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Statement by Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu at Security Council open debate on Upholding the United Nations Charter to Maintain International Peace and Security

9. January 2020 - 18:04

Statement by H.E. Mr Urmas Reinsalu
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
Security Council open debate on Upholding the United Nations Charter to Maintain International Peace and Security
9 January 2020

Mr. President,

On behalf of Estonia I would like to thank the government of Vietnam for convening this important debate on the role of the United Nations Charter and to thank our briefers for their statements.

At the outset, allow me to express my deepest condolences to the victims and their loved ones of the Ukrainian plane crash near Tehran. I hope the circumstances of this tragedy will be investigated promptly, fully and independently.

Our multilateral system established after the World War II is a network of agreements and organisations born to save future generations from grave sufferings and endless wars. It is widely believed that an institutionalized international cooperation provides relative stability, security and predictability. If this cooperation fails the probability for conflicts increases, then we fail to collectively stop acts of aggressions, terrorism and other grave violations of international law.

We are living through turbulent and uneasy times.
Recent tensions in the Middle East concern us seriously. I have condemned attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and condemn missile attacks on the two bases in Iraq that also house Estonian troops. Despite some recent signs of de-escalation, the situation remains tense. I call for serious negotiations between parties to ease tensions and to avoid nuclear proliferation.

When it comes to the worldwide cooperation, there is no other organization like the UN. The United Nations is the so called primary infrastructure for global cooperation. Our support for the UN and its Charter is based on the assumption that many problems can be solved, or solved better together rather than bilaterally or single-handedly. Such cooperation produces global public goods, such as better health, security and knowledge. The Charter of the UN stands as a constitution of this cooperation -  it shall serve as a source of peace and stability only when its principles are upheld.

In this context we are observing with concern how violations of international law, including the UN Charter, are taking place in Europe. Concerning the violations against Ukraine and Georgia, the Security Council has drawn attention to grave breaches of international law against these countries. At the same time, the General Assembly has adopted resolutions expressing grave concern over the actions against the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine and Georgia. These are concerns we wholeheartedly share.

According to the Charter, the Security Council is responsible for upholding and promoting international law, those who drafted the Charter also stressed  the respect for human rights. We know that states that respect human rights and dignity are more stable, both within their own national borders and in relation to other states. Thus it remains crucial that in situations of grave violations of international humanitarian law the Security Council engages and reacts. That has not been the case with regard to the tragedy in Syria where the veto has been used over and over again. For that the Syrian people pay the highest possible price.

Mr President,
The Secretary General has reminded that “While the Charter’s Principles are as relevant as ever, we must continue to update its tools, we must use those tools with greater determination”. Those with special tools and privilege granted by the Charter have also special responsibility – especially when it comes to the veto. Estonia believes that countries should refrain from voting against initiatives preventing or halting mass atrocities. The Security Council must lead here by example.

Mr President,
Estonia started its membership in the Security Council this month – thank you all who placed their trust and confidence in us. It is great responsibility, as well as opportunity – opportunity to excercise global responsibility. We look forward to talk to all of you and are open to hear your concerns and ideas. Principles of the UN Charter and international rule of law will be leading us also while in the Council.
Thank you, Mr President.

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