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  • Report – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy – A8-0351/2017 – Committee on Foreign Affairs

    on the Annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy

    (2017/2123(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

    –  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 December 2013, 26 June 2015, 15 December 2016, and 22 Jun 2017,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report on the implementation of the common foreign and security policy (2017/2121(INI)),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2017 on arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP(1),

    –  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Common Security and Defence Policy of 25 November 2013, 18 November 2014, 18 May 2015, 27 June 2016, 14 November 2016 and 18 May 2017, and the Council conclusions on the EU Global Strategy of 17 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the 19th Franco-German Ministerial Council meeting in Paris on 13 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the informal meeting of defence ministers and the informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers (Gymnich) in Tallinn on 6-9 September 2017,

    –  having regard to the meeting of EU Ministers of Defence on 30 November 2011,

    –  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on ‘EU’s military structures: state of play and future prospects’(2),

      having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union(3),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2016 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(4),

      having regard to its resolution of 16 March 2017 on ‘Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a common security and defence policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty’(5),

      having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2017 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2018 draft budget(6),

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’, presented by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on 28 June 2016,

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Implementation Plan on Security and Defence’, presented by the VP/HR on 14 November 2016,

    –  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 30 November 2016 to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the European Defence Action Plan (COM(2016)0950),

    –  having regard to the joint declaration of 8 July 2016 by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and the Secretary-General of NATO, the common set of proposals endorsed by NATO and EU Councils on 6 December 2016 and the Progress report on the implementation thereof adopted on 14 June 2017,

    –  having regard to the Bratislava Declaration of 16 September 2016,

    –  having regard to the new defence package presented by the Commission on 7 June 2017 in the press release ‘A Europe that defends: Commission opens debate on moving towards a Security and Defence Union’,

    –  having regard to the Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence of 7 June 2017,

    –  having regard to Eurobarometer 85.1 of June 2016, according to which half of EU citizens surveyed consider EU action insufficient and two thirds of them would like to see greater EU engagement through Member States’ commitment in matters of security and defence policy,

    –  having regard to the crisis management concept of the Council for a new civilian CSDP mission in Iraq of 17 July 2017 and to the Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1425 of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action in the Malian regions of Mopti and Segou,

    –  having regard to the EU Policy on Training for CSDP adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 April 2017,

    –  having regard to the Council Decision of 23 October 2017 on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, within the EEA Joint Committee concerning an amendment to Protocol 31 to the EEA Agreement (Union’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research);

    –  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

    –  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0351/2017),

    The Union’s strategic environment

    1.  Underlines that the rules-based international order and the values defended by Western democracies, and the peace, prosperity and freedoms which this post-World War II order guarantees and which correspond to the foundations on which the European Union is built, are facing an unprecedented number of conventional and hybrid challenges, as societal, economic, technological and geopolitical trends point to the growing vulnerability of the world’s population to shocks and stresses – such as interstate conflicts, natural disasters, extreme weather events, water crises, state collapse and cyber-attacks – that need a united and coordinated response; recalls that security is a key concern for European citizens; states that the Union’s external action is to be guided by the values and principles enshrined in Article 21 TEU;

    2.  Stresses that no single Member State can alone tackle any of the complex security challenges we are facing today, and in order for the EU to be able to respond to this internal and external challenges it needs to step up its efforts towards concrete strong cooperation in the context of CFSP/CSDP, be an effective global player, which implies speaking with one voice and acting together, and focus its resources on strategic priorities; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, which are poverty and raising inequality, bad governance, state collapse and climate change;

    3.   Deplores the fact that transnational terrorist and criminal organisations are increasing in strength and number, potentially facilitated by the defeat of ISIS/Da’esh and the fact that its fighters are fleeing, while instability simultaneously spreads in the southern regions and in the Middle East, as fragile and disintegrating states such as Libya give up on large ungoverned spaces vulnerable to outside forces; expresses its continued concern over the transnational dimension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel region; deeply deplores that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities have generated increased tension in the region and beyond, posing a clear threat to international peace and security;

    4.   Stresses that to the east, Russia’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing, the Minsk agreements – without which there can be no solution to the conflict – have not been implemented and the illegal annexation and militarisation of Crimea, and the imposition of anti-access and area denial systems, continue; is deeply concerned that Russia’s excessive exercises and military activities without international observation, hybrid tactics, including cyber-terrorism, fake news and disinformation campaigns, economic and energy blackmail are destabilising the Eastern Partnership countries and the Western Balkans, as well as are being targeted at Western democracies and increasing tensions within them; is concerned that the security environment surrounding the EU will remain highly volatile for years to come; reiterates the strategic importance of the Western Balkans for the security and stability of the EU and the need to focus and strengthen the EU’s political engagement towards the region, including by strengthening the mandate of our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions; is firmly convinced that in order toovercome the EU’s vulnerability there is a need for more integration as well as coordination;

    5.  Deplores the terrorist threat that is quickly expanding both within Europe and beyond its borders; considers that an incomplete answer on the military level will inevitably lead to ever-growing internal security threats; urgently calls for an European anti-jihadist pact that can tackle these threats in an effective manner;

    6.  Believes that terrorism represents today one of the key challenges to the security of EU citizens, requiring swift, firm and coordinated action, both at internal and external level, in order to prevent further terrorist attacks and to fight its root causes; points out, in particular, the need to prevent radicalisation, to block any source of financial resources to terrorist organisations, to tackle terrorist propaganda and block the use of the internet and social networks for this purpose, including through an automated removal service, and to improve intelligence sharing between Member States, as well as with third countries, NATO and other relevant partner organisations; believes that the mandate of our CSDP missions should include the fight against terrorism in order to contribute more consequently to deradicalisation programmes, notably EULEX in Kosovo and EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia Herzegovina, countries that are confronted with an important number of fighters returning from abroad;

    7.  Is deeply concerned about the increasingly deadly terrorist threat in the Sahel belt as well as its extension to Central Africa, and the instability in the East (Syria, Iraq, Palestine); calls on the VP/HR to ensure that an executive mandate is granted to the CSDP missions and to intervene in a decisive and determined manner;

    8.  Believes that, under the current EU enlargement policy, a credible accession process grounded on extensive and fair conditionality remains an important tool for promoting security by enhancing the resilience of countries in the south-eastern Europe;

    9.   Believes that in a challenging security environment, and at a moment when the EU and NATO are endeavouring to broaden and deepen their cooperation, through Brexit the EU will lose part of its military capability and will possibly no longer be able to benefit from the UK’s expertise, and vice versa; notes that Brexit gives new momentum to initiatives that have long been blocked, and could open the door to new proposals; stresses the importance of continuing close defence cooperation between the EU and the post-Brexit UK, including in, but not limited to, the areas of intelligence sharing and counterterrorism; considers that, if it so requests, the UK should also be able to participate in CSDP missions as part of a new EU-UK defence cooperation relationship;

    10.   Welcomes the renewed US commitment to European security; stresses that the EU stands firmly committed to the transatlantic community of common values and interests; is at the same time convinced that an accountable and self-confident CFSP is needed and that, in this context, the EU must become a self-assured foreign-policy actor;

    Institutional framework

    11.   Believes strongly that, whenever necessary, the EU should take decisive action to determine its future, as internal and external security are becoming increasingly intertwined, and as this has a direct impact on all European citizens; warns that the lack of a common approach could lead to uncoordinated and fragmented action, allows multiple duplications and inefficiency and, as a result, would make the Union and its Member States vulnerable; is therefore of the opinion that the EU should be able to act effectively along the entire spectrum of internal-external security instruments, up to the level of Article 42(7) TEU; stresses that the framing of a common Union defence policy referred to in Article 42(2) TEU has the objective of establishing a common defence and endowing the Union with strategic autonomy to enable it to promote peace and security in Europe and in the world; emphasises the practical and financial benefits of further integrating European defence capabilities;

    12.   Underlines that the EU needs to apply the entire tool-box of available policy instruments – from soft to hard power and from short-term measures to long-term policies in the area of classical foreign policy, encompassing not only bilateral and multilateral efforts in diplomacy, development cooperation, civilian and economic instruments, emergency support, crisis prevention and post-conflict strategies, but also peacekeeping and peace-enforcing, also in line with the civilian and military means described in Article 43(1) TEU – in order to cope with the rising challenges; believes that the CSDP should be built on the principle that European security cannot be guaranteed by relying merely on military assets; considers that EU foreign actions should include an assessment of their impact on EU´s people-centred strategic interests of enhancing human security and human rights, strengthening international law and promoting sustainable peace; underlines the need for the EEAS to step up its capacities to better anticipate crises and counter security challenges at the point of their inception; stresses the need for a more coherent and better coordinated interaction between military, civilian, development and humanitarian actors;

    13.  Welcomes the visible progress made in framing a stronger European defence stance since the adoption of the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) in June 2016; welcomes, in particular, the launching of a European Defence Fund (EDF), the proposed scaling-up of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the legislative proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP); calls on the Member States to increase their future financial contributions to the EU budget in order to cover all additional costs incurred by the EU in connection with the EDF;

    14.   Welcomes EFTA’s adhesion to the preparatory action on defence research, and welcomes in particular the Norwegian contribution of EUR 585 000 for 2017; expresses its wish that Norway may continue to participate in Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit;

    15.   Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages about any conclusion of, or amendment to, international agreements that have defence implications or are in the defence remit; considers that any third-country financial contribution has important budgetary implications for the Union, as a third country could affect the Union’s financial interests in a manner well beyond the size of its contribution by withholding necessary export licenses; stresses that where third parties contribute to Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit, Parliament expects the Commission and the VP/HR to assess the impact of such participation as regards the Unions’ strategic policies and interests before making a proposal, and to inform Parliament about this assessment;

    16.   Highlights the facts that the Commission and an increasing number of Member States have committed themselves to launching the European Defence Union (EDU) and that there is a strong support for this among European citizens; stresses that this corresponds to a demand from EU citizens and from Parliament, notably through numerous appeals expressed in its previous resolutions; highlights the greater efficiency, and the elimination of duplication and reduction of costs, that will result from stronger European defence integration; stresses, however, that the launch of a real EDU requires continued political will and determination; urges the Member States to commit themselves to a common and autonomous European defence, and to aim to ensure that their national defence budgets amount to at least 2 % of their respective GDPs within a decade;

    17.  Is convinced that the only way to increase the Union’s ability to fulfil its military tasks is to increase efficiency significantly with regard to all aspects of the processes that generate military capabilities; recalls that the EU-28 spends 40 % of its GDP total on defence, but only manage to generate 15 % of the capabilities that the USA gets out of the same processes, which points to a very serious efficiency problem;

    18.   Calls on the VP/HR and the Commission to act on Parliament’s calls for an EU Security and Defence White Book in the context of preparing the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), as requested in Parliament’s resolutions of 22 November 2016, 23 November 2016 and 16 March 2017; considers that building the EDU, linking the its strategic orientation with EU contributions to capability development and shaping the European institutional framework for defence, are elements that need to be underpinned by an interinstitutional agreement; stresses that with a comprehensive and trustworthy effort on the part of all stakeholders it is possible to increase the scope and efficiency of defence spending; calls for a powerful role in this process to be defined for neutral countries such as Austria and Sweden, without calling into question the neutrality of individual Member States;

    19.  Stresses that, in addition to a description of the strategic environment and the strategic ambitions, the EU Security and Defence White Book should identify, for the next MFF, the required and available capabilities, as well as any capability shortfalls, in the form of the EU Capability Development Plan (CDP), and should be complemented by a broad outline of the intended Member State and Union actions under the MFF and in the longer term; 

    20.  Welcomes the newly demonstrated political will to make CSDP more effective; supports any attempt to unleash the full potential of the Lisbon Treaty by making cooperation between Member Stakes work, and to make the operationally relevant capabilities for fulfilling Article 43(1) TEU tasks available, by:

    a) urgently installing the start-up fund as foreseen by the Treaty in order to allow fast deployment of operations;

    b) establishing permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on those military aspects that are necessary to implement CSDP tasks such as permanently pooled military units;

    c) reforming the intergovernmental joint financing mechanism Athena in order to operationalise solidarity between those Member States that can only contribute financially and those that can only contribute with troops to a CSDP operation;

    d) making pooling and sharing of capabilities the rule and not the exception, and moving towards the implementation of a majority of the 300 proposals presented by the 28 Chiefs of Defence in 2011;

    e) pooling national resources with regard to research, development, procurement, maintenance and training;

    f) coordinating national defence planning (Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, CARD) as currently planned;

    g) initiating common rules for military certification and a common policy on security of supply;

    h) enforcing, on the part of the Commission, internal market rules in line with the 2009 Defence Procurement Directive with regard to national defence procurement projects;

    21.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to propose a specific programme for defence research, with a dedicated budget and own rules, under the next MFF; stresses that Member States should make additional resources available to that programme, without interfering with existing framework programmes funding research, technological development and innovation, as requested in Parliament’s resolution of 5 July 2017; renews its previous calls on the Commission to provide for Union participation in defence research and development programmes undertaken by Member States, or jointly with industry where appropriate, as referred to in Articles 185 and 187 TFEU;

    22.   Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a EDIDP; underlines that any Union action to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States in the defence remit should have the objective of contributing to the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as referred to, inter alia, in Article 2(4) TFEU, and therefore of covering common development, standardisation, certification and maintenance, leading to cooperative programmes and a higher degree of interoperability; calls on the Commission to promote the new EDIDP as widely as possible, and, in particular, to encourage SMEs to participate in joint, cross-border projects;

    23.  Considers that exports by Member States of weapons, ammunitions and defence-related goods and services form an integral part of EU foreign, security and defence policy;

    24.  Urges the Council to take concrete steps towards the harmonisation and standardisation of the European armed forces, in accordance with Article 42(2) TEU, in order to facilitate the cooperation of armed forces personnel under the umbrella of a new EDU, as a step towards the progressive framing of a common EU defence policy;

    25.  Stresses that the use of all possibilities provided for in the Treaty would improve the competitiveness and functioning of the defence industry within the single market by further stimulating defence cooperation through positive incentives, targeting projects that Member States are not able to undertake, reducing unnecessary duplication and promoting a more efficient use of public money; is of the opinion that the outputs of such strategic cooperative programmes have great potential as dual-use technologies and, as such, bring extra added value to Member States; emphasises the importance of developing European capabilities and an integrated defence market;

    26.  Calls for the establishment of precise and binding guidelines to provide a well-defined framework for future activation and implementation of Article 42(7) TEU;

    27.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the VP/HR to engage, together with Parliament, in an interinstitutional dialogue on the progressive framing of a common defence policy; stresses that, under the next MFF, a fully-fledged EU defence budget should be established for all the internal aspects of CSDP and that a doctrine for its implementation should be developed within the remit of the Lisbon Treaty; underlines the need for a revision of the Athena mechanism in order to widen the range of operations considered as a common cost and incentivise participation in CSDP missions and operations;

    28.  Points out that this new defence budget will have to be financed through new resources in the next MFF;

    29.  Believes that decision-making on CSDP issues could be more democratic and transparent; proposes, therefore, to turn its Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) into a fully fledged parliamentary committee, enabling it to gain greater powers of scrutiny and accountability over the CSDP and to play a prominent role in its implementation, in particular by scrutinising legal acts pertaining to security and defence;

    30.  Regrets the lack of cooperation and information-sharing among security and intelligence services in Europe; believes that more cooperation between intelligence services could help counter terrorism; calls, in this regard, for the establishment of a fully fledged European intelligence system;

    Permanent Structured Cooperation

    31.   Welcomes the willingness of Member States to make binding commitments within the CSDP framework, thereby implementing an ambitious and inclusive Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and calls for its swift establishment by the Council; underlines that the desired inclusiveness of participation must not compromise either full commitment to the CSDP or a high level of ambition among participating Member States; points to the necessity to set clear participation criteria, leaving other Member States the option to join at a later stage; believes that activities within PESCO should always be in full alignment with CSDP;

    32.  Stresses that PESCO should develop within the EU framework and that it should benefit from effective Union support, in full respect of Member States’ competences in defence; renews its call for appropriate PESCO funding to be provided from the Union budget; considers that participation in all Union agencies and bodies falling under the CSDP, including the European Security and Defence College (ESDC), should be made a requirement under PESCO; renews its call for the EU Battlegroup System to be considered as a common cost under the revised Athena mechanism;

    33.  Stresses that it is necessary to ease the administrative procedures that are unnecessarily slowing down the generation of forces for CSDP missions and the cross-border movement of rapid response forces inside the EU; calls on the Member States to establish an EU-wide system for the coordination of rapid movement of defence force personnel, equipment and supplies for the purposes of CSDP, where the solidarity clause is invoked and where all Member States have an obligation to provide aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter;

    34.  Demands the establishment of a fully fledged EU civilian-military strategic headquarters under PESCO – to be composed of the existing Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), and the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) – providing a platform for integrated operational support throughout the entire planning cycle, from the initial political concept to detailed plans;

    35.  Encourages the Member States participating in PESCO to set up a permanent ‘European Integrated Force’, composed of divisions of their national armies, and to make it available to the Union for the implementation of the CSDP as foreseen by Article 42(3) TEU;

    36.  Considers that a common cyber defence policy should be one of the first building blocks of the European Defence Union; encourages the VP/HR to develop proposals for establishing, within the framework of PESCO, an EU cyber defence unit;

    Defence Directorate-General

    37.  Calls for the evaluation, in close coordination with the VP/HR, of the opportunity to establish a Directorate-General for Defence within the Commission (DG Defence), which would drive the Union’s actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States aimed at the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as foreseen by Article 2 TFEU;

    38.   Considers that the proposed DG Defence should have the responsibility to ensure open borders for the free movement of troops and equipment, as a necessary prerequisite for ensuring the degree of strategic autonomy, inter-operability, security of supply, standardisation and military certification arrangements required for: EU contributions to programmes under the CSDP and PESCO; EU-funded defence research; the EU’s strategic autonomy; the competitiveness of Europe’s defence industry, including SMEs and mid-cap companies forming the European defence supply chain; and the interinstitutional arrangements in the defence remit, including the EU Security and Defence White Book; stresses that the proposed DG Defence should contribute to better coordination of tasks among the various actors with a view to achieving greater policy coherence and consistency;

    39.   Underlines that the proposed DG Defence should work in liaison with the European Defence Agency (EDA); considers that the EDA should be the implementing agency for Union actions under the European Capabilities and Armaments policy, where this is foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty; renews its call on the Council to ensure that the administrative and operational expenditure of the EDA is funded from the Union budget; notes that EDA’s increasing new roles and responsibilities should be followed by an increase of its budget, stressing at the same time that the possible establishment of a DG Defence, and renewed efforts to make CSDP more effective, should not lead to resources being diverted to the growth of bureaucratic structures and to duplicating structures;

    Coordinated strategic and annual defence reviews

    40.  Welcomes the strategic review of the EU’s Capability Development Plan (CDP) due to be completed in spring 2018; underlines that the CDP will serve to foster collaboration among Member States in efforts to fill capability gaps in the context of the EDA;

    41.  Welcomes the establishment of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) process; considers that CARD should contribute to the standardisation and harmonisation of the investments and capabilities of national armed forces in an effective manner, ensuring the Union’s strategic and operational autonomy and coherence, and allowing Member States to invest more efficiently together in defence; welcomes the proposal to launch a trial run in 2017;

    42.  Encourages Member States to explore the possibility of joint procurement of defence resources;

    43.  Emphasises that CARD should be based on the EU Security and Defence White Book and the CDP, and should address the full spectrum of CSDP-related capabilities, in particular those of the Member States participating in PESCO; considers that CARD should deliver a set of concrete proposals to fill gaps and identify where Union action would be appropriate, to be taken into account in EU budget planning for the following year; underlines the need for the Commission and the EDA to work together in designing the annual work programmes under the capability and research windows of the proposed EDF; points out that the EDA should have a distinct role not only in designing the programme, but also in the management of projects financed from the capability window;

    44.  Stresses the need for close coordination of all CSDP-related activities, in particular CARD, PESCO and the EDF;

    45.  Considers that the Commission should take up the results of CARD and initiate an interinstitutional agreement that establishes the scope and funding of subsequent Union actions; considers that, drawing on the interinstitutional agreement, the Council and the Commission should take the necessary decisions in their respective remits to authorise such actions; calls for interparliamentary cooperation on defence to review CARD, and for the subsequent development of defence capabilities on a regular basis;

    CSDP missions and operations

    46.   Thanks the more than six thousand women and men who have given good and loyal service in the Union’s civilian and military missions on three continents; values these missions as Europe’s common contribution to peace and stability in the world; regrets, however, that the efficiency of these missions can still be jeopardised by structural weaknesses, uneven contributions from Member States and unsuitability to the operational environment, deploring in particular the limitations in the CSDP missions mandate; stresses, in this context, the need for real effectiveness that can only be achieved with the provision of proper military equipment, and urges the Council and the VP/HR to make use of the possibilities provided for in Article 41.2 TEU to this end; welcomes the increase in Member States’ defence spending in support of our service members; takes the view that this trend needs to be sustained, strengthened and coordinated at EU level; calls for effective measures to be taken to ensure that lessons learned and experience gained as regards the human dimension of CSDP missions are assessed and taken into account when future CSDP missions are designed;

    47.  Welcomes the presentation of the first annual report on the CSDP by the VP/HR; believes, however, that this report should not be of quantitative nature only, describing achievements with statistical data and detailed information, but also focus in the future on evaluating the political impact of CSDP activities in improving the security of our citizens;

    48.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and Member States to orient CSDP missions and operations more toward the priorities of the EU Global Strategy as well as the local and regional realities;

    49.  Believes in the need to contribute further to crisis management and prevention and, specifically, to provide assistance to the reconstruction and stabilisation of Iraq; welcomes the recent decision by the Council to launch a new civilian CSDP mission in support of security sector reform in Iraq, and expects that the EU takes over the international lead in this area, including in counter-terrorism and civilian reconstruction; calls on the EU to ensure that this time there will be better coordination among participating Member States, and with regional as well as local actors;

    50.  Welcomes the activities of EU NAVFOR Med and asks the VP/HR and the Member States to increase the support for local security actors on the southern shore of the Mediterranean;

    51.  Expects from the VP/HR and the Council that EUBAM Libya will be relaunched at the occasion of the renewal of the mandate reaching out to local security actors on Libya’s southern borders; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to come up with fresh ideas on how to tackle the security concerns in the Sahel zone by linking it to EUBAM Libya within its comprehensive and integrated approach and in support of the German-French initiative; welcomes the Council decision of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action for Mali in the Mopti and Segou regions; calls, in this regard, on the VP/HR to inform Parliament how this measure interacts with CSDP missions and operations in the region;

    52.  Welcomes the success of Operation EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina in achieving a military end state; is, however, concerned that the political end state has not yet been achieved;

    53.   Welcomes the recent establishment of a nucleus for a permanent EU operational headquarters, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), as demanded by Parliament in its resolution of 12 September 2013, as it is a precondition for effective planning, command and control of common operations; calls on the Member States to staff it with adequate personnel so that it becomes fully functional, and to task it to plan and command executive military CSDP operations such as EUFOR ALTHEA;

    54.  Considers that, as a consequence of the UK’s announcement of withdrawal from the Union, the command option of EU NAVFOR Somalia / Operation Atalanta needs to be reviewed; stresses the success of the operation, thanks to which not a single vessel has been boarded by pirates since 2014; welcomes the extension of the operation until 2018;

    55.  Notes that only 75 % of the positions in civilian CSDP missions are filled; regrets, in this regard, that the EU staff regulations, which would provide better conditions and protection to mission staff, do not apply to personnel employed by the missions even though they are funded from the Union budget; is convinced that this impedes the effectiveness of the missions; urges the Member States to ensure that all vacant posts in all missions are swiftly filled;

    56.  Welcomes the adoption of the EU Policy on Training for CSDP and the important role the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) plays as central training institution embedded within the CSDP structures; calls on the Member States to provide adequate financial, personnel and infrastructural resources for the ESDC;

    57.  Regrets that Member States are failing to deploy in a swift manner the staff necessary for the preparatory and set-up stages of civilian CSDP missions; welcomes, in this context, the proposal developed jointly by the EEAS and Commission services for a multi-layered approach in order to speed up the deployment of civilian CSDP missions;

    58.  Encourages further efforts to speed up the provision of financing for civilian and civil-military missions and to simplify decision-making procedures and implementation; believes, in this context, that the Commission should introduce, by delegated acts in accordance with Article 210 of the Financial Regulation, specific procurement rules to the crisis management measures under the CSDP in order to facilitate the rapid and flexible conduct of operations;

    59.  Welcomes the establishment of the Mission Support Platform (MSP) in 2016; regrets the limited size and scope of the MSP, and reiterates its call for further progress towards a shared services centre that would allow further efficiency gains by providing a central coordination point for all mission support services;

    60.  Urges the EEAS and the Council to step up their ongoing efforts to improve cyber security, in particular for CSDP missions, inter alia by taking measures at EU and Member State levels to mitigate threats to the CSDP, for instance by building up resilience through education, training and exercises, and by streamlining the EU cyber-defence education and training landscape;

    61.  Believes that the EU and its Member States face an unprecedented threat in the form of state-sponsored cyber attacks as well as cyber crime and terrorism; believes that the nature of cyber attacks makes them a threat that needs an EU-level response; encourages the Member States to provide mutual assistance in the event of a cyber attack against any one of them;

    62.  Calls on the Member States to apply full burden sharing to military CSDP missions by progressive enlargement of common funding toward full common funding, which should enable and encourage more Member States to contribute their capabilities and forces, or just funds; underlines the importance of reviewing the Athena mechanism in this regard and of covering all costs related to the financing of military CSDP operations;

    63.  Urges the Council to act in accordance with Article 41(3) TEU and to adopt without delay the decision of establishing a start-up fund for the urgent financing of the initial phases of military operations for the tasks referred to in Article 42(1) and Article 43 TEU; urges the Council to resolve current problems with financing hybrid missions; calls for more flexibility in the EU’s financial rules in order to support its ability to respond to crises and for the implementation of existing Lisbon Treaty provisions;

    EU-NATO cooperation

    64.  Believes that, in the current context, the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO is fundamental to addressing the security challenges facing the Union and its neighbourhood; considers that the EU-NATO Joint Declaration and the subsequent implementation actions have the potential to move cooperation and complementarity to a higher level and to mark a new and substantive phase of the strategic partnership; welcomes the common set of 42 proposals, of which as many as 10 seek to increase resilience against hybrid threats, aimed at strengthening both cooperation and coordination between the two organisations; notes that this work will be taken forward in the spirit of full openness and transparency, in full respect of the decision-making autonomy and procedures of both organisations, and will be based on the principles of inclusiveness and reciprocity without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any Member State; praises the cooperation being undertaken in combating cyber threats, developing strategic communications and coordinating maritime activities and joint exercises, and points to the excellent cooperation and complementarity of the EU’s Operation Sophia and NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian; welcomes as well the publication in June 2017 of the two organisations’ first joint implementation report and the progress made in implementing the common set of proposals, and calls for continued progress; stresses the EU’s full commitment to the transatlantic community of common values and interests;

    65.  Notes that a stronger EU and a stronger NATO are mutually reinforcing; considers that Member States need to increase their efforts to act both within an EDU and as autonomous regional security providers, and in a complementary role within NATO, where appropriate; notes that, as set out in EUGS, the EU must contribute to: (a) responding to external conflicts and crises; (b) building the capabilities of partners; and (c) protecting the Union and its citizens; welcomes the set of initiatives that are underway to implement EUGS in the field of security and defence, to develop stronger relations between the EU and NATO, and to enable EU Member States to engage in defence research and develop defence capabilities together; is of the opinion that the security and protection of Europe will increasingly depend on both organisations acting within their remits; calls for efforts to improve cooperation in countering hybrid threats, including through the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, and in the exchange of information and intelligence;

    66.  Stresses the importance of cooperation and integration in cyber security, not only between Member States, key partners and NATO, but also between different actors within society;

    CSDP partnerships

    67.  Stresses that partnerships and cooperation with countries that share EU’s values contribute to the effectiveness and the impact of the CSDP; welcomes, in this regard, the contributions of Albania, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zeeland, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States;

    68.  Welcomes the signature of the EU-US Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) of 7 December 2016; calls on the VP/HR to inform Parliament about how this agreement has improved the conditions for, and protection of, CSDP mission staff;

    69.  Invites the VP/HR and the Member States to establish EU military attachés in EU delegations contributing to the implementation of the strategic objectives of the Union;

    70.  Welcomes the proposal of the Commission to review the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) in order to support actions carried out under the Capacity Building in Support of Security and Development (CBSD) initiative, which will enable the EU to fund capacity building and resilience and help strengthen the capabilities of partner countries; encourages the EEAS and the Commission to implement the CBSD initiative without delay, to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of CSDP missions and to provide a more flexible and integrated EU approach that takes advantage of civil-military synergies;

    °

    °  °

    71.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of NATO, the EU agencies in the space, security and defence fields, and the governments and national parliaments of the Member States.

    (1)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0344.

    (2)

    Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0381.

    (3)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0435.

    (4)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0440.

    (5)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0092.

    (6)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0302.

    Read more
  • Report – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy – A8-0351/2017 – Committee on Foreign Affairs

    on the Annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy

    (2017/2123(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

    –  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 December 2013, 26 June 2015, 15 December 2016, and 22 Jun 2017,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report on the implementation of the common foreign and security policy (2017/2121(INI)),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2017 on arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP(1),

    –  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Common Security and Defence Policy of 25 November 2013, 18 November 2014, 18 May 2015, 27 June 2016, 14 November 2016 and 18 May 2017, and the Council conclusions on the EU Global Strategy of 17 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the 19th Franco-German Ministerial Council meeting in Paris on 13 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the informal meeting of defence ministers and the informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers (Gymnich) in Tallinn on 6-9 September 2017,

    –  having regard to the meeting of EU Ministers of Defence on 30 November 2011,

    –  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on ‘EU’s military structures: state of play and future prospects’(2),

      having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union(3),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2016 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(4),

      having regard to its resolution of 16 March 2017 on ‘Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a common security and defence policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty’(5),

      having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2017 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2018 draft budget(6),

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’, presented by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on 28 June 2016,

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Implementation Plan on Security and Defence’, presented by the VP/HR on 14 November 2016,

    –  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 30 November 2016 to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the European Defence Action Plan (COM(2016)0950),

    –  having regard to the joint declaration of 8 July 2016 by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and the Secretary-General of NATO, the common set of proposals endorsed by NATO and EU Councils on 6 December 2016 and the Progress report on the implementation thereof adopted on 14 June 2017,

    –  having regard to the Bratislava Declaration of 16 September 2016,

    –  having regard to the new defence package presented by the Commission on 7 June 2017 in the press release ‘A Europe that defends: Commission opens debate on moving towards a Security and Defence Union’,

    –  having regard to the Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence of 7 June 2017,

    –  having regard to Eurobarometer 85.1 of June 2016, according to which half of EU citizens surveyed consider EU action insufficient and two thirds of them would like to see greater EU engagement through Member States’ commitment in matters of security and defence policy,

    –  having regard to the crisis management concept of the Council for a new civilian CSDP mission in Iraq of 17 July 2017 and to the Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1425 of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action in the Malian regions of Mopti and Segou,

    –  having regard to the EU Policy on Training for CSDP adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 April 2017,

    –  having regard to the Council Decision of 23 October 2017 on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, within the EEA Joint Committee concerning an amendment to Protocol 31 to the EEA Agreement (Union’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research);

    –  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

    –  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0351/2017),

    The Union’s strategic environment

    1.  Underlines that the rules-based international order and the values defended by Western democracies, and the peace, prosperity and freedoms which this post-World War II order guarantees and which correspond to the foundations on which the European Union is built, are facing an unprecedented number of conventional and hybrid challenges, as societal, economic, technological and geopolitical trends point to the growing vulnerability of the world’s population to shocks and stresses – such as interstate conflicts, natural disasters, extreme weather events, water crises, state collapse and cyber-attacks – that need a united and coordinated response; recalls that security is a key concern for European citizens; states that the Union’s external action is to be guided by the values and principles enshrined in Article 21 TEU;

    2.  Stresses that no single Member State can alone tackle any of the complex security challenges we are facing today, and in order for the EU to be able to respond to this internal and external challenges it needs to step up its efforts towards concrete strong cooperation in the context of CFSP/CSDP, be an effective global player, which implies speaking with one voice and acting together, and focus its resources on strategic priorities; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, which are poverty and raising inequality, bad governance, state collapse and climate change;

    3.   Deplores the fact that transnational terrorist and criminal organisations are increasing in strength and number, potentially facilitated by the defeat of ISIS/Da’esh and the fact that its fighters are fleeing, while instability simultaneously spreads in the southern regions and in the Middle East, as fragile and disintegrating states such as Libya give up on large ungoverned spaces vulnerable to outside forces; expresses its continued concern over the transnational dimension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel region; deeply deplores that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities have generated increased tension in the region and beyond, posing a clear threat to international peace and security;

    4.   Stresses that to the east, Russia’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing, the Minsk agreements – without which there can be no solution to the conflict – have not been implemented and the illegal annexation and militarisation of Crimea, and the imposition of anti-access and area denial systems, continue; is deeply concerned that Russia’s excessive exercises and military activities without international observation, hybrid tactics, including cyber-terrorism, fake news and disinformation campaigns, economic and energy blackmail are destabilising the Eastern Partnership countries and the Western Balkans, as well as are being targeted at Western democracies and increasing tensions within them; is concerned that the security environment surrounding the EU will remain highly volatile for years to come; reiterates the strategic importance of the Western Balkans for the security and stability of the EU and the need to focus and strengthen the EU’s political engagement towards the region, including by strengthening the mandate of our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions; is firmly convinced that in order toovercome the EU’s vulnerability there is a need for more integration as well as coordination;

    5.  Deplores the terrorist threat that is quickly expanding both within Europe and beyond its borders; considers that an incomplete answer on the military level will inevitably lead to ever-growing internal security threats; urgently calls for an European anti-jihadist pact that can tackle these threats in an effective manner;

    6.  Believes that terrorism represents today one of the key challenges to the security of EU citizens, requiring swift, firm and coordinated action, both at internal and external level, in order to prevent further terrorist attacks and to fight its root causes; points out, in particular, the need to prevent radicalisation, to block any source of financial resources to terrorist organisations, to tackle terrorist propaganda and block the use of the internet and social networks for this purpose, including through an automated removal service, and to improve intelligence sharing between Member States, as well as with third countries, NATO and other relevant partner organisations; believes that the mandate of our CSDP missions should include the fight against terrorism in order to contribute more consequently to deradicalisation programmes, notably EULEX in Kosovo and EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia Herzegovina, countries that are confronted with an important number of fighters returning from abroad;

    7.  Is deeply concerned about the increasingly deadly terrorist threat in the Sahel belt as well as its extension to Central Africa, and the instability in the East (Syria, Iraq, Palestine); calls on the VP/HR to ensure that an executive mandate is granted to the CSDP missions and to intervene in a decisive and determined manner;

    8.  Believes that, under the current EU enlargement policy, a credible accession process grounded on extensive and fair conditionality remains an important tool for promoting security by enhancing the resilience of countries in the south-eastern Europe;

    9.   Believes that in a challenging security environment, and at a moment when the EU and NATO are endeavouring to broaden and deepen their cooperation, through Brexit the EU will lose part of its military capability and will possibly no longer be able to benefit from the UK’s expertise, and vice versa; notes that Brexit gives new momentum to initiatives that have long been blocked, and could open the door to new proposals; stresses the importance of continuing close defence cooperation between the EU and the post-Brexit UK, including in, but not limited to, the areas of intelligence sharing and counterterrorism; considers that, if it so requests, the UK should also be able to participate in CSDP missions as part of a new EU-UK defence cooperation relationship;

    10.   Welcomes the renewed US commitment to European security; stresses that the EU stands firmly committed to the transatlantic community of common values and interests; is at the same time convinced that an accountable and self-confident CFSP is needed and that, in this context, the EU must become a self-assured foreign-policy actor;

    Institutional framework

    11.   Believes strongly that, whenever necessary, the EU should take decisive action to determine its future, as internal and external security are becoming increasingly intertwined, and as this has a direct impact on all European citizens; warns that the lack of a common approach could lead to uncoordinated and fragmented action, allows multiple duplications and inefficiency and, as a result, would make the Union and its Member States vulnerable; is therefore of the opinion that the EU should be able to act effectively along the entire spectrum of internal-external security instruments, up to the level of Article 42(7) TEU; stresses that the framing of a common Union defence policy referred to in Article 42(2) TEU has the objective of establishing a common defence and endowing the Union with strategic autonomy to enable it to promote peace and security in Europe and in the world; emphasises the practical and financial benefits of further integrating European defence capabilities;

    12.   Underlines that the EU needs to apply the entire tool-box of available policy instruments – from soft to hard power and from short-term measures to long-term policies in the area of classical foreign policy, encompassing not only bilateral and multilateral efforts in diplomacy, development cooperation, civilian and economic instruments, emergency support, crisis prevention and post-conflict strategies, but also peacekeeping and peace-enforcing, also in line with the civilian and military means described in Article 43(1) TEU – in order to cope with the rising challenges; believes that the CSDP should be built on the principle that European security cannot be guaranteed by relying merely on military assets; considers that EU foreign actions should include an assessment of their impact on EU´s people-centred strategic interests of enhancing human security and human rights, strengthening international law and promoting sustainable peace; underlines the need for the EEAS to step up its capacities to better anticipate crises and counter security challenges at the point of their inception; stresses the need for a more coherent and better coordinated interaction between military, civilian, development and humanitarian actors;

    13.  Welcomes the visible progress made in framing a stronger European defence stance since the adoption of the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) in June 2016; welcomes, in particular, the launching of a European Defence Fund (EDF), the proposed scaling-up of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the legislative proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP); calls on the Member States to increase their future financial contributions to the EU budget in order to cover all additional costs incurred by the EU in connection with the EDF;

    14.   Welcomes EFTA’s adhesion to the preparatory action on defence research, and welcomes in particular the Norwegian contribution of EUR 585 000 for 2017; expresses its wish that Norway may continue to participate in Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit;

    15.   Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages about any conclusion of, or amendment to, international agreements that have defence implications or are in the defence remit; considers that any third-country financial contribution has important budgetary implications for the Union, as a third country could affect the Union’s financial interests in a manner well beyond the size of its contribution by withholding necessary export licenses; stresses that where third parties contribute to Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit, Parliament expects the Commission and the VP/HR to assess the impact of such participation as regards the Unions’ strategic policies and interests before making a proposal, and to inform Parliament about this assessment;

    16.   Highlights the facts that the Commission and an increasing number of Member States have committed themselves to launching the European Defence Union (EDU) and that there is a strong support for this among European citizens; stresses that this corresponds to a demand from EU citizens and from Parliament, notably through numerous appeals expressed in its previous resolutions; highlights the greater efficiency, and the elimination of duplication and reduction of costs, that will result from stronger European defence integration; stresses, however, that the launch of a real EDU requires continued political will and determination; urges the Member States to commit themselves to a common and autonomous European defence, and to aim to ensure that their national defence budgets amount to at least 2 % of their respective GDPs within a decade;

    17.  Is convinced that the only way to increase the Union’s ability to fulfil its military tasks is to increase efficiency significantly with regard to all aspects of the processes that generate military capabilities; recalls that the EU-28 spends 40 % of its GDP total on defence, but only manage to generate 15 % of the capabilities that the USA gets out of the same processes, which points to a very serious efficiency problem;

    18.   Calls on the VP/HR and the Commission to act on Parliament’s calls for an EU Security and Defence White Book in the context of preparing the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), as requested in Parliament’s resolutions of 22 November 2016, 23 November 2016 and 16 March 2017; considers that building the EDU, linking the its strategic orientation with EU contributions to capability development and shaping the European institutional framework for defence, are elements that need to be underpinned by an interinstitutional agreement; stresses that with a comprehensive and trustworthy effort on the part of all stakeholders it is possible to increase the scope and efficiency of defence spending; calls for a powerful role in this process to be defined for neutral countries such as Austria and Sweden, without calling into question the neutrality of individual Member States;

    19.  Stresses that, in addition to a description of the strategic environment and the strategic ambitions, the EU Security and Defence White Book should identify, for the next MFF, the required and available capabilities, as well as any capability shortfalls, in the form of the EU Capability Development Plan (CDP), and should be complemented by a broad outline of the intended Member State and Union actions under the MFF and in the longer term; 

    20.  Welcomes the newly demonstrated political will to make CSDP more effective; supports any attempt to unleash the full potential of the Lisbon Treaty by making cooperation between Member Stakes work, and to make the operationally relevant capabilities for fulfilling Article 43(1) TEU tasks available, by:

    a) urgently installing the start-up fund as foreseen by the Treaty in order to allow fast deployment of operations;

    b) establishing permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on those military aspects that are necessary to implement CSDP tasks such as permanently pooled military units;

    c) reforming the intergovernmental joint financing mechanism Athena in order to operationalise solidarity between those Member States that can only contribute financially and those that can only contribute with troops to a CSDP operation;

    d) making pooling and sharing of capabilities the rule and not the exception, and moving towards the implementation of a majority of the 300 proposals presented by the 28 Chiefs of Defence in 2011;

    e) pooling national resources with regard to research, development, procurement, maintenance and training;

    f) coordinating national defence planning (Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, CARD) as currently planned;

    g) initiating common rules for military certification and a common policy on security of supply;

    h) enforcing, on the part of the Commission, internal market rules in line with the 2009 Defence Procurement Directive with regard to national defence procurement projects;

    21.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to propose a specific programme for defence research, with a dedicated budget and own rules, under the next MFF; stresses that Member States should make additional resources available to that programme, without interfering with existing framework programmes funding research, technological development and innovation, as requested in Parliament’s resolution of 5 July 2017; renews its previous calls on the Commission to provide for Union participation in defence research and development programmes undertaken by Member States, or jointly with industry where appropriate, as referred to in Articles 185 and 187 TFEU;

    22.   Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a EDIDP; underlines that any Union action to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States in the defence remit should have the objective of contributing to the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as referred to, inter alia, in Article 2(4) TFEU, and therefore of covering common development, standardisation, certification and maintenance, leading to cooperative programmes and a higher degree of interoperability; calls on the Commission to promote the new EDIDP as widely as possible, and, in particular, to encourage SMEs to participate in joint, cross-border projects;

    23.  Considers that exports by Member States of weapons, ammunitions and defence-related goods and services form an integral part of EU foreign, security and defence policy;

    24.  Urges the Council to take concrete steps towards the harmonisation and standardisation of the European armed forces, in accordance with Article 42(2) TEU, in order to facilitate the cooperation of armed forces personnel under the umbrella of a new EDU, as a step towards the progressive framing of a common EU defence policy;

    25.  Stresses that the use of all possibilities provided for in the Treaty would improve the competitiveness and functioning of the defence industry within the single market by further stimulating defence cooperation through positive incentives, targeting projects that Member States are not able to undertake, reducing unnecessary duplication and promoting a more efficient use of public money; is of the opinion that the outputs of such strategic cooperative programmes have great potential as dual-use technologies and, as such, bring extra added value to Member States; emphasises the importance of developing European capabilities and an integrated defence market;

    26.  Calls for the establishment of precise and binding guidelines to provide a well-defined framework for future activation and implementation of Article 42(7) TEU;

    27.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the VP/HR to engage, together with Parliament, in an interinstitutional dialogue on the progressive framing of a common defence policy; stresses that, under the next MFF, a fully-fledged EU defence budget should be established for all the internal aspects of CSDP and that a doctrine for its implementation should be developed within the remit of the Lisbon Treaty; underlines the need for a revision of the Athena mechanism in order to widen the range of operations considered as a common cost and incentivise participation in CSDP missions and operations;

    28.  Points out that this new defence budget will have to be financed through new resources in the next MFF;

    29.  Believes that decision-making on CSDP issues could be more democratic and transparent; proposes, therefore, to turn its Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) into a fully fledged parliamentary committee, enabling it to gain greater powers of scrutiny and accountability over the CSDP and to play a prominent role in its implementation, in particular by scrutinising legal acts pertaining to security and defence;

    30.  Regrets the lack of cooperation and information-sharing among security and intelligence services in Europe; believes that more cooperation between intelligence services could help counter terrorism; calls, in this regard, for the establishment of a fully fledged European intelligence system;

    Permanent Structured Cooperation

    31.   Welcomes the willingness of Member States to make binding commitments within the CSDP framework, thereby implementing an ambitious and inclusive Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and calls for its swift establishment by the Council; underlines that the desired inclusiveness of participation must not compromise either full commitment to the CSDP or a high level of ambition among participating Member States; points to the necessity to set clear participation criteria, leaving other Member States the option to join at a later stage; believes that activities within PESCO should always be in full alignment with CSDP;

    32.  Stresses that PESCO should develop within the EU framework and that it should benefit from effective Union support, in full respect of Member States’ competences in defence; renews its call for appropriate PESCO funding to be provided from the Union budget; considers that participation in all Union agencies and bodies falling under the CSDP, including the European Security and Defence College (ESDC), should be made a requirement under PESCO; renews its call for the EU Battlegroup System to be considered as a common cost under the revised Athena mechanism;

    33.  Stresses that it is necessary to ease the administrative procedures that are unnecessarily slowing down the generation of forces for CSDP missions and the cross-border movement of rapid response forces inside the EU; calls on the Member States to establish an EU-wide system for the coordination of rapid movement of defence force personnel, equipment and supplies for the purposes of CSDP, where the solidarity clause is invoked and where all Member States have an obligation to provide aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter;

    34.  Demands the establishment of a fully fledged EU civilian-military strategic headquarters under PESCO – to be composed of the existing Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), and the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) – providing a platform for integrated operational support throughout the entire planning cycle, from the initial political concept to detailed plans;

    35.  Encourages the Member States participating in PESCO to set up a permanent ‘European Integrated Force’, composed of divisions of their national armies, and to make it available to the Union for the implementation of the CSDP as foreseen by Article 42(3) TEU;

    36.  Considers that a common cyber defence policy should be one of the first building blocks of the European Defence Union; encourages the VP/HR to develop proposals for establishing, within the framework of PESCO, an EU cyber defence unit;

    Defence Directorate-General

    37.  Calls for the evaluation, in close coordination with the VP/HR, of the opportunity to establish a Directorate-General for Defence within the Commission (DG Defence), which would drive the Union’s actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States aimed at the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as foreseen by Article 2 TFEU;

    38.   Considers that the proposed DG Defence should have the responsibility to ensure open borders for the free movement of troops and equipment, as a necessary prerequisite for ensuring the degree of strategic autonomy, inter-operability, security of supply, standardisation and military certification arrangements required for: EU contributions to programmes under the CSDP and PESCO; EU-funded defence research; the EU’s strategic autonomy; the competitiveness of Europe’s defence industry, including SMEs and mid-cap companies forming the European defence supply chain; and the interinstitutional arrangements in the defence remit, including the EU Security and Defence White Book; stresses that the proposed DG Defence should contribute to better coordination of tasks among the various actors with a view to achieving greater policy coherence and consistency;

    39.   Underlines that the proposed DG Defence should work in liaison with the European Defence Agency (EDA); considers that the EDA should be the implementing agency for Union actions under the European Capabilities and Armaments policy, where this is foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty; renews its call on the Council to ensure that the administrative and operational expenditure of the EDA is funded from the Union budget; notes that EDA’s increasing new roles and responsibilities should be followed by an increase of its budget, stressing at the same time that the possible establishment of a DG Defence, and renewed efforts to make CSDP more effective, should not lead to resources being diverted to the growth of bureaucratic structures and to duplicating structures;

    Coordinated strategic and annual defence reviews

    40.  Welcomes the strategic review of the EU’s Capability Development Plan (CDP) due to be completed in spring 2018; underlines that the CDP will serve to foster collaboration among Member States in efforts to fill capability gaps in the context of the EDA;

    41.  Welcomes the establishment of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) process; considers that CARD should contribute to the standardisation and harmonisation of the investments and capabilities of national armed forces in an effective manner, ensuring the Union’s strategic and operational autonomy and coherence, and allowing Member States to invest more efficiently together in defence; welcomes the proposal to launch a trial run in 2017;

    42.  Encourages Member States to explore the possibility of joint procurement of defence resources;

    43.  Emphasises that CARD should be based on the EU Security and Defence White Book and the CDP, and should address the full spectrum of CSDP-related capabilities, in particular those of the Member States participating in PESCO; considers that CARD should deliver a set of concrete proposals to fill gaps and identify where Union action would be appropriate, to be taken into account in EU budget planning for the following year; underlines the need for the Commission and the EDA to work together in designing the annual work programmes under the capability and research windows of the proposed EDF; points out that the EDA should have a distinct role not only in designing the programme, but also in the management of projects financed from the capability window;

    44.  Stresses the need for close coordination of all CSDP-related activities, in particular CARD, PESCO and the EDF;

    45.  Considers that the Commission should take up the results of CARD and initiate an interinstitutional agreement that establishes the scope and funding of subsequent Union actions; considers that, drawing on the interinstitutional agreement, the Council and the Commission should take the necessary decisions in their respective remits to authorise such actions; calls for interparliamentary cooperation on defence to review CARD, and for the subsequent development of defence capabilities on a regular basis;

    CSDP missions and operations

    46.   Thanks the more than six thousand women and men who have given good and loyal service in the Union’s civilian and military missions on three continents; values these missions as Europe’s common contribution to peace and stability in the world; regrets, however, that the efficiency of these missions can still be jeopardised by structural weaknesses, uneven contributions from Member States and unsuitability to the operational environment, deploring in particular the limitations in the CSDP missions mandate; stresses, in this context, the need for real effectiveness that can only be achieved with the provision of proper military equipment, and urges the Council and the VP/HR to make use of the possibilities provided for in Article 41.2 TEU to this end; welcomes the increase in Member States’ defence spending in support of our service members; takes the view that this trend needs to be sustained, strengthened and coordinated at EU level; calls for effective measures to be taken to ensure that lessons learned and experience gained as regards the human dimension of CSDP missions are assessed and taken into account when future CSDP missions are designed;

    47.  Welcomes the presentation of the first annual report on the CSDP by the VP/HR; believes, however, that this report should not be of quantitative nature only, describing achievements with statistical data and detailed information, but also focus in the future on evaluating the political impact of CSDP activities in improving the security of our citizens;

    48.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and Member States to orient CSDP missions and operations more toward the priorities of the EU Global Strategy as well as the local and regional realities;

    49.  Believes in the need to contribute further to crisis management and prevention and, specifically, to provide assistance to the reconstruction and stabilisation of Iraq; welcomes the recent decision by the Council to launch a new civilian CSDP mission in support of security sector reform in Iraq, and expects that the EU takes over the international lead in this area, including in counter-terrorism and civilian reconstruction; calls on the EU to ensure that this time there will be better coordination among participating Member States, and with regional as well as local actors;

    50.  Welcomes the activities of EU NAVFOR Med and asks the VP/HR and the Member States to increase the support for local security actors on the southern shore of the Mediterranean;

    51.  Expects from the VP/HR and the Council that EUBAM Libya will be relaunched at the occasion of the renewal of the mandate reaching out to local security actors on Libya’s southern borders; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to come up with fresh ideas on how to tackle the security concerns in the Sahel zone by linking it to EUBAM Libya within its comprehensive and integrated approach and in support of the German-French initiative; welcomes the Council decision of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action for Mali in the Mopti and Segou regions; calls, in this regard, on the VP/HR to inform Parliament how this measure interacts with CSDP missions and operations in the region;

    52.  Welcomes the success of Operation EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina in achieving a military end state; is, however, concerned that the political end state has not yet been achieved;

    53.   Welcomes the recent establishment of a nucleus for a permanent EU operational headquarters, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), as demanded by Parliament in its resolution of 12 September 2013, as it is a precondition for effective planning, command and control of common operations; calls on the Member States to staff it with adequate personnel so that it becomes fully functional, and to task it to plan and command executive military CSDP operations such as EUFOR ALTHEA;

    54.  Considers that, as a consequence of the UK’s announcement of withdrawal from the Union, the command option of EU NAVFOR Somalia / Operation Atalanta needs to be reviewed; stresses the success of the operation, thanks to which not a single vessel has been boarded by pirates since 2014; welcomes the extension of the operation until 2018;

    55.  Notes that only 75 % of the positions in civilian CSDP missions are filled; regrets, in this regard, that the EU staff regulations, which would provide better conditions and protection to mission staff, do not apply to personnel employed by the missions even though they are funded from the Union budget; is convinced that this impedes the effectiveness of the missions; urges the Member States to ensure that all vacant posts in all missions are swiftly filled;

    56.  Welcomes the adoption of the EU Policy on Training for CSDP and the important role the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) plays as central training institution embedded within the CSDP structures; calls on the Member States to provide adequate financial, personnel and infrastructural resources for the ESDC;

    57.  Regrets that Member States are failing to deploy in a swift manner the staff necessary for the preparatory and set-up stages of civilian CSDP missions; welcomes, in this context, the proposal developed jointly by the EEAS and Commission services for a multi-layered approach in order to speed up the deployment of civilian CSDP missions;

    58.  Encourages further efforts to speed up the provision of financing for civilian and civil-military missions and to simplify decision-making procedures and implementation; believes, in this context, that the Commission should introduce, by delegated acts in accordance with Article 210 of the Financial Regulation, specific procurement rules to the crisis management measures under the CSDP in order to facilitate the rapid and flexible conduct of operations;

    59.  Welcomes the establishment of the Mission Support Platform (MSP) in 2016; regrets the limited size and scope of the MSP, and reiterates its call for further progress towards a shared services centre that would allow further efficiency gains by providing a central coordination point for all mission support services;

    60.  Urges the EEAS and the Council to step up their ongoing efforts to improve cyber security, in particular for CSDP missions, inter alia by taking measures at EU and Member State levels to mitigate threats to the CSDP, for instance by building up resilience through education, training and exercises, and by streamlining the EU cyber-defence education and training landscape;

    61.  Believes that the EU and its Member States face an unprecedented threat in the form of state-sponsored cyber attacks as well as cyber crime and terrorism; believes that the nature of cyber attacks makes them a threat that needs an EU-level response; encourages the Member States to provide mutual assistance in the event of a cyber attack against any one of them;

    62.  Calls on the Member States to apply full burden sharing to military CSDP missions by progressive enlargement of common funding toward full common funding, which should enable and encourage more Member States to contribute their capabilities and forces, or just funds; underlines the importance of reviewing the Athena mechanism in this regard and of covering all costs related to the financing of military CSDP operations;

    63.  Urges the Council to act in accordance with Article 41(3) TEU and to adopt without delay the decision of establishing a start-up fund for the urgent financing of the initial phases of military operations for the tasks referred to in Article 42(1) and Article 43 TEU; urges the Council to resolve current problems with financing hybrid missions; calls for more flexibility in the EU’s financial rules in order to support its ability to respond to crises and for the implementation of existing Lisbon Treaty provisions;

    EU-NATO cooperation

    64.  Believes that, in the current context, the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO is fundamental to addressing the security challenges facing the Union and its neighbourhood; considers that the EU-NATO Joint Declaration and the subsequent implementation actions have the potential to move cooperation and complementarity to a higher level and to mark a new and substantive phase of the strategic partnership; welcomes the common set of 42 proposals, of which as many as 10 seek to increase resilience against hybrid threats, aimed at strengthening both cooperation and coordination between the two organisations; notes that this work will be taken forward in the spirit of full openness and transparency, in full respect of the decision-making autonomy and procedures of both organisations, and will be based on the principles of inclusiveness and reciprocity without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any Member State; praises the cooperation being undertaken in combating cyber threats, developing strategic communications and coordinating maritime activities and joint exercises, and points to the excellent cooperation and complementarity of the EU’s Operation Sophia and NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian; welcomes as well the publication in June 2017 of the two organisations’ first joint implementation report and the progress made in implementing the common set of proposals, and calls for continued progress; stresses the EU’s full commitment to the transatlantic community of common values and interests;

    65.  Notes that a stronger EU and a stronger NATO are mutually reinforcing; considers that Member States need to increase their efforts to act both within an EDU and as autonomous regional security providers, and in a complementary role within NATO, where appropriate; notes that, as set out in EUGS, the EU must contribute to: (a) responding to external conflicts and crises; (b) building the capabilities of partners; and (c) protecting the Union and its citizens; welcomes the set of initiatives that are underway to implement EUGS in the field of security and defence, to develop stronger relations between the EU and NATO, and to enable EU Member States to engage in defence research and develop defence capabilities together; is of the opinion that the security and protection of Europe will increasingly depend on both organisations acting within their remits; calls for efforts to improve cooperation in countering hybrid threats, including through the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, and in the exchange of information and intelligence;

    66.  Stresses the importance of cooperation and integration in cyber security, not only between Member States, key partners and NATO, but also between different actors within society;

    CSDP partnerships

    67.  Stresses that partnerships and cooperation with countries that share EU’s values contribute to the effectiveness and the impact of the CSDP; welcomes, in this regard, the contributions of Albania, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zeeland, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States;

    68.  Welcomes the signature of the EU-US Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) of 7 December 2016; calls on the VP/HR to inform Parliament about how this agreement has improved the conditions for, and protection of, CSDP mission staff;

    69.  Invites the VP/HR and the Member States to establish EU military attachés in EU delegations contributing to the implementation of the strategic objectives of the Union;

    70.  Welcomes the proposal of the Commission to review the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) in order to support actions carried out under the Capacity Building in Support of Security and Development (CBSD) initiative, which will enable the EU to fund capacity building and resilience and help strengthen the capabilities of partner countries; encourages the EEAS and the Commission to implement the CBSD initiative without delay, to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of CSDP missions and to provide a more flexible and integrated EU approach that takes advantage of civil-military synergies;

    °

    °  °

    71.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of NATO, the EU agencies in the space, security and defence fields, and the governments and national parliaments of the Member States.

    (1)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0344.

    (2)

    Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0381.

    (3)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0435.

    (4)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0440.

    (5)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0092.

    (6)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0302.

    Read more
  • Report – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy – A8-0350/2017 – Committee on Foreign Affairs

    on the Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy

    (2017/2121(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,

    –  having regard to Articles 21 and 36 of the Treaty on European Union,

    –  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

    –  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management,

    –  having regard to the declaration by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on political accountability,

    –  having regard to the 2016 European External Action Service (EEAS) communication on a Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy and the 2017 Commission and EEAS joint communication on a Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU’s External Action,

    –  having regard to the key principles enshrined in the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, particularly those pertaining to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and the inviolability of borders, being equally respected by all participating states,

    –  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and VP/HR of 12 December 2011 entitled ‘Human rights and democracy at the heart of EU external action – towards a more effective approach’ (COM(2011)0886),

    –  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

    –  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0350/2017),

    Introduction

    1.  Is convinced that no single Member State alone is able to tackle the challenges we face today; emphasises that common EU action is the most effective way to preserve Europe’s interests, uphold its values, engage in a wider world as a united and influential global actor and protect its citizens and Member States from increased threats to their security, including in a global digital sphere; is concerned about the EU’s security architecture, which remains fragile and fragmented in the face of continued and fresh challenges every day and in which a ‘hybrid peace’ has become an unsatisfactory reality; urges the Member States to take action and fulfil the wishes of those European citizens who have repeatedly stressed that EU foreign and security policy based on fundamental values and human rights is one of the most important and most necessary of all EU policies; considers that it is high time that Member States implement Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) tools, instruments and policies to enable the EU to respond to external conflicts and crises, build partners’ capacities and protect the European Union;

    2.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy guided by the values of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and compliance with the UN Charter and international law; considers that, in order to live up to this commitment and to contribute to advancing human rights and democracy in the world, the EU and its Member States need to speak with a united voice and ensure that their message is heard;

    3.  Takes the view that, in order for the EU to succeed in addressing and overcoming the challenges it faces, and in particular security threats, it needs to be an effective, credible and values-based global player, with a capacity for action and effective dialogue with other global players, which implies the EU speaking with one voice, acting together and focusing its resources on strategic priorities;

    4.  Stresses the need for the EU’s external policies to be consistent with each other and with other policies with an external dimension, and to pursue the objectives set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union;

    5.  Believes that the core milestones for the European Union to deliver on the expectations of its citizens are:

    –  coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges within the EU and a common approach in how to address them; taking into account in particular the prevention of radicalisation, which can lead to recruitment by terrorist groups,

    –  consolidation and deepening of the European project and its external action by, inter alia, enhancing the EU’s cooperation and capabilities in the field of its common foreign and security policy, including information warfare,

    –  cooperation between Member States, partners, and international organisations and institutions protecting peace within clearly defined and carefully chosen conditions to strengthen the rules-based, global political and economic order, including the protection of human rights, and working together with partners to play a leading role in reconciliation, peacemaking, peacekeeping and, where needed, peace enforcement;

    Coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges: facing the current political and security environment

    6.  Emphasises that guaranteeing the security of EU citizens and the integrity of the EU’s territory, stabilising the neighbourhood, especially in the Western Balkans with a focus on more visibility of the EU in this region, promoting reforms to preserve a rules-based, cooperative political and economic international order, tackling the root causes of armed conflicts and enhancing policies of conflict prevention, peaceful conflict resolution and dialogue with pluralist democracies committed to the defence of human rights, are the key conditions for the stability of the EU; calls on more active EU public diplomacy and greater visibility for projects implemented by the EU;

    7.  Is of the view that, in an increasingly conflict-ridden and unstable international environment, only a combination of effective multilateralism, joint soft power and credible hard power can be capable of confronting major security challenges, notably the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the violation of the security order in Europe, terrorism, conflicts in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood, proxy wars, hybrid and information warfare, including digital aggression, and energy insecurity; highlights that these challenges also include the refugee crises in its humanitarian dimension, challenging aggressive behaviour by North Korea, the violation of international law by Russia and China’s growing military power, for which only a strong diplomatic response will suffice;

    8.  Is of the opinion that a more effective common foreign and security policy depends primarily on the establishment of common strategic priorities and visions; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, spread largely because of failed or fragile states, and of forced and irregular migration: poverty, the lack of economic opportunities and access to education, social exclusion, armed conflicts, undemocratic and inefficient governance, corruption, climate change, increasing sectarianism, the threat of radicalisation and the spread of extremist ideologies; recalls the action plan adopted at the Valletta Summit calling for a shared responsibility of countries of origin, transit and destination; emphasises the importance of breaking the economic model of smuggler networks;

    9.  Underlines the need to counter autocratic and nepotistic trends, to intensify support for democratic forces and to fight against Islamist terrorism in the Southern neighbourhood and among the neighbours of our neighbours and partners, and to target those groups which seek to encourage EU citizens to fight for their extremist cause; recalls that the Sahel region and other connected geographical areas are priority regions for ensuring the security of the European Union; reiterates the need for concerted diplomatic efforts on the part of the EU, the US and other international partners, to work with players in the region, such as Turkey, the Gulf states and Iran, on the need for a clear position against religious extremism and terrorism, and to establish a common strategy to address this global challenge in line with the commitment undertaken at UN level to uphold international law and universal values; believes that diplomatic efforts should be accompanied by the wide range of other tools and instruments at the EU’s disposal, including those for the improvement of political, social and economic conditions conducive to the establishment and preservation of peace;

    10.  Believes that tackling violent extremism should go hand in hand with upholding universal human rights; stresses that the EU must counter and condemn state sponsors of radicalisation and terrorism, particularly where such support is given to entities listed by the EU as terror organisations; underlines the importance of strengthening cooperation with our partners experienced in combating terrorism;

    11.  Stresses that a sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis can only be achieved under the existing UN-agreed framework and needs to be based on an inclusive, Syrian-led political settlement involving all relevant stakeholders; continues to urge all members of the UN Security Council to honour their responsibilities with regard to the crisis; supports the call of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria on the ceasefire guarantor states to undertake urgent efforts to uphold the ceasefire regime;

    12.  Welcomes the EU strategy on Syria adopted in April 2017, which includes extending sanctions to persons involved in the development and use of chemical weapons; encourages the further extension of sanctions to those responsible for human rights violations; stresses that all those responsible for breaches of international law must be held accountable; reiterates its call for the EU and its Member States to explore with partners the creation of a Syria war crimes tribunal, pending a successful referral to the ICC; stresses the need for the EU to demonstrate full commitment in assisting the reconstruction of Syria after the conflict;

    13.  Calls on all parties involved, within and outside Libya, to support both the Libyan political agreement signed on 17 December 2015 and its resulting Presidential Council, which is the only authority recognised by the international community and the UN; underlines that solving the Libyan crisis is a prerequisite for stability in the Mediterranean; emphasises the importance of the Southern neighbourhood and the need to achieve a euro-Mediterranean space of peace, prosperity, stability and integration; underlines its strong support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with the secure State of Israel; stresses the importance of ensuring coherence of EU policy on situations of occupation or annexation of territory;

    14.  Welcomes the continued successful implementation by all parties of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by the EU3 +3 with Iran; stresses that the continued full implementation of this agreement by all parties is key to global efforts on non-proliferation and conflict resolution in the Middle East; highlights that the JCPOA is a multilateral agreement that was endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution and cannot be changed unilaterally; stresses the security risk posed by Iran’s ballistic missile programme and underlines the need for full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology;

    15.  Notes that the US Treasury Department has officially updated its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) counter-terrorism list to include the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC);

    16.  Expresses its deep concern about the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen; emphasises once again that there can be no military solution to the prolonged conflict in Yemen and supports efforts undertaken by the EU and UN towards achieving the ceasefire and laying the ground for peace negotiations; takes the view that the EU must act to ensure the continued existence of ethnic-religious minorities in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria;

    17.  Condemns the repeated use by Russia of its veto powers on the UN Security Council and considers it to undermine international efforts for peace and conflict resolution in Syria and the European Union’s southern neighbourhood more widely;

    18.  Acknowledges that further efforts should be made to make legal migration and mobility possible, including at bilateral level, by fostering well-managed mobility between and within continents, and by encouraging policies that promote regular channels for migration while fighting illegal networks that profit from vulnerable people; underlines the efforts taken by individual Member States in this regard and considers it essential to strengthen the legal and secure access path to Europe; regrets, in this regard, the lack of a genuine, balanced and credible European migration and asylum policy, as demonstrated by the ongoing crisis in the Mediterranean, and calls on the Council and the Member States to act accordingly;

    19.  Strongly believes that a new approach to the EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbours is needed; believes that supporting those countries that wish to have closer ties with the EU must be a top priority for EU foreign policy; believes that the prolongation of sanctions against individuals and entities in Russia is an inevitable outcome of the failure to implement the Minsk agreements and continues to see such implementation by all sides as the basis for a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine;

    20.  Emphasises that the possibility of more cooperative relations with Russia is contingent on Russia fully abiding by the European security order and international law; insists that the EU should keep open the option of further gradual sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law; reiterates its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and all the other Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognised borders; stresses that Russia’s decision of 21 March 2014 to incorporate Crimea into the Russian Federation remains illegal under international law and deplores the subsequent decision by the Russian authorities to forcefully impose Russian passports on all inhabitants of Crimea; calls on the VP/HR and the Council to play a more active and effective role in solving protracted and frozen conflicts;

    21.  Deplores Russia’s multiple violations of international law and its hybrid warfare; recognises, however, the possibility of reasoned and coherent selective engagement and dialogue with Russia in areas of common interest, in order to ensure accountability and respect for international law; stresses the need to maintain and encourage the possibility of future cooperation on resolving global crises where there is a direct or indirect EU interest or an opportunity to promote EU values;

    22.  Believes that normalised relations are a necessity for both the EU and Russia, and that any future EU-Russia strategy should emphasise reinforced commitment and support for the EU’s Eastern Partners; stresses that the EU should keep the door open for deepening the bilateral political and economic relationship with Russia, subject to Russia complying with international law and subscribed agreements, and halting its increasingly assertive attitude towards its neighbours and Europe;

    23.  Reiterates that sovereignty, independence and the peaceful settlement of disputes are key principles of the European security order which apply to all states; condemns unreservedly, therefore, Russian aggression in Ukraine, including the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian-sponsored conflict in Eastern Ukraine; calls on the EU, its Member States and the international community to demand that Russia must halt its aggression and release all political prisoners; calls for the international community to play a more active and effective role in the resolution of the conflict and to support all efforts for a lasting peaceful solution which respects the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in particular by the deployment – with the consent of the Ukrainian authorities – of a peace-building and peace-keeping mission to the whole territory;

    24.  Reiterates the need for a strategic refocus on the Western Balkans, recognising that the EU should follow through with its ambitions in the region, as doing so would give a fresh impetus to a credible EU enlargement policy based on the Copenhagen criteria, and strengthen the rule of law and the resilience of state institutions; believes that the stability of the Western Balkans must continue to be a major priority; calls for more efforts in improving the socio-economic and political conditions of the region; is convinced that European integration and regional reconciliation are the best means to address the dangers stemming from destabilising foreign interference and influences, the funding of large Salafist and Wahhabi networks and the recruitment of foreign fighters, organised crime, major state disputes, disinformation and hybrid threats; stresses the need to remain dedicated to fostering highly effective political societies in the region;

    25.  Reiterates that once all those criteria have been met, the doors of the EU are open for membership; welcomes recent efforts undertaken as part of the Berlin Process and Trieste Summit to give additional impetus to the convergence of Western Balkan countries towards EU membership; reiterates that special attention and support should be given to the implementation of crucial institutional and political reforms in the Western Balkans and calls on the Commission to rethink the possibility for additional allocation of financial resources for the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), as one of the most important tools for aiding the implementation of those reforms;

    26.  Recalls that the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) calls for the involvement of neighbouring third countries; calls for stronger support for the neighbours of our neighbours, on the basis of shared values and interests, in order to tackle global issues and address common challenges; highlights the need to promote the empowerment and protection of women, vulnerable social groups and minorities, in particular in Africa, where close cooperation between European and local SMEs, in partnership with civil society, and where support for building democratic, transparent and effective institutions and the promotion of a rule-based global order, are needed;

    27.  Considers international cooperation and development policies to be fundamental instruments for achieving such objectives and urges a more transparent, improved, efficient and effective allocation and use of EU funding, and greater synergies with other international organisations; emphasises the need to address the major security threats in Africa with a view to eradicating the terrorist threat posed by any terrorist group, to guarantee the prevention of the recruitment of individuals, to combat radical ideologies and to address energy security by means of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources while at the same time promoting off-grid solutions;

    28.  Strongly condemns any attempt by incumbent presidents to overstay in power by violating, evading or unlawfully amending electoral laws, and constitutions in particular; condemns, by the same token, any strategy to abolish or circumvent term limits; urges all governments to take measures to ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process, and to take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud or any illegal practices; expresses its concern, in this regard, about the political crises, and related violence and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular in countries in the Great Lakes Region; reiterates its belief in strong electoral observation missions, and, where necessary, financial, technical and logistical support as a means of achieving fair, credible and democratic electoral processes;

    29.  Encourages the development of a coherent, robust strategy for the Sahel region aimed at improving governance and the accountability and legitimacy of state and regional institutions, at boosting security, at tackling radicalisation and the trafficking of people, arms and drugs, and at strengthening economic and development policies;

    30.  Reiterates the need for an updated strategy for EU-Asia relations; voices support in this context for stronger cooperation within the framework of the Asia-Europe Meetings, including in terms of its parliamentary dimension; encourages support for closer regional cooperation and trust-building measures in South Asia with a view to reducing tensions between India and Pakistan; recommends continued support for EU peace mediation in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process; stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; considers it vital and of great urgency to develop an updated EU strategy for the North-East Asia region in the light of the continued military build-up and the aggressive and irresponsible attitude shown by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK); condemns the tests and provocations by the DPRK, and its multiple violations of UN Security Council resolutions and international obligations; urges the EU’s diplomatic power to be used to apply pressure on the DPRK to persuade its leaders to abandon weapons of mass destruction; calls for the mobilisation of all diplomatic tools, including sanctions, in order to prevent an escalation of this crisis; calls for the irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means and for the full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions;

    31.  Stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; calls on all the parties concerned to resolve differences through peaceful means and to refrain from taking unilateral action to change the status quo, including in the East and South China Seas and the Taiwan Strait, in order to safeguard regional security; reiterates its commitment to supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations and activities;

    32.  Recalls that Latin America shares with the EU common values, principles and trust in effective multilateralism and believes that the EU-Latin American partnership is important and should be strengthened in order to jointly address major global challenges; expresses its grave concern about the attacks carried out against members of the judiciary and the democratically elected opposition and civil society leaders in Venezuela; emphasises that respect for the rule of law, the fight against corruption, progress towards democracy, and fundamental freedoms and human rights are cornerstones for deeper integration and cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC);

    33.  Reiterates its support for the peace process in Colombia, which is critical for the future of Colombians and for stabilisation in the region; demands that all FARC assets, including the treasure obtained from drug smuggling, be used to indemnify victims of the conflict;

    Consolidation and deepening of the European project through enhanced EU capabilities

    34.  Urges the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to adopt an EU comprehensive approach at every relevant opportunity, and believes that coherent, coordinated action across EU polices, while taking into consideration and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in the areas of humanitarian aid, agriculture, development, trade, energy, climate, science and cyber defence and security, should be applied in the EU’s external action in a consistent and structured manner in order to harness the EU’s collective force; believes that energy security, the respect for human rights and climate diplomacy remain important complementary aspects of the EU’s common foreign and security policy to be addressed as part of the comprehensive approach, and that the Energy Union should be further advanced;

    35.  Recognises that climate change could have a serious effect on regional and global stability, as global warming disputes over territory, food, water and other resources weaken economies, threaten regional security, and act as a source of migratory flows; further encourages the EU and its Member States to consider how national and EU military planning can include climate change adaption strategies and what would be considered an appropriate capability, priority and response;

    36.  Stresses that the future of European defence cooperation is significantly affected by the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU, and calls for the continued engagement of the EU and UK as major international partners in order to maintain European security; stresses that the presidential elections in the United States introduced uncertainty into the transatlantic partnership and highlights the need for a counterweight for EU defence and the establishment of strategic autonomy;

    37.  Takes the view, that in order to make the Common Foreign and Security policy more assertive, effective and values-based, the EU should enhance its energy security, by immediately reducing its dependence, at present, on oil and gas supplied by authoritarian regimes, and by stopping it altogether in the medium term;

    38.  Stresses that the current decision-making process for the CFSP, based on unanimity in the Council of the EU, is the main obstacle to effective and timely external EU action; is of the opinion that qualified majority voting should also be applied for the CFSP; takes the view that the EU institutions must improve their ability to anticipate conflicts and crises, including by means of short- and long-term impact assessments of its policies, in order to address the root causes of the problems; believes that the EU needs to be able to react more swiftly and effectively to developing crises and should place greater emphasis on preventing conflicts by primarily using civilian tools at an early stage; calls on the Member States to put into practice Parliament’s recommendations to embrace the principle of Responsibility to Protect; stresses the need to deepen cooperation between the Member States, partner countries and international organisations, and underlines the importance of an effective exchange of information and coordination of preventive actions;

    39.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts to increase the EU’s ability to confront hybrid and cyber threats, to further strengthen the capacity of the EU and its partner countries to fight fake news and disinformation, to draw up clear criteria to facilitate the detection of fake news, to allocate more resources and turn the Stratcom task force into a fully-fledged unit within the EEAS; calls, in this regard, for the development of joint, comprehensive risk and vulnerability analysis capacities and methods, and for the EU’s resilience and strategic communication capabilities to be bolstered; stresses the role of independent media – both on- and offline – in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and underlines that common EU TV and radio stations should be further enhanced; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS and Member States on those issues;

    40.  Is of the view that Europe’s power resides in its ability to strengthen a community of values and respect for the diversity of culture that binds together all Europeans; believes, in this context, that the EU plays a major role as a promoter of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, human rights and equal opportunities, and should continue to promote its values outside the EU; recalls that human rights are an integral part of the CFSP and should form a central conditionality of external policies, and furthermore that these policies must be consistent and principled; highlights that cultural diplomacy should become a substantial part of the EU’s external action and urges the Commission to expand the Erasmus+ programme and foster the development of ambitious science diplomacy; calls for closer coordination with ​the ​UNESCO and World Heritage Committee and with non-state actors and civil society organisations as key partners of the EU;

    41.  Points out that it was noted in UN Security Council Resolution 1820(2008) of 19 June 2008 that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide, and that women must be afforded humanitarian protection in situations of armed conflict;

    42.  Considers that the development of a strong defence industry is strengthening the technological independence of the EU; calls for the industrial and technological resources needed to improve cybersecurity to be developed, including through the promotion of a single market for cybersecurity products; calls for significantly increased financial and human resources to be made available within the EU institutions in order to increase the EU’s cyber security and cyber defence capacity; emphasises the need to mainstream cyber defence into external action and common foreign and security policy, as well as the need for an improved ability to identify cybercrime;

    43.  Notes that information and cyber warfare, targeting EU Member States and other Western countries, is a deliberate attempt to destabilise and discredit political, economic and social structures; recalls that the security of EU Member States which are NATO members is guaranteed under Article 5 of the Alliance; calls for closer coordination on cyber defence between EU Member States, EU institutions, NATO, the United States and other credible partners;

    44.  Stresses the role of independent media in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and to further strengthen the EU’s capacity to fight fake news and disinformation; highlights in this context the need to develop stronger resilience at EU level against such information spread over the Internet; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS on those issues;

    45.  Believes that Europe should further strengthen cooperation on common defence, in order to defend its common values and principles and strategic autonomy; stresses the importance of the link between external and internal security, better use of resources and risk control in the periphery of Europe; recalls that the link between development and security is a key principle underpinning the Union’s approach to external crises and conflicts; calls on the Member States to unleash the Lisbon Treaty’s full potential with regard to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and welcomes in this context the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence; encourages a review of the EU’s approach to civilian CSDP missions in order to ensure they are properly devised, implemented and supported; considers that European Defence Agency (EDA) capabilities and permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) and the EU Battlegroups should be used to their full potential; urges the Member States to provide additional funding to that end;

    46.  Believes that the European Union and its Member States must develop effective foreign and security policy, and must work together with NATO and other international partners, the UN, NGOs, human rights defenders, and others on issues of shared concern and in order to promote peace, prosperity and stability around the world; highlights the importance of raising awareness and political commitment for an urgent implementation of an ambitious, effective and structured CSDP; urges the Council, the Commission and the Member States to address the EU’s communication problems by making EU external action more accountable and visible; calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to deliver on defence following the EU Global Strategy and the Commission’s plans to improve EU defence research and capability development;

    47.  Calls on the Commission to fully reflect the growing security challenges in its proposal for the next multiannual financial framework (MFF); considers that both the size and the flexibility of the CFSP budget must match EU citizens’ expectations about the EU’s role as a security provider; insists on the need for a global vision for EU policy and instruments in the field of security, including fruitful coordination with the proposed European Defence Fund; calls on the Member States to aim for the target of spending 2 % of GDP on defence, and to spend 20 % of their defence budgets on equipment identified as necessary by the EDA; points out, in addition, that any new policy must be backed by funding from new sources; notes that various Member States have difficulty in maintaining a very broad range of fully operational defensive capabilities, mostly because of financial constraints; calls for more cooperation and coordination, therefore, about which capabilities should be maintained, so that Member States can specialise in certain capabilities and spend their resources more efficiently; believes that interoperability is key if Member States’ forces are to be more compatible and integrated; recalls that CFSP appropriations represented 3.6 % of the Heading 4 commitments in 2016 and 0.2 % of the whole EU budget; regrets that the size and under-implementation of and systematic transfers from the CFSP chapter reveal a persistent lack of ambition for the EU to act as a global player;

    48.  Notes that deadlocks within the UN Security Council are impeding action by the international community and preventing crisis resolution; calls once again on the Member States to support reforms in the composition and functioning of the Security Council;

    Cooperation within coalitions and with institutions delivering security

    49.  Underlines that it is in the EU’s strategic interest to preserve and deepen its transatlantic relations based on respect for common values, international law and multilateralism; calls for the EU to continue to develop its strategic autonomy and create its own capabilities to better address regional and international conflicts that have an impact on the EU; believes that the EU and US should focus on adapting transatlantic structures to today’s challenges, such as defending human rights, tackling climate change, combating international terrorism and corruption, the prevention of radicalisation, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and countering third-party countries’ efforts to destabilise the EU and NATO; further stresses the importance of continued and reinforced cooperation between the EU and US bilaterally and through NATO on common issues; recalls that the EU and the US are each other’s most important partners and that unilateral moves serve only to weaken the transatlantic partnership; believes that Europe must further enhance a virtuous alliance between the private and public sectors and should reinforce the strategic relationship with the US; calls on the Council and the EEAS to consistently raise the issue of US extraterritorial sanctions in their dialogue with the US Government;

    50.  Strongly supports the 2016 Warsaw Summit Declaration, particularly on EU-NATO cooperation, and welcomes decisions on closer cooperation between NATO and the EU in numerous areas as well as the placement of US, Canadian and other multinational forces at the Eastern flank of the EU;

    51.  Calls for increased intelligence sharing between Member States, increased interinstitutional intelligence sharing, and coordination between the EU, Member States and NATO, and insists that they must continue to cooperate as closely as possible in a complementary manner while fully respecting European core values and norms; acknowledges that information sharing and coordinated action between the EU, its Member States and NATO will produce results in areas such as terrorism response to hybrid threats, situational awareness, resilience building, strategic communications, cyber security and capacity-building vis-à-vis the EU’s partners; believes that further coordination and closer cooperation with other existing multilateral entities such as Eurocorps is needed in order to increase the EU’s security; reiterates that a revitalisation of the strategic partnerships should be a priority for the EU;

    52.  Underlines the role of Parliament in shaping a genuinely common foreign policy in line with the expectations of European citizens; calls on the Council to act in concert with Parliament during the main phases of foreign policy decision-making;

    53.  Acknowledges the work of the VP/HR and calls for her to continue to ensure that future annual reports will be more concise and forward-looking, focusing on the most important priorities for the year ahead and an evaluation of the measures launched in the previous year, including their financial implications, in order to provide a comprehensive overview on the EU’s performance;

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    54.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Member States.

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  • Opening speech High-Level Conference on Africa – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament : ‘A new partnership between the European Union and Africa’

    (check against delivery)

    It is a real pleasure to see this Chamber full to the rafters to discuss the major issue of our partnership with our African friends.

    The African Union-European Union Summit will take place in exactly one week’s time in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

    I will straightaway say that that Summit must be different from the others, and must yield tangible results and a clear and precise roadmap.

    We are privileged to have the President of the Central African Republic and many other African leaders with us here today. 

    This clearly shows that the European Parliament wishes to establish a direct high-level dialogue with the leaders of African countries.

    I have always said that we must look at Africa through African eyes, and this calls for frank and direct peer-to-peer dialogue.

    We have launched that dialogue by inviting the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the President of Côte d’Ivoire to address the plenary.

    We will continue in the same vein.

    The European Parliament has decided to organise an ‘Africa week’ of parliamentary activities. Today’s conference is part of that initiative, which seeks to restore Africa to the heart of the political agenda, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleages in the European Parliament for the firm commitment they have shown to Africa.

    For many years, the Union failed to give Africa the attention it deserves. Often we looked the other way, heedless of the emergencies – humanitarian or linked to climate, security or stability – which Africans have to deal with every day. We failed to recognise that we have an overriding strategic interest in what happens in Africa.

    Europe’s approach was a piecemeal one, with individual countries falling over one another in pursuit of their own interests and agendas. The result was a road paved with good intentions, but there were many missed opportunities and few successes along the way. We failed to exert any real political and economic influence on the future of Africa.

    Globalisation and migration have shown that building walls or putting up barriers is not the solution. Africa’s problems are Europe’s problems too.

    It is time to put our relations on a new footing, before it’s too late. Our links go beyond mere geographical proximity. We have common interests and face common challenges.

    By 2050, the population of Africa will double, to more than 2.5 billion. This population explosion may be a problem, but it may also be an opportunity.

    Desertification, famine, pandemics, terrorism, unemployment and bad governance are exacerbating instability and contributing to uncontrolled immigration.

    Without determined action to tackle these phenomena, new generations will continue to set out for Europe in search of hope and a future. They may be attracted by images on television or on the internet depicting what seems to them to be a land of milk and honey. We urgently need to offer them real prospects in their home countries, so that they stay and help to revitalise them.

    Guaranteeing security and managing migration

    Our citizens want a stronger Union, capable of managing migration and guaranteeing security. They are calling on us to defend our values, by welcoming refugees and protecting the dignity of individuals at all times. But they also want us to be just as resolute in turning away those who have no right to enter Europe.

    We are no longer prepared to stand idly by while migration continues unchecked, while thousands die in the desert or at sea, while human traffickers go about their business, or while men and women who in the 21st century cannot feed their children or get medicines for them when they are sick give up all hope.

    As a first step, we need to strengthen border controls and manage asylum applications and procedures for rejecting applications and readmitting migrants more effectively.

    Shutting down the central Mediterranean corridors, promoting stability and combating terrorism will require investments by the Union on a similar scale to those made to halt migration via the Balkan route. This money has to be spent in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad or Mali.

    I should like to thank the ministers of the government of Mali, a country in the front line of the fight against terror in the Sahel. The ‘G5 Sahel’ Group is an excellent example of regional cooperation which the Union must help to strengthen.

    This money must be used to improve the training given to our border guards and our security forces. It can be used to set up reception centres under the auspices of the UN, where humanitarian protection, food, medicines and childcare are provided; and where asylum applications are dealt with promptly.

    Bringing huge resources to bear at our internal borders will achieve nothing. All suggestions that it will are nothing more than propaganda. Rather, what is needed is adequate funding for Frontex and the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which must be given more staff and resources.

    The European satellite systems – Galileo and Copernicus – and new security technologies to be developed jointly must be used for this purpose as well.

    We must also harmonise conditions governing the granting of asylum and readmission procedures, which must be quick and effective.

    At the last part-session in Strasbourg, Parliament adopted by a large majority the mandate for a thoroughgoing overhaul of the Dublin Regulation, to make it fairer, more genuinely solidarity-based and more effective. Now it is up to the Council to act.

    The challenges facing Africa

    But all this is not enough. We need to address the problem at its roots. Unless we can offer them real prospects of well-being and stability, it will no longer be tens of thousands but millions of people who choose to leave their home countries behind. The UN estimates that, even in the short term, more than half a million people every year will seek a better future in Europe.

    Supporting Africa is not only a duty. It is clearly also in our shared economic and political interest.

    Many African countries are already showing that their continent offers genuine opportunities: in 2016, five African economies were among the top ten in the world in terms of growth, with rates of more than 7%.

    Africa has critical raw materials essential for our industries: 64% of the world’s cobalt, without which batteries for electric cars cannot be made, comes from Congo; tantalum, which is used in solar panels, comes from Rwanda; platinum, which is used to limit harmful emissions from cars, comes from South Africa.

    These raw materials are also of interest to our competitors, starting with China, which is seeking to establish a dominant position in order to boost its own industries.

    There is also a problem of environmental sustainability. In the context of the Raw Materials Partnership, which I promoted when I was Industry Commissioner in 2012, cooperation developed between EU and African geological surveys which has led to innovation and greater awareness of the need to protect the environment.

    There are many other good examples of our work with Africa. To start with, there is the integration of markets, under the Lomé Conventions and the current Cotonou Agreement. These agreements have granted free access to the European market for 99.5 % of African products.

    Discussions on the post-Cotonou settlement are continuing. I should like to thank Parliament’s rapporteurs for their contribution.

    Despite these efforts and the tens of billions that have been invested, there is still a long way to go if we are to guarantee decent living conditions and greater security for people in Africa.

    Many parts of Africa are affected by conflicts, instability, terrorism, bad governance – just think about what is currently happening in Zimbabwe, in the Horn of Africa or in the Central African Republic.

    According to World Bank figures, the GDP of all the African countries put together is barely higher than that of France.

    Despite disastrous levels of child mortality – 38% of all the newborns who died in 2015 were African – the continent has the world’s fastest growing population.

    We are far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN with a view to reducing poverty: one-third of Africans live below the poverty line; one-sixth of them need humanitarian aid to survive; in rural areas, 60% of people have less than one euro a day to live on.

    Farming and raw materials, including energy, are the main sources of revenue, whilst the level of industrialisation is extremely low.

    Last Monday was Africa Industrialisation Day, which provided an opportunity to emphasise once again that developing a manufacturing base is fundamental to growth and employment.

    Only 15% of Africans have the internet at home. Barely one person in three has electricity.

    Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest illiteracy rates: one child in every five does not go to school, and almost 60% of young people are not undergoing training of any kind.

    Is it any surprise, therefore, that young Africans should believe that they have nothing to lose; that they should decide to risk their lives to come to Europe; or that they should be seduced by people who preach violence in God’s name.

    Many problems could be solved by means of greater investment in education, infrastructure, industry and modern farming techniques. Africa, however, is the continent which attracts by far the lowest volume of foreign investment: barely more than EUR 80 billion a year, only 3% of African GDP. China is the country whose investments are increasing the most in proportional terms.

    Africa’s destiny must be put back in the hands of Africans. But Europe must play its part as well.

    We must work together with Africa, as equals, and make available the fruits of our leadership in the areas of technology, quality, industrial know-how and training.

    Ten years have passed since the EU-Africa strategy was adopted. In that time many hopes have been dashed. Europe has lacked the courage to develop truly effective instruments.

    Instead of consolidating our position as Africa’s main partner, we are losing ground. Not only China but other emerging investors as well, such as Turkey, India and Singapore, are gaining in influence.

    A Marshall Plan for Africa

    The fifth African Union-European Union Summit, which will be held on 29 and 30 November in Abidjan and bring together more than 80 heads of state, comes at a crucial time.

    We must send out a clear signal that we are determined to relaunch and strengthen our partnership, and speak with a single, strong voice.

    The focus of all our efforts must be young people: they hold the key to a more stable, prosperous and modern Africa.

    The EUR 3.4 billion investment plan for Africa is an important step in the right direction. But it is nowhere near enough.

    We must support the efforts Africans themselves are making to establish a sustainable manufacturing base and develop efficient farming, renewable energy sources and proper water, energy, mobility, logistical and digital infrastructure, by drawing up a real ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa. By doing so we will strengthen governance and the rule of law, step up the fight against corruption and foster the emancipation of women and education.

    We must work to ensure that under the next EU multiannual budget at least EUR 40 billion is earmarked for the investment fund for Africa. The leverage effect and synergies generated with the funding provided by the European Investment Bank could make it possible to mobilise some EUR 500 billion in public and private investment.

    On that basis, we can continue to conduct effective economic diplomacy which promotes the integration of markets, the transfer of technology and industrial know-how, sustainability and training.

    The aim must be to establish an environment conducive to the development of a manufacturing base and entrepreneurship and the creation of SMIs and jobs for young people. For that we also need instruments such as Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, which should be extended to cover Africa.

    At the same time, legal immigrants from Africa can meet the demand for workers in some sectors of the economy in the EU and acquire professional skills which they can then use to create businesses in Europe.

    We also need academic and cultural diplomacy which, by expanding Erasmus+ and stepping up cooperation between universities on research and mobility projects, makes it possible for more Africans to study in Europe.

    Conclusions

    More resources are not in themselves the answer. Already today we are investing EUR 33 billion from the EU budget alone, not counting the bilateral aid provided by individual Member States.

    If our taxpayers’ generosity has failed to produce the hoped-for results, we must ask ourselves whether the current development cooperation model is the right one.

    Carrying on as we have always done would be a serious mistake. Our citizens are calling for a political Europe which is capable of making brave choices. Starting with the budget; more of the same is not acceptable, and the budget must reflect the priorities of the peoples of Europe,

    The proposed sum of EUR 40 billion – 12 times more than the current budget for the Investment Plan – is needed to generate an impact commensurate with our objectives. This is a critical mass large enough to attract European private and public investment. 

    It is not a Utopian idea. If the political will is there, resources can be found, partly by using the funds already earmarked for Africa more effectively, partly by providing guarantees under the EU budget, and partly by identifying new sources of funding.

    It is for just that reason that I have proposed an increase in the next budget. Making new resources available must not serve to impose a burden on citizens or SMIs. Instead, we must use new own resources for this purpose, by collecting taxes from those who currently don’t pay them and reducing taxes on those who do pay them.

    I am thinking of tax havens, the internet giants and speculative financial transactions of all kinds.

    Today, the European Parliament is committing itself to playing a central role in a new Partnership with Africa. Our debate, involving young people, political leaders, experts and investors from Europe and Africa, must serve as preparation for the new start we will make in Abidjan.

    This conference must be more than a formal event at which we read out speeches – rather, we must take the opportunity it offers to relaunch our partnership.

    If our partnership really is a priority, then we must meet more regularly – every two years.

    Follow-up meetings should be held at multiple levels on a regular basis, including between the representatives of civil society, business and commerce and the young.

    Abidjan must mark a new beginning in our relations.

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  • Nuclear Energy Could Hold Key to Sustainable Development Gains, Delegates Tell General Assembly, as it Considers international Atomic Energy Agency Report

    Nuclear energy could help countries to achieve sustainable development, Member States said today, with many also expressing concern about recent nuclear testing activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the General Assembly took up the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Adopting the resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6) — transmitted in a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/72/221) and introduced by the representative of Indonesia — the 193‑member Assembly took note of several resolutions recently approved by the Vienna‑based IAEA.  Those texts were aimed at strengthening international cooperation in areas including nuclear science, technology and nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety.

    The Assembly also took note of several IAEA resolutions on the application of nuclear safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Middle East, while reaffirming its strong support for the Agency’s activities.  In addition, it welcomed a resolution on the approval of the appointment of Yukiya Amano as Director General of the Agency from 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2021.

    Many delegates, including those from India and the Russian Federation, commended IAEA for assisting developing countries in related development programmes.  China’s representative said that with the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.

    Echoing that view, Ecuador’s delegate said nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  For its part, Ecuador had enjoyed invaluable IAEA support and critical supplies and equipment following the 2016 earthquake.

    Briefing the Assembly, Mr. Amano said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    Meanwhile, IAEA was also committed to other efforts, he said, including verifying and monitoring implementation by Iran of its nuclear‑related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he said, noting Iran’s compliance with all related measures.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had been launched in 2015.

    On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said nuclear tests in September were “extremely regrettable” and called on the country to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency.  While IAEA inspectors had been required to leave the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the country’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political developments made it possible.

    In the ensuing discussion, several delegates echoed Mr. Amano’s concerns, with the representative of the Republic of Korea strongly condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless” nuclear tests.  Far from revealing any signs that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the Agency’s report had indicated troubling activities at several sites.  “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes,” he said.  Until the Agency could resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community.

    Similarly, Japan’s representative said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security.  The international community must never succumb to a nuclear threat by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nor accept it as a nuclear‑armed State.

    The representative Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the Agency’s report was a “seriously distorted picture of the reality”.  The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula was the product of the United States’ hostile policy and nuclear threat against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first,” he said.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre‑emptive nuclear attack against his country.  Pyongyang had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and would not put them on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated.

    Delegates, including the representative of Brazil, also highlighted the benefits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  Australia’s representative said it was “the best option”.

    Iran’s delegate said his country’s compliance with all obligations had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Iran would remain fully committed to the Plan of Action “inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments”.

    The representative of the European Union said the Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its commitments under that agreement.  The European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place, he said, calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Before adjourning the meeting, the Assembly postponed the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences, which had been originally scheduled for Friday, 17 November, to a later date to be announced.

    Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia, Monaco, Belarus, Jamaica, Libya, Malaysia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Ukraine, Cuba, Algeria, Iraq, El Salvador, Paraguay, Argentina, Bangladesh, South Africa and the Philippines.

    The representatives of Lithuania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Belarus, Republic of Korea and Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 November, to take up sport for development and peace and other matters.

    Briefing by International Atomic Energy Agency Head

    YUKIYA AMANO, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  The Agency’s technical cooperation programme, which was central to delivery of its “Atoms for Peace and Development” mandate, had improved the health and prosperity of millions of people and delivered huge benefits to entire communities.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    The modernization of IAEA nuclear applications laboratories near Vienna continued to produce excellent results, he noted, emphasizing that those eight laboratories provided assistance to more than 150 countries in areas such as food and agriculture and health.  The new Inspect Pest Control Laboratory aimed to help countries to use nuclear techniques to better control pests such as mosquitoes and fruit flies.  Turning to the kind of energy used worldwide, he said that by 2050, if climate change goals set under the Paris Agreement were to be met, approximately 80 per cent of electricity would need to be low-carbon.  Increased use of nuclear power, as well as renewables, would help countries to achieve their climate change goals.  On nuclear verification, he said that the number of States with Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements in force stood at 182 and encouraged all countries to implement the Additional Protocol.

    IAEA continued to verify and monitor implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said, noting that Iran was complying.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he added.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites, and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than it was before the action plan was established in 2015.  The Agency continued to verify the non-diversion of nuclear materials declared by Iran under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements.  Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continued.

    Expressing serious concern about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the country’s nuclear tests in September, its sixth and largest to date, were “extremely regrettable”.  “I call upon Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency,” he stressed. While IAEA inspectors were required to leave the country in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open-source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political development made it possible.

    Underscoring the importance of safety and security in the use of nuclear technology, he said lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011 had now been incorporated into all IAEA nuclear safety requirements.  Safety must always come first and the safety culture must continue to be strengthened, he underscored, noting that the Agency’s Board of Governors adopted the Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2012 by consensus in September.  IAEA continued to expand its assistance to enable countries to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way.

    Sound management of limited resources was essential if the Agency was to meet the growing needs of Member States, he noted, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between real needs and the reality that Member States faced financial constraints.  He also emphasized the need to take the issue of gender parity at the Agency very seriously.  “We have significantly increased the proportion of women in the Professional and higher categories,” he added, noting that it now stood at 29 per cent.  “But we can and must do better.”

    Introduction of Draft Resolution

    INA H. KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), introducing the draft resolution titled, “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6), said the Agency continued to play a vital role in fostering international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology as well as nuclear safety and security.  Noting that it also provided technical assistance and necessary support to Member States in their pursuits in those areas, she urged the Agency’s Secretariat to pursue its work programme in a balanced manner to meet the needs of States and ensure that the benefits of nuclear science and technology for socioeconomic development were spread effectively.

    Noting that 13 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related directly to IAEA areas of competence — including those concerning food, fuel, agriculture, nuclear technology, power generation and health — she went on to underline the Agency’s critical role in nuclear safety and security.  However, the responsibility for nuclear security within a State “rests entirely with that State”, and nuclear security should not be a condition or a prerequisite for technical cooperation projects.  The draft resolution before the Assembly today had been approved by consensus following consultations held in both Vienna and New York.  As in previous years, it took note of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Agency’s General Conference.  It also appealed to Member States to continue their support for the Agency’s activities.

    Statements

    GUILLAUME DABOUIS, European Union, reiterated the bloc’s support for the full, complete and effective implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime as well as the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  Also expressing support for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East, he underlined the Security Council’s primary responsibility in cases of non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal” and endorsed by the Council in its resolution 2231 (2015), represented a key and functioning pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture that was even more important in the context of current acute nuclear threats.  The Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its nuclear-related commitments under that agreement, he said, stressing that the European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place and calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Strongly condemning the latest nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, along with all its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile activities, he urged that country to reverse course, immediately cease those actions and abandon its nuclear weapons programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  Underlining IAEA’s critical role in verifying Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, he also urged the Syrian regime to cooperate with the Agency promptly and transparently to resolve all outstanding issues.  Calling for the universalization of Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements together with their Additional Protocols, he said nuclear safety remained a key priority for the European Union.  Through the framework of its strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the bloc was activity supporting relevant Security Council resolutions and other agreements including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.  Voicing support for IAEA’s central role in the global nuclear security framework, he called on the Agency’s Member States to ensure reliable and sustainable resources for it work in preventing nuclear terrorism and the misuse of nuclear and radioactive material.

    ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) commended the Agency for its contributions in helping countries implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  On the environment, she said that IAEA evaluations could help prevent land degradation and help restore soil.  Noting myriad programmes Monaco had implemented in collaborating with the Agency, she emphasized one focusing on the training of 400 scientists and another that helped improve food security by detecting and combating animal disease.  She further commended the Agency’s work in increasing access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.  Scientific research with the support of the Agency could lead to policies that combat climate change, she added.  Acidification of the oceans was another area where IAEA and Monaco had deployed joint efforts.  Moreover, the Agency’s environment laboratories in partnership with Monaco had continued to focus efforts on addressing ocean acidification.

    TATYANA FEDOROVICH (Belarus) said that the Agency had managed to achieve substantial progress in facilitating the safe use of nuclear technology, welcoming its efforts to continue to focus on developing that sector in a safe and secure manner.  “Belarus has also opted for nuclear energy,” she said, expressing support for the Agency’s work in nuclear security “from planning to decommissioning”.  She recalled that Belarus had suffered greatly from the Chernobyl disaster and would continue to work with IAEA in all relevant areas to improve safety and security standards.  She emphasized the Agency’s role in helping States to achieve sustainable development particularly in the areas of energy, medicine and agriculture.  With the Agency’s help, Belarus had been able to increase the effectiveness of nuclear training and make significant progress in medicine.

    DIEDRE MILLS (Jamaica), stressing the importance of the Agency’s work, said her country had benefitted from a range of technical and other assistance that had been instrumental in several key priority areas like education, health and research, including the programme of action for cancer therapy.  The Agency’s work in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear technology and applying a safeguards regime for verification, safety and security remained critical.  She encouraged States to accede to legally binding international conventions and commit to working towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The adoption in July 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a significant milestone achievement towards de-legitimizing nuclear weapons.

    ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), voicing support for IAEA work in pursuing global nuclear disarmament as well as nuclear safety, recalled that his country had voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons programme in 2002 and acceded to the Agency’s safeguards.  Voicing concern about the continued use or threat of use of such weapons by some States — which continued to maintain or even update their nuclear stockpiles — he said the Agency’s role should not be limited to reviewing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy but should also help to verify the reduction and ultimate destruction of the nuclear arsenals of nuclear weapons States.  Indeed, the equitable application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty would mean total nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and a fair distribution of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Strengthening the Agency’s safeguards regime should never adversely affect the technical cooperation and assistance provided to States, he stressed, voicing concern over the policy pursued by some States to impose restrictions on technology transfer and assistance to others, which constituted a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Among other things, he also expressed support for Security Council resolutions calling for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which was still challenged by Israel’s refusal to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or to subject its nuclear facilities to the Agency’s inspections.

    DELFINA JANE DRIS (Malaysia) said that collaboration between her country and the Agency had been fruitful in several areas related to nuclear security and that her Government appreciated the Agency’s support in strengthening national detection capabilities in combating nuclear terrorism as demonstrated at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur.  Malaysia enjoyed on-going cooperation with the Agency in radiation protection and safety, research reactor safety, radiological emergency response, environmental monitoring and radioactive waste management.  The Peaceful Uses Initiative was a very important vehicle to support the Agency’s activities related to the peaceful applications of science and technology, she said, adding that research and development played a critical role in realizing the long-term goals of nuclear science and technology for the collective benefit of Member States and the Agency.

    GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) underscored the importance of the inalienable right of any State to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  That included the inherent right of each State to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  He emphasized that the primary responsibility of the Agency was to assist Member States in researching and practically applying nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Iran stressed the need for IAEA to meet the expectations of developing countries.  As the authority responsible for the verification of the fulfilment of nuclear safeguards, the Agency must carry out its functions in full conformity with relevant legally-binding instruments, taking into account the concerns and interests of Member States.

    Iran remained determined to exercise its inalienable right to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he stressed.  Iran’s compliance with all obligations under its Safeguards Agreement had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Likewise, any unilateral claim to extend the duration of Iran’s voluntary confidence-building measures ran counter to the Plan and more importantly, was in clear contradiction with the inalienable rights of States under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “Iran had been and will remain fully committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments,” he said.

    HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 3 September had conducted its sixth nuclear test on the heels of two nuclear tests in 2016 and several ballistic missile launches, including two with intercontinental range, in clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  His Government strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless and irresponsible nuclear test”.  Far from revealing any signs that it was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the IAEA Director General’s report indicated troubling nuclear activities at the Yongbyon site and Pyongsan Mine and Concentration Plant.  “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous negative response to the international community’s diplomatic efforts underlines the need to reiterate a strong and unified message that the path to peace, stability and prosperity hinges on its willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue and honour its denuclearization commitments,” he said.  It was essential that all Member States made clear to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it would face serious consequences unless it faithfully implemented all relevant Security Council resolutions.

    “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes in a complete, verifiable and irrelevant manner, and to refrain from any further provocative and destabilizing acts,” he said.  The Republic of Korea appreciated recent efforts of IAEA to enhance its readiness to verify that country’s nuclear programme.  Until the Agency was able to resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community with a view to a peaceful resolution.  Noting that the Republic of Korea contributed to the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund, he stressed the need for sufficient funding in order to maximize the contribution of the Agency’s technical cooperation programmes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    GOH YAN KIM (Singapore), reaffirming full support for the IAEA Director General’s work, noted that his country joined the Agency 50 years ago shortly after gaining independence and had developed a strong partnership with it.  The country was now paying back the assistance from which it had benefitted in such areas as public health and radiation protection by providing technical assistance to fellow developing countries and serving on the Board of Governors, he said, describing other formal arrangements with the Agency and Singapore’s support to ASEAN regional initiatives.  Supporting IAEA’s central role in ensuring a strong and sustainable global nuclear safety and security framework, he welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Nuclear Security and the most recent review meeting on the Convention of Nuclear Safety.  Affirming that cyberattacks on nuclear installations presented real risks, he supported the Agency’s work in developing guidelines and training programmes for cyber resiliency.  He looked forward to his country’s further strong relationship with IAEA in the years to come.

    SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India) said nuclear power was an important energy source to meet increased demand and address volatile fuel prices and climate change concerns.  He took note of the Agency’s efforts on the role of nuclear power in meeting the “climate-energy challenge” and mitigating against greenhouse gas emissions.  Moreover, his delegation attached great importance to the Agency’s work in different fields of nuclear science.  In that connection, the Agency’s achievement in food and agriculture, human health, water resources management and the protection of the environment were helpful in meeting the needs of developing countries.  He went on to welcome the role of the Agency in nuclear security and encouraged all Member States that had not yet done so to ratify the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

    WU HAITAO (China) voiced support for IAEA and the effective fulfilment of its mandates, including by strengthening nuclear safety and security and working towards global nuclear non-proliferation.  With the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.  However, the risks posed by nuclear proliferation remained severe, and nuclear security threats were increasing.  In that context, he said the Agency should focus on several critical areas, including enhancing the universality and fairness of its safeguard system based on the principles of impartiality, fairness and in consultation with Member States; establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East; promoting technical support and assistance to developing countries in support of their peaceful uses of nuclear energy; strengthening nuclear safety and security; following and assessing the handling of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station incident; and addressing regional hotspot issues.  Expressing support for the Agency’s work with regards to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said it should also play its due role in monitoring the nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    SAOD RASHID AL MAZROUI (United Arab Emirates), spotlighting his country’s close work with IAEA in the area of nuclear safety and its compliance with the standards of nuclear safety and non-proliferation, also commended the Agency for its work in transferring technology and knowledge to support Member States’ development needs.  Those programmes helped contributed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, promoted cooperation through the exchange of best practices and strategic partnerships and provided valuable support in the development of infrastructure and human resources for a safe and successful nuclear programme.

    NIKOLAY LOZINSKIY (Russian Federation) said that IAEA must increase efforts to develop nuclear energy around the world while also improving and strengthening the global non-proliferation regime.  Underscoring the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said the Agency was monitoring all aspects of that agreement’s implementation.  The Director General had earlier that morning mentioned that Iran was implementing all its nuclear commitments.  He welcomed the improvement of control mechanisms, including the adoption of Additional Protocols on safeguards, which must always remain objective and depoliticized.  The Russian Federation was active in IAEA, he said, noting that it was making financial contributions in myriad sectors and working to facilitate the development of nuclear energy in developing countries.  In the Russian Federation, an international uranium enrichment centre was open to all countries wishing to develop nuclear energy in a safe and secure manner.  He added that it was unacceptable to bring the non-proliferation agenda into issues of physical nuclear security.  The Russian Federation had signed relevant documents, he continued, encouraging States that had not yet done so to accede to relevant international instruments.

    ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) commended the impartial and objective manner in which the Agency had been carrying out its verification duties in Iran in accordance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He also recognized the Agency’s efforts in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, a role for which it was uniquely positioned.  He expressed appreciation for the effective cooperation between the Agency and the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, a unique and constructive partnership between multilateral and bilateral verification bodies.  Given its technical capabilities, impartiality and professionalism, he stressed that the Agency could play an important role in nuclear disarmament verification.  As such, he regretted the IAEA Director General’s decision not to send a representative to the negotiating conference of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

    FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador) said that nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  IAEA had provided Ecuador with invaluable support as well as critical supplies and equipment following the country’s 2016 earthquake.  At the regional level, he noted Ecuador’s participation in dozens of relevant projects.  For its part, Ecuador has recently signed a national programme framework on technology and technical cooperation, outlining the country’s needs and priorities.  Seriously concerned about the recent testing of nuclear weapons, he expressed support for the three pillars of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty without discrimination or double standards.  Most States had reiterated their deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear accident or intentional detonation.  “Any use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity,” he underscored, noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty had established the legal basis to eliminate such weapons.  He also commended the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example of what could happen through diplomacy and dialogue.

    BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said that, once again, the world faced a dangerous difficult situation emanating from the threats posed by Israel’s nuclear arsenal.  Meanwhile, other nuclear weapons States were also increasing their threats.  Emphasizing that global nuclear non-proliferation was a key priority for Syria, he recalled that it had acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty early on, long before many of the European Union States that now claimed to be on the vanguard of the global non-proliferation regime.  Many of those nations, along with Turkey, kept nuclear weapons on their territories in violation of the Treaty.  Syria, meanwhile, had long had IAEA safeguard agreements in place.  As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Syria had also drafted a resolution mandating the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, but that text was never taken up as the United States had threatened to veto it.  Such actions revealed the lies behind the claims of Western countries, he said, adding that they had for decades provided Israel with the materials needed to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

    For its part, he said, Israel had spared no effort to attempt to divert attention from its nuclear arsenal.  Recalling Israel’s attack on the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor in 2007, he said Israel continued to refuse to allow IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities.  Such actions damaged the credibility of the global non-proliferation regime, undermining peace in the region, he stressed, pointing out that IAEA had been aware of those events but failed to cover them in its report.  Quoting from a memoire titled “The Age of Deception” — written by former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei — he said the book demonstrated Western countries’ “nuclear hypocrisy” and raised questions about the information the Agency had received from them.  Among other things, it discussed the United States dossier on Iraq’s nuclear programme, which had served as a false pretext for the former’s 2003 invasion of the latter.  In addition, a book recently published by the Stockholm Institute contained an entire chapter on Israel’s nuclear forces, while no such chapter existed on Syria’s nuclear programme.  In light of such sources, he called on IAEA to immediately address Israel’s nuclear weapons programme.

    KORO BESSHO (Japan), recalling that his country had contributed more than $28 million to the Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, pledged to seek ways to further utilize national relevant expertise.  Japan’s efforts included working to enhance nuclear safety, drawing on lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station incident and reforming its regulatory structures.  Turning to concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programme constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security and the global non‑proliferation regime, and operated in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions and other multilateral commitments.  “The international community should never succumb to a nuclear threat of North Korea and accept a nuclear‑armed North Korea,” he said, voicing support for IAEA efforts to resume inspections in that country.  The international community must also remain united in its full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions in order to maximize pressure on Pyongyang.

    VOLODYMYR LESCHENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said the 2016 annual report provided a comprehensive and well‑balanced analysis of major achievements of the Agency’s work and its main priorities in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Drawing attention to the legal framework for IAEA safeguards agreement application in Ukraine, including in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, he said it was based on the comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol, which was in compliance with relevant Assembly resolutions.  The 2016 annual report reaffirmed the vital role the Agency played in meeting today’s challenges.

    ILEIDIS VALIENTE DÍAZ (Cuba), commending the work of IAEA, stressed the need to use nuclear energy to improve living conditions, promote sustainable development and protect the environment.  IAEA had an important role to play in achieving sustainable development and in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Technical cooperation remained particularly essential for Cuba, she added, recognizing the importance of applying nuclear technology in human health, food security and agriculture, and the environment.  She reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to ensuring that all countries could use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  She also emphasized the importance of nuclear physical security, adding that the establishment of relevant measures to strengthen and secure their safety was the responsibility of each State.  She also welcomed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example that dialogue was the best way to solve international disputes.

    JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the report of the Agency presented a “seriously distorted picture of the reality” regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.  The nuclear issue was the product of the United States hostile policy and nuclear threat toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Had it not been for the hostile policy enforced by the United States for more than 70 years against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since the first day of that country’s founding in 1948, the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula would not exist.  For the Korean people who had experienced war imposed on them by the United States, “the powerful war deterrence for national defence was an inevitable strategic option” and would never be bartered for anything.

    He recalled that IAEA, at the instigation of the United States, had brought up suspicions regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s peaceful nuclear facilities in the 1990s.  That had compelled Pyongyang to leave the Agency and withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first, which is the nuclear war criminal and ringleader of the nuclear threat,” he said.  The Korean Peninsula was now on the brink of nuclear war because of the hostile policies of the United States.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He said his country had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and it would not put them or the ballistic missiles on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated first.

    MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), underscoring the importance of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme and welcoming its convening of a meeting in Vienna in 2017, expressed hope that meeting would be organized again at the ministerial level.  Noting that Algeria regularly contributed to the Agency’s regular budget, he called for the allocation of sufficient and predictable resources to the Agency’s efforts to support countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Algeria was integrating and using nuclear techniques in the field of health, especially to combat cancer, and with the help of IAEA it had improved its training facilities and the maintenance of its nuclear equipment.  Voicing support for bolstered cooperation among African States in the areas of nuclear technology and training, he said nuclear safety and security were of paramount importance and underlined IAEA’s critical role in assisting States to develop national frameworks in those areas.  Nevertheless, issues of security and safety must not be used as a condition to restrict the provision of technical cooperation or assistance to States.  Calling for universalization of international instruments on nuclear safety, he expressed support for the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free-zones around the world, and voiced concern over continued impediments to the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.  States had been calling for such a zone since 1995, but no progress had been made, he said.

    MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq) said his country had recently undertaken many positive steps in the field of nuclear energy despite its many challenges in combating Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) forces.  Among other things, it was currently developing the institutions necessary to safeguard sites previously under the control of terrorist groups, some of which still contained radioactive waste.  Iraq had also ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  Underlining the importance of the Agency’s work in providing assistance to developing countries in the field of nuclear technology, and of establishing the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear weapons, he recalled that the United Nations had a “cardinal role” to play in that regard.  The dismantling of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and its accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons State were critical, he stressed, adding that the pursuit of peaceful nuclear programmes by all countries was an inalienable right and remained crucial for the pursuit of sustainable development.  Those rights must therefore not be impeded by the imposition of conditions by other States.

    HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said that today’s draft resolution and the report of IAEA reaffirmed the Agency’s indispensable role.  He called on Member States to continue to support the Agency and welcome decisions adopted at its annual sessions.  Nuclear energy must be used for peaceful purposes.  In that context, it was crucial to avoid the proliferation of nuclear weapons and focus nuclear energy efforts towards sustainably developing agriculture, health, and other essential sectors.  He urged Member States to pool their efforts with IAEA to use nuclear energy to improve the quality of health, ensure food security and reduce and prevent climate change.  Commending IAEA for helping El Salvador strengthen several national sectors, he noted that his country had recently established a national framework plan to align the Agency’s work with its national priorities.

    ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy must be conducted in a transparent manner with IAEA supervision, and called on States to comply with international best practices.  Paraguay’s National Commission for Atomic Energy was researching approaches to peacefully using nuclear energy to help to improve the lives of its citizens.  Reiterating concerns over efforts by some States to improve nuclear weapons and develop new ones, he fully rejected the testing of such weapons.  Highlighting the importance of technical assistance and cooperation provided by the Agency to developing countries, he thanked IAEA for helping to improve nuclear medicine in Paraguay.

    GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), describing her country’s decades‑old nuclear sector that had been backed up by a consistent State policy and international safeguards, said that while IAEA safeguards were essential, they must not impede States from obtaining nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The Quadripartite Safeguards Agreement between Argentina, Brazil, the Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials and IAEA had, since 1991, guided the application of nuclear safeguards and had helped to consolidate the Latin American and Caribbean region as a zone free of such arms.  With regard to physical nuclear security architecture, she welcomed the Agency’s 2016 International Conference on Nuclear Security and upcoming conference on physical nuclear installations and materials.  The Agency must continue to act as a main coordinator for global efforts to help to consolidate efforts involving safety, security and counter‑terrorism strategies.  States should also work to harmonize both binding and non‑binding measures, she said, adding that Argentina had become the first country to commit to designing, locating and building all its new nuclear plants in line with article 1 of the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

    FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh) expressed full confidence in the Agency’s guiding role in coordinating international efforts to strengthen global nuclear security.  Noting that security considerations must not hamper the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he said the Agency’s work maintained and improved emergency preparedness and response mechanisms worldwide.  Welcoming IAEA activities to improve nuclear infrastructure development, he underscored the importance of building regulatory and management functions to improve the safety of such projects.  Nuclear energy was safe, environmentally friendly and an economical source of electricity, he said.  IAEA was his country’s main partner for the promotion of safe and secure applications of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, he said, adding that Bangladesh was actively engaging with the Agency’s technical cooperation programme and regional cooperation agreements.

    MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa) said IAEA had a pivotal role to play in global efforts to promote international peace, security and development.  The Agency’s nuclear applications in areas like agriculture, food security, human health, water resource management, nuclear technology and animal health had contributed to socioeconomic progress in developing countries, assisting them in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  South Africa had immensely benefitted from the Agency’s scientific and technological support, especially in strengthening the clinical management of oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases.  He also underscored the central role IAEA played in implementing its safeguards verification system, which was essential in verifying nuclear energy programmes.

    DARREN HANSEN (Australia), commending IAEA for its efforts to champion gender equality, provided a snapshot of his country’s efforts.  Australia had ratified the new Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training in Nuclear Science and Technology for the Asia and Pacific Region, constructed a molybdenum processing plant that would help to secure the global supply of life‑saving nuclear medicine, and had planned an integrated regulatory review service mission for 2018.  Australia would also continue to assist States to enhance nuclear security.  Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Australia would not accept illegal development and testing of nuclear weapons, he said, urging the international community to fully implement related Security Council resolutions.  In addition, he expressed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which remained the “best available option” to address Iran’s nuclear programme.

    ARIEL R. PEÑARANDA (Philippines), recalling that IAEA was the sole United Nations body promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, commended the Agency’s Atoms for Peace and Development initiative.  The Philippines strongly supported the Agency’s efforts related to gender equality and balanced geographic representations at all levels, and encouraged it to maintain the balance between the promotional and non‑promotional aspects of its work.  The relevance of IAEA had become all the more pronounced given the increased importance of dealing with nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament issues from a technical and scientific perspective.

    Action

    The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/72/L.6 without a vote.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of Lithuania, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said each country had the right to develop nuclear power as long as all international safety regulations were met.  Newcomer countries must be especially diligent in that regard, she said, warning that manipulative, declarative and selective approaches still existed.  Expressing concern about the new nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, Belarus, near the Lithuanian border, she said the facility was being created without regulation, transparency or consultation with neighbouring countries, and IAEA specialized missions could bring important benefits if they were involved in all stages of such projects.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected reckless statements that had been made by the delegations of the European Union, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Philippines as part of a politicized plot aimed at defaming his country.  Parties on the Korean Peninsula had agreed to an armistice and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had long urged the United States to sign a peace agreement to no avail.  “The nuclear weapons in [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] are a war deterrent,” he said, noting that they had contributed to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula following more than half a century of nuclear blackmail and hostile policies by the United States.  Noting that the United States armed forces remained stationed on the Korean Peninsula while the head of its regime travelled across Asia making reckless, hostile, warlike remarks, he said if that country truly wished to fulfil its responsibilities, it should dismantle its command in the Republic of Korea and fully withdraw its troops.  He reminded Japan’s delegate that Japan had been the victim of the only nuclear attack in human history and that it should address the threats posed by the United States — the world’s largest nuclear war criminal.  In addition, he emphasized that his country’s proper name was “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and not “North Korea”, as Japan’s representative had mistakenly stated.  To the delegate of the Republic of Korea, he said that country was a colony of the United States.  Emphasizing that such a country could never be considered a sovereign State, he called on Seoul to abandon its reliance on foreign Powers.

    The representative of the Russian Federation regretted ongoing speculation regarding infrastructure in Crimea and reiterated that his country’s position on the matter was well known.

    The representative of Belarus said nuclear safety was a priority and her country was cooperating with relevant international mechanisms.  IAEA had assessed its energy infrastructure and concluded that Belarus was committed to the highest possible level of nuclear security.  Claims alleging poor security measures were politically motivated and unjustified, she added, expressing interest in fostering cooperation with all interested parties, including Lithuania.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea, deeply regretting to note the “groundless statements” of his counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said her country would take all measures to protect its people.  Distorting facts would not change the nature of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

    The representative of Japan said the missile development programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was in clear violation of Security Council resolutions.  Pyongyang must refrain from provocations and comply with relevant resolutions.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan was unqualified to discuss issues of nuclear concern, and Tokyo had yet to apologize and provide compensation for its past war crimes.  Japan had forced 200,000 Korean women and girls into sex slavery and committed genocide against the Korean people, with over 1 million killed.  He urged the Republic of Korea to learn from history, adding that nuclear deterrence was guaranteeing the prosperity of the Korean people.

    The representative of Japan said mentioning history was inappropriate at a meeting focused on issues related to the Agency.  Japan had always upheld the principles of the United Nations Charter and championed freedom, democracy and the rule of law.  He again urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with relevant Council resolutions.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea said Seoul remained open to talks with Pyongyang and stressed it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that refused to engage in dialogue.  She urged Pyongyang to do so with a view to promoting the prosperity of all Koreans.

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  • Members Voice Support for Separate, More Transparent Budget Section, as Fourth Committee Considers Funding of Special Political Missions

    Head of Field Support, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Shed Light on Reform Proposals in Dialogue with Delegates

    Amid complex global challenges, the increasing need for dynamic, adaptive special political missions warranted the creation of a separate and more transparent budget section to finance them, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as it began its its consideration of atof that matter.

    Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said the Secretary-General’s management reform initiative proposed the creation of a separate budget section for special political missions and raising the threshold for unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, the budgetary mechanism generally supporting the start‑up and expansion of such missions.  The proposed measures would enable the Secretariat to better support special political missions during the critical early stages of deployment and to improve the presentation of their annual requirements to the General Assembly.

    At the outset of the general debate, a number of speakers expressed support for such a budgetary mechanism, with India’s representative saying said that constraints on the funding and backstopping of special political missions remained a serious impediment.  The Secretary-General’s report was silent on the ad hoc handling of their budgets, he said, recalling that many speakers had highlighted the need for reliable resourcing, through a regular budget, for such core prevention and mediation capabilities.  “It is about time the process for establishing a separate new account for special political missions is set in motion.”

    Morocco’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that special political missions should be financed through the same criteria, methodology and mechanisms used to fund peacekeeping operations, including a new separate budget.

    El Salvador’s representative said the increase in the budget for special political missions had been such that it had distorted part of the regular United Nations budget.  A special and separate account to fund special political missions, with separate annual reporting and budgeting, would increase transparency and remove those distortions, she added.

    Cuba’s representative emphasized that the adoption of new missions should not affect the overall budget.  Echoing calls for another financing mechanism, like that used to fund peacekeeping missions, he said that would ensure an independent account for special political missions.

    Switzerland’s representative, meanwhile, said the Secretary-General’s proposed reforms reflected the centrality of special political missions, but underlined that future missions must deal with human rights and development in parallel with peace and security issues.  Regarding the funding and backstopping of special political missions, he said a pragmatic improvement of arrangements, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), would allow for more efficient management and increased effectiveness.

    Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary‑General for Political Affairs, delivered a statement on behalf of the Under‑Secretary‑General, Jeffrey Feltman, noting that conflicts today had become enormously diverse, involving competition over State institutions, natural resources and territory.  “The regionalization of the causes and consequences of conflict adds layers of complexity to our efforts to resolve them.”  Moreover, some conflicts now involved political narratives and actors who rejected the modern conception of the State.  Against that backdrop, special political missions continued to play a wide variety of peace and security functions, demonstrating their versatility and flexibility, he said.

    Turning to the women, peace and security agenda, he noted that efforts to deploy more gender expertise to special political missions had met with significant, if incomplete, success.  He emphasized, however, that the impact of women on the work of the missions was tangible, and there was evidence of a gender‑disaggregated approach to planning, executing and monitoring reflected in their reports to the Security Council.

    The Committee also held an interactive segment in which the two officials responded to comments and questions raised by delegates.

    Also speaking today were representatives of Turkey (speaking also for Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia), Canada (also for Australia and New Zealand), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Guatemala, Argentina, Colombia, Finland (also for Mexico), Kenya, Eritrea, Japan, Maldives, Ethiopia, South Africa, Norway, Bangladesh and Libya.

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 November, when it is expected to take up assistance in mine action.

    Opening Statements

    ATUL KHARE, Under‑Secretary‑General for Field Support, said the recent extremist attack in Mogadishu was a stark reminder of the volatile environment with which people serving in special political missions dealt regularly.  Much smaller than peacekeeping operations, special political missions had smaller administrative and logistical support structures, yet they were frequently deployed to remote and insecure environments.  That created unique complexities in the management of support and supply chains which the Department of Field Operations must address when developing and delivering solutions for the field.

    He went on to state that the Department had supported the drawdown and closure of the United Nations Mission in Colombia and its seamless transition to the new United Nations Verification Mission in Columbia, which was expanding across the country to monitor the ceasefire between the armed forces and the National Liberation Army.  In Libya, the Department provided support to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and was also working on an innovative concept relating to support for a rotating core of international staff in Tunis.  In addition to a comprehensive performance framework intended to improve efficiencies, the Department had found the global client survey to be a useful tool that highlighted areas in which improvements must be made.

    Among those areas was the improvement of business processes, an effort that would take on greater prominence under the Secretary‑General’s management reform agenda, he continued.  Within the management reform initiative were several proposals relating specifically to special political missions, including the creation of a separate budget section for special political missions, and raising the threshold for unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, the budgetary mechanism generally supporting the start‑up and expansion of special political missions, he explained.  Those proposed measures would enable the Secretariat to better support special political missions during the critical early stages of deployment, and to improve the presentation to the General Assembly of annual requirements for special political missions.

    TAYÉ‑BROOK ZERIHOUN, Assistant Secretary‑General, delivered a statement on behalf of Jeffrey Feltman, Under‑Secretary‑General for Political Affairs, noting that conflicts today had become enormously diverse, involving competition over State institutions, natural resources and territory.  “The regionalization of the causes and consequences of conflict adds layers of complexity to our efforts to resolve them,” he observed, noting out that the phenomenon had been seen in Syria, Libya and Yemen.  Moreover, some conflicts now involved political narratives and actors — such as ISIL/Daesh and Boko Haram — who rejected the modern conception of the State.  Against that backdrop, special political missions continued to play a wide variety of peace and security functions, demonstrating their versatility and flexibility.  At the national and regional levels, they had played a vital role in advancing political transitions, supporting governance, strengthening institutions, facilitating democratic processes and identifying early risks while crafting effective preventive responses.

    He said the Secretary‑General’s 2017 report detailed a wide variety of developments relating to special political missions, including the completion of the initial mandate in Colombia, expansion of the mandates of several expert panels, and the strategic assessments and subsequent adjustments of missions in Libya and Somalia.  The Secretary‑General had also called for reorientation of the Organization’s work around a universal prevention agenda, injecting renewed energy into mission efforts to prevent conflict, he said.  That approach had been conceptualized in the sustaining peace resolutions, which called for “preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence” of conflict.

    Strengthening partnerships between special political missions and regional and subregional organizations was another of the Secretary‑General’s priorities, he continued.  Missions must work to strengthen their links with regional blocs and their subsidiary entities, while finding innovative ways in which to collaborate, on the basis of the principles of transparency, mutual accountability and comparative advantage.  Noting the recent major stride forward in the relationship between the United Nations and the African Union on cooperation in peace and security matters, he said the April signing of the Joint United Nations‑African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, in particular, had provided a stronger basis for collaboration and technical exchange.

    Turning to the women, peace and security agenda, he noted that efforts to deploy more gender expertise to special political missions had met with significant, if incomplete, success.  Their impact on the work of the missions was tangible, and there was evidence of a gender‑disaggregated approach to planning, executing and monitoring reflected in their reports to the Security Council.  The Department of Political Affairs (DPA), as the focal point for electoral assistance, also continued to respond to requests for support to electoral processes, including through the special political missions, he said.  Increasingly, such support was targeted at the medium‑ to long‑term objectives of increasing the capacities of electoral bodies and addressing structural challenges affecting success and credibility.

    He went on to state that efforts to improve geographical distribution and gender representation in special political missions were ongoing, as were activities to advance transparency, accountability and efficiency in the execution of mandates.  Whereas some progress had been made in improving the representation of women, it was far too slow and would need to be accelerated in order to meet the Secretary‑General’s goal of achieving gender parity across the Organization, he said, emphasizing that it was, therefore, vital to remain sharply focused on the conditions required for mission success.  They included international and regional political backing, relationships and entry points, as well as effective backstopping and support.

    Interactive Dialogue

    As the floor opened for questions, the representative of Iran recalled that the Secretary‑General had made prevention a core theme cutting across the Organization, and that regional and subregional organizations had the ability of detecting a crisis before conflict could break out.  As such, what other monitoring mechanisms were being used to detect crisis, and how would intervention proceed from the point of detection?  He also asked which activities of special political missions were the most “budget‑consuming”.

    The representative of Morocco noted that the Peacebuilding Commission was not mentioned in the Secretary‑General’s report and asked whether the omission was deliberate.  He also asked whether the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) would work with regional partners on a strategy to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  The withdrawal of Ugandan troops had left a security vacuum, he noted, asking whether it could have been prevented, and whether another troop‑contributing country could have been found.

    The representative of Venezuela asked about common difficulties seen in the relationship between special political missions and host countries, and how they were usually overcome.

    The representative of Colombia asked about the funding proposed for special political missions.  Because many were lighter in content, what was their political, budgetary and financial future?

    Mr. KHARE, Under‑Secretary‑General for Field Support, responded by detailing the most important elements driving the cost of special political missions.  With their budget for 2016 set at $561 million, $317 million had been spent on civilian staff costs, he said, adding that operational costs totalling $214.9 million had been the second largest driver.  The funds covered four main areas, the first being rations for guard units, he said, explaining that missions were sometimes deployed in locations more volatile than the places where peacekeeping operations were based, such as Libya and Somalia, where guard units were required.  Aviation services represented another important cost because of the need for quick and urgent movement in places where that was not possible by commercial means.  Another important cost was self‑sustainment or preservation of life, he said, adding that in many places, missions had to provide their own generators because lived  in limited accommodation within “green zones”.

    As for common difficulties, he said one important challenge involved countries without a status‑of‑mission agreement with the United Nations.  Another challenge arose where guard units were required because of their relationship with local security agencies, especially when the agencies were not yet fully developed, as in Somalia and Libya.  Tax exemptions for contractors also created problems sometimes because people at the working level did not understand the United Nations Convention on Privileges and Immunities, he explained.

    In response to a question from the representative of Colombia, he noted that the new proposal was to present all special political mission budgets for consideration at the same time as the regular budget.  The budget for special political missions was considered annually because it was difficult to predict their needs two years in advance, and the Secretary‑General had therefore proposed an annual, rather than biennial, regular budget.  As such, the proposal involved two major areas of reform: the annual budget, within which a special section would be devoted to special political missions.  As such, he drew the Committee’s attention to the Addendum 1 to document A/72/492, in particular paragraphs 73 and 74, saying it detailed the proposed changes in encapsulated form.  Annex 4 of Addendum 1 provided a mock‑up of the draft budget for special political missions as it would appear under the new system proposed by the Secretary‑General, should the General Assembly adopt it.

    Mr. ZERIHOUN, Assistant Secretary‑General for Political Affairs, said that special political missions were deployed at the particular region’s request and were driven by demand.  The UNOCA had been opened in response to a letter sent to the Secretary‑General requesting its presence.  Their major function was to engage with and support the efforts of regional counterparts, he said, emphasizing the two pillars of prevention — early warning and early action.

    In response to the representative of Iran, he said early warning was often triggered when a Member State asked for the Organization’s support, expertise and engagement, adding that the basis for cooperation was the understanding that the United Nations would support regional efforts.  Concerning the Lord’s Resistance Army, he said the decision on Uganda’s withdrawal had been that country’s own.

    Responding to the representative of Morocco, he said he could not explain the omission, but assured him that the Department, reported regularly to the Peacebuilding Commission, adding that he recognized the special dimension and weight that entity brought to special problems.

    General Debate

    Mr. HALFOUNI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized the commitment to effectiveness in special political missions, and reiterated the importance of respecting the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States.  He stressed the importance for the Security Council of drafting clear and achievable mandates for field‑based missions, based on objective assessment.

    He also called upon the Secretary‑General to further consider transparency, balanced geographical as well as women’s representation when filling senior leadership positions.  Furthermore, he stressed the importance of reaching consensus among Member States when developing policies relating to the missions.  The special political missions should be financed through the same criteria, methodology and mechanisms used to fund peacekeeping operations, including the establishment of a new separate account for such missions he said.

    GÜVEN BEGEC (Turkey), speaking also for Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia (MIKTA Group), said that resolutions on sustaining peace provided the necessary strategic guidance for peacebuilding, and in that regard, he expressed support for further consultations on implementation of the concept of sustainable peace.  Noting the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts on peace and security, he said the MIKTA Group would continue to work with stakeholders in the peace and security architecture while awaiting other modalities of reform, including budgetary aspects.  Peacekeeping missions transitioning to political or special political missions often faced challenges relating to insufficient capacities and finances, he noted, while emphasizing that the sustaining peace agenda should be adequately resourced.

    He went on to affirm the Secretary‑General’s other initiatives, such as management reform and repositioning the development system, and saying they should be considered in a comprehensive process.  The “surge in peace diplomacy” was an integral part of that reform.  Special political missions were key in sustaining peace and interactive dialogue with States was the soundest way to improve contributions of them.  Engagement should be designed to take all aspects of conflict into account, particularly the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel, the protection of civilians, including women and young people.  Enhanced coordination and mechanisms would also be crucial in attaining achieving peace objectives, he said, noting in that context, the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Support Fund.

    MICHAEL BONSER (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ Group), said preventing conflict was of the utmost importance in pursuit of sustained peace, and the very reason the United Nations had been created.  Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda as a way to address the fragmentation hampering United Nations effectiveness and to put prevention at the heart of its efforts, he said each staff member should consider how to adapt their daily work in the spirit of the reform proposals regardless of the restructuring.  Special political missions were indispensable and the most operational expression of United Nations political efforts in the field.  “They are effective tools at a relatively low cost,” he said.

    Regarding the role that they could play in the transition from peacekeeping operations, he said their effectiveness was now urgent given the closure of the peacekeeping mission in Liberia, the downsizing of the hybrid operation in Darfur and the transition to justice support in Haiti.  In Sierra Leone, for example, the transition from a peacekeeping mission had relied on nine years of progressively lighter political missions providing critical support to national capacities, he recalled.  Special political missions were a critical part of United Nations efforts to deploy customized responses into a country context.  The CANZ Group encouraged the Peacebuilding Commission to assist in developing mandates for special political missions, stressing that they must be adequately resourced if they were to be successful.

    INA KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said ongoing peace and security reform must go hand‑in‑hand with reform of the United Nations development system and management.  Emphasizing the host country’s primary responsibility for advancing its nationally identified and owned peacebuilding initiatives, she said it was critical to building the capacity of institutions so that all legitimate national stakeholders could contribute meaningfully to a shared national vision.

    With a mission’s transition from a peacekeeping to a political role, the insufficient capacity and finances should also be addressed, she said.  If sustaining peace was to be a sound strategy, it would be important to build ensure robust capacity and ensure adequate financial support for all activities on the peace continuum, adding that it would also be worthwhile to look into aligning the budgetary considerations of special political missions with those of the peacekeeping operations cycle.  The financial needs of special political missions must be perceived as similar to the assessments of peacekeeping operations, she said, adding that there should be a special and separate account to finance them on an annual basis.

    Speaking in her national capacity, she said civilian capacity was important in mitigating conflicts, underlining that the United Nations, with support from non‑United Nations partners, must more systematically harness the expertise available from developing and conflict‑affected countries that had transitioned to democracy, peacebuilding and development.  Providing qualified and readily deployable civilian expertise for various activities was all the more vital today in ensuring the attainment of sustainable peace and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which were inseparably connected.  She said South‑South cooperation was an increasingly valuable addition to traditional modes of support, and it was high time the United Nations accorded greater attention to mechanisms based on South‑South cooperation in order better to reinforce various activities on the peace continuum.

    CASTANEDES (Guatemala), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, called for implementation of the strategic plan so that special political missions would be given mandates in accordance with the situation in the field.  As such, it was essential to prepare more realistic policy strategies, he said, adding that DPA should also focus on strengthening international peace and security through mediation and peacebuilding.  With insufficient investment against the underlying causes of conflict, the United Nations had been unable to intervene in the early stages, he pointed out.  As such, Guatemala preferred the prevention of conflict, he said, emphasizing the importance of guidelines on preventing and mitigating election‑related violence.  Guatemala nevertheless welcomed the Secretary‑General’s proposed reforms in the hope that they would improve the effectiveness of special political missions.

    GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) welcomed the reform process initiated by the Secretary‑General and encouraged him to consult Member States on the implementation of his various proposals.  In that regard, Argentina welcomed the sustaining peace narrative, as well as the proposed holistic and integrated strategic approach to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development, she said.  The proposal to unify the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs, as well as consideration of the political aspects of missions should allow progress on financing.  That was in accordance with various recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and other financial entities in favour of a separate account, an annual budgetary cycle and access to support accounts for special political missions.  However, discussions on that subject had reached an impasse in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) for six years, she noted, expressing hope that it would come to an end through political will on the part of the parties concerned.

    Ms. RIVERA (El Salvador) associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that special political missions supported Member States in a number of important ways, she said, citing her own country’s experience of a peace process.  The mission in El Salvador had often found cultural and racial differences at the root of the conflict there, which meant that peacebuilding was linked to dialogue and the resolution of disputes, she said, adding that conflict resolution would not last without those links.  In that regard, special political missions must be funded adequately so they could fulfil their mandates, she said, while emphasizing the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of host countries.  Turning to financing, she said the increase in the budget for special political missions had been such that it had distorted part of the overall United Nations budget.  For that reason, a special and separate account was needed to fund special political missions, with separate annual reporting and budgeting to increase transparency and remove distortions, she said.  There must also be clear and attainable mandates to enable the effective conclusion of field missions.  In that regard, clear exit strategies would be important in allowing local actors to shoulder the long‑term responsibility for sustainable peace and development, she said.  Describing the General Assembly as the most representative body to discuss general aspects of special political missions, she emphasized that any such discussions must enjoy the consensus of Member States.

    MEJIA VELEZ (Columbia) said the transition from the first special political mission in her country to the second had resulted from “tailor‑made process” that had enjoyed regional as well as international support.  The need to respond to situations in the field was important in the complex task of peacebuilding, she said, emphasizing that the process would more comprehensive if it included women.  In the case of the Colombian insurgency, there had been many women and girls in the ranks, and women would also benefit most from peace, she noted.  The mainstreaming quality of the gender perspective would make sustainable peace attainable.

    T.K.S. ELANGOVAN, Member of Parliament, India, associated himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noting that conceptual and organizational fragmentation continued despite growing recognition of the importance of a more comprehensive approach to sustaining peace through linking peacekeeping and political solutions, among others measures.  “Regrettably, policy formulation for special political missions remains opaque and requires much greater transparency,” he said, calling for more consultations between the Security Council and Member States.  India hoped DPA or its subsequent avatar would organize more interactive briefings for States, especially by heads of special political missions.  For example, the ongoing review of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) appeared to be proceeding without much input from the wider membership, he noted.  Furthermore, constraints on funding and the backstopping of special political missions remained a serious impediment.  The Secretary‑General’s report was silent on the ad hoc handling of budgets for such missions.  Despite the fact that special political missions represented the Organization’s most utilized mechanism for addressing numerous crises around the world, they did not follow regular budget cycles, he pointed out.  Reliable resourcing through a regular budget for such core prevention and mediation capabilities had been highlighted by many, he recalled, stressing: “It is about time the process for establishing a separate new account for special political missions is set in motion.”

    OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said the Secretary‑General’s proposed reforms reflected the centrality of special political missions.  Concerning future missions, he emphasized that human rights and development must be dealt with in parallel with peace and security issues.  Switzerland, for its part, had launched the 13 June Appeal of and would continue to work on its implementation, as well as to strengthen synergies for improving conflict‑prevention tools, he said.  Regarding the funding and backstopping of special political missions, he said a pragmatic improvement of arrangements, as recommended by the ACABQ, would allow for more efficient management and increased effectiveness.  Switzerland hoped that current discussions on reform would make substantial progress in that regard.

    KAI SAUER (Finland), speaking also on behalf of Mexico, said special political missions were at the heart of conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding.  They played a crucial role in preventing conflict and in diplomacy and mediation, as well as in building capacity and resilience.  He went on to note that the 2016 resolution paid significant attention to equal representation of women’s and full gender parity in peace negotiations and process, yet the 2017 text on special political missions, contained only technical updates to further enhance the stirring 2016 version.

    MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted with concern the continued ascendancy of transnational threats such as terrorism, violent extremism, human trafficking and irregular migration, saying they constituted the primary factors in emerging conflicts, particularly in Africa.  The creation of a dedicated United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism was a useful step in the right direction, he said, voicing hope that it would deepen collaboration with special political missions in the field.  The success of such missions was dependent on sustainable and predictable funding as well as proper coordination and collaboration at all levels, he added.  Kenya commended the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) for its support during the successful conclusion of a competitive electoral process, and for having supported the framework for the establishment of a national security architecture in an environment hitherto characterized by chaos.  However, much more could be achieved if funding were sustained and predictable, and nascent political institutions were nurtured and properly accompanied, he emphasized.

    HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, commended the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts, in particular his efforts to enhance transparency, accountability, and geographical and gender representation.  While agreeing that special political missions had deeply preventive elements and were compatible with the United Nations Charter, he emphasized that they must be considered and developed in accordance with a case‑by‑case analysis.  They must be governed by policies collectively developed by Member States, whereby all voices would be considered, he said, stressing that the United Nations must provide precise and attainable mandates, with material and financial resources tailored to realities in the field.  Underlining that new missions should not affect the overall budget, he said a comprehensive debate on the subject of budget would be required to find another financing mechanism — such as the one used to fund peacekeeping missions — thereby establishing an independent account for special political missions.

    ELSA HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed support for holding regular, inclusive, and interactive dialogues on special political mission policy matters.  Missions should be crafted, implemented, and monitored through consultations and processes in line with the fundamental principles of impartiality and respect for national sovereignty.  The Secretariat must engage States in a timely manner prior to holding such dialogues.  In addition, States’ views should be considered by the Security Council and the Secretariat when mandating or reviewing a special political mission, she said.

    YUTAKA SEKITO (Japan) said special political missions were powerful tools for addressing the entire conflict spectrum.  Offering several examples, he said regional offices such as United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) had worked successfully with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to help defuse electoral tensions in Gambia.  Such missions required strong support from Member States and the international community, host country ownership and well‑designed mandates.  As with peacekeeping operations, the Security Council had a crucial role in determining and adapting mandates to reflect what was needed on the ground.  Periodic strategic reviews of mission performance and efficiency should also be undertaken in conjunction with the Security Council and wider membership to define clear goals.

    Mr. NASIR (Maldives) said political and peacekeeping mission mandates should include State‑building as an important outcome.  Empowering women should become a key focus, as mounting evidence had demonstrated that the chances of sustaining peace were higher when there was gender equality in participation and in shaping peace and security decisions.  Special political missions must also ensure that efforts reflected a deep understanding of and engagement with the broadest approval of people they sought to help.  As such, the cooperation of regional and subregional organizations was important but, at the same time, it was also critical to frame the mission’s mandate through the lens of the host country.  That entailed clear, consistent mandates tailored to the country’s unique political, economic and social circumstances.

    TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said the United Nations must continue to use all available tools, including special political missions, to play a meaningful role in resolving conflict.  Equally essential was addressing institutional fragmentation and ensuring coherence across the entire United Nations system.  Encouraged by the signing of the Joint United Nations‑African Union Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, he underlined a need for a greater appreciation of the complementarity and comparative advantages of the United Nations and regional and subregional mechanisms.  In that context, he emphasized the significance of special political missions in ensuring peace and security through prevention and peacebuilding.

    WOUTER H. ZAAYMAN (South Africa) called for strong partnerships between special political missions and regional and subregional organizations.  Such partnerships had been highlighted during a recent Security Council‑African Union Peace and Security Council joint consultation.  Adequate and predictable resources must be allocated to special political missions, with the creation of a separate account increasing predictability and transparency.  The Non‑Aligned Movement’s proposal that special political missions be financed through the implementation of the same criteria, methodology and mechanisms used to fund peacekeeping operations would make them more agile in their deployment and execution of mandates.

    TORE HATTREM (Norway) said operations in Afghanistan, Colombia and Syria demonstrated the indispensable nature of special political missions.  The need for such missions was increasing because there were effective in the field and relatively low in cost.  Failing to support such efforts would lead to the costly alternative of large‑scale peace and humanitarian operations.  He regretted to note that no agreement had yet been made on a funding framework, even though such a solution would save, not increase United Nations spending.  To take a more holistic approach, special political missions must be examined as part of the spectrum of peace operations.

    MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said increased, predictable and sustainable resources for special political missions would enhance their contributions to sustaining peace.  To achieve that, he called for further discussions on financing and backstopping.  Voicing concerns for the safety of mission personnel, he underscored the need for the regular review of security situations confronting field assets.  Expressing regret that the position of Special Advisor to the Secretary‑General on Myanmar had been withdrawn in 2016, he said Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation were pursuing a related draft resolution in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).  Urging delegates to lend support to the draft, he said creating a Special Advisor position was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis, which called for the international community’s sustained engagement.

    EZZIDIN Y. BELKHEIR (Libya), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) had supported provided electoral support in 2012 and 2014, trained Libyans in the rule of law and human rights and had assisted in mine clearing.  Yet, occasionally the Mission did not strictly respect the national ownership principle, including a report on the human rights of illegal immigrants that had not been produced in coordination with the Government.  The Mission personnel’s use of social media had sometimes resulted in “chaos” on the Libyan streets and had demonstrated a lack of language skills and knowledge of the country’s political, social, and historical background, he said, emphasizing that his comments were not meant to diminish the Organization’s role, but only to highlight lessons learned over a long period.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of Myanmar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said her country’s Government had taken heed of the international community’s concern about the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State since the day it had assumed office.  The Government was committed to all possible actions to alleviating that situation, and many positive developments had occurred, she said, recalling that a ministerial‑level committee had been established since the terrorist attacks of 25 August.  The repatriation, resettlement, and rehabilitation of returnees and was also a focus.  A partnership between the Government, civil society, development partners and United Nations agencies had been launched, and ASEAN was also working with the Government to deliver humanitarian assistance to all displaced persons, she said.  Moreover, Myanmar had asked the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to harvest and store grain from the paddy fields of the displaced.  As a least developed country, Myanmar was dealing with inherited challenges and had made progress in spite of constraints, she said, adding that unconstructive language would not help to resolve the issue at hand.

    The representative of Bangladesh said he took note of renewed commitments to address the ongoing Rohingya crisis and to work with the international community to ensure the sustainable return of those forcibly displaced.  As such, Bangladesh had been working with Myanmar in good faith and would continue to do so.  Based on past experience, however, it would not be able to make much headway in bilateral efforts with Myanmar without the international community’s engagement.  He recalled that an understanding had been reached on the issue and detailed in a 10‑point outcome document.  However, a critical element concerning the return of the Rohingya had been omitted from the document when the Myanmar authorities had uploaded it to social media, he said.

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  • Approving 15 Drafts, First Committee Calls for Crackdown on Supply Chains Giving Terrorist Groups Materials to Build Improvised Explosive Devices

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) sent 14 draft resolutions and 1 draft decision to the General Assembly today, including one aimed at preventing terrorist groups from accessing materials to build improvised explosive devices.

    Finding Committee‑wide agreement on that matter, delegates shared deep concerns about the use of such weapons.  Afghanistan’s representative, who tabled the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), said those weapons were causing devastating humanitarian consequences and were increasingly being used to target civilians.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee approved “L.15/Rev.1”, by which the General Assembly would strongly encourage States to develop and adopt their own national policies on countering improvised explosive devices, including through civilian‑military cooperation.  States would also be encouraged to strengthen countermeasure capabilities, prevent their territory from being used for terrorist purposes, and combat illegal armed groups, terrorists and other unauthorized recipients in their use of such weapons.

    With delegates voicing different opinions on the draft, Egypt’s representative pointed out that the language in preambular paragraph 12 raised a web of issues far removed from the text’s aims.  Meanwhile, Cuba’s representative said operative paragraph 23 lacked an appropriate framework to establish definitions of anti‑personnel mines.

    Tackling other draft resolutions on conventional weapons, the Committee took action on several relating to international treaties and conventions.

    The Committee approved the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40) by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to none against, with 16 abstentions.  By the text, the Assembly would stress the importance of the full and effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention, including through the continued implementation of the action plan for the period 2014 to 2019.

    While the representatives of India, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea cited security concerns as reasons for their continued need and use of such weapons, Morocco’s delegate said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.40” because it supported the objective of the complete destruction of mines and the provision of care for civilian victims.

    The Committee also approved the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41) by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 36 abstentions.  By the text’s provisions, the Assembly would urge all States outside the instrument to join, and all States parties in a position to do so to promote adherence to the Convention.

    In approving the draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27) by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to none against, with 29 abstentions, the Committee would have the Assembly call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the instrument, in order to achieve its universalization.

    Among those abstaining, Ecuador’s delegate said the instrument was unbalanced with regard to exporting and importing States.  Representing another perspective, the representative of the United States said his delegation’s abstention stemmed from his country’s current standard policy review of several conventions, including the Arms Trade Treaty.  However, the United States had robust transfer controls in place and cooperated with Member States to help prevent conventional arms from falling into the wrong hands, he said.

    Approving a basket of draft resolutions on other disarmament measures and international security, the Committee took action on “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7), which was approved by a vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 11 abstentions.

    By that text, the Assembly would call upon all concerned States to take concerted action to encourage the compliance by all States with their respective non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and to hold accountable those not in compliance.

    Also approved today were the following draft resolutions: “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects” (document A/C.1/72/L.16/Rev.1); “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21); “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/72/L.43); “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1); “Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures” (document A/C.1/72/L.24); “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30); “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31); “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32); “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).

    In addition, the Committee approved the draft decision “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/72/L.44).

    Speaking in explanation of position were representatives of Mexico, Australia, France, Singapore, Japan, Mali, Austria, Armenia, Indonesia, Libya, Venezuela, Argentina, Poland, Cyprus, Brazil, Switzerland, Syria, Liechtenstein, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Brazil and South Africa.

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 1 November, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

    Background

    The First Committee met this morning to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Action on Draft Texts

    The representative of Mexico, explaining her delegation’s position on draft resolutions on disarmament aspects of outer space, agreed with the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space, and for the exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes.  The declaration of a country or several not to be the first to place weapons in outer space should not be understood as an endorsement to place weapons in that domain, which Mexico would strongly oppose.

    The representative of India said her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53), emphasizing that the legal regime to protect and preserve access to space for all needed to be enhanced.

    The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada and Japan, said delegations had abstained from voting on “L.53” because the draft resolution had not defined what constituted a weapon in outer space.  Any space objects capable of being manoeuvred could be potential weapons.  In addition, the no-first placement pledge could not be verifiable.  As such, their delegations would favour measures that had a practical rather than a political claim.  Furthermore, “L.53” was focused on space‑based weapons and did not address ground‑based arms, such as missiles and lasers.  Australia, Canada and Japan had also abstained from voting on the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54).  Noting that the draft had called for establishing a United Nations group of governmental experts, he said non‑binding but verifiable measures were more likely to gain wider acceptance and adherence by the international community.  Those were necessary for the strengthening of the legal regime on the issue.  The outer space transparency and confidence‑building measures should be considered in the Conference on Disarmament.

    The representative of France said his delegation had voted against “L.54” because the necessary conditions for a legal binding instrument had not been met.  He regretted to note the restrictive nature of the mandate of the co‑sponsors and expressed concern about the financial implications for creating another group of experts.  For its part, France was ready to work with the international community to adopt confidence‑building and transparency measures for outer space.

    The representative of Singapore, noting that her delegation had voted in favour of “L.54”, said the proposed group of governmental experts needed to be transparent and inclusive, taking into account the views of all countries.

    The Committee then turned to draft resolutions related to conventional weapons.

    The representative of Japan, introducing the draft resolution “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1), said it was essential to work together.  Expressing hope that it would be adopted by consensus, he said the draft’s preambular paragraph 9 had been deleted toward that aim, and called on all Member States to extend support for it.

    The representative of Afghanistan, tabling the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), said the current text included updates on several preambular and operative paragraphs to address the threats increasingly being borne by civilians.  Noting that prior versions of “L.15/Rev.1” had been adopted by consensus, he expressed hope for the same agreement in the Committee during the current session to help the global community fight against the use of such weapons.

    The representative of Mali, introducing the draft resolution “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21), said it contained several updates and used the same language as the version the General Assembly had adopted at its seventy‑first session.  “L.21” would have the Assembly encourage the international community to support the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.  He thanked co‑sponsors and encouraged other Member States to show their support by becoming a co‑sponsor.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation would disassociate itself from paragraphs referencing the Arms Trade Treaty in draft resolutions before the Committee.  As such, Cuba would abstain from voting on draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27) because the instrument had been adopted through a premature vote, did not enjoy consensus and was characterized by ambiguities and inconsistencies in definitions and legal gaps.  In addition, “L.27” was not balanced and favoured arms‑exporting States.

    The representative of Austria, also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said even though improvised explosive devices were a loose and undefined weapons category, their delegations would vote in favour of “L.15”.  They hoped the subsequent version that would be tabled during the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly would have better language on standards so that they could join as co‑sponsors.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea, referencing draft resolutions “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40) and “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41), said her delegation sympathized with the objectives of the texts, but because of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, it was not a party to either instrument.   While the Republic of Korea could not support the draft resolutions, it would do its utmost to limit the humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions in a collaborative manner.

    The representative of Armenia said his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”, which should be adopted by consensus to be more inclusive and effective.  He expressed concern that the Arms Trade Treaty could lead to situations involving political manipulation.

    The representative of Indonesia, noting that her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”, said her country shared the spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty.  Indonesia was also carefully studying the instrument with a view to avoiding any possible inconsistencies with national law.

    The representative of Egypt said his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27” because of the Arms Trade Treaty’s shortcomings, including genuinely preventing the illicit supply of arms to terrorist groups, its lack of definitions and its reliance on arbitrary criteria.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation supported measures to counter the threat posed by improvised explosive devices and would join consensus on “L.15”.  However, Iran would abstain from voting on “L.27” for several reasons, including that the call for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty lacked credibility.  The instrument had not been adopted by consensus due to its flaws and ignored the interests of some States, he said, citing examples of violations, including the export of billions of dollars of weapons to Israel, which that State had used in Palestine.

    The representative of Libya said his country was not a party to the Mine Ban Convention, but supported and shared the international community’s concerns about those arms and their destruction.  Despite being fully aware of the damage caused by anti‑personnel mines, he said the Convention did not refer to the responsibility of occupying States to repair the damage they had caused, nor did it address the issue of providing assistance to affected countries.  For those and other reasons, his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.40”.

    The representative of Morocco said his delegation would vote in favour of “L.40” because it supported the objective of the complete destruction of mines and the provision of care for civilian victims.

    The representative of Venezuela said her country was not a party to the Arms Trade Treaty and would abstain from voting on “L.27”.  The imbalanced instrument could be politically manipulated, preventing it from becoming a universal treaty.  Venezuela was fully committed to eradicating the illicit trade of conventional weapons and the best way to do so was through a multilateral regime, with a non‑discriminatory and objective instrument.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would urge all States to provide support to reduce the risks posed by those weapons in a manner that considered the different needs of women, girls, boys and men.  It would also urge Member States to comply fully with all relevant United Nations resolutions, including those related to preventing terrorist groups from using and accessing materials that could be used to make such weapons.

    The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

    The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects” (document A/C.1/72/L.16/Rev.1).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to take all measures to become parties to the Convention and the Protocols, with a view to ultimately achieve their universality.  It would also call upon all high contracting parties to ensure full and prompt compliance with their financial obligations under the Convention and its Protocols.

    It approved the draft, as orally revised, without a vote.

    The Committee considered the draft resolution “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21), by which the Assembly would encourage the international community to support the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would also encourage the collaboration of civil society organizations in efforts of national commissions of States in the Sahelo‑Saharan region to combat the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and in the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  It would also call upon the international community to provide technical and financial support to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations in that regard.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

    The Committee took up the draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27), which would have the Assembly call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the instrument, in order to achieve its universalization.  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would call upon those States parties in a position to do so to provide assistance to requesting States in order to promote the instrument’s universalization.

    The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to none against, with 29 abstentions.

    The Committee considered the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40).  By the text, the Assembly would stress the importance of the full and effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention, including through the continued implementation of the action plan for the period 2014 to 2019.

    By a recorded vote of 158 in favour to none against, with 16 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft, as orally amended.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41), which would have the Assembly urge all States outside the instrument to join and all States parties in a position to do so to promote adherence to the Convention through bilateral, subregional and multilateral means.

    The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 36 abstentions.

    The Committee considered the draft resolution “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/72/L.43), which would have the Assembly appeal to all interested States to determine the size and nature of their surplus stockpiles, whether they represented a security risk, their means of destruction, if appropriate, and whether external assistance was needed to eliminate that risk.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary‑General to convene a related group of governmental experts in 2020.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft, as orally revised.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1), which would have the General Assembly call upon all States to implement the International Tracing Instrument, including in their national reports the name and contact information of the national points of contact and information on national marking practices used to indicate the country of manufacture and/or country of import, as applicable.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally amended.

    The representative of Ecuador said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27” because the instrument had several shortcomings, including an imbalance between exporting and importing States.  Nevertheless, Ecuador would continue to study the text of the Arms Trade Treaty and its implications.

    The representative of Egypt said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40” due to the imbalanced nature of the Mine Ban Convention, which had been developed and concluded outside the United Nations.  The instrument lacked balance between humanitarian consequences and their use by countries for border protection.  On “L.15”, Egypt continued to support the draft resolution as it attempted to tackle an important threat improvised explosive devices posed.  However, he took issue with language in preambular paragraph 12, which raised a web of issues far removed from the actual scope of the draft’s objectives.

    The representative of the United States said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27” because his country was conducting a standard policy review of several conventions, including the Arms Trade Treaty.  Nevertheless, the United States cooperated with Member States to help prevent conventional arms from falling into the wrong hands and had robust transfer controls in place.

    The representative of India said regarding draft resolution “L.27” that her country had strong national export controls of defence items and fully subscribed to the objectives of Arms Trade Treaty.  Pending the conclusion of India’s review of the instrument as it related to security interests, her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”.  On “L.40”, India was committed to the eventual elimination of anti‑personnel mines, but had abstained from voting on the draft as it did not consider the legitimate concerns of States, especially those with long borders.

    The representative of Argentina said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41” because her country did not possess cluster munitions, had not subscribed to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the language in the draft was not sufficiently ambitious.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation had joined the consensus on “L.43” with several reservations, including that the language did not reflect measures to be adopted to improve stockpile management.  “L.43” should respect the rights of States to determine their surpluses according to security needs, she said, noting that Cuba maintained and applied a strict and effective national system on ammunition controls, with its stockpiles being fully consistent with legitimate national defence needs.  Cuba also supported “L.15/Rev.1”, with reservations, including that preambular paragraph 18 and operative paragraph 23 did not offer the right framework to establish definitions on anti‑personnel mines.  Her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40”, although it shared the legitimate humanitarian concerns from the use of anti‑personnel mines.

    The representative of Poland, speaking on behalf of several countries, said their delegations had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  They supported international efforts addressing the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions and supported the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ humanitarian goals, but those objectives must be balanced with States’ security concerns and military needs.

    The representative of Cyprus said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  Cyprus was a State party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects and was in compliance with European Union standards.  However, its ratification process of the Convention on Cluster Munitions was ongoing due to the current national security situation.

    The representative of Pakistan said his country had joined the consensus on “L.15/Rev.1”, as it shared concerns about the use of improvised explosive devices by terrorist groups.  Pakistan had also voted in favour of “L.27”; however, the Arms Trade Treaty’s success and universality would depend on its non‑discriminatory implementation.  On “L.40”, he said his delegation had abstained from the vote because landmines continued to play a role in meeting security needs of many States and was an integral part of Pakistan’s defence policy.  On “L.41”, his delegation had abstained from voting because Pakistan did not respect treaties negotiated outside the United Nations framework.  On “L.43”, he said Pakistan had joined the consensus, but emphasized that the largest stockpiles were maintained by major military powers and they should take the lead in safe disposal efforts.

    The representative of Brazil said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  While it had supported efforts to address cluster munitions through the United Nations, it had not participated in the process leading to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as it was a parallel process to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  There were serious loopholes in the Convention on Cluster Munitions and its effectiveness had also been undermined by article 21, which pertains to relations with States not party to that instrument.

    The representative of Myanmar said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40” and “L.41”.  While it supported the conventions in principle, there were constraints that were preventing Myanmar from joining them.

    The representative of Switzerland said his delegation had joined the consensus on “L.15/Rev.1”, but had reservations.  The draft resolution described non‑State actors as illegal armed groups, and the terminology did not affect the rights and obligations stemming from international law and the human rights of non‑State actors.

    The representative of Singapore said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.40” and supported initiatives on the prohibition of using anti‑personnel mines to target civilians.  Her delegation had also voted in favour of “L.41”, she said, as Singapore supported international efforts to address the humanitarian consequences of the use of cluster munitions.

    The representative of Iran said “L.40” focused on the humanitarian consequences and did not consider any measures against the actual use of mines.  Because anti‑personnel mines were still an effective means of defence, Iran had abstained from voting on “L.40”.  Turning to “L.41”, he said the draft resolution should have considered the progressive transparency and all‑inclusive process to ensure that States’ rights to security were respected and that no individual State could obtain advantages over others.  Circumventing the United Nations disarmament machinery and creating instruments outside it was not acceptable nor in line with the Organization’s objectives.  The General Assembly should not encourage such a process.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.

    The representative of Syria said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27”.  Syria was among States seeking to codify the arms trade.  Pointing out that Syria was suffering from the “bloody actions” of terrorist groups that had obtained all types of weapons in an illegal way from regional and international parties, including States parties of the Arms Trade Treaty.  The instrument had been used to guarantee the interests of some conventional weapon‑producing States, had not been adopted by consensus and did not consider the views of numerous nations, having overlooked proposals to include in the text a reference to “foreign occupation”.  The text also did not include explicit language to ensure the absolute prohibition or supply of weapons to non‑State actors and terrorist groups.  Certain States that had supported the Arms Trade Treaty’s adoption had also equipped terrorist groups with weapons.  As such, his delegation had reservations on draft resolutions containing references to the Arms Trade Treaty.

    The Committee then turned to draft resolutions relating to other disarmament issues and international security.

    The representative of India said suggested amendments had been included in the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).  He expressed hope that the draft would be approved without a vote.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation had co‑sponsored draft resolutions “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30), “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31) and “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32).  With regard to “L.30”, she reiterated that disarmament and development were the main challenges faced by mankind today, and it was not acceptable to devote $1.7 billion to military spending while the world was in dire need of achieving development goals.  On “L.31”, Member States should comply strictly with environmental norms, she said, adding that the draft text was an important contribution to the quest for multilateral solutions.

    The representative of Liechtenstein expressed strong support for the rule of law, including in the field of disarmament.  Legally binding multilateral instruments were key to non‑proliferation and disarmament progress.  Compliance was essential to achieve that objective, he said, noting that his delegation supported the draft resolution “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7).  In that vein, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme was one of the most significant achievements.

    The representative of the United States said his delegation would not support “L.30” because disarmament and development were two distinct issues.  Similarly, it would not support “L.31” because the United States already operated under stringent environmental controls and the issue was not relevant to the First Committee’s work.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.7” because the draft lacked an approach based on cooperation.  All States must comply with provisions of agreements they had previously entered into, she said, emphasizing that “L.7” paved the way for unacceptable interpretations of State obligations.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation would vote against “L.7” because it contained elements that jeopardized Pyongyang’s interests.  Moreover, the draft targeted the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and pushed an “impure political purpose”.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation supported the fundamental principle of “L.7”, but treaty obligations should be assessed objectively and judgments should be conducted by relevant international organizations in order to prevent subjective assessments that could be used as political and foreign policy leverage.  The international community had already witnessed that in the past and were well aware of current examples.  In that context, the draft had overlooked the central role of relevant organizations, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as the sole bodies for the verification of compliance of non‑proliferation and disarmament agreements.  At the same time, it was ironic that Israel, one of the draft’s sponsors, was itself not a party to any of the instruments banning weapons of mass destruction.  For those reasons, his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.7”.

    The representative of France said his delegation would abstain from any draft resolutions containing explicit references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

    The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7).  By the terms of the text, the General Assembly would call upon all concerned States to take concerted action, in a manner consistent with relevant international law; to encourage, through bilateral and multilateral means, the compliance by all States with their respective non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and with other agreed obligations; and to hold those not in compliance with such agreements accountable for their non‑compliance in a manner consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

    By a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 11 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft.

    The Committee took up the draft resolution “Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures” (document A/C.1/72/L.24).  The Assembly would, by the text’s terms, invite Member States in a position to do so to supplement their reports, on a voluntary basis, with explanatory remarks regarding submitted data to explain or clarify the figures provided in the reporting forms, such as the total military expenditures as a share of gross domestic product, major changes from previous reports and any additional information reflecting their defence policy, military strategies and doctrines.

    The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30).  By the text, the Assembly would urge the international community to devote part of the resources made available by the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft.

    The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31), by which the Assembly would call upon States to adopt unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures so as to contribute to ensuring the application of scientific and technological progress within the framework of international security, disarmament and other related spheres, without detriment to the environment.

    Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

    It then took action on the draft resolution “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon all Member States to renew and fulfil their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation as an important means of pursuing and achieving their common objectives in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation.

    The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Micronesia, United Kingdom, United States), with 49 abstentions.

    The Committee then took up a draft decision on “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/72/L.44), by which the Assembly would include that item in the provisional agenda of its seventy‑third session.

    By a recorded vote of 173 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Ukraine), the Committee approved the draft.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).  By its terms, the Assembly would invite Member States to continue efforts to apply developments in science and technology for disarmament‑related purposes, including the verification of disarmament, arms control and non‑proliferation instruments, and to make related technologies available to interested States.

    The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

    The representative of Ecuador said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.7” because of several concerns.  Operative paragraph 7 could be interpreted as a possible justification of the application of unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the United Nations Charter.  Compliance should be in good faith and any amendment to agreements must be with the free consent of parties to them.

    The representative of Pakistan said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” and shared the view that all States should comply with the treaty obligations in order to achieve global peace and security.  The question of compliance should be strictly applied to legal provisions of relevant treaties.  Agreed‑upon obligations were only those made by States voluntarily and in exercise of their sovereignty.

    The representative of China said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” because nations should faithfully uphold treaty provisions without double standards.  For its part, China opposed using compliance as a political tool.

    The representative of Brazil said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” because treaties should be fully implemented and compliance should not be selective.  Similarly, full compliance of article VI of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons should be upheld.  Effective verification mechanisms translated into effective compliance, she said, noting her delegation’s desire to see the language found in General Assembly resolution 66/49 in operative paragraph 6 of the draft resolution.

    The representative of Venezuela said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.7” because it was unbalanced and did not consider the responsibility of nuclear‑weapon States, and did not address concerns about the use of weapons of mass destruction.  She reiterated Venezuela’s commitment to adopt multilateral measures leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty framework.

    The representative of South Africa said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” given that compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements were critical to maintain confidence in the multilateral system.  However, he was deeply concerned about the selective focus taken on certain agreements in the arms control environment.  Such imbalance caused divisions that could undermine the goals of certain instruments, he said, citing the Arms Trade Treaty as an example of that situation.

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  • Amid Instability, Security Challenges, New Partnership for Africa’s Development Critical to Continent’s Socioeconomic Advancement, General Assembly Told

    Speakers Welcome Free Trade Area, Other Steps towards Regional Integration

    The New Partnership for Africa’s Development — now fully embedded in the development paradigms of both the United Nations and the African Union — remained the “rallying point” in Africa’s pursuit of growth, the General Assembly heard today, as delegates drew attention to security concerns and other obstacles still facing the continent.

    Speakers stressed that the partnership, known as NEPAD, was particularly critical in the areas of social and economic development, with several welcoming the recent facilitation of a Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement aimed at harmonizing three sub‑regional blocs which previously had their own rules and models for trade.  Meanwhile, others cited serious challenges facing Africa’s security and stability — ranging from human and drug trafficking to terrorism and the illicit flow of resources away from the continent — and urged development partners to redouble their support for national and regional efforts to combat them.

    Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, speaking on behalf of the African Union, expressed concern that Africa’s inequality gap continued to widen, with negative repercussions for political stability, business, growth and social cohesion.  Demographics ‑ especially youth and youth unemployment ‑ was a critical part of the continent’s development, he said, noting that with a median age of 20, Africa must break the generation‑to‑generation poverty cycle that continued to trap many of its people.  Indeed, some 440 million people on the continent would be entering the labour market by 2030, meaning that Africa must rapidly expand its efforts in job creation, entrepreneurship development and skills training.  NEPAD was engaged in several such initiatives, he said, also describing its work in areas such as infrastructure, Internet connectivity and intra‑continental trade.

    Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, was among the many voices this morning hailing recent accomplishments in the global integration and regional streamlining of African trade.  “The Continental Free Trade Area is no longer a distant dream,” he said, adding that it could very soon become a practical reality.  While major hurdles remained across the continent, NEPAD was a strong sign of regional leadership in development, with the African Union, regional economic communities and sub‑regional organizations acting as engine rooms of progress.  In an increasingly globalized world, no country or region could move forward alone, and efforts in Africa must be supported by a revitalized partnership for development.

    Rwanda’s representative, recalling that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda had established a strong foundation for the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, cited notable socio‑economic progress made across Africa since the latter’s adoption in 2015.  Meanwhile, the recent Kigali Amendment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change had reinforced those agendas by setting environmental targets and timeframes.  Agriculture was an important path for Africa’s sustainable development, she said, noting that an impactful transformation in that area would require strong coordination between partners in country‑led processes.  Among other critical challenges were those related to peace and security, which necessitated stronger efforts in conflict prevention and responses to early warning signs of conflict.

    Egypt’s representative, also drawing attention to the peace and security nexus, highlighted Africa’s leadership on those issues and the importance of maintaining its ownership over the development process.  “There can be no lasting security without inclusive development,” he said, while “peace, security and the rule of law underpinned by credible systems of democratic governance are prerequisites and indispensable factors and drivers of development.”  African countries had taken numerous steps to address security challenges, including establishing the “Group of 5” Sahel force ‑ consisting of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — as well deploying a Multinational Joint Task Force to end the Boko Haram insurgency and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

    Libya’s representative, also echoing concerns over security and stability, agreed that Africa would be unable to move forward in its development without addressing those crucial issues.  Many countries on the continent, including Libya, regrettably continued to suffer from deteriorating security situations.  Calling on Member States to urgently support African countries affected by conflict or emerging from it, he said his country suffered especially from instability resulting from transnational migrant flows, trafficking and other cross‑border issues.  “This is not a national or regional problem,” and therefore the responsibility must not fall on transit countries alone, he stressed, noting that origin and destination countries must also work to address the phenomenon’s root causes.

    Sudan’s delegate, voicing regret that conflicts and other security issues had adversely affected the prosperity of Africa’s people, said climate change and its impacts on food security were another source of grave concern.  African countries and the international community must work together to avoid the destructive impacts of that phenomenon.  Echoing support for the continued integration of the 2030 Agenda into the continent’s development plans, he said regional organizations such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had an important role to play in that regard.  Additionally, he called for a redoubling of efforts to establish a comprehensive, strategic partnership to fight terrorism and ensure political stability in Africa.

    Delegates from Asia, Europe and other regions also expressed their support for NEPAD and reiterated their commitment to back development efforts on the African continent.  India’s representative, for one, spotlighted trade and diaspora links with Africa ‑ as well as a shared colonial past — and noted that the Africa‑India cooperative relationship included efforts to build capacity, mobilize financial support and share technical expertise.  Indeed, trade between his country and Africa had doubled in the last five years, making India the continent’s fourth‑largest trading partner.

    Before the Assembly for that discussion was a report of the Secretary‑General titled, “New Partnership for Africa’s Development: fifteenth consolidated progress report on implementation and international support” (document A/72/223), which outlined progress made in implementing NEPAD, spotlighted national and regional efforts to mainstream the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, listed recent accomplishments under the partnership and recommended more measures aimed at providing African countries with financing, trade, capacity development and technology transfer.

    Also before the Assembly was a report of the Secretary‑General titled, “Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/72/269), covering the period from July 2016 to June 2017, which highlighted major developments related to peace and security and their links with sustainable development in Africa.

    Also speaking were the representatives of Austria (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development), Brunei Darussalam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Kuwait, Thailand, Israel, the Russian Federation, Morocco, Indonesia, Mozambique, Turkey, Myanmar, Algeria, Ethiopia and the United Republic of Tanzania.

    The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 26 October, to take up the report of the International Court of Justice.

    Opening Remarks

    MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said that since its adoption, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) had led to transformative change and big strides in the integration of African trade.  The recent finalization of the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement was an important step that would harmonize three sub‑regional blocs which previously had their own rules and models for trade.  “The Continental Free Trade Area is no longer a distant dream,” he said, adding: “It could very soon be a reality”.  Nevertheless, major hurdles remained and faster progress was required, not only in agriculture and trade, but also in a wide range of key areas, including infrastructure, industry, economic diversification and poverty eradication.

    NEPAD, together with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, should be harmonized and integrated, particularly regarding reporting, follow‑up and review, he said.  No development in Africa could take hold unless it was led from within.  The adoption of NEPAD was a strong sign of regional leadership in development, which was then reaffirmed through the African Union’s adoption of Agenda 2063.  The role of the African Union, regional economic communities and sub‑regional organizations had been indispensable and had acted as the engine rooms of progress in sustainable development, as well as in building African capacities in peace and security.  There had also been many exciting developments at the national level, as well as on‑going efforts to integrate the goals and targets of international and regional frameworks into national development plans.

    In an increasingly globalized world, no country or region could move forward alone, he stressed.  Efforts in Africa must be supported by a revitalized partnership for development, and in that context, there needed to be closer partnerships between Africa and its development partners, including United Nations bodies and Member States.  Official development assistance (ODA) and other commitments were crucial to enhance finance, technology transfer and market access, while there must be investment incentives at the national, regional and international levels.  “Development in Africa can never be seen as a standalone activity,” he stressed, highlighting that the trade agreement would be hindered without efforts to address the root causes of conflict.  “Foreign direct investment is not on the mind of someone who is running from a shower of bullets,” he said.

    PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said the role of industrialization as a catalyst for sustainable development had been well established and was reflected in the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Welcoming efforts by the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of South Africa and other partners to develop a roadmap for Africa to achieve short‑, medium‑ and long‑term industrialization, as well as efforts by the “Group of 20” (G‑20) nations to support such initiatives through investment promotion and capacity‑building, he said the United Nations should also play its role in assisting countries.

    The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in particular, had a leading role to play in close cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank and the United Nations Office for Africa, he said.  Among other things, UNIDO assisted developing countries in designing and implementing industrial policies and enhancing local productive capacities and entrepreneurship, and its technical assistance contributed to job creation, advancing economic competitiveness and enabling market access, while also advancing the diffusion of environmentally sound technologies and production practices.

    IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the peace and development nexus was particularly evident in the two reports of the Secretary‑General.  “As the world is pursuing the new milestone in the global partnership for development […] it is imperative to continue to place Africa at the centre of United Nations efforts to eradicate poverty,” he said, as well as to address the impacts of climate change and ensure inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.  Eradicating poverty remained the greatest development challenge for African countries, where half the world’s poor people lived.  Expressing concern over the fact that ‑ two years into the 2030 Agenda’s implementation ‑ global hunger was again on the rise and affected some 815 million people, he said efforts should focus on the necessary means of implementation, including financial resources, technology transfer and capacity‑building.  “The scale must be ambitious enough to meet the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he stressed, adding that developed countries should fulfil their commitments as laid out in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, including those related to ODA.

    While international support was important, he continued, African ownership of the development process was critical and “is not just a mere concept”.  African countries had taken the primary responsibility for their own development, and their experience with the Millennium Development Goals had shown that significant advances had been made with African nations leading the way.  Nevertheless, systemic issues had affected the continent’s rates of economic growth and international support was not sufficient to bring about a significant reduction in unemployment and poverty levels, nor in advancing other goals.  The challenges facing Africa today traversed peace, security and development, he stressed, noting that “there can be no lasting security without inclusive development” and “peace, security and the rule of law underpinned by credible systems of democratic governance are prerequisites and indispensable factors and drivers of development”.  African countries had taken numerous steps to address peace and security challenges at national and regional levels, including establishing the “Group of 5” Sahel force, consisting of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, the Multinational Joint Task Force and the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  Partners must enhance their support for such peace and security activities, as no country or region could resolve those challenges alone.

    DATO ABDUL GHAFAR ISMAIL (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said it was encouraging to see many African countries intensify their efforts and seize opportunities to accelerate progress towards durable peace, security and development.  Reaffirming its solidarity with Africa, ASEAN supported NEPAD’s implementation, which would provide a strong foundation for Agenda 2063.  ASEAN was exploring ways to promote synergies and complementarities between its ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that there was ample scope for greater collaboration between the two regions on mutual concerns and sustainable development.

    Noting that ASEAN and African countries had an enduring friendship dating back to the 1955 Asian‑African Conference in Bandung, he said ASEAN and its member States stood ready to exchange ideas and share experiences in such areas as agriculture, education, information and communications technologies and innovation, trade and infrastructure development.  Emphasizing that a supportive international environment was vital for Africa’s development, he said development partners, international financial institutions, regional and sub‑regional organizations and the international community, especially the United Nations, must redouble efforts to ensure sustainable peace and development on the continent.

    SURYANARAYAN SRINIVAS PRASAD (India) said that Agenda 2063 was mutually reinforcing with the 2030 Agenda and embraced the core priorities of NEPAD.  International cooperation remained a key element in Africa’s quest to achieve peace and prosperity.  Africa had made rapid strides in recent years — poverty rates had fallen, infrastructure connectivity had improved and economies were more diversified, while banking, telecommunications and retail had expanded, life expectancies had increased, school enrolment had grown and more women were being elected to political office.  Africa’s demographic dividend could be reaped by providing the youth with greater opportunities for education and employment.  Trade and diaspora links as well as a shared colonial past had framed India’s relationship with Africa.  The core strength of the Africa‑India cooperative relationship included efforts aimed at capacity‑building, the mobilization of financial support and the sharing of technical expertise.  He noted that Africa‑India trade had doubled in the last five years, making India the fourth‑largest trading partner for Africa.  Further, he highlighted that the African Development Bank had held its annual board meeting in India.

    Mr. ALMUNAYER (Kuwait) expressed hope that the long‑term development visions of the 2030 Agenda and the 2063 Agendas would be implemented to bring prosperity to Africa.  The harmony and inter‑dependence of the two development plans provided a common path to reach Africa’s aims.  Insufficient financial support, the spread of weapons and transnational crime, and the trafficking of resources were all impediments to development in Africa and undermined progress aimed at achieving development goals.  The recommendations in the Secretary‑General’s report, including those on good governance, the rule of law, the protection of the rights of women, the promotion of peacebuilding efforts and the pursuit of an Africa free of conflict, must be implemented.  He went on to point out that the Kuwait Development Fund had loaned some $20 billion thus far to 106 countries around the world; and that African countries had received 18 per cent of that funding.

    VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda), noting that the Addis Agenda had established a strong foundation to support the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, said the recent Kigali Amendment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change reinforced those agendas by setting environmental targets and timeframes.  Throughout the continent, notable socio‑economic progress had been made since 2015, including through the African Union’s recent finalization of the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement.  Agriculture was an important path for Africa’s sustainable development, she said, noting that an impactful transformation in that area would require strong coordination between partners in country‑led processes.  The continent still faced challenges, and development could not be sustained amidst conflict.  She therefore underscored the nexus between security and development, as well as the importance of conflict prevention and response to early warning signals with rapid interventions to protect civilians.  The Joint United Nations‑African Union Framework for Enhancing Partnership on Peace and Security was an important blueprint for boosting coordination between those two organizations, she said.

    OMAR A. A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the African Group, said Agenda 2063 was a human‑centred plan for achieving Africa’s sustainable development.  Its goals, as well as those of the 2030 Agenda, must be translated into regional and national policies, while taking into account national priorities and local and cultural specificities.  Despite strong efforts and some progress, Africa was still facing many challenges in implementing the 2030 Agenda, including poverty, violence, conflicts, climate change, capital outflows, migration and more.  The continent also suffered from high unemployment, low education levels and a lack of basic services.  Donor countries must honour their commitments to the continent and support its countries in strengthening economic stability and attracting investment, he said, adding that “this will lead to true human resource development in Africa.”

    Calling for efforts to ensure Africa’s youth were educated and empowered, he went on to say that, many African countries, including Libya, regrettably continued to suffer from deteriorating security situations.  Development was impossible without security and vice versa, he stressed, calling on Member States to urgently support African countries affected by conflict or emerging from it.  “The African continent cannot move forward with development without enjoying peace, security and stability,” he said, noting that Libya suffered in particular from instability resulting from transnational migrant flows, trafficking and other cross‑border issues.  “This is not a national or regional problem,” and therefore the responsibility must not fall on transit countries alone.  Origin and destination countries must also work to address the phenomenon’s root causes.  Member States must not serve as havens for the trillions of dollars of illicit financial flows that continued to “haemorrhage” from Africa, he added, warning that corruption would continue until such havens were eradicated.

    VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted the similarities between Asia and Africa’s development challenges.  Having become a donor country, Thailand was committed to extending its regular support and assistance to Africa through various forms of cooperation, including scholarships, training and local‑to‑local knowledge transfers.  Through the Thailand‑Africa Partnership for Sustainable Development, it sought to share with its African friends the late King Bhumibol’s homegrown approach to sustainable development.  It was also sharing its health‑care experience and know‑how, particularly in areas related to epidemics and rural healthcare management.

    NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that the relationship between Israel and Africa had never been stronger.  African nations faced many of the same challenge as Israel and both sought to use human capital to create sustainable solutions.  Through its Agency for International Development Cooperation, Israel worked with African partner countries, United Nations agencies, civil society and the private sector to further education and training.  In December 2016, Israel hosted a three‑day ministerial conference with African agriculture ministers, followed by a training session on applied research for agriculture experts.  Knowledge gained from those seminars would be useful in making progress on the African Union’s vision of providing support for 25 million farming households employing climate‑smart agriculture practices by 2025.  She went on to note the non‑governmental organization “Innovation Africa” that was working to bring Israeli solar energy and water technologies to remote African villages.

    SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) said that despite continued weak economic growth and crisis situations on the continent, African countries were demonstrating resolute commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.  It was concerning that the Secretary‑General’s report noted a 3 per cent decrease in foreign direct investment to the continent in 2016.  African countries must have support in achieving the 2030 Agenda, without which there was a real threat that the progress achieved in recent years would stall.  The Russian Federation continuously provided support to Africa through inter‑governmental initiatives, and had forgiven more than 20 billion in African debt, while also using innovative mechanisms to ease African debt burden.  Further, his Government had carried out projects to ensure food security and improve industrial and transport infrastructure through international programmes and other specialized United Nations bodies.  He went on to underscore that his Government was one of the first to react and respond to the Ebola outbreak.  The future of Africa was dependent on the development of the production and trade potential of the continent, he said, adding that his delegation welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank for Least Development Countries.

    OMAR HILALE (Morocco), stressing that only African action based on regional integration would help the continent overcome challenges to sustainable development, said those actions included the financing of the NEPAD programme.  Indeed, the funding capacity of many African countries remained limited and resource challenges were compounded by difficult access to international markets and decreasing development assistance.  Calling for enhanced partnerships to overcome those issues, he said promoting investment, bolstering technology transfer, improving market access and providing debt relief, among other actions, were critical.  Strengthening the private sector was also crucial to boosting income and job opportunities.  Another important issue was agricultural adaptation, which was critical to ensuring Africa’s food security, and was closely related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.  Recalling that, in a meeting on the margins of the twenty‑second Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakesh, African Heads of State and Government had committed to supporting such adaptation, he said those efforts would focus in particular on combating desertification and improving the resilience of farmers.  The promotion of South‑South cooperation would also be essential, he said, outlining a major “upswing” in Morocco’s own cooperation with countries across the African continent.

    INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with ASEAN, said the impacts of the global financial crisis still cast a shadow over many countries, with the pace of recovery uneven around the world.  While 2.6 per cent growth in Africa was expected this year, more rapid growth was needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  There must be enhanced international cooperation to mobilize development financing for Africa, as well as initiatives to generate inclusive and sustained growth.  Collaboration between the United Nations and Africa vis‑à‑vis sustainable development must also be enhanced.  Noting that Indonesia had always been a true partner for African countries, she said it would host the Indonesia‑Africa Forum in 2018 to explore economic opportunities, strengthen technical cooperation and enhance the existing partnership between both sides.

    ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the African Group, said that while the modest increase in ODA to Africa ‑ from $54.3 billion in 2014 to $56.6 billion in 2015 — was encouraging, the continued decline in foreign direct investment was of concern, considering its important role in infrastructure development.  Agriculture continued to be a source of survival in Africa, particularly in rural areas where the majority of Africans lived.  In that context, the need to modernize agriculture would be crucial to efforts to eradicate poverty.  His country remained committed to encouraging the participation of all stakeholders in recognition of the essential role of community empowerment in improving the welfare of the most vulnerable, as well as in the protection of the environment.  Agriculture development, food security and nutrition goals demanded investment capacity to create national resilience as well as holistic multisector coordination.  Providing quality health care was another important undertaking in Mozambique, including child immunizations and treatment for HIV/AIDS and malaria.

    FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said his country’s Africa Partnership Policy fully embraced the principle of “African solutions to African issues”.  Those countries and Governments had the best knowledge to address their own challenges, he said, outlining Turkey’s support in such areas as infrastructure development, humanitarian assistance and the maintenance of security and stability.  Since 2005, Turkey had multiplied its ODA to sub‑Saharan Africa by more than 100 times, and it was engaged in several projects relating to macroeconomic management, health, urbanization, agriculture and education.  It also collaborated with small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises to carry out sustainable development projects related to industrialization and job creation, and organized training programmes around the continent and in Turkey.

    HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) associating himself with ASEAN, called NEPAD a collective vision and strategic framework for African countries.  His Government was encouraged by the impressive progress of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which targeted 16 cross‑border projects.  Asia and Africa were continents of opportunities and challenges, he underscored.  Given the similarity of the two continent’s development paths, Myanmar recognized the tremendous potential for future collaboration in many areas through South‑South cooperation and the New Asian‑African Strategic Partnership.  Myanmar was a leading country when it came to building friendship and solidarity among Asian and African countries, and in that regard, Myanmar would continue to stand firmly in support of NEPAD’s objectives of political stability, economic growth and sustainable development.

    SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, said the international community should support Africa in creating sustainable growth based on domestic production, effective tax collection and strengthened capacity‑building.  The continent also required improved market access, particularly among developed countries, he said, calling on those nations to show more openness in supporting Africa’s development efforts and its inclusion in the international system.  Economic stabilization measures, as proposed by some voices in rich countries, might impede Africa’s contribution to the world economy.  He said progress in combating poverty in Africa was hampered by several factors, including a multitude of crises, the effects of natural disasters, climate change and volatile commodity prices.  However, the continent’s resilience could and must be strengthened, he said, calling on Africa’s partners to support Agenda 2063 and continental programmes embedded in NEPAD.  He went on to outline initiatives including the Trans‑Sahara Highway project and the installation of 4,500 kilometres of terrestrial optic fibre, both linking Algeria and Nigeria.

    MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said that since 2000, Africa had registered encouraging economic growth which had reduced poverty, but the continent still faced multiple challenges.  African leaders had therefore endorsed the Agenda 2063 in order to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent.  The Agenda 2063 was African‑led and African‑owned and was fully aligned with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda.  In realizing the Agenda 2063 vision, special attention must be given to silencing the guns.  Development was the prerequisite for ensuring sustainable peace and security.  It was important to enhance financial, technological and capacity‑building support to the 2030 and 2063 Agendas in a more coordinated and enhanced manner and cooperation and coordination between the United Nations and the African Union should be further coordinated, he said.

    MODEST MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) associated himself with the African Group and said that African countries were determined to eradicate poverty and guarantee prosperity for their peoples.  Africans had always addressed challenges through a common purpose and solidarity.  He stressed the importance of implementing the 2030 Agenda, Agenda 2063 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  African countries intended to support the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda and to address peace and security challenges through regional initiatives and partnerships with the international community.  Addressing infrastructure development on the continent, investment in industrialization and value addition would be essential for putting the continent on the right track.

    HAMID MOHAMED ELNOUR AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the African Group, said that Africa’s contributions to human civilization had been proven, yet the continent had been left behind when it came to recent industrialization and development.  Unfortunately, the continent had grown into a region of conflicts, which had resulted in great destruction and adversely affected the prosperity of the African people.  Climate change and its impacts on food security were of grave concern for the African people and in that regard, the international community must work together to avoid the destructive impacts of that phenomenon.  The 2030 Agenda was a roadmap for development in Africa, and in that context, regional organizations including the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) had an important role to play in reaching those development objectives.  He went on to call for a redoubling of efforts to establish a comprehensive, strategic partnership to fight terrorism and ensure political stability in Africa.

    IBRAHIM ASSANE MAYAKI, Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Agency, speaking on behalf of the African Union, said NEPAD was embedded in the latter’s Agenda 2063 and served as the “rallying point” in Africa’s pursuit of transformation and growth.  NEPAD was especially critical in areas related to social and economic empowerment, he stressed, noting that his Agency was set to become the African Union’s development agency in the context of its recent reform efforts.  Key to Africa’s sustainable development was the issue of demographics, especially youth and youth unemployment.  Indeed, it was not enough to expand gross domestic product (GDP) levels if such progress was not accompanied by growth and transformative changes in jobs, economic opportunities, access to education and other human development strides.  With a median age of 20, Africa must break the generation‑to‑generation poverty cycle that continued to trap many of its people.  In that vein, he recalled that the African Union had dedicated 2017 to making progress on the issue of youth unemployment, and noted that some 440 million people on the continent would enter the labour market by 2030.

    Outlining the NEPAD Agency’s initiatives in such areas as employment creation and entrepreneurship development, he said Africa needed to rapidly expand its capacity to offer skills and vocational training to its young people and women.  The expansion of African trade — including intra‑continental trade — was equally critical, he said, spotlighting the need to accelerate progress on the policy front.  Changes were necessary in such areas as customs procedures, visa restrictions and bringing to full ratification the use of the single African Passport, as well as enhancing the form, quality and diversity of transboundary goods and services.  Describing other initiatives aimed at improving Africa’s railways and expanding its Internet connectivity, he said the issue of wealth distribution was also a critical one.  The continent’s inequality gap continued to widen, which was bad for political stability, business, growth and social cohesion.  In that regard, the NEPAD Agency was discussing transformative action within a clear medium‑ to long‑term plan, while also working with African Union member States and other actors to foster a better domestic understanding of inequality.

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