Statement by H. E. Mr. Ivan Šimonović, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Upholding the UN Charter”
New York, 10 January 2020
Let me thank you for convening this important debate, and to the Secretary-General and Mrs. Mary Robinson for their valuable inputs. Croatia aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union. I will add several points in my national capacity.
Adoption of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were stellar moments of human history. To prevent horrors of WW2 from reoccurring, Member States decided to build a powerful global organization to protect peace and promote development and human rights. However, because of the Cold War, the UN had a rough start and many Charter promises remained unfulfilled. The end of the Cold War finally created political climate which enabled more effective action in protecting peace and preventing mass atrocities. In addition to better functioning of the institutions provided by the Charter, the UN peace keeping and special political missions, as well international accountability mechanisms have been introduced. For years, the number of conflicts and atrocity crimes have been steadily decreasing.
Not anymore. In recent years, the number of conflicts as well as atrocity crimes are growing again. Impunity is rampant. Lack of decisive, multilateral response undermines rules based international order. The effective prevention is too often blocked by divisions in the Council and the use of veto power by its permanent members.
The Charter has given the Security Council the primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security. Within the Council, special trust was given to its five permanent members vested with special powers. However, such special powers, including permanent seat in the Council as well as the veto power were accredited to permanent members under understanding that they would use them responsibly, benefitting all peoples and all UN member states.
Croatia has always been a strong and vocal advocate of multilateralism while at the same time calling for necessary reforms that would enhance effectiveness and relevance of the Organization, especially of the Security Council. Who sits in it is not the only issue: we would like to see the Council more engaged in preventing crises and dedicated to its Charter duties rather than any particular interest. In order to maintain the Council's authority and relevance in maintaining global peace and security, we need more cooperation and global responsibility in its work. Therefore, Croatia welcomes and supports the initiative for establishing “The Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes“, as well the French-Mexican initiative whereby the five permanent members of the Council would commit to refrain from using the veto in cases where the commission of mass atrocities has been proven. Both initiatives reflect the spirit of the Charter and intention “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. In practical sense, it is crucial that these initiatives do not require amendment to the Charter, which is, as we all know, extremely difficult because of procedural requirements as well as vested interests.
Croatia also supports and is a part of the Multilateralism initiative: current challenges such as weapons of mass destruction as well as cyber and environmental threats can only be successfully addressed through joint, well-coordinated efforts. Croatia also upholds the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), as consensually adopted in the 2005 World Summit Outcome document and the subsequent GA resolution. It is not legally binding like the Charter provisions, but in addition to being morally binding, it is also politically binding for all member states, especially the members of the Security Council who have special responsibilities under R2P. However, the primary aim of R2P is prevention of atrocity crimes, not a reaction to them. There are many things that could and should be done before the point of no return is reached and atrocities are committed. In preventing mass atrocities Peace and Security, Development and Human Rights aspects are closely interlinked. Therefore, the Security Council, the rest of the UN, regional organizations, member states and civil society should be coordinating and acting together.
Mr. President, let me conclude. We must upheld the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: they are the humanity’s survival guide, but they should also be complemented by additional multilateral responses to newly emerging threats. The 75th anniversary of the UN Charter, 20th anniversary of the SC Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, as well as 15th anniversary of the adoption of the R2P, create plenty of opportunities for discussion, hopefully leading to more effective action on prevention of conflicts and atrocity crimes.
Ladies and Gentleman,
We must revert the negative trends: “We the Peoples” demand it from us, here and now.