Security Council Open Debate On
"The Respect to the Principles and Purposes of the Charter of the United Nations as Key Element for the Maintenance of International Peace and Security"
His Excellency Mr Ahmed Sareer
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations
United Nations, New York, 15 February 2016
Thank you Mr President,
At the outset, allow me to congratulate the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on its presidency of the Security Council for the month of February, as well as for convening this timely debate on the respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations as a key element for the maintenance of international peace and security.
From the ashes of World War II, the Charter of the United Nations birthed a new vision and hope for the global community; a promise for humankind to rise above the devastation and despair of the past. Though in our 70th Anniversary, we find time and time again where we, the nations of the world, have collectively failed to meet this promise. The scourge of war rages on; maybe not between nations on the scales we have seen before, but within and between states in terms of proxy wars, in the actions of non-state actors, in massive humanitarian crises, and in our failure to protect the earth, its peoples, and its resources for future generations.
At its most basic level, the Charter is meant to guarantee sovereignty, the equality of states, non-interference, the peaceful settlement of disputes and a fundamental respect between the nations of the world, enshrined in its preambular assurance that it will protect the "equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." But at the very heart of the UN Charter, its spirit cries out for justice and dignity. Not just between Member States, but between all peoples. Justice embodied in the opportunity for economic prosperity. Justice in the establishment of social equity. Justice as is necessary for the establishment of a peaceful and inclusive society based on the rule of law. Its spirit calls out for a life of dignity for all the world's peoples.
As we walk these hallowed halls, we should remember that the diplomats, the international civil servants, the passionate few who have strived to make the world better have, over 70 years, had milestone successes. Today, the United Nations feeds over a 104 million people in 80 countries; in war zones, natural disasters and in health emergencies. Everyday, the United Nations helps 17 million asylum seekers and refugees.
Despite these achievements, the key purposes and principles, as enshrined in the Charter, are not always respected and adhered to by Member States. These failures weigh upon our global conscience. 5 years of inaction in Syria. Half a century failure in Palestine. And a late-come awakening to our responsibilities towards future generations.
That our greatest failures are concentrated in the Middle East, highlights the priorities, or lack thereof, that have consumed this organization and especially this Council. Our worldviews must expand in favour of producing real results for those who are most vulnerable and most in need. The humanitarian consequences of these conflicts are beyond belief, and the hollow promises we have made scream our collective shame. For instance, a recent report published by the Syrian Center for Policy Research found that, since March 2011, 11.5% of the Syrian population had either been killed or injured, with the number of casualties amounting to 470,000. Furthermore, today, the UNHCR has registered more than 3 million Syrian refugees, and as of July 2015 there were at least 7.6 million internally displaced people within Syria alone. In fact, clocking in at 60 million refugees and displaced people worldwide, there are more refugees in the world today than existed following the Second World War. Though this organization was founded with the goal of addressing such travesties, in this area the situation has worsened. And yet, if there is more glaring an example of our collective failure, it is the emerging threat posed by the existence of Da'esh, the so-called Islamic State, which represents a clear threat to international peace and security.
According to the Report of the Secretary General for the World Humanitarian Summit, entitled One Humanity: Shared Responsibility, between the late 1990s and early 2000s the number of civil wars declined, before increasing from 4 in 2007 to 11 in 2014. The report states that one third of today's civil wars involve external actors. Consequently, these wars have become more deadly and prolonged.
Da'esh is not merely the consequence of conflict, but instead, is the product of the hatred which has consumed the region for decades. Violence is the result of this hatred, fostered by a fear that is consecrated by fundamental injustices between peoples. Though its manifestation is ever evident in the atrocities Da'esh commits across the globe, nowhere are these injustices more prominent than in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The occupied territories have formalized a system of apartheid, that is inherently unjust, and that fosters fear between both Palestinians and Israelis alike. This situation has institutionalized hate, creating a cyclical, self-sustaining system that feeds upon itself and ensures a vision for the region that consumes all that is light, good and hopeful.
And yet, those of us who are most committed to progress and prosperity, find some solace in the incremental steps this organization has taken in other areas envisioned by the spirit of the Charter.
In 2007, the Security Council held a high-level debate on the relationship between energy, security and climate. It was the first time this Council addressed the potential impact of climate change on security. In 2009 the General Assembly held a debate on climate change and its possible security implications, later adopting a resolution inviting the relevant organs of the United Nations to intensify their efforts in considering and addressing climate change. In 2015, this Council held an open debate on the peace and security challenges facing Small Island Developing States, of which none is greater than the challenges posed by the effects of climate change. Though the Maldives beat this drum since 1987, it has taken almost three decades for this world body to hear this wake-up call.
Our collective late-awakening to the dangers posed by climate change and the need to protect our world and its resources for future generations has not come too late. In the Paris Agreement we have taken a bold step forward, but the threats posed to our food security, water security, and ultimately our territory and even our sovereignty - need greater and more serious attention.
Similarly, just a few months ago, we adopted the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. It is hoped that the 2030 Agenda, in its holistic approach to development will provide foundations for peaceful, just and inclusive societies, for it is only with peace that there can be development, and only development that brings lasting peace. The promise these recent developments make, to leave no one behind, gives us hope for peace and security as envisioned in the true spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, as we enter this new era of global development.