Saturday, 16/12/2017 | 3:26 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • What Libya’s “slave auctions” tell us about the humanitarian system

    In the wake of the CNN report on human auctions in Libya, there has rightly been a surge in concern for the thousands of Africans languishing in inhumane conditions in detention camps.

    Political leaders in Europe and Africa, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, have condemned the situation.

    Notable also has been the spontaneous attention of African and African-American celebrities in the face of the silence by official Hollywood goodwill ambassadors for various international organisations.

    After years of flailing diplomacy and lonely advocacy, it seems the world is finally ready to talk about the humanitarian disaster in Libya.

    But while this new wave of attention is welcome and necessary, it does raise key questions.

    Why did it take so long to have this near-unified voice of condemnation on a well-researched and well-covered issue that has been in the public domain for the better part of the last decade? Why now and not before? And more importantly, what does this delayed reaction say about race and racism in international humanitarian work?

    The CNN film has had such a major impact in part because of the starkness of the imagery – the visuals reminiscent of the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave trades.

    Although the men in the videos are not shackled, they are certainly imprisoned and, in a later part of the film, they detail the dire conditions in which they are held. Rape, beatings, starvation and murder all recur with alarming frequency in this contemporary slave trade.

    The impact of injustice

    Yet this information is not new. International organisations, politicians, and journalists have all reported the dire conditions facing African migrants in Libya from at least 2010.

    Rather, this new urgency can be attributed in part to the rise of new forms of organising for racial justice.

    Specifically, the Black Lives Matter movement has broadened the concerns of global racial solidarity, not just in the United States where it was born, but also across other racially divided societies like South Africa and Brazil.

    Read more

    Since you’ve been gone – the families migrants leave behind

    Disposable Africians – migration and its consequences

    The forgotten frontline of the migration crisis

    EU strategy stems migrant flow from Niger, but at what cost? 

    African diasporas in France and in the United Kingdom have also organised chapters to fight local racial battles. The call for a new global compact for racial justice demanded in the streets of Baltimore, New York, Paris, Johannesburg, and Tel Aviv is finally being heard in offices in Geneva and New York.

    Is global humanitarianism ready to talk about race? 

    It should be, considering that anti-black racism is the elephant in the room when it comes to the protection of refugees and migrants.

    The vast majority of the world’s refugees and migrants today are Asian and African, unlike in the 1940s when the original instruments of protection were negotiated.

    Most of these people remain in their region of origin. South-South migration is common in Africa where, for example, 20,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans try to reach southern Africa every year.

    It’s important to situate contemporary human mobility in its proper place. With the notable exception of the cruel and inhumane global slave trade, the search for better opportunities, particularly in young men negotiating patriarchal masculinities, is – and has long been – common.

    But the rules have changed.

    In the 19th century as more and more young men took to the sea from southern Portugal as part of exploration and colonisation missions, the women they left behind would sing mournful songs, lamenting their departure and willing them to return safely, songs collectively known as Fado.

    Now, hundreds of thousands of young African men and women die on their journeys abroad – from the North African deserts to the Mediterranean Sea, primarily as a consequence of increasingly inhumane policies towards human mobility. They are unmourned except when families finally get word that they have gone missing.

    Criminalising migrants

    Unlike European men in the last century who were celebrated for leaving home in search of opportunity or even adventure, young African men today are criminalised and punished, especially when they try to enter predominantly white societies.

    Take another example. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh and have been largely welcomed, if under-resourced, while Australia expends much force and energy to keep hundreds of refugees violently contained on Manus Island. The same can be said of South Americans attempting to cross into the United States, and of course the frame of existential crisis that populist parties in Europe reserve for Muslim refugees from the Middle East.

    If there is a global crisis of migration it is that societies are resorting to increasingly draconian measures to keep “The Other” out.

    Contrast this panic with the treatment of predominantly white migrants or “expats”. Most countries in the world have migration policies that favour immigration by “expats” while penalising similar migration from predominantly black and brown populations.

    This includes African countries like Kenya, which has kept half a million Somali refugees encamped with no legal status or pathway to citizenship for over 25 years.

    On the campaign trail earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron emphatically offered France as a “second home” to American climate scientists concerned about the anti-science proclivities of Donald Trump’s administration.

    But when African and European leaders met in Abidjan last week, Macron was equivocal in offering the same emphatic welcome to African migrants held in the detention centres in Libya – regardless of their qualifications.

    Everyone wants “good migrants” – where “good” means primarily white and/or wealthy.

    Ignoring the suffering

    At the same time, consider that the barter of African bodies in Libya is not a question of a handful of criminals in the desert. It is a global system that rises to the highest level.

    Deposed Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi routinely used the threat of allowing mass migration of black Africans to Europe in negotiations for improved political relations.

    European governments have repeatedly paid African countries to take and keep African migrants and refugees in Africa. Black and brown bodies are constantly on sale in the modern era, but it is couched in the polite language of diplomatic negotiation and “helping them where they are”.

    And the very act of feigning shock at information that has been in the public domain – reported by survivors and journalists alike – for so long speaks to an unwillingness to see the suffering of Africans.

    Race and racism are at the heart of the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis, but, to date, humanitarianism has been reluctant to talk about it in stark terms.

    The preferred language of protection is dry and technical, linked to statutes and conventions that were drafted at the time of Jim Crow and independence movements around the world.

    Consider that the refugee convention entered into force in 1951 when most of Africa and the Caribbean was still colonised and three years before Brown v. Board of Education desegregated US schools.

    New voices

    The convention was not designed with ethnic minorities in mind and has struggled to adapt as the dynamics of refugee protection have shifted. It responded to the white-on-white crimes of World War II and is predicated on the goodwill of states towards citizens that arguably has never been extended to black or brown people.

    Which is probably why, less than a week later, the momentum triggered by the CNN film is already fading. The United States has pulled out of the new global compact on migration, and the document agreed upon by EU and AU leaders in Abidjan is widely viewed as weak.

    The stark visuals of the CNN report have forced a conversation on humanitarian protection to be openly and explicitly framed as a question of racial justice.

    This has allowed new voices and new advocacy into the conversation. It remains unclear if this new momentum and direction of thought will translate into more meaningful action for those on the move.

    nn/oa/ag

    Read more
  • What Libya’s “slave auctions” tell us about the humanitarian system

    In the wake of the CNN report on human auctions in Libya, there has rightly been a surge in concern for the thousands of Africans languishing in inhumane conditions in detention camps.

    Political leaders in Europe and Africa, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, have condemned the situation.

    Notable also has been the spontaneous attention of African and African-American celebrities in the face of the silence by official Hollywood goodwill ambassadors for various international organisations.

    After years of flailing diplomacy and lonely advocacy, it seems the world is finally ready to talk about the humanitarian disaster in Libya.

    But while this new wave of attention is welcome and necessary, it does raise key questions.

    Why did it take so long to have this near-unified voice of condemnation on a well-researched and well-covered issue that has been in the public domain for the better part of the last decade? Why now and not before? And more importantly, what does this delayed reaction say about race and racism in international humanitarian work?

    The CNN film has had such a major impact in part because of the starkness of the imagery – the visuals reminiscent of the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave trades.

    Although the men in the videos are not shackled, they are certainly imprisoned and, in a later part of the film, they detail the dire conditions in which they are held. Rape, beatings, starvation and murder all recur with alarming frequency in this contemporary slave trade.

    The impact of injustice

    Yet this information is not new. International organisations, politicians, and journalists have all reported the dire conditions facing African migrants in Libya from at least 2010.

    Rather, this new urgency can be attributed in part to the rise of new forms of organising for racial justice.

    Specifically, the Black Lives Matter movement has broadened the concerns of global racial solidarity, not just in the United States where it was born, but also across other racially divided societies like South Africa and Brazil.

    Read more

    Since you’ve been gone – the families migrants leave behind

    Disposable Africians – migration and its consequences

    The forgotten frontline of the migration crisis

    EU strategy stems migrant flow from Niger, but at what cost? 

    African diasporas in France and in the United Kingdom have also organised chapters to fight local racial battles. The call for a new global compact for racial justice demanded in the streets of Baltimore, New York, Paris, Johannesburg, and Tel Aviv is finally being heard in offices in Geneva and New York.

    Is global humanitarianism ready to talk about race? 

    It should be, considering that anti-black racism is the elephant in the room when it comes to the protection of refugees and migrants.

    The vast majority of the world’s refugees and migrants today are Asian and African, unlike in the 1940s when the original instruments of protection were negotiated.

    Most of these people remain in their region of origin. South-South migration is common in Africa where, for example, 20,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans try to reach southern Africa every year.

    It’s important to situate contemporary human mobility in its proper place. With the notable exception of the cruel and inhumane global slave trade, the search for better opportunities, particularly in young men negotiating patriarchal masculinities, is – and has long been – common.

    But the rules have changed.

    In the 19th century as more and more young men took to the sea from southern Portugal as part of exploration and colonisation missions, the women they left behind would sing mournful songs, lamenting their departure and willing them to return safely, songs collectively known as Fado.

    Now, hundreds of thousands of young African men and women die on their journeys abroad – from the North African deserts to the Mediterranean Sea, primarily as a consequence of increasingly inhumane policies towards human mobility. They are unmourned except when families finally get word that they have gone missing.

    Criminalising migrants

    Unlike European men in the last century who were celebrated for leaving home in search of opportunity or even adventure, young African men today are criminalised and punished, especially when they try to enter predominantly white societies.

    Take another example. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh and have been largely welcomed, if under-resourced, while Australia expends much force and energy to keep hundreds of refugees violently contained on Manus Island. The same can be said of South Americans attempting to cross into the United States, and of course the frame of existential crisis that populist parties in Europe reserve for Muslim refugees from the Middle East.

    If there is a global crisis of migration it is that societies are resorting to increasingly draconian measures to keep “The Other” out.

    Contrast this panic with the treatment of predominantly white migrants or “expats”. Most countries in the world have migration policies that favour immigration by “expats” while penalising similar migration from predominantly black and brown populations.

    This includes African countries like Kenya, which has kept half a million Somali refugees encamped with no legal status or pathway to citizenship for over 25 years.

    On the campaign trail earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron emphatically offered France as a “second home” to American climate scientists concerned about the anti-science proclivities of Donald Trump’s administration.

    But when African and European leaders met in Abidjan last week, Macron was equivocal in offering the same emphatic welcome to African migrants held in the detention centres in Libya – regardless of their qualifications.

    Everyone wants “good migrants” – where “good” means primarily white and/or wealthy.

    Ignoring the suffering

    At the same time, consider that the barter of African bodies in Libya is not a question of a handful of criminals in the desert. It is a global system that rises to the highest level.

    Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi routinely used the threat of allowing mass migration of black Africans to Europe in negotiations for improved political relations.

    European governments have repeatedly paid African countries to take and keep African migrants and refugees in Africa. Black and brown bodies are constantly on sale in the modern era, but it is couched in the polite language of diplomatic negotiation and “helping them where they are”.

    And the very act of feigning shock at information that has been in the public domain – reported by survivors and journalists alike – for so long speaks to an unwillingness to see the suffering of Africans.

    Race and racism are at the heart of the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis, but, to date, humanitarianism has been reluctant to talk about it in stark terms.

    The preferred language of protection is dry and technical, linked to statutes and conventions that were drafted at the time of Jim Crow and independence movements around the world.

    Consider that the refugee convention entered into force in 1951 when most of Africa and the Caribbean was still colonised and three years before Brown v. Board of Education desegregated US schools.

    New voices

    The convention was not designed with ethnic minorities in mind and has struggled to adapt as the dynamics of refugee protection have shifted. It responded to the white-on-white crimes of World War II and is predicated on the goodwill of states towards citizens that arguably has never been extended to black or brown people.

    Which is probably why, less than a week later, the momentum triggered by the CNN film is already fading. The United States has pulled out of the new global compact on migration, and the document agreed upon by EU and AU leaders in Abidjan is widely viewed as weak.

    The stark visuals of the CNN report have forced a conversation on humanitarian protection to be openly and explicitly framed as a question of racial justice.

    This has allowed new voices and new advocacy into the conversation. It remains unclear if this new momentum and direction of thought will translate into more meaningful action for those on the move.

    nn/oa/ag

    Read more
  • Europe and Eurasia: Joint Statement to the Media

    MODERATOR: (In progress) ladies and gentlemen, and welcome. High Representative Vice President Federica Mogherini and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just had a bilateral meeting and will deliver press statements to update you on their discussions.

    High Representative, you have the floor.

    HIGH REPRESENTATIVE MOGHERINI: Thank you, Maja, and it’s a pleasure to welcome you, Rex, Secretary Tillerson, to Brussels, the heart of the European Union, after the good visits we received in spring of President Trump and of Vice President Pence. It’s a pleasure to welcome friends and work together. We just had a good exchange of views, and after this press point discussions will continue together with the foreign ministers of all the European Union member-states.

    Our meeting today has confirmed the importance that the European Union and the United States attach to their close partnership and cooperation. I believe we can say that it’s also an opportunity to renew collectively our commitment to a close cooperation on a number of important points.

    During our bilateral meeting we discussed mainly four issues; first of all, the Middle East peace process, the European Union support, the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution. We believe that any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled.

    We will discuss this further with Prime Minister Netanyahu next Monday here in Brussels and with President Abbas later, at the beginning of next year, as we will host both of them separately at our next foreign affairs councils. We will also continue to engage with our international and regional partners, including within the Quartet, to support the prospectus of a resumption of negotiations towards the two states.

    We also discussed Iran, in particular the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran. I have reaffirmed the European Union view that continued implementation of the Iran nuclear deal is a key strategic priority for European security but also for regional and global security. We have discussed the fact that there are other issues that we should discuss and tackle together, but they are not under the scope of the nuclear agreement and therefore we are willing to address them outside of the agreement itself. The European Union is willing to work closely with the United States on these issues on the basis of continued U.S. implementation of the nuclear deal. It was decided that nuclear deal would have been purely on nuclear issues back some 14 years ago, so now dismantling an agreement on nuclear issues that is working, as the IAEA has certified for nine times, would not put us in a better position to discuss all the rest on the country.

    Third, we discussed the situation in Syria, looking at the wider Middle East. We share the belief that it is urgent to rapidly advance towards a negotiated political transition process in Syria based on Geneva peace talks and the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. I’ve used this opportunity to inform Secretary Tillerson about the preparations for the second ministerial conference that we will host here in Brussels in spring next year on the future of Syria and the region that will look at ways to continue supporting the Syrian people and their hosting communities not only from a humanitarian point of view but also guaranteeing political and economic support to the UN-led negotiations in Geneva, offering incentives towards a political solution to be reached under UN auspices in Geneva.

    Last but not least, we discussed the Western Balkans. We have both reaffirmed our commitment to the region, which has a clear European Union perspective, and encouraged continued reforms and negotiation process in the region.

    We will now continue these conversations together with our colleagues, EU member-states’ foreign ministers. I expect other issues will be addressed. Some of them actually were already subject to our conversation, including the situation in the Korean Peninsula, our cooperation in support of peace and stability in – and territorial integrity in Ukraine, and latest developments in the wider region of the Middle East or in Libya.

    We also, I would expect, will discuss with the foreign ministers of the 28 member-states our cooperation in international fora, as the European Union, as you know well, is and remains a strong and reliable supporter of multilateralism, UN system, and a rules-based global order.

    Thanks. Thank you again for the visit and for the good exchange.

    MODERATOR: Secretary Tillerson.

    SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you very much. It’s indeed a pleasure to be back in Brussels, and I think meetings like the one that was just held between the high representative and myself illustrate again the strong commitment that the U.S. has to the European alliance and the important role that the European alliance plays in our shared security objectives, and vice versa as well. The partnership between America and the European Union, I think as everyone knows, is longstanding. It is one that’s based upon shared values, shared objectives for security and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, and we remain committed to that.

    I think during our meetings today, as the high representative mentioned, there were a number of important issues discussed and views exchanged. And in particular on North Korea, we appreciate the resolute stance of our European allies to send a message to the regime in North Korea of our we do not accept the nuclear weapons program that they have undertaken and we view that it is an important objective for all that there be a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And again, this economic pressure will continue until either North Korea reverses its course, certainly to encourage talks to get underway to do so.

    Our shared objectives in terms of defeating ISIS are important, but not just defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria but defeating ISIS globally. And I think continuing our discussion on joint efforts to combat terrorism wherever it raises its head, and we certainly see the results of ISIS’ caliphate and this long reign of terror that they have carried out in Iraq and Syria which is now coming to an end.

    We also discussed, as the high representative mentioned, our joint efforts under the JCPOA to hold Iran fully compliant with the terms of the JCPOA, fully enforce that agreement, but at the same time recognizing that Iran is carrying out a number of other destabilizing actions in the region. And we’ve seen this recently with ballistic missiles being fired from Yemen, which it’s our belief are sourced from Iran; their support for the Houthis, and the destabilizing effect that that has in Yemen. We also know of Iran’s destabilizing effect of exporting weapons and militia to Syria, an area of conflict, and their ongoing support for Hizballah, a terrorist organization. These issues and activities of Iran cannot be ignored and cannot go unanswered, and we intend to continue to take action to ensure Iran understands this is not acceptable to us, and we look forward to working with European partners in that regard as well. It’s a threat, I think, to many of our shared values.

    As a NATO member, the United States is very happy and pleased to see NATO-EU cooperation continuing to evolve and deepen since the joint declaration was signed last year, and we’ll certainly have an opportunity for further discussions around that today during the NATO meetings. We know our security is strongest when allies and partners shoulder their fair share of the burden, and that’s why we continue to call on others to increase their defense spending that is towards a shared objective and serves everyone well.

    Our European allies are also steadfast supporters of the peace process in Syria. And as the high representative just confirmed, our support for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, a significant effort has been underway as the defeat-ISIS campaign succeeds to move Syria to a process of reconciliation as called for under 2254. And we’re pleased to see talks resume in Geneva under the leadership of the UN Representative Staffan de Mistura and we’ll support those talks in all ways possible to keep those parties at the table to find and chart a new course forward for Syria that will serve the will of the Syrian people.

    Like any good relationship, this one requires a lot of attention, and I know the high representative is very committed to this relationship. Her tireless efforts at communication with the United States and the United States Government at all levels is important, and we view it the same. And that’s why I’m here as well today and appreciate the time that she’s given me and the important exchanges we’ve had, and much of this will continue throughout the day as we have a full agenda ahead of us. So thank you.

    MODERATOR: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference.

    Read more
  • Declaring Israel’s Actions in Syrian Golan, East Jerusalem ‘Null and Void’, General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions on Palestine, Middle East

    Concluding its annual debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, the General Assembly adopted six resolutions today — including two declaring Israel’s actions in the Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem “null and void” — as several delegates voiced concern that those texts perpetuated a one-sided view that isolated and targeted a single Member State.

    After the debate concluded, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11) by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

    By that text, the Assembly reiterated that any actions by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem were illegal and therefore null and void.  It further stressed the need for the parties to refrain from provocative actions, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, and called for respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem.

    By that text — “The Syrian Golan” (document A/71/L.17), adopted by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States) with 58 abstentions — the Assembly declared that Israel had failed to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and demanded its withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan.

    Adopting the draft resolution “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/L.16) by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States) with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga), the Assembly called for the intensification of efforts by the parties towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement, stressed the need for resumed negotiations and called upon Israel to cease all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

    The Assembly also adopted by recorded vote a series of resolutions dealing with the United Nations system’s own provision of support to the Palestinian people:  Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/72/L.15), the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights (document A/72/L.13) and the Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine (document A/72/L.14).

    Egypt’s representative, introducing “L.11” and “L.17”, noted that the former called for the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of belief and called for an end to all of Israel’s excavation or destruction of holy sites.  The latter text reiterated the Assembly’s concern that Israel had still failed to adhere to relevant United Nations resolutions, and called on it to fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan.  (For details on the remaining draft resolutions, introduced on 29 November, see Press Release GA/11981.)

    Syria’s representative, stressing that Israel’s actions in the occupied Syrian Golan were both supported and emboldened by certain permanent members of the Security Council, noted that Israel’s systematic and discriminatory policies amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Israel’s delegate said that after seven decades, some countries still refused to accept her country’s existence.  Moreover, the United Nations continued to annually adopt biased resolutions and devote precious resources — almost $6.5 million of its budget — to politicized bodies whose sole purpose was to attack and denounce Israel.  Supporting the six resolutions would neither advance nor inspire peace, she said.

    The representative of the United States echoed that opposition, saying the biased and one-sided resolutions undermined efforts to achieve peace between the parties.  It was inappropriate for the United Nations — founded on the ideal that all nations should be treated equally — to treat one Member State so unequally, he stressed, voicing concern about the renewal of mandates of three United Nations bodies and programmes that wasted critical resources and only perpetuated the perception of the Organization’s inherent bias against Israel.

    Estonia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained its members’ position on several key terms used in the resolutions.  Whenever “Palestinian Government” was mentioned, it referred to the Palestinian Authority, and the use of the term “Palestine” in those resolutions could not be construed as the recognition of a State of Palestine, she said.

    Also speaking were representatives of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, China, Uruguay, Oman, Cuba, Algeria, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Russian Federation, Argentina, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

    The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 1 December to take action on a draft resolution on the culture of peace, review the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations and take up a report of the Fifth Committee.

    Question of Palestine

    MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), highlighting that the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was an unwavering recognition by the United Nations of their plight, said the 2017 commemoration on 29 November had coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of Israeli aggression.  Such activities continued unabated, including illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, efforts to foil the international community’s work towards establishing a Palestinian State and the demolition of homes, infrastructure, holy places, schools and other civilian locations.  Palestinians had lost hope in the establishment of any just and lasting peace, he said, underlining Iraq’s position that any such resolution would only be achieved by establishing a sovereign and independent Palestinian State based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Urging Israel to respect all its commitments under international humanitarian law, he encouraged Member States that had not yet done so to recognize the State of Palestine and support its people in the pursuit of their legitimate and inalienable rights.

    MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia), calling for redoubled efforts to enable the Palestinian people to fully realize their right to self-determination, condemned all Israeli attacks on Occupied Palestinian Territory, including killing innocent people, property theft, destroying homes and infrastructure and the longstanding Gaza blockade.  Such actions could constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, she stressed, noting that Israel had disregarded the international community’s calls to end its aggressions.  Demanding an end to repeated violations, she said the sanctity and integrity of all holy sites must be respected.  “Chasing away Palestinians” from their own sites and homes represented a case of ethnic cleansing.  She called on Israel to end its illegal settlement expansion and respect relevant international laws, adding that Israeli settlers committing crimes against Palestinian civilians should be placed on global lists of terrorist groups.

    MAHMOUD DIBAEI (Iran), expressing regret over the international community’s failure on the question of Palestine due to the Israeli regime’s intransigence and continued unlawful and criminal acts, emphasized that “the injustice has continued for more than seven decades”.  The Israeli regime arrogantly and flagrantly continued to violate United Nations decisions, including at least 86 Security Council resolutions.  It was unfortunate that a host of criminal policies were being perpetrated by the regime with impunity; the rapid growth of illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory constituted not only a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention but also a war crime.  “It is yet another clear indication that the Israeli regime had never had any interest in peace with the Palestinians,” he said.  Israel’s participation in talks had been just another tactic to buy time and continue its policy of expansion.  The continued brutal Israeli occupation not only caused misery to the Palestinian people, it also lay at the origin of various tensions in the Middle East.  Yet, the Security Council continued to be paralysed, failing to uphold its obligations, he said, adding that “this must change.”

    DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said his country shared the Secretary-General’s concern about the absence of political progress on the Palestinian question and the high risk of further violence and radicalization.  Indonesia reaffirmed its support for the two‑State vision and reaffirmed that nobody who had objected to that vision had come up with a viable alternative which met the legitimate aspirations of Israelis and the Palestinians.  He called on Israel to stop resettlement and construction and to put to an end to extra judicial killings and other forms of human rights abuses.  He added that the illegal blockades and “barrier zones” imposed by Israel undermined the potential of the Palestinian economy and exacerbated its dependence on imports and foreign aid.  Indonesia fully supported the draft resolutions being adopted.

    WU HAITAO (China) said addressing the question of Palestine was fundamental to peace in the Middle East.  However, Israel’s persistent settlement expansion had greatly undermined the peace process.  China had made a four‑point proposal, including through establishing a political process based on a two‑State solution.  Palestine and Israel must embark on a shared path to security.  All settlement activities must end and Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) must immediately be implemented.  The international community must intensify diplomatic efforts to bring both parties to the negotiating table.  An integrated approach that promoted peace though development was also essential, he added, noting that China had always maintained an impartial and objective view of the Middle East situation.  China supported the just cause of the Palestinian people as well as the establishment of a State based on pre‑1967 borders.  “Both sides must meet each other halfway,” he said.  Expressing concern that some countries in the region were trapped in “protracted turmoil” and that terrorism was spreading, he said the international community must focus on advancing a political settlement in hotspot areas.  He also underscored the need to cut off terrorist financing.

    MATÍAS PAOLINO LABORDE (Uruguay), reaffirming his country’s support for the right of Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace, reiterated support for the two‑State solution.  Uruguay maintained close links of friendship with both Israel and Palestine, he said, urging the international community to step up efforts and urge parties to return to the negotiating table.  They must reach a just solution that considered the interests of both parties and must refrain from adopting unilateral measures that stunted or jeopardized the peace process.  Expressing concern over Israel’s illegal settlements, he said they ran counter to the Middle East Quartet and various Security Council resolutions and, if they continued, would jeopardized the two-State solution.

    MOHAMED AHMED SALIM AL-SHANFARI (Oman) said the current debate had remained unchanged in the seven decades as had Israel’s continuing inhumane policies.  Calling on the international community, through the Security Council, to carry out its responsibility to ensure that Israel guaranteed protection to the Palestinian people, he said Member States must also push that country to end its discriminatory policies.  “We must move towards negotiations to end the occupation” and establish a free, sovereign and independent Palestinian State.  Welcoming the recent reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas, he commended Egypt’s efforts in that regard.  Israel and Palestine must return to the negotiating table and all other stakeholders, including the Middle East Quartet and the Security Council, must take up their proper roles.

    HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced deep concern over the situation in the Middle East, which was characterized by violence, interference in internal affairs and aggression on the part of Israel.  Urging Israel to immediately cease its destruction, seizure and occupation of Palestinian lands and its human rights violations, he said the Security Council must also adopt tangible measures to compel the country to do so.  Any solution to the question of Palestine would be impossible as long as Israel continued to violate international law and relevant United Nations decisions, including Council resolution 2334 (2016).  It was critical to address all barriers to peace, including the situation in East Jerusalem, where Israel’s policies jeopardized the peace process.  Reiterating Cuba’s policy of solidarity with the Palestinian people and its support for a sovereign, independent Palestinian State, he said the international community must not stand by as Israeli violations continued.

    MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said it was truly deplorable that some continued to celebrate the Balfour Declaration even though the Palestinian people continued to suffer.  Indeed, Israel was still expanding its settlement activities and apartheid wall and continued its inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip while its army committed barbaric acts daily, flouting international law.  Such crimes continued unpunished because of the international community’s indifference.  Given the continued plight of the Palestine people, the international community remained responsible for finding a way out and responding to their aspirations to live in dignity.  He urged the international community to redouble efforts to provide the Palestinian people with protection and help them to establish an independent State, one in which they could control their own resources.  He reaffirmed Algeria’s unconditional support to the Palestinian cause and their just and legitimate struggle.

    KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia) expressed regret about Israel’s continued construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, including in East Jerusalem, which further weakened the possibility of a two-State solution.  He urged the international community to demand that Israel immediately cease settlement activities in Occupied Palestinian Territory before completely eroding the viability of a two-State solution.  He also expressed concern about vulnerable security at holy sites, urging the safeguarding of unrestricted access for Muslim worshippers to the Al‑Aqsa Mosque.  On the situation in the Gaza Strip, he noted that food, clean water, sanitation and electricity remained scarce because vast networks had been destroyed by Israeli aggression.  As such, all Member States must continue to demand an immediate lifting of the blockade.  Normalizing the situation there would significantly reduce tensions and facilitate the resumption of the political process.  However, “normalization also does not mean that the citizens of Gaza will continue to live in a de facto open-air prison,” he said.  Instead, normalization meant the realization and fulfilment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

    DAULET YEMBERDIYEV (Kazakhstan) said the two-State solution was the only viable and durable option, expressing support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and Israel’s right to security.  He emphasized the need to ensure the rule of law and good governance, which would yield dividends over time.  Noting that all major religions — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — were born in the sacred land of the Middle East, he asked whether it was possible for its rich history to inspire the region to live in peace.  For its part, Kazakhstan would do its utmost to ensure peace and security in the region.

    Situation in Middle East

    AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), introducing the draft resolutions titled “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11) and “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17), said the former reaffirmed decisions by both the Assembly and the Security Council regarding occupied East Jerusalem, reflecting the fact that all of Israel’s attempts to change the character of the city were “null and void”.  It also called for the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of belief and called for an end to all of Israel’s excavation or destruction of holy sites.  The text had not been altered since the seventy-first session, he said, except to include a reference to Security Council resolution 2334 (2016).

    Turning to “L.17”, he said the draft reiterated the Assembly’s concern that Israel still failed to adhere to relevant United Nations resolutions.  Emphasizing that the Geneva Conventions applied to the lands occupied by Israel, he said “L.17” called on that country to fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan, and urged the international community to take that situation into account as it dealt with broader challenges in the Middle East.  He called on all Member States to support both draft resolutions and help to achieve the goals enshrined in international law and on which the United Nations had been founded.

    MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), recalling that every year the Assembly called on Israel to end its illegal and groundless occupation of Arab territories, said today’s meeting coincided with the centennial anniversary of the “sinister” and “colonial” Balfour Declaration, whose repercussions were still being felt not only by Syrians but by all people in the Middle East.  Israel’s actions were supported and indeed emboldened by certain permanent members of the Security Council, he stressed, noting that Israel’s systematic and discriminatory policies amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    In the Syrian Golan, he said, Israel refused to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 497 (1981).  Instead, Israel supported terroristic policies and denied people the legitimate right to resist occupation, he said, calling for the release of all unlawfully detained persons and an immediate end to all its repressive socioeconomic policies.  Israel had also recently helped Nusrah Front to attack Syrian towns north of the separation zone, leading to civilian casualties.  Reaffirming Syria’s “non-negotiable” sovereign right over the occupied Syrian Golan, he said it was no longer acceptable for the Assembly to adopt routine resolutions on the matter.  Instead, he urged Member States to undertake immediate and concrete measures to compel Israel to end its occupation and called on them to vote in favour of both draft resolutions.

    LAILA SHAREEF (Maldives), calling for the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, said that Israel must fully implement all relevant resolutions and respect the legal obligations it undertook in the Oslo Accords.  In recent months, violence by the occupying Power had increased dramatically, she noted, adding that the provocative law to retroactively legalize settlements by the Government of Israel had resulted in the approval of more than 2,000 housing units in Area C of the occupied West Bank at the expense of Palestinian-owned structures.  Also expressing concern about the ongoing conflicts in Syria, she added that the barbaric acts of violence perpetrated by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) represented a serious assault on the religion of Islam.

    VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), highlighting current conflicts in the Middle East and noting that critical agreements such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme remained under threat, said his delegation was an active proponent of unity among the region’s States.  “We cannot forget that extremists use ethnic and religious aspects to spread discord,” he added.  Unfortunately, the global counter-terrorism coalition, as proposed by the Russian Federation, had yet to be established.  On the issue of solving the crises in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, he called for political solutions and warned against imposing remedies from abroad.  He welcomed recent developments aimed at renewing Syrian negotiations in Geneva.  On Yemen, it was essential to increase humanitarian support.  New challenges in the Middle East and North Africa must not affect the priority of settling the question of Palestine, he said, expressing great concern over the current stalemate and underlining the Russian Federation’s commitment to achieving a just solution on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.  As a member of the Security Council and the Middle East Quartet, the Russian Federation supported the Palestinian people’s legal rights and commended the regional efforts led by Egypt and Jordan.  He noted other positive steps, including the power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas, adding that “we have no hidden agenda in the Middle East”.

    Action on Draft Resolutions

    HADAS MEITZAD (Israel), explaining her delegation’s position, said that 70 years after the Assembly had adopted resolution 181 (1947), calling for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States, some countries still refused to accept the existence of her country.  While 29 November should have been a celebration of that adoption, instead, year after year, that historic date becomes an annual Israel-bashing session.  Despite the many crises facing the world, the United Nations continued to adopt biased resolutions and devote precious resources to politicized bodies whose sole purpose was to attack and denounce Israel.

    Citing examples from draft resolutions being considered today, she said the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People spread a one-sided political narrative, supported by the United Nations Department of Political Affairs’ Division for Palestinian Rights, which had 15 paid positions.  Large portions of the division’s budget paid for business class airline tickets for participants attending anti-Israel events, using “your money” to do so, she said.  The Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine also focused on anti-Israel activities and did little to promote dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.  It was truly baffling that the United Nations spent almost $6.5 million of its budget on organizations and bodies that did nothing but try to isolate Israel, she said, adding that at a time of budgetary deficits, it was also unwise and wrong.

    She said two draft resolutions discussed the Temple Mount, a sacred place for all three Abrahamic religions, but had deliberately omitted any reference to the Jewish or Christian connections to the holy site.  The international community must stop participating in such blatant denial of history.  The draft resolution “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/72/L.15) stated that the establishment of the State of Israel was a catastrophe, which amounted to a denial of her country’s right to exist.  On the draft resolution “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17), she said the situation in Syria was dire and Israel was helping thousands of injured Syrians in their hospitals, free of charge.  Despite the reality on the ground, “absurdity prevailed” in the General Assembly, she said, emphasizing that the draft resolutions offered only one-sided accounts and asking delegates to vote against the drafts if they truly sought to help the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

    RICHARD ERDMAN (United States) said his delegation opposed biased, one-sided resolutions against Israel, which undermined efforts to achieve peace between the parties.  While Member States continued to single out Israel, the United States had voted against 18 such resolutions in 2017 so far.  It was inappropriate for the United Nations — founded on the ideal that all nations should be treated equally — to treat one Member State so unequally.  The United States would vote against all the draft resolutions presented in the Assembly today, he said, voicing concern about the renewal of mandates of three United Nations bodies and programmes that wasted critical resources and only perpetuated the perception of the Organization’s inherent bias against Israel.  “Biased resolutions do not help advance peace”, but only distracted attention from that process, he said.

    Turning first to the draft resolution “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” (document A/72/L.13), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 100 in favour to 10 against, with 59 abstentions.

    It then adopted the draft resolution “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat” (document A/72/L.14) by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga).

    The Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/72/L.15) by a recorded vote of 103 in favour to 10 against, with 57 abstentions.

    Turning to the draft resolution “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/L.16), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States), with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga).

    Following those adoptions, the representatives of several delegations explained their positions.

    The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained its members’ position on several terms used in resolutions tabled during the Assembly’s seventy-second session.  Whenever “Palestinian Government” was mentioned, it referred to the Palestinian Authority.  The use of the term “Palestine” in those resolutions could not be construed as the recognition of a State of Palestine and was without prejudice to the individual positions of Member States on that issue.  The European Union had not expressed a legal qualification with regard to the term “forced displacement” used in a number of resolutions submitted under the Assembly’s agenda items 38 and 54.  Some resolutions adopted today also referred to holy sites in Jerusalem.  Concerned at worrying developments and recurring violent clashes at the Temple Mount/Haram al‑Sharif, she recalled the special significance of the holy sites and called for the upholding of the status quo established in 1967 in line with previous understandings and with Jordan’s special role.  The European Union’s position on those resolutions did not imply a change of its position on the terminology regarding that holy site.

    The representative of Argentina said his delegation had abstained on “L.13” because it would be appropriate to carry out an investigation into the best use of United Nations resources aimed at supporting the Palestinian people and furthering the peace process.  Argentina was among countries that had recognized the State of Palestine and also recognized Israel’s legitimate right to live in peace and security with all its neighbours.

    The representative of Singapore said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.15” on the basis that achieving a two‑State solution meant achieving the goal of both parties living side by side in peace.

    Turning to the draft resolution “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

    The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17) by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States), with 58 abstentions.

    The representative of Argentina, speaking also on behalf of Brazil, explained his position, saying he had voted in favour of “L.17” because the territory had been acquired by the use of force.  He also underscored the importance of making progress regarding the dispute over the Syrian Golan.

    The representative of Syria, expressing gratitude to the General Assembly for adopting “L.17”, said the majority of Member States supported the draft, demonstrating their rejection of foreign occupation and support for recovering all territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  The overwhelming support for “L.17” also sent Israel a message rejecting its settlements, discrimination and annexation of foreign territory.  Such practices had also been condemned by those who believed in international law.  Israel had stated that they provided medical support to Syrian citizens, however that was true only of militants involved in Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh).

    The representative of the United Kingdom, emphasizing that a just and lasting solution was long overdue, said his delegation was committed to continuing to work to achieve a two‑State solution.  The United Kingdom had voted for balanced resolutions that called out illegal settlement activities and called on both sides to cease actions that were undermining peace efforts.  However, resolutions that undermined the United Nations authority did little to advance the peace process.  While his delegation had rejected the Syrian Golan resolution that Syria had tabled, it had voted in favour of a related resolution proposed by the Palestinians.  The resolution proposed by Syria was unnecessary and a way to deflect attention from Syria’s slaughter of its own people.

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  • Security Council Members Decry Ruin of Cultural Heritage to Fuel Armed Conflict amid Calls for Greater Cooperation in Holding Profiteers Accountable

    Head of Counter-Terrorism Office Urges Involvement of Private Art Dealers, Auction Houses in Preventing Trafficking

    With the obvious goal of undermining national identity and international law, terrorists — particularly in armed conflict situations — were not only destroying lives and property, but also historical sites and objects, the head of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism told the Security Council today.

    Under‑Secretary‑General Vladimir Voronkov pointed out that when terrorist groups targeted World Heritage Sites, they attacked common historical roots and cultural diversity.  Illicit trafficking in cultural objects also led to the financing of terrorism and criminal networks.  The protection of cultural heritage had therefore become a vitally important task for the international community.

    Citing numerous international legal and normative frameworks to address those crimes, he underscored the need to focus on investigation, cross‑border cooperation and exchange of information, as well as involving public and private sector partners, including collectors, art dealers, auction houses and tourism agencies.  With United Nations support, Member States had strengthened their legal frameworks and criminal justice systems, and enhanced collaboration to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks against their cultural heritage, he said.

    Audrey Azoulay, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the adoption of Council resolution 2347 (2017) testified to a new awareness of the importance of culture in reducing conflict, preventing radicalization and fighting violent extremism.  Already, 29 Member States had shared information on new actions taken to protect cultural heritage, strengthening tools and training of specialized personnel.

    She reported that of the 82 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Arab region, 17 were on the list of those endangered by armed conflict.  All six Syrian World Heritage Sites had been severely affected, and more than 100 cultural heritage sites across Iraq had been damaged.  To stem the destruction, awareness must be raised, notably through the UNESCO Unite4Heritage movement.

    Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) called for greater implementation of the almost universally agreed conventions against transnational organized crime, against corruption and for the suppression of terrorist financing.  Cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases must be strengthened, and more information exchanged.  The art market and museums should pay special attention to the provenance of cultural items they were considering acquiring.

    Jürgen Stock, Secretary‑General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), called the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage in armed conflict serious transnational crimes, which financed terrorist groups, hindered reconciliation through attempts to erase and desecrate public assets, and caused loss to the global community.

    He said INTERPOL had been fighting those crimes on behalf of law enforcement worldwide since 1946.  Its efforts focused on the collection and exchange of operational information across borders, including in conflict and post‑conflict zones.  He stressed the imperative of exchanging information as rapidly and widely as possible, and of creating both specialized police units and national databases dedicated to protecting cultural property and investigating trafficking.

    Alessandro Bianchi, Project Leader of Cultural Heritage Protection in Italy’s Ministry of Culture, said such assets were in the cross‑hairs of the enemy, viewed as symbols of identity that deserved desecration and destruction.  Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had demolished 36 of 80 notable buildings in Mosul in June 2014 because they were legacies of the Shia community.  He advocated better coordination between law enforcement and judicial bodies in preventing illegal excavations, harmonizing customs procedures and inspecting the trade in artefacts.

    In the ensuing debate, Council members underlined the importance of preserving cultural heritage, with Senegal’s delegate describing it as the identity of peoples and nations, and a source of cohesion.  Its organized looting and illicit trafficking had become a war strategy of terrorists who used proceeds to finance their criminal activities.  Kazakhstan’s representative said cultural heritage carried “civilizational codes”.  Protecting it and fostering pluralism were essential for ensuring peace.

    Several delegates called on Governments to ratify and harmonize multilateral legal instruments, fully implement resolution 2347 (2017) and deepen cooperation with UNESCO and INTERPOL.  The representative of the Russian Federation suggested that those involved in destroying or trafficking cultural property be added to the Council’s various sanctions lists.

    Underlining the need to combat impunity, delegates welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to prosecute those responsible for destroying cultural heritage in Timbuktu with war crimes.  Several cited the cooperation between Mali and the United Nations stabilization mission there, with Bolivia’s representative recommending the replication of that positive experience by other countries and missions.

    Others noted the primary responsibility of States to protect cultural heritage, and the importance of international support to help some build capacity.  Sweden’s delegate drew attention to the “demand side” of illicit trafficking, noting that the burden of such activity could not be solely borne by countries affected by war or terrorism.  Egypt’s delegate added that international support must respect national sovereignty.  He objected to any interference in State internal affairs and to the removal of objects from a country to safe havens.

    Representatives of Japan, France, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, China, Uruguay, Ukraine, United States and Italy also spoke.

    The meeting started at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:17 p.m.

    Briefings

    VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under‑Secretary‑General of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism, said terrorists, particularly in situations of armed conflict, not only destroyed lives and property, but also historical sites and objects, with the obvious goal of undermining national identity and international law.  When terrorist groups targeted World Heritage Sites, it was an attack on common historical roots and cultural diversity.  Illicit trafficking in cultural objects also led to the financing of terrorism and criminal networks.  The protection of cultural heritage had therefore become a vitally important task for the international community.

    He said there was already a strong international legal and normative framework to address those crimes.  Council resolution 2347 (2017), for example, encouraged Member States to ratify the 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention on illicit trafficking and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols.  Other legal frameworks included the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences.

    He said there was a need to focus on investigation, cross‑border cooperation and exchange of information, as well as on bringing in private and public sector partners, including collectors, art dealers, auction houses and the tourism sector.  The Counter‑Terrorism Office, through the inter‑agency Working Group on Countering the Financing of Terrorism, supported State efforts to curb illicit trafficking.  UNESCO and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) were already working together, along with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the World Customs Organization and other partners.  He also had asked the Counter‑Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities to propose projects, and would welcome new proposals by States and regional organizations.

    With the support of United Nations entities, he said Member States were strengthening their legal frameworks and criminal justice systems, and enhancing their collaboration to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks against their cultural heritage.

    AUDREY AZOULAY, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, introducing the report on the implementation of resolution 2347 (2017), said that its adoption testified to a new awareness on the importance of culture to reduce conflict, prevent radicalization and fight violent extremism.  Already, she said, 29 Member States had shared information on new action taken to protect cultural heritage, strengthening tools and training of specialized personnel.  Italy had launched the Unite4Heritage Task Force and developed a database of illegally removed heritage, the largest of its kind.  Japan, France, Slovakia and the Russian Federation had reported improvements in their records of stolen objects, officers in Canada had received training on import‑export controls, and both Uruguay and Sweden had created new mechanisms.  “These are positive signals of deep change,” she said.

    “We need to do more,” she added, reporting that of the 82 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Arab region, 17 were on the list of those endangered by armed conflict.  All six Syrian World Heritage Sites had been severely affected, with Palmyra and Aleppo, two of the oldest cities in the world, now reduced to rubble.  More than 100 cultural heritage sites across Iraq had been damaged.  To stem the destruction, awareness must be raised, with initiatives also targeting young people building on the UNESCO Unite4Heritage movement.  In addition, information on trafficking and damage must be collected and shared, and peacekeepers trained on protection of heritage.

    She pledged the determination of UNESCO to support Member States with the necessary tools and policy advice, pointing to guidelines around the fundamental link between respect for cultural diversity and human rights.  A holistic approach to protection of culture was needed.  She called for ending trafficking, protecting sights and working in cultural education to counter such lies as Palmyra being a monument to Roman occupation rather than the rich cultural crossroads it had been for centuries.  She welcomed cooperation with UNESCO in the rebuilding of Timbuktu in Mali, and the development of new legal tools, stressing that protection‑oriented mandates afforded by the Security Council would foster the continued existence of the world’s cultures.

    YURY FEDOTOV, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, urged the international community to maintain focus on strengthening the implementation of the almost universally agreed instruments represented by the conventions against transnational organized crime, against corruption and for the suppression of terrorist financing.  He said his Office worked closely with UNESCO, INTERPOL, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law and other partners to assist Member States in promoting comprehensive responses to stop looted or stolen cultural property from being trafficked from the affected countries.

    More must be done to support countries, with a view to dismantling criminal networks, he said.  International cooperation in investigating and prosecuting cases of trafficking in cultural property must be strengthened, and more information exchanged.  The art market and museums also should pay special attention to the provenance of cultural items they were considering acquiring.  To help countries build capacity, UNODC offered advanced training for port control and continued to support anti‑corruption and anti‑money‑laundering action, providing technical assistance to counter terrorist financing in particular.  UNODC had also developed a tool to help put into practice the crime prevention guidelines adopted by the General Assembly in 2014, and he urged all Member States to use that expert resource.

    “Even as we welcome news that groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) are losing control over territories, we must take the opportunity to further strengthen efforts to better safeguard vulnerable cultural property.  Only this way can we protect precious cultural heritage from being lost forever,” he said, assuring that UNODC’s assistance and network of field offices were at the disposal of the international community for that purpose.

    JÜRGEN STOCK, Secretary‑General of the International Criminal Police Organization, addressing the Council via videoconference, said the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage in armed conflict were serious and transnational crimes affecting international peace and security.  Those practices financed terrorist groups, hindered the processes of reconciliation and return to democratic governance — notably by attempting to erase and desecrate social, cultural and economic assets — and causing loss to the global community.

    He said INTERPOL had been fighting those crimes on behalf of law enforcement worldwide since 1946.  Its efforts focused on the core of its mandate:  the collection and exchange of vital operational information across borders, including with law enforcement in conflict and post‑conflict zones.  However, essential criminal information on foreign terrorist fighters, identity documents and trafficked property were often dispersed across actors in those areas.  Consolidating it into a single operational flow was the primary goal of INTERPOL.  Coordinating the gathering and sharing of information into one centralized hub avoided intelligence gaps, he explained, and promoted national sovereignty and ownership of data.

    Recently, INTERPOL had collected information from its bureaus in Baghdad and Damascus, he said, identifying objects of invaluable cultural value stolen from Raqqa and Palmyra in Syria, and Mosul in Iraq.  That information had immediately been disseminated to law enforcement and other stakeholders.  Intelligence was used to identify trafficking routes, especially new destination countries.  INTERPOL was working to enhance real time access to that intelligence through upgrading its database and developing mobile applications.

    He stressed the imperative of exchanging information as rapidly and widely as possible, while preventing the duplication of channels.  There was also a need to create specialized police units and national databases dedicated to the protection of cultural property and investigation of heritage trafficking cases.  Italy’s model was an example to follow, he said, as it ensured coordination through a single national point of contact and created opportunities to seize stolen objects.

    ALESSANDRO BIANCHI, Project Leader, Cultural Heritage Protection, Ministry of Culture of Italy, attached great importance to resolution 2347 (2017) as it updated the international framework in defence of heritage at risk.  Monuments in conflict areas were currently in the cross‑hairs of the enemy, viewed as symbols of identity that deserved desecration and destruction.  Looting and illegal excavations were sources of income for criminal gangs and terrorist groups, who not only carried out such acts for financial gain, but to destroy the identities of a people.  For example, in June 2014, ISIL/Da’esh had demolished 36 of 80 notable buildings in the centre of Mosul because they were legacies of the Shia community.

    Given such experiences, resolution 2347 (2017) outlined the growing importance of three areas of action, he continued.  Firstly, it underscored the need for the collection of technical data on monuments and archaeological sites and the increased use of modern technology, including satellite remote control of territory to assess possible damage.  Next, resolution 2347 (2017) underscored the need for improved coordination between law enforcement and judicial bodies in fighting international crime, preventing illegal excavations, coordinating customs procedures and inspecting the trade in artefacts.  Lastly, the resolution highlighted the support required to administrations of affected territories by facilitating the rapid recovery of their pre‑crisis capacities.

    Statements

    KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said all States must realize the importance of preserving and regenerating cultural and historical heritage, stressing that it carried the “civilizational codes” of a nation.  Protecting cultural heritage and fostering pluralism were essential for ensuring peace, security and sustainable development. All States Parties should ratify and harmonize multilateral legal instruments related to cultural heritage, as artefact smuggling was a transnational phenomenon.  In addition, sanctions regimes should be rigorously enforced, while joint efforts with antiquities markets and private dealers must be strengthened, and the inventory and documentation of artefacts and heritage sites put in place.

    TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan) condemned the destruction of cultural heritage as a war tactic used by terrorist groups, stressing that protection of that property was a peace and security issue.  Japan was committed to universalizing and implementing international norms, he said, calling resolution 2347 (2017), the 1954 Hague Convention and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime — known as the Palermo Convention — productive legal frameworks.  A global criminal justice response that held perpetrators accountable was needed, as was enhanced coordination within the United Nations.  Capacity‑building was also essential to safeguarding cultural heritage.  Japan had established the UNESCO Japanese Funds‑in‑Trust for the Preservation of World Cultural Heritage, he said, emphasizing the importance of enhanced partnerships to promote a multifaceted response, information‑sharing and coordination among a broad range of stakeholders.

    FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said his country and Italy had always shared the objective of protecting the heritage of humanity and had worked together in developing resolution 2347 (2017).  He listed the wide variety of groups that had attacked cultural heritage in recent years, with armed groups deriving funding from looting cultural goods, which thus fuelled conflicts.  It was imperative to ensure that the international community as a whole was mobilized to address the situation.  He described France’s work within the European Union for that purpose, and at the international level, coordination with INTERPOL, and partnership with the United Arab Emirates on the 2016 Abu Dhabi conference, which had brought together actors in many sectors to create an international alliance to protect threatened cultural heritage.

    JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), noting terrorist attempts to annihilate cherished values and cultural diversity, welcomed the International Criminal Court’s sentencing related to cultural destruction in Timbuktu.  In addition to legal and security action, practical actions were needed from the international community.  Funding from the private sector and Governments was needed to protect the shared heritage for the benefit of humanity.  The United Kingdom had ratified the 1954 Hague Convention, tightened control over the sale and movement of cultural goods and developed expertise for national and international purposes.  A fund protecting cultural sites and artefacts in many countries would be extended to further regions.  “Our shared cultural heritage will prevail,” he vowed.

    MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) affirmed that the looting and exploiting of cultural sites and artefacts were of great concern, and welcomed efforts carried out since the adoption of resolution 2347 (2017).  States had the primary responsibility to protect their heritage and prosecute violators, but they required international cooperation to effectively carry out that obligation.  She welcomed UNESCO’s collaboration with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and other missions in that context, underlining the importance of fully implementing Council resolutions and the Convention on protecting cultural heritage.

    WU HAITAO (China) affirmed that cultural heritage was important for many reasons, including representing diverse civilizations.  Looting and destruction of such heritage must end, particularly since it financed terrorism, and resolution 2347 (2017) must be fully implemented for that purpose.  The United Nations should support capacity‑building for the prevention of trafficking and the financing of terrorist groups.  At the national level, security policies should be strengthened, with the international community providing constructive support with full respect for national sovereignty.  Mutual respect and dialogue between civilizations should also be promoted, as should reconciliation within groups in conflict areas to ensure respect for all cultural heritage.

    IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) brought attention to the “demand side” of illicit trafficking in cultural property, noting that the burden of such activity could not be solely borne by countries affected by war or terrorism.  For that reason, she welcomed that the Secretary‑General’s report addressed the role of the arts and antiquities market, noting that the National Heritage Board had opened a dialogue with Swedish art and antiques dealers, with the aim of strengthening the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.  Revised anti‑money‑laundering and counter‑terrorist financing legislation also created stronger incentives for the private and public sectors to work together on those issues.  She took note of the Secretary‑General’s recommendations regarding the training of personnel on the protection of cultural heritage and on planning processes ahead of the establishment of new peacekeeping missions or mandate renewals.  Where preventive efforts failed, accountability for attacks against cultural heritage sites was essential and perpetrators must be held accountable.

    FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said cultural heritage was one way of preserving the identity of peoples and nations; it was a source of cohesion.  The organized looting and illicit trafficking of cultural goods had become a war strategy of terrorist groups who used the proceeds to finance their criminal activities.  Humanity had suffered massive destructions perpetrated in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya and in Timbuktu, Mali.  Protecting world cultural heritage in conflict situations was a major challenge requiring a rapid response from the international community.  It was important to draw up an accurate inventory of cultural property and objects of religious significance that had been illegally removed.  He welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court stating that the destruction of a religious or cultural site constituted a war crime, noting that MINUSMA had been authorized to assist authorities in protecting historical sites.

    VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the fight against ISIL was nearing its end, thanks to the involvement of the Russian Air Force.  Addressing the damage to cultural heritage caused by terrorists, however, would take years.  Implementation of resolution 2347 (2017) raised some questions, as terrorists used all kinds of loopholes when trafficking in cultural heritage, including through anonymous dealers and the Internet.  He called on all States to provide to the sanctions committees all information available, suggesting that people and entities active in such trafficking be included on the committees’ lists.  The issue of mine clearing and preserving cultural heritage in Syria was acute, he said, noting that Russian forces had cleared more than 2,000 hectares of explosives.  Describing efforts to preserve heritage sites in Palmyra, he said restoring the memory of ancient civilizations was a common task of the international community.

    PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) condemned the systematic looting, trafficking and destruction of cultural heritage goods by Da’esh and other terrorist groups to finance their activities.  The huge economic gains those groups had made had been enabled through governance gaps, weak law and order institutions and the absence of border controls.  Those situations, in turn, had been created by interventionist policies.  Cooperation among States and international organizations must be a priority in the implementation of resolution 2347 (2017), he said, stressing that joint action between special United Nations missions in conflict areas would help build capacity to counter illicit trafficking in cultural heritage.  He also recommended a focus on restoring cultural sites, which must include mine action, and replicating the positive experience between Mali and MINUSMA in coordinating efforts.  Policies for redress and return of property should be addressed as well, while perpetrators must be prosecuted, he said, welcoming the sentence handed out by the International Criminal Court, which was a benchmark in combating impunity.

    ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay) said cultural goods represented the identity of people and their history, and thus should be protected.  World cultural heritage had an exceptional value, and the international community had recognized the need to protect it by adopting several legal instruments.  Indeed, an attack against one site was an attack against all cultural heritage sites.  Underscoring the important work of UNESCO, he recognized the value of coordinating efforts with the World Customs Organization.  He also welcomed the letter of intent signed by the International Criminal Court and UNESCO to formalize cooperation.  Stressing that States bore the primary responsibility for protecting cultural heritage, he described measures Uruguay had taken in that regard.

    VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said resolution 2347 (2017) drew attention to the destruction of cultural heritage and related antiquities trafficking, which were increasingly features of armed conflict.  Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen were among the most vulnerable to such threats.  “Actions of terrorists in pursuit of easy profit can lead to a wholesale obliteration of a country’s archaeological record,” he said.  However, resolution 2347 (2017) was still far from being fully implemented, as States needed time to adjust legislation.  He proposed broadly criminalizing offenses against cultural heritage and imposing stiff penalties, as well as strengthening import‑export regimes and national institutional frameworks, with international coordination between law enforcement and customs agencies.  States should also ensure wider information sharing on trafficking routes and criminal modus operandi.  Close public‑private partnerships were necessary to track sales of illegally imported artefacts, and he urged that special attention be paid to supervising online auctions.

    IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD (Egypt) said his Government was well attuned to the importance and sensitivity surrounding the protection of cultural heritage, given the wealth of sites in his country and its geographical location.  Welcoming progress in protection that had occurred following the adoption of resolution 2347 (2017), he stressed the primary role of each State in protecting its own heritage.  International support must recognize that role and respect national sovereignty.  He objected to any interference in internal State affairs and to the removal of objects from a country to safe havens.  The Council must only address the topic when addressing international terrorism and other topics under its purview of international peace and security.  States should prepare lists of their properties that had been transferred from their sites during conflict, with cooperation from relevant agencies to secure their return.

    MICHELE J. SISON (United States) presented examples demonstrating that looting cultural artefacts had become integral to ISIL/Da’esh operations, with Internet communications making that criminal enterprise much easier.  Looting and trafficking of cultural heritage was unacceptable.  The United States countered such trafficking through specific measures blocking illegal import of artefacts, particularly related to armed conflict situations.  She described the activities of the cultural antiquities task force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in that regard, and cited funding of organizations that documented and tracked looting of artefacts, among many other measures taken by her country.  She looked forward to building stronger coordination with Member States and other organizations towards the full implementation of resolution 2347 (2017).

    SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), Council president for the month of November, speaking in his national capacity, said attacks on cultural heritage were linked to violence against local populations, in addition to multiple other harms.  All forms of trafficking in cultural property must be stopped, which was a main priority for Italy.  In that context, he described Italy’s support for the Blue Helmets of Culture initiative, the Unite4Heritage campaign, and the working groups on Da’esh financing and the smuggling of cultural artefacts, as well as its cooperation with UNODC, UNESCO and INTERPOL to address illicit trafficking.  Italy also had worked with France in bringing about the adoption of resolution 2347 (2017), and continued to work on the issue because preservation of cultural diversity was vital to peacemaking and equitable development.

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  • 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;

    °

    °  °

    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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  • 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.

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