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Tuesday, 24 March 2009 - Strasbourg
The EU priorities for the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly

European Parliament recommendation to the Council of 24 March 2009 on the EU priorities for the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly (2009/2000(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Alexander Graf Lambsdorff on behalf of the ALDE Group on the European Union priorities for the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly (B6-0034/2009),

–   having regard to the European Parliament recommendation of 9 July 2008 to the Council on the EU priorities for the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly(1),

–   having regard to the EU priorities for the 63rd United Nations General Assembly adopted by the Council on 16 June 2008 (9978/2008),

–   having regard to the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA), in particular that body's resolutions on "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter–Parliamentary Union"(2), "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons"(3), "Comprehensive Nuclear–Test–Ban Treaty"(4), "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction"(5), "Moratorium on the use of the death penalty"(6), "Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism"(7), "Situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea"(8), "Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran"(9), "Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: outcome document of the Follow–up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus"(10), "Situation of human rights in Myanmar"(11), "Development–related activities"(12), "Strengthening the Department of Political Affairs"(13), "Programme budget for the biennium 2008–2009"(14) and "Proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2010–2011"(15),

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2009 on the development of the UN Human Rights Council, including the role of the EU(16),

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 December 2008 on development perspectives for peace-building and nation building in post-conflict situations(17),

–   having regard to Rule 114(3) and Rule 90 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A6-0132/2009),

A.   whereas, four years on, UN Member States should be reminded of their commitment to the achievement of the ambitious goals set out in the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, adopted in New York on 16 September 2005,

B.   whereas only a global, effective and inclusive multilateral system can address the multiple and interlinked challenges and threats faced by nations, societies and citizens, such as those to peace, stability and human security, the challenges posed by poverty, climate change and energy security and the consequences of the global economic and financial crisis,

C.   whereas the 63rd UNGA has taken important decisions on a number of items relating to the reform agenda, including improvements in human resources management and in the administration of justice, the partial strengthening the Department of Political Affairs, and the launch of intergovernmental negotiations on the Security Council reform,

D.   whereas the UNGA has adopted, on a proposal by its Third Committee, a set of important resolutions on a wide range of human rights, social and humanitarian issues, including three country resolutions, as well as the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

E.   whereas, thanks to the "Delivering as One" initiative and the work of the two co-facilitators, tangible progress has been achieved, pragmatically, in pursuing some of the System-Wide Coherence reforms of the UN; whereas it is necessary to consolidate achievements and to make further progress in the areas identified by the 63rd UNGA,

F.   whereas failure to reform bodies such as the UN Security Council and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) could lead to informal groupings such as the G8 or G20 attempting to substitute themselves for global institutional arrangements,

G.   whereas the European Union must promote what it firmly believes are universal values, while making efforts to avoid the polarisation of positions,

H.   whereas, on the other hand, cooperation between the United Nations Secretariat and EU institutions has never been so close and reflects the shared values, goals and interests of the two organisations,

I.   whereas the operational capacity of the United Nations in the field of peace and security activities needs to be further strengthened, and whereas EU/UN cooperation in peace-keeping constitutes a cornerstone of global peace and security,

J.   whereas there is an increasing number of fatalities among UN peace-keepers, and whereas all possible measures must be taken to protect these workers,

K.   whereas the EU and the US are strategic partners and it is in their mutual interest to confront together common threats and challenges in the new global scenario, on the basis of international law and multilateral institutions, in particular the UN; whereas the statement made by the new US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice, appears to indicate a renewed commitment to constructive engagement with the United Nations,

L.   whereas the European Union indicated, in its Statement to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) of 19 September 2008, that the following four elements of the outcome document for the Durban Review Conference would be unacceptable (the so-called EU "red lines"): (1) singling out one region of the world in particular; (2) reopening the 2001 Durban declaration by inserting a prohibition against "defamation of religion", designed to restrict free speech and impose the censorship inherent in Islamic anti-blasphemy laws; (3) drawing up an order of priority among victims; and (4) politicising or polarising the discussion,

M.   whereas in the context of deepening global recession, developing countries could be set back by decades as a result of falling commodity prices, lower investment flows, financial instability and a decline in remittances, and whereas the value of existing EU aid commitments will fall by nearly USD 12 000 million a year, because they are expressed as a percentage of Member States' GDP,

1.  Addresses the following recommendations to the Council:

o   o

   The EU at the UN
   (a) project itself within the United Nations system as an honest broker between the interests and values of different membership groups in order to promote common understanding and greater cohesion around the three closely interconnected pillars on which the UN rests, namely peace and security, economic and social development and human rights;
   (b) ensure, with the Commission, that issues relating to the multilateral agenda are systematically addressed in the bilateral dialogues which the EU and EU Member States hold with other countries and regional groups;
   (c) study carefully with the new US administration ways to strengthen the cooperation of both partners, in support of their common priorities at the United Nations;
   Peace and security
   (d) foster the debate initiated by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, about the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle, so as to achieve strengthened consensus on, and develop a more operational approach to, this cornerstone of the UN doctrine whilst resisting attempts to reduce its scope;
   (e) ensure that the preventive character of R2P is adequately emphasised in the above-mentioned debate and that adequate attention is paid to helping vulnerable and unstable countries develop the capacity to shoulder such responsibility, focussing specifically on regional actors as the most effective interlocutors in unstable situations;
   (f) ensure that the R2P principle is applied in crisis situations where the state concerned fails to protect its people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity;
   (g) encourage the African Union to further develop its crisis management capabilities, and call on both EU and UN actors to support these efforts and to deepen the cooperation with the African Union in the establishment of peace and security on the African continent;
   (h) urge the EU Member States to make the necessary efforts so that the negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism can be concluded;
   Human rights
   (i) uphold clearly in all resolutions debated and adopted in the UNGA the tenets of international humanitarian law and condemn unequivocally any violation thereof, especially regarding the safety and security of UN and other humanitarian workers;
   (j) reach out towards other regional groups in order to promote greater awareness and understanding of the principles enshrined in the EU-backed Statement on sexual orientation and gender identity endorsed by 66 UN Member States;
   (k) call on the UN Secretary-General to report to the UNGA's 65th session about Member States" compliance with the ban on the death penalty for juveniles and to include in his report information on the number of juvenile offenders currently sentenced to death and the number executed during the last five years;
   (l) initiate, ahead of the 2011 review of the HRC, a debate highlighting the complementarity between the Third Committee, an intergovernmental body of the UNGA with universal membership, and the HRC, the composition of which is restricted and the mandate of which is more operational;
   (m) call on Member States to reconsider their participation in the Durban Review Conference in Geneva in April 2009 if the breach of all four "red lines" referred to in the draft outcome document of 20 February 2009 is confirmed in subsequent negotiations leading up to the Conference;
   (n) promote and support efforts towards ensuring that the United Nations terrorism-related sanctions regime is subject to transparent and equitable procedures, particularly by introducing an effective notification procedure and by establishing an independent judicial review, in line with the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities;
   (o) urge the Security Council and its Counter-Terrorism Committee to cooperate with the relevant UN human rights bodies, in order to monitor continuously compliance with obligations under international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;
   (p) insist that all UN members ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), starting with the members of the Security Council and, in view of the 2009 review conference of the ICC, actively support efforts to achieve an agreement on the still outstanding definition of the crime of aggression and the conditions under which the ICC may exercise its jurisdiction, as provided for in Article 5(2) of the Rome Statute;
   UN reform
   (q) encourage the ongoing process towards achieving consistency between progress achieved at country level in the implementation of the "Delivering as One" reform and the different business practices applied by the headquarters of UN agencies and programmes, which so far have hampered closer cooperation and coordination on the ground;
   (r) develop EU coordination, including donor coordination, in relations with UN agencies, funds and programmes at headquarters as well as at country level, including by participating in UN-led multi-donor funds, and extend also to UN agencies and programmes the already well-established dialogue with the UN Secretariat;
   (s) promote a debate on the forthcoming Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) in Copenhagen in December 2009 in order to build consensus on, and momentum behind, the adoption of a new international agreement on climate change for the period post-2012; in this context, rally support for a financial and technological package targeted at developing countries in order to facilitate their endorsement of a new binding agreement;
   (t) endorse the adoption by the next UNGA of a more coherent structure for global environmental governance, as advocated by the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the UN Environment Programme, a governance system which is capable of facing the enormous challenges ahead;
   Global governance
   (u) take a lead in the current debate on global governance, including economic and financial governance, with a view to strengthening the mandates and improving the practices of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, while at the same time re-vitalising ECOSOC;
   (v) use the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations on the reform of the Security Council, based on the rules of procedure of the UNGA, as an opportunity to focus on points of convergence and achieve tangible progress regarding the clarification of the Security Council's competences in relation to other UN bodies, the addition of new permanent and non-permanent members – possibly on a temporary basis – so as to improve the Security Council's representativeness and legitimacy, and the review of working methods of the Security Council;
   (w) emphasise that an EU seat in the Security Council remains the long-term goal of the European Union;
   Non-proliferation and disarmament
   (x) promote conditions for a successful 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), notably by endorsing and promoting the proposed Model Nuclear Weapons Convention; achieve consensus around the proposed Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty; strive for the adoption by the Conference on Disarmament of a substantive programme of work in order to make that body operational; engage multilaterally and bilaterally with UN Member States in order to relaunch the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; and, finally, encourage further efforts towards the launching of negotiations concerning an Arms Trade Treaty;
   Management reform
   (y) make full use of its financial leverage in the UN in order to ensure that the budget for 2010-2011 better addresses the pressing operational needs of that organisation, and grant the UN Secretary-General greater discretion in allocating human resources in accordance with such needs and in the light of operational decisions taken by relevant UN bodies, in particular by the Security Council and the UNGA,
   (z) establish, in the context of discussions on a revision of the scales of assessment for the apportionment of expenses of the United Nations, a clear link between better representation within the different UN bodies and a fairer sharing of the financial burden;

(aa) develop a more closely coordinated EU staff policy at the UN with a view to achieving greater transparency and efficiency in recruitment procedures and ensuring that recruitment conditions remain sufficiently attractive for EU citizens;

   Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

(ab) exercise global leadership in galvanising international action to deliver on the MDG pledges in view of the growing evidence that the world is falling far short of the promises made in relation to the MDGs;


(ac) support the "MDG gap task force" initiative to monitor global commitments on aid, trade, debt relief and access to essential medicines and technology;


(ad) call for the urgent organisation of the high-level UN conference on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development, which was agreed at the 2008 Doha Financing for Development conference;


(ae) pursue discussion of the Business Call to Action initiative and the commitments to funding and supporting MDG efforts, including how this could be matched by an increase in accountability from the corporate sector;


(af) advocate, in tandem with all these initiatives, signing up to the principles enshrined in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and to the Accra Agenda for Action, in order to improve the quality and delivery of aid;


(ag) use the occasion of the 64th UNGA to report on the progress made towards meeting the benchmarks set out in the EU Agenda for Action on MDGs;


(ah) invite the Commission to report on the progress made in implementing MDG contracts and encourage other donors to deliver more of their aid on a long-term, predictable basis in the form of budget support;

   Final recommendations

(ai) urge EU Member States to follow up on their commitment to effective multilateralism by ensuring the systematic and swift ratification of all UN conventions and treaties;


(aj) support the decision taken by the UNGA in its above-mentioned resolution on "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Interparliamentary Union" to include in the provisional agenda of the 65th UNGA a separate item on cooperation between the United Nations Organization, national parliaments and the Interparliamentary Union, provided the title of the item includes also a reference to "regional parliamentary assemblies", and promote a debate on how parliamentarians, national parliaments and regional parliamentary assemblies can play a more active role in the United Nations;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council and, for information, to the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0339.
(2) A/RES/63/24.
(3) A/RES/63/75.
(4) A/RES/63/87.
(5) A/RES/63/88.
(6) A/RES/63/168.
(7) A/RES/63/185.
(8) A/RES/63/190.
(9) A/RES/63/191.
(10) A/RES/63/239.
(11) A/RES/63/245.
(12) A/RES/63/260.
(13) A/RES/63/261.
(14) A/RES/63/264 A-C.
(15) A/RES/63/266.
(16) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0021.
(17) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0639.

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