Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council Consultations (VTC) on UNRCCA, July 6

06.07.2020 - Speech

Natalia [Gherman, SRSG, Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA)], thank you very much for your briefing and your very comprehensive work. I encourage you to continue on this track. I would be interested to get a copy of the best essay that comes out of your contest on regional cooperation, just to see what the youth are thinking and writing.

I can be brief. I want to make three points. Natalia, you and colleagues have mentioned the effects of climate change, the repercussions of water scarcity, etc., and you mentioned Germany's Green Central Asia (GCA) Initiative. In fact, for more than twelve years, Germany has been focusing on trans-boundary water governance in the nexus between climate and security. We see that water resources in Central Asia are politically very relevant, and recent border incidents have demonstrated this. Through the GCA Initiative, Germany promotes regional dialogue on the risks that come with climate change. We see, as a result, some positive developments with regard to institution-building as well as in science and education. After the founding of the GCA Initiative, the six foreign ministers of the region have been working closely together. We aim at having a Joint Action Plan ready by the end of the year.

I said the six countries of the region, which brings me to the second point: the inclusion of Afghanistan. I echo the questions that have been raised by other Council members about the cooperation between UNRCCA and UNAMA. We very much support what Natalia is doing there in the context of preventive diplomacy. We think that you can contribute to the mitigation of the risk of regional instability, in particular during COVID-19.

Now we come to the third point, starting with what Natalia said about COVID-19, and in particular, how it affects women. I would also echo the question regarding women's participation and what can be done to promote this? This brings me to the larger picture of respect for human rights and counter-terrorism. A lot has been said about counter-terrorism here. Natalia mentioned pillar four of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the respect for human rights. This is very much in the center of our work. We are ready to support governments in their endeavors to strengthen human rights.

We have heard in the Security Council about studies by UNDP on the pathways to extremism. It's very clear that violating human rights and marginalizing youth lead to extremism. Therefore, respect for human rights is key. We urge all states in Central Asia to live up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, refrain from any measures curtailing them, be it through limiting freedom of religion or belief, freedom of movement, freedom to peaceful assembly, freedom of speech, or the protection of minorities. As colleagues have said before, it is very important that we respect the principle of non-refoulement in cases where minorities are potentially subject to ending up in detention camps or the like. We encourage all governments to closely cooperate in the framework of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, and to issue standing invitations to these Procedures.

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