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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.

19 October 2016, New York – Remarks by João Vale de Almeida, Head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations in New York on behalf of EU Member States, at the General Assembly informal meeting with the Secretary General-designate H.E. António Guterres

It is an honour and a privilege to address you formally on behalf of the European Union and its Member States for the first time since your appointment as Secretary-General-designate, and I extend my warmest congratulations. This General Assembly has witnessed an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability in the SG selection process. The informal hearings with the candidates proved very useful and provided us as well as civil society with the opportunity to get to know them better. Thank you for actively engaging in that process, for your commitment to the cause of the United Nations in your previous capacities, and for being with us here today.

The world is facing extremely challenging times. The international community and the United Nations are in need of strong and proactive leadership. We believe that you have an excellent mix of leadership skills, experience and competencies to address current challenges, and tackle new ones.

The European Union and its Member States, as staunch supporters of effective multilateralism in international affairs, will do our utmost to support you in your new capacity. For us, the United Nations is and will remain a core institution in the multilateral system based on the values and principles of the UN Charter, the respect of international law, democracy, human rights, human dignity and peace.

In your vision statement, you state that the United Nations is uniquely placed to overcome the challenges the world is facing. The nexus between peace and security, sustainable development, including the promotion of the SDG’s with a strong focus on implementation, and human rights policies needs to be strengthened through a holistic approach. The founders of the United Nations understood well that if we ignore one pillar, we imperil the other two. The post-2015 sustainable development agenda is an important opportunity to reinforce the interdependence of development, peace and security, and human rights. We see the SDGs as a framework for refocussing existing UN resources and for advancing structural and systemic reform.

Peacekeeping remains a flagship activity of the United Nations and an important tool paving the way for longer-term stability and development from countries emerging from crisis. Addressing the root causes of conflict and building the foundations for peaceful, inclusive societies, including the protection of civilians, is critical to preventing and resolving conflict. Women need to be at the forefront of creating and sustaining peace, and we look forward to you championing the Women Peace and Security agenda. Similarly, the security risks of climate change are already present and managing them is an urgent task, as we move forward with the concrete implementation of the Paris Agreement to which we attach critical importance.

We also share your vision that human rights should be mainstreamed across the whole UN System, and that the United Nations should be at the forefront of promoting gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, and respect for humanitarian principles.

Mr. Secretary-General-designate,

The United Nations plays a key role in countering terrorism, including preventing violent extremism. The UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy contains a complete set of measures which must be implemented in its entirety. This year’s 10th anniversary was an opportunity to proceed to a more in-depth review of the strategy. We now look forward to the SG’s concrete suggestions to the General Assembly on how to enhance the capability of the United Nations system to assist Member States in implementing the Strategy.

Addressing the largest global displacement crisis since the World War II and the increasing migratory and refugee flows will require a consistent and coordinated effort by the entire international community. The EU will draw on the frameworks set out by the United Nations, including the 2030 Agenda and the outcomes of the recent Summit on Addressing the Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. Further developing the two global compacts on Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees and on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration remains our top priority.

Together, we face a common challenge and responsibility to make to UN system more efficient and more effective. Your personal involvement will be crucial in this regard. We know the UN System is engaged in a continuous process of change and reform to strengthen its ability to meet new demands and deliver its vital services in the most effective and efficient ways. However, we believe that, despite previous initiatives in this regard, more could be done to increase transparency, accountability, integrity, efficiency and flexibility and to create an environment in which improvement is expected and innovation is welcomed. All these efforts should be geared towards delivering results to those most in need and doing more with what we have.  We do not hear often enough what the UN has done to prioritise within existing resources in order to meet new demands. We therefore look forward to additional steps by the UN System to avoid duplication.

We will also rely on your strategic vision and innovative ideas to shape the management of the UN further.  To that end, we would like to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of ongoing management reform. Your leadership will be essential in holding your team accountable for meeting your reform priorities, strengthening internal control and improving the accountability of all UN staff, including by breaking down silos, enhancing budgetary discipline, eradicating sexual exploitation and abuse, and protecting whistle-blowers.

Mr. Secretary-General-designate,

The European Union and its Member States are strong believers in a culture of partnerships; partnerships between the UN System and regional organisations, and with civil society, academia, foundations, philanthropy and the private sector. The footprint of the UN-proper is simply too small to overcome the world’s current challenges. We are looking forward to moving the United Nations to the next level in this regard.

For decades the European Union and its Member States and the United Nations have joined forces to advance peace and security, development and human rights. As much as ever, the United Nations is the lynchpin for our global engagement and today, the EU is and will continue to be a reliable partner of the Organisation. Our commitment to the principles and purpose of the Charter remains undiminished. Rest assured, Mr. Secretary General-designate, that you will find the European Union and its Member states at your side during your upcoming tenure.

Thank you, parabéns e votos de muitos êxitos.

  • Ref: EUUN16-144EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: General Assembly - Plenary
  • Date: 19/10/2016
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