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Srijeda, 17. svibnja 2017. - Strasbourg Revidirano izdanje

9. Svečana sjednica - Ujedinjeni narodi

  Le Président. – Chers collègues, j’ai maintenant le grand honneur et le plaisir de souhaiter la bienvenue au Secrétaire général des Nations unies, M. António Guterres. Votre nomination est historique. Vous êtes le premier citoyen de l’Union européenne à occuper ce poste.

Nos deux organisations sont nées des cendres de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et ont été bâties sur les mêmes valeurs, avec le même objectif: promouvoir la paix et la prospérité par une coopération multilatérale.

Aujourd’hui, plus que jamais, nous devons travailler ensemble pour répondre aux attentes de nos concitoyens et livrer des résultats tangibles.

Nous devons faire face aux défis mondiaux communs: les conflits, les terrorismes et la radicalisation, la gestion des flux migratoires, mais aussi le changement climatique, la pauvreté et le chômage.

Nos citoyens attendent une Europe plus présente et efficace sur la scène mondiale. On ne peut pas continuer à assister, impuissants, aux bombardements en Syrie, à la famine en Afrique, aux milliers de morts dans le désert et en Méditerranée, à la traite de femmes et d’enfants, regarder avec indifférence la violation croissante des droits fondamentaux, assister au recul de la démocratie dans certains pays, dont le Venezuela et la Turquie, ou à la persécution des minorités religieuses.

Hier, nous avons parlé d’Afrique avec le président de la Commission de l’Union africaine, M. Moussa Faki Mahamat. Je tiens à répéter que l’Afrique est une priorité pour l’Union européenne. C’est pourquoi il faut renforcer la coopération trilatérale entre l’ONU, l’Union européenne et l’Union africaine, notamment sur la prévention et la réponse rapide aux crises et aux conflits.

Nous devons trouver ensemble des solutions politiques aux conflits en Syrie, en Libye et au Yémen ainsi que pour faire face à Daech. Ensemble, nous devons défendre la dignité et la liberté de la personne, donner des perspectives aux nouvelles générations et mettre en œuvre le programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030 pour atteindre les objectifs de développement durable.

Monsieur le Secrétaire général, face à ces nombreux défis, vous pouvez compter sur le soutien de ce Parlement pour votre programme, qui est aussi le nôtre.


  António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. – Mr President, thank you very much for your invitation and this opportunity to address the European Parliament. I have been a parliamentarian in my own country for 23 years, and during three I was with your neighbours in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. So allow me to say, dear colleagues: the United Nations was created after the Second World War exactly because the world wanted to avoid another tragedy of the same dimension. But I believe this was exactly the main motivation for the creation of the European Communities – with one very important difference: the European Communities and the European Union are clearly the most successful project of peace sustainability in the world since the beginning of history. And that is why I want to express here my very deep gratitude and appreciation for the strong commitment of the European Union and all its bodies to multilateralism, and for the very generous and extremely important contribution you give in development cooperation, in humanitarian aid, and also in the key central aspects of peace and security that are the core of the United Nations action.


You see the European Union involved around Libya. You see the European Union involved funding the AMISOM mission of the African Union in Somalia. We see the European Union in both financial support and training in situations from the Central African Republic or Mali, and we look forward to the support of the European Union for the initiative of the neighbours of Mali, the G5 Sahel. European contribution is today an absolutely essential part of what is necessary to make the UN effective, and I want to express my deep gratitude for that.


Dear colleagues, it would be possible to come here and make the case that the world has never been better. It is obvious that globalisation and technological progress have in the last decades created the conditions for an enormous increase in global wealth, for a meaningful improvement in the leading conditions of the majority of the population, even for a very strong reduction of the number of absolute poor – probably the Chinese contribution being essential for that. And some might even say, looking for instance at the number of soldiers killed in the battlefield, that this is the most peaceful period in human history.

Now these indicators might be true, but they are far from revealing the whole truth, and I think it is important for us to recognise that we are facing a number of unprecedented challenges that require the EU and the UN to work together. Allow me to mention briefly four of them.

First, conflicts. We are seeing a multiplication of new conflicts in the last few years, and old conflicts seem never to die, be it in Afghanistan, Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the truth is that, not only do we have a multiplication of conflicts, but they change in nature. We practically no longer have wars between countries, even if there are some threats looming on the horizon, but most of the conflicts are internal – many of them linked to fragilities in the countries, but being internal, they quickly have a regional dimension and sometimes even a global dimension. At the same time, they tend to be asymmetric, more and more complex, more and more interlinked, and more linked with the new threat of global terrorism in the world.

If one looks at the situation from Nigeria to Mali, to Libya, to Somalia, to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan – all these conflicts are becoming more and more interlinked. You see fighters going from one to another and then some of them going back to their countries of origin and potentially becoming threats to the security of those countries of origin, and we see these conflicts becoming more and more interlinked. They are indeed today a very relevant threat to our global security, wherever we live. At the same time, it is clear that power relations in the world became less obvious, and with power relations less obvious, it seems that there is no respect, and impunity and unpredictability became the name of the game.

In this context, when one looks at the present trends of conflict, it is absolutely essential to create the conditions to reverse these trends, and for that it is clear we need to strengthen multilateral capacity to address conflicts, to solve conflicts and to prevent and sustain peace. And this is an area where the European cooperation with the United Nations is absolutely crucial. We need to strengthen our own capacity to solve many of the conflicts around the world. But that forces us to look into their nature. Look at Syria. These conflicts are conflicts where nobody is winning: everybody is losing. And not only is everybody is losing from the point of view of the citizens of the country – the enormous suffering of the Syrian people – but we see the impact on the destabilisation of the region. And with Syria, we see Syria clearly as one of the feeding factors of global terrorism.

Now, the point is that we need to create the conditions to make those that are parties to the conflict, but especially those that have an influence on the parties to the conflict, to understand that, indeed, these are conflicts where nobody is winning, everybody is losing, and in which the contradictions of interest that might interest are much smaller than the absolute need to put an end to this nonsense and to eliminate these terrible threats for our own global security.


And there, as I said, we need to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations, both in conflict resolution – in preventing conflict – and sustaining peace, our new most important priority. But we will never be able to do it without a very strong support and commitment from the European Union. A strong and united Europe is an absolutely fundamental pillar of a strong and effective United Nations, and this is a very clear message I would like to address to you all.


But in these conflicts we also see horrible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and that is why I would like to mention the second challenge, and it relates to the fact that we see the human rights agenda losing ground to the national sovereignty agenda. That should not make sense. National sovereignty is a central pillar of the United Nations Charter, and indeed national sovereignty is reinforced when countries and governments are able to protect their citizens and to preserve human rights in their territories. But unfortunately we have seen national sovereignty many times being invoked to justify the lack of capacity of the international community to address the terrible human rights violation challenges that we see in several parts of the world.

It is my belief that we need to mobilise a broader coalition for human rights, and the broader coalition must be able to understand that we only stress national sovereignty by strongly promoting and protecting human rights all over the world. But for that coalition to be effective, I think we need two conditions. First, we need to have a comprehensive view of human rights – civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights. And second, it is important not to be biased. It is important not to have double standards or even agendas. I think it is absolutely crucial to understand that human rights are a value in themselves and they should not be used at the service of other political projects.


To be very frank, if we want to champion human rights, we need to have moral authority. The recent migration and refugee crisis in the world has undermined to a certain extent the moral authority of several countries around the world to champion human rights in an effective way. This is why I want to say how important it is from my perspective, the strong commitment of the European Union together with us in making sure that we are able to re-establish the international protection regime for refugees in line with international law, and to have Europe strongly engaged in a positive and constructive dialogue in the preparation of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration that I hope will be approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2018.

In relation to this I would like to make a few comments. First, it is essential that development cooperation policies are linked to our concerns about human mobility. It is essential that development cooperation policies are built in a way that allows for people to have the choice to remain in their countries, to have opportunities to be able to build their lives with dignity in their own countries – for migration to be out of choice, not out of necessity.


Second, I think it is essential to have a much stronger international coordination in cracking down on traffickers and smugglers that are, in my opinion, the worst criminals of today’s world. But third, I also think it is very important to create more opportunities for legal migration and more effective cooperation between countries of origin, countries of transit and countries of destination. I think that the European Union must be at the centre of this dialogue, and your role can be extremely positive to find the necessary consensus to make the Migration Compact a success.


This massive displacement we are witnessing in today’s world brings me to the third challenge I wanted to mention to you, and that has to do with the fact that, if one looks at the global mega trends that we face – population growth; climate change; chaotic urbanisation in many areas of the developing world; food insecurity, which unfortunately now has translated into famine in some critical areas where conflict and climate change have been aligning themselves to create terrible human tragedies; water scarcity – all these mega trends are interacting with each other in a stronger and stronger away in a world that is smaller and smaller, and they are having dramatic impacts in terms of the increasing fragility of states, the increasing displacement of people and the increasing human suffering in the world, and creating in several circumstances the potential for conflict over scarce resources. In this context it is important to recognise that climate change is the main accelerator of these factors, and, since climate change is the main accelerator of these factors, it is absolutely essential that the world implements the Paris Agreement and implements it with an increased ambition.


If any government doubts these objectives, that is a reason for all others to come together and make sure that we stay the course in relation to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and that we build a broader coalition with civil society, with the business community, with the cities, with the regions, in order to be able to make sure that our ambitions are met and that we are able to tame climate change to the benefit of our present situation, but also to the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

In relation to this, it is also important to understand that it is not only the right thing to do; this is the smart thing to do, as green business is becoming more and more recognised as good business. Those countries that will not bet on the green economy will inevitably lag behind in development in the years to come. So it is the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do, and we count on Europe to lead these efforts at global level.


But indeed, one of the key impacts of climate change is the acceleration of displacement, which is very much linked to the problems of migration and refugees that I mentioned, and this brings me to a fourth challenge. Globalisation has had an enormous positive impact, as I mentioned – together with technological development – in relation to wealth, living conditions, the reduction of poverty, as I said in the beginning of my intervention. But globalisation left a lot of people behind, and we see that in the rust belts of this world. We see that in massive youth unemployment in different parts of the world – even a little bit in Europe, to a certain extent compared with other areas – but very clearly in North Africa and the Middle East, which represents a tragedy for young people, a very strong limitation for the development of the countries, but more and more, a meaningful threat for our global security, as youth without employment, without jobs, without opportunities, is becoming, in some areas of the world, one of the key areas of recruitment of terrorist groups and one of the factors that facilitate the propaganda of extremist organisations.

In this context, we need to recognise that globalisation and technological progress also have dramatically increased inequalities at global level and at country level. Eight persons in the world have today as much wealth as half of the world population. All these factors have contributed to undermine the trust between peoples and the political establishments at national level, but also the trust between peoples and international organisations like the UN and the trust in global solutions for our global problems. That is the reason why I am strongly engaged in the reform of the UN, to be able to make the UN more effective, more cost effective, but more than anything else, to make the UN closer to the aspirations, the needs and the perspectives of the peoples we are supposed to serve. That means, for us, the reform of the UN development system, to make it much more effective in supporting Member States in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 that we hope, as an agenda for sustainable development, can bring a very important contribution to re-establish the trust between peoples and the international systems based on making sure that no one is left behind, making sure that we have a more fair globalisation. At the same time, it means the reform of our peace strategy, operational set-ups and architecture in order to make us more able to face the challenges of today, namely of peacekeeping. We have more and more peacekeeping operations where peace is elusive and where peacekeepers see themselves in the middle of a conflict, with extreme difficulties to protect the people they are supposed to protect.

This requires a strategic analysis and new partnerships, namely with the African Union, with several African regional organisations, but very central cooperation with the European Union in this regard, and reform of our own internal management system. Some of the rules and regulations that have been accumulated over decades in the UN seem to be created to make sure that we are not able to act effectively, and we need to make sure that we create the trust between Member States, namely Western countries and the G77, to understand that there is a win-win solution, making the UN more flexible, but at the same time with decentralisation, simplification of procedures, more freedom of movement of the secretariat, more transparency and more accountability to make sure that there is full responsibility for anything we do.

Reform is essential at the level of the United Nations. I think reform is essential at the level of all international organisations, as is the understanding that we need to rebuild that trust, both at country level and at global level. All our societies are becoming multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious. In my opinion this is a good thing, and I believe diversity is a richness, not a threat. But it would be naive to think ...


... that diversity will be a success automatically. For diversity to be a success, we need a massive investment – a political, social, cultural investment by governments, by local authorities, by civil societies – in the social cohesion and inclusivity of our societies, to make sure that people understand that their identities are respected, but at the same time that they belong to the community as a whole, with all its rights and obligations. And at the same time, we need at global level to understand that diversity will not be automatically a source of peace and understanding; that we also need a massive investment, an investment in international cooperation, to bring people together, to make people know each other, respect each other, cooperate with each other, and to do it in a way in which it is possible to have everybody working together to face the global challenges that are in front of us and that no country can solve in an isolated way.

It is in this context – and allow me to say a few words as a European – that I strongly believe that the values of the Enlightenment are the most important contribution that Europe has given to world civilisation, and that those values of tolerance, la primauté de la raison, must be a very solid cornerstone of our capacity to build a more tolerant, more fair, more just, more peaceful and more prosperous world.

(The House accorded the speaker a standing ovation)


  President. – Secretary-General, dear friend António, thank you very much for your speech, thank you for your engagement in favour of human rights, and also as a European. We are proud to be at the centre of the debate as the European Parliament in defence of human rights and of the minorities in the world. We are ready for strong cooperation with you, with your organisation. Thank you very much.




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