United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said UN Security Council had many tools to encourage and seek to secure peaceful resolution of disputes before they escalated.
Ban made this known on Monday in New York, in his remarks at the security council open debate on “Respect for the Principles and Purpose of the Charter as Key Element for the Maintenance of My International Peace and Security.”
He also said that the unity of the council was the most crucial factor.
“We have seen what [heights] are possible when unity is visible and we have seen the depths that are inevitable when unity has vanished.
“We must not avert our eyes from these or other such situations, no matter how complex or contentious they might be to discuss.
“The world must see that the council is addressing the situations that matter most to most people,” he said.
He added that 2015 saw important steps to uphold the values and advance the vision set out in the charter of the UN.
These, he said, included reviews of international peace and security architecture that provided valuable ideas for strengthening ‘’our work in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building”.
“The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change demonstrated UN’s capacity to overcome divisions and chart a course towards the common good.
“While we celebrate these achievements, we must also recognize that 2015 was one of the most troubled and turbulent years in recent history.
“Civil wars ravaged Syria and Yemen; violent extremism spread.
“The blatant disrespect for fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law defies our common humanity and challenges the council in fulfilling its duties under the Charter.
“For the millions living amidst war and extreme poverty, and for countless others whose rights are violated or neglected in other ways, the ideals and aspirations of the Charter remain elusive.
“Bringing the promise of the Charter to the most vulnerable must continue to be our goal,” Ban said.
He said that decades of experience had validated the charter’s vision, adding that the UN understood better than ever that peace, development and human rights were intrinsically connected.
“We have seen that conflict-affected countries generally experience the highest poverty rates, and were the least likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
“We know that human rights abuses are our most effective early warning signs of the instability that often escalates into atrocity crimes.
“The primary responsibility for preventing conflict and protecting human rights lies with Member States.
“It is clearly established in the charter, and reiterated in numerous resolutions adopted by this Council as well as by the General Assembly.
“In some situations, member states may lack the capacity to fulfil their obligations. In others, it is member states themselves which are the main violators of human rights,” he said.
The scribe said that UN could help member states to meet national challenges and uphold their responsibilities to protect.
He said that the Human Rights Up-Front Initiative was helping the UN system to coordinate better across the peace and security, development and human rights pillars, and engage member states at early stages of crises.
“We are placing a growing focus on prevention through both early warning and early action.
“We should all prefer to assess early information than to wait for the warning signs of disaster.
“We should be open to modest steps that could address situations of concern before they grow more serious and complex.
“Our engagement with member states on these matters will continue to be based on cooperation, transparency and respect for sovereignty,’ he said.
Ban reminded the session that Article 99 of the Charter empowers the secretary-general to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.
“Whether or not Article 99 is formally invoked may be secondary, first and foremost is our responsibility to alert the council when we see situations that we feel require its engagement.
“I will continue to act in that spirit when considering which items reach the agenda of the Security Council.
“My further hope is that we will be driven by the Charter, not by geopolitical rivalries or other external dynamics.
“When a member state uses an overly broad definition of terrorism to monopolize power at the risk of long-term stability, it would seem to merit the Council’s attention.
“When we see massive loss of lives and cross-border flows of people, that would seem to merit the Council’s attention,” he said. (NAN)
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