Issuing Presidential Statement, Security Council Reaffirms Commitment to Charter

Published date09 January 2020
Publication titleASEAN Tribune

09 January 2020 (UN Security Council) Owing to the liquidity crisis impacting our Organization, only a partial summary of statements made in today's meeting of the Security Council is available at this time. The complete summary will be issued later as Press Release SC/14071.

The Security Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2020/1) today reaffirming its commitment to the Charter of the United Nations - adopted 75 years ago this year - and calling on Member States to fully comply with the purposes and principles of the Organization's founding document.

It approved the text at the start of a ministerial-level open debate on upholding the Charter to maintain international peace and security, with the Secretary-General and the Chair of the Elders delivering opening remarks.

Through the statement, the 15-member organ also reaffirmed its commitment to an international order based on international law as the indispensable foundation of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.

It reaffirmed its commitment to multilateralism and the central role of the United Nations, encouraged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to assist Member States and regional organizations in upholding the Charter, and stressed its determination in upholding the Charter in all of its activities.

The open debate will continue on Friday, 10 January.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noting that 2020 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Organization, said the New Year has begun with fresh turmoil and long-standing suffering, with geopolitical tensions - most recently in the Gulf - reaching dangerous levels and trust within and among nations on the decline. In the United Nations, including the Security Council, Member States are struggling or failing to find common ground, while the climate crisis is growing in fury. At this time of global divisions and turmoil, the Charter of the United Nations remains a shared framework of international cooperation for the common good and a reminder of the primacy of the rule of law and human dignity. The principles contained within it - including non-intervention, self-determination, the sovereign equality of Member States and clear rules governing the use of force - have saved lives, advanced economic and social progress and avoided another world war. But when those principles are flouted, put aside or applied selectively, the result has been chaos, death, disillusion and mistrust, he said.

'Our shared challenge is to do far better in upholding the Charter's values and fulfilling its promise to succeeding generations,' he said. Its purposes and principles are as relevant as ever, but the tools to apply them must be used with greater determination and creativity. That includes the implementation of Council decisions by Member States, as well as investing in conflict prevention, he said, noting the many available tools - such as negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration - set out in Chapter VI on the pacific settlement of disputes. He called on the Council to make greater use of the powers granted to it by the Charter, including the investigation of disputes in accordance with Chapter VI and the referral of legal questions to the International Court of Justice for advisory opinions. The Sustainable Development Goals are among the best tools for prevention, he added, urging all Member States to invest more in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

While Chapter VIII on regional arrangements predates most of the Organization's regional partners, it sets a framework for cooperation and division of labour, he continued, noting the ways through which the United Nations is investing in partnerships in crucial new ways with the African Union, the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Peacekeeping is not mentioned in the Charter, but it is firmly rooted in its ideals, he added. Today, some 100,000 'Blue Helmets' are deployed in many of the world's most troubled regions, and peacekeeping remains a vital and cost-effective investment in global peace and security. But to be effective, it requires strong international support. In that regard, the Action for Peacekeeping initiative stresses a shared commitment to make peacekeeping missions stronger, safer and fit for the future.

He went on to say that the privilege of Council membership carries vital responsibilities to uphold the Charter's tenets and values, particularly in preventing and addressing conflict. 'Present and past disagreements must not be an obstacle to action on today's threats,' he said, adding: 'We must avoid double standards. But also perceptions of double standards must not be an excuse for no standards at all.'

War is never inevitable, but a matter of choice, and often the result of miscalculations. Peace is also never inevitable, but the product of hard work, and it must never be taken for granted. 'At this time when global fault lines risk exploding, we must return to fundamental principles. We must return to the framework that has kept us together. We must come home to the UN Charter,' he said. The most effective way for Member States to collectively face global challenges is to strengthen their commitment to the Charter - a resilient, adaptable and visionary document - and to the very notion of international cooperation. The Charter compels Member States to do everything in their power to save people from the scourge of war and injustice, and as the world faces both new threats and new opportunities, that is the work that must define the Organization's seventy-fifth anniversary.

MARY ROBINSON, Chair of The Elders, said that she wished that Nelson Mandela, the founder of The Elders, would have been present at the meeting today to address the Council, highlighting that the world faces two distinct existential threats - nuclear proliferation and the climate crisis. Responding to these threats is critical but made harder at a time when multilateral cooperation is being undermined by populism and nationalism. A collaborative approach is at the heart of the Charter and is the only way to tackle challenges such as nuclear proliferation and the climate crisis, she said, stressing the need for such cooperation amid the alarming escalation of tensions in the Middle East. Iran's Foreign Minister was due to address the Council today but was prevented from doing so. 'This is highly regrettable,' she said.

Chapter VI of the Charter requires parties to any dispute that threatens international peace and security to hold negotiation or use other peaceful means to resolve their conflict, she said. The gravity of the current situation in the Middle East means that dialogue and negotiations are urgently needed,' she said, calling on the representatives participating in the meeting to consider what the United Nations can do to bring them to the table in the spirit of the Charter.

On nuclear arms control, The Elders have spoken out clearly and forcefully about the need for all nuclear Powers to get serious about disarmament based on four 'D's' - the doctrine of 'no first use', de-alerting by taking all warheads off high-alert status, reducing deployment of operational nuclear warheads and decreasing the number of nuclear weapons in existence, with the United States and the Russian Federation reducing to no more than 500 each. The Elders hope to see in 2020, instead of a new arms race, a re-energized Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation to extend Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or new START, until 2026.

On the climate crisis, a bold initiative and a new mind-set are needed, she stressed, such as agreement to end fossil fuel production, with a view to reducing global carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. The Security Council should be a key player in shaping a new mind-set. As a woman and a grandmother, Ms. Robinson said: 'If women had equal power in the world today, I believe we would have a very different - problem-solving - way of dealing with the challenges.' She went on to recall that this year marks the twentieth anniversary of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, while highlighting the need to listen to children and young people. 'We need a bold new vision, where every country, city and corporation commits to being carbon neutral by 2050,' she said. The time for a new initiative to protect people and planet is surely now, as future generations will neither forget nor forgive squandering this opportunity.


PH?M BÌNH MINH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, Council President for January, spoke in his national capacity, stressing that respect for the Charter of the United Nations has been pivotal in preventing another world war. Worrying events in the Middle East underscore the utmost importance of upholding its principles of non-use of force, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and peaceful dispute settlement. Unequal opportunity, unilateralism and the abandonment of multilateral efforts are among the causes of protracted armed conflict, he said, while power politics, coercion and interference in State affairs only exacerbate tensions. 'In such difficult times, the United Nations Charter proves to be more relevant and essential than ever,' he said, stressing that multilateralism and equitable State relations represent the only way to maintain international peace and security. The Council must be at the forefront to ensure respect for the Charter. He called for reinforcing the commitment to multilateralism, with States maximizing their use of Charter tools, especially in conflict prevention and settlement. The role of regional organizations must be enhanced, and adherence to international law ensured.

RALPH GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint...

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