Wrap-Up Session - April 2013
- Central Africa
- Central African Republic
- Chemical weapons
- Conflict Prevention
- Human Rights
- Peace and Security
- Protection of Civilians
- Regional Organisations
- Rule of Law
- Sierra Leone
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you for convening this "wrap up session". These sessions represent an important contribution to Council transparency, recognising the substantial interests of all UN member states in the work of the Council.
I congratulate you on the manner in which you have guided the Council's work over the past month. Rwanda has reminded the Council that its responsibility to maintain international peace and security requires engagement in all stages of the conflict cycle, and necessarily involves both a conflict prevention dimension, and a responsibility to engage in effective and long term post-conflict peace-building.
The briefing and debate on prevention of conflict in Africa on 15 April was important and timely. The Presidential statement adopted during that meeting underlined that, in order to address root causes, institutions must be strengthened, democratic processes nurtured, the rule of law and human rights upheld, and development fostered. Regional organisations have a crucial role to play, and must be supported. The statement's strong re-endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect is particularly welcome.
The focus during the month on peacebuilding was equally important. While the Peacebuilding Commission is yet to realise its full potential, the Commission, and its country specific configurations, have a contribution to the Council's work. The effectiveness of the PBC will be measured in the field, requiring close cooperation with SRSGs, development of effective partnerships with other actors, and mobilisation of political and financial support. The Council should draw on the PBC's advice more readily, particularly during mandate renewals and periods of transition, and we look forward to strong interaction during the transitions in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Regular exchanges such as the debate and subsequent informal interactive dialogue are therefore essential.
The Secretary-General's report on sexual violence in conflict, and the statement by SRSG Bangura during the open debate, made clear that this must be a key focus for the Council. There was broad expression of support from Council members and other UN member states for the recommendations – including ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence, addressing sexual violence in the context of ceasefires and security sector reform, and deployment of gender expertise in Council mandated missions. The Council must ensure that it now acts on these recommendations.
The adoption of Resolution 2100, authorising the establishment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), was a milestone. This provides a sound basis for addressing the inter-related security, political, humanitarian and human rights dimensions of the Mali crisis.
The resolution heeds the warning from the Secretary-General to not let security imperatives detract from "the primacy of politics". Indeed, the political process is central, and we must continue to see progress.
Australia fully shares the views expressed by AU Ambassador Téte Antonio after the adoption of Resolution 2100 on the need for close cooperation and collaboration between the new UN mission and the AU and ECOWAS. We recognise and commend the role these organisations have played in response to the crisis in Mali. We must ensure that AFISMA receives the necessary support during this transition. We must also recognise that the situation in Mali cannot be separated from the wider challenges facing the Sahel. We therefore look forward to the briefing in early May on the long-awaited UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.
With the adoption of Resolution 2100 authorising MINUSMA, and previously the adoption of Resolution 2098 authorising a significant revision of MONUSCO, there has been considerable debate on the direction of UN peacekeeping. Some have queried whether the basic parameters of UN peacekeeping have altered, and where the line between peace-keeping and peace-enforcement is now appropriately drawn. A key dimension of this debate revolves around what the protection of civilians requires in a particular context. Clearly the fundamental values of UN peacekeeping must continue to guide mandates and deployments. But the credibility and utility of UN peacekeeping will be called into question if mandates containing a protection of civilians component are too narrowly interpreted or indeed do not include the provisions and necessary resourcing to meet their particular objectives. In contrast, "robust peacekeeping" can be justified and may be required in certain circumstances.
In coming months, this discussion will continue to play out in the context of the DRC. The deployment of the Intervention Brigade marks an important statement of the Council's resolve to ensure effective protection of civilians in that country. The commencement of the SG's Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Mrs Mary Robinson, is another important step, and we look forward to her first report to the Council early next month. The Council should continue to monitor developments closely.
In coming days, the Council has an important opportunity to enhance the UN's support to the Government of Somalia to consolidate the considerable gains it has made in the past year. Australia looks forward to supporting the establishment of a Special Political Mission to address critical challenges in peace and reconciliation, peacebuilding and stability, SSR, and human rights.
The Secretariat's decision to draw developments in Central African Republic to the Council's attention in early January was prescient. In the months since, the CAR has deteriorated dramatically, with the unconstitutional change of government in March and security, human rights and humanitarian situations now grave. Close Council engagement will be important. The Secretariat's initiative in bringing developments in Guinea to the Council's attention in recent days in a similar way was also welcome.
Like other Council members, Australia listened with grave concern and distress to briefings this month on the humanitarian and human rights situation in Syria by senior UN agency heads. The situation in Syria grows more catastrophic by the day. The most recent information indicates nearly 80,000 killed, over 4 million displaced, and almost 7 million in need for humanitarian assistance. Violations of international humanitarian law are being committed with impunity. The dimensions of the humanitarian crisis are expanding tragically day-by-day.
Australia calls on all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, to cooperate fully with the UN and other humanitarian agencies to allow access for aid agencies, including cross border access. We also reiterate our call for all parties to protect medical workers and facilities, and ensure access to them.
Recent reports regarding the use of chemical weapons bring a new and deeply alarming dimension to the conflict. The Assad regime must immediately permit the investigation of all credible allegations of chemical weapons by the UN investigation.
The regional implications of the crisis are increasingly grave. The conflict is placing intense pressure on neighbouring countries, which, despite their generosity and resolve, are struggling to cope. Jordan's request for the Council's assistance in the face of ongoing pressures from refugee flows from Syria demonstrates this all too clearly.
Special Representative Brahimi has asked the Council to take action to contribute to a political solution and bring the conflict to an end. But we persist in our devastating failure to act. We made a modest step on 19 April when, for the first time in months, we agreed to the President speaking to the press on Syria on our behalf – with some important messages, particularly on humanitarian issues. But we must accept that, in the absence of Council action, further efforts will be required urgently to address the escalating humanitarian consequences of this crisis.
In the context of broader regional tensions, reinvigoration of the peace process between Israel and Palestine is all the more urgent. Some recent signs of a more conducive environment for reengagement in direct negotiations are encouraging. But more needs to be done, by both Israel and the Palestinians.
Before concluding, I should mention a major development in the General Assembly in the past month, with far-reaching implications for international peace and security – the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty on 2 April. Australia, one of the seven co-authors of the draft text, was pleased to play a leading role in securing this outcome. We are now committed to ensuring effective implementation after it opens for signature on 3 June.
Once in force, the Treaty will impose new controls on cross-border transfers in a wide range of conventional weapons, including those that fuel many of the conflicts on the Council's agenda. As the Council takes decisions about arms embargoes and other sanctions regimes and about stabilisation and peacebuilding efforts more broadly, we should find the Treaty a significant tool to support the Council's objectives.
Thank you Mr President.