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Statement by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering in the UNSC Open Debate: Upholding the United Nations Charter

09.01.2020 - Speech

Mr. President, dear colleagues,

Congratulations to Vietnam on joining the Security Council and assuming this month’s presidency. We should all applaud Vietnam for the topic of today’s debate. 

I certainly do, because in fact the Charter of the United Nations and – allow me to add – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are in fact the fundamental reason for our work here in the United Nations. They guide our peaceful coexistence as “nations large and small”. 

75 years after the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it is not clear how we will be able to transmit this remarkable progress for humankind to the next century. 

What will the world look like another 75 years from now, on the threshold to the 22nd century? 

Written at the end of the darkest days in the history of humankind, the Charter represented new hope for the peoples of the world. Threats to peace and security were to be resolved thereafter through the force of the law rather the law of force. 

Germany became a member of the United Nations in 1973. With our accession to the UN not even 30 years after the horrors of World War II, my country was given a seat at the table of nations once again. Our past instills in us a particular responsibility for the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

As a member of the Security Council, we are also guided by the will to defend and strengthen the rules-based international order and to promote universal respect for human rights. We firmly believe that respecting the Charter and commonly agreed international rules is the best way to help to foster peace and security and the well-being of all nations and peoples. 

My plea today to all representatives around this table and the wider UN is to return to the roots of this organization which was built on the basis of sharing power, mutual respect and joint responsibility. This shared power came from a position of power, from lessons learned and conviction. And: Talking of founding fathers - and mothers: Eleanor Roosevelt said: “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” 

Conflict after conflict in the past, from the Sahel to the Balkans, from Asia to North Africa, has taught us the lesson for today, namely that lasting peace and security can never be achieved by military means.

We need to prioritize prevention and look at long term drivers of conflict. Without respect for human rights, good governance and social inclusion, peace will remain elusive. The Security Council has increasingly embraced the advancement of human rights as a critical element of promoting peace and security and preventing conflicts and atrocities. Germany attaches great importance to that. 

The women, peace and security agenda is also a priority of Germany’s Security Council membership. With the upcoming 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325, this year will be critical for expediting the agenda’s implementation and including Resolution 2467 on ending sexual violence in conflict.

In its second year on the Security Council, Germany continues to call for respect for international law, including the law of the sea, international humanitarian law and promoting and upholding human rights.

We will continue to advance the disarmament agenda. We will fight for accountability for grave human rights violations, atrocities crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Multilateral cooperation is the backbone of our foreign policy and promoting the rules-based global order with the UN at its core is at the heart of our interests. That is why German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian and other partners co-founded the “Alliance for Multilateralism” last year.

Its objective is to support and strengthen the international rules-based order with the UN Charter and other international law at its heart. More than 50 countries are already working together in this framework, both in and with the UN

We strive to tackle emerging threats through the development of new multilaterally agreed rules and principles. Examples include “Humanitarian Call for Action” and the principles agreed in Geneva on “lethal autonomous weapons systems”. We will also strive to promote norms and principles for upholding stability in cyberspace. 

In this vein, we encourage the Security Council – in line with the Charter of the United Nations – to address new threats to peace and security, including gross human rights violations, the effects of climate change, and the risks emanating from new technologies, which often act as drivers of conflict. 

Mr. President, Excellencies, 

The recent events in the Middle East are of serious concern to all of us. Regional security and stability are at stake. A military confrontation, let alone a full scale war, would have terrible consequences for the lives of the people in the Middle East and beyond. We are relieved to see signs of deescalation and call for maximum restraint.

The UN was founded on one central aspiration:  to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. We must be clear: conflicts can only be solved by political means. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is up to us, whether our grandchildren will remember us with pride and hope for a better future, as we today commemorate the work of the pioneers who founded the UN as the power of justice is justice of power.

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