Wrap-Up Session - June 2013
- Central Africa
- Central African Republic
- Children and Armed Conflict
- Commission of inquiry
- Human Rights
- Natural Resources
- Peace and Security
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you and your team for your masterful stewardship of the Council this month.
The past month has seen significant differences arise over the Council's role – essentially over the requirements of Article 24 of the Charter which confers the Council's primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. And I intend to focus my remarks on this fundamental issue.
If the Council is to discharge its responsibility to maintain international peace and security effectively, it must actively anticipate situations that may result in threats to the peace, and respond quickly. Regular horizon-scanning, and a readiness to consider issues at short notice, can assist. Briefings this month on the Juba region of Somalia and UNDOF were good examples, enabling timely reactions from us. As we look ahead, one situation which will require the Council's very close attention – and support – is the Central African Republic. Another is Lebanon.
The Council must also understand the factors that underpin and drive conflict to be able to respond effectively. The debate on natural resources and conflict served this purpose. Allowing for the fact that aspects of natural resources are best addressed elsewhere, our debate made clear the importance of the Council addressing the illegal exploitation and ineffective management of natural resources in conflict and post-conflict situations. And it is, therefore, disappointing that a PRST could not be adopted, due to the view of some that this issue was beyond the Council's remit.
Addressing serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and preventing further violations, is essential to the establishment of lasting peace and is, therefore, core Council work. Children are inevitably among the most vulnerable in conflict and the Council's adoption of a PRST on Children and Armed Conflict (S/2013/8), which underlined our collective resolve to ensure that perpetrators of violations against children are dealt with effectively, was necessary in this respect.
The Council's debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the adoption of Resolution 2106 equally underlined that preventing this scourge is central to our efforts to maintain international peace and security. An integrated and comprehensive approach is required – as we endorsed – necessitating the careful elaboration of peacekeeping mandates, the deployment of fact finding missions and inquiries where necessary, and the consistent application of targeted sanctions against perpetrators.
Ensuring that those who commit serious international crimes are brought to justice is fundamental to the maintenance of international peace and security. Although there is broad consensus that impunity should not be tolerated, Council Members differ on the appropriate role of international criminal justice institutions in general, and the ICC in particular. In relation to the ICC, the principle of complementarity is central. Where the relevant jurisdiction is unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute international crimes, the ICC can play an important role and products we have issued this month reaffirm this. The Council must have a mature and constructive relationship with the ICC. We should be able to discuss ICC work of relevance to the Council, and acknowledge it in Council documents. Above all, the Council must actively support the Court where it is acting on a referral from the Council.
In discharging its responsibilities, the Council must also consider how best to utilize sanctions. Again, this has featured in all our thematic discussions this month. The work of the Council's sanctions committees deserves comprehensive attention. The Council must ensure these regimes are designed carefully, implemented fairly and effectively, monitored constantly, and adjusted where necessary.
The Council has not met its responsibilities in relation to Syria. This is certainly not because of a lack of information on the atrocities being committed there. We received stark briefings on the devastating impact of the conflict from USG Amos, and from the International Commission of Inquiry at the Arria formula meeting convened by Australia. We have all declared our support for the Geneva II process to end the conflict and reach agreement on a credible political transition. But the humanitarian situation is already catastrophic and the effects on Syria's neighbours untenable. Regardless of the outcome of Geneva II, the Council must in any case take action to support the Syrian people themselves and a region now seriously destabilised due to the conflict.
In closing, Mr President –
Article 24 of the Charter states that the responsibility to maintain international peace and security is conferred on the Council by the broader UN membership, and that, in discharging this responsibility, the Council acts on their behalf. Our working methods must reflect this. Regular interaction with troop contributing countries this month was one positive example; our inability to agree to a request by non-Council members to hold an open debate on an issue of general interest was not. The Council should make every effort to be open, transparent and inclusive in its work. In this, too, we could do better. These sessions in particular must be made informative for the broader UN membership.