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Full Participation of Youth in Decision-making Key to Shaping Brighter Future for All, Social Development Commission Hears as General Debate Continues

Younger generations must have readily available tools enabling their full participation in decision‑making arenas to better shape a brighter future for all, the Commission for Social Development heard today as it continued its general debate.

“We live in a non‑linear and non‑static world,” said a young delegate, briefing the Commission on discussions at the Economic and Social Council Youth Forum held 30‑31 January.  (See Press Release ECOSOC/6881.)  “We are left with two options:  Submit or reinvent.”

While many young people had chosen the latter option and were now formulating new solutions across a range of sectors, she underlined the urgent need for more investment to involve youth in advancing the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In the Youth Forum’s current deliberations, participants had called for improving the use of science, technology and innovation, greater involvement of young people at the grassroots level, more transparent Governments, reducing the voting age and stronger efforts to prevent radicalization, among other things.

Boosting youth participation in efforts to shape a better world for all based on 2030 Agenda principles was a recurrent theme during the Commission’s day‑long general debate.  Many representatives and their youth delegates highlighted pressing concerns, from clean water access to quality education.  Some warned of new challenges to food and water security, given that by 2030 about 60 per cent of the world’s population would live in cities, and over half of those urban dwellers would be under age 18.

Imagine a world in which every person supported the vision of the 2030 Agenda because they had the knowledge and skills to do so, one of Germany’s youth delegates told the Commission.  To make that happen, he asked Member State representatives to take action in three areas — guarantee human rights for all, establish a youth delegate programme and support youth organizations to provide young people with the skills they needed today to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, including preparing them for jobs that did not yet exist.

His peer reminded delegates that young people’s inspirational visions could in fact guide policy in significant ways, as they largely believed in intercultural dialogue and equal gender rights.

“We all want to live in richer societies, have better access to education and better jobs; this aspiration of ours makes us firm believers in the [Sustainable Development] Goals and staunch promoters of their [2030] Agenda,” Serbia’s youth delegate said, emphasizing the role young people could play in implementing 2030 Agenda targets related to education and poverty eradication.

Some young representatives described how they were already involved in development efforts, with some calling for further action to make them true agents of change.  Youth engagement in Bulgaria’s national and global processes had become a tradition, with young people having an important role to play in mobilizing their local communities to initiate action that would contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, said youth delegates from that country.

Including youth at all levels of decision‑making was crucial for fostering positive social change and creating sustainable societies, they went on to say, calling on Member States to ensure their inclusion.  They underlined that young people must be enabled to act as agents of positive social change, contributing to promoting awareness of the 2030 Agenda and using sports and intercultural dialogue as tools to enhance tolerance and respect for human rights.

Throughout the day, many delegates voiced their recognition of the power and potential of younger generations.  Afghanistan’s representative said because his country recognized the critical role youth would play in its sustainable development, a national youth policy was now working to address high youth unemployment rates and bolster investments in young Afghans.  Similarly, Senegal’s delegate said a national fund had invested $411 million to enhancing youth employment opportunities, and Qatar’s representative said a recently signed memorandum of understanding between his Government and the United Nations aimed at combating terrorism and protecting young people, in particular from recruitment by violent extremists.

Also participating were representatives and youth delegates of Morocco, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Finland, Cuba, Mali, Cabo Verde, Botswana, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Italy, Monaco, Maldives, Cameroon, Benin, Brazil, Turkey, China, Zambia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Viet Nam, Myanmar, Honduras, Iraq, Iran, Austria, Nepal, Ecuador, Republic of Moldova, Colombia, Sweden, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Libya, Nigeria, United States, Azerbaijan and Jamaica, as well as the Holy See.

Representatives of Soroptimist International and the International Federation on Ageing also spoke.

The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 2 February, to continue its work.

Briefing by Youth Delegate

RUXANDA RENITA, a youth representative speaking on behalf of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, briefed the Commission on the ongoing United Nations Youth Forum, stressing:  “We live in a non‑linear and non‑static world.”  More than 50 million young people around the world were migrants or refugees in search of a new home, she said, adding that for many of them basic services, such as the right to safe water, seemed a distant dream.  “We are left with two options:  Submit or reinvent,” she said, noting that many young people had chosen the second option and were now formulating new solutions, especially in the social and environmental arenas.  As an immigrant herself, she had jumped from continent to continent in search of a home where all her human rights would be realized.

In the Youth Forum’s current deliberations, young people had reaffirmed the basic right to safe water and sanitation, identifying the excessive burden women faced in those areas due to social taboos around menstrual hygiene, she said.  Participants had identified a need to improve energy access to all populations and enhance the flexibility and effectiveness of energy systems in remote areas around the world.  Cities also needed to become more youth- and gender‑responsive, enhanced efforts to combat social exclusion and ensure the safety of women and young people.  A breakout session on Sustainable Development Goal 12 had spotlighted the role of social entrepreneurs, and youth present for that discussion had underlined the need to use both formal and non‑formal education, as well as better knowledge‑sharing, to improve the world’s consumption and production patterns.

Among other things, participants had called for improving the use of science, technology and innovation, greater involvement of young people at the grassroots level, more transparent Governments, reducing the voting age and stronger efforts to prevent radicalization.  Within the United Nations system, youth participation had increased in recent years, as had the awareness of the important role young people would play in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  However, she said, more investment in such initiatives was still urgently needed.

Statements

SIDY GUEYE, Permanent Secretary of Ministry for Family, Women and Gender of Senegal, associating himself with the statements previously delivered on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China as well as the African Group, outlined programmes aimed at reorienting Senegal’s strategies to achieve a minimum 75 per cent health care coverage and the reduction of outward migration.  A national fund devoted $411 million to enhancing employment opportunities for youth, and would be increased in upcoming years.  National funds also offered support to entrepreneurs, and the country had declared 2018 a year of social development.  The “National Agency of the Green Wall” had established a programme against decertification, working to reduce poverty and create jobs.  Other Government ministries and agencies worked to ensure that rural populations remained independent and successful in their production activities.

MIRWAIS BAHEEJ, Director General of Planning and Consolidation of the Ministry for Economy of Afghanistan, said the threats of violent extremism and terrorism in his country continued to hamper efforts to combat poverty.  However, the Government and people remained committed to move Afghanistan forward towards sustainable development, peace and prosperity.  Among other priorities, the Government was working to boost women’s control over economic assets, create 1 million new jobs across various sectors, and increase production in order to substitute Afghanistan’s imports with domestic products.  Noting that returning refugees and displaced persons were migrating in large numbers to the country’s’ cities, putting more pressure on local governments, he said the national Government had responded through accelerated efforts to increase job opportunities for returnees, and thereby improve their self‑reliance.  It was also working to provide every Afghan village with access to basic services and the mechanisms for their delivery, as well as critical infrastructure, which would also create many new jobs.  Afghanistan recognized the critical role youth would play in its sustainable development, and had therefore put in place a National Youth Policy that was now working to address the country’s high youth unemployment rates and bolster investments in young Afghans.

ABDESSAMAD LAURANI, Director of Social Development, Ministry for Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development of Morocco, said national progress over the last 15 years had been seen in areas such as human rights due to better investments in infrastructure and targeted programmes.  Poverty had been reduced, basic services now reached all citizens and youth had been integrated into social development policies.  Industrial, tourism and artisanal sectors had been developed alongside gains seen in agricultural and fisheries, with job creation that encouraged youth to undertake a spirit of entrepreneurship.  Water resources had been addressed through waste management and renewable energy efforts.  Vulnerable groups had benefited from policies addressing gender equality, child protection and protections for persons with disabilities.  A new social registry aimed at combating poverty, institutional reform was improving coordination to ameliorate social assistance programmes and national plans considered youth, literacy and immigration.

A youth delegate from Germany said young people’s inspirational visions could guide policy in significant ways, as they believed in intercultural dialogue and equal gender rights.  Asking delegates how they viewed the world when they had been young themselves, for instance, dreaming of a bright future or falling in love with someone whom they should not have due to various forms of discrimination, she wondered whether they would have liked the international community to help them realize their visions.

A youth delegate from Germany asked Member State representatives to imagine a world in which every person supported the vision of the 2030 Agenda because they had the knowledge to do so.  He then asked them to take action in three areas — guarantee human rights for all, establish a youth delegate programme and support youth organizations to provide young people with the skills they needed today to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, including preparing them for future jobs that did not exist today.

PATRYCJA PUZ, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Poland, aligning herself with the European Union, said family development and security form pillars of the Government’s policies.  A flagship scheme of family allowance had allowed extended investments in children’s education while a housing subsidy programme was reaching those in need.  Social policy on older persons was being developed to set standards for assistance from welfare institutions.  Medium- and long‑term actions aimed at advancing progress on responsible development were expected to decrease the number of people living in poverty.  Actions also aimed to improve health care services.

PASCAL FOUDRIERE, Deputy Head of the European and International Affairs Unit of the Ministry for Solidarities and Health of France, associating himself with the European Union, said many countries had seen accelerated ageing in their populations and some remained unable to adapt their policies accordingly.  Europe in particular must adapt its Government programmes to the needs of the twenty‑first century, he said, describing poverty eradication as a central goal and underlining the need for commitment at the highest level.  National level social policies must be mutually strengthening and fully aligned with other measures, including economic ones, and such fully integrated approaches must also involve researchers, civil society, entrepreneurs, farmers, and others on the ground.  New approaches must be identified to overcome the failures of past policies, he said, also calling for more equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.  Ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games to be hosted in France in 2020, the country had invested some 870 million euros in improved transport and accessibility, and was increasing job creation and hiring.

NAJAT DAHAM AL ABDALLAH, Director of Family Affairs of Qatar, expressing her country’s commitment to inclusive social development and poverty eradication, said it promoted the creation of environments conducive to youth skills development and their participation in public life.  Among other things, Qatar had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations aimed at combating terrorism and protecting young people in particular from recruitment by violent extremists.  Underlining efforts currently under way to ensure that the 2020 Football World Cup — to be held in Qatar — would be inclusive for all people, including those with disabilities, she went on to note that the country’s Vision 2030 plan was fully aligned with the global 2030 Agenda.  Nevertheless, Qatar faced serious challenges following the June 2017 application of unjust, unilateral economic sanctions against it.  Describing those measures as major violations of the economic, social and human rights of the Qatari people, she said they had disproportionately affected women and children, prevented students from continuing their university studies, and restricted the critical travel of Qatari citizens to other countries.

RALITSA DIKANSKA and ASSYA PANDZHAROVA, youth delegates of Bulgaria, said they were proud their country included youth empowerment and participation as one of its four main priorities in its political agenda.  Youth engagement in national and global processes had become a tradition for Bulgaria, with young people having an important role in mobilizing their local communities to initiate action that would contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Their involvement was essential to eliminate poverty and all forms of inequalities and discrimination.  Young people must be enabled to act as agents of positive social change, helping to promote awareness of the 2030 Agenda and using sports and intercultural dialogue as tools to enhance tolerance and respect for human rights.  Including youth at all levels of decision‑making was crucial for fostering positive social change and creating sustainable societies, they said, calling on Member States to ensure their inclusion.

JAHKINI BISSELINK, youth delegate from the Netherlands, said by 2030 about 60 per cent of the world’s population would live in cities, 60 per cent of which would comprise people under age 18 who would face new challenges such as food and water accessibility.  Empowering youth as agents of change would help to address those challenges, she said, suggesting ways to do so, including stimulating cross‑cutting youth participation, promoting inclusive dialogue and enabling local talent development.  Elaborating on those recommendations, she urged all State and non‑State actors to start organizing and stimulating youth participation from local to global levels.  As a young person who had been a news reporter at age 11 and a museum employee at age 16, she said such opportunities in rural and urban areas, especially for girls, stimulated talent development.  Urban and rural areas needed vibrant local youth participation to realize their full potential to create resilient communities.

SAMEDIN ROVCANIN, youth delegate from Serbia, said youth inclusion was critically important in efforts related to the 2030 Agenda, pointing at the dreamers who had first conceived of the Millennium Development Goals.  “We all want to live in richer societies, have better access to education and better jobs; this aspiration of ours makes us firm believers in the [Sustainable Development] Goals and staunch promoters of their [2030] Agenda,” he said, emphasizing the role young people could play in implementing the Goals related to education and poverty eradication.  Commending the United Nations and its Member States for including his peers in related discussions, he said Serbia had taken important steps to address national challenges, including creating a road map for strategic cooperation in improving good governance, reducing poverty and protecting the environment.

IOANA COVEI, youth delegate from Romania, said that to address the Commission’s theme of inclusive, resilient and sustainable development, her country looked to an expanded definition of what it meant to be poor, one that looked not only at income or basic needs, but also at empowerment.  As the definition of a dignified life had evolved, poverty had come to include not only access to material resources but also to culture, political participation and the life of the community in general.  Youth was a time when people made important decisions in their lives.  For example, they could decide whether education was worth pursuing.  Increased financial support for young people with lower incomes was important, so that poverty was not an obstacle to accessing a universal right.

VLAD MACELARU, youth delegate from Romania, said that for young people with disabilities, unequal access to education could lead to a significantly higher rate of unemployment, and it was important to stress that much more should be done in terms of accessibility.  More training for teachers so that they could work with children with disabilities was essential to foster development.  Ethnic identity was another layer that could lead to income poverty and poverty in terms of access.  Obstacles to social development were connected and interdependent, and focusing on them separately diminished the potential for change.

KAI SAUER (Finland), associating himself with the European Union, said recent global crises had shown that economic approaches had negatively affected not only social rights but also long‑term fiscal and economic policies.  In contrast, new momentum towards more integrated policies should lead to improved social conditions and poverty eradication.  Calling for determined and integrated action to implement the 2030 Agenda — and for more attention to the follow‑up processes and the full use of indicators — he said Finland was currently carrying out several major reforms and pilot programmes related to economic and social rights.  A basic income experiment, started at the beginning of 2016, had selected 2,000 random persons as a sample to receive basic income as a substitute for some basic benefits including unemployment allowance.  That basic income — fixed at 560 euros per month — was tax-free, and meant to encourage people to accept temporary and part‑time work, allowing for a more empowering and streamlined employment incentive system.  Based on its results, Finland would consider introducing basic income as a tool in its renewed social security system.

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that in many countries, extreme poverty was still growing, and prospects for complying with Goal 1 were discouraging.  Political will was not enough, she said, emphasizing the need for material and financial resources, technology transfer and human resource training.  Developed countries must honour their commitments vis‑à‑vis official development assistance (ODA) and the international community must develop a genuine culture of solidarity.  A just international order must be promoted, protectionist and discriminatory trade policies against countries in the South must cease and developed countries must assume their historic responsibility for a serious environmental crisis.  She went on to note the progress Cuba had made in social development despite an economic, commercial and financial blockade that had gone on for nearly six decades.

ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the social needs of Mali’s people were a priority for its Government, which focused in particular on water, education, energy, health care and rural roads.  It was also focused on the social integration of older persons, persons with disabilities, women and children, as well as those who were victims of natural disasters or otherwise in need of humanitarian assistance, and broader efforts were also under way to reduce social risks.  Noting that 15 per cent of Mali’s national budget had been allocated to support the agricultural sector, surpassing the percentage mandated by the African Union, he said part of those funds were allotted as subsidies to farmers.  In 2016, the Government had adopted a strategic framework aimed at economic recovery and sustainable development in a Mali that was unified and at peace.  Included in that plan was a wide expansion of health insurance coverage and the establishment of a month of solidarity, to be celebrated annually in October, as well as additional efforts to support the most vulnerable.

JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde) said the world had recently seen progress in eliminating poverty, but “a long journey is ahead of us” in reducing the many inequalities that had emerged.  His country was committed to reducing poverty rates and had already made substantial progress during the Millennium Development Goal period.  The country’s strategic plan for the period 2017‑2022 was aligned with the 2030 Agenda, and prioritized inclusive economic and social development.  The needs of specific groups, including women, persons with disabilities and youth, were taken into account in that strategy as well as in national legislation.  Government measures also aimed to ensure the universal access to health care and social protection for elderly persons.  While domestic resources were central to funding all those measures, external partnerships also remained critical to helping Cabo Verde address its social issues and eradicate poverty.  In that context, he expressed concern that the country’s graduation from the least developed country category had excluded it from receiving much‑needed aid, and called on partners to continue to support the development efforts of graduated small island developing States.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that 1.1 billion people had been lifted out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2013.  Of the estimated 768.5 million people in the world living in extreme poverty, 390.2 million were in Africa.  In Botswana, it was estimated that 5.8 per cent of the population lived in abject poverty.  His Government had adopted several strategies, policies and programmes aimed at promoting sustainable development and eradicating extreme poverty.  A comprehensive social protection system that targeted the vulnerable and needy persons was also in place.  The Government had also created a Technical Devices Fund Levy, which promoted investment in the creative industries as an engine for job creation, poverty alleviation and economic diversification.  Funds had been allocated to promote arts, crafts and performances by local artists.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), citing his country’s progress in various social and economic development areas, said that as the world considered the future of social development, poverty eradication and the situation of least developed countries would be of particular concern.  Ensuring quality jobs, food security and nutrition and empowering people would be critical, he said, pointing out that Bangladesh had been enjoying a gradual but significant reduction in poverty, having seen a 6 per cent economic growth rate for more than a decade.  Bangladesh aimed to become a middle‑income country by 2021 and a developed nation after that.  Noting that its latest five‑year development plan was fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda, he said top priorities included the reduction of inequality through enhanced education programmes and social safety nets.  The country’s inclusive and “whole‑of‑society” approach targeted vulnerable groups and families in order to ensure that no one was left behind.  However, the major recent humanitarian crisis emerging from Myanmar — with over 1 million Rohingyas having arrived in Bangladesh, most since August 2017 — was posing considerable challenges that threatened to negatively impact Bangladesh’s development efforts.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Group of 77, warned that increasing vulnerability and exclusion, the persistence of unaccountable institutions and continuing conflicts and violence all threatened global development efforts.  That was even more true at a time when “the monster of social discrimination and exclusion based on religion, race, gender and ethnicity is raising its ugly head once again,” she stressed, adding that only realistic and determined social and economic policymaking and implementation could effectively combat poverty.  The Government of Pakistan had put in place people‑centred policies aimed at lifting people out of poverty, promoting fiscal inclusion, boosting agricultural growth, accelerating rural development and providing education opportunities.  The Pakistan Vision 2025 plan aimed to create new and better opportunities for the country’s people, and such initiatives as the Benazir Income Support Programme — a nationwide social safety net plan — provided support to vulnerable people.  Citing gender empowerment as another crucial element, she also drew attention to robust regional partnerships and examples of South‑South cooperation, such as the China‑Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said national efforts were advancing progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including through poverty eradication programmes and multisector projects guided by policies boosting job opportunities, increasing skills and ensuring women’s empowerment.  Government strategies and policies would continue to focus on health, education, housing and employment, she said, emphasizing that human rights‑centred approaches were shaping future efforts.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍS (Bolivia), endorsing the statement made by the Group of 77, said a global context of social crisis, exclusion, migration, climate change consequences and youth unemployment had demonstrated rapidly increasing income gaps nationally and globally.  Public policies in Bolivia had significantly reduced extreme poverty levels over the past decade, with a gross domestic product (GDP) that had more than doubled since 2005 alongside steady declines in school dropout levels and child mortality rates.  Laws, policies and efforts were addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, and gains had been made in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Emphasizing Bolivia’s generous social spending programme, he said that before 2005, 82 per cent of the country’s oil wealth rested with transnational corporations and 18 per cent in national hands.  Today, those figures were reversed, which could serve as an example to others.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) commended the work and priority themes of the Commission in regard to helping States implement the 2030 Agenda.  Eradicating poverty would help to address the other Sustainable Development Goals and targets, he said, adding that Italy fully supported efforts to address the needs of groups such as women, migrants and children.  The vicious cycle of poverty must be overcome by building resilience and ending a culture of dependency.  Italy invested in young people as key drivers of change, including education programmes focused on human rights and the importance of intercultural dialogue.  Citing other efforts, he said persons with disabilities enjoyed protection under laws and innovative projects.

ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco), noting that the 2030 Agenda goals had been based on the 1995 Copenhagen Programme of Action, raised three areas of concern — poverty eradication, health care and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.  While progress had been achieved on the former, a new type of poverty in the form of nutritional or sanitary deprivation was emerging.  Access to education and decent work would help to reduce inequalities, particularly between rural and urban populations, by investing in the most disadvantaged.  Monaco also placed great importance on building effective health care systems that reached the most vulnerable.  Turning to the needs of older persons, she said Monaco supported inclusive societies to foster sustainable development.

GEORGINA GALANIS, Soroptimist International, speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Global Citizenship 2030, said members promoted the values of the United Nations.  The 2030 Agenda aimed at freeing the world of poverty and the correction of current inequalities in a sustainable manner.  Global citizens aimed at empowering themselves in their communities, she said, emphasizing the need to take action on eliminating poverty and meaningfully addressing related pressing concerns.  The root causes must be addressed, including the impoverishment of values that had led to, among other things, militarism and greed.  To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, actions must centre on respect for one another, she said.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said poverty was a common enemy of civil society and eliminating it should be a shared goal.  Turning to the 2030 Agenda targets, he said national investments in education, housing and health were part of efforts to ensure that no one was left behind.  Providing some examples, he said a national elderly policy provided financial and emotional support to older persons and the 2016 Gender Equality Act was addressing related objectives.  Eradicating poverty required investing in the greatest resource:  people, he said, adding that the most vulnerable must be reached with effective partnerships to craft shared solutions for a shared goal.

PAULINE IRENE NGUENE, Minister for Social Affairs of Cameroon, said a “light of hope” was now emerging against the backdrop of numerous critical challenges around the world.  Those were due, in part, to important recent international agreements such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030 and the 2030 Agenda, among others.  The latter recognized that continued poverty was a “ticking time bomb”, she said, adding that Cameroon was taking a cross‑cutting approach within the context of people‑centred sustainable development.  Its projects aimed to create behaviour change, empower citizens, reduce poverty, improve solidarity, and boost the provision of social security to the most vulnerable.  Efforts were also targeting key sectors such as transport, infrastructure, housing and the extractive industries in order to create new jobs.  Social inclusion programmes were also in place, she said, noting that a wave of refugees fleeing attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group — along with a food crisis resulting from climate change — were creating obstacles to Cameroon’s social development and its eradication of poverty.  “We must respect the commitments promised to poor countries,” she added, calling for international support and solidarity, and for all nations to overcome barriers to the eradication of poverty worldwide.

ZELMA YOLLANDE NOBRE FASSINOU (Benin), agreeing with other speakers that poverty eradication was one of the 2030 Agenda’s central goals, associated herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group.  The Secretary‑General’s report noted that the absolute number of persons affected by hunger around the world had increased in the last year, following about a decade of reductions.  Progress was even more hindered in least developed countries, and the eradication of extreme poverty required transformed economies, food security, safety and stability.  The “Benin Revealed” programme tackled the structural factors that impacted the most vulnerable.  Noting that some 41 per cent of her country’s population still lived below the poverty line, she pledged to permanently reverse that trend, including through bolstered job creation and better basic services.

RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) said that, in his country, a central register with disaggregated data covering millions of families had helped to identify poverty and design universal programmes, policies and measures to combat it.  In particular, the Unified Social Assistance System had been created to support at‑risk families, and the Bolsa Família programme worked to empower women and enhance their participation in social and economic life.  Meanwhile, a minimum salary was guaranteed to all older persons and persons with disabilities whose own incomes did not cover their basic needs, and a new Happy Child Programme aimed to break the cycle of poverty.  Among other concrete proposals, he recommended the creation of a binding international instrument on the rights of older persons and a specific Sustainable Development Goal target on the promotion and protection of their rights.  Also voicing support for the family unit as a critical element of sustainable social development, he said the Government continued to fund additional programmes such as one seeking to end the violence that primarily affected young men of African descent.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), stressing that decent work and social protection policies were fundamental tools for the eradication of poverty, said ensuring access of persons with disabilities to basic social services and legal support were of paramount importance.  In addition, there was a need to raise awareness about the rights of older persons and to consider the new demographic realities of the ageing population.  Social development must also further women’s empowerment and ensure gender equality, while paying particular attention to Africa and the least developed countries.  Turkey was committed to building a more dignified and prosperous future for those countries, he said, noting that science, technology and innovation as well as the transfer of technology would play a crucial role in that regard.  Spotlighting the role of the dedicated Technology Bank, to be inaugurated this spring in Turkey, he went on to outline several national policies including its open door and non‑refoulement policies towards refugees such as those from Syria.

WU HAITAO (China) said that countries should incorporate the idea of inclusiveness and benefit‑sharing in their development strategies, as well as continuously improve institutional mechanisms that balanced efficiency and fairness.  His country advocated for and promoted the global endeavour to eradicate poverty.  Since 1978, it had lifted 700 million people out of poverty.  China supported the Commission in holding a symposium on persons with disabilities to monitor the implementation of the 2030 Agenda targets related to that matter.  Population ageing should be dealt with to enable every elderly person to enjoy life, and efforts were needed to mobilize society to cultivate the custom of respecting and caring for the elderly.  Guidance should be given to youth so that they could contribute to and benefit from social development, while the role of the family as the basic unit of society should be given full play in social development.  Family played a positive role in poverty eradication, employment promotion and social integration.

CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said over 700 million people lived in poverty globally, the majority of whom were in sub‑Saharan Africa and South Asia.  Her country remained committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which was anchored on the eradication of all forms of poverty.  In order to address the limited access to education experienced by girls, the Government of Zambia continued to undertake measures to promote gender equality and the empowerment of young women, by ensuring equitable access to quality education.  In partnership with stakeholders, it also continued to prioritize the well‑being of persons with disabilities by enhancing accessibility and participation, as well as the mainstreaming of disability issues in national policies.

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines) said her country’s people envisioned a future where no one was poor and everyone lived long, healthy lives in safe, vibrant and diverse communities.  Policies aimed at improving the overall quality of life and translating gains of good governance into direct benefits that empowered the poor and marginalized segments of society.  Providing examples of projects, she said efforts included cash transfers, engaging and empowering youth and addressing the needs of older persons and those living with disabilities.  Part of a campaign against illegal drugs included intervention services for illicit drug users and their families and communities, transforming those users into community volunteers, advocates and productive members of society.

CHULL-JOO PARK (Republic of Korea) said development gains had been uneven across countries and regions, with those remaining under the poverty line now even harder to reach.  In an effort to end poverty, the Government had addressed national challenges with efforts aimed at making improvements in various sectors by implementing measures such as an established minimum wage, protections for labourers and tailored social protection services such as childcare subsidies, expanding affordable university accommodation and pension benefits.  Among other projects, efforts targeted youth employment, which was an essential poverty eradication strategy, and policies served the needs of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.  Globally, the Republic of Korea, through United Nations agencies, had funded health‑related projects in developing countries around the world.

PHAM ANH THI KIM (Viet Nam), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that to resolve the root cause of poverty, her country had instituted a national programme on sustainable poverty reduction, as well as a programme on new rural development.  Those efforts looked to raise income and ensure better access to health care, education, housing, clean water and sanitation for all of Viet Nam’s people.  New laws had also been enacted or amended to better promote social welfare for vulnerable groups, she said.  Like many developing countries, Viet Nam still faced numerous challenges in poverty eradication, including lack of resources.  As it was among the top five countries most affected by climate change, its people living in the most vulnerable areas faced the risk of returning to poverty.

HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar) said poverty eradication was inextricably linked to the achievement of sustainable development.  For its part, Myanmar had experienced decades of conflict and was still grappling with challenges.  Yet, the Government was focused on a development agenda that created an environment conducive to business and investments.  In social sectors, investments were being directed to provide health care, education and other programmes.  A new youth policy was enacted, a national electrification plan was being laid out and efforts were ongoing to build a prosperous, democratic nation.  Turning to the issue of Rakhine State, she said the Government had formed a committee on development and was carrying out recommendations to address concerns about the situation on the ground.

IRMA ALEJANDRINA ROSA SUAZO (Honduras) said ongoing efforts to achieve goals set out in the 2030 Agenda were tackling challenges related to eradicating extreme poverty.  A multidimensional approach must consider a range of issues, not just income.  In cases of middle‑income countries, many sectors in those populations faced similar challenges.  A national plan was addressing issues from renewable energy to infrastructure development.  Projects were improving the quality of education, reaching rural populations and addressing the needs of persons living with disabilities.  A national youth policy guided programmes aimed at improving the lives of the nation’s younger generations.

MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said poverty eradication was a development priority.  While Iraq’s national development programme aimed at reaching those goals, conflict and instability had affected results and stymied efforts.  Acts of war and terrorist attacks were forcing the displacement of persons and destroying natural resources.  Moving forward, Iraq had based its poverty reduction strategy on human rights, the provision of job training and the creation of a social safety net that included the private sector and civil society.  Iraq’s development strategy had adopted programmes aimed at boosting food production, improving health care coverage and quality and ensuring that services reached refugees and those returning home to Iraq.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Copenhagen Declaration and the 2030 Agenda had contributed to progress in social development.  Ending poverty was crucial to achieving all other development goals, he said, expressing concern that poverty remained and had even risen in recent years.  Political instability and war had led to a new emergence of poverty, especially among women and children, as was the case in the Middle East.  “Social development must not fall prey to political pressure,” he stressed, adding that the application of sanctions hindered all progress towards development.  Iran’s national development strategies focused on poverty eradication and the empowerment of women and female‑headed households.  Among other things, the Government was obliged to support provinces where per capita income was below the poverty line.  Iran’s experience demonstrated that adopting regional development plans that were tailored to meet local needs could effectively substitute older policies based on social assistance, he said, citing the Barakat Foundation — which sought to strengthen the self‑sufficiency of local populations — as one example.

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria) said that social cohesion was the main tool to tackle poverty and social exclusion.  It required secure living conditions and the prospect of participation for all population groups, which in turn could be guaranteed through an active welfare State.  The Austrian welfare State aimed to ensure that those conditions were met, by supporting eligible beneficiaries with targeted benefits.  The Austrian social model also relied on a long‑standing tradition of involving all relevant stakeholders in policymaking processes.  Austria had implemented the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and in 2012, a comprehensive national action plan on disability was enacted.  Concerning ageing, Austria had several priorities, including the active participation of older persons, which was essential to social inclusion.  On families, Austria provided an established system of parental leave regulations.  On youth policy, his country followed the Organization’s World Programme of Action for Youth.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the current session’s theme was appropriate given the past unsatisfactory progress in reducing poverty, especially in least developed countries.  “All the countries of the world must redouble their efforts,” he said, calling for a strong political commitment to eradicate poverty.  The number of people living in poverty in Nepal had dropped from 38 per cent in 2000 to about 21 per cent in 2016, he said, adding that the Government sought to further reduce it to 17 per cent in the next few years.  Work was under way to promote inclusiveness and provide special support to women, children and other vulnerable groups.  Nepal valued the importance of social protection floors, and its own scheme supported older persons and persons with disabilities in particular.  It was also committed to promoting universal education, especially among girls.  Nepal’s least developed and landlocked status — coupled with its emergence from conflict and natural disasters, its difficult topography and vulnerability to climate change — put it in a special position, he said, noting that support from the international community would be needed to address those challenges.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), associating herself with the Group of 77, said strategies to eradicate poverty were imperative, and emphasized that no one should be left behind.  The 2030 Agenda had reiterated those goals, which still required political will and capacity.  More work was needed to achieve social objectives, she said, calling for a better distribution of income and wealth and policies that put human beings above profits.  Implementing an integrated, ambitious and sustainable global development programme must be based on lessons learned as well as commitments undertaken — and some still pending — under the Copenhagen Declaration.  Ecuador’s development programme considered the need to bring all people together along the same path.  Its pillars were to fight poverty in all its dimensions; put the economy at the service of society; and work towards a participatory system with good governance that provided quality services.  Significant progress had already been made towards eliminating extreme poverty, she said, noting that Ecuador hoped to meet that goal by 2021, well ahead of the global 2030 deadline.

CAROLINA POPOVICI (Republic of Moldova), outlining a number of concrete social development policies in her country, said child protection and family support policies were at the top of its list of priorities.  National laws protected children from violence, abuse and other risks, while Moldova’s child birth allowance was regularly reviewed to ensure that it effectively supported childbirth, education and related costs.  Noting that the proportion of the elderly was expected to increase dramatically by 2050, she said immediate measures would be needed to address those changes.  However, “an ageing society is not necessarily an inactive one,” she said, noting that older adults could contribute to public life in Moldova in many ways.  In the context of the global wave of migration, Moldova worked through bilateral agreements with other countries and concentrated on creating conditions conducive to the return of migrants to the country and helping them effectively reintegrate into society.

Mr. CORREAL (Colombia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Friends of Older Persons, said the 2030 Agenda recognized the need to respect all people regardless of their economic condition, age, sexual orientation or other factors.  Innovative approaches were needed in the eradication of poverty, he said, noting that “no one size fits all” and urging countries to mobilize resources to those ends.  However, international resources were also needed to help coordinate such efforts at the global level.  While the Commission should bear in mind recent achievements made under the 2030 Agenda’s implementation, it must not disregard the commitments undertaken under the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.  Calling for greater efforts towards social data collection, he said Colombia had based its family polices around such priorities as social protection and good governance; a national action plan for families was currently being developed with concrete targets, and would be put in place by 2022.

Ms. NORDLANDER (Sweden) said people’s empowerment was central to social development and her country had taken several steps toward that end.  To combat poverty, social protection mechanisms were essential and had a role to play in addressing the needs of vulnerable groups.  As people were living longer than a century ago, new challenges must be addressed.  For its part, Sweden had invested in social protection systems since the mid‑twentieth century.  But, globally, all stakeholders needed to step up efforts in building such systems.  Swedish society had undergone many changes in the past two decades, including single parent families that were facing economic challenges.  Among areas that needed attention, she said protecting children was critical, in fostering healthy societies and for achieving most development goals.  With regard to international development programmes, Sweden had adopted a new strategy, recognizing, among other things, that reproductive rights were not an option, but part of a package of services.

YOSHIAKI KATAYAMA (Japan) said that the key principle of the Sustainable Development Goals, “no one left behind”, reflected the concept of human security, of which his country had been a leading advocate.  Regarding persons with disabilities, it was imperative to ensure their full and active participation in society.  Leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Japan had made nationwide efforts to reform its infrastructural systems, making it accessible for everyone.  Concerning ageing, he noted that Japan faced a declining birth rate and an aging population, and believed it was crucial that each country shared its experiences on how to tackle that problem.  It was also important to promote quality infrastructure investment, which included such concepts as gender equality and barrier‑free access.

TANMAYA LAL (India) said strengthening development efforts to eradicate poverty was now more significant than ever before.  Emphasizing the need for a people‑centred strategy that moved beyond a one‑size‑fits‑all approach, he said national Governments were responsible for those efforts.  For its part, India’s objectives were in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  Citing several examples, he said Government initiatives were developing the agricultural sector, building millions of toilets while improving sanitation services and educating girls.  In addition, authorities were implementing information and communications technology projects to expand the reach of a range of public services.

MADHUKA SANJAYA WICKRAMARACHCHI WICKRAMARACHCHIGE (Sri Lanka), noting that some of the most dramatic reductions in poverty over the last decades had been seen in East and South‑East Asia, said the World Bank had described Sri Lanka in particular as a “success story”.  Since its internal conflict ended in 2009, the economy had grown at an average rate of 6.2 per cent per year, reflecting a peace dividend and a commitment to reconstruction and growth.  The economy was transitioning from a predominantly rural‑based one to an urbanized one, oriented around the manufacturing and service sectors.  Its Vision 2025 programme aimed to further strengthen democracy and reconciliation, as well as inclusive and equitable growth, and to ensure good governance.  Social indicators in Sri Lanka were already among the highest in the region, and unlike other countries it had increasingly begun to support its ageing population.

INASS A. T. ELMARMURI (Libya), associating herself with the Group of 77, said combating multidimensional poverty would have a positive impact on the achievement of all other Sustainable Development Goals.  Noting that half of the 800 million extremely poor people in the world lived in Africa and that thousands were perishing while trying to migrate, she urged countries to work in line with the 2030 Agenda and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to ensure the continent’s security, stability and prosperity and lift millions out of poverty.  Education, decent work and access to technology must be core priorities, she added, calling on development actors to take lessons learned into account.  Despite her country’s conflicts, the Government was working to unify its institutions and better utilize resources, including those funds that had been sent abroad.  It had amended national laws, such as those ensuring the equality of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.  Concluding, she underscored the importance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, and expressed hope that United Nations agencies would return to Tripoli to once again take up their work in her country.

ALEXANDER TEMITOPE ADEYEMI AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his Government had launched an ambitious three‑year development plan based largely on investing in infrastructure and people.  In January, the National Senior Citizens Act was signed into law, which would establish senior citizen centres to provide care and strengthen intergenerational solidarity.  The National Social Investment Office had also been created to expand broader social benefits to all segments of society.  Monthly cash transfer stipends were provided to the poor and a national register was set up to capture biometric and demographic data of the stipends’ recipients.  School feeding programmes sought to provide at least one meal to all students in 20 states throughout the country, utilizing local produce, thereby supporting the agriculture sector and creating many new jobs.  Support was also being provided to small- and medium‑sized business entrepreneurs, he said, adding that pensions were being provided in a more streamlined manner to those retiring from public service and that free treatment was provided to elderly patients in many hospitals across Nigeria.

HECTOR BROWN (United States), focusing his statement on the work of the Commission itself, said it as crucial for the voices of older persons, youth, persons with disabilities and other groups in special situations to be heard at the United Nations.  Noting that several other bodies and agendas had been created across the system in recent years, he said the Commission’s relevance should be reconsidered in that context and against the backdrop of the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts.  In that regard, he voiced support for various elements of the draft resolution presented by Mexico, including the proposal to hold shortened sessions; negotiate a single document each year on the session’s main theme, instead of various texts; and focus on a single annual theme, thereby allowing for a more relevant policy debate.  Those reforms would be consistent with the United States position in support of efforts to reduce duplication and overlap in the work of the United Nations bodies, he said, asking delegates to be bold in considering whether the Commission was still needed in the current context.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that despite poverty reduction achievements, more than 10 per cent of the global population remained under the extreme poverty threshold.  Eliminating extreme poverty was the greatest challenge facing humanity and efforts must aim at areas from supporting agricultural sectors and creating jobs to boosting the quality of education.  Keeping children in school would also contribute to eradicating poverty, as would conflict prevention and resolution.  For its part, Azerbaijan had invested in reducing poverty and unemployment and in building more schools, hospitals and housing.  The Government had also focused efforts on developing entrepreneurship and improving transportation routes.  By 2020, Azerbaijan aimed at reaching many goals, including to further reduce poverty, promote gender equality and improve food security and the quality of health care.

TYESHA O’LISA TURNER (Jamaica) said that while some efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda objectives had borne fruit, much remained to be harvested through a collective commitment and drive for a better standard of living for current and future generations.  Great investments in human capital would lead to exponential returns for national development, and with that in mind Jamaica had established a social investment fund to mobilize and direct resources, with assistance from international partners, to finance community‑based socioeconomic infrastructure and social services projects to foster an empowered, healthy and productive society.  A national multi‑stakeholder approach aimed at implementing poverty reduction activities.  Yet, more was needed at all levels to eliminate inequalities and reach those most in need.  Citing a range of national efforts, she said strategies were addressing social protection issues, education and health, with targeted projects reaching persons with disabilities and older persons.  To ensure hard‑won gains were not reversed by limited fiscal space and high debt burdens, she called for special attention to be given to the plight of highly indebted middle‑income countries.

FRANCES ZAINOEDDIN, International Federation on Ageing, said the third review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing must be considered within the framework of the 2030 Agenda.  Poverty in old age was often acute, with discrimination in access to economic and other development opportunities growing over time.  In addition, about 80 per cent of older persons had no pension, relying instead on labour and family for income.  The human rights of older persons must be reaffirmed, she said, adding that social development efforts must combat ageism, address inequality of opportunity for older persons and employ life course approaches towards eradicating poverty.  The diversity of older persons must also be recognized, she said, calling on the Commission to focus on social justice for all ages, including older persons.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the poor were not a barrier to sustainable development, but rather one of its greatest resources.  Decent work, productive employment, education, health and social protection were essential pathways to inclusion, which was among the best ways to eradicate poverty.  He underscored the connection between impoverishment and other major challenges, including the migrant and refugee crisis.  Human traffickers were exploiting the logic of exclusion, leading to a rise in modern slavery.  Everyone must become dedicated abolitionists of forced labour and of the economies of exclusion, he said.

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Commission for Social Development

Note: Complete coverage will be available at the conclusion of today’s meetings.

Briefing by Youth Delegate

RUXANDA RENITA, a youth representative speaking on behalf of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, briefed the Commission on the ongoing United Nations Youth Forum, stressing:  “We live in a non‑linear and non‑static world.”  More than 50 million young people around the world were migrants or refugees in search of a new home, she said, adding that for many of them basic services, such as the right to safe water, seemed a distant dream.  “We are left with two options:  Submit or reinvent,” she said, noting that many young people had chosen the second option and were now formulating new solutions, especially in the social and environmental arenas.  As an immigrant herself, she had jumped from continent to continent in search of a home where all her human rights would be realized.

In the Youth Forum’s current deliberations, young people had reaffirmed the basic right to safe water and sanitation, identifying the excessive burden women faced in those areas due to social taboos around menstrual hygiene, she said.  Participants had identified a need to improve energy access to all populations and enhance the flexibility and effectiveness of energy systems in remote areas around the world.  Cities also needed to become more youth- and gender‑responsive, enhanced efforts to combat social exclusion and ensure the safety of women and young people.  A breakout session on Sustainable Development Goal 12 had spotlighted the role of social entrepreneurs, and youth present for that discussion had underlined the need to use both formal and non‑formal education, as well as better knowledge‑sharing, to improve the world’s consumption and production patterns.

Among other things, participants had called for improving the use of science, technology and innovation, greater involvement of young people at the grassroots level, more transparent Governments, reducing the voting age and stronger efforts to prevent radicalization.  Within the United Nations system, youth participation had increased in recent years, as had the awareness of the important role young people would play in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  However, she said, more investment in such initiatives was still urgently needed.

Statements

SIDY GUEYE, Permanent Secretary of Ministry for Family, Women and Gender of Senegal, associating himself with the statements previously delivered on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China as well as the African Group, outlined programmes aimed at reorienting Senegal’s strategies to achieve a minimum 75 per cent health care coverage and the reduction of outward migration.  A national fund devoted $411 million to enhancing employment opportunities for youth, and would be increased in upcoming years.  National funds also offered support to entrepreneurs, and the country had declared 2018 a year of social development.  The “National Agency of the Green Wall” had established a programme against decertification, working to reduce poverty and create jobs.  Other Government ministries and agencies worked to ensure that rural populations remained independent and successful in their production activities.

MIRWAIS BAHEEJ, Director General of Planning and Consolidation of the Ministry for Economy of Afghanistan, said the threats of violent extremism and terrorism in his country continued to hamper efforts to combat poverty.  However, the Government and people remained committed to move Afghanistan forward towards sustainable development, peace and prosperity.  Among other priorities, the Government was working to boost women’s control over economic assets, create 1 million new jobs across various sectors, and increase production in order to substitute Afghanistan’s imports with domestic products.  Noting that returning refugees and displaced persons were migrating in large numbers to the country’s’ cities, putting more pressure on local governments, he said the national Government had responded through accelerated efforts to increase job opportunities for returnees, and thereby improve their self‑reliance.  It was also working to provide every Afghan village with access to basic services and the mechanisms for their delivery, as well as critical infrastructure, which would also create many new jobs.  Afghanistan recognized the critical role youth would play in its sustainable development, and had therefore put in place a National Youth Policy that was now working to address the country’s high youth unemployment rates and bolster investments in young Afghans.

ABDESSAMAD LAURANI, Director of Social Development, Ministry for Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development of Morocco, said national progress over the last 15 years had been seen in areas such as human rights due to better investments in infrastructure and targeted programmes.  Poverty had been reduced, basic services now reached all citizens and youth had been integrated into social development policies.  Industrial, tourism and artisanal sectors had been developed alongside gains seen in agricultural and fisheries, with job creation that encouraged youth to undertake a spirit of entrepreneurship.  Water resources had been addressed through waste management and renewable energy efforts.  Vulnerable groups had benefited from policies addressing gender equality, child protection and protections for persons with disabilities.  A new social registry aimed at combating poverty, institutional reform was improving coordination to ameliorate social assistance programmes and national plans considered youth, literacy and immigration.

A youth delegate from Germany said young people’s inspirational visions could guide policy in significant ways, as they believed in intercultural dialogue and equal gender rights.  Asking delegates how they viewed the world when they had been young themselves, for instance, dreaming of a bright future or falling in love with someone whom they should not have due to various forms of discrimination, she wondered whether they would have liked the international community to help them realize their visions.

A youth delegate from Germany asked Member State representatives to imagine a world in which every person supported the vision of the 2030 Agenda because they had the knowledge to do so.  He then asked them to take action in three areas — guarantee human rights for all, establish a youth delegate programme and support youth organizations to provide young people with the skills they needed today to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, including preparing them for future jobs that did not exist today.

PATRYCJA PUZ, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Poland, aligning herself with the European Union, said family development and security form pillars of the Government’s policies.  A flagship scheme of family allowance had allowed extended investments in children’s education while a housing subsidy programme was reaching those in need.  Social policy on older persons was being developed to set standards for assistance from welfare institutions.  Medium- and long‑term actions aimed at advancing progress on responsible development were expected to decrease the number of people living in poverty.  Actions also aimed to improve health care services.

PASCAL FOUDRIERE, Deputy Head of the European and International Affairs Unit of the Ministry for Solidarities and Health of France, associating himself with the European Union, said many countries had seen accelerated ageing in their populations and some remained unable to adapt their policies accordingly.  Europe in particular must adapt its Government programmes to the needs of the twenty‑first century, he said, describing poverty eradication as a central goal and underlining the need for commitment at the highest level.  National level social policies must be mutually strengthening and fully aligned with other measures, including economic ones, and such fully integrated approaches must also involve researchers, civil society, entrepreneurs, farmers, and others on the ground.  New approaches must be identified to overcome the failures of past policies, he said, also calling for more equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.  Ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games to be hosted in France in 2020, the country had invested some 870 million euros in improved transport and accessibility, and was increasing job creation and hiring.

NAJAT DAHAM AL ABDALLAH, Director of Family Affairs of Qatar, expressing her country’s commitment to inclusive social development and poverty eradication, said it promoted the creation of environments conducive to youth skills development and their participation in public life.  Among other things, Qatar had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations aimed at combating terrorism and protecting young people in particular from recruitment by violent extremists.  Underlining efforts currently under way to ensure that the 2020 Football World Cup — to be held in Qatar — would be inclusive for all people, including those with disabilities, she went on to note that the country’s Vision 2030 plan was fully aligned with the global 2030 Agenda.  Nevertheless, Qatar faced serious challenges following the June 2017 application of unjust, unilateral economic sanctions against it.  Describing those measures as major violations of the economic, social and human rights of the Qatari people, she said they had disproportionately affected women and children, prevented students from continuing their university studies, and restricted the critical travel of Qatari citizens to other countries.

RALITSA DIKANSKA and ASSYA PANDZHAROVA, youth delegates of Bulgaria, said they were proud their country included youth empowerment and participation as one of its four main priorities in its political agenda.  Youth engagement in national and global processes had become a tradition for Bulgaria, with young people having an important role in mobilizing their local communities to initiate action that would contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Their involvement was essential to eliminate poverty and all forms of inequalities and discrimination.  Young people must be enabled to act as agents of positive social change, helping to promote awareness of the 2030 Agenda and using sports and intercultural dialogue as tools to enhance tolerance and respect for human rights.  Including youth at all levels of decision‑making was crucial for fostering positive social change and creating sustainable societies, they said, calling on Member States to ensure their inclusion.

JAHKINI BISSELINK, youth delegate from the Netherlands, said by 2030 about 60 per cent of the world’s population would live in cities, 60 per cent of which would comprise people under age 18 who would face new challenges such as food and water accessibility.  Empowering youth as agents of change would help to address those challenges, she said, suggesting ways to do so, including stimulating cross‑cutting youth participation, promoting inclusive dialogue and enabling local talent development.  Elaborating on those recommendations, she urged all State and non‑State actors to start organizing and stimulating youth participation from local to global levels.  As a young person who had been a news reporter at age 11 and a museum employee at age 16, she said such opportunities in rural and urban areas, especially for girls, stimulated talent development.  Urban and rural areas needed vibrant local youth participation to realize their full potential to create resilient communities.

SAMEDIN ROVCANIN, youth delegate from Serbia, said youth inclusion was critically important in efforts related to the 2030 Agenda, pointing at the dreamers who had first conceived of the Millennium Development Goals.  “We all want to live in richer societies, have better access to education and better jobs; this aspiration of ours makes us firm believers in the [Sustainable Development] Goals and staunch promoters of their [2030] Agenda,” he said, emphasizing the role young people could play in implementing the Goals related to education and poverty eradication.  Commending the United Nations and its Member States for including his peers in related discussions, he said Serbia had taken important steps to address national challenges, including creating a road map for strategic cooperation in improving good governance, reducing poverty and protecting the environment.

IOANA COVEI, youth delegate from Romania, said that to address the Commission’s theme of inclusive, resilient and sustainable development, her country looked to an expanded definition of what it meant to be poor, one that looked not only at income or basic needs, but also at empowerment.  As the definition of a dignified life had evolved, poverty had come to include not only access to material resources but also to culture, political participation and the life of the community in general.  Youth was a time when people made important decisions in their lives.  For example, they could decide whether education was worth pursuing.  Increased financial support for young people with lower incomes was important, so that poverty was not an obstacle to accessing a universal right.

VLAD MACELARU, youth delegate from Romania, said that for young people with disabilities, unequal access to education could lead to a significantly higher rate of unemployment, and it was important to stress that much more should be done in terms of accessibility.  More training for teachers so that they could work with children with disabilities was essential to foster development.  Ethnic identity was another layer that could lead to income poverty and poverty in terms of access.  Obstacles to social development were connected and interdependent, and focusing on them separately diminished the potential for change.

KAI SAUER (Finland), associating himself with the European Union, said recent global crises had shown that economic approaches had negatively affected not only social rights but also long‑term fiscal and economic policies.  In contrast, new momentum towards more integrated policies should lead to improved social conditions and poverty eradication.  Calling for determined and integrated action to implement the 2030 Agenda — and for more attention to the follow‑up processes and the full use of indicators — he said Finland was currently carrying out several major reforms and pilot programmes related to economic and social rights.  A basic income experiment, started at the beginning of 2016, had selected 2,000 random persons as a sample to receive basic income as a substitute for some basic benefits including unemployment allowance.  That basic income — fixed at 560 euros per month — was tax-free, and meant to encourage people to accept temporary and part‑time work, allowing for a more empowering and streamlined employment incentive system.  Based on its results, Finland would consider introducing basic income as a tool in its renewed social security system.

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that in many countries, extreme poverty was still growing, and prospects for complying with Goal 1 were discouraging.  Political will was not enough, she said, emphasizing the need for material and financial resources, technology transfer and human resource training.  Developed countries must honour their commitments vis‑à‑vis official development assistance (ODA) and the international community must develop a genuine culture of solidarity.  A just international order must be promoted, protectionist and discriminatory trade policies against countries in the South must cease and developed countries must assume their historic responsibility for a serious environmental crisis.  She went on to note the progress Cuba had made in social development despite an economic, commercial and financial blockade that had gone on for nearly six decades.

ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the social needs of Mali’s people were a priority for its Government, which focused in particular on water, education, energy, health care and rural roads.  It was also focused on the social integration of older persons, persons with disabilities, women and children, as well as those who were victims of natural disasters or otherwise in need of humanitarian assistance, and broader efforts were also under way to reduce social risks.  Noting that 15 per cent of Mali’s national budget had been allocated to support the agricultural sector, surpassing the percentage mandated by the African Union, he said part of those funds were allotted as subsidies to farmers.  In 2016, the Government had adopted a strategic framework aimed at economic recovery and sustainable development in a Mali that was unified and at peace.  Included in that plan was a wide expansion of health insurance coverage and the establishment of a month of solidarity, to be celebrated annually in October, as well as additional efforts to support the most vulnerable.

JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde) said the world had recently seen progress in eliminating poverty, but “a long journey is ahead of us” in reducing the many inequalities that had emerged.  His country was committed to reducing poverty rates and had already made substantial progress during the Millennium Development Goal period.  The country’s strategic plan for the period 2017‑2022 was aligned with the 2030 Agenda, and prioritized inclusive economic and social development.  The needs of specific groups, including women, persons with disabilities and youth, were taken into account in that strategy as well as in national legislation.  Government measures also aimed to ensure the universal access to health care and social protection for elderly persons.  While domestic resources were central to funding all those measures, external partnerships also remained critical to helping Cabo Verde address its social issues and eradicate poverty.  In that context, he expressed concern that the country’s graduation from the least developed country category had excluded it from receiving much‑needed aid, and called on partners to continue to support the development efforts of graduated small island developing States.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE(Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that 1.1 billion people had been lifted out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2013.  Of the estimated 768.5 million people in the world living in extreme poverty, 390.2 million were in Africa.  In Botswana, it was estimated that 5.8 per cent of the population lived in abject poverty.  His Government had adopted several strategies, policies and programmes aimed at promoting sustainable development and eradicating extreme poverty.  A comprehensive social protection system that targeted the vulnerable and needy persons was also in place.  The Government had also created a Technical Devices Fund Levy, which promoted investment in the creative industries as an engine for job creation, poverty alleviation and economic diversification.  Funds had been allocated to promote arts, crafts and performances by local artists.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), citing his country’s progress in various social and economic development areas, said that as the world considered the future of social development, poverty eradication and the situation of least developed countries would be of particular concern.  Ensuring quality jobs, food security and nutrition and empowering people would be critical, he said, pointing out that Bangladesh had been enjoying a gradual but significant reduction in poverty, having seen a 6 per cent economic growth rate for more than a decade.  Bangladesh aimed to become a middle‑income country by 2021 and a developed nation after that.  Noting that its latest five‑year development plan was fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda, he said top priorities included the reduction of inequality through enhanced education programmes and social safety nets.  The country’s inclusive and “whole‑of‑society” approach targeted vulnerable groups and families in order to ensure that no one was left behind.  However, the major recent humanitarian crisis emerging from Myanmar — with over 1 million Rohingyas having arrived in Bangladesh, most since August 2017 — was posing considerable challenges that threatened to negatively impact Bangladesh’s development efforts.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Group of 77, warned that increasing vulnerability and exclusion, the persistence of unaccountable institutions and continuing conflicts and violence all threatened global development efforts.  That was even more true at a time when “the monster of social discrimination and exclusion based on religion, race, gender and ethnicity is raising its ugly head once again,” she stressed, adding that only realistic and determined social and economic policymaking and implementation could effectively combat poverty.  The Government of Pakistan had put in place people‑centred policies aimed at lifting people out of poverty, promoting fiscal inclusion, boosting agricultural growth, accelerating rural development and providing education opportunities.  The Pakistan Vision 2025 plan aimed to create new and better opportunities for the country’s people, and such initiatives as the Benazir Income Support Programme — a nationwide social safety net plan — provided support to vulnerable people.  Citing gender empowerment as another crucial element, she also drew attention to robust regional partnerships and examples of South‑South cooperation, such as the China‑Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said national efforts were advancing progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including through poverty eradication programmes and multisector projects guided by policies boosting job opportunities, increasing skills and ensuring women’s empowerment.  Government strategies and policies would continue to focus on health, education, housing and employment, she said, emphasizing that human rights‑centred approaches were shaping future efforts.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍS (Bolivia), endorsing the statement made by the Group of 77, said a global context of social crisis, exclusion, migration, climate change consequences and youth unemployment had demonstrated rapidly increasing income gaps nationally and globally.  Public policies in Bolivia had significantly reduced extreme poverty levels over the past decade, with a gross domestic product (GDP) that had more than doubled since 2005 alongside steady declines in school dropout levels and child mortality rates.  Laws, policies and efforts were addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, and gains had been made in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Emphasizing Bolivia’s generous social spending programme, he said that before 2005, 82 per cent of the country’s oil wealth rested with transnational corporations and 18 per cent in national hands.  Today, those figures were reversed, which could serve as an example to others.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) commended the work and priority themes of the Commission in regard to helping States implement the 2030 Agenda.  Eradicating poverty would help to address the other Sustainable Development Goals and targets, he said, adding that Italy fully supported efforts to address the needs of groups such as women, migrants and children.  The vicious cycle of poverty must be overcome by building resilience and ending a culture of dependency.  Italy invested in young people as key drivers of change, including education programmes focused on human rights and the importance of intercultural dialogue.  Citing other efforts, he said persons with disabilities enjoyed protection under laws and innovative projects.

ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco), noting that the 2030 Agenda goals had been based on the 1995 Copenhagen Programme of Action, raised three areas of concern — poverty eradication, health care and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.  While progress had been achieved on the former, a new type of poverty in the form of nutritional or sanitary deprivation was emerging.  Access to education and decent work would help to reduce inequalities, particularly between rural and urban populations, by investing in the most disadvantaged.  Monaco also placed great importance on building effective health care systems that reached the most vulnerable.  Turning to the needs of older persons, she said Monaco supported inclusive societies to foster sustainable development.

GEORGINA GALANIS from Soroptimist International, speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Global Citizenship 2030, said members promoted the values of the United Nations.  The 2030 Agenda aimed at freeing the world of poverty and the correction of current inequalities in a sustainable manner.  Global citizens aimed at empowering themselves in their communities, she said, emphasizing the need to take action on eliminating poverty and meaningfully addressing related pressing concerns.  The root causes must be addressed, including the impoverishment of values that had led to, among other things, militarism and greed.  To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, actions must centre on respect for one another, she said.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said poverty was a common enemy of civil society and eliminating it should be a shared goal.  Turning to the 2030 Agenda targets, he said national investments in education, housing and health were part of efforts to ensure that no one was left behind.  Providing some examples, he said a national elderly policy provided financial and emotional support to older persons and the 2016 Gender Equality Act was addressing related objectives.  Eradicating poverty required investing in the greatest resource:  people, he said, adding that the most vulnerable must be reached with effective partnerships to craft shared solutions for a shared goal.

News

Create Conditions for Resumed Talks, Special Coordinator Urges Security Council Ahead of Day-Long Debate on Middle East Peace Process

United States Decision to Cut Funds for Palestine Refugee Agency, Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital Draws Concern, Fear of Further Backsliding

Twenty-five years after the historic Oslo Accords, the United Nations had fallen into a pattern of managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather than resolving it, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council today, underscoring the Organization’s responsibility to help the sides return to negotiations and quickly show results.

“Now is not the time to give up on Oslo,” said Nickolay Mladenov via video link from Jerusalem, but rather, to push for policies that rebuilt trust.  The lack of political will to resume negotiations had elicited a heavy price:  violence, settlement expansion, Palestinian political divide and the dire situation in Gaza under the control of Hamas.  “Taken together, these elements kill hope,” he said.

Absent a credible proposal to underpin final status negotiations, the international community must build the conditions for resumed talks, notably by bolstering consensus around the two-State solution.

However, the United States’ 6 December 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had led to protests and low-level violence across the West Bank and Gaza, he said, while its greatly reduced $60 million pledge to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had heightened anxieties for 5.3 million refugees.  Allowing the Palestinian national project to backslide risked destabilizing a precarious situation, he stressed, and the recent funding cuts to UNRWA only reinforced those concerns.

In the ensuing open debate, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said the world had borne witness to decisions made in 2017 that denigrated Palestinians’ rights and dismissed the global consensus prevailing for decades.  To the United States, he said:  “We reject this unilateral, provocative decision, which directly contravenes the Charter and United Nations resolutions on the matter.”  It was an understatement to say that Palestinians faced an existential crisis.  He appealed for collective action in following up on the explicit calls made in resolution 2334 (2016).

Israel’s delegate, in turn, said the real threat came from Iran, which allocated $1.5 billion to its proxies, including in Judea and Samaria.  More than $800 million was sent each year to Hizbullah alone, which was then used to terrorize Israel and southern Lebanon.  “These are hard facts that cannot be refuted,” he stressed.  Iran sought to destroy Israel, destabilize the region and threaten the world.  The Council must fully implement resolution 2231 (2015).

Iran’s delegate said “Iran-ophobia” had become a kind of obsession for the United States and Israeli regimes.  The United States’ provocative recognition of Al-Quds Al‑Sharif as the capital of the Israeli regime revealed its complicity in depriving Palestinians their right to an independent State.

Throughout the day, delegates likewise took issue with the United States decision, with the representative of the Russian Federation stressing that the emotional response reflected how delicate the question of Jerusalem truly was.  The solution lay in a prompt resumption of dialogue on all contentious issues.  Long-term and fair agreements that dovetailed with previous decisions of the international community were required, reflecting the interests of both sides.

Lebanon’s delegate, meanwhile, said Israel’s claim of exclusive control of Jerusalem, and the United States’ recognition of that city as Israel’s capital, buried any hope of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.  Israel’s stated intention to build a wall along the Blue Line and in sensitive occupied areas could lead to conflict.

Jordan’s delegate said decisions about Jerusalem taken outside a comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue were unacceptable.  Jordan would continue to engage with the international community to reject any attempt to change Jerusalem’s historical status.  She called on States to fully support UNRWA, stressing that implementation of relevant Council resolutions was the only way to create the conditions for balance in the region.

Stressing the need for direct negotiations through both parties — rather than through unilateral resolutions of major donors of the peace process — the speaker from the League of Arab States said the United States decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital flouted all international agreements governing the Middle East peace process.

For her part, the representative of the United States said her country had done nothing to pre-judge the final borders of Jerusalem or alter the status of the holy sites.  Rather, it remained committed to the possibility of a two-State solution, if agreed to by both parties.  Recalling that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had recently declared the Oslo peace accord “dead”, she said such words were not those of someone willing to work towards peace.

On that point, Norway’s delegate said his country and the European Union would convene an extraordinary ministerial session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Brussels on 31 January.  That meeting would address measures that could help restart final status negotiations, and sought to assist the Palestinian Authority in reinstating control in Gaza, as outlined in the Cairo agreement of 12 October 2017.

Egypt’s delegate similarly advocated support for Egyptian efforts to foster Palestinian unity, which itself was one of the best means for building a strong, Palestinian society capable of being a partner for peace.

Also speaking today were representatives of China, Netherlands, Kuwait, Sweden, France, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Poland, United Kingdom, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Liechtenstein, Cuba, Pakistan, Indonesia, Japan, Venezuela, Botswana, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Estonia, Argentina, Syria, Brazil, Morocco, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (on behalf of the Arab Group), Iraq, Iceland, Qatar, Bangladesh, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Malaysia, as well as the European Union and the Holy See. 

A representative of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People made a statement, as well.

The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and ended at 4:28 p.m.

Briefing

NICKOLAY MLADENOV, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said “we have all fallen into the paradigm of managing, rather than resolving the conflict”.  There were those who believed it could be solved through peaceful bilateral negotiations, addressing final status issues and the status of Jerusalem on the basis of prior agreements and United Nations resolutions, and that there must be two States, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.

He said others believed in making unilateral moves that could only lead to a one-State reality.  Still others believed in violence.  They did not recognize that Palestinians and Israelis both had legitimate national, historic and religious connection to the land.  The international community had a duty to prove that they were wrong — and to work with both sides to return to the negotiation table.

As this year would mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Oslo Accords, he said:  “now is not the time to give up on Oslo”, but rather, to push for policies that rebuilt trust, engage on final status issues on the basis of international consensus, and show political leadership to remove obstacles to a sustainable solution.  The lack of political will to restore confidence and resume negotiations had been there for years.  Peace efforts had floundered.  The paralysis had elicited a heavy price:  violence; expanding settlement activity; a Palestinian political divide; and a deteriorating situation in Gaza under the control of Hamas.  “Taken together, these elements kill hope,” he said.  “We either take urgent concrete steps to reverse this perilous course or risk another conflict”.

Expressing deep concern about funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) this year, he said the United States’ $60 million pledge was a significant reduction of its traditional contribution, increasing anxieties for the 5.3 million Palestinian refugees supported by UNRWA.

He said protests and a low level of violence across the West Bank and Gaza continued to follow the United States recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Since 18 December 2017, seven Palestinian civilians had been killed by Israeli security forces during protests.  On 9 January, an Israeli civilian was shot dead in a drive-by shooting near Nabulus, and on 18 January in Jenin, one Palestinian was killed during an Israeli military raid, reportedly seeking perpetrators of the 9 January attack.  During the reporting period, Palestinian militants had fired eight rockets and mortars from Gaza, with three falling inside Israel, he said, and Israeli Defense Forces targeting Hamas military sites in Gaza, and destroying a tunnel from that area into Israel and Egypt under the Kerem Shalom crossing. 

Turning to settlements, he said that, on 10 January, Israeli planning authorities advanced plans for more than 1,400 housing units in Area C, while one plan for nine units in Psagot had been approved for construction.  Four tenders were published for 500 units that had been processed in 2017.  Further, on 31 December 2017, the Central Committee of the Likud party passed a resolution calling for “unhindered” settlement-building and to “extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria”.  Days later, the Knesset passed an amendment to the “Basic Law: Jerusalem”, which would likely make any peace agreement difficult for Israeli to transfer control over areas currently within the area it defined as Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction to Palestinian authority.  Sixteen Palestinian structures had been demolished due to the lack of building permits that were nearly impossible to obtain, while four other structures were destroyed during a military operation in Jenin.

On the Palestinian political front, he said the Palestinian Central Council, having met in Ramallah on 14 and 15 January, rejected the United States as a partner until it cancelled its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and rescinded the designation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as a terrorist group and closure of the PLO office in Washington, D.C.  It also declared that the Oslo process was no longer valid, and tasked its Executive Committee to suspend recognition of Israel until it recognized the State of Palestine and annulled its annexation of East Jerusalem.

In Gaza, he said implementation of the Egyptian-brokered intra-Palestinian agreement had ground to a halt over issues of tax collection, payment of salaries to public sector employees, the return of Government administration to ministries, and security control.  Norway and the European Union would convene an extraordinary session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on 31 January to discuss ways to accelerate efforts towards a two-State solution, and enable the Palestinian Authority to resume full control over Gaza.  In Lebanon, efforts continued to consolidate stability following the return of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and the situation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) area of operations was generally quiet, he added.

“We are at a critical point in the peace process,” he said, with the current volatility hardening positions, which played into the hands of extremists.  The international community must build conditions for resumed talks.  It was vital to support strengthening Palestinian institutions and enhancing service delivery in the West Bank and Gaza.  “We can wait no longer to reverse the negative trajectory of this conflict”, he said.  Every illegal settlement, every person killed and every failed effort in Gaza made it more difficult to overcome divisions.  It was time to break that destructive pattern.

Statements

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said that 2017 ended on a disheartening note as the world bore witness to decisions denigrating the Palestinian people’s rights and national aspirations, dismissing the global consensus that had prevailed for decades.  Nevertheless, he found solace and hope in the resounding rejection of such decisions and the unequivocal reaffirmations of, among other things, respect for the legal, political and historic status of the city of Jerusalem.  Palestine’s position rejecting the 6 December 2017 decision on Jerusalem by the United States had been fully conveyed to the Council and remained unwavering, he said, adding:  “We remain insistent on respect for the law and our rights, and we reject this unilateral, provocative decision, which directly contravenes the Charter and United Nations resolutions on the matter.”

That position was not intended as disrespect and should not be translated as such by anyone, he said.  On the contrary, it was a position rooted in full respect for the law, for the principles of justice and equity and for the decades‑long international consensus on the parameters of a peaceful solution.  It was a position of respect for the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people who had been so patient and steadfast despite the grave injustices they continued to endure.  “No price tag can be put on the rights and dignity of any people”, who would not be quashed by threats, intimidation or punitive action.  Palestinians remained resolute in calling for the application of international law to the question of Palestine.  Nothing that the Palestinians had ever done should be misconstrued or cynically portrayed as a rejection of peace.  It was, therefore, appalling to witness the resurgence of claims by the Israeli Prime Minister and other Government officials that the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, was not a man of peace.  History and facts spoke for themselves and such claims could not be farther from the truth.

Against that backdrop and the ever-worsening situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, it was an understatement to say that the Palestinian people were facing an existential crisis, he said.  Palestine had rung the alarm bells before to no avail; yet it was compelled to do so again due to the gravity of the situation.  The world was witnessing in shocking detail the dehumanization of the Palestinian people, their subjugation and deprivation, attempts to erase their history, heritage and identity, and the systematic decimation of their communities and of their will and hope.  “It is a crisis unquestionably about our very existence in our homeland, our rights, including to self-determination and return, and our survival as a people,” he stressed.  Palestinians were openly degraded and demonized by the occupying Power and the public was being incited against them to the point of outright extremism and terror.

Such actions not only contradicted international law and human rights, but set a dangerous precedent in the Council far beyond the confines of the Palestinian question, he said.  He appealed for compassion and the upholding of humanitarian law and principles of collective responsibilities, urging donors to enhance support to UNRWA.  In the span of a year, Palestinians had seen their hopes for peace rise up, only to be suddenly dashed.  Now was the time for collective action in following up on the explicit calls made in resolution 2334 (2016).  It was also time for the international community to mobilize the political will to implement the relevant resolutions and revive the peace option, averting the grave impact the continued unravelling of the situation would have regionally and globally.  He reiterated calls for a collective peace process under international auspices aimed at achieving a just solution and fulfilling the long-denied rights of the Palestinian people.

DANNY DANON (Israel) said the real threat came from Iran.  Brave people had marched through Iranian streets demanding a better life and chanting:  “Not Gaza, not Lebanon.  I give my life for Iran.”  He praised their moral fight against their Government.  Detailing dangerous Iranian regime activities, he said Israel had warned of “Iranian tentacles of terror”, cited evidence of its build up in Lebanon through its proxy, Hizbullah, and its efforts to sneak into Israel.  In fact, Iran had invested $35 billion in Syria.  He then shared classified information demonstrating the extent of Iran’s military build-up in Syria, so the world would understand the growing threat posed by that country.

He said there were 82,000 fighters under direct Iranian authority in Syria, including 3,000 members of its Revolutionary Guard, 9,000 from Hizbullah and 10,000 violent Shia militants from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Iran also commanded 65,000 local Syrian fighters.  “These are hard facts that cannot be refuted,” he stressed.

Moreover, Iran claimed that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Syria was on the run, he said.  If that were so, then why did Iran keep sending in its forces, recruiting extremists and building bases to house fighters for the long run, he wondered.  The answer was so that it could destabilize the region, threaten Israel and terrorize the free world.  Iran was building missile factories in Syria, turning innocent people into human shields.  It was turning Syria into the largest military base in the world, seeking to control that country, which it required in order to destabilize the region.  “The Shiite Crescent has reached our doorstep,” he warned.  Iran was ready to strike at a moment’s notice.

He said Israel faced that risk on its northern border, through Hizbullah and Iranian-Syrian efforts.  “We can no longer distinguish between Lebanon and Syria,” he said.  Israel supported the 1974 agreement on the engagement in Syria and it would take action to protect its citizens.  The Shiite Crescent was more powerful than ever.  The international community should be concerned about Iran, as the Iranian presence in Syria would spill into Europe and across the globe.

Major European corporations and countries had signed multi-billion-dollar deals with Iran in 2015, he said, citing a $720 million solar deal in that context.  Since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran had increased its military spending.  In 2014, 17 per cent of Government spending went to the military, in 2017, it jumped to 22 per cent, or $23 billion.  In 2018, Iran’s military budget would only grow.  The money earned from “your economic deals” would be spent on ballistic missile testing and promoting terror, he said.

Moreover, Iran allocated $1.5 billion to its proxies in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Judea and Samaria, he said, among other places.  More than $800 million was sent each year to Hizbullah alone, which was then used to terrorize Israel and southern Lebanon.  The lifting of sanctions under the Plan of Action had released $100 billion of frozen assets, which Iran was using to increase its “slush fund” for terror.  Iran sought to destroy Israel, destabilize the region and threaten the world.  “When Iran takes control, we are all in danger,” he said, pressing the Council to fully implement resolution 2231 (2015).  “You cannot allow Iran to fund worldwide terror,” he said.  The Council must unite to confront that menace to international stability.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) said that there was a lack of courageous leaders who were willing to step forward, acknowledge hard truths and make compromises in order to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.  In a recent speech to the PLO Central Council, Palestinian President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo peace accord “dead”, rejected any United States role in peace talks, insulted the United States President and invoked an ugly and fictional past that painted Israel as a colonial project engineered by Europeans.  President Abbas’ speech had gotten little attention in the media, despite the fact that it invoked outrageous and indulgent conspiracy theories.  Such words were not those of someone who was willing to work towards peace.  The United States had done nothing to pre-judge the final borders of Jerusalem or alter the status of the holy sites, rather, the United States remained committed to the possibility of a two-State solution, if agreed to by both parties.  Peace required compromise that took into account the core issues of both sides, which was her country’s primary goal.  Hate-filled speeches and end runs around negotiations took the issue nowhere, she said, stressing that peace would not be achieved without courageous leaders.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that the relaunching of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue had been made considerably more difficult due to settlement activity and inflammatory rhetoric.  Rather than advancing a viable plan, the international community had borne witness to well-known decisions on Jerusalem, which had been met by categorical rejections.  The emotional response to those decisions reflected how delicate the question of Jerusalem truly was, he said, expressing further concern about the decision to cut financing to the Palestinians, including to UNRWA.  The solution to the situation lay in a prompt resumption of dialogue on all contentious issues, including the status of Jerusalem.  Long-term and fair agreements that would dovetail with the previously adopted decisions of the international community were required, reflecting the interests of both sides.  The Russian Federation would continue to support efforts to break the deadlock of the peace process, including through contact with the relevant States.  The conflict would only be resolved through collective efforts.  The Russian Federation believed that any inter- or intra-Palestinian disputes must be resolved through direct dialogue.

In Syria, territory in the northern part of the country had been cleansed of ISIL/Da’esh, setting the stage for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, he said.  Under the Geneva format, constitutional reform and elections would take place in Syria, under the auspices of the United Nations.  He called attention to the persistent, difficult situation in Libya, calling for a political settlement to that situation, while also expressing concern about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which could only be alleviated through a political settlement.

WU HAITAO (China) said the question of Palestine was at core of Middle East peace.  The humanitarian situation in Gaza was grim.  The Council must remain united and promote a political solution with urgency.  The two-State solution was the right approach and the international community must remain committed to relevant United Nations resolutions and the land-for-peace initiative, among others.  China supported the just cause of Palestinians to restore their legitimate national rights, as well as their right to a fully sovereign independent State based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  “This position will not change,” he said, citing China’s four-point proposal which called for a political process based on the two-State solution; adherence to durable security; coordinated international efforts; and a holistic approach to promote peace through development.  China would proceed from that basis.  Efforts to resolve the status of Jerusalem should adhere to the principles of respect for diverse history, equity and fairness, implementation of the international consensus and peaceful coexistence.  He called for greater support for UNRWA and for countries hosting Palestinian refugees.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said that a two-State solution was the only viable way of fulfilling the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike, to live in peace, security and dignity.  He expressed concern about developments on the ground, with tensions increasing over the past two months, and condemned all acts of violence, including the firing of rockets from Gaza, the killing of an Israeli citizen in the West Bank on 9 January and the cynical use by militants of the crossing at Kerem Shalom/Karm Abu Salem as a cover for building a tunnel.  He was also concerned by the high number of Palestinian casualties in protests and confrontations in the past months.  The Netherlands strongly opposed the recent Israeli announcements on settlement expansion.  Settlements were illegal under international law and were an obstacle to peace.  Both parties should urgently take significant positive steps to build confidence and improve the situation on the ground.  A political horizon for the two-State solution was needed, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said today was the first time since becoming a Council member that his country was participating on the Palestinian issue.  No party must be allowed to avoid implementation of binding Council resolutions through unrealistic excuses.  Yet, Israel was in breach of resolution 2334 (2016), as it continued its aggressive policies, unilateral measures and provocations in the absence of any serious call by the Council to end its aggressions and comply with its 1949 Geneva Convention obligations.  Its unprecedented settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had become a daily routine for Palestinians, confirming the need to end that situation through a two-State solution.  He welcomed the demand by the General Assembly and the Council to end the occupation, reaffirming the importance of the land-for-peace initiative and the Arab peace initiative.  He cited United Nations principles, including not to infringe on Jerusalem’s special status, and regarding the importance of measures that sought to do so.  It was unacceptable to think that unilateral decisions would ease the conflict.  He encouraged all donor States to provide UNRWA with funding, noting that Kuwait had offered $7.9 million in December 2017 and January 2018.  He reaffirmed East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, and expressed support for all legal and peaceful efforts by the Palestinians at the national and international levels to exert sovereignty over Al-Quds Al-Sharif.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said that only a two-State solution, based on known parameters, international law and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, could fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians and achieve the security and peace they deserve.  Developments on the ground continued to deteriorate.  The rapid settlement expansion, challenges to the international consensus on the status of Jerusalem and the shrinking space for civil society in Israel and Palestine continued to undermine the prospects for peace.  He was also concerned by Israeli legislative initiatives and policies that risked prejudging future negotiations and undermining the prospects for a two‑State solution.  That was particularly true with regard to legislation and policies that would undermine the status of Jerusalem, including the continued Israeli policy of revoking the residency rights of Palestinians, in violation of international humanitarian law.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said deadly crises in the region had neither normalized nor marginalized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and escalation carried the risk of unbridled regional conflict.  Having taken note of the United States’ commitment to seek resumed negotiations with a view to a final status agreement, he anticipated proposals to be made in that regard, notably within the international framework.  On 22 January, the Palestinian President had reaffirmed his commitment to peace rooted in a two-State principle and he recalled the parameters as:  two States living in peace and security along secure 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land exchanges and Jerusalem as the future capital of both States.  A regional approach with economic incentives could foster a peace agreement, but could not supplant one.  The parties were at a crossroads, where each parameter was imperilled.  Also, there were 600,000 settlers — 200,000 of them in East Jerusalem — and he condemned settlements as illegal, confirmed by resolution 2334 (2016).  The status of Jerusalem must be determined by the parties in an agreement, where it would become the capital of both Israel and Palestine.  France recognized no sovereignty over Jerusalem and denounced the United States’ announcement which departed from international consensus and especially Council resolution 478 (1980).  He expressed regret that Israeli law was making it difficult to share Jerusalem under a future peace agreement.  Until a fair solution to refugee question was reached, UNRWA’s provision of services would be indispensable.  The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting on 31 January should reaffirm the financial and political commitment to the two-State solution.  “We need a commitment from all, beginning with the United States partner,” he said.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said that peace and security in the Middle East remained a matter of serious concern.  Issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Syrian and Yemeni crises and the situation in Libya had dominated much of the Council’s discussion for the past year.  The geostrategic importance of the Middle East region was well known, but for the Horn of Africa, the situation had a direction implication on its peace and stability.  It was already witnessing the impact of the Gulf crisis, and the fallout from the Yemeni conflict was being felt across the Red Sea.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was at the core of the dangerous situation that had defined the Middle East for the past several decades.  As much as Ethiopia supported the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, it also supported the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the right of Palestine to exist as a free and independent State.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) regretted that there were 5 million Palestinian refugees and that those living in the Gaza Strip were suffering under an inhumane blockade.  It was discouraging that there were efforts to expand settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, while Palestinian children were being abducted and held in Israeli jails.  Bolivia rejected the obvious intention of the Israeli Government regarding the construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian lands, which was a clear violation of several resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly.  He expressed dismay regarding the decision by the United States to cut funding to UNRWA and believed that decision would have a significant impact on the humanitarian assistance the Agency was able to provide to needy people.  The reduction in funding would mean the denial of access to basic services, including education and health care, to people who had been stripped of their lands, livelihoods and history.  His country condemned the decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), associating herself with the European Union, said that her country strongly supported all initiatives aimed at strengthening security and stability in the Middle East.  The international community should seek to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian question by reviving the peace process, which was the only way to resolve all final status issues.  Poland believed the aspirations of both parties regarding Jerusalem must be fulfilled through negotiations, adding that the status quo put in place in 1967 pertaining to the holy sites must be upheld.  Her delegation supported a two-State solution that took into account national aspirations, including the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and independence and Israel’s right to ensure its security.  She expressed deep concern about the deteriorating financial situation of UNRWA, which could result in serious security and humanitarian consequences.

STEPHEN BENEDICT HICKEY (United Kingdom) said his country envisioned Israeli and Palestinian States living side by side within secure recognized borders, and Jerusalem as their shared capital.  The United Kingdom would contribute to all credible efforts to restart the peace process.  Statements that demonized the Jewish people were unacceptable and he encouraged Palestinian leaders to implement recommendations from the Quartet report on incitement.  Both sides must adhere to previous agreements.  The Palestinian Central Council’s recommendation to de‑recognize Israel were non-binding and unconstructive, and he welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s recognition of Israel and support for the two-State solution.  Settlements and demolitions must be halted, and humanitarian efforts supported, especially in Gaza and including for the full return of the Palestinian Authority to that area.  Progress must also be made on reconciliation, in line with the Quartet principles.  UNRWA must become more efficient and must be able to continue to carry out its functions, he said, stressing that unexpected reductions in donor disbursements could undermine regional stability.  The United Kingdom shared the United States’ desire to end the conflict and its efforts to submit proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.  It would contribute to refugee compensation and enable trade and investment among the United Kingdom, Israel, a future Palestinian State and neighbours.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said his country favoured a solution based on dialogue to any conflict.  It was essential for Palestinians and Israelis to engage in direct frank dialogue without preconditions.  The only just solution was one in which aspirations were fulfilled in the framework of two States living in peace and security.  Negotiations must be held in the context of the Arab peace initiative and Council resolutions, as must efforts to address the status of Jerusalem.  A just solution based on dialogue meant that none would see their aspirations fulfilled entirely.  While Israel was entitled to live in peace and security, Palestinians’ right to a State could not be denied.  Violence should cease immediately, he said, with parties adhering to international law and refraining from unilateral actions.  The international community should promote dialogue while the Council should take all efforts necessary to that end.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire) deplored the entrenchment of positions seen since the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and decision to transfer its embassy to that city.  The bogging down of the peace process and stiffening of positions were liable to permanently undermine efforts to create two States living side by side in peace and security.  He reaffirmed support for the two-State solution, noting that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated in the framework of United Nations resolutions.  Israeli and Palestinian actors must engage in dialogue and abandon any unilateral action that could alienate prospects for a peaceful political solution.  He expressed regret over the United States’ reduced contribution to UNRWA, encouraging Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to continue dialogue, and the Authority in particular to show an openness to dialogue with neighbouring countries, especially over the welcoming of Palestinian refugees.  On Syria, he urged the fact-finding mission to shed light on circumstances surrounding the use of chemical weapons and favoured a consensus-based mechanism to ensure accountability for the perpetrators.  He also welcomed France’s 23 January launch of an international partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons, as well as the extension of the mechanism to deliver assistance across borders to besieged areas, calling for an end to hostilities in de-escalation areas.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) expressed support for a two-State solution based on 1967 borders and negotiated by Israel and Palestine, stating that there was no alternative and no “Plan B”.  It was important to act in conformity with international law and the United Nations Charter.  Peru urged parties directly involved to end, investigate and punish any violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.  Hate speech, anti-Semitism and discrimination in all their forms must be rejected, and relevant Security Council resolutions complied with.  Noting the Secretary-General’s readiness to contribute to a resumption of negotiations, he said it was important for UNRWA to have sufficient support and predictable financing.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), Council President for January, speaking in his national capacity, said the eighth international meeting on Syria, held in Astana on 22 December 2017, had produced several documents promoting confidence-building with the aim of combating terrorism and consolidating the political process in that country.  Kazakhstan would cooperate closely with the Syrian national dialogue in Sochi, Russian Federation, from 29 January to 3 February, he added.  In Yemen, he said the coalition must keep all ports open to facilitate humanitarian assistance.  Emphasizing his country’s support for the two-State solution and the work of UNRWA, which must continue without financial cutbacks, he endorsed the call by the United States’ representative for leaders with political will, great vision, conviction and commitment to peace.

MOHAMED ASIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, said that his country had always believed that an independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, established on the 1967 borders, living in peace and harmony with Israel, was the only solution to the seven-decade conflict.  He called on Israel to fully implement the decisions of the Council and to respect the legal obligations of the United Nations Charter.  On Syria, he said that, while he recognized the progress being made in finding an end to the conflict, with the all-Syria congress expected to be convened at the end of January, much more needed to be done.  On Yemen, he said that it had suffered the worst famine in years, while violence still prevailed in Libya.  Peace was a prerequisite and consequence of development, and constructive and lasting solutions must be found in those countries.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said peace in the Middle East seemed more remote than ever.  Israel’s claim of exclusive control of Jerusalem, and the United States’ recognition of that city as Israel’s capital, buried any hope of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.  “It is making our people despair, and desperate people do desperate things,” she said.  A failure by the international community and the Security Council to reaffirm the core principles of peace could plunge the Middle East into more conflict, with dire global implications.  On southern Lebanon, she said Israel’s stated intention to build a wall along the Blue Line and in sensitive occupied areas threatened to destabilize the situation and could lead to conflict.  It also reflected Israel’s total disregard for Council resolution 1701 (2006), she said, urging the Council to prevent further Israeli provocations.  She went on to say that, despite Lebanon’s economic, social and security challenges, the conflict in Syria and the heavy burden of hosting more than 1 million Syrian refugees, Lebanon’s leaders were committed to holding parliamentary elections in May.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that the repeated failure of the Council to act on the most serious crimes in Syria was particularly apparent as chemical weapons attacks continued unabated, in blatant disregard of the most fundamental rules of international law and with horrific consequences for that country’s people.  Liechtenstein deplored the discontinuation of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, whose investigative capacity and preventive dimension was urgently required.  The Council had a crucial responsibility to protect civilians from the most serious crimes under international law, he said, calling attention to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen which had reached unprecedented dimensions.  His country was concerned about the already-fragile peace process in the Middle East that had been further jeopardized by recent developments that put at risk the possibility of a two-State solution, which was the only promising avenue for achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed her deep concern about the situation in the Middle East and the lack of progress in finding a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  She rejected the unilateral statement made by the President of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  That was a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.  The Security Council must uphold the responsibility entrusted to it by the Charter in the maintenance of peace and security.  It must call on Israel to end the occupation of the Palestinian territory and to comply with resolutions adopted by the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.  The blockade of Gaza must end immediately.  Cuba would continue to support a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two-State solution.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that the global peace and security landscape remained plagued by challenges.  In fundamental ways, the world had gone into reverse.  Nowhere was that fraught situation more apparent than in the Middle East.  The two-State solution was in peril.  That morning, there had been a glaring flight from reality, with some speakers trying to deflect attention from the tragedy of the Palestinian people.  Occupiers had no option but to present alternative facts.  The decision by certain countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem had inflamed the situation.  The legal status of Jerusalem was unambiguous.  When principles were trumped by self-serving interests, reason was supplanted by threat and intimidation.  The Middle East could only seek the dividend of peace if it was built on the foundation of justice.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that he hoped that in 2018 there would be a final end to the conflict in Syria and the beginning of a political transition process that was accepted by all parties, which would make it possible for its entire population to be part of a better life.  He remained deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Yemen that had continued to deteriorate because of ongoing conflict, collapsing basic services and economic decline.  Yemenis had suffered for too long.  They needed the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law by protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure, and by facilitating rapid, safe and unfettered humanitarian access.  He called on all parties to cease hostilities and engage meaningfully within the United Nations to achieve a lasting political settlement.  The subject of Jerusalem was widely known by the international community to be a very sensitive one, and the legally binding status of Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem under the United Nations Charter was unquestionable.

JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, European Union, reiterated its firm commitment to the two-State solution.  The aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem must be fulfilled, and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both States.  The European Union was also stepping up its efforts to provide a political horizon for solving the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.  The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement and construction and related activities, including recent evictions in East Jerusalem and plans leading to the forced transfer of Bedouin communities in the West Bank, was clear and had not changed.  The European Union remained strongly opposed to Israel’s settlement policy, which was illegal under international law.

He also expressed concern over the recent significant reductions of funding for UNRWA.  Reduced support would have serious security and humanitarian consequences not only in the West Bank and Gaza but also in neighbouring countries.  He stressed that the European Union had provided extensive and reliable support to UNRWA since 1971.

SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan) said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the main source of instability in the Middle East, and failure to achieve a comprehensive and just settlement would significantly contribute to regional tensions and continued violence.  Implementation of relevant Council resolutions was the only way to create the conditions for balance in the region.  Progress could not be made through unilateral measures, she said, adding that decisions about Jerusalem taken outside a comprehensive resolution of the Israel-Palestinian issue were unacceptable.  Jordan would continue to engage with the international community to confront and reject any attempt to change Jerusalem’s historical status.  Quoting the King of the country, she said Jerusalem must be open to all followers of all Abrahamic religions.  She went on to call on the international community to extend full support to UNRWA, adding that, in Syria, the priority was to find a political settlement.  Hopefully, the ninth round of Geneva talks would pave a way to peace and stability in Syria.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that, to restore peace in the Middle East, it was urgent that the Council applied solutions envisioned by the Charter to put an end to the humanitarian crises that continued to ravage ancient peoples, religions and cultures.  The Palestinian-Israeli peace process was at the centre of the maelstrom sweeping the region and was one of the longest-standing conflicts on the Council’s agenda.  He reiterated the urgent need to resume negotiations between the parties of the central issues of the conflict, on the basis of all relevant Council resolutions.  He underscored that there could be no doubt that the Holy City of Jerusalem had a very special place not only in the hearts of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but also for worshippers of the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions everywhere.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the United States’ provocative decision to recognize Al-Quds Al‑Sharif as the capital of the Israeli regime revealed the complicity of the Israeli and United States regimes to deprive the Palestinians of their basic right to establish their own independent State with that city as its capital.  Illegal settlements were both a grave breach of the fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime which clearly indicated that the Israeli regime never had any interest in peace, he said.  Emboldened by impunity provided by the United States, the Israel regime had shamelessly and flagrantly violated at least 86 Council resolutions since 1948.  The United States was never an honest partner for Middle East peace and it never would be.  He said the Council had failed to act on genuine issues such as the occupation of Palestinian territory and the indiscriminate bombing of Yemen.  Promoting and spreading “Iran-ophobia” had become a kind of obsession for the United States and the Israeli regime, perpetrated by those who sold or bought United States he added.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that his country intended to strengthen its political engagement to stabilize the Middle East.  During a visit to Israel and Palestine in December 2017, his country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs reiterated Japan’s support for a two-State solution and urged both parties to engage constructively in negotiations, in which the United States would still play an important role.  Japan would continue to support UNRWA, he said, adding that the international community must be united in upholding a two-State solution through negotiations on the basis of United Nations resolutions and agreements previously reached by the parties.  The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting at the end of January would be a good opportunity to that end.

MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, League of Arab States, affirmed its support for Middle East peace efforts.  The Council’s meeting today was taking place against the background of the United States decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and transfer its embassy there.  That decision flouted all the international agreements that governed the Middle East peace process.  In order to have global peace, direct negotiations were needed through both parties and not through unilateral resolutions of major donors of the peace process.  The League of Arab States had rejected the United States’ 6 December 2017 position on Jerusalem, and had done so during a meeting of the League of Arab States in Cairo on 9 December 2017.  The statement by the United States had undermined the peace process.  On the vote on Jerusalem in the General Assembly, he noted that the United States had used economic threats to get countries to change their stance on that matter.

SAMUEL MONCADA ACOSTA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed that organization’s abiding solidarity with the Palestinian people.  The ongoing Israeli occupation and the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a whole remained a serious threat to international peace and security that required urgent attention.  Emphasizing that the Council must fulfil its duties under the United Nations Charter, he said resolution 2334 (2016) was the most viable path to peace.  Provocations, unilateral actions and the escalation of tensions were incompatible with the pursuit of peace, he said, adding that contempt for the Council and disregard for its resolutions would exacerbate the situation.

Addressing the decision by some Governments to move their embassies to Jerusalem, he said unilateral actions taken in flagrant disrespect of Council resolutions, including resolution 478 (1980), jeopardized prospects for a two‑State solution while having a negative impact on the situation on the ground.  He called for an immediate halt to settlement activities and a complete lifting of the blockade on Gaza, adding that threats against UNRWA could lead to a humanitarian disaster in Gaza with potentially destabilizing effects.

NAME TO COME (Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that he supported the search for a peaceful solution to the situation in the Middle East and expressed concern that the question of Palestine had remained unresolved for many decades.  He was also concerned about the escalation of violence, which had undermined all international efforts for a lasting solution.  His country supported the principle of self-determination, and in that respect, supported the Palestinian people in their quest for sovereignty and independent statehood.  There was no alternative to the two-State solution of two sovereign States living side by side.  He urged all Member States to avoid taking unilateral actions that would jeopardize peace in the Middle East.  He regretted the decision of the United States on 6 December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

EDGAR SISA (South Africa) said that another year could not be allowed to proceed without progress on the Middle East peace process.  New challenges, as had been seen with the developments pertaining to the status of Jerusalem, had compounded existing negative developments such as the continuing Israeli illegal settlement activity.  The best option for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict was premised upon the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence, which entailed a principled position against the military occupation of the Palestinian people and their land.  It was also premised on the right of both the peoples of Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace in their own States, and the belief that there could be no military solution to the conflict.  His country was deeply concerned that unilateral action by some Member States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel undermined the revival of a peace process.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said Jerusalem was the mother of all cities which, for 1,400 years, had been an Arab and Muslim city, open to all religions.  It was the eternal historical capital of Palestine and so it would remain, he said.  Over 50 years, the Security Council had adopted several resolutions which emphasized that unilateral decisions affecting Jerusalem’s status were null and void, and those resolutions cannot be ignored.  In that vein, the transfer of any embassy to Jerusalem would be null and void, fuel tension, undermine trust in the peace process and affect any chance for peace based on the two-State solution.  He went on to say it was high time for the Security Council to take a firm position against Iran, which had continued its flagrant interference in the internal affairs of Arab States while spreading and supporting terrorism.  On Syria, he noted Saudi Arabia’s efforts to unify that country’s opposition factions, and called for immediate humanitarian access nationwide, the prompt release of detainees and the dignified return of refugees.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria) said that as the international community continued to seek avenues to advance the peaceful resolution of the Palestinian question, efforts must remain focused on paving the way for Israel and Palestine to return to meaningful negotiations.  There was no substitute to an agreed multilateral approach for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum in a sustainable manner.  Achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine was imperative for the attainment of durable peace and security in the Middle East.  It was for that reason that he acknowledged the adoption of the General Assembly resolution on the status of Jerusalem on 21 December 2017, and called upon all parties to respect relevant United Nations resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) said that a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-State solution, must be worked towards.  The regional context, including the ongoing radicalization and the spread of terrorism, made it even more urgent to end the conflict.  The status quo was not an option, as the viability of the two-State solution was constantly being eroded by emerging new facts on the ground.  He affirmed their country’s position that the status of Jerusalem had to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.  Estonia was also concerned about the funding cuts to UNRWA, which had been an essential lifeline for many Palestinians for decades, providing basic services, including food and support as well as children’s education and health care.  Humanitarian aid should not be politicized, he said.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said that his country supported all efforts aimed at achieving peace and security in the Middle East.  He called for unilateral provocative action to be avoided.  Turning to the question of Palestine, he reiterated his country’s firm support for a lasting solution to the Palestinian question based on the two-State solution.  He reaffirmed his support for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people for self-determination.  Settlements ran counter to international law and weakened the possibility for a two-State solution, and led to a continued unsustainable status quo.  Jews, Muslims and Christians must have access to sacred sites, and any attempt to minimize that was unacceptable and would not contribute to finding a solution to the conflict.

MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria) said the unilateral decision by the United States to relocate its embassy to the occupied city of Jerusalem was a flagrant violation of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.  That country’s action had no value whatsoever and would not alter the city’s legal status.  The United States veto of a draft Council resolution on the status of Jerusalem demonstrated that country’s total disregard for international law and its unlimited support to the racist, expansionist and Zionist Israeli regime at the expense of the Palestinian people.  The Assembly’s related resolution, meanwhile, showed how limited United States influence could be.  Despite years of war, Syria had never lost its moral compass, always maintaining its principled position on the Palestinian question, he said, called for the State of Palestine to be given full membership in the United Nations.

It was regrettable that the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General had disregarded the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, he said.  Israel had continued to confiscate territory in the Syrian Golan, expanding settlements, exploiting resources, distorting history and destroying culture.  Responding to the statement by the representative of Saudi Arabia, he said that to reach a settlement to the conflict in Syria, the regime of the Saudi royal family must stop issuing fatwahs that fuelled terrorism.  It must also stop giving support to more than 100 armed terrorist groups in Syria, including the supply of toxic chemical substances.  Saudi Arabia had been spreading terrorism for decades, he said, calling for a decisive international response.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) said that at the heart of the situation in the Middle East was the need to work towards a Palestinian State that was fully sovereign, economically viable and territorially contiguous.  His country believed that the moment had arrived to bring about a political process that would put an end to the war in Syria, while the military victory achieved in 2017 against extremism in Iraq should be followed by a successful process of reconstruction, economic recovery and national reconciliation.  Without a cessation of hostilities, the humanitarian tragedy in Yemen would continue, and in that context, Brazil called on all actors in a position of influence to help bring the parties to the negotiating table and put an end to the fighting as soon as possible.

HICHAM OUSSIHAMOU (Morocco) said the King, as Chair of the Committee on Jerusalem, attached great importance to Palestinians’ rights to an independent State along 4 June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.  The Government had always sought to achieve just peace in the Middle East based on relevant resolutions and the Arab peace initiative, and made efforts to revive the stalled political process.  Israel’s illegal Judaization activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory allowed no prospects for solutions in the near future.  Jerusalem was a symbol of coexistence for the Arab region.  As Chair of the Committee, the King had expressed the concern of Arab and Muslim countries about the United States decision, and on 6 December 2017, sent a letter to the Secretary-General stressing that any attempt to alter the historic status of Jerusalem would lead to a religious conflict.  Morocco called for preserving the city’s legal and historic status and encouraged the Council to push for a final settlement of the conflict based on international resolutions.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the United States decision violated international law.  It demonstrated a blatant disregard of Palestinians’ historic, legal and natural rights, and further, a painful affront to the religious rights of Christians and Muslims worldwide, as well as universal values.  He called on States to refrain from recognizing that decision and to implement resolution 478 (1980).  Al-Quds Al-Sharif was a holy city for all three monotheistic religions, he recalled.

As such, he said all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of East Jerusalem were illegal, stressing that OIC was appalled by the actions of violent settlers and occupation forces in occupied Al‑Khalil/Hebron, which threatened to transform a solvable political conflict into a never ending religious war.  “This must be urgently averted,” he said.  Implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) was paramount to advancing peace and States must uphold their obligations for accountability for any violations.  He reiterated calls for lifting Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, and in light of the recent United States decision to reduce funding to UNRWA, underscored the need for funding to that Agency.

Speaking in his national capacity, he described Turkey’s efforts in fostering peace in Syria.  At the last round of Astana talks, confidence-building measures had been adopted, he said, adding that the Astana and Sochi platforms were complementary to the United Nations process.  Turkey’s resolve to fight terrorism was firm.  Terrorism could have no religious or ethnic justification.  On 21 January, Turkey had launched counter-terrorism operation “Olive Branch”, in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, targeting terrorists, hideouts, weapons, vehicles and equipment.  All protections were being taken to protect civilians.  Among its goals was to neutralize terrorists in Afrin, he said, stressing that Turkey would take all measures to protect its national security.

SAUD HAMAD GHANEM HAMAD ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates), speaking for the Arab Group, said that Security Council resolution 242 (1967) laid the foundation for any acceptable settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which would require Israel’s withdrawal from the Arab territories.  The resolution remained the only way to address the question of Palestine.  The Arab Peace Initiative presented an historic opportunity for Israel to have normal relations not only with its Arab neighbours, but also with other Muslim countries.  The Amman Summit reiterated last March that the initiative was a strategic option for Arab States.  Unfortunately, Israel proposed only one alternative:  the continuation of its occupation, the perpetuation of its colonization and diminishing Palestinian sovereignty.  Israel had also succeeded in burying the 1993 Oslo Accord and practically ended it by enforcing the brutal apartheid system in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and converting the Gaza Strip into one big prison.

He also addressed final status issues and affirmed the Arab Group’s firm rejection and strong condemnation of the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the occupying Power, and the decision to move its embassy to that city.  The Group considered that action to be null and void, and a serious and dangerous breach of international law and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.  Even though the policy did not have any legal impact that would change the status of Jerusalem, the Arab Group considered it a clear violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, and an attack on both Arab and Muslim nations, as well as on Christians around the world.  It was also a dangerous development that undermined the peace process and the two-State solution.  The Security Council and Member States should not recognize any unilateral measures that targeted Jerusalem’s character or its demographic composition, and should refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

TORE HATTREM (Norway) said that settlement activities undermined prospects for a two-State solution, and should stop.  With the support of relevant parties and stakeholders, Norway and the European Union had decided to convene an extraordinary ministerial session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Brussels on 31 January.  That meeting would address measures that might have a positive impact on the efforts to restart final status negotiations.  It would also discuss efforts to assist the Palestinian Authority to reinstate its control in Gaza, as outlined in the Cairo agreement of 12 October 2017.  Delivery of essential services by UNRWA was crucial to addressing the basic needs of Palestinian refugees.  The financial situation of the Agency was critical and there was a risk that it would not be able to deliver on its mandate.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab Group and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said it was, more than ever, important to have peace on the horizon in the Middle East.  Iraq was particularly concerned by the Palestinians’ dire humanitarian situation.  He called on the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities, and for those countries which had not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so soon.  Doing so would be an investment in peace.  Renewed interest in the Palestinian issue was an opportunity to renew direct negotiations under the aegis of the United States, European Union and Arab States, he said, welcoming also the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative.

EINAR GUNNARSSON (Iceland) said more attention should be paid to the conflict in Yemen, where civilians were paying a huge price in a senseless war.  Compared to other conflicts in the Middle East, the Israel-Palestine conflict should be soluble, he said, emphasizing that actions which led away from the two‑State solution, or which risked undermining trust, enflaming passions and sparking violence, must be avoided.  That applied equally to violence by Palestinians and to disproportionate Israeli military responses, as well as the latter country’s settlement policy.  He added that failure to address the humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees could potentially breed extremism among young people, and that undermining UNRWA now would undermine Middle East peace and stability.

MOHAMED OMAR MOHAMED GAD (Egypt) said the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was worsening:  Palestinians could no longer enjoy their freedom, exercise their right to self-determination, create an independent State or live in peace and security.  The international community was on the horns of a dilemma, as people watched the United Nations closely.  Indeed, any country could allow itself to leave the international community or sign treaties with perfect impunity.  All actors must do their utmost to end the occupation, as regional tensions were growing.  “Institutions are failing,” he said, opening the door for some to practise aggression and violence, and disseminate extremist and racist ideologies.  “We have to act,” he said.  Egypt had always been looking for ways to balance the humanitarian situation in Gaza, efforts that did not absolve the occupying Power of its responsibilities related to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Checkpoint measures must be eased and construction activities restarted.  Stressing that any action that was not aligned with international law had no legal status, he said Egypt had regularly called on parties to return to the negotiating table on the basis of the two-State solution.  Any alternative not agreed by the parties would only increase tensions.  He advocated support for Egyptian efforts to foster Palestinian unity, which itself was one of the best means for building a strong, Palestinian society capable of being a partner for peace.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) renewed support for all efforts aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, expressing support for two States living side by side, and a Palestinian State established along 1967 borders, in line with Council resolutions and the Arab peace initiative.  The parties must deal with Al-Quds Al‑Sharif as part of comprehensive settlement of the Middle East question, she said, citing Council resolution 478 (1980). Indeed, Al-Quds Al‑Sharif was a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations.  Qatar did not recognize any efforts to change the legal position or demographic structure of that city.  She underscored need to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians.  More broadly, she called for stabilizing situation in Syria, in line with the Charter and international law.  Also, illegal unilateral measures against Qatar had grave impacts on regional peace and security, affecting the campaign to combat terrorism.  She rejected any violation of Qatar’s sovereignty, emphasizing that her country had a legitimate right to maintain national security.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was deeply concerned by unilateral decisions and actions which compromised the standing of East Jerusalem as a final status issue.  The legal status of Jerusalem must be preserved within the framework of relevant United Nations resolutions, he said, urging the Council to prevail upon Israel to immediately halt its illegal settlement activities, lift the blockade on Gaza and end all forms of occupation and violence.  Enhanced, predictable and sustainable financing for UNRWA must be ensured, he said, urging Member States to help uphold the Agency’s ability to make a difference in the lives of Palestinian refugees.  Concluding, he said Bangladesh expected the Council to show unity of purpose in finding peaceful, just and lasting solutions to all protracted conflicts and related humanitarian situations worldwide, including the Palestinian question.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, stressed the Committee’s deep concerns that Israel was continuing the process of imposing game-changing realities on the ground.  Earlier in January, Israel’s Parliament passed a bill that would make it next to impossible for any future Israeli Government to cede any part of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem, to an independent Palestinian State as part of peace negotiations.  The Committee deplored all human rights violations against the Palestinian people and the breaches of international humanitarian law that continued to be perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Until the occupation of that territory ended and Palestinians gained full control over their resources, the Committee called upon the international community to continue supporting the Palestinian people.

JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), recalling the General Assembly’s resolution in December 2017 on the status of Jerusalem, said the decision by the President of the United States to recognize Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of Israel, and to move the United States embassy to that city, deserved global condemnation.  It represented an insult to international legitimacy and the unanimous will of the international community.  The United States and Israel should pay due attention to international efforts to resolve Middle East issues, including the question of Palestine, and participate in the peace process with honesty and diligence.  He reiterated his country’s firm support for the Palestinian people and emphasized the need to end the Israeli military occupation.  He added that the Syrian issue should be resolved peacefully, through dialogue, with no foreign intervention.

SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia), associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said a resolution of the question of Palestine remained elusive due largely to Israel’s defiance of Council resolutions.  Israel must stop all violations and illegal activities, and fully comply with all its obligations.  The United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would only embolden Israel, as the occupying Power, to continue with its repressive policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.  Malaysia called on the United States to consider rescinding its decision and to work with all parties involved towards a comprehensive and lasting peace, based on the two-State solution.  Noting with serious concern dwindling financial backing for UNRWA, he said his country would continue to extend assistance to that the Agency, within its means, and urged all Member States to do likewise.

HADAS MEITZAD (Israel) referred to the statement by Lebanon’s representative and noted that the President of that country had referred to Hizbullah as a legitimate armed power in Lebanon.  Lebanon should focus its energy on the full implementation of all Security Council resolutions.  She said that the representative of Syria had debased the forum of the Council with conspiracy theories, noting that it was difficult to comprehend how they had the audacity to take the floor when they were targeting their own civilians.  The Syrian Government was perpetrating a siege against its own people in eastern Ghouta using chemical weapons.  Israel, meanwhile, was providing aid to Syrians.  Directing her comments to the representative of Venezuela, she said that country was in a state of moral bankruptcy.  Regarding the statement made by Bolivia’s representative, she said it was disappointing that it was one sided and did not reflect the true situation on the ground.  Concerning the statement by Kuwait’s representative, she said that restricting freedom of expression and jailing citizens who criticized the Government were common practices for Kuwait.

News

Prevention, Development Must be Central in All Efforts Tackling Emerging Complex Threats to International Peace, Secretary‑General Tells Security Council

Prevention and development must be at the centre of all efforts to address both the quantitative and qualitative changes that were emerging in threats around the world, the Secretary‑General of the United Nations told the Security Council today, as some 60 Member States participated in an all‑day debate tackling complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.

António Guterres said the perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate.  Conflicts were longer, with some lasting 20 years on average, and were more complex, with armed and extremist groups linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers were perpetuating the chaos and preying on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches that included integrated action, he said, stressing that prevention must be at the centre of all efforts.  Development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential and there was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

He also emphasized that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Sexual violence against women, therefore, must be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators. 

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High-level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work, as it was people‑centred and holistic and emphasized the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for Council unity.  Without it, he said, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.

Japan’s representative, Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  That included the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the expansion of terrorism, and non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations. 

While the Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he stressed that a human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  Such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges. 

In the ensuing debate, speakers emphasized the need to adjust to the changing challenges to international peace and security and welcomed the Secretary General’s reform of the Organization’s security pillar and other initiatives.  Many stressed the need to address root causes of instability and conflict, including climate change, non‑State armed groups, extremism and terrorism, as well as poverty and underdevelopment. 

Calling for creativity in the Council’s efforts, they underlined the importance of prevention, and stressed the responsibility of the 15‑member organ to address threats to international peace and security at an early stage.  Delegations also called for strengthen cooperation and coordination with other United Nations bodies and with regional and subregional organizations.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, with some delegates stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

Other speakers took issue with the way the Security Council was functioning, with Turkey’s representative pointing out that the Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises, often as the result of the use, or the threat, of veto, which disabled the Council’s effectiveness. 

India’s delegate said a non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact.

The Russian Federation’s representative said it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs of the United Nations to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

China’s representative stressed the importance of firmly upholding the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, saying that the Council must respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States as well as their right to choose their own social structures.  The major organs of the United Nations should stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

Some Member States addressed specific challenges to peace and security.  The representative of Tuvalu, speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, underscored that climate change was not going away and was the most pressing contemporary security challenge.  The Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security, he said. 

Slovenia’s delegate drew attention to water scarcity as a threat to stability, recalling the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of her country.  Regional cooperation was vital in preventing water from becoming a cause of conflict or an amplifying risk, she stressed, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, as seen in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

Addressing cyber threats, Lithuania’s representative, also speaking for Latvia and Estonia, said hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries.  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had faced a politically motivated series of cyberattacks.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate. 

The Deputy Foreign Minister for Ukraine also spoke, as did representatives of Sweden, Egypt, Bolivia, United Kingdom, France, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Senegal, United States, Ethiopia, Italy, Colombia, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Hungary, Switzerland, Norway (for the Nordic countries), South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Mexico, Slovakia, Ghana, Chile, Guatemala, Botswana, Netherlands, Greece, Armenia, Australia, Morocco, Lebanon, Nepal, Maldives, Portugal and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union delegation.

Representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine took the floor for a second and third time.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said there had not only been a quantitative but also a qualitative change in threats to international peace and security.  The perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier.  Inequality and exclusion fed frustration and marginalization.  Threats to cybersecurity were escalating and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate. 

While the number of armed conflicts had declined over the long‑term, they had surged in the Middle East and Africa, he continued, with many lasting on average more than 20 years.  Conflicts were also more complex as armed groups competed for control over State institutions, natural resources and territory.  Extremist groups left little room for diplomacy.  There was also an increased regionalization and internationalization of conflicts.  Clashes were more linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers perpetuated the chaos and preyed on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches which must include integrated action, he underlined.  Such efforts must be coherent, coordinated and context‑specific, working across pillars.  Towards that aim, he had initiated three inter‑linked reform efforts focused at repositioning the United Nations development system, streamlining internal management and strengthening the Secretariat’s peace and security architecture.  He had also sought to forge closer links with regional partners. 

He stressed that prevention must be at the centre of everything, as it would avoid human suffering and even save money.  Prevention was a sound investment that brought ample and visible dividends, and development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential in prevention.  There was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

As well, gender equality was closely linked with resilience, he said, stressing that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Therefore, it was critical that sexual violence against women be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators.

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High‑level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work.  Human security was people‑centred and holistic; it stressed the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for unity in the 15‑member organ.  Without that unity, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.  “But with unity, we can advance security and well‑being for all,” he underscored.

Statements

KORO BESSHO (Japan), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, some parts of the world had been enjoying the benefits of improvements in science and technology, from groundbreaking medicines to new frontiers in outer space.  However, during the same period, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the expansion of terrorism.  Peace operations were also facing non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations.

The Security Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he said.  It was important for the Council to discuss those complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security in a holistic and methodological manner.  However, it needed to increase its focus on effectiveness throughout the whole conflict cycle.  At the same time, close attention must be paid to the fact that peace and security, development and human rights were closely interlinked.  It was vital for the Council to enhance cooperation with other organs, both within the United Nations system and beyond.

A human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, he continued, adding that such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges.  Japan had consistently provided human‑centred and comprehensive assistance through cross‑sectoral efforts with a range of partners.  As for the Secretary‑General’s ongoing initiative for the reform of the United Nations, he said that the resolution on the restructuring of the Organization’s peace and security pillar was being tabled for adoption at the General Assembly.  Although the scope of that resolution did not include Security Council reform, no reform would be complete without the reform of that 15‑member organ.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Ukraine, associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that while criticism of the Council’s work was mostly justified, there was currently no alternative entity to safeguard international peace and security.  The Council had achieved some positive results in recent years, including its role in implementing an agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP).  With the adoption of resolution 2349 (2017), the Council demonstrated an openness to addressing some of the underlying causes in the complex crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region.  It had also been active in addressing the threat of terrorism, engaging in a number of discussions and taking landmark decisions.  Because threats to international peace and security could not effectively be addressed in isolation, he welcomed the expansion of the Council’s agenda to include challenges such as human rights, development and climate change, to name a few.  Nonetheless, among the Council’s shortcomings or even outright failures were unresolved challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and tragic events in the Middle East, as well as blatant violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction that continued with impunity.  Further, he expressed regret at the erosion of the rule of law, which was most obviously manifested in the aggressive policy of the Russian Federation towards its neighbours.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), aligning himself with the statements to be made by the European Union and the Nordic countries, said that international peace and security was increasingly hampered by the negative impacts of multidimensional poverty, climate change, transnational organized crime, food insecurity, weak governance, human rights violations and growing inequality.  The Council’s preventive role was now more important than ever before.  However, prevention was not possible without a comprehensive and holistic strategy to address the root causes and the conflict amplifiers.  While ongoing reform efforts would better position the United Nations system to enhance its joint analysis and integrated strategic planning capacities, it was also crucial to consistently integrate a gender perspective into long‑terms strategies.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that an innovative approach, coordinated through the United Nations and focused on root causes, was needed to meet current interrelated, complex challenges to international peace and security.  In its analysis of conflicts and potential conflicts, the Secretariat must take into account the nature of each situation on a case‑by‑case basis.  The effectiveness of the Peacebuilding Commission must also be strengthened so that it could work with the Council to lay the foundation for stability in countries at risk.  Transnational challenges must be met through close coordination with regional organizations.  National ownership must be ensured in all efforts with the support of the international community, so that institutions capable of confronting all current challenges could be built.  He stressed that each organ of the United Nations must respect the mandate of the others, so that they could each adequately take on their respective responsibilities and not duplicate efforts.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said that the Council efforts were constantly endangered both by insufficient implementation of established mechanisms and the lack of coordination to prevent duplication of efforts.  Mediation, prevention and use of good offices, as well as use of Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter of the United Nations should be better used for peaceful settlement of disputes, with Chapter VII tools only used after other strategies had been well applied.  Unilateral actions were also imperilling the Council’s efforts to maintain peace and security.  Such action often resulted in negative consequences for entire regions by creating vacuums of authority, in which terrorist fighters could fill the void.  Robust actions must be taken to meet the terrorist threat.  Prohibition of nuclear weapons, in addition, was an important goal to meet to reduce the threat of devastating conflict.  As a pacifist country, his country would continue to advocate for the peaceful settlement of conflict to avoid the scourge of war and all its consequences, he said.

Matthew John Rycroft (United Kingdom) said that not only emerging threats but also conventional threats had been fuelled by developing transnational challenges, from internet incitement to enslavement of migrants.  All such factors must be confronted at home, in partnership, and multilaterally.  For example, at home, his country was tackling illicit financial flows that funded armed groups, terrorists and corruption, through new legislative acts.  The United Kingdom was also assisting 13 countries in meeting climate threats to reduce their vulnerability.  Multilaterally, it was supporting action of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council to address the complex and diverse challenges.  For those organs to play their full role, the reforms proposed by the Secretary‑General must be supported.  That would enable the Organization to more effectively sustain peace, meet the Sustainable Development Goals and build respect for human rights.  He pointed out that, during the current open debate, millions of people were experiencing displacement, hunger and conflict as a single reality.  Those ills should all be addressed at the same time to achieve a safer world for all.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) affirmed that Council debates in 2017 had illustrated that the complex challenges facing international peace and security must, in the context of globalization, be met by a global response.  The United Nations must use all its tools to assist States in an integrated manner that addresses deep‑rooted causes.  Terrorism must be faced by addressing all factors — economic, political, cultural and social — along with multilateral security responses and regional arrangements supported by the international community such as the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force.  Those responses must be accompanied by long‑term support for development.  Climate change, often exacerbating crises, must be met by technological and financial means, starting with the immediate implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  The Council should also be in close communication with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other mechanisms so that it could react quickly to grave violations.  All challenges, along with ever‑present threats such as nuclear proliferation and inter‑State tensions, must be addressed by every State collectively, along with the mechanisms of the United Nations.  Therefore, he voiced his country’s full support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Organization.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), expressing full support for the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals to make the United Nations more effective, called for a comprehensive, integrated strategy in which the priority of sustaining peace ran through all efforts.  His country had seen the importance of that approach since its independence and for that reason had been at the forefront of conflict prevention, including the establishment of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, among other efforts.  Reducing the threat of military confrontation was a priority for Kazakhstan, as shown by its hosting of conferences on Syria that had helped de‑escalate areas and promote political progress.  Peacekeeping operations had to become more viable and accountable, with adequate staff and equipment.  The Organization must comprehensively adopt a threefold strategy that addressed the peace and development nexus through a regional approach that involved the entire United Nations system working as one.  His country would continue to be fully engaged in strengthening international peace and security throughout its Council membership and beyond, he pledged.

LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay) said that the Council should consider all aspects that could worsen conflicts, such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, legal and illegal trade in other weapons, terrorism, cyberattacks, and climate change.  The international community must show greater solidarity and global governance must be strengthened.  There was not only a need for prevention but also for creativity in which greater coordination between the organs of the United Nations was indispensable.  The nexus between security, development, human rights and the humanitarian spheres was clear, but factors such as climate change, pandemics and transnational organized crime could exacerbate crises in conflict or post‑conflict situations.  In such situations there was a need to strengthen the rule of law and promote sustainable economic growth, national reconciliation, access to justice, accountability, democracy, gender equality and protection of human rights.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a violation of international law. 

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said over the last years, the international community had increased initiatives to address threats to peace, including through the reform of the Organization’s peace architecture and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, among others.  Such factors as the circulation of small arms, sexual violence, recruitment of children, and illegal exploitation of natural resources required a holistic response.  Terrorism had suffered defeats but remained a threat as illustrated in numerous attacks.  Mandates of peacekeeping missions should be better adapted to the situation on the ground, he said, noting that African countries had used their troops to combat non‑State actors.  He welcomed the initiative to reinforce the security pillar.  Senegal’s water, peace and security initiative was aiming to facilitate access to transborder sources of water.

SHEN BO (China) said that, in the desire for peace and development, it was necessary to firmly uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Although new challenges kept emerging, the Charter’s principles remained valid.  Maintaining peace and security was the primary responsibility of the Council and its authority should be defended by all Member States.  The United Nations and the Council should be subjective and impartial.  The 15‑member organ must also respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States and their right to choose their own social structures.  Noting that root causes of conflict such as poverty and under‑development had not been solved and that threats such as climate change were constantly expanding, he urged for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  The major organs of the United Nations should follow the provisions of the Charter and stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said the Council had a responsibility to respond to crises too large for one nation to deal with.  One of the Council’s most effective tools — peacekeeping operations — was a powerful mechanism, she said, noting that the United Nations deployed over 100,000 troops and police all over the world.  The missions, however, must adapt to the reality of the situation on the ground.  The quality of troops deployed should also be analysed.  Giving examples of successful peacebuilding, including in Liberia, where the United Nations had devised a peacebuilding plan in coordination with the Government and participation of civil society, she said the Council had mostly used missions after conflict had broken out.  There was a need to look at underlying challenges, such as failure to develop or lack of protection of human rights, as those factors could directly lead to instability.  In Yemen, 22 million out of 29 million were in need of humanitarian assistance and there was a risk of famine.  Famine conditions had been caused by conflict and parties more interested in personal gain.  The United Nations had the power to develop solutions to transnational problems, she said, encouraging the Secretary‑General to raise issues early on to the Council.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that a new way of thinking, along with innovative tools, were needed to meet emerging, complex challenges in international peace and security through a comprehensive and holistic approach.  Strengthened partnerships were needed between United Nations bodies and regional organizations for that purpose.  The Secretary‑General’s vision could allow the creation of integrated capabilities with improved planning and budgeting to support operations on the ground and longer‑term efforts.  While a cross‑pillar approach was critical to address driving factors of conflicts that did not mean that the mandates of existing operations should be changed.  The Security Council should not impinge on the responsibilities of other bodies.  The Council had many responsibilities of its own to deal with, for example, principles of international law governing inter‑State relations, which were not at this point being adequately addressed.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) stressed that a context‑specific approach must be highlighted, with all the particularities taken into account, and an over‑broad use of Chapter VII, as well as outside intervention, be avoided.  In that context, he rejected the blasphemous statement by the representative of Ukraine in relationship to international law, given that that representative’s Government had come into power illegitimately.  He called for full implementation of the Minsk agreements.  Factors, such as foreign intervention and economic compulsion, must be added to the list of drivers of current conflict that were being discussed.  In terms of an integrated strategy to international peace and security, it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  However, each must focus on its own responsibilities.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), aligning with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said that during its presidency, his country had begun to address challenges in an integrated way, including a focus on migration and the nexus that phenomenon was connected to.  Protection and empowerment of people was key to building resilient societies.  The Secretary‑General should provide early‑warning information to the Council.  In order to address all problems in a comprehensive manner, United Nations effectiveness must be improved through building synergy between all actors.  In peace and security, capacity should be built to fully realize the concept of a peace continuum, as well as the building of inclusive political processes and resilient institutions.  His country would continue to fully support reform to strengthen the Organization across the three pillars.  In the Council, the interventions today showed that members had sufficient common interest to be able to reach consensus.

The representative of Ukraine, taking the floor a second time, said that it had been reconfirmed just recently that the Russian Federation was an occupying Power and a party to the conflict in the east of Ukraine.  For that reason, the country could not discuss the conflict as an impartial actor.  It must, instead, withdraw from Crimea and Donbass and make reparations for the damage it had caused in his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to his counterpart, encouraged the representative of the Ukraine to respect the Council and common sense.  The conflict in the Ukraine was a consequence of the seizure of power that was not accepted by people in the east of Ukraine, and while there was no proof of intervention on the part of his country, there was proof of malfeasance by Ukraine, including bombardment of schools and hospitals that threatened a large-scale humanitarian disaster.  He called for the implementation of the road map that was written into the Minsk agreements to resolve the situation.

The representative of Ukraine cited the Secretary‑General who voiced his concern over Russian arms flowing into eastern Ukraine, as well as actions in Crimea.  That was adequate proof of Russian aggression against his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which regularly visited areas not controlled by the Government, had not noted massive troop movement in the areas under discussion.  In addition, he pointed out that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been notified that all facilities in Crimea were working in compliance with the Agency’s regulations.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said the maintenance of international peace and security was the fundamental mandate of the Council, which had the responsibility to ensure that decisions were coherent in light of changing needs.  An integrated approach required focus on the main causes and multipliers of conflict.  Nuclear proliferation, climate change, water scarcity and cyberspace attacks required flexible diplomacy.  Prevention and peacebuilding should be the Council’s priority in the maintenance of peace.  Expeditious and bold solutions were required to ensure that the Organization could prevent conflicts.  Reform of the peace and security pillar would make it possible to adapt the United Nations to present day crises.  The Organization’s activities in Colombia were a clear example of building peace, and the success of the peace process in his country was based on a comprehensive approach, including gender equality. 

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said that a comprehensive approach to peace and security included rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms as well as sustainable development.  Implementation gaps in development commitments and disregard of human rights obligations were important early warning signals, he said, adding that contemporary security challenges tended to be complex, requiring tailor‑made, context‑specific solutions.  Stressing the importance of accountability in ensuring lasting peace, he added that transitional justice contributed to deterrence and allowed traumatized communities to come back together and move forward.  Noting the Council’s “half‑hearted engagement” with the International Criminal Court, he welcomed the Court’s announcement of investigations into various crimes in Libya.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that conflicts continued to rage around the world and the longstanding internationally recognized disputes regarding Palestine, as well as Jammu and Kashmir, continued to fester.  The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continued to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces, while the world continued to watch without responding to those egregious situations.  The drivers of such challenges, including political and economic injustice and terrorism and violent extremism, must be addressed.  What was needed was a shift from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.  There was obviously no one‑size‑fits‑all solution to conflict prevention and mitigation.  Moving a country towards durable peace began with a clear understanding of the sources and nature of conflicts, she said.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) said that “comprehensive”, “integrated” and “holistic” were not just buzzwords, but real calls for action and anchors for the work of the United Nations.  The only way to achieve and preserve peace was through dialogue, she said, expressing appreciation for the Secretary‑General’s dedication to start a surge in diplomacy.  Preventive processes should include intercultural and interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, hand in hand with moderate religious and community leaders and faith‑based organizations.  Further, there was no sustainable peace without respecting human rights and international humanitarian law.

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said the United Nations framework for conflict prevention was in the DNA of the 2030 Agenda and in resolutions on sustaining peace adopted by the Council and the General Assembly.  It was also anchored in the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda.  Further, the implementation of the Paris Agreement was a significant preventative step as it acknowledged the strong links between climate change and peace and security.  As respect for human rights was also key to conflict prevention, his country had launched the “Appeal of June 13” to enhance systematic cooperation within the United Nations system on human rights issues.  The appeal specifically called for intensified cooperation between the Council and human rights organs of the United Nations with a view to strengthen conflict prevention.  He also highlighted that many grievances started around issues of perceived or real exclusion and injustice; they deserved greater attention.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said all pillars of the United Nations were facing tremendous challenges.   No single State possessed the capacity to take on the challenges alone.  The United Nations was in acute need of substantial reform to confront the challenges faced.  A primary objective was to increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations while prioritizing political solutions.  Crisis prevention was essential, as well as preventing the relapse of crises in post‑conflict situations.  The Secretary‑General’s “surge in peace diplomacy” initiative and his reform of the prevention pillar had underscored their importance, he said, noting that his country was a co‑chair of the Group of Friends of Mediation.  The Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises.  Often, inaction was the result of the use, or the threat, of veto.  That disabled the Council’s effectiveness.  He underlined the importance of more Council interaction with non‑Council members and other United Nations bodies.  More attention must be payed to tackling the root causes of the multiplier factors of conflicts, including terrorism, climate change, water, and human and drug trafficking. 

NIDA JAKUBONĖ (Lithuania), also speaking for Latvia and Estonia and associating herself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that the rise in military conflicts was outstripping the international community’s ability to cope.  Hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, she emphasized, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries alone.  Increased societal awareness, resilience building and media and information literacy could help tackle hybrid threats.  In 2007, Estonia had faced a series of cyberattacks, and Latvia and Lithuania had also experienced such politically motivated assaults.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate; regional and subregional cooperation was key to strengthening cybersecurity in critical infrastructure.  As hybrid and cyberthreats were here to stay, conventional security was not enough, she said, urging Member States to share best practices and lessons learned in tackling them.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said conflicts were increasingly being caused by environmental degradation due to climate change, adding that the international community must cooperate to implement major environmental agreements.  Backing the strengthened United Nations‑World Bank partnership, he added that the Nordic countries were supporters of the Green Climate Fund and initiatives focusing on African and small island developing States.  The Nordic countries promoted the women, peace and security agenda, he said, and inclusivity started with women.  The international community must make better use of the positive contributions of young people, however.  For every dollar invested in prevention, 17 dollars were saved in post‑conflict assistance, he said, urging States to place prevention at the core of the United Nations agenda.  Security Council reform should include seats for Africa; it was also crucial to ensure small States had the opportunity to serve as elected members.

STEPHEN MAHLABADISHAGO NTSOANE (South Africa) highlighted that the nature of conflict was not the one envisaged by the creators of the United Nations.  Indeed, present‑day conflicts largely centred on the internal strife of Member States and transnational threats.  Unfortunately, while the world had changed, the Council had largely remained the same.  Contemporary challenges had brought divisions within the Council to the forefront, especially among its permanent members.  At times, such paralysis had cost human lives, he said, citing the lack of meaningful action on the situation between Israel and Palestine, as well as divisions on Syria.  While incremental improvements had been made to the Council’s working methods, such advancements did not obviate the need for comprehensive reform.  A more representative Council would allow it to be more effective in dealing with complex, contemporary challenges.  He called for a Council with a stronger voice for those closest to crises, one marked by non‑discriminatory decision‑making and collective, rather than narrow, national security interests.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said that, in anticipating threats to international peace and security, the Council must have the security implications of climate change on its radar and firmly on its agenda.  In addition, it should also include a host of factors, such as the growing interconnectedness in the cyberworld.  Lasting peace in such a complex world could not be achieved through military means alone, but in combination with development policy and a strong focus on prevention.  For that purpose, resilience of societies must be strengthened; that often started with respect and promotion of human rights.  Given abhorrent violations, such as sexual violence used as a tactic of war, the Security Council must do more to integrate human rights into its deliberations.   Supporting the Secretary‑General’s reform to make the United Nations work better across institutional boundaries, he called for full use of existing arrangements, such as the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Describing multisectoral assistance for integrated Sahel initiatives provided by his country, he stressed that in all areas, comprehensive action was needed to respond to current security challenges.  His country stood ready to assume its responsibilities in that regard, he pledged.

JEROEN STEFAN G. COOREMAN (Belgium) said that the challenges for international peace and security had to be looked at through an integrated approach.  A focus on environmental security should be an integral part of a global approach to security.  Environmental challenges had led to migratory pressures and had provoked conflicts.  For that reason, climate change and ecosystem change should be analysed within the context of security.  He voiced his support for the appointing of a special representative for environmental security.  Such a person could become part of the broader reform of the peace and security pillar.  Belgium would continue to actively participate in the discussion and would anchor the global approach in its national policies.  It had accorded priority to funding the general budget of the United Nations agencies so that they could pursue a global approach.  His country had also funded a number of humanitarian funds to help in cases of natural disasters, such as the hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean region.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) pointed out that conflicts had increased threefold in recent years with an unprecedented number of people forcibly displaced.  In that regard, he strongly supported the Secretary‑General’s call for a surge in political diplomacy and conflict prevention.  Because an inability to tackle the root causes of disputes could cause and sustain conflict, it was encouraging that the United Nations was increasingly examining conflicts in a comprehensive manner.  It was vital that the Secretary‑General’s proposals to restructure the Organization’s peace and security pillar succeed so that its engagement with the peace continuum was more effective and nimble.  Furthermore, the Council must fully uphold the principles of international law, human rights law and humanitarian law.  It must be judicious and not dictated by any particular national perspectives.  That commitment was tested by the question of Palestine.  The Council’s inaction had had devastating consequences on the ground, making solutions more complex.  Moreover, the Council could not solve international peace and security challenges singlehandedly.  Better cooperation was needed with troop‑ and police‑contributing countries in that regard.

SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that a basic reordering of perspectives was needed, emphasizing the need to address sustainable development for all and reduce gross disparities.  The Council must put a greater focus on the globalization of terror networks.  Even on an issue as serious as designating terrorist individuals and entities, Council‑mandated sanctions committees had failed to make concrete progress.  A non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact on billions of people striving to live in peace, safety and security.

FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru), stressing the importance of the reform drive at the United Nations, said that the traditional threats to international peace and security had been compounded by new complex global challenges.  Foremost among the latter was the impact of climate change.  Migration, food and security could be affected by that, in turn breeding more transnational crimes and illicit trade.  Strengthening the international community’s commitment to multilateralism was key and broad consensus was necessary on sustaining peace through rule of law.  Instead of “burying our head in sand”, the international community must tackle the problems through a multidimensional and inclusive approach.  Expressing support for the reforms of the Secretary‑General, he said that those reforms would shape the United Nations into a coordinated and flexible body.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts and underscored the need to engage other stakeholders, including the private sector, in peacebuilding and sustainable development.  To break the conflict cycle, increasingly complex challenges required changing approaches.  That was not only a moral obligation, but a pragmatic imperative with huge economic advantages.  Last year, the European Union adopted a global strategy reiterating its commitment to a global order based on international law, which translated into an aspiration to address the root causes of conflict.  While addressing conflict early was necessary, staying the course was an even bigger challenge, she said, as relapsing back into conflict was common. 

Meanwhile, the Council should not shy away from examining new and emerging challenges to peace and security, including climate change, she said.  The Council must also use its unique role within the United Nations system to prevent climate change‑induced unrest.  Overall, she said its working methods must evolve.  By addressing situations earlier and in a more integrated manner, Member States could transform their approach to conflict and further empower the Council in fulfilling its core mandate.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that the interlinkage between security and development was complex and nuanced.  Poverty and inequality might exacerbate tensions in some scenarios, but did not necessarily endanger international peace and security.  Geopolitical rivalries, militaristic approaches and the unilateral use of force were more serious sources of regional and global insecurity.  While discussing the complex dynamics that affect contemporary conflicts, care should be taken to avoid misinterpretations and generalizations.  Successful peacekeeping operations demonstrated the potential for a constructive relationship between security and development.  The recent experience of the United Nations in Haiti was a positive example, where, for thirteen years, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) contributed to a more secure and stable environment and assisted in the implementation of hundreds of initiatives that fostered peace and development at the local level.

MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia) said that contemporary challenges were complicated and interlinked.  Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land and the violence perpetrated by the terrorist settlers were clear violations of international law and one of the main reasons for the armed conflicts in that region.  The international community must work tirelessly to help the Palestinian people regain their rights.  As well, approximately twenty‑four hours ago, the capital of her country, Riyadh, had become a victim of an attempted attack by a ballistic missile randomly fired from Yemeni territory.  What the rebel militias were doing with the backing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter.  Rivers of blood were flowing in Yemen, she said, and the Council must take deterrent measures to resolve the threat posed to peace and security by the militia and Iran.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), recalling that the United Nations was established to prevent the scourge of war, said that its founding document emphasized the glaringly obvious relationship between disarmament and development.  The 2030 Agenda had served to further highlight that link.  Calling on all relevant stakeholders to work together in a coordinated way, she said that there were a myriad of factors affecting peace and security, including climate change.  Also stressing the imperative need for the Council to refrain from mandate creep, she recalled that Article 99 of the Charter conferred on the Secretary‑General the role of alerting the Council to any threats to international peace and security.  The Secretary‑General must make use of the powers under that Article, she said, adding that gender‑mainstreaming had multiple benefits in peacebuilding.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan), highlighting the Council’s important role in peacekeeping and humanitarian action, said increasing its effectiveness was only possible if members were unanimous in responding to emerging threats.  Also expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s reform initiatives, she added that those reforms would strengthen the international community’s ability to prevent and resolve conflicts.  It was necessary to improve the effectiveness of the United Nations and its bodies in order to confront the challenges to development, peace and security.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that her country had adopted a global approach to international peace and security.  Challenges to peace and security required a positive approach, with dialogue not confrontation.  There was a need to strengthen a collective prevention of conflicts to achieve international peace and security.  Qatar had always participated in resolving conflicts peacefully, she said, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s aim to make conflict prevention into a priority.  She also welcomed regional consultations in sustaining peace in the Middle East.  The major complex challenges in that region represented a threat to international peace and security, and cooperation between countries in the Middle East and the international community was needed to eradicate those challenges.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the objective of ensuring a peaceful and prosperous world was hardly achievable if universally recognized fundamental values, norms, and principles were overtly disregarded or misinterpreted.  At a time of brutal armed conflicts and high levels of forced displacement, more concerted action was required at all levels to end conflicts and direct greater attention to preventing future conflicts.  Welcoming the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution on restructuring the United Nations peace and security architecture, he said that States must comply with their international obligations, particularly those relating to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the inviolability of their borders.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) renewed his country’s deep conviction that development and human rights were linked to peace and security, and noted the vision of the Secretary‑General to work towards enhancing the main pillars of security, human rights and development.  Peace required complete harmony and a coordinated effort, and there was a need to enhance the relationships between the United Nations and regional organizations.  The problems faced were extremely complex, and the cooperation of others was needed to help solve them.  Underscoring the importance to hold regional dialogues in order to exchange expertise, he said that would lead to the continued involvement of regional organizations in the peaceful settlements of conflicts.

NGUYEN PHOUNG NGA (Viet Nam) said a human‑centred and whole‑pillar approach was urgently needed to implement a comprehensive and long‑term strategy on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.  Full use must be made of existing preventative diplomacy and mediation tools, and the United Nations should coordinate enhanced partnership with regional and subregional organizations.  Peacekeeping must be coupled with peacebuilding, she continued, emphasizing the need for Security Council unity in taking decisions and collective action.  As for the situation in the East Sea, or South China Sea, she called on all parties concerned to exercise self‑restraint and settle disputes peacefully in line with international law.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said the world was at a critical crossroad in the maintenance of peace and security.  Praising the priority the United Nations was giving to conflict prevention, he said it was necessary to find political solutions to disputes.  To do so, it was necessary to fix the fragmentation in the United Nations and enable it to wield its tools more effectively.  Supporting the Secretary‑General’s initiatives in that regard, he said the Organization must invest in peace and security “for every person in every country”.  Peacekeeping should be pursued in harmony with the other agendas of the United Nations, including the ones enshrined in “the holy triumvirate of peace and security, development and human rights”.  The threat or use of force was even more serious when it accompanied the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons, he said, calling for a robust system of global governance.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the Security Council should, in a more systematic and targeted manner, deal with challenges in the areas of non‑traditional and cross‑border threats, including those concerning public health, exploitation of natural resources, climate change, poverty and forced displacement.  Both the Council and the General Assembly should take greater advantage of the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Preventing conflict was one of the Council’s most significant responsibilities; it should enhance its preventive and mitigating role.  Security sector reform, a priority area for Slovakia, should focus on genuine national ownership and effective partnerships, among other targets.

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), emphasizing the need to work across the United Nations system and noting efforts to reform the Organization’s peace and security architecture, said the Council’s capacity to play a preventative and mitigating role would be enhanced by a structured dialogue on the security implications of development‑related issues.  Much could also be gained through increased collaboration between the Council and regional and subregional organizations, such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Noting that peacebuilding and sustaining peace went hand in hand with Sustainable Development Goal 16 [promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies], she said effective strategies across the United Nations system to support that objective would ultimately lead to the effective maintenance of global peace and security.

BELEN SAPAG MUÑOZ DE LA PEÑA (Chile) said a multidimensional approach was necessary to respond to threats, including non‑State and non‑military ones.  Recalling that in January 2015, her country had convened an open debate in the Council on inclusive development, she said there was widespread agreement that security and development were mutually reinforcing.  Underscoring the importance of inclusion, she noted that the design of the transition from MINUSTAH had contained a strong element of national ownership.  Further, it was important to raise awareness regarding the Arria Formula meetings and integrate subsidiary bodies and groups of experts in the work of the Council when designing missions and transitions.  The Council must also improve interaction with regional and subregional bodies.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said that the United Nations had striven to resolve conflict since its founding through a series of measures, including the maintenance of peace and peacebuilding, as well as promoting recovery and rebuilding.  In all of the aforementioned activities, the Council had played a critical role whenever called upon to respond to various conflicts.  His country had experienced that directly through the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala.  The exit of peacekeeping or special political missions did not mean an end to the peace process.  In response to various collective appeals for an urgent change in the way in which peace instruments available to the United Nations were used, Guatemala was optimistic about the Secretary‑General’s plan to conduct an overhaul and review of those tools.  He remained convinced that prevention and mediation should be at the forefront of the Organization’s efforts on peace and security.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said the Council must deploy all the tools at its disposal to effectively deal with emerging threats, and the Organization must act as a whole, coordinated entity.  However, the burden for maintaining international peace and security could not be solely placed on the United Nations; regional bodies should play a critical role.  Because of their presence on the ground, such bodies were better placed to appreciate and address security challenges.  He welcomed the development of partnerships, including African Union‑European Union and African Union‑United Nations joint efforts.  He also highlighted the role of subregional entities, citing Botswana’s experience with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which included structures tasked with addressing peace and security challenges and played a key role in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution and management, among others.  He also noted States’ collective accountability for effective border management, which could help to reduce crime and insecurity.

LISE HUBERTA JOHANNA GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), stressing the importance of an integrated approach and early action, said that the challenges of the twenty‑first century transcended borders.  Her country had learned, sometimes the hard way, of the connection between root causes and ensuing conflict.  However, it was not enough to formulate an integrated response to conflict; the Council should also devote attention to preventing conflicts.  While the Council’s involvement with the situation in Gambia earlier in 2017 had proved timely and successful, a clear focal point was still lacking on the issue of climate and security.  Given the growing risk of climate change increasing tensions within and between nations, he underscored that it was important that there be an institutional home for the issue.

ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIČ (Slovenia) said the Council must better integrate peacekeeping with development and humanitarian efforts.  The United Nations and its Member States, regional organizations, non‑governmental organizations (NGOs), and civil society must all support fragile countries, especially by enhancing their societal resilience and security architecture.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, she said, stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court and calling upon States that had not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute.  Turning to water scarcity, she recalled the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of Slovenia.  Regional cooperation was also vital to avoid water becoming a cause of conflict or amplifying risk, she pointed out, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, for example, in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said that a priority in tackling growing global insecurity should be taking a holistic approach to address the drivers of conflict and to focus on both prevention and long‑term stability.  Greece, considering itself a pillar of stability in a region that bordered on the Middle East and North Africa, had hosted international conferences that had aimed at promoting tolerance, pluralism and dialogue among civilizations.  It also engaged in bilateral programmes that utilized country synergies and joint activities in culture and other constructive areas, such as trade and research.  Greece had also established mechanisms of cooperation with countries in the Balkans.  As it was on the front line of migration issues, it advocated for the streamlining of migration governance that made use of existing forums and promoting global partnership.  Affirming the importance of addressing climate change as well, she pledged her country’s support to the Organization’s efforts to address all factors involved with international peace and security to shape a more peaceful world for the future.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization, but at the same time, called for the acknowledgement of evidence of extremists and terrorists targeting specific communities based on religion or ethnicity.  He called for addressing the suffering of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities, and the indiscriminate attacks and forced displacement of ethnic Armenians from certain Syrian cities.  Armenia had been providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian population, sheltering approximately 22,000 refugees and implementing policies to facilitate housing, education, health care and other integration measures.  Turning to regional issues, he said the OSCE Minsk group co‑chair countries had in October reiterated a commitment to mediating a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno‑Karabakh conflict.  They had also welcomed the resumption of high‑level dialogue between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva on 16 October and a meeting of their foreign ministers on 6 December.  Armenia remained fully committed to negotiations in that regard.

DAVID GREGORY YARDLEY (Australia) said addressing increasingly complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security required a change of approach.  Of particular importance was conflict prevention, sustainable peace, women’s participation in peacebuilding and United Nations reform.  All staff within the Organization must show leadership in embedding prevention approaches across all operations and programmes.  Furthermore, efforts to support peaceful societies must be inclusive, he said, citing evidence that meaningful participation of women in peace processes led to more durable outcomes.  In that regard, he acknowledged the practical steps taken in 2017 by the Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Peacebuilding Support Office.  Expressing strong support for the Secretary‑General’s ambitious reform efforts, he called for the Organization to prioritize prevention and inclusive peacebuilding.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the growing number of conflicts and the resulting fallout required a review of the Organization’s response.  Indeed, the international community had not made great use of mediation and conflict tools, which were needed to achieve lasting peace.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda, which he hoped would result in a more transparent and cooperative approach.  For its part, Morocco was active in addressing the impact of climate change on peace, and the world was already witnessing its effects, including migration and the erosion of coasts.  Concerning the threat of terrorism to international peace and security, he said peacekeepers could not react robustly to threats if they remained “shackled” in their current mandates.  In that vein, he expressed support for the G5 Sahel joint force and called for its full logistical and financial support, noting that multidimensional missions often lacked needed resources to support their mandate.  At the same time, resolving conflict required partnership, he said, calling for the United Nations to take the lead in coordinating efforts.

HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon) said the notion that conflicts had become more complex should not distract from addressing root causes, including foreign occupation and aggression.  Lebanon faced many challenges, including almost daily Israeli violations of its sovereignty and the presence of more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria.  Such challenges had contributed to a significant decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, higher unemployment and poverty levels and an overstretched infrastructure.  The pioneering United Nations strategic framework, signed by the United Nations system and the Government in October 2016, recognized Lebanon’s multidimensional challenges, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must follow a “whole of Lebanon” approach which leveraged and integrated the Organization’s diverse expertise, capacities and resources while supporting Lebanon along the path to sustainable development, as per the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal) said that studies had established the hazardous consequences of climate change on people as well as on the existence of small islands.  The security and economic implications of climate change could not be ignored.  That and other natural disasters would increase the number of environmental migrants in the coming decades.  It was the common responsibility of the United Nations membership to ensure secure futures for island‑dwellers and environmental migrants.  In Nepal, snowcaps were increasingly receding in the Himalayas.  As well, his country was experiencing pressure on food security and witnessing the extinction of some rare flora and fauna.  The Council could play an important role in addressing climate change simply by sending a message of its collective commitment.  The Council members that were also major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions must lead others by example, he said.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) recalled that, with resolution 2349 (2017), the Council had recognized that climate change had an adverse impact on security.  Now, the Council and the General Assembly must clearly articulate practical measures the Organization could take in response to climate change and other non‑traditional security threats.  Measures could include the Secretary‑General preparing regular periodic assessment reports to serve as an early warning mechanism.  Moreover, the Council and Assembly could also consider examining the feasibility of establishing a regular coordination mechanism through which all of the Organization’s principal bodies and relevant agencies could contribute to designing conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacekeeping operations.  Small States were the most vulnerable to non‑traditional and emerging security threats and it was necessary that small island developing States in particular had a seat at the Council.  However, over 72 years, only eight such States had served in that body, he recalled, expressing hope that his country would be elected for the 2019‑2020 term in order to represent those States and contribute to shaping decisions affecting the smallest members of the international system.

SAMUELU LALONIU (Tuvalu), on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, said that climate change was the most important security challenge facing the world today, as affirmed in a seminal report by the previous Secretary‑General.  The growing attention paid to the issue in this chamber gave hope, but dangerous impacts were already occurring, with the most vulnerable bearing the largest burdens.  On the small islands, there were record‑breaking droughts and storms and extreme heat and floods had displaced more people than many conflicts.

Climate change was not going away and the situation would continue to deteriorate even if the goals of the Paris Agreement were met, he said.  The changes could be abrupt and could severely affect many systems that were currently relied on for modern life.  For those reasons, the Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security, who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security and address concerns that the securitization of climate change would lead to more militarization.

JOSÉ ATAÍDE AMARAL (Portugal) said addressing both the new and old threats to global peace and security required, more than ever before, a multilateral approach that also involved tackling the root causes of conflict.  Complex contemporary challenges required continuous adaptation of mechanisms, better coordination and early action to address threats at all levels.  Affirming the importance of conflict prevention, he supported the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals in that context.  The integration of a gender‑balance perspective was also a priority, as was an ever‑strengthening relationship between the General Assembly, Security Council and the rest of the United Nations system, including through the Peacebuilding Commission.  Early Council consultations on situations of imminent risk and collective action were important to break the conflict cycle.  Portugal stood ready to fully contribute to those efforts.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said emerging challenges had the potential to further exacerbate protracted conflicts and create multiplier effects across borders.  Conflict prevention was, first and foremost, a national responsibility and the active participation of all segments of society was fundamental to mitigating the potential drivers of conflict.  Meanwhile, the United Nations had a critical role in facilitating and monitoring the implementation of internationally agreed commitments to support Member States.  However, the range of tools at its disposal needed to be deployed with sensitivity to the realities on the ground and in consultation with relevant national, civil society and humanitarian actors.  The failure to do so was evident in the “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” witnessed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August, he said.  Furthermore, while the Council did not need to remain confined to a strict definition of its mandate, it should find ways to enhance its interface with other principal organs.

News

Condemning Attacks on Aid Efforts, General Assembly Adopts Package of Texts, One Urging States to Better Protect Humanitarian Workers, Respect International Law

The General Assembly today adopted seven draft resolutions, among them texts on credentials, the culture of peace and on strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

Condemning in the strongest possible terms the alarming increase in threats to and deliberate targeting of aid workers, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/72/L.22).  By its terms, the Assembly urged States to make every effort to ensure the full implementation of the rules of international law that protect aid workers.

Also by the text’s terms, the Assembly called upon all Governments and parties in complex humanitarian emergencies in countries in which humanitarian personnel were operating to cooperate fully with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies and organizations and to allow those personnel to perform efficiently their task of assisting the affected civilian population, including refugees and internally displaced persons.  It also called upon all States to consider becoming parties to relevant international instruments.

Prior to taking action on “L.22” as a whole, the Assembly, by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 12 against, with 17 abstentions, decided to retain two paragraphs referencing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  Several speakers, including the representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that language related to the Court was worthy of inclusion.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s representative, whose delegation had requested the vote, warned against politicizing humanitarian efforts.  Stressing that the International Criminal Court was not a United Nations organ, he reiterated that it was instead “at best a threat to the peace and stability” in his country.

Also under the humanitarian assistance umbrella, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, three draft resolutions on:  international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development; strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations; and assistance to the Palestinian people, which had been introduced on 8 December.  (See Press Release GA/11990 of 8 December).

Sharing the perspective of those providing aid, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), highlighted two worrying gaps in the United Nations indivisible new policy on prevention, development and peace.  The first was protection, as the policy focus rested on development and peace with recognition that protection was essential to both.  If people were being attacked, forcibly displaced, looted, impoverished, besieged, unlawfully detained or were too afraid to go to hospitals and schools, they would not attain development or peace.  The second gap was neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action.  States must respect that essential practice — rooted in the Geneva Conventions — so that vulnerable people, both under or beyond the State’s control, could be protected and assisted impartially on the basis of need.

Raising another concern, a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said risks driven by climate change would be unevenly weighted against poorer people living in areas of low development.  As such, she encouraged all stakeholders to ensure real progress by recognizing the added value of local actors in addressing and reducing disaster risks and impacts of climate change.

Turning to its agenda item on the culture of peace, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/72/L.29), reaffirming that interreligious and intercultural dialogue constituted important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations.  It also condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and underlined the importance of moderation as a value within societies for countering violent extremism and for further contributing to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, tolerance and cooperation.

By the terms of the draft resolution “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/72/L.30), adopted without a vote, the Assembly urged the appropriate authorities to provide age-appropriate education in children’s schools, including lessons in mutual understanding, tolerance, active and global citizenship and human rights.  It also underlined that early childhood development contributes to the development of more peaceful societies through advancing equality, tolerance, human development and promoting human rights.

The Assembly, by the draft’s terms, called for investment in early childhood education, including through effective policies and practices.  It also invited Member States to continue to emphasize and expand their activities promoting a culture of peace and to ensure that peace and non-violence were fostered at all levels.

Considering the Report of the Credentials Committee (document A/72/601), the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution, contained therein, on the credentials of representatives to the seventy-second session of the General Assembly.

In other business, the Assembly also elected the following 17 members to the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a three‑year term beginning on 1 January 2018:  Belarus, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, United Kingdom, and United States.  It postponed to a date to be announced the appointment of members to the Committee on Conferences.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Canada (also for Australia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway) Russian Federation, Ireland, Iran, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Armenia, United States, Brazil, El Salvador, as well as the State of Palestine and the Holy See.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Azerbaijan.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 December, to consider global health and foreign policy.

Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, said everyone must work together to ensure “no one gets left behind” in the quest for sustainable development.  All United Nations aid to the Palestinian people was strictly for relief and reconstruction.  “We cannot use these funds for true development,” he said, emphasizing that the Israeli occupation must be rejected so Palestinians could attempt to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Describing a five‑year Palestinian strategy focused on the adaptation and monitoring of development goals, he said all such progress, however, was being jeopardized by the Israeli occupation.  Despite grave scarcity of resources and problems caused by the occupation, Palestinian determination remained unshakeable.  “We are capable of overcoming all difficulties,” he said, noting all the sacrifices the Palestinian people had made to date.

PHILIP SPOERRI, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said there were two worrying gaps in the United Nations indivisible new policy on prevention, development and peace.  The first was protection, as the policy focus rested on development and peace with recognition that protection was essential to both.  If people were being attacked, forcibly displaced, looted, impoverished, besieged, unlawfully detained or were too afraid to go to hospitals and schools, they would not attain development or peace.  Inadequate detention policies also posed a risk to development and peace because inhumane detention practices could increase political grievances.  The second gap was neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action.  States must respect that essential practice — rooted in the Geneva Conventions — so that vulnerable people, both under or beyond the State’s control, could be protected and assisted impartially on the basis of need.

ANNE CHRISTENSEN, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said risks driven by climate change would be unevenly weighted against poorer people living in areas of low development.  Those included individuals crowded in urban slums without access to reliable water and electricity sources as well as displaced persons in disaster‑prone and climate‑exposed areas.  Addressing such risks would require increased investment in local action and strong effort to ensure assistance reached those suffering the most.  Ways must be found of linking science to policy, decision‑making and action on the ground — for example, addressing climate extremes through early warning systems that reached the most vulnerable communities and enabled them to act.  Her organization had been working on quick and early action by communities and local authorities through an innovative method of advance financing based on weather forecasts.  She encouraged all stakeholders to ensure real progress by recognizing the added value of local actors in addressing and reducing disaster risks and impacts of climate change.

Prior to taking action on the draft resolution “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/72/L.22), representatives explained their delegations’ positions.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway, regretted to note that a separate recorded vote had been called on several paragraphs of “L.22”, which sought to remove text that had been agreed upon for years.  Recent attacks on humanitarian and medical personnel in recent years only amplified the text’s relevance, she said.  Preambular paragraph 28 underscored the role the International Criminal Court could play and operative paragraph 7 called on all States to consider becoming party to the Court, she said, calling on all to vote to retain those paragraphs.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the seventy‑second session marked the second year that delegations were calling for others to review language in certain paragraphs because the draft resolution could no longer be considered consensual.  With the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the international community was expecting concrete actions to deal with impunity, settle existing conflicts and prevent new flashpoints of tension.  Yet many years into the Court’s existence, those expectations remained.  The alternative wording that had been proposed to the paragraphs in question deserved support because they considered salient issues.  Moreover, the proposed amendments should be supported because if adopted, they would return “L.22” to its consensual nature.

The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that Sudan had called for a vote on preambular and operative paragraphs in “L.22”.  The International Criminal Court was a tool to fight impunity and contribute to international peace.  Its role was to complement rather than replace existing national judicial systems, he said, also stressing that perpetrators of crimes against humanity must always be held accountable.  The fight against impunity for the most serious crimes was critical in ensuring a fair and just society.  Peace and justice were complementary and not mutually exclusive, he said, expressing support for the paragraphs in question.

The representative of Sudan expressed serious reservations regarding the inclusion of references to the International Criminal Court in “L.22”.  The Court was not an organ of the United Nations, despite some parties painting it as such.  The principle of free consent meant that only those who were party to an agreement were bound by it.  Since 2003, the Court had been an impediment to peace in Darfur, creating a wedge between peace and justice, and was “at best a threat to the peace and stability in my country”, he said, adding that the Court was also fraught with corruption and scandals and lacked independence, as half of its budget was drawn from voluntary contributions from States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who exercised control over it.  Noting the rejection of his delegation’s proposal to replace language in preambular paragraph 28 and operative paragraph 7, he emphasized that lofty goals of humanitarian assistance must not be mixed with a political agenda.

The Assembly then decided, by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 12 against, with 17 abstentions, to retain preambular paragraph 28 and operative paragraph 7 of “L.22”.  Acting without a vote, it adopted “L.22” as a whole.

In a point of order, the representative of Israel referenced an Assembly resolution that had been adopted in 1998 on the participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations.  The subject matter of today’s resolution did not fall under the rules of co-sponsorship, which were clearly indicated in the rules governing the United Nations.  Any decision to disregard those rules violated United Nations resolutions and undermined the Organization’s work.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/72/L.23).

The representative of Israel said Palestine’s participation as a co-sponsor did not fall under the rules of co-sponsorship.  Any decision to disregard those rules undermined the United Nations work.

The Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/72/L.24).

Also without a vote, it adopted the draft resolution “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/72/L.25).

An observer for the Holy See reiterated his delegation’s reservations, including the belief that abortion was not a dimension of the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “health-care services”.  With reference to gender, that concept was not to be interpreted as a social construction.

Credentials Committee

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), Chair of the Credentials Committee, introduced the “Report of the Credentials Committee” (document A/72/601), containing a draft resolution on the credentials of the representatives of Member States to the seventy-second session of the General Assembly.  The Committee had approved that draft resolution, which would have the Assembly accept the credentials of representatives of a number of Member States.

The representative of Iran, explaining his delegation’s position, said he supported a consensus decision, but expressed reservations to parts of the report that could constitute the recognition of the Israeli regime.

The representative of Indonesia drew attention to the “unfriendly” action of Vanuatu in including on their list of delegations a non-citizen of Vanuatu who had acted in a separatist movement of West Papua.  That person had spread malicious rumours and should not be granted credentials.  Indonesia objected to that act and rejected whatever message it had intended to convey.  It violated norms of multilateral conduct and the rights of Member States, he said, adding that the accreditation of Vanuatu, with knowledge that those individuals had such a mindset, was an act of hostility against Indonesia.  Member States should not play into the hands of separatists.  As such, Indonesia requested an explanation from Vanuatu concerning their delegation.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Culture of Peace

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines), introducing the draft resolution “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/72/L.29), said the text aimed to strengthen mechanisms and take action to promote sincere and constructive dialogue across cultural and religious divides.  The world was facing seemingly intractable conflicts and complex challenges that not only caused immense human suffering and economic loss, but also hindered socioeconomic cooperation and the pursuit of inclusive societies.  Suspicion and ignorance among various religions and civilizations were being exploited by extremist and terrorist groups to propagate their agendas.  It was essential to build on shared values and aspirations by strengthening mechanisms and actions through constructive dialogue, better understanding, moderation and promoting a global culture of peace.  He also pointed out several oral revisions to the text.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/72/L.30), said that the current version of the text contained four new elements.  It acknowledged the high-level event on Culture of Peace and its focus on early childhood development and recalled that General Assembly resolution 70/272 on the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture had introduced the notion of “sustaining peace”.  In addition, “L.30” noted the establishment of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and recognized the role of the work of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in promoting a culture of people.  The draft also reiterated the request to consider convening in September 2018 a high-level forum devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote “L.29” as orally revised.

Also without a vote, it adopted “L.30”.

The representative of Armenia, explaining his delegation’s position, said objections to some paragraphs in “L.29” were based on the fact that Azerbaijan had abused international fora.  Preambular paragraph 23 concerned an event named World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which was a glaring example of manipulation against Armenia.  Due regard should be given to Azerbaijan’s destruction of heritage, as in the case of the obliteration of a medieval cemetery.  As such, Armenia disassociated itself from that paragraph.

The representative of the United States said his country was committed to a culture of peace through rejecting violence and promoting human rights, including by supporting efforts to enhance interreligious dialogue.  However, each country had its own development priorities.  The word “moderation” remained undefined in international law, he noted, adding that programmes and policies must respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The representative of Canada said operative paragraph 10 in “L.29” noted that interventions countering violent extremism were context-specific.  Respect for human rights, diversity and inclusion were needed to help communities to become more resilient.  Intercultural and interreligious dialogue was needed to create mutual respect and understanding.  It was a difficult balance, but Canada was committed to working with partners to preserve it.

The representative of Brazil said his delegation endorsed the twin resolutions on the peacebuilding architecture, yet cautioned that while supporting both the culture of peace and sustaining peace concepts, those actions should run on parallel tracks to avoid conflating mandates and concepts.  The General Assembly could do more on the human rights and development elements of the culture of peace.

The representative of El Salvador said constructing a culture of peace required institutions to be strengthened, noting that “L.30” underscored the importance of development in early childhood.  It was crucial to ensure children completed their early education and for curricula to include the culture of peace.  El Salvador was a member of the Peacebuilding Commission, he said, adding that his country had experienced a transition and was now working on supporting the United Nations to facilitate a new national agreement.  It was important to create strong institutions, he said, calling on all Member States to support the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in implementing a culture of peace in connection with the Sustainable Development Goals.  He also appealed to the General Assembly President to convene a high-level forum on the implementation of the Programme of Action.  Peace could not be considered in a reductive fashion as just the absence of war; peace was an endeavour that the international community must produce together.

Right of Reply

The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said multiculturalism was a long-standing tradition in his country.  “L.29” welcomed the Declaration and referred to the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue and other fora.  Yet, there was nothing surprising in Armenia’s attempts to politicize resolutions.  By obstructing efforts and challenging global initiatives because of its relation to Azerbaijan, Armenia had demonstrated that its good faith was elusive.  Regarding human rights and international humanitarian law, he said Azerbaijan had preserved its diversity to the present day.

Programme and Coordination Committee Elections

The Assembly then turned to the election to the Committee for Programme and Coordination the following members, nominated by the Economic and Social Council, for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2018:  Belarus, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, United Kingdom and United States.

The Economic and Social Council had nominated Botswana, Burkina Faso and Cameroon for the three of the four seats among African States; India, Iran, Japan and Pakistan for the four seats among Asia-Pacific States; Belarus, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova for the three seats among Eastern European States; Brazil, Chile and Cuba for three of the four seats among the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Germany, Portugal, United Kingdom and United States for four of the five seats among the Western European and other States.

The following States were eligible for immediate re-election, after 1 January 2018:  Argentina, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Haiti, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The Economic and Social Council had postponed the nomination of one member from each of the following groups:  African States, Latin American and Caribbean States and Western European and other States for election for three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2018.  Members were also reminded of the remaining two vacancies among the Western European and other States, for terms beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2017 and 31 December 2018, respectively.

As one seat from Asia-Pacific States for a term beginning on the date of appointment and ending on 31 December 2019 remained vacant, the General Assembly President appointed China to fill that vacancy.  The General Assembly would take action to fill remaining vacancies upon the receipt of nominations by the Economic and Social Council.

The Assembly then postponed to a later date the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences.

News

Security Council Reiterates its Condemnation of Trafficking in Persons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2388 (2017)

Secretary‑General Underlines Collective Responsibility to ‘Stop These Crimes’

The Security Council reiterated its condemnation of trafficking in human beings today, particularly the sale of people by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), as well as other violations and abuses by Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other such groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2388 (2017) ahead of a day‑long debate on that subject, the Council underscored the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts so as to ensure that those responsible could be held accountable.  It reaffirmed its condemnation, in the strongest terms, of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who made up the vast majority of all trafficking victims in areas affected by armed conflict.

Also by the text, the Council stressed that trafficking undermined the rule of law and contributed to other forms of transnational organized crime that could exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability, thereby undermining development.  The Council underscored the importance of cooperation in enforcing international law in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.

The Council also expressed, by further terms of the text, its intention to give greater consideration to how peacekeeping and political missions could help host States combatting human trafficking.  It also requested that the Secretary‑General ensure the inclusion of trafficking in assessments of country situations and in the training of mission personnel, which would help in identifying, confirming, responding and reporting on situations of trafficking.

Briefing ahead of the debate were Secretary‑General António Guterres as well as Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and Smail Chergui, the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.

Secretary‑General Guterres declared “it is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration and to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, he noted.

A framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to that framework’s implementation, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he emphasized, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  He called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

Mr. Fedotov said the UNODC had designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data‑collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and helped victims.  It was now considering how to strengthen the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordinating Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, he said.  In more general terms, he said widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights during mass movements remained a grave concern.  Thanks to efforts by the Council and the wider United Nations system, there was forward momentum against trafficking, but the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized.

Ms. Giammarinaro said egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  Violations such as trafficking were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause, she pointed out, saying the Security Council’s agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the processes linked to the Global Compact on Migration and Refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.

Mr. Chergui said interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, noting that national legal frameworks were inadequate and often needed strengthening.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring: “Our common humanity is at stake.”

With more than 70 speakers participating in the open debate, delegates affirmed the serious violation of human rights represented by trafficking in persons, with many relating the harrowing stories of victims, particularly women and children.  Some speakers outlined national programmes to help victims and root out trafficking through the three‑part effort of prevention, protection and prosecution.

While most delegates hailed the resolution, many others questioned the expansion of the normative framework, some expressing regret that too many frameworks would fragment anti‑trafficking efforts.  Spain’s representative suggested that the UNODC take the lead in creating a global strategy.

In addition, many delegates called for greater legal migration opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of those to whom borders were now closed.  Bolivia’s representative advocated universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants.

Many delegates began their statements by expressing disgust over recently disseminated images of African migrants in Libya being auctioned as slaves.

Libya’s representative, condemning such activity, said the authorities had initiated an investigation and would hold perpetrators accountable.  He called on the international community to help his country address challenges posed by irregular mass migration through Libya rather than using such media misrepresentations for defamatory purposes.

Also speaking today were representatives of Ethiopia, Sweden, Ukraine, Russian Federation, France, United States, Bolivia, Senegal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Uruguay, China, United Kingdom, Italy, Venezuela (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Colombia, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Estonia, Belgium, Peru, Indonesia, Slovakia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, South Africa, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Panama, Norway, Morocco, Sudan, Austria, Philippines, Guatemala, Argentina, Canada, Bangladesh, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Botswana, Botswana, Maldives, Malaysia, Belize, Portugal, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Myanmar, Netherlands and Armenia.

Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Organization for Migration also spoke, as did the observer for the Holy See.

The meeting opened at 10:08 a.m. and closed at 5:09 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said “criminals and terrorists are capitalizing on, and perpetuating, the disorder and mayhem of conflict”, funding their crimes by brutally preying on the vulnerable.  Sexual exploitation, forced labour, the removal of bodily organs and slavery were the tools of their trade.  Citing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as having forced women, boys and girls into dehumanizing servitude, he said such activities constituted serious abuses of human rights, as did the horrific practice of selling African migrants as “goods” in Libya.

“It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable, he emphasized.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration, to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime and to increase the number of refugees in the developed world.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

He said a framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol) and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to implementing that framework, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he continued, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  In that regard, he called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

YURY V. FEDOTOV, Under‑Secretary‑General and Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said the draft resolution due for adoption today would set new goals and targets in combatting human trafficking.  Condemning slave markets in Libya, “where people are sold like commodities”, he said he took note of the assurances by that country’s Government that such cases were being investigated.  “Our collective horror at this news serves an important purpose:  it can quicken the pace of our actions and encourage a global partnership against human trafficking,” he said.  As part of its response, UNODC was prepared to help strengthen Libyan law enforcement’s capacity to investigate and prosecute criminals; align national laws with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) and its protocols on trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; build partnerships among States in the region and improve the capacity of authorities in Libya and other countries to investigate the finances flowing from such crimes.

In more general terms, he continued, the widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights in mass movements remained a grave concern.  Al‑Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIL/Da’esh and other terrorist groups were exploiting boys and girls as sexual slaves or soldiers, but thanks to the efforts of the Security Council and the United Nations system, there was forward momentum against the trafficking of persons in conflict situations.  However, the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized, encouraging States parties to the Palermo Convention to strengthen international cooperation, develop comprehensive legislation and ensure that no offender escaped justice.  Early warning and early screening initiatives must be deployed proactively, and victims protected and assisted.

Describing the UNODC response to resolution 2331 (2016) as extensive, he said the Office had, among other steps, designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, assisted victims under the umbrella of the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of human trafficking, and held States to implementation of the Palermo Protocol.  Welcoming contributions to the voluntary trust fund, he appealed for greater coordination within the United Nations family, noting that UNODC was considering a meeting at the principals level in 2018 that would give new impetus to the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.

MARIA GRAZIA GIAMMARINARO, United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, said the trafficking of people in armed conflict or fleeing conflict, and the protection of the rights of victims, demanded concerted and effective action.  Citing a recent video disseminated by CNN showing an auction of young migrants, she said trafficking for purposes of exploitation and slavery was a tragic reality.  Noting that trafficking was fuelled by political instability and occurred regularly in the context of large migration flows, she said that, as a form of gender‑based violence, it disproportionately affected women and girls, while also targeting children and young adults on a massive scale.

At the same time, egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, she continued, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  That was one of the reasons why the prevention of trafficking was directly linked to the maintenance of international peace and security, she explained.  In that light, a human rights perspective was crucial.

She went on to emphasize that violations such as trafficking in persons were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause.  The Security Council agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the process of the global compact on migration and refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and with the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.  She underlined the obligation of States to ensure that victims of trafficking were protected from further exploitation and harm, and to prevent, respect and fulfil the human rights of human tracking victims, including by holding non‑State actors accountable at all times.

SMAIL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union, noted that the regional bloc was currently engaged in 15 conflict situations, and in each case, trafficking was eroding human dignity.  Although much of it was below the radar screen, sexual abuse and the recruitment of child soldiers were rife.  Slavery was common, and reports from Libya caused a loss of words.  The business of smuggling migrants in that country had become so lucrative that criminals were fighting over it.  Outlining the African Union’s efforts to alleviate the situation, he said the prevention and resolution of conflict were the most important elements of the bloc’s partnership with the United Nations.

Interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, he said.  National legal frameworks were often inadequate and needed strengthening.  Describing regional arrangements to tackle trafficking in various parts of Africa, he said the bloc was also developing assistance initiatives, emphasizing that the entire effort must be linked to sustainable development.  However, there had been difficulties in moving beyond the normative framework to action, he said, adding that there were also missing links in partnerships between various actors.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring:  “Our common humanity is at stake.”

Statements

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that the sale of migrants as slaves in Libya was the latest despicable act to come to life and must sound the alarm for action by the international community.  He called for swift action to identify the perpetrators of the slave trading.  Root causes such as poverty and conflict must be addressed, and more attention focused on the vulnerabilities of women and children, he emphasized.  In addition, much more must done by transit and destination countries to increase the opportunities for legal mixed migration.  Recognizing the positive aspects of migration, he emphasized that it was crucial to respect the rights of migrants.  The goal was well‑regulated migration with human rights at its centre, irrespective of the status of individuals.  Victims of trafficking must also be helped to reintegrate, he said, adding that existing international instruments could form the basis for cooperation on all those issues.

IRINA SCHOULGIN-NYONI (Sweden), aligning herself with the statement to be made by the European Union and the Nordic countries, said the chilling reports of outright slave trade in Libya were appalling, and she called on authorities to investigate those activities.  Because sexual violence and exploitation were linked to trafficking, women and children were often the most vulnerable.  Thus, it was essential to provide proper aid to the victims and secure evidence of such crimes so that the perpetrators could be brought to justice.  The United Nations presence in conflict situations could play an important role in the response to trafficking through capacity‑building, national support and protection of civilians.  The Council could also include relevant criteria for the listing of traffickers in sanctions resolutions.  Building strong rule of law institutions was essential, as was the cooperation between global and regional organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and UNODC.  Because trafficking was in essence a criminal business model, such criminal assets must be targeted to effectively interrupt organized crime networks and terrorist groups.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said trafficking in persons was a curse and a disgrace of modern times.  Moreover, it was a gross violation of human rights and an extremely complex form of organized crime.  Numerous ongoing conflicts had generated the exploitation of civilians, with terrorist and other armed groups forcing victims into sexual slavery and compulsory labour.  As such, trafficking was a transnational threat requiring a transnational response, he said.  In that regard, Ukraine was encouraged that the Council had addressed the issue in two recent resolutions, and fully supported the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  On the financing of such activity, he called on the international community to cut the profits enjoyed by traffickers, who viewed other human beings as mere commodities.  Ukraine had made significant progress towards establishing a national human trafficking response framework, he said, but Russian aggression had displaced 2 million people, leaving them particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) described the Ukraine delegate’s insinuations against his country as absurd.  Calling for a holistic approach covering prevention, criminal prosecution and assistance to victims, he expressed support for the leading role of the United Nations in consolidating efforts to combat trafficking in persons, and welcomed the measures adopted within the UNODC framework to provide targeted assistance to States.  He called for continued building of capacity to implement the United Nations Global Action Plan, describing it as the compass that set the direction for State efforts to combat human trafficking.  However, he cautioned the Council to be careful about attempts to change approaches or develop alternative platforms to deal with the issue, which could weaken the relevant international regime.  At the same time, the Council should avoid duplication of efforts and deal with the trafficking issue only in the context of its agenda, he emphasized.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France), associating herself with the European Union, said human trafficking was one of the world’s most widespread and profitable forms of trafficking.  It was employed as a tool for financing and even recruitment by armed groups and terrorists, she said, adding that such actions were not only abhorrent, but constituted crimes against humanity and even genocide.  The perpetrators must be held accountable, she said, stressing that Member States had a duty not only to protect civilians, but also to uphold international law and principles.  Calling for robust national action plans, she said France was helping the most vulnerable States, particularly in Africa, to address trafficking in persons.  She urged all States to come together with the aim of preventing such activity, underlining that it was the collective responsibility of Member States to punish those responsible for such actions.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) said the scenes of people being sold like cattle in Libya should shock everyone, and the practice must be stopped.  Trafficking had deleterious effects well beyond its victims and was a prime example of human rights violations occurring in conflicts where terrorists held sway, she stated, relating the harrowing stories of people captured by Boko Haram and others.  Describing her country’s activities to prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, she said a victim‑centred approach was critical to the success of law enforcement efforts, welcoming the Council’s call for a mechanism to investigate trafficking abuses.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), expressing horror at images of individuals auctioned in Libya, strongly condemned such activity and called urgently for the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.  Noting the widespread displacement that had occurred in the past decades, he urged cooperation among all States in the implementation of the Palermo Convention and its related Protocol.  Poverty and interventions in the affairs of States were major causes of migration flows, as were closing borders to migration and the possibility of profiting from money raised through crimes flowing into the international financial system.  Bolivia supported the establishment of universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants, he said.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) called for a full inquiry into the modern slavery in Libya that had recently reached the media.   Calling for a full inquiry and action to ensure the end of such crimes, he said the resolutions passed by the Security Council provided the tools with which to fight them.  Africa was active in countering trafficking since it was home to many conflicts, he said, pointing out that trafficking was found in all corners of the world, particularly in theatres of war where terrorists were present.  Human trafficking must be addressed as a priority in all conflict zones because it funded further terrorist and criminal activity.  Senegal had ratified all international instruments relating to human trafficking in addition to having strengthened its legal framework for that purpose and for the protection of victims.  Stressing also that accountability for violations was critical, he said international mechanisms must take over where national justice was not up to the task.  Countering trafficking must be a regular part of all efforts to combat the ills of humanity, he added.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), citing Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), said that armed and terrorist groups were using human trafficking for fundraising and recruitment.  Despite the international community’s increasing awareness, those non‑State actors had continued to recruit boys and girls for combat or support functions and, in some cases, were radicalizing them to commit terrorist acts by using deception, threats and promises of rewards.  The resolution encouraged Member States to use refugee registration mechanisms, as well as early warning and screening frameworks, to identify potential trafficking victims.  Identification of victims was the first step towards protecting them and prosecuting perpetrators.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) called for urgent measures to address human trafficking, including harmonizing legislation across countries, ending impunity, enhancing cross border controls, blocking criminal assets and expanding international cooperation with regional affiliates.  Because peace and development were also essential factors in the eradication of trafficking, he called for strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the African Union, the League of Arab States and other regional organizations.  Kazakhstan had participated with the Commonwealth of Independent States and with OSCE as part of that Organization’s Alliance against Trafficking in Persons.  It had also established a national referral mechanism, implemented the “STOP traffic” preventative campaigns and was regularly monitoring mass media and the Internet to detect traffic‑related materials.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said combating trafficking was a priority for his country’s Government.  Egypt was among the States that had ratified the relevant resolutions and protocols, and had established a legal and institutional framework to guarantee its international obligations.  He called upon the international community to redouble efforts to cut off all sources of funding for terrorist organizations, using all available mechanisms to do so.  Emphasizing that human trafficking was not related to any religion, nationality or civilization, he said religious leaders could play an important role in dismissing the links that some extremists tried to spread.

LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay), noting that 60 per cent of trafficking victims were female foreigners, called upon States to guarantee the fundamental rights of victims by strengthening protection mechanisms.  He stressed the principle of non‑criminalization of irregular migration, calling upon Governments to provide the victims with the tools necessary to cope in transit countries by making them less vulnerable to traffickers.  Overall, there was need for a broad, multidimensional approach involving determination and political will, he said.

WU HAITAO (China) said protracted armed conflicts had led to rampant criminal activities by armed groups and terrorist organizations.  Such crimes were on the rise in conflict situations, and the international community must address such “hotspot” issues with urgency and help settle disputes peacefully.  At the same time, the root causes of conflict must be addressed so as to create a sound protective environment for women and children in such situations.  He called for efforts to completely cut off the terrorist funding chain, as well as the means for spreading their ideology.  As for the plight of refugees, he called for joint efforts to address the problem using the 1951 Refugee Convention as a guiding framework.  In that connection, States must also promote sustained development in the origin countries of refugees, he said.  While respecting national sovereignty, the international community must provide assistance to vulnerable countries in such areas as border control and judicial assistance.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) noted the shock caused by the video of slave trading in Libya and expressed deep concern over trafficking abuses occurring in conflict zones.  Data gathering and information‑sharing, highlighted in the Secretary‑General’s report, were critical in combatting trafficking, as was improving coordination among and between United Nations entities.  The full range of mechanisms meant to counter terrorist financing must be applied to trafficking, he said, emphasizing that transparency must be enforced in supply chains, and peacekeeping missions more fit to counter trafficking.  “Let us stand together to end exploitation of human beings,” he urged.

VINCENZO AMENDOLA, Under‑Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, welcomed the adoption of today’s resolution, noting its provisions on victim protection, greater coherence within the United Nations system and other ways in which it complemented the first resolution on the issue.  Condemning human trafficking, he said Italy fought it every day while prioritizing the human rights of migrants and other persons in the massive movement of human beings affecting the Mediterranean region.  Links to organized crime must be better explored, and all States must ratify the Palermo Protocol, he emphasized, adding that a comprehensive approach was needed to address root causes of vulnerability such as conflict and poverty.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed that trafficked persons should be treated as victims of crime and, in line with domestic legislation, should not be penalized or stigmatized.  It was also imperative to break any existing impunity cycle and hold accountable those responsible for committing such crimes which, in some circumstances, could be defined as war crimes or crimes against humanity.  Human trafficking must be addressed both collectively and comprehensively, including by examining its root causes and drivers, as well as its multidimensional nature.  Addressing such a complex issue required a preventive rather than military approach, including through enhanced international cooperation.

He expressed concern about the growing links between human trafficking and transnational organized crime, with trafficking being used as a means of financing and recruitment for terrorist activities.  In the Sahel‑Saharan region, hostage‑taking and terrorist acts represented a threat to regional security and stability.  He urged all States to address the issue through cooperation and dialogue, highlighting the importance of the Palermo Convention.  Moreover, he underlined the historic opportunity provided by the 2018 International Conference on Migration, expressing the bloc’s commitment to the negotiation process for the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.  The international community should refrain from taking any measures stigmatizing certain groups or individuals, including third‑country nationals and their families.  Instead, it was necessary to consider tailored and nationally owned strategies to prevent and combat human trafficking.

MARIA EMMAN MEJIA VELEZ (Colombia), expressing horror over images of slave trade in the Mediterranean, said that her Government had had to assist many victims of trafficking.  She welcomed the growing international framework to fight the scourge, observing that gaps were being filled and lessons learned were being exchanged.  She joined those who called for the universal ratification of the protocol to the Palermo Convention and added her support for the role of UNODC.  All Member States should come together to put an end to the human rights abuses that constituted human trafficking, she said.

BRIAN FLYNN (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union and noting that his country was a co‑sponsor of resolution 2388 (2017), said trafficking for sexual exploitation was a form of gender‑based violence, and called for an increased focus on prevention programmes.  His country’s commitment to the issue could be seen in its national action plan and financial contributions to fight human trafficking, including its support to the European Union’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the OSCE National Referral Mechanism on anti‑trafficking.  Ireland also provided funding to a range of international organizations and civil society partners.  Noting the importance of public awareness, he emphasized the critical role of civil society in preventing and combating human trafficking.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said that human trafficking was the modern face of slavery, emerging in situations of conflicts where there was a clear breakdown in the rule of law.  The Security Council needed to take action, he said, welcoming resolution 2331 (2016).  As for the issue of fragmentation in combating human trafficking, the international community lacked a single comprehensive strategy.  In that regard, he proposed that UNODC devise a comprehensive strategy that all bodies could follow.  Recalling the horrors occurring in places such as Libya, he urged that the full use of peacekeeping and special political missions address the phenomenon.  States could not simply point to the failings of others.  All bore responsibility, and the international community had a long way to go in fulfilling that responsibility.  To combat human trafficking, his delegation had suggested setting up a global network of anti‑trafficking coordinators that could share best practices.  That recommendation had been received favourably by the European Union and he expressed hope that others would follow.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), expressing dismay at recent news reports showing migrants in Libya being sold as slaves, commended the Secretary‑General for calling on authorities to investigate those auctions.  She outlined a number of steps that could address the global threat of human trafficking more effectively, including a human rights and survivor‑centred approach.  She also called for the effective implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  Along with the Netherlands and Belgium, her country had established a transnational referral mechanism to make the identification, referral and assistance of victims more efficient.  There needed to be a greater compliance with international humanitarian law and for accountability by ending impunity and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  However, it was not enough to bring perpetrators of trafficking to justice; those who supported and enabled their activities must also be held accountable.  Furthermore, the international community must explore what role existing mechanisms tasked to investigate violations of international humanitarian law could play in ensuring that such crimes were investigated by the competent authorities.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said a strong law enforcement response to human trafficking was imperative, reiterating his country’s call to contribute to the universal acceptance of the Palermo Protocol. He also pointed out that some of the issues on the Council’s agenda illustrated the drastic consequences that resulted from the lack of regular migration channels.  Libya was one case in point where the recurrence of the crudest and most brutal forms of modern slavery had exacerbated the situation in that country and had “put us all to shame collectively”.  Resolution 2331 (2016) had recognized that offences associated with trafficking in persons might constitute war crimes, and, in some contexts, crimes against humanity.  That implicitly pointed to the potential role of international criminal justice systems, he said, underscoring the importance of the International Criminal Court in situations where it had jurisdiction, as it did in the case of Libya.  The Security Council itself had created jurisdiction by referring the situation to the Court, he noted.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that human trafficking must be addressed comprehensively and collectively.  A close look at its root causes needed to be taken, including foreign aggression and intervention, occupation, war and protracted conflicts, political instability, terrorism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, all of which created conditions under which millions became displaced in their own countries or sought refuge overseas.  The current situation in Libya and the concerns over reported enslavement were the result of focusing on symptoms rather than root causes, he added.  Member States whose destructive military options had left millions of people at the risk of exploitation and trafficking were not in a position to produce politicized reports, labelling others while denying their own responsibilities, he said.

ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said that anticipating and preventing the outbreak of armed conflict and using preventive diplomacy were the best ways to avoid untold tragedy and human suffering.  Unfortunately, however, those hopes were all too often impeded by negative foreign interventions motivated by contradictory interests that were often the reason behind the conflict.  That created serious hardships reaching far beyond national borders and eventually causing growing international concern.

Regions suffering armed conflict and instability were the most vulnerable to trafficking in human beings and Libya was no exception, but it was keen to address such violations, he continued.  Dismayed that media outlets were reporting the sale of migrants into slavery in Libya, he condemned and denounced such actions as inhumane as well as incompatible with national legislation and societal values.  The authorities had initiated an investigation into those allegations and would hold the perpetrators accountable, he vowed.

A transit country for large and continuous flows of illegal immigrants, Libya was going through difficult times, he said, adding that it was unfair to expect it to assume responsibility for the consequences of migration.  All agreed that the burden exceeded national capacities, and the practical solution was to consider the reasons why people were driven from their home countries, and develop solutions.  Rejecting any attempt to settle immigrants in Libya on the grounds of possible dangers and repercussions to the country’s social and cultural fabric, he called upon the international community to help his country address the challenges posed by irregular migration rather than exploiting misrepresentative media investigations for defamatory purposes.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), condemning the use of African migrants as slaves in Libya, called for enhanced international cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination.  Underscoring his country’s commitment to fight the crime of trafficking in persons in line with various international instruments, he highlighted the Palermo Convention, the Palermo Protocol and Security Council resolution 2331 (2016).  Pakistan had implemented a national action plan for combating human trafficking and smuggling, along with a strategic framework and a strengthened trafficking‑related legislation.  Concerning the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, he expressed hope that the adoption of that instrument would help strengthen the existing global legal framework.  Long‑term political and financial commitments and support, as well as the Security Council’s efforts, were critical to help build States’ capacities to address the root causes of conflict.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that terrorism, as a threat to international peace and security, should be addressed by the Security Council.  Organized crime remained primarily a domestic public security issue, which might require international cooperation, pursuant to the framework established by the Palermo Protocol and other relevant international legal instruments.  Whereas human trafficking might occur in some armed conflict scenarios, there were no intrinsic or automatic linkages between those phenomena.  Trafficking also took place in situations that were not related to threats to international peace and security, such as displacements following natural disasters.  For trafficking to be effectively addressed by the United Nations, the Security Council should be mindful of the mandate and technical expertise of the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the role of UNODC.

MINNA-LIINA LIND (Estonia), speaking for Latvia and Lithuania, aligned herself with the statement to be made by the European Union.  Expressing concern about the increase of connections between armed groups and human trafficking, she also stressed the importance of countering the criminal misuse of information and communications technologies while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.  In addition, it was imperative to investigate, prosecute and convict perpetrators of human trafficking crimes and end impunity.  An increased focus on prevention was central in addressing root causes and vulnerabilities.  Enhanced efforts were needed to actively combat the demand for trafficked people in destination and transit countries.  She expressed support for UNODC and its implementation of the Palermo Convention and the Palermo Protocol.  She also called for greater cooperation at the international level, particularly through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.

KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union, said that human trafficking undermined rule of law and flew in the face of the principle of human dignity.  Instability and precariousness created hotbeds for trafficking, and it was necessary to ensure the continuity and comprehensiveness of the multilateral system that aimed to combat trafficking.  Its efforts should span prevention, identification and interception of existing networks, and bring perpetrators to account.  Turning to the need for awareness‑raising, she stressed the necessity to train various stakeholders, including international and national personnel deployed in areas where there were human crises.  Belgium had organized training for military personnel deployed in humanitarian context.  Given the military victory over Da’esh, the international community must redouble its efforts to fight the connection between trafficking and terrorism.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that trafficking was a complex phenomenon that deprived people of freedom and dignity.  The unanimous adoption of resolution 2388 (2017) would enable the international community to combat the problem more consistently, in line with the Palermo Convention and its protocols.  Highlighting the “perverse dynamic” wherein terrorist groups benefited from lucrative transnational organized crimes such as trafficking, he also noted the intrinsic link between trafficking in persons and trafficking in migrants.  Migrants and refugees, in their search for a better life, tended to become easy victims for traffickers.  Particular focus should also be placed on women and children, he said, adding that it was necessary to improve the mechanism for protecting victims.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, said that the complex interplay between supply and demand must be addressed if human trafficking were to be eradicated.  She expressed her support for the Secretary‑General’s recommendations focused on addressing the nexus between trafficking in persons and conflict‑related sexual violence, including by terrorist groups.  The European Union had built an ambitious and comprehensive legal and policy framework to combat human trafficking.  The approach was human rights‑based, victim‑centred, gender‑specific and child‑sensitive, focusing on prevention, criminal prosecution and victim protection.  The framework also considered the specific assistance needs of the most vulnerable, especially women and children.  In addition, the bloc had promoted national mechanisms for early identification and victim assistance based on the principle of non‑punishment and unconditional assistance.

In September, the European Union and the United Nations had launched the Spotlight Initiative, aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, she continued.  The initiative was backed by an initial dedicated financial envelope of €500 million.  As well, the bloc would work towards implementing commitments made under the Call to Action on Protection from Gender‑based Violence in Emergencies.  She called for greater coherence across the United Nations, emphasizing the essential role of the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons in ensuring that efforts were not duplicated.  The European Commission would shortly publish its priority actions to address human trafficking.  Those actions would build on ongoing work, take stock of the achievements of the European Union Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012‑2016 and ensure continuation of those efforts, including coordinating with stakeholders, increasing the knowledge base and strengthening victim protection.

Ms. JARBUSSYNOVA, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that it was imperative to adopt and implement a multidisciplinary, cross‑sectoral and transnational approach.  That initiative must incorporate inclusion and collaboration as watchwords to ensure more effective investigations and timely prosecutions.  Action should not be limited to the development of policy and legislative frameworks.  To date, OSCE had trained 200 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, labour inspectors, financial investigators and civil society representatives in an intensive simulation exercise to combat trafficking along migration routes.

Such practical initiatives were critical, not only to foster better synergies, but to achieve long‑lasting results, she continued.  There was often a sophisticated system of recruitment, along with a number of worrying trends, including the steadily increasing number of recruits of girls and young women who joined terrorist organizations to serve as “wives”, and the engagement of young high school graduates for exploitative purposes.  That information had led to a research project, launched in 2017, to better understand the links between recruitment and exploitation patterns of traffickers and terrorist groups.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that, despite joint efforts, human trafficking remained one of the gravest challenges to humanity.  Refugees were particularly vulnerable, and their welfare and safety needed to be ensured to prevent them from becoming victims.  At the same time, it was critical to strengthen efforts to implement all anti‑trafficking instruments.  Cross‑border collaboration aimed at investigating, disrupting and dismantling networks must also be prioritized.  At the regional level, his Government was working to implement the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and was committed to the Bali Declaration on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.  He advocated for better training of peacekeepers in the area of human trafficking and held up the 2030 Agenda as a means to counter the instability and economic desperation that amplified the problem.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said that having ratified all major international treaties, as well as implementing European Union legislation, his country had also strengthened its national laws in order to increase the protection of victims.  Less than two months ago, Slovakia had agreed on the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  He stressed the need to address the factors that increased vulnerability in trafficking, including poverty, unemployment, inequality and conflict.  Prevention rather than response must be focused upon, and the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators should be timely, accurate and comprehensive, he said.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said that, because collecting physical evidence in armed conflict remained a significant challenge when addressing human trafficking, his Government supported the Secretary‑General’s approach to identify additional evidence outside conflict zones.  It was critical to make such crimes unprofitable, he said, emphasizing the importance of tracking financial flows and transactions derived from trafficking, including through the Financial Action Task Force.  Furthermore, if the rule of law was not upheld, and trafficking in persons was allowed to thrive in situations of conflict, such crimes could contribute to the destabilization of societies and States.  At the national level, Germany had undertaken victims‑focused measures, including support through social services and psychological support.  Other measures were supporting law enforcement and the criminalization of clients who knowingly used sexual services from trafficked persons.  The participation of civil society was also encouraged, including through Germany’s 2016 national action plan on business and human rights.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said that human trafficking was a global problem that required a global response, including the four pillars of prevention, prosecution, protection and partnerships.  Due to its geographical location, Turkey had been adversely affected by the rising trends in human trafficking.  Criminal and terrorist networks were resorting to different forms of exploitation, ranging from gender‑based sexual violence to forced recruitment of adults and children.  His country was actively fighting against terrorist organizations in its region, and had also introduced comprehensive administrative and legal measures to combat human trafficking.  At the international level, Turkey was a party to the Palermo Convention and its relevant supplementary protocols.

OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said that the Secretary‑General’s report provided an excellent baseline of activities undertaken by the United Nations to fight human trafficking, giving insight into best practices developed by Member States.  Noting that forced displacement and migration increased the risk for trafficking and exploitation, he added that, while the absence of security was favourable to the business model of traffickers, peaceful countries with strong rule of law were by no means exempted.  For its part, Switzerland was working on strengthening measures for identification and protection of persons in the asylum procedure.  Also highlighting the importance of fact‑finding mechanisms, he said the combination of reporting and monitoring helped build a knowledge base on trafficking.

EPHRAIM LESHALA MMINELE (South Africa) said that illicit trafficking in drugs, stolen antiquities and light weapons often followed the same routes used by human traffickers.  Those activities threatened international peace and security, including by sustaining terrorism.  The appalling reports over the last few days that showed African migrants in Libya being sold as slaves was a clear indication of the urgent need for the commitment to eradicate human trafficking.  One of the highest risks to displaced persons was the threat of being trafficked, particularly for refugees fleeing conflicts.  Trafficking operations often flourished when Government institutions and law enforcement capacities were eroded by sustained conflict.  The ultimate objective should be to address the conflict that gave rise to human trafficking.  Development challenges should be addressed, as should the dangers of external interventions which had been witnessed in Libya, Iraq and Syria, and had led to the proliferation of refugees and internally displaced persons.

SIMON KASSAS, observer for the Holy See, said that to eradicate human trafficking, its economic, environmental, political and ethical causes must be confronted.  Wars and violent conflicts had become the biggest driver of forced human displacement.  Such conflicts enabled human traffickers to exploit such environments and target refugees.  Efforts to end conflict should be accompanied by measures to protect affected populations from traffickers, in particular the most vulnerable, including women and children.  He highlighted the importance of implementing the responsibility to protect in the context of the migration and refugee crisis.  The criminalization of forced migrants and of undocumented and irregular migrants in general exacerbated their vulnerabilities and drove them further into the clutches of traffickers.  It also rendered them less likely to collaborate with law enforcement authorities to catch and punish traffickers.

TARIQ ALI FARAJ AL-ANSARI (Qatar) said that the Secretary‑General’s report contained important recommendations that would enable the international community to combat human trafficking, especially in conflict‑prone regions.  The indicators showed an increasing numbers of victims, especially among women and children.  Terrorist groups were using human trafficking to recruit soldiers and raise funds.  His country would focus on addressing the root causes of trafficking, whether social, economic, cultural, political, ideological, or due to the absence of rule of law.  At the national level, there were a number of legislative measures in place to punish perpetrators and provide rehabilitation for victims.  Qatar was also a member of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, and was one of the biggest supporters of UNODC.

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), expressing alarm about the revolting images of human trafficking in Libya that had recently surfaced in the news media, said that human beings continued to be sold like merchandise, despite the best efforts of the international community to combat the problem.  It was necessary to have a holistic vision of the issue.  Instead of focusing solely on the hotspots, the international community must combat underlying causes.  Security and development issues were inextricably linked and it was crucial to redouble efforts to fight human trafficking perpetrated by terrorist groups.  Calling for a global preventive strategy that would empower young people and build capacity in developing countries, she noted that Jordanian law criminalized all forms of human trafficking.

NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that, due to a serious trafficking problem throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, her country had introduced a comprehensive anti‑trafficking law in 2006 with the goal to make every Government official, student, business executive, police officer and citizen aware of trafficking and its victims.  Israel’s National Anti‑Trafficking Unit provided more than 50 training sessions for officials annually.  Lawyers in the State Attorney’s Office received special training to enhance the law enforcement side of anti‑trafficking.  For the general public, lectures and interviews with survivors at universities and in the media were offered.  Leaflets were distributed to raise awareness and efforts had been made to reduce the stigma that could accompany human trafficking.  On the international level, Israel worked with other countries to combat trafficking on a global scale, she said, adding that it had not been spared from the cruelty of human trafficking, but it was doing its best to combat it on all fronts.

ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) said that human trafficking recognized no borders and affected all countries.  It was a degrading practice and a violation of human rights, which stripped away the humanity of victims for the benefit of criminal networks.  She echoed the condemnation of the United Nations Secretary‑General, following reports in the media that revealed the existence of markets of human beings in Libya.  The auctioning of migrants and refugees was a shocking reality, she noted.  As conflicts generated migrant flows, she urged international cooperation efforts to focus on the problem through a unified approach.  In‑line with the Global Plan of Action, Panama had rolled out specific actions for the prevention of human trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers.  In the area of data collection, it had created a biometric database that prevented individuals with criminal ties from entering the country.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic Countries, acknowledged the dual nature of human trafficking as a cause and consequence of conflict and instability.  Terrorist groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the LRA were using trafficking as a tactic of terror and war, while also raising money for their operations and criminal infrastructure.  Women and children were particularly exposed, often in the form of sexual slavery, and forced labour as soldiers and spies.  Welcoming the adoption last week at the margins of the United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial conference in Canada, of the Vancouver principles on the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers, he said it was necessary to improve data sharing and monitoring between countries and the Organization’s entities.

Mr. ELKHADIR (Morocco) said that in 2013, his country had adopted a national policy for fighting human trafficking that focused on a humane approach that would shelter migrants from being trafficked.  Morocco had also demonstrated its commitment at the international stage by adhering to the relevant conventions.  Extreme poverty and conflict, among other causes, had spawned vulnerabilities that criminals could exploit, and a security approach was not enough to fight that.  What was needed was a multi‑sectoral approach that involved cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, he stressed.

Mr. MAFADAL (Sudan) said that the heinous pictures and news about the African refugees in Libya should provide impetus to the international community in confronting the problem.  Criminal networks were profiting from humanitarian crises, especially by exploiting vulnerable groups for sexual trafficking and organ trade.  Calling for international and bilateral cooperation in intercepting illegal financial flows, he said that the unprecedented mass movements of refugees and migrants had led to huge problems, including in his country.  Recalling Sudan’s recent progress in combating transnational organized crime, he said that its police forces had managed to liberate thousands of victims of smuggling on their way to Libya and eventually Europe.

JAN KICKERT (Austria), aligning him with the European Union, welcomed the adoption of resolution 2388 (2017) and highlighted the vulnerability of women and children in conflict situations.  Terrorists were capturing women and girls to sell or offer as rewards to fighters, and children were being recruited by armed groups and then being used as child soldiers and human shields.  In combating human trafficking, Austria was following a victim‑centred approach based on rights and rule of law.  It was crucial to focus on preventing trafficking, identifying and protecting victims and ending the climate of impunity.  In view of the transnational nature of the offence, all stakeholders, both at the national and international level, needed to work together, he said, encouraging States to make use of the expertise offered by UNODC.

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines) said that armed conflict and unstable peace and order situations increased the vulnerabilities of children and youth for recruitment into civilian armed groups and rebel groups.  The Philippines’ efforts were focused on preventing recruitment, holding perpetrators accountable and training frontline officers on appropriate methods to assist children rescued from armed groups.  Examining trafficking corridors and business flow was critical in addressing how human trafficking was being used to finance terrorist activities, armed groups and transnational organized crime networks.  That approach had enabled her Government to locate victims and traffickers throughout the entire process, especially at critical points of intervention.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said that armed conflicts and humanitarian crises amplified the risk of trafficking, and victimized refugees and internally displaced persons.  There was growing proof of the link between trafficking and terrorist groups.  The Council had witnessed the high cost in human life due to conflicts, and the work it did could have an impact on that area.  A year ago, it adopted resolution 2331 (2016), which condemned all acts of trafficking in persons.  That resolution also focused on the importance of collecting evidence in relation to those acts, to ensure the accountability of those responsible.  He said he deplored that most victims of such crimes had been children, and condemned the fact that migratory women and children had become vulnerable to trafficking and crime networks.  The Council should not fail to address such violent and inhumane acts, he said.

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) said that she believed that combatting trafficking should involve a comprehensive approach, and it was relevant that it was discussed within the framework of the General Assembly.  Terrorist groups were using trafficking as a weapon of terror and a source of financing, she said.  At the national level, combatting trafficking in persons was dealt with by Argentina’s executive committee, which also provided protection to victims.  It coordinated the actions of a variety of Ministries, and the Federal Council had been tasked with drafting the country’s strategy.  The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of National Security had promoted the gender perspective across the board, by providing training and preventing gender‑based violence.  Conflict could only be tackled when respect for international humanitarian law was safeguarded, she said.

LOUISE BLAIS (Canada) said that her country’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy aimed to reduce poverty, inequality, violence and conflict, all of which increased vulnerability to human trafficking and led migrants towards smuggling.  Human traffickers could be deprived of funding and access to the international financial system by using tools developed to combat financial crime.  In that context, the Canadian project PROTECT, established in 2016, was a unique public‑private endeavour involving the country’s financial intelligence unit, law enforcement and financial institutions committed to tracking money‑laundering associated with such activities.  She also drew attention to the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, launched at the recent United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial.  Canada had endorsed the Principles and looked forward to working with others to implement them, she said.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that, since 25 August, his country had witnessed an unprecedented influx of 620,000 people, mostly Rohingya, from Myanmar’s Rakhine State, in the wake of the atrocious crimes committed against them.  He expressed concern over the possibility of the large number of women and children among them falling prey to traffickers.  With sea routes becoming safer during the current season for operating makeshift boats, it was likely that those elements would try to take advantage of the forcibly displaced persons from Rakhine State still entering Bangladesh on an almost daily basis.  Those who claimed that the situation on the ground in Rakhine State had stabilized were either deliberately ignoring the reality or had a vested agenda of their own.  The Secretary‑General was expected to brief the Council in December on the situation in Rakhine State, and he urged him to make practical recommendations for addressing the threat of trafficking in persons.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), underscoring that human trafficking undermined rule of law and stoked further instability, stated that his country had ratified the Palermo Protocol and had adopted legislation which set up a mechanism to assist human trafficking victims and hold perpetrators accountable.  The Government had also participated in the exchange of information with various competent bodies, international organizations and neighbouring States and was working with civil society organizations and religious circles.  Iraq had suffered enormously, with Da’esh abducting thousands of its citizens, including women and children.  Calling upon countries of destination not to treat trafficking victims as illegal immigrants or criminals, he said that all Member States must implement all the relevant texts, including resolution 2331 (2016), resolution 2379 (2017) and the resolution just adopted that would enable a coordinated response.

ASHRAF ELNOUR MUSTAFA MOHAMED NOUR, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that while legal frameworks for victims of human trafficking had been strengthened in recent years, there had been less progress in preventing human trafficking from occurring in the first place.  The demand for cheap goods and sexual services drove trafficking, he noted, adding that the number of people benefiting from protection schemes for victims remained small.  It was important to increase Governments’ and civil society’s capacity to identify and assist all migrants in vulnerable situations.  More investment was needed to learn and draw on the experience and expertise acquired by the anti‑trafficking community to date.  Underscoring the importance of the collection, standardization and analysis of data, he highlighted the agency’s Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, which was a multi‑stakeholder, open data publishing platform.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the European Union, said trafficking was being used by criminals as a weapon of terror and the growing number of refugees and migrants would only exacerbate the problem.  The root causes of migration must be addressed, he said, urging the international community to do more to help the Government of Libya.  Taking action against trafficking required a sustainable political commitment, legislative framework, multisectoral approaches, proactive investigations and awareness raising initiatives.  The Russian Federation’s illegal occupation of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions remained an obstacle to the Government of Georgia, affecting the full implementation of counter‑trafficking measures, he said, adding that there were no mechanisms to effectively identify, investigate and prosecute alleged cases in occupied regions.

GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating him with the European Union, stressed the importance of accelerating the international commitment to eliminate human trafficking through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and cross‑border approach.  Reaffirming a commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols therein as well as to Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), he added that the draft under consideration today emphasized the protection of children.  Bulgaria was among the pioneers in Europe to adopt specialized anti‑trafficking legislation back in 2003 and currently had one of the most comprehensive legal and institutional frameworks to combat trafficking in persons, he noted.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria) said terrorist groups, such as ISIL/Da’esh and Boko Haram, had introduced a new dimension to human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls.  Although Boko Haram had been militarily defeated and some success had been achieved in liberating a number of women and girls held as hostages, a great amount of work still remained to be done until all hostages were freed.  The situation in Libya further confirmed the complexity of trafficking networks and the dehumanizing treatment of the victims.  The United Nations system should work in concert to fight human trafficking in conflict situations and in the context of terrorism.  A coordinated approach among the agencies would enhance the overall effectiveness of the United Nations in the fight against trafficking and terrorism.  Further, Member States should further commit to the implementation of relevant international legal instruments such as the Palermo Protocol.

EDGAR SISI (Botswana) said no country was immune to human trafficking, which had been exploited by terrorist groups and networks to finance illegal activities.  A State party to the Palermo Convention, Botswana had passed the Anti‑Human Trafficking Act of 2014 and established a committee to prohibit, prevent and combat the phenomenon and protect and assist victims.  He expressed appreciation for continued UNODC support in training prosecutors, law enforcement and judicial officers on human trafficking, terrorism and money laundering.  Through such assistance, Botswana had conducted awareness campaigns and capacity‑building and training workshops.  Looking ahead, he called for strengthening international cooperation, partnerships and technical assistance.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said his country had criminalized trafficking in persons in 2013 and continued to implement strict measures.  Noting the Security Council’s increased role in confronting human trafficking in conflict situations, he said the best strategy to end such crimes was through a culture of respect for human dignity, human rights and the protection of rights for persons in vulnerable situations.  Partners must work with national Governments in strengthening the implementation of national and international laws and norms.  The Maldives hosted a large number of migrant workers and recognized the importance of protecting the rights of its expatriates.  Efforts to halt trafficking included a five‑year national action plan and, at the international level, joining the Palermo Convention in 2013.  In that regard, he called for stronger global cooperation and coordination to identify effective solutions.

MUHAMMAD SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia) said that, given the multi‑faceted dimensions of trafficking in persons, it was crucial that the international community mobilized complementary legal means to investigate and dismantle trafficking networks.  He expressed support for UNODC and other relevant bodies in providing technical support to Member States to build and enhance their law enforcement capacities.  Because Malaysia was a country of destination and transit, cooperation and coordination with neighbouring countries and the international community were essential to combat trafficking.  He called on the Council to better utilize its tools to monitor trends in human trafficking in armed conflicts areas, identify perpetrators and hold them accountable.  He also underscored the role played by local communities, civil societies and religious leaders in ensuring the reintegration and rehabilitation of survivors.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize) said her country had benefited from regional, international and civil society support in providing ongoing training to build up its prevention, protection and prosecutorial capacities to address trafficking in persons.  The training was targeting sectors like tourism and agriculture, businesses such as utilities companies and inspectors of the Social Security Board to help identify potential victims.  With support from IOM, it had also trained prosecutors, with a special focus on the rights of victims and the role of the judiciary and prosecutors in upholding them.  However, the country lacked the financial and human resources to address long‑term victim assistance that would reintegrate them into the workforce and away from the protection system.  Her country had found that language and low levels of literacy were major barriers to victims being retrained and accessing gainful employment.

FRANCISCO ANTÓNIO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal) said that any effective intervention regarding human trafficking must be based on common efforts in terms of prevention, awareness and support.  He urged all who had not yet done so to accede to and ratify the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, which provided a broad basis for action against traffickers as well as protection and assistance to victims.  Portugal had developed its first national plan against trafficking in 2007, involving the public sector as well as civil society.  Its third national plan was currently being implemented, entailing policy measures focused around prevention, awareness, research, education, criminal investigation and cooperation.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the effect of conflict in his region on forced migration and subsequent vulnerability to trafficking.  Such migration must be dealt with in a humane way that addressed underlying causes.  Slavery, which was particularly reprehensible, and other such crimes were serious violations of human rights that could be defined as crimes against humanity or war crimes.  Efforts to stem human trafficking must be linked to sustainable development goals.  His country had adopted laws to outlaw human trafficking and had signed onto international instruments.  The international framework must be strengthened, with wider international cooperation within existing instruments.  Paying tribute to all the specialized agencies that had taken leading roles in fighting the scourge, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment, including by continuing to strengthen its legal regime.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that root causes of such crimes must be addressed, perpetrators must held accountable and the necessary legal, psychological, material and other assistance must be provided to victims.  Strengthening State authority and the rule of law was also critical.  Welcoming the growing international framework, he noted that his country had ratified the Protocol to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and had adopted related national action plans to cover actions over the past 14 years.  The legal framework for liability for trafficking had been inserted into the criminal code, mechanisms had been developed to coordinate the work of ministries and bilateral and multilateral agreements had been signed with some 40 countries, in addition to other activities at the international level.

AMIERA OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates), said that human trafficking had become a matter of deep concern in her region, particularly in regards to the harm caused to women and girls who were prey to Da’esh and other violent extremists.  Since 2007, the United Arab Emirates had developed legal frameworks, policies and social infrastructure to fight those crimes.  Prevention had been pursued through education programmes and other means; law enforcement had been trained; and prosecutorial capacity had been strengthened.  As well, survivors were being provided with counselling, shelter and resettlement, among other assistance.  Multilaterally and internationally, the country was cooperating with countries of origin, having signed agreements with five such countries to help address related conditions there.  She called for the development of an integrated, holistic response with cooperation between public and private sectors and linkages to sustainable development for all.  She also called on Member States to engage in the process that would encourage safe and orderly legal migration.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said that the kidnapping of the school girls in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram was a chilling reminder of how trafficking had evolved into a weapon of terror.  He drew attention to the abhorrent situation in Libya, where Africans were being auctioned in open slave markets.  Nothing could be more distressing than slavery being practiced in broad daylight in front of news cameras.  The adoption of Security Council resolution 1973 (2011) had significantly contributed to the breakdown of law and order in Libya.  That resolution, which had been passed against the will of the African Union, remained a stigma and an indictment of the Security Council.  In its short‑sightedness, it had caused more suffering and distress than it sought to address.  Further, it was the Council’s action that had led to Libya’s coastline becoming an open border for traffickers and smugglers who had become merchants of death.  The Council, therefore, had a special obligation to address the situation in Libya.  Tragically, the plight of migrants crossing through that country had been exacerbated by the European Union’s policy of financing, training and equipping undefined groups in Libya to intercept migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.  He demanded an end to the European Union’s inhuman policy and called on the Union to seek sustainable solutions for migrants in detention camps in Libya, including solutions dealing with those who had been sold into slavery.

HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) welcomed the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and UNDOC’s Technical Assistance Programmes for Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants.  Myanmar had enacted the Anti‑Trafficking in Persons Law in 2005 and continued to conduct awareness‑raising activities across the country.  It was also cooperating with other countries in the region by signing bilateral agreements, including ratifying ASEAN’s Convention against Trafficking in Persons.  While humanitarian crises due to natural disasters or conflicts left people living in affected areas vulnerable, persistent poverty in less developed countries was also a root cause of the issue, he/she said, noting the importance of private sector engagement and efforts to reach the relevant goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Regarding the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the potential exploitation of the people who fled across the border, Myanmar was working with Bangladesh on the voluntary, safe and dignified return of that population.  The repatriation process would start in three weeks after signing a bilateral agreement for the arrangement of repatriation, he/she said.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) stressed that prevention was of the utmost importance, while there was also a need to enhance the international community’s understanding of the relationship between human trafficking and the financing of terrorism.  Trafficking in human beings was an act that constituted a gross human rights violation, which made it crucial for the United Nations and its Member States to prioritize the protection of victims.  Human trafficking thrived in climates of impunity, which underscored the need to arrest, detail and prosecute perpetrators.  Partnerships were at the heart of the shared responsibility to stop human trafficking, and in that context, the Netherlands encouraged the Security Council to address irregular migration, including human trafficking, in mission mandates and reporting, where appropriate.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said that trafficking of human beings was a global challenge that needed to be addressed collectively and holistically.  His Government, along with international cooperation, had initiated numerous national reforms, including implementing four national action plans to combat that phenomenon.  While its initial aims were to create a sound legislative framework and carry out assistance projects for victims, the focus had shifted towards prevention‑related activities.  A strong partnership between national authorities and civil society organizations was especially important in that regard.  He went on to highlight the need for adequate training of all stakeholders, including peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel to help identify and tackle the risks of trafficking, especially related to women and children.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2388 (2017) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling presidential statement 2015/25, resolution 2331 (2016),

Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2017/939),

Recalling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,

Taking note of the efforts undertaken by United Nations entities and international and regional bodies to implement resolution 2331 (2016), including the development of a thematic paper on trafficking in persons in conflict situations, the establishment of the Task Team on anti-trafficking in humanitarian action within the Global Protection Cluster, the development by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) of a structured system of data collection on trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, including through the publication of the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, and the inclusion by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), within the existing mandate, under the policy guidance of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), and in close cooperation with UNODC and other relevant entities, in its country assessments, as appropriate, of information regarding Member States’ efforts to address the issue of trafficking in persons where it is committed for the purpose of supporting terrorism, including through the financing of or recruitment for the commission of terrorist acts,

Recalling the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which includes the first internationally agreed definition of the crime of trafficking in persons and provides a framework to effectively prevent and combat trafficking in persons, and further recalling the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons,

Recognizing that trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict and post-conflict situations can be for the purpose of various forms of exploitation, including exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs; further recognizing that trafficking in persons in armed conflict and post-conflict situations can also be associated with sexual violence in conflict and that women and children in situations of armed conflict and persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, including refugees, can be especially vulnerable to trafficking in persons in armed conflict and to these forms of exploitation,

Recalling the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted by the General Assembly on 27 September 2017, and further welcoming the resolve of Member States expressed therein to take decisive concerted action to end trafficking in persons, wherever it may occur,

Reiterating deep concern that despite its condemnation of acts of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict, such acts continue to occur,

Reiterating its solidarity with victims of trafficking in persons in armed conflict and post-conflict situations andnoting the importance of providing them with appropriate care, assistance and services for their physical, psychological and social recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, in full respect of their human rights and in a manner that takes full account of the extreme trauma they have suffered and the risk of further victimization and stigmatization,

Reaffirming that trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, especially women and girls, cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization,

Recalling resolutions 2359 (2017) and 2374 (2017), which express concern over the serious challenges posed by different forms of transnational organized crime, including trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants in the Sahel region, and recalling also resolutions 2240 (2015) and 2380 (2017), which express concern that the situation in Libya is exacerbated by the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking into, through and from the Libyan territory, which could provide support to other organized crime and terrorist networks in Libya,

Reiterating the critical importance of all Member States fully implementing relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 2195 (2014), 2253 (2015), 2199 (2015) and 2368 (2017), which express concern that terrorists benefit from transnational organized crime in some regions, including from trafficking in persons, as well as 2242 (2015), which expresses concern that acts of sexual violence and gender-based violence are known to be part of the strategic objectives and ideology of certain terrorist groups used as a tactic of terrorism and an instrument to increase their finances and their power through recruitment and the destruction of communities; and further reiterating the connection between trafficking in persons, sexual violence and terrorism and other organized criminal activities, which can prolong and exacerbate conflict and instability or intensify its impact on civilian populations,

Recognizing the need to continue to foster a global partnership against trafficking in persons among all stakeholders, including inter alia, through bilateral, multilateral and regional processes and initiatives,

Recognizing that trafficking in persons entails the violation or abuse of human rights and underscoring that certain acts or offences associated with trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict may constitute war crimes; and recallingfurther the responsibilities of States to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes as well as other crimes and the need for States to adopt appropriate measures within their national legal systems for those crimes for which they are required under international law to exercise their responsibility to investigate and prosecute,

Condemning in the strongest terms continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by ISIL (also known as Da’esh); and abductions of women and children by ISIL, ANF, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities and expressing outrage at their exploitation and abuse, including rape and sexual violence, forced marriage and enslavement by these entities, encouraging all State and non-state actors with evidence to bring it to the attention of the Council, along with any information that human trafficking and related forms of exploitation and abuse may support the perpetrators financially, emphasizing that States are required to ensure that their nationals and persons within their territory do not make available any funds, financial assets or economic resources for ISIL’s benefit, and noting that any person or entity who transfers funds to ISIL directly or indirectly in connection with such exploitation and abuse would be eligible for listing by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), 2253 (2015) and 2368 (2017) concerning ISIL/Da’esh, Al‑Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities,

Recognizing that persons affected by armed conflict and fleeing conflict are at great risk of being subjected to trafficking in persons, and stressing the need to prevent and identify instances of trafficking in persons among those forcibly displaced or otherwise affected by armed conflict,

Expressing grave concern over the high numbers of women and children subjected to trafficking in armed conflicts, and recognizing that acts of trafficking in persons are often associated with other violations of applicable international law and other abuses, including those involving recruitment and use, abduction and sexual violence including, inter alia, rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and forced pregnancy; and calling on all Member States to hold perpetrators accountable and to assist victims in their recovery and reintegration,

Reiterating its grave concern over the abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, the majority of which are perpetrated by non-State armed groups, recognizing that abductions occur in a variety of settings, including schools, further recognizing that abduction often precedes or follows other abuses and violations of applicable international law against children, including those involving recruitment and use, killing and maiming, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence, which may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, and calling on all Member States to hold perpetrators of abductions accountable,

Expressing deep concern over the heightened vulnerability to exploitation and abuse of children forcibly displaced by armed conflict, particularly when separated from their families or caregivers, andunderlining the need to ensure protection of all unaccompanied children who are victims of or those vulnerable to trafficking in persons through their prompt identification and immediate assistance taking into account their specific needs,

Condemning all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict, including trafficking in persons and recalling all its resolutions on children and armed conflict that call for the protection of children, and in particular Resolution 1261 (1999) as well as resolution 1612 (2005), establishing the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on children and armed conflict,

Noting measures taken by UN peacekeeping and special political missions in accordance with their mandates, to assist host States in exercising their primary responsibility to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, also noting measures taken by Member States to provide pre-deployment training on trafficking in persons to personnel that will be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions and encouraging further action in this area,

Noting the initiative by Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and the UNODC to develop a training module on human trafficking and smuggling of migrants for in mission training of police personnel in selected peacekeeping missions, where applicable,

Underscoring the need for improved collection, also through relevant data base systems managed by international organizations, including UNODC and INTERPOL, of timely, objective, accurate and reliable data on trafficking in persons in situations of conflict, disaggregated by sex, age and other relevant factors, as well as on financial flows associated with trafficking in persons,

Reaffirming the need to ensure organization and coherence in the efforts of the United Nations System to address trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict or in post conflict situations and further recognizing the need to continue to work towards an enhanced comprehensive and coordinated approach to prevent and combat trafficking, which can contribute to sustainable peace and stability,

“1.   Reaffirms its condemnation in the strongest terms of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who make up the vast majority of all victims of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflicts, and stresses that trafficking in persons undermines the rule of law and contributes to other forms of transnational organized crime, which can exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability and undermine development;

“2.   Urges Members States to consider, as a matter of priority, ratifying or acceding to, and for States Parties to effectively implement, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, as well as all relevant international instruments;

“3.   Calls upon Member States to reinforce their political commitment to and improve their implementation of applicable legal obligations to criminalize, prevent, and otherwise combat trafficking in persons, and to strengthen efforts to detect and disrupt trafficking in persons, including implementing robust victim identification mechanisms and providing access to protection and assistance for identified victims, including in relation to areas affected by armed conflict; underscores in this regard the importance of international law enforcement cooperation, including with respect to investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases and, in this regard, calls for the continued support of the UNODC in providing technical assistance to Member States upon request;

“4.   Further calls upon Member States, where appropriate, to review, amend and implement anti-trafficking and related legislation to ensure that all forms of trafficking in persons, including when it is committed in situations of armed conflict or by armed and terrorist groups are addressed, and to consider establishing jurisdiction to end the impunity of offenders in line with Article 15 of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

“5.   Also calls upon Member States to step up their efforts to investigate, disrupt and dismantle networks engaging in trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict and to take all appropriate measures to collect, preserve and store evidence of human trafficking;

“6.   Calls upon Member States to combat crimes that might be connected with trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict, such as money-laundering, corruption, the smuggling of migrants and other forms of organized crime, including by making use of financial investigations in order to identify and analyse financial intelligence, as well as by reinforcing regional and international operational law enforcement cooperation;

“7.   Calls upon Member States to strengthen compliance with international Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism standards and increase capacity to conduct proactive financial investigations to track and disrupt human trafficking and identify potential linkages with terrorism financing;

“8.   Urges Member States, while addressing trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflicts, to adopt a multi-dimensional approach that includes incorporating information on the risks of trafficking in persons into school curricula and training programs;

“9.   Encourages Member States to increase efforts to collect, analyse and share through appropriate channels and arrangements and consistent with international and domestic law data relating to financial flows associated with human trafficking and the extent and nature of financing of terrorism activities through human trafficking activities, and to provide, where applicable, CTED and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team with relevant information pertaining to linkages between human trafficking and terrorist financing;

“10.  Reiterates its condemnation of all acts of trafficking, particularly the sale or trade in persons undertaken by the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL/Da’esh), including of Yazidis and other persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, and of any such trafficking in persons crimes and other violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and other terrorist or armed groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation, and forced labour, and underscores the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts in order to ensure that those responsible can be held accountable;

“11.  Requests the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, when consulting with Member States, to continue including in their discussions the issue of trafficking in persons in areas of armed conflict and the use of sexual violence in armed conflict as it relates to ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities and to report to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), 2253 (2015) and 2368 (2017) on these discussions as appropriate;

“12.  Requests the CTED, within its existing mandate, under the policy guidance of the CTC, and in close cooperation with UNODC and other relevant entities, to increase its efforts to include in CTED’s country assessments, as appropriate, information regarding Member States efforts to address the issue of trafficking in persons where it is committed for the purpose of supporting terrorism, including through the financing of or recruitment for the commission of terrorist acts;

“13.  Calls upon Member States to enhance the capabilities of professionals interacting with persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, including refugees, such as law enforcement, border control officials and criminal justice systems personnel of refugee and displaced persons reception facilities, to identify victims or persons vulnerable to trafficking, to adopt gender and age sensitive assistance, including adequate psychosocial support and health services, regardless of their participation in criminal investigations and proceedings;

“14.  Recognizes the need to strengthen the identification, registration, protection, assistance for forcibly displaced persons, including refugees and stateless persons, who are victims of trafficking or at risk of being trafficked;

“15.  Encourages Member States to use refugee registration mechanisms to assess vulnerability and identify potential victims of trafficking as well as their specific assistance needs, and in this regard, encourages Member States to develop informative material to explain to victims of trafficking in persons who are refugees their rights and avenues for assistance, so as to enable them to engage with relevant authorities and access services and psychosocial support that are available to them;

“16.  Encourages Member States, in particular transit and destination States receiving persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, to develop and use early-warning and early-screening frameworks of potential or imminent risk of trafficking in persons to proactively and expediently detect victims and persons vulnerable to trafficking, with special attention to women and children, especially those unaccompanied;

“17.  Urges Member States thoroughly to assess the individual situation of persons released from the captivity of armed and terrorist groups so as to enable prompt identification of victims of trafficking, their treatment as victims of crime and to consider, in line with domestic legislation, not prosecuting or punishing victims of trafficking for unlawful activities they committed as a direct result of having been subjected to trafficking;

“18.  Strongly condemns violations of international law, especially those which affect children in situations of armed conflict, including those involving killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction and forced displacement, recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, attacks against schools and hospitals, denial of humanitarian access and trafficking in persons;

“19.  Urges Member States to identify children who are victims of trafficking and those who are unaccompanied or separated from their families and caregivers, to ensure, where relevant, their timely registration and to consider their particular protection needs, including, as appropriate, by referring them to the relevant child protection authorities regardless of their immigration status;

“20.  Recognizes the importance of providing timely and appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to children affected by armed conflict, while ensuring that the specific needs of girls and boys as well as children with disabilities are addressed, including access to health care, psychosocial support, and education programmes that contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security and encourages relevant international organizations and civil societies organizations to assist Member States’ efforts in this regard;

“21.  Urges Member States to refrain from the use of administrative detention of children, especially those victims of trafficking in persons, for violations of immigration laws and regulations, unless as a measure of last resort, in the least restrictive setting, for the shortest possible period of time, under conditions that respect their human rights and in a manner that takes into account, as a primary consideration, the best interest of the child and encourages them to work towards the ending of this practice;

“22.  Requests the Secretary-General to further explore, as appropriate, links between the trafficking of children in conflict situations and the grave violations against children affected by armed conflict as determined by the United Nations, with a view to addressing all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict;

“23.  Welcomes further briefings on trafficking in persons in armed conflict, as necessary, by relevant United Nations entities, including the Executive Director of UNODC, UNHCR, and other international and regional bodies such as International Organization for Migration (IOM), and encourages Member States to provide to UNODC information on victims of trafficking from areas affected by conflict or victims trafficked into conflict areas for inclusion within the existing reporting obligations;

“24.  Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the thematic paper on trafficking in persons in conflict situations developed by UNODC in consultation with relevant United Nations agencies and other international bodies is disseminated within the UN system, and encourages relevant United Nations agencies and entities to use it in their respective activities in accordance with their mandates and develop their capability to assess and respond to situations of trafficking in persons in armed conflict;

“25.  Expresses its intention, to give greater consideration, where appropriate, to how peacekeeping and special political missions, can assist host States in exercising their primary responsibility to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure that assessments of country situations conducted upon the Security Council’s request on such missions include, where relevant, anti-trafficking research and expertise;

“26.  Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with Member States, to ensure, where appropriate, that training of relevant personnel of special political and peacekeeping missions include, on the basis of a preliminary assessment and taking also into account the protection and assistance needs of the victims of trafficking in persons, specific information enabling them, within their mandates, to identify, confirm, respond to and report on situations of trafficking in persons;

“27.  Reiterates its intention to integrate the issue of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict into the work of relevant Security Council Sanctions Committees where in accordance with their mandates, and expresses its intention to invite all relevant Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, to brief these sanctions committees, as necessary, in accordance with the Committee’s rules of procedure and to provide relevant information, including, if applicable, the names of individuals involved in the trafficking in persons who meet the committees’ designation criteria;

“28.  Also requests the Secretary-General to ensure that members of the monitoring groups, teams and panels supporting the work of relevant sanctions committees build their technical capacity to identify and report on instances of trafficking in persons encountered in the discharge of their duties and in accordance with their respective mandates, and further requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the monitoring and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in areas affected by armed conflict systematically collect data on conflict-related trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual violence or exploitation;

“29.  Invites the Secretary-General to ensure that the work of the investigative team established pursuant to resolution 2379 (2017) is informed by relevant anti‑trafficking research and expertise and that its efforts to collect evidence on trafficking in persons offences are gender-sensitive, victim centred, trauma-informed, rights-based and not prejudicial to the safety and security of victims;

“30.  Calls upon Member States to cooperate with the investigative team established pursuant to resolution 2379 (2017), including through mutual arrangements on legal assistance, where necessary and appropriate, and in particular to provide it with any relevant information as appropriate they may possess pertaining to its mandate under that resolution;

“31.  Calls upon United Nations system organizations to enhance transparency in their procurement and supply chains and step up their efforts to strengthen protections against trafficking in persons in all United Nations procurement and to that effect request major suppliers to establish and implement anti-human trafficking policies and disclose information on measures taken to counter trafficking in persons in their operations and supply chains;

“32.  Welcomes efforts aimed at developing a coordinated response within the United Nations System to prevent and counter trafficking in persons in situations of armed conflict and to protect its victims, and requests all United Nations entities involved in combating trafficking in persons to actively participate in the regular work of existing mechanisms, especially the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons which was established to foster coordination among United Nations entities and other international organizations;

“33.  Invites the Secretary-General to include in relevant regular reports on special political and peacekeeping missions, information on efforts undertaken, within their mandates, to assist the host-State’s institutions in preventing and combating trafficking in persons and in protecting and assisting victims of trafficking, in particular women and children;

“34.  Requests the Secretary-General to follow-up on the implementation of this resolution and report back to the Security Council on progress made within 12 months;

“35.  Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.”