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National statements

Wrap-Up Session - November 2014

Thematic issues

  • Chemical weapons
  • Commission of inquiry
  • DPRK
  • Human Rights
  • Humanitarian
  • Mali
  • Peace and Security
  • Peacebuilding
  • Peacekeeping
  • Policing
  • Protection of Civilians
  • Rule of Law
  • Sanctions
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Terrorism


Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

In previous wrap-up sessions, Australia has sought to identify themes and issues central to the Council's work – these have included the protection of civilians, the humanitarian dimensions of conflict, the centrality of human rights to the Council's work and the need for effective implementation of Council decisions, the need to uphold fundamental norms. We have also focused on Article 24 of the Charter, to ensure Council members represent the broader UN membership, and that the Council builds strong partnerships with other actors.

In November, all these themes featured prominently. But while November was a busy month, the level of Council activity tells us more about the breadth and depth of crises in the world than – in itself – it does about the Council's effectiveness. And it is effectiveness that must always be our focus.

Peacekeeping remains a paramount concern. The Informal Interactive Dialogue on Mali usefully addressed the unique situation of a peacekeeping mission operating for the first time in an asymmetric threat environment where there is effectively no peace to keep. Contemporary peacekeeping is facing unprecedented challenges. The Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Peacekeeping Operations is a necessary assessment 15 years after the seminal Brahimi review. The Council had a useful initial dialogue with the Panel, but we need to do a lot more serious thinking about peacekeeping – the increasing demand for it, the increasing difficulty of generating and equipping peacekeepers, and the increasing threat to our peacekeepers. At a time when civilians are being deliberately targeted as a tactic of war and more people are displaced through conflict than at any time since World War II, protection of civilians must be at the core of our peacekeeping efforts. And our peacekeeping missions must be postured robustly to use force when required.

The Council has perhaps been most forensic in its focus on implementation in the case of Syria – on both the Chemical Weapons and Humanitarian tracks. That progress has been made on chemical weapons is primarily due to the demanding monitoring and reporting framework established under Resolution 2118. The Council must now ensure complete eradication of Syria's chemical weapons program, and that the credible allegations of the use of chlorine as a weapon by the regime in violation of Resolution 2118 are fully investigated and those who use chemical agents in warfare are held to account.

The regular analysis that the Secretary-General provides us on the implementation of Resolutions 2139 and 2165 on humanitarian assistance and protection in Syria is crucial. While some limited progress has been made on humanitarian access, most elements of the two resolutions – particularly as they relate to the protection of Syrian civilians – have not been complied with. The Syrian regime's military strategy remains deliberately targeted at its own civilians, and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are massive, savage, and routine. The mandate in Resolution 2165 on humanitarian access expires in early January and must be extended in December. We also need to give serious attention to what we can do about implementing the much more comprehensive obligations on all parties in Resolution 2139.

The centrality of human rights to the Council's work is self-evident. At Australia's invitation, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid al Hussein, briefed the Council for the first time since his appointment. Those who heard his searing indictment of the horrific crimes of ISIL – and its abuse of Islam's own precepts – will not forget it. The Council needs to be similarly exposed directly to the findings of systematic and unparalleled human rights abuses by the Commission of Inquiry into the DPRK.

As President, Australia sought to make the requirements of Article 24 of the Charter a reality. Having heard the responses of Members of the General Assembly to the Council's Annual Report, we conveyed those back to the Council. In partnership with Argentina, we arranged for the first open briefing by the Chair of the Sudan sanctions committee in the Chamber, for all to hear. We engaged closely with the African Union Peace and Security Council in advance of our Presidency. We need to do a lot more to ensure that our own protestations that we will work closely with our African partners are better operationalised. In practice, joint visits and assessment missions would be a good way to improve this capacity.

While the three initiatives Australia has pursued during its Presidency were distinct, there was a common philosophy underpinning them all – that the Council must make the best use of the tools it has to effectively address the challenges it faces.

The Open Debate on Counter Terrorism enabled the broader UN membership to focus on one of the most dangerous contemporary challenges to international peace and security. The need for concerted and coordinated efforts to degrade ISIL and other Al-Qaida affiliates was one defining imperative. The urgency of combatting foreign terrorist fighters and confronting violent extremist ideologies was another. The PRST adopted on 19 November provides practical steps to build on the momentum generated by Resolutions 2170 and 2178. Contemporary terrorism is not just a threat in itself. It often takes advantage of local or regional conflict, making that conflict worse, and in the process increasing its own lethal impact. The Council needs to keep terrorism high on its agenda. And to ensure that implementation of our resolutions and November's Presidential Statement happen.

Our initiative on Policing filled a serious gap by recognising the vital importance of policing to peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and to the rule of law and protection of civilians. Resolution 2185 – the first ever on policing –is designed to make a practical contribution to improving the effectiveness of the work of Police Components. And the joint briefing by heads of police components will be an important annual addition to the Council's work.

The final initiative Australia pursued was, of course, on sanctions. Sanctions are a crucial – often the only – tool for the Council, and we need to do much better on implementation. The High Level Review which Australia conducted with Sweden, Greece, Finland and Germany reaffirmed the demand from member states for greater guidance and assistance. And the need for better coordination within the UN system – 20 UN entities contribute to sanctions implementation – and between the Secretariat and other institutions. We look forward to securing agreement on a Council resolution in the coming days which will respond to these needs definitively.

In closing, I thank all colleagues for their cooperation and engagement during November. Together, we made some progress.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 18 June 2015
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