Open Debate on the maintenance of international peace and security: the respect of purposes and principles of the UN Charter
15 February, 2016
On February15, 2016 the Security Council held an open debate on the maintenance of international peace and security discussing the respect of purposes and principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter. Prior to the debate, Venezuela circulated a concept note that focused on the cardinal principles of international relations and peaceful coexistence among nations, such as respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful settlement of disputes, and refraining from the use or threat of use of force against territorial integrity or political independence. Emphasizing that the Security Council should be the guarantor of those principles, the debate provided an opportunity to take stock of the consequences of foreign interference in nations such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, and to stress the importance of applying Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter rather than Chapter VII. The debate opened with a briefing by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who expressed that the decisions of the Security Council must be driven by the provisions of the UN Charter and not by geopolitical goals of Member States. He also added that the main goal of the UN should include bringing the promise of the UN Charter to the most vulnerable populations. Subsequently, a statement from Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodríguez followed in which she denounced the interference in the sovereign affairs of any Member State as inconsistent with the principles of the UN Charter. Other speakers called for the UN to strike a balance between the fundamental principle of state sovereignty and the need to protect human rights.
All speakers expressed their support for the principles of the UN Charter and the role played by the UN in resolving issues relating to peace and security. As suggested by the representative of New Zealand, while the Council had successfully responded to many pressing threats, in terms of conflicts resolved and lives saved, it must continue to develop and evolve its approach to effectively fulfil its mandate. The major principles of international relations, such as respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, and peaceful settlement of disputes were underscored by all representatives. In this vein, the delegations of the Russian Federation, Syrian Arab Republic and Cuba, among others, stressed that the intervention can cause severe suffering of civil population and destruction of cultural heritage. On the contrary, the representative of Uruguay pointed out that the principle of non-intervention could not be used to excuse a Member State from the commissions of mass atrocities or other violations of human rights. Noting that the Security Council is facing more complex challenges today, 85% of the speakers expressed the need for Security Council reform.
Out of nearly 69 statements delivered, only eight speakers (11.59%) used specific gendered language. Since the Charter of the UN underlines the basic principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms, five speakers stated that gender equality is at the very heart of human rights values. Stressing that human rights must be given more weight in the Security Council, the representative of Spain suggested to focus on Women, Peace and Security. Further, the delegation of El Salvador expressed his country’s support for the increased involvement of women in peacekeeping operations. Two speakers (the representatives of Venezuela and the European Union) emphasized that women and girls are uniquely and disproportionately affected by armed conflict and disaster. The speakers, however, were silent on the issue of gender-based violence, including sexual violence in conflict.
The record of the meeting is available here.
States represented at the debate included: Albania, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Morocco, Panama, Indonesia, Thailand, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Eritrea, Germany, Algeria, Pakistan, Georgia, Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, South Africa, Vietnam, Sweden , Syria, Hungary, Nicaragua , Kazakhstan, Cuba, Colombia , Uruguay , Japan, China, United States, Russian Federation, Argentina, El Salvador, Iran, Brazil, Chile, India, Poland, Maldives, Nigeria, Cyprus, Tunisia, Latvia, Peru, Armenia, Guyana, Costa Rica, Turkey, South Korea, Venezuela, Spain, Egypt, France, Malaysia, Senegal, Ukraine, New Zealand, United Kingdom.
Representatives of the African Union, European Union, League of Arab States, Holy See and Organization of American States also participated.