue on Crisis Management. We also try to ensure, wherever possible, that we have joint consultative mechanisms and arrangements for operational compatibility. The CAR, Mali and Somalia are excellent examples of this.

We value highly our unique and long standing co-operation with the United Nations in crisis management, and see a need to further strengthen our institutional relations and strategic partnership. We therefore welcome the recently jointly identified priority areas for strengthening the UN-EU Strategic Partnership on Peacekeeping and Crisis Management from 2015 to 2018, which inter alia underline the importance of EU Member States’ contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.

Both the EU and the UN are currently engaged in crucial strategic reviews, with the aim to enable us to face challenges and opportunities in this rapidly changing world.  We welcome the reports issued by the panel and group of experts on the reviews of peace operations and of the peacebuilding architecture which reflect well the EU contribution provided to the panel and the group of experts and we look forward to the review of UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. We expect that follow-up work to these reports will include concrete steps to enhance the overall effectiveness of the global security architecture, in full recognition of the role of regional and sub-regional organizations. The EU also promotes improvement of engagement of the UN and regional organisations with civil society in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and mediation.

Madam President,

Improved co-operation and co-ordination among regional organisations is indeed a priority.

We are pleased in this context about the partnerships that we have developed with other regional organisations and particularly the African Union, as well as with the subregional organisations in Africa (ECOWAS, SADC, IGAD, EAC, ECCAS and ICGLR).

In our latest EU Africa summit in Brussels in 2014, we strongly supported the African aspiration and commitment to ensure peace, security and stability in Africa, in the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). In order to improve the African capacity to predict and prevent or respond to crises, we committed to operationalise the multidimensional African Standby Force and to recognise the African Capacity for Immediate Responses to Crises (ACIRC), as a transitional and complementary tool to the African Standby Force for further enhancing the AU’s capacity to respond rapidly to crises, and to reinforce the support to the Continental Early Warning System. We also welcomed the progress made to date in enhancing the capacity of the AU and regional organisations to manage crises on the continent. We value the positive role that the African Union has played in the recent crisis in Burundi, in recalling very clearly the principles of the African Charter for good governance and democracy.

In this context, we especially welcome the intense participation by African countries in peace support operations on the Continent; be it in UN missions, hybrid or African Union-led missions. In the 10 years since 2004, the EU has provided 1.4 billion Euros to AU-led Peace Operations through the African Peace Facility (APF). I am happy to announce that we recently agreed to increase the APF from 750 million to 900 million Euros for the period 2014-2016 to respond to new crises and threats to peace on the African continent. Through the APF we support, among others, AMISOM efforts against Al-Shabab, or the IGAD-led Monitoring and Verification Mechanism in South Sudan and we will provide funding for the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram and the ECOWAS mission in Guinea Bissau. This will not suffice, however. Some of these new threats, such as the fight against terrorist groups, will take significant time and resources. This situation warrants urgent additional support from African, non-African partners and the UN to effectively support African-led Peace Support Operations in the next months to come.

Other EU instruments and programmes are increasingly involved in this area, in particular the 11th European Development Fund Regional Indicative Programmes (RIPs) and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP). APSA is an African owned process: long term sustainability and African ownership are intrinsically linked. Heavy dependence of the AU and African regional organisations on international partners and on EU funds limits African ownership as well as the establishment of lasting African capacities to address Africa’s peace and security issues.

Within the framework of the EU’s comprehensive approach to tackling conflicts and its causes, and building on experiences of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations, such as those in Mali, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and the Central African Republic, the EU remains committed to work in close collaboration with Africa, in the framework of the APSA, in support of African led peace operations and, more generally, African efforts in areas like Security Sector Reform, Border Management, Peacebuilding or Post-Conflict Reconstruction or Reconciliation, through the provision of advice, mentoring and training.

The EU has set the ground for cooperation on a number of security challenges with several regions in Africa, e.g. Sahel (Strategy and Action Plan), the Gulf of Guinea and the Horn of Africa (EU Strategic Framework). They all address security threats and forms of organised crime such as arms, drugs, trafficking in persons or piracy.

We have also invested in strong triangular co-operation (EU-AU-UN) to face immediate challenges and to build capacities in a comprehensive and long term perspective. Once again, Somalia, Mali and CAR, but also DRC clearly illustrate this added value.

Madam President,

The EU is developing its partnerships also with other regional organisations. Earlier this month, HR/VP Mogherini travelled to Malaysia to participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum ministerial and co-chaired the EU-ASEAN post-ministerial conference. Allow me in this context to reiterate our appreciation to Malaysia for kindly hosting these two important meetings.

As European Union, we also co-operate closely with regional organisations on our own continent, in particular NATO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe (CoE). All EU Member States are participating States in the OSCE and the CoE and 22 Member States are also members of NATO. The EU cooperates closely with NATO, cooperating both strategically and operationally in crisis management, for example off the Horn of Africa or in the Western Balkans. The focus most recently for the partnership with the OSCE has been the conflict in Ukraine, where the OSCE plays a central role and has the EU’s full support, including through considerable EU financial and material support to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. However, the scope of our partnership is much broader, and covers such important issues as election observation, arms control and the OSCE’s many field presences throughout the wider European region. We consider the OSCE as a central and inclusive platform for dialogue and confidence-building in the current crisis of European Security. Cooperation with the CoE also plays an important role in the Ukraine conflict, in particular focusing on support for constitutional and judicial reform. Furthermore, in the fight against radicalization and terrorism the CoE has become an important partner.

Madam President,

I would be remiss for not mentioning the tragic situation in the Mediterranean, which is of particular concern to us in the European Union, but which also illustrates many of the themes of today’s debate as well as the European Union’s comprehensive approach.

Since the dramatic incident of 17 April, in which more than 800 migrants died, EU Heads of State and Government have adopted a comprehensive plan with substantial measures across a broad range of areas. Tackling the challenges of migration is of common interest of all countries around the Mediterranean, in the Sahel and in East Africa. It is a humanitarian problem, but also a political and a security problem for our Member States and our wider neighbourhood requiring joint efforts with our partners in the AU, and in the League of Arab States as well as with other countries of origin and transit

The current situation in the Mediterranean is also an example of how international organised crime, in particular the smuggling of migrants and trafficking of human beings, can destabilise a region and put the basic rights and even lives of thousands of migrants at risk, as well as undermining economic and social conditions for all the inhabitants of the region.

It is response to this threat that the European Union decided to launch in June – in addition to the naval operations Triton and Poseidon operated by the EU agency FRONTEX – a naval operation, EUNAVFOR MED, with the mandate to disrupt the business model of the smuggling and trafficking networks. It is already engaging in the collection of information and intelligence about these networks. Once this Council provides the required authorisation, this will enable the operation to actively disrupt the smugglers and traffickers business, in full respect of international law and the mandate from this Council. This will also be done in close co-operation with Libyan authorities, in order to ensure that the legitimate livelihoods of Libyans are not affected. We will also ensure that the rights of refugees and migrants are protected, and we are pleased to have established a close co-operation with the UN, and in particular UNHCR, in this regard.

Many migrants risk their lives to travel to Europe across the Mediterranean, often driven by despair due to poverty, conflicts and human rights abuses in their countries of origin. In cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, we need to do more to address the root causes of and prevent irregular migration, including smuggling and trafficking, protecting persons in need of international protection, respect the right to seek asylum, ensuring effective return and readmission, and maximizing the development impact of well- managed migration and mobility.

In this context, we are preparing a summit meeting with the African Union, UNHCR, IOM and other relevant international and regional organisations and countries of origin, transit and destination in Valletta on 11 and 12 November, to build further on our common vision and action on migration, on the basis of the joint EU-AU political declaration on migration and mobility of 2014. A high-level meeting on the Western Balkan route is also envisaged.

Furthermore, the EU supports underpinning regional cooperation frameworks in particular the Rabat and Khartoum processes; provides increased support to border management across Africa and wider, including through the CSDP missions, in particular reinforcing EUCAP SAHEL Niger. The EU also supports the development of returns and migration management capacities, including at regional level in Western Africa and addressing root causes through improvement of the security, humanitarian and human rights situation and socio-economic conditions in countries of origin so that people build a future in their respective countries. This comprehensive development response helps drive long-term economic growth, as well as jobs and opportunities for potential economic migrants. The EU is open to cooperation with transit countries in controlling the flows and combat smugglers more effectively. 


* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.



  • Ref: EUUN15-116EN
  • EU source: 
  • UN forum: 
  • Date: 18/8/2015

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