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 Full text 
Monday, 2 July 2018 - Strasbourg Revised edition

73rd Session of the UN General Assembly (debate)

  Eugen Freund, Rapporteur. – Madam President, as every year, this report gives us an opportunity to present the views of the European Parliament both on our relations with the United Nations and on the most pressing issues that the UN is facing. The global strategy on the US foreign and security policy affirms that the EU will strive for a strong United Nations as a bedrock of the multilateral rules-based order. The UN brings unique value-added measures to our citizens.

Nevertheless, let me start with a bleak observation. If Winston Churchill were alive, what would he have said about the UN? It might have sounded like this: ‘The United Nations is a weak organisation, but I don’t know a better one.’ In my opinion, which is reflected in the report, this weakness has a structural origin and it has a name: it is called the Security Council. It is, by the way, also the most powerful body within the United Nations.

Let me illustrate this with an example. In April of this year, the Security Council held a debate about what turned out to be a chemical attack in Syria. The question we all had on our mind was: how will the United Nations react to this atrocity? But unfortunately, just as in so many other cases we have observed, the veto of one superpower blocked the resolution condemning the attack, and so each side voted against the other’s proposals.

When the United States and Russia are at odds, nothing moves and people keep suffering or even dying. This is one of the calamitous consequences of the power of veto. Our report therefore urges all those responsible to redouble their efforts to change both the veto right and the composition of the Security Council. It was enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, which was adopted a few months after the end of World War II. The world of today is significantly different from that of the past 70-odd years, but the UN Security Council has practically remained the same.

We actively support the UN Secretary General in his reform agenda to streamline the peace and security structure, which needs to become more efficient, focused and operational. We also support the Secretary General’s efforts in making a substantial change in order to align the UN development system with the priorities of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

We must not forget that the EU and its Member States were instrumental in shaping the global UN 2030 agenda, and the EU remains committed to being a front runner in mobilising all means of implementation and ensuring strong follow-up. We continue to support the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The fact is that when women participate in peace processes, we have seen over and over again that peace agreements last significantly longer.

Let me now turn to disturbing trends: sexual violence, including rape, is still being used as a weapon and constitutes a war crime. We therefore call for strengthened protection of women and girls in conflict areas. With regard to weapons of mass destruction and the issue of non-proliferation, we support all UN actions, as we do when we promote the full implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and encourage all UN Member States to sign and ratify it.

As for human rights, we are very concerned to observe an ever-tighter space for civil society around the world, and we would emphasise that human rights are indivisible, interdependent and inter-related. When we speak of human rights, this is directly related to our support for the UN Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees. We would strongly remind the international community to provide enough financial support for the UN High Commission on Refugees in order to be able fully to protect refugees around the world.

I may pick up on a few outstanding issues in my final statement at the end of the debate and I hope that, despite some differences, you will support this important report.

Last updated: 28 September 2018Legal notice