Speech: Acting with Unity

MoD_RSS

War Hero
Thank you very much Mr President. I wanted to start by apologising for my absence at the start of this debate. I left the chamber to go to a Remembrance service for the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. I think it’s very good and thank China that we’re having this debate day so close to that anniversary, which started the march to multilateralism in earnest, even though some foundations had been laid in the previous century. And of course the end of World War II saw the creation of the United Nations and the United Nations be the apex of the [rules-based international] system that, on the whole, has kept us all safe and prosperous since 1945.

I wanted too to say at the outset how grateful we are to the United States for giving the United Nations its home here in New York and for their contribution, without which many of the gains of the preceding almost 70 years could not have been made.

I’d like to speak on three themes today: One, on collective challenges; one on the particular role of the Security Council; and one on what we now need to do, in our view, to strengthen multilateralism.

In my own country, public debate on foreign policy issues nearly always features as a reference to the need for a solution to be pursued through the United Nations, no matter where on the political spectrum the comment is made from. Post-Brexit you will find the United Kingdom an even more active participant in the affairs of the UN and of global affairs more generally.

Mr President, 70 years ago no one could accuse the UN founding fathers of a lack of ambition but since its foundation, the United Nations has faced an almost unbridgeable gap between its ambition and our ability to help it deliver.

Important gains have been made. Kofi Annan spoke of pushing heavy rocks to the top of the hill, even though some had eluded our grasp and that we needed to keep going. What I wanted to stress Mr President was that whatever country’s economic or security model, all the evidence shows that countries thrive best if they have open societies, if they pursue open trade, open speech, open association and open information.

A rules-based international system which preserves stability is in the interests of the vast majority of the member states of this organisation but, as many of you have identified today, we face a proliferation of threats from many quarters. We have heard a lot of reference to those today. Some of them have been the cause of great dispute in this Council but they are all relevant to the entire membership, whether you are on the Council, electing a member of the Council or standing for election yourself. No nation can protect its people without engaging positively in the crises that affect the world. I cannot see a single major threat that can be solved by one nation alone, whether it’s migration, cybercrime, modern day slavery, terrorist threats, disease or climate change. All these threats challenge security and prosperity at home and they challenge collective security. They can be resolved only by collective action on the world’s stage.

But effective collective action Mr President, can not only mean action by consensus. Threats to international peace and security, by their nature, often involve a challenge to international law and norms. It logically cannot be the case that action to uphold international peace and security must always be by consensus; that will not be sufficient.

You, Mr President, spoke of the need for the Security Council to act with unity, wisdom and courage. Our collective wisdom tells us that inaction in the face of gross abuses of human rights and violations of international law - acts of genocide, acts of using prohibited weapons – [like chemical weapons] - leads to disastrous outcomes and hence we fail to uphold international peace and security because we lack the courage to act on the wisdom we display. We end up being disunited.

From Rwanda to Srebrenica, to current conflicts in Myanmar and Syria, we are failing the cause of multilateralism by failing to act in line with the Charter. The United Nations Security Council was invested with powers under Chapter VII of the Charter in order to fulfil its duties to maintain international peace and security, but if we are blocked by one or two members from using those powers, that is not a legitimate expression of the Charter but an abuse of the power of the veto.

Mr President, we completely share the views of those Security Council members who spoke about the importance of Chapter VI and Chapter VIII of the Charter relating to the Security Council. To that I would also add Article 99 which we believe is underused - the ability of the Secretary-General to draw matters to the Security Council’s attention.

But I want to stress Mr President that under Chapter VI, the Security Council may investigate any dispute or any situation that may give rise to a dispute and may determine whether or not it constitutes international friction and endangers the maintenance of international peace and security. The Charter does not require the Security Council already to agree that such a threat exists, and it is our view Mr President that the more some countries try and stifle Security Council discussion of these situations under Chapter VI- for example, when a government is attacking its own people or abusing its neighbours - the more likely it is, if Chapter VI is stifled, that more dramatic action will be needed eventually under Chapter VII. That’s an irony Mr President, that I think the Security Council should do well to reflect on.

A rules-based international system Mr President must, of course, adapt to thrive. It must even adapt if it wants to survive. A number of speakers today have called attention to the importance of supporting reform, and I would like to add the UK’s voice that as well, and I would say that that includes Security Council reform.

I think we must also redouble our efforts to defend the rules-based international order. We need multilateral organizations that are fit for purpose. We need to reform outdated and bureaucratic structures. This is the best way to make sure that the institutions do not collapse. We need WTO reform so that we succeed in warding off the dangerous temptations of protectionism and we need World Bank reform so that its governance reflects the changing balance of the global economy. We need to strengthen the invisible chain that links democracies and we must also ensure though, at the same time, that we are better at acting in concert when we face real and present threats.

[I have two difficult messages for member states today. The first is that the rules-based international system requires us all to uphold it; we cannot pick and choose the rules we would like to adhere to. Secondly, we must collectively but robustly confront that minority of states who defy this collective will. If you use chemical weapons, and a UN investigation finds that you have done so, we cannot sit in this Chamber and talk about the importance of multilateral solutions without talking about it. Sovereignty isn’t a license to play fast and loose with international rules and norms; it isn’t a license to abuse and attack your own people; it isn’t a license to annex other people’s territory. The P5 have a particular role in this regard, whether your preferred reading is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Stan Lee: with great power comes great responsibility.]

Mr President, we would see one of the most important things as a renewed commitment from all members of the Council but also all members of the General Assembly, a more a stronger commitment to responsibility and partnership from both state and non-state actors - civil society, the private sector. It is all about what we can do together as we move towards the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations in 2020.

The SDGs are the most supreme, if you like, manifestation of this goal. And this goal is all the more important as we grapple with new and disruptive technologies, like artificial intelligence and cyber which will change the way governments interact with each other and with their own citizens.

So while the United Kingdom Mr President strongly agrees with the premise of this debate, we know that we must be vigilant against the tendency of this subject to become an exercise in mutual adoration. In conflicts, atrocities are committed and international laws are breached. An increase in the use of multilateralism should never be coded language for negotiating agreements with those who have violated the rules of our international system.

Thank you Mr President.

[Please note: remarks in square brackets were in the original version of this statement but were not delivered in the Council].

Continue reading...
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS Speech: Acting within the core Security Council mandate to protect civilian populations affected by conflict MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Julia Lopez speech at techUK’s ‘Building the Smarter State’ Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor’s Speech: White Paper Launch - A Smarter Approach to Sentencing MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Robert Jenrick's speech to Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Home Secretary speech at the Police Superintendents' Association conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chartered Institute of Housing 2020: Housing Minister's speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary's speech at meeting of UK, German and French defence ministers MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech to ICAEW Virtual Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor’s Mansion House speech to the judiciary MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chief Secretary to the Treasury delivers his first speech in the role to thinktank Onward MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Universities Minister speech at Festival of Higher Education MoD News 0
MoD_RSS George Eustice speech on environmental recovery: 20 July 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Commander Strategic Command, General Sir Patrick Sanders’ Speech at the Air and Space Power Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Amb Pruce's Speech at the Forum on Youths’ SOGIE & Mental Health
 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary keynote speech at the Air and Space Power Conference 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary Ben Wallace gives a speech at the Air and Space Power Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Alex Chisholm speech at Civil Service Live 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Foreign Secretary speech at India Global Week MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Education Secretary FE speech with Social Market Foundation MoD News 0
MoD_RSS A Plan for Jobs speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Local Government Association annual conference 2020: Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government's speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rushi Sunak, on the future relationship between the UK and Switzerland on financial services MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Environment Secretary speech at the COP26 Business Leaders Event MoD News 0
MoD_RSS PM Economy Speech: 30 June 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Has coronavirus killed globalisation: speech by Laura Clarke MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Digital Secretary's closing speech to the UK Tech Cluster Group MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Fiona MacGregor speech at Digital Housing Week – 22 June 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Leader of the House of Commons speech: 8 June 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Caroline Dinenage's keynote speech for the Founders Forum - Healthtech stage MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Caroline Dinenage's keynote speech at the CogX Createch Stage MoD News 0
MoD_RSS COP26 President speech at Race to Zero campaign launch MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Tourism Minister's speech at the Extraordinary G20 Tourism Ministers' Meeting on Covid-19 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS COP26 President speech at opening of Placencia Ambition Forum MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Gavin Williamson speech on COVID-19 response MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Queen's Counsel Appointments Ceremony 2020: Lord Chancellor speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Economic secretary speech to the ABCUL MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Education Secretary speech at ASCL's Annual Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech for Airport Operators Association annual dinner MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Budget Speech 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss speech at The House magazine's Women in Westminster: The 100 event MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Housing Minister's speech to the Planning Inspectorate MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary Ben Wallace gives a speech to the Atlantic Council MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden's speech at the Enders Media and Telecoms Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Times Law Awards 2020: Robert Buckland speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Nigel Huddleston Youth Sport Trust Annual Conference speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech at GCR Live: Telecoms, Media and Technology 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS IAP Keeping Safe Conference: Robert Buckland speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS HMA Daniel Pruce's Speech at the Media Freedom Reception MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Nicky Morgan's speech on the future of media and broadcasting MoD News 0
MoD_RSS PM speech at COP 26 Launch: 4 February 2020 MoD News 0
Similar threads


















































Top