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Working Document
Statement on behalf of the EU at the informal plenary session of the General Assembly of the UN to continue an exchange of views on the recommendations contained in the report of the high level panel on threats, challenges and change

Date of release : 28-01-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union, made the following statement at the informal plenary session of the General Assemblyof the United Nations.

Mr. President,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Country Croatia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, align themselves with this declaration.

The European Union would like to thank you Mr. President for this second opportunity to discuss the Report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (HLP) in this informal setting of the plenary of the UN General Assembly.

At the outset, allow me to reiterate the European Union’s high appreciation to the Secretary General Kofi Annan, for having mandated this report; to the members of the HLP and their Chair, HE Mr. Anand Panyarachun, for their input into this rich and serious report; and to you, Mr. President, for showing continued leadership in the process that will lead us towards the Summit in September.

In his address to European Heads of state and government, at the European Council meeting of 16 and 17 December 2004, the Secretary General stressed the importance of the Panel’s work. During the informal session of the General Assembly of 8 December 2004, the European Union, in a preliminary statement, welcomed the report.

Today, after thorough examination of the report in capitals, as well as in the working groups of the European Council and among the 25 European delegations here in New York, the European Union is in a position to present a more detailed view on the report and its underlying principles. We are eager to hear how the report is being received in other groups and member states of the United Nations. We stand ready for further discussion on the specific recommendations, in order to identify common ground and set the framework for a balanced outcome at the September Summit.

Mr. President,

The European Union has examined the HLP Report on the background of a strong commitment to effective multilateralism, a core objective of our European Security Strategy. For a collective security system to work, it takes the engagement and commitment of all concerned. We share the Panel’s analysis that the threats and challenges the world is facing today, can only be dealt with in a collective approach.

The strength of the HLP Report lies in the fundamental understanding that the threats and challenges, as they were identified, do not respect any boundaries and are closely interconnected. The logical conclusion from this is that our collective response to the world’s current problems needs to be multilayered, complementary and sometimes integrated in nature. That response must be given at the global, regional and national levels. It must strike the right balance between security and development concerns. In this respect the HLP Report and the Report on the Millennium Project constitute an integrated set of proposals and recommendations.

We strongly believe that there can be no security without development and no development without security.

Against the background of its own history and in light of the events of the past decade on our European continent, it will hardly come as a surprise that the European Union fully subscribes to the focus of the HLP Report on prevention. Our European institutions were inspired by that idea. Our common policies – the backbone of our process of integration – flow from there.

The European Union commends the HLP for acknowledging the link between development and security and for promoting development as the first line of defense in a collective security approach based on prevention. We welcome the fact that the members of the United Nations are gathered today to start designing common answers. A shared understanding of the underlying concepts is of the essence.

It is the view of the European Union that prevention should aim at avoiding both the outbreak of new conflicts and the resurgence of armed violence. Only as such is prevention the expression of the sustained effectiveness of the collective efforts against armed conflict.

Furthermore, in this context of prevention, the broadly accepted concepts of human development and sustainable development should find their full expression. In this regard, the European Union would like to see development concepts and activities produce their full positive impact, including in the fields of good governance and human rights. Fully involving the civil society and the private sector in the processes of development will increase the sense of participation and ownership.

The intrinsic benefits of development are well documented in our common agendas of the Millennium Development Goals and the results of subsequent major conferences, such as the International Conference on Financing for Development and the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. Efforts should also be made to conclude the Doha Development Round as soon as possible. The European Union will live up to its commitments in the fields of poverty reduction and sustainable development, with the additional objective to contribute through development to our collective security.

The HLP Report emphasizes the need to develop a comprehensive UN strategy to fight against terrorism. The EU welcomes this proposal. It recalls the declaration of European Council adopted in March 2004 that called for the development of an EU long-term strategy to address all the factors which contribute to terrorism.

In this regard, the EU shares the belief of the HLP that achieving consensus in the framework of the GA on an overall definition of terrorism would be highly valuable.

In general, the EU welcomes the guidelines drawn up by the experts on nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons and can support the majority of them. These general guidelines are an excellent working basis for further efforts by the international community and point the same way as the European Union strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Given the recognition of environmental degradation as a significant security issue and the fact that progress in environmental protection underpins progress of all MDGs, the European Union would also like to stress the need for a stronger attention for the environmental dimension.

Mr. President,

When prevention fails, the use of force may under certain conditions be considered as the option of last resort. The HLP Report presents us with important recommendations in that field. While strongly underlining the need to act within the scope of international law, the European Union shares the view that existing UN Charter language (Art. 51) provides the legitimacy for the use of force in cases of self-defense. Beyond considerations pertaining to self-defense, the Security Council is fully empowered to address a wide range of threats.

The criteria for action put forward by the Panel are interesting and useful. The European Union acknowledges them in their political nature, more than as legal criteria. Further discussion would be welcome on our side on this question.

The European Union welcomes the concept of “Responsibility to protect�? as an emerging international norm. Flagrant violations of human rights and acts of genocide call for a strong response and action from the international community.

Mr. President,

The High Level Panel lived up fully to the Secretary General’s mandate to identify the threats and challenges to our collective security, to suggest how nations can work together to meet these and to map out necessary institutional change within the United Nations system in order to allow the UN to respond in a more effective way.

The European Union welcomes the approach to have institutional reform flow from objectively assessed needs and the determination to strengthen our international system with the United Nations at its center. In the face of the new threats and a broad spectrum of present-day challenges, it is necessary to use this opportunity to reflect upon and adapt the conceptual and political framework in which the United Nations would operate in the years ahead. It is not our intention today to exchange detailed views on all the recommendations on institutional reform that the Panel put forward. Still I would like to touch briefly on one or the other of those recommendations.

With regard to the General Assembly, the European Union would welcome a more resolute effort by the membership to revitalize our legislative body. Laudable results were achieved during the 58th session of the General Assembly. The European Union stands ready to actively continue the work on this issue, under the leadership of the President of the General Assembly.

Over the past year discussions have been led on the reform of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The EU considers that stronger effort should be made to seriously reform ECOSOC.

The European Union welcomes that the HLP emphasizes Human Rights as one of the fundamental pillars of the UN system. Considering the recommendation to universalise CHR membership, the EU will seriously look into this possibility. The EU also welcomes the recommendation of the HLP to support further integration of Human Rights into the UN system, and in particular into the deliberations of the Security Council.

The EU supports in principle the suggestion of annual reports of the situation of Human Rights worldwide, to be prepared by the OHCHR.

The Panel’s recommendation to create a Peacebuilding Commission resonates strongly with the European Union’s determination to address the institutional gap identified on so many occasions between the end of armed violence and the return to development activities in a secure environment. The EU underlines the importance of the basic ideas lying behind the HLP recommendations concerning the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission. The EU welcomes the idea of such a Commission and stands ready for further discussion on its mandate, modalities and institutional set-up.

The EU supports enhanced cooperation between the UN and regional organizations.

Mr. President,

In his address to the General Assembly on 21 September 2004, the Secretary General reminded the member states of the United Nations of “the all-important framework�? of the rule of law, to which the European Union remains strongly committed. The very foundation of our United Nations is one of international rules agreed upon at the highest level. Our common endeavor to reinforce the existing body of norms and laws is ongoing. Unwavering attention should also be given to the rule of law in every aspect of international life, as well as within our regional and national communities. For the European Union, respect for the rule of law will be an major concern in our preparation for the September Summit.

The HLP makes no mention of migration, an issue that we will have to look into more broadly in the near future. Migration is another area demonstrating the link between development and security.

Mr. President,

The wealth of analysis and recommendations of the HLP Report, as well as other areas of interest identified by member states and/or emerging from civil society, will certainly prompt further discussion that should usefully feed into the Secretary General’s comprehensive report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.

Today’s informal session allows us to present a more detailed assessment of the HLP Report and the principles on which it builds. The European Union stands ready to fully engage in the discussion. Sustained strong leadership and a structured approach should allow us to focus increasingly on the deliverables that we expect from this important process over the weeks and months to come.

I thank you.

This page was last modified on : 28-01-2005

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