Security Council Briefing on the Cooperation between the Security Council and the League of Arab States, Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo
Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this discussion on “Cooperation between the Security Council and the League of Arab States.” It is an honor to be with you today. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, a valued partner of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General has made cooperation with regional organizations to prevent conflict and sustain peace a priority. We know that no organization or country alone can address the complex challenges our world faces today. The United Nations needs the cooperation of these groups and their members.
Challenges that we face today, including the COVID-19 pandemic, remind us of the wisdom of the drafters of the UN Charter, who 75 years ago enshrined the potential role of regional arrangements in the maintenance of peace and security. Their vision has clearly taken hold.
Cooperation between the UN and regional organizations has grown and evolved exponentially since 1945. Today it encompasses such areas as preventive diplomacy, mediation, countering terrorism, prevention of violent extremism, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, human rights, climate change and, most recently, our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a stress test for the global community. It has exacerbated strains on the multilateral system just as the need for solidarity and cooperation has never been more critical.
On 23 November of last year, the Secretary-General held a high-level interactive dialogue with heads of 23 regional and subregional organizations - including Secretary-General Aboul Gheit. Participants agreed on the multi-dimensional impact of the pandemic, including on peace and security, and pledged to work together, especially in fragile settings, to address these concerns.
In the early days of the pandemic, Secretary-General Aboul Gheit and Secretary-General Guterres called for a global ceasefire to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and open space for diplomacy. Since then, both the League and the UN have worked to implement this call. Security Council resolution 2532 in support of this call reinforced the global commitment to change the calculations of conflict parties in order to end wars and crises in the region and beyond.
The Arab region has experienced much tumult over the past decade. Conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen; a stalled Middle East Peace Process, and fissures among members of the League have exacerbated regional instability and hampered economic and social development.
The close cooperation between the United Nations, including our Special Envoys and Representatives, and the League has been crucial in augmenting our efforts to address various situations in the Arab world.
On Libya, the League has actively supported the efforts of the United Nations to broker the 23 October ceasefire and a return to the political process. An active member of the International Follow-up Committee to the Berlin Conference on Libya, the League co-chairs its political working group (together with Algeria and Germany). The League has also been an active member of the Quartet on Libya, along with the UN, the African Union and the European Union.
In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the UN and the League work to uphold the broad regional and international consensus on the two-State solution, promote intra-Palestinian reconciliation and focus on preventive diplomacy to avoid escalation of tensions. We welcome the increased engagement of the League and its members, including through an expanded Middle East Quartet and the so-called Amman format.
The two-State solution that realizes the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis, in line with UN resolutions is the only way to lead to sustainable peace between the two peoples.
The financial situation of UNRWA remains a serious concern. Sufficient funding is essential for UNRWA to continue delivering its vital services to millions of Palestine refugees in the region and playing its critical stabilizing role.
Our two organizations are also active in the Friends of Sudan format, which supports Sudan’s transition to democratic governance. We are grateful for the League’s generous pledge of support at the Sudan Partnership Conference, hosted by Germany last June.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, successive UN envoys have worked closely with the League in the search for a political solution. We are grateful for the League’s support to Special Envoy Pedersen’s efforts to facilitate the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee and to broaden the political process to all aspects of Security Council Resolution 2254.
On Yemen, the support of key Member States of the UN and the League is crucial to not only achieve progress on the political track but also to support the world’s largest aid operation and urgently address the growing risk of famine before it is too late.
Despite our efforts, heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf region persist. The Secretary-General continues to call for restraint by all sides and stresses the need to avoid acts of or rhetoric that may escalate tensions. We urge all concerned, in the region and beyond, to opt for dialogue to address their respective security concerns. The United Nations stands ready to support such measures.
We welcome the recent al-Ula declaration recognizing the importance of unity among the Gulf Cooperation Council states and hope it will strengthen regional security, stability and prosperity.
The UN and the League recognize the urgent need to include more women at all levels and aspects of peace processes. We have made important strides in this area. For example, 30 percent of participants in the Syrian Constitutional Committee are women, as are 22 percent of participants in the Libya Political Dialogue. I commend the Arab Women Mediation Network, established under the auspices of the League in collaboration with UN Women, which will enable the region to increase women’s participation in resolving conflicts and sustaining peace. We encourage expansion of this important initiative.
The United Nations and the Arab League have increased cooperation in recent years, conducting staff exchanges, workshops on mediation and peacebuilding, and capacity-building exercises on inclusive peacemaking, among other activities.
The United Nations Liaison Office to the League of Arab States, established in 2019, has strengthened our communication and cooperation. The Office has also facilitated regular contacts between UN Special Envoys and the League. We look forward to building on these contacts as we address regional crises.
In December 2021, we will hold the fifteenth general cooperation meeting between the United Nations and the League to advance a biennial framework that encompasses activities in peace and security, development, human rights and humanitarian concerns.
Allow me to conclude by stressing the critical role of the Security Council in amplifying our collective efforts in the region. The impact of a united and actively engaged Security Council is incomparable. We look to the Council, as a principal steward of Chapter VIII of the Charter, to continue to support the UN’s collaborative work with the League of Arab States to promote peace and prosperity in the Arab region.