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- Amendments 012-025 – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy – A8-0351/2017(012-025)
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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.Read more
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.
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.
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.Read more
on the Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy
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),
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.Read more
United States Urges Greater Focus on Border Controls, Aviation Security, as Russian Federation Cites ‘Comprehensive Prosecution’ Effort
With violent extremists having suffered defeats in Syria and Iraq, the international community must step up cooperation to address the complex problem of foreign terrorist fighters returning home or travelling to other regions, the senior‑most United Nations official on that issue told the Security Council today.
“This is a truly global challenge that demands an urgent and concerted multilateral response,” emphasized Vladimir Voronkov, Under‑Secretary‑General and Head of the Office of Counter‑Terrorism. Joining Mr. Voronkov in briefing members were Michele Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter‑Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan) in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council 1267/1989 Sanctions Committee on Al‑Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and associated groups.
Mr. Voronkov said that, at one stage more than 40,000 foreign terrorist fighters from 110 countries might have travelled to join the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The flow to that region had decreased significantly, but terrorists had tried to relocate to such countries as Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, fuelling existing conflicts and further destabilizing the region. The affected countries needed international support to address the threat, he stressed.
Of at least 5,600 fighters from 33 States who had returned home, many were trained and equipped to carry out attacks in their own countries, he said. Others hoped to recruit new followers and yet others had rejected terrorist ideologies and posed no threat. There was a need to enhance cooperation, improve the exchange of information, and ensure effective border controls and stronger criminal justice systems, in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards.
Ms. Coninsx outlined many of the challenges confronting States in building capacity to address the problems posed by travelling terrorist fighters. One example was that fewer than 60 States had so far introduced measures requiring airlines to provide advance passenger information.
Mr. Umarov said that, in addressing the movement of terrorists, his Committee was working to ensure that its sanctions list was updated and as accurate as possible. He encouraged Member States to be active in proposing individuals and entities, including foreign terrorist fighters, for listing under the sanctions regime.
Delegates then took the floor, expressing concern over the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and describing their national initiatives to implement relevant Council resolutions. They affirmed the need for more effective international cooperation on the issue, particularly in sharing information and working with INTERPOL and other relevant actors.
Some delegates discussed the scope of the problem in relation to their own citizens. For example, France’s representative reported that 688 French nationals were currently in Syria and Iraq, with 244 adults and 59 minors having returned from the region since 2013. France’s combination of legislative and policy responses ranged from breaking up recruitment networks to providing support for families, while reintegrating and monitoring returnees, he added.
As various delegates emphasized the need to balance criminal responses against reintegration efforts, Egypt’s representative stressed the importance of universally criminalizing the crossing of borders to join terrorist groups, and of all individuals engaged in that activity to face accountability.
The Russian Federation’s representative said his country carried out comprehensive prosecution of those who recruited or travelled for terrorism, adding that it was pointless to consider rehabilitation programmes outside the criminal justice system.
Some delegates stressed the need for advanced passenger information and updated identification methods so as to keep pace with the changing tactics used by terrorists. Japan’s representative said his country was prioritizing the use of such biometric tools as fingerprint readers capable of identifying altered prints. Several others urged the United Nations to help build further capacity in those areas, with the representative of the United States calling for greater Security Council focus on border and aviation security.
Also speaking today were representatives of Bolivia, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Sweden, China and Italy.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5:15 p.m.
VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under‑Secretary‑General, United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism, expressing solidarity with the people and Governments of countries that had recently suffered terrorist attacks, said that at one stage, more than 40,000 foreign terrorist fighters from 110 countries might have travelled to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq. As Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had suffered defeats and Member States had implemented better measures to prevent travel, the flow of fighters to the region had significantly decreased, but terrorists had tried to relocate to countries such as Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, fuelling existing conflicts and further destabilizing the region. Countries affected needed international support to address the threat.
Of at least 5,600 fighters from 33 countries who had returned home, many were equipped to carry out attacks in their own countries, he said, while others hoped to recruit new followers and still others had rejected terrorist ideologies and posed no threat. “This is a truly global challenge that demands an urgent and concerted multilateral response”, he said. Enhanced cooperation, information exchange, effective border controls and stronger criminal justice systems, in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards, was needed.
The Counter-Terrorism Office, responding to recommendations of the Security Council, had developed a comprehensive plan to build capacity for confronting the threat of foreign fighters, coordinating the efforts of 38 United Nations entities. The plan addressed the full life cycle of fighters, including projects related to prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration, to support Member States in their efforts to address returnees. The latest version describes 50 projects with a total $107 million budget over five years.
His Office, he said, was collaborating with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to ensure respect for rights, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) for information sharing, and a number of agencies to deliver a project on Advanced Passenger Information for Member States most affected by foreign fighters. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), meanwhile, supported Member States in the management of violent extremist prisoners and in preventing radicalization in prisons. One project aimed to help States develop policies for child returnees in a gender‑sensitive approach. Thus far, his Office and Member States had contributed only 41 per cent of the resources needed, he said, signalling a need for more funding to build State capacities to counter the threats.
There was no easy response to the enormous challenge of returning foreign fighters, he said. They could neither all be thrown in prison nor all kept from coming back without violating human rights standards. Rehabilitation and reintegration programmes must therefore be developed alongside prosecution efforts that accompanied the various stages of the criminal justice process. Ultimately, the underlying conditions conducive to young men and women being lured into violent extremism must be addressed. He welcomed the growing emphasis to address that problem at regional, national and local levels.
Introducing a report on understanding foreign fighters in Syria published by his Office, he said there was no single profile: Unresolved conflicts, inter‑communal violence and a desire to help those from the same religion perceived as victimized were some of the motivations. Motivations for leaving Syria included disappointment or disillusionment due to many factors. The family network, particularly mothers, exerted some of the strongest pressure to return home.
With United Nations support, Member States, meanwhile, were strengthening their legal frameworks and criminal systems, he said, and enhancing collaboration to prevent and respond to the threat from foreign terrorist fighters. Stronger cooperation was needed between Governments and security agencies, however, within respect for human rights. For that reason, the Secretary‑General would convene the first‑ever Summit of Heads of Counter‑Terrorism Agencies next year.
MICHELE CONINSX, Executive Director, United Nations Counter‑Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, said that despite recent successes, the international community faced significant challenges in countering the global terrorist threat, especially the activities of foreign terrorist fighters. Over the past two years, the return of such fighters to their States of origin had accelerated, as a consequence of ISIL’s losses in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Over the same period, terrorist plots resulting in fatalities had increased dramatically, owing in part to the returnees, but also to the ways in which terrorists used information and communications technologies. Of particular concern were attacks carried out by lone terrorists. Investigations had shown that those loners received support, often via the Internet or social media.
She said fewer than 60 States had thus far introduced measures requiring airlines to provide advance passenger information, and many required assistance in establishing the necessary connectivity between national databases and border posts. They also faced legal challenges relating to the transfer and protection of data. Meanwhile, international cooperation had been undermined by practical and political challenges, as well as by inconsistent compliance with human rights obligations. States should do more to downgrade and share intelligence on foreign terrorist fighters and those who returned to their countries of origin or relocated to third countries, she said, adding that efforts to bring suspected foreign terrorist fighters to justice had been undermined by the difficulty of collecting sufficient evidence from conflict zones.
Member States faced challenges in implementing strategies to disrupt the financing of returnees and small cells, she said, and many would require assistance in prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration strategies. She called on the Council to work tirelessly to build on progress achieved since the adoption of resolution 2178 (2014), an instrument which had mobilized the international community. Many States had criminalized travel by foreign terrorist fighters, as well as the organization and financing of terrorist groups, she said, and had improved domestic inter‑agency information‑sharing. International judicial and law enforcement cooperation had also been strengthened.
For its part, the Executive Directorate was working to strengthen State efforts to counter violent extremism, she said, noting that it had conducted 45 assessment visits and drafted three analytical reports identifying gaps in States’ legal frameworks, accompanied by recommendations. The Counter‑Terrorism Committee had approved a set of guiding principles — the “Madrid Principles” — offering a holistic approach to implementing flexible prosecution strategies. The Executive Directorate had updated the Technical Guide to the implementation of Council resolution 1373 (2001), and assisted in both a regional programme with UNODC for the Maghreb countries and a global programme on gathering digital evidence.
In addition, she said, the Executive Directorate had strengthened its cooperation with INTERPOL, including on the use of biometric data and in the implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Traveller Identification Programme Strategy. The effective development and use of biometrics, advance passenger identification systems and passenger name records systems was vital to the detection of foreign terrorist fighters and returnees. “It takes networks to beat networks,” she said.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015), outlined that body’s activities since its last briefing on 11 May 2017. Noting that the threat from ISIL/Da’esh, Al‑Qaida and affiliates had evolved since that time — including by delegating decision‑making to local commanders and switching to encrypted communication — he said ISIL also continued to use external attacks by its members and sympathizers as part of its response. “Increasingly, ISIL is transforming from a territorially grounded organization into a terror network of cells around the globe,” he said, adding that it sent funds to its affiliates worldwide.
While ISIL/Da’esh was being physically weakened, he said its presence in the virtual world was entrenched, posing a serious threat to international peace and security. It used Internet propaganda both for radicalization and the recruitment of fighters, employing sophisticated manipulation and brainwashing techniques. Noting that the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Iraq and Syria had slowed due to military pressure and improved border control, he said those fighters returning home or relocating presented another threat to global security, as they had the potential to re‑energize existing terrorist networks or spur the growth of new ones.
Noting that the European Union had significantly increased its exchange of information on foreign terrorist fighters, he said efforts by ISIL to carry out attacks inside the bloc nevertheless demonstrated the group’s potential to recruit and motivate its followers. There was also concern that foreign terrorist fighters hailing from Central Asia would return from conflict zones and bring terror to that region, and that Southeast Asia was increasingly attracting such fighters. Foreign terrorist fighters also continued to pose threats in Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan and on the Arab peninsula, particularly in Yemen.
As Chair of the Committee, he said he was working to address those challenges by visiting countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Afghanistan, the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan, where he had attended a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on fighting terrorism across borders. The Committee was working to ensure that its sanctions list was updated and as accurate as possible, he said, noting that it currently included 256 individuals and 80 entities. Pledging to hold regular open meetings with Member States, he encouraged them to propose individuals and entities for listing on the sanctions regime, including foreign terrorist fighters.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said extraordinary progress had been made against ISIL/Da’esh, noting that resolution 2178 (2014) had facilitated international cooperation to identify, stop and prosecute foreign fighters. It also had spurred efforts to address the underlying factors of extremism. However, the threat posed by foreign fighters persisted, including by returning fighters who could carry out terrorist attacks in the name of ISIL/Da’esh. The terrorist ideology would not simply fade away with the defeat of ISIL/Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, she said, pressing the Council to address the evolving challenge and adopt a new resolution. Council action should stress the need for border and aviation security, by developing standards and advanced passenger information. Efforts must be strengthened to improve prosecution and reintegration of foreign fighters. There was also a need for the United Nations to be more coordinated in confronting the threat, notably for the Counter‑Terrorism Committee to harmonize its efforts with the sanctions committees to confront a decentralized enemy.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said the emergence of foreign terrorist fighters demonstrated that terrorism was not associated with one religious or ethnic group. The international response should use all means set out in the Charter of the United Nations. Foreign terrorist fighters did not arise overnight, he said, but were the result of radicalization, a situation made possible by weak States, the absence of border controls and intervention from other States. There was a need for more effective information sharing, and for coordination among the Council’s various committees and bodies. States of origin of combatants should implement development policies and all efforts of regional and international organizations should be based on inclusion and stability. Those responsible for terrorist acts, finally, should be brought to justice.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said it was difficult to understand how, despite all efforts, terrorists continued to carry out their destructive actions. The Executive Directorate and other bodies had identified good practices, while the sanctions committees had contributed to raising awareness. Border control and advanced passenger information were important tools, he said, but security measures were not enough. Many terrorists did not have criminal records and were citizens of the countries in which they executed their attacks. It was therefore necessary to prevent radicalization. “The bulwarks of peace need to be built in the minds of men”, he said. States had the primary responsibility to prevent the spread of violent extremism, and religious leaders had an important role to play in that regard. Strengthening institutions and the rule of law, respect for human rights, and religious tolerance all helped to diminish intolerance and extremism, he said.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), noting the collapse of Da’esh in recent weeks, said it was possible, by working collectively, to defeat the global terrorist plague. As the terrorist threat evolved, returning foreign terrorist fighters posed a particular risk as many members wanted to export their fight or were still committed to Da’esh. There was a need to tackle home‑grown violent extremism and its spread online by being proactive. While resolution 2178 (2014) had established binding measures to prevent foreign fighters from traveling, a new resolution on returning foreign fighters was necessary. For its part, the United Kingdom was sharing information, creating watch lists and working with partners to ensure de‑radicalization programmes for returning fighters. It would keep up efforts to combat use of the Internet by terrorists. Eradication of the threat in the long term required tackling root causes, such as instability. A globally unified rejection of extremism and respect for human rights were indispensable in that regard, he said, stressing that prevention should be at the heart of all efforts.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal), expressing deep concern over the large flow of foreign terrorist fighters, welcomed the reporting efforts of the Executive Directorate. Addressing the complex problem would require full implementation of the related Council resolutions. An international, holistic approach was required to address root causes and counter the spread of extremist ideology. Strengthening the family was important as well. Senegal’s programmes in that regard prioritized education and engaged religious leaders, he said, stressing that regional cooperation was needed in sharing information, border control, passenger registration and other areas. For that reason, Senegal had centralized its intelligence services and updated its information systems. Yet, regional capacities in the Sahel needed much improvement. In addressing the return of fighters, it was critical to understand their original motivations and he called on the United Nations counter‑terrorism structures to coordinate efforts and help build Member States’ capacity.
FRANCOIS DELATTRE (France), noting that 688 French nationals were currently in Syria and Iraq, with 244 adults and 59 minors having returned from that region since 2013, said that French legislation had been adapted in response, with due respect for human rights. Dismantling recruitment networks, providing support for families and boosting international cooperation were part of the response, as was creating mechanisms for reintegration and monitoring of returnees, particularly minors. The United Nations had a primary role in coordinating global efforts to confront travelling fighters; cooperation strategies must be updated in information‑sharing, better border control, prosecution of foreign fighters and their reintegration. As close coordination between all counter‑terrorism committees was essential, he welcomed the appearance together of the heads of three bodies.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), surveying the efforts being made to address the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and the scope of the problem itself, said that the assistance being provided by the United Nations to build capacity and formulate national strategies was critical. A purely domestic approach would not be sufficient, however, and a truly international effort was needed, as was much better cooperation. Not much would be achieved unless cooperation exceeded that within terrorist networks, she stated.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that even as ISIL/Da’esh was losing ground in Iraq and Syria, the threat of terror was spreading globally. The relevance of passenger information and name records systems was growing, as foreign terrorist fighters returned to their countries of origin or relocated to other States. With terrorists using forged documents and undergoing surgery to evade detection, he said Japan had prioritized the use of biometric tools, such as fingerprint readers capable of identifying altered fingerprints. He closed by stressing the importance of developing measures capable of combating the changing nature of terrorism.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said the fight against ISIL/Da’esh was far from over, expressing concern that former fighters were ready to merge with any terrorist group and use their lethal skills acquired in Syria and Iraq. Another concern was terrorists’ abuse of asylum systems at a time of a huge migrant influx. While Ukraine had taken domestic measures, the terrorist threat in his country had been fuelled by external support, he said, emphasizing the essential need for rapid information sharing among States and ensuring broader use of advanced passenger information. Conducting proper investigations so that terrorists were apprehended and did not escape justice was also crucial. Caution was required in dealing with specific categories of returnees, notably minors, women, family members and disillusioned returnees who had committed less serious offences.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said terrorist groups had been very successful in recruiting people from different countries and backgrounds. Thus, it was necessary to counter all political and economic conditions that lured those people to terrorism. The Internet and social media were important tools to recruit foreign fighters, but it was difficult to address that matter internationally, due to different constitutions and laws. He called for greater international cooperation to prevent terrorists from using the Internet, including by companies and civil society, stressing that returning foreign terrorist fighters should be prosecuted in the countries where they were arrested or in their country of origin. Rehabilitation was not enough; any foreign fighter must undergo justice. It was also indispensable to spread information on foreign terrorist fighters, including through the INTERPOL database, he said, asking why only a limited number of countries used the Advanced Passenger Information System.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said conflict areas in the Middle East had seen an unprecedented number of radicals from many countries, “drunk on extremism”. States should rigorously counter the travels of foreign terrorist fighters, he said, noting that States did not always implement resolution 2178 (2014). Monitoring by the Counter‑Terrorism Committee banning assistance to foreign terrorist fighters also had not begun, while the systems of legal assistance and extradition had become hostage to politics. A comprehensive approach to returning foreign terrorist fighters should ensure that terrorists were held criminally liable, with rehabilitation done within the framework of criminal prosecution. It was also important to ensure that foreign terrorist fighters fell under the existing sanctions regimes. He then described national efforts to address terrorism and terrorists.
IRINA SCHOULGIN-NYONI (Sweden) said all Member States were obliged to criminalize foreign terrorist fighter travel, training and financing. Sweden had amended its criminal legislation on terrorism to address that evolving threat. Since 2015, it had tried and convicted seven individuals for terrorism‑related offences, including for crimes committed abroad, she said. As part of its strong focus on prevention, it was putting in place mechanisms aimed at safeguarding individuals, and targeting those at risk of radicalization. A new national Center for the Prevention of Violent Extremism would be launched next year, while guidelines were being issued by the National Board of Health and Welfare to deal with returnees and defectors.
WU HAITAO (China) said the United Nations should lead cooperation to counter the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, following uniform standards, upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter and rejecting the association of terrorism with any culture or religion. To counter the threat of foreign fighters, information‑sharing platforms must be improved and the United Nations should continue to help Member States build capacity. Extremists must be stopped from using the Internet to recruit and coordinate for their networks. Building a more equitable future was critical as well. China was ready to cooperate with all countries to continue to address the threat of foreign terrorist fighters.
Mr. CARDI (Italy), Council President speaking in his national capacity, reviewed Council actions to combat the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and to build State capacity in that regard. He noted in particular the lack of adequate information‑sharing, a major area in which global cooperation must improve. He also noted Italy’s cooperation in international investigations and its training of a range of staff in information collection and sharing. Indeed, international best practices must be compiled and shared. Italy would support constant updating and strengthening of international efforts to address the threat.Read more
Representative Says Country Targeted in Media Campaign of Defamation, Cannot Be Held Responsible for Problems It Did Not Cause
Slavery and other grave human rights abuses affecting migrants and refugees travelling to North Africa and beyond constituted an abomination that could no longer be ignored, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees told the Security Council today.
Filippo Grandi said more than 116,000 people had crossed the sea from North Africa to Italy in 2017, many of them refugees. The international community’s inability to prevent and resolve conflict was at the root of their flight, he explained, adding that they were exposed to appalling harm, including torture, rape, sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of forced labour. More than 17,000 refugees and migrants were currently detained in Libya, and many more were held by traffickers under the protection of well‑known militias.
He went on to state that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had successfully secured the release of almost 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees in 2017. Plans for a transit centre in Tripoli were awaiting endorsement by Libya’s Government of National Accord, he said, adding that he had called for 40,000 additional resettlement places in transit and asylum countries along central Mediterranean routes. However, to date, there were indications of just 10,500 places.
Robust measures were required to address human trafficking, for which UNHCR had made specific recommendations, including the freezing of assets, travel bans, disruption of revenues and materials, and robust prosecution of traffickers. Too often, previous methods had centred on how to control and deter, which could have a dehumanizing effect, he said, underlining the need for comprehensive investment in a set of political, security and human rights solutions. The Council’s leadership was critical to ensuring that outcome.
Also briefing the Council, William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that since the crisis in Libya, the agency had been trying to empty the detention centres. IOM was working with Libyan authorities and many other partners, he said, pointing out that it was the agency that had broken the story about slave trading. “It’s all about saving lives,” he said, emphasizing that he needed agreement from the Government to empty the centres. Staff were also needed to provide travel documents so that the vast majority of migrants who wished to go home could do so.
Other delegates went on to condemn the slave trading, stressing that it constituted crimes against humanity. They called for an end to impunity, including through investigations by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Many speakers welcomed efforts to ensure humane treatment for migrants and refugees, including those initiated by IOM and UNHCR. Several speakers also called for support for the Libyan Government’s efforts to solidify its institutions, including the security sector, while underlining the need for a political solution to the situation there.
France’s representative said trafficking in persons constituted a major source of financing for terrorists and other armed groups, as well as a threat to international security. He emphasized the need to leverage all international justice resources in order to hold the perpetrators accountable, including through sanctions targeting individuals. Impunity could not be tolerated, he stressed.
Italy’s representative said human mobility and the situation in Libya remained at the centre of his country’s actions at the United Nations and in its November Council Presidency. Resolution 2388 (2017) underscored that trafficking and the smuggling of persons in the Sahel were further exacerbating conflict and instability in that region, he said, adding that it provided the legal basis for a victim‑centred approach.
Libya’s representative pledged that none of the perpetrators of the sale of human beings would be allowed impunity, while emphasizing that his country was undergoing a crisis of instability and could not bear the full burden of migrant flows through its territory. Describing Libya as the victim of a large‑scale media campaign of defamation, he said the international community must address the problem effectively by dealing with its root causes instead of contributing to the further defamation of his country. Hundreds of thousands of people were transiting through Libya during a very difficult time in its history, and the country should not be held responsible for international problems that it had not caused, he emphasized.
Also delivering statements were representatives of the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sweden, Uruguay, Japan, United States, Senegal, China, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Bolivia.
The meeting began at 9:07 a.m. and ended at 11 a.m.
FILIPPO GRANDI, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, described slavery and other grave human rights abuses affecting migrants and refugees travelling towards North Africa and beyond as an abomination that could no longer be ignored. More than 116,000 people had crossed the sea from North Africa to Italy in 2017, many of them refugees. The international community’s inability to prevent and resolve conflict was at the root of their flight, he said, adding that they were exposed to appalling harm, including torture, rape, sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of forced labour.
The situation in Libya was emblematic, he continued. More than 17,000 refugees and migrants were currently in detention, and many more were held by traffickers under the protection of well‑known militias. Bringing perpetrators to justice would be closely linked to progress on political solutions and functioning governance structures, he emphasized. Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had successfully secured the release of almost 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees in 2017, and plans for a transit centre in Tripoli were awaiting the Government’s endorsement, he said, adding that progress was discernible but modest. Security remained volatile, access to key locations was not possible and United Nations operations were managed remotely from Tunisia.
Rescue at sea remained a compelling imperative, he continued. Support for Libya’s border management authorities, including the coast guard, must be complemented by broader measures to strengthen reception and asylum systems, he said, stressing the need for more safe and legal pathways, including greater opportunities for resettlement and family reunification. He said that he had called for 40,000 additional resettlement places for transit and asylum countries along central Mediterranean routes, but to date, there were indications of just 10,500 places. He said that his Office also supported efforts to accelerate the voluntary return of migrants to their countries of origin, in conjunction with UNHCR engagement in identifying asylum seekers and refugees in need of international protection.
UNHCR also stood ready to work with Governments to strengthen refugees’ access to protection and solutions in the first country they reached, but the required resources were currently lacking, he said. Robust measures were required to address human trafficking, for which UNHCR had made specific recommendations, including the freezing of assets, travel bans, disruption of revenues and materials, and robust prosecution of traffickers. Too often, methods had centred on how to control and deter, which could have a dehumanizing effect, he said, underlining the need for comprehensive investments in a set of political, security and human rights solutions. The Council’s leadership was critical to ensuring that that happened.
WILLIAM LACY SWING, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that since the crisis in Libya, the agency had been trying to empty the detention centres so that smugglers would not be able to pursue their crimes. IOM was working with Libyan authorities and many other partners, he said, pointing out that it was the agency that had broken the story about slave trading. “It’s all about saving lives, and all of the elements are there now,” he said, while emphasizing that he needed agreement from the Government to empty the centres and the ability to land large aircraft for that purpose. Staff were needed to provide travel documents so that the vast majority of migrants wishing to return home could do so, noting that reintegration in the home countries would then be required. The continued help of the African Union, the European Union and other partners was needed for those purposes.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) welcomed the announcement of investigations into slave trading in Libya and called for all to ensure that those responsible were held to account. Migration must be safe, legal and well‑managed, and its root causes addressed, he emphasized. The United Kingdom would continue to work with the authorities on improving the centres under their control and providing other assistance, but a stable Libya was the most important element in improving the situation. Efforts to combat terrorism must be integrated with anti‑trafficking initiatives into “a holistic, cross‑pillar approach” by the United Nations, he said. Reaffirming that the existence of slavery was reprehensible, he said it was only through sustained, united action that it could be eradicated.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) recalled that his country’s President had called for an emergency meeting to address the intolerable situation of migrants in Libya. France strongly condemned the inhumane treatment of the victims and the violations of their rights, and urged Council members to end the barbaric practice, which constituted crimes against humanity. He called for greater cooperation with the authorities, for fighting impunity, including through the International Criminal Court, and for an urgent global response. Noting that trafficking in persons fuelled conflict and constituted a major source of financing for terrorist and other armed groups, he said it also clearly constituted a threat to international security. Although the Libyan authorities were aware of their duty, the situation in the country must be taken into account, he said, stressing the indispensable need to support the development of Libyan capacities. All international justice resources, including sanctions targeting individuals, must be leveraged to hold perpetrators accountable, he said. Cooperation with origin and transit countries was also needed to help them develop their asylum policies and shore up the protection of their nationals. A lasting settlement of the tragedy would be linked to a solution to the conflict in Libya, which needed a unified army and coast guard, he said.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), expressing deep concern over the situation of migrants from sub‑Saharan Africa, emphasized that the sale of human beings must be condemned in the strongest terms. The Council must send a strong message on the matter, and urgent action was also needed to dismantle the detention camps, end the trafficking and investigate the crimes being committed. Strengthening Libyan capacity for that purpose was critical, he stressed. All relevant United Nations agencies must be engaged in actions to end human trafficking, protect victims and address root causes, such as the extreme poverty that forced young people to undertake such a dangerous journey. In addition, there was a need to pursue assistance to refugees and migrants, and to expand opportunities for resettlement. He welcomed Rwanda’s initiative to accept at‑risk migrants. Stressing that Libya must return to stability through the accepted political framework, he voiced hope that the Council would send the right signal to end the unacceptable practice of profiting from the sale of human beings.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said a concerted international effort was needed to fight the exploitation of migrants and to address the root causes of their plight. He condemned the trade in human beings and welcomed Libya’s announcement that it would investigate and punish those responsible. Egypt would offer any help needed for that purpose, he said, noting his country’s ongoing support for efforts to enable Libya’s people to reach an accepted and sustainable solution to their country’s current crisis. Expressing concern over security in the Sahel region, he stressed the importance of the G5 Sahel joint force in confronting the risks, and affirmed the international responsibility to support that initiative. Migration flows must be managed, assistance provided to migrants and development accelerated in their countries of origin, he said.
CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden) said he had been horrified by the recent video footage of reported slave markets in Libya, the latest in a litany of abuses suffered by refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons there. The Council must demand accountability, he said, welcoming the Government’s announcement of an investigation and the United Nations initiative to work with the authorities on a transparent monitoring mechanism to safeguard vulnerable groups. Sweden would welcome a report by the Secretary‑General to the Council on the matter of slavery, he said, calling for a fact‑finding mission to Libya. In addition, Sweden supported the initiative by the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to explore the possibility of investigating crimes related to human trafficking and smuggling, and was open to the use of sanctions to target those crimes. The humanitarian situation must be improved, he went on, calling on Libyan authorities to ensure full humanitarian access to detention centres. It was crucial to find sustainable alternatives to detention, especially for vulnerable groups, he said, adding that Sweden supported UNHCR efforts to protect the needs of refugees, including through its Emergency Evacuation and Temporary Resettlement Mechanism.
LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay), noting that reports about the operation of slave markets had been emerging from Libya and other countries, said it was necessary to take concrete actions in response. While States had failed in the past to address the issue collectively, there was still time to hold those responsible to account. Hundreds of thousands of sub‑Saharan immigrants had been subjected to actions constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must take up its responsibility to help the Libyan authorities protect the most vulnerable migrants. Condemning human trafficking and crimes that exploited and dehumanized vulnerable people, he said the proliferation of armed conflict in the region had triggered a raft of consequences, including unprecedented mass migration. The plight of refugees was seen as a “lucky break” by those profiting from their plight, he said, emphasizing that the problem was not a matter of concern for the countries of origin alone, but also for transit countries. Therefore, efforts to tackle the issue required a common purpose, he said, stressing also that States must promote and protect the fundamental human rights of all migrants, irrespective of their status.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said the international community must make the utmost efforts to eliminate human trafficking, forced labour, slavery and similar practices. Calling upon the Libyan Government to ensure justice and accountability on the part of those responsible for selling migrants into slavery, he expressed hope that such action would deter similar crimes in the future. There was a need to solidify Government institutions, including the security sector, and to address the root causes of forced migration, he said. The Council must address the trafficking of migrants by working not only with Libya, but also with other Member States in the region and with regional organizations, he added.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said many disturbing reports had emerged about the treatment of asylum seekers in Libya, where human traffickers detained them in appalling conditions. They were forced to work, or sold off to the highest bidder. As such, the United States welcomed efforts to ensure humane treatment for migrants and refugees, including those initiated by IOM and UNHCR, she said, noting that her country had contributed generously to such programmes, including $100 million to help migrants in Libya and those displaced internally by violence. The only long‑term solution to the challenge was to stabilize Libya, she said, noting that smuggling networks also trafficked in arms and narcotics, thereby contributing to instability and affecting the entire Mediterranean and Sahel regions. Any opportunity to disrupt that cycle should be taken, she said, stressing that Council members should recommit to a secure Libya and fully support the Libyan Political Agreement. As such, all actors should engage with the United Nations in good faith, she said, cautioning that any attempt to impose a military solution would only destabilize the country further.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal), stating that today’s briefings confirmed the scope, gravity and complexity of the situation of sub‑Saharan African migrants, reaffirmed his delegation’s condemnation of trafficking in human beings. Senegal had arranged the repatriation of some of its own citizens in dangerous migratory situations, he said, welcoming Libya’s decision to open an investigation into the reports of slave trading. It was vital to ensure accountability for such crimes, and if national justice systems were not up to that task, international justice must step in, he said, stressing the importance of regional and international cooperation as well as sharing of information for that purpose. As for Libya, only when that country was united under a stable Government with unified institutions would it be able to exercise control over all its territory, he said. More generally, a global approach would be needed to promote both development and regular migration, based on human rights and addressing root causes of conflict, including instability and poverty. Senegal would support a presidential statement for that purpose.
SHEN BO (China) said that international cooperation should help to alleviate the migration crisis and also focus on a political resolution of the crisis in Libya. China supported any effort to help Libyans reach that goal through dialogue and negotiation. The international community should also be united in fighting terrorism and recruitment by extremists, by addressing root causes, strengthening border controls and implementing all the provisions of Council resolutions, he emphasized. Resolutions against trafficking must also be implemented, while root causes must be addressed through implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China would continue to contribute to such efforts and to work for stability in Libya, he pledged.
BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan), expressing deep concern over the plight of refugees, joined fellow members in condemning the sale of human beings, and in calling for the urgent investigation and prosecution of those involved in such heinous crimes. There must be cooperation among security agencies to end all human trafficking, he emphasized, calling also for orderly regular migration, investment in development and a political settlement to the crisis in Libya.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said that, considering the transnational nature of human trafficking and other crimes related to armed conflict, only a comprehensive approach could succeed in tackling them. It must include assistance for victims and address the situation’s root causes. The Libya situation constituted a grave and protracted crisis spawned by the 2011 intervention in the country’s internal issues, and the result was persistent political factionalism. Efforts to counter criminal activity related to migration and to deliver assistance to victims must be supported. Stressing the need for wide‑ranging dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, he said only lasting peace could lead to lasting alleviation of the refugee and migrant issue. There had been intimations about the need for an urgent intervention, but those who relished taking on such issues independently and in breach of State sovereignty would only exacerbate the already difficult situation that had emerged in Libya, he warned. Against such a backdrop, it would be highly valuable to shore up cooperation with the African Union, he emphasized.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said the situation in Libya had a direct impact on the stability of neighbouring States, the Sahel and the Mediterranean. Because of the current crisis, the latter region was facing a number of challenges, including terrorist threats and irregular migration flows. He strongly condemned the human rights violations taking place in Libyan detention centres where African migrants were being systematically abused and harassed, describing reports of slave auctions as shocking and horrifying. He appealed to all competent authorities in the country to investigate such activities and to hold those responsible accountable, while encouraging the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate such atrocities. Nevertheless, the migrant situation in Libya was among many factors contributing to ongoing instability, as criminal networks exploited the lack of political progress and the resulting security vacuum. Arbitrary detention, torture, kidnappings, unlawful killings, trafficking in persons, as well as arms and drug smuggling, had all become a daily reality, he said, stressing that only a comprehensive approach to the current conflict’s root cause could alleviate the suffering of Libya’s people.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), associating himself with the African Union, agreed that practices relating to human enslavement must be stamped out, expressing support for the regional bloc’s appeal for an investigation to identify those responsible and hold them accountable. According to data compiled by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and IOM, more than 40 million people had been subjected to some form of modern slavery in 2016, and one in four of them had been children, he noted. Investigations by Libya’s Government were currently under way to identify those responsible for such acts, which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, in which case the role of the International Criminal Court must be recognized. It was necessary to ensure that perpetrators of such crimes were prosecuted, he said, describing trafficking as a “parasitic” crime that exploited inaction. It was also important to recall that the Libya crisis and its broader fallout were the direct result of meddling in the country’s internal affairs — in violation of international law — which had left millions of victims.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, saying his country had facilitated meetings in Tripoli on the situation with the aim of providing the highest standards of humanitarian assistance and respect for human rights. Human mobility and the situation in Libya remained at the centre of Italy’s actions at the United Nations and of its Council Presidency, he said, recalling that earlier in the month, his delegation had organized an open debate on trafficking as well as a meeting dedicated to the political situation in Libya. As such, the Council had unanimously adopted resolution 2388 (2017), which underscored that trafficking and the smuggling of persons in the Sahel region were further exacerbating conflict and instability. That text provided a legal basis for a victim‑centred approach and highlighted that human trafficking entailed widespread and grave human rights abuses. Recent reports showing migrants sold as slaves were sickening, he said, condemning such actions. Italy welcomed remarks by the Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union on the bloc’s initiative to address the plight of African migrants in Libya. Emphasizing that migration flows should not be managed at the expense of human rights, he said Italy’s approach had always combined solidarity and security. The solution to the Libya crisis must be political, he stressed, calling upon members to help the country on its path to security and stability.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) condemned any sale of migrants by whomever was committing such crimes, pledging that if the reports proved true, the perpetrators would not be allowed impunity. Libyan laws criminalized trafficking in persons and slavery, he said, pointing out that such practices also violated basic Libyan values. The country was going through a crisis of instability and could not bear the full burden of migrant flows, a problem that it had not created. The issue must be addressed in origin and destination countries, he said, arguing that without problems in those countries and international trafficking networks, the problem would not exist in Libya. Similarly, simply forcing migrants leaving Libya back to the country would exacerbate both their own situation and that of the country, he said, adding that resettling them would further destabilize Libya. Destination countries must not shirk their responsibilities, he stressed.
Libya, meanwhile, was the victim of a large‑scale media campaign of defamation following the release of the slave‑trading images, he continued. Insisting that his country was not racist, he said it had absorbed many foreign workers and would absorb more when stability was restored and reconstruction began. The international community must address the problem through an effective approach dealing with root causes instead of contributing to the further defamation of Libya. Further support for efforts to unify the country and rebuild its institutions was also essential. Part of the solution would also entail repatriation to origin countries and greater migration opportunities. With hundreds of thousands of people transiting through Libya during a very difficult time in its history, the country should not be held responsible for international problems it had not caused, he emphasized, while expressing appreciation for the work of UNHCR and welcoming the cooperation between that agency and IOM.Read more
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I would like to begin by thanking the Ivoirian authorities for their welcome and for making it possible for us to meet here.
I would also like to thank you, colleagues from the African and European Parliaments, for your participation and your contributions to African Week and the high-level conference organised last week in the European Parliament.
It was important for an event of this kind to take place before the summit so that we could discuss in greater depth the issues facing us and the joint messages to be passed on.
I hope we will be able to repeat this in the future.
You have greatly contributed to the success of these meetings and we have all put pressure on the other institutions and on the Member States to ensure that tomorrow’s summit will give fresh impetus to our relations.
As democratically-elected representatives of the peoples of our two continents, we must have a more prominent role.
Good governance is only possible on the basis of democracy, and this is embodied by our Parliaments.
This is the first message that President Nkodo Dang and myself will pass on at tomorrow’s summit.
We all agree on the need to put our relations on a more dynamic footing,
as our two continents are more interdependent than ever.
We are facing many challenges which threaten our common objective of prosperity and stability.
In addition there is a matter of great urgency: the population explosion in Africa.
It is for this reason that everything we do must focus on young people.
But first we need a paradigm shift.
We need an approach centred on the individual and on human development.
Our first aim must be to create jobs in an effort to tackle the population question.
This will require huge investment delivered by means of innovative financial instruments which will have a direct impact on ordinary people.
This is of fundamental importance, as there is a danger of our relationship being shunted into the background by other players such as China and Turkey.
This is why I talk about a Marshall Plan for Africa, as we are facing an enormous task and have, moreover, little time to act.
We must increase the amount available in the Sustainable Development Fund from the current EUR 4 billion to 40 billion, which will generate a leverage effect of nearly EUR 500 billion.
Africa’s population is today close to one billion, but in 2050 – less than 35 years from now – that figure will be 2.5 billion.
Africa will have to create millions of jobs to accommodate the new arrivals in the job market.
If this does not happen, our young people will lose hope.
We will then be facing problems of radicalisation, especially in unstable regions such as the Sahel, but also much more widespread migration.
If we are to succeed, we must involve civil society and economic actors, as they are the ones who will, in the end, create jobs.
Similarly, we cannot talk about young people without giving them a bigger role in decision-making.
This is why, at last week’s high-level conference, every round-table discussion featured representatives of young people, of civil society, of the diaspora and of the private sector.
We must also focus on local entrepreneurs and SMEs and place the role of women, who are the cornerstone of the informal economy in Africa, at the centre of everything we do.
Development is not possible without acknowledging the work done by women and including them in decision-making and, by extension, in politics.
I welcome the presence of significant numbers of women in the parliaments of our two continents.
There are, however, some structural weaknesses which need to be resolved.
Africa lacks infrastructure: roads and railways, but also hospitals and schools.
Electrification must be a priority, together with promotion of the internet.
And this is where Europe has a part to play.
Businesses must be encouraged to invest in Africa by means of European economic diplomacy which brings with it know-how and technology transfer, thereby boosting the private sector, SMEs and entrepreneurship.
The aim is to foster the integration of individual regions and thus pave the way, one day, for the integration of the entire continent.
As the example of Europe shows, integration brings stability, growth and development through, in particular, the mobility of people, goods and services.
As you will have realised, I am thinking of an ‘African Schengen’.
This would require the role of institutions to be strengthened.
And here I would applaud the determination to do just that shown by the creation of a new institutional framework for this summit: African Union – European Union. (In contrast with the previous four summits: Africa – European Union).
I also think that these summits should be held more often – every two years if possible – and above all that there should be follow-up meetings at various levels so that we can ensure that the decisions taken are being acted upon.
Mobility, as I said, is important and goes hand in hand with education.
We must therefore encourage university exchanges both within Africa and between Europe and Africa and expand our Erasmus+ and Erasmus programmes for young entrepreneurs, with the aim of developing a future African leadership class.
The African continent provides a great number of economic opportunities in various sectors, such as agriculture, tourism, the digital industries, renewables, fishing, industry and raw materials.
In that connection I will, once the proceedings here have come to an end, visit the CEMOI factory, which transforms cocoa – a raw material vital to the GDP of Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s leading producer – into chocolate. It thereby generates added value, jobs and income for the Ivoirian people and the state.
This is the way forward: through industrialisation and economic diversification.
Yet we should not forget the need for a holistic approach.
Companies, commerce and investment can only prosper and create jobs and sustainable, inclusive growth in a climate of peace, security, stability, good governance and respect for human rights.
With regard to respect for human rights, I must condemn the re-emergence of a form of slavery which we have recently seen in Libya.
This is unacceptable, and we must not close our eyes to the phenomenon. And not only because we have seen pictures of what is taking place in Tripoli; it is sure to be happening elsewhere.
This is why we need an honest, open discussion on the subject of migration. Legal migration must be encouraged, to be sure, but we must take a firm approach to cooperation on readmission and return in order to protect the dignity of the individual.
Tomorrow must mark the beginning of a new relationship between equals. It is our task, as parliamentarians, to carry out our role of exercising scrutiny over the executive, thereby ensuring that the decisions taken are acted upon.
I would like to thank you once again for your work, which has resulted in the declaration that has just been adopted and which President Nkodo Dang and I will pass on tomorrow. It will, I am certain, contribute greatly to the success of the summit.
Rest assured that you can count on the commitment of the European Parliament, and in that connection I would like to thank my friend and colleague, Michael Gahler, Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the Pan-African Parliament, and all Members of the European Parliament present here who have worked so hard on this important subject.
You can also count on my personal commitment to ensuring that Africa remains at the centre of the European Union’s political agenda.
Finally, I undertake to come and address the Pan-African Parliament before the end of my term in office.
Thank you.Read more
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It is a real pleasure to see this Chamber full to the rafters to discuss the major issue of our partnership with our African friends.
The African Union-European Union Summit will take place in exactly one week’s time in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
I will straightaway say that that Summit must be different from the others, and must yield tangible results and a clear and precise roadmap.
We are privileged to have the President of the Central African Republic and many other African leaders with us here today.
This clearly shows that the European Parliament wishes to establish a direct high-level dialogue with the leaders of African countries.
I have always said that we must look at Africa through African eyes, and this calls for frank and direct peer-to-peer dialogue.
We have launched that dialogue by inviting the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the President of Côte d’Ivoire to address the plenary.
We will continue in the same vein.
The European Parliament has decided to organise an ‘Africa week’ of parliamentary activities. Today’s conference is part of that initiative, which seeks to restore Africa to the heart of the political agenda, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleages in the European Parliament for the firm commitment they have shown to Africa.
For many years, the Union failed to give Africa the attention it deserves. Often we looked the other way, heedless of the emergencies – humanitarian or linked to climate, security or stability – which Africans have to deal with every day. We failed to recognise that we have an overriding strategic interest in what happens in Africa.
Europe’s approach was a piecemeal one, with individual countries falling over one another in pursuit of their own interests and agendas. The result was a road paved with good intentions, but there were many missed opportunities and few successes along the way. We failed to exert any real political and economic influence on the future of Africa.
Globalisation and migration have shown that building walls or putting up barriers is not the solution. Africa’s problems are Europe’s problems too.
It is time to put our relations on a new footing, before it’s too late. Our links go beyond mere geographical proximity. We have common interests and face common challenges.
By 2050, the population of Africa will double, to more than 2.5 billion. This population explosion may be a problem, but it may also be an opportunity.
Desertification, famine, pandemics, terrorism, unemployment and bad governance are exacerbating instability and contributing to uncontrolled immigration.
Without determined action to tackle these phenomena, new generations will continue to set out for Europe in search of hope and a future. They may be attracted by images on television or on the internet depicting what seems to them to be a land of milk and honey. We urgently need to offer them real prospects in their home countries, so that they stay and help to revitalise them.
Guaranteeing security and managing migration
Our citizens want a stronger Union, capable of managing migration and guaranteeing security. They are calling on us to defend our values, by welcoming refugees and protecting the dignity of individuals at all times. But they also want us to be just as resolute in turning away those who have no right to enter Europe.
We are no longer prepared to stand idly by while migration continues unchecked, while thousands die in the desert or at sea, while human traffickers go about their business, or while men and women who in the 21st century cannot feed their children or get medicines for them when they are sick give up all hope.
As a first step, we need to strengthen border controls and manage asylum applications and procedures for rejecting applications and readmitting migrants more effectively.
Shutting down the central Mediterranean corridors, promoting stability and combating terrorism will require investments by the Union on a similar scale to those made to halt migration via the Balkan route. This money has to be spent in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad or Mali.
I should like to thank the ministers of the government of Mali, a country in the front line of the fight against terror in the Sahel. The ‘G5 Sahel’ Group is an excellent example of regional cooperation which the Union must help to strengthen.
This money must be used to improve the training given to our border guards and our security forces. It can be used to set up reception centres under the auspices of the UN, where humanitarian protection, food, medicines and childcare are provided; and where asylum applications are dealt with promptly.
Bringing huge resources to bear at our internal borders will achieve nothing. All suggestions that it will are nothing more than propaganda. Rather, what is needed is adequate funding for Frontex and the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which must be given more staff and resources.
The European satellite systems – Galileo and Copernicus – and new security technologies to be developed jointly must be used for this purpose as well.
We must also harmonise conditions governing the granting of asylum and readmission procedures, which must be quick and effective.
At the last part-session in Strasbourg, Parliament adopted by a large majority the mandate for a thoroughgoing overhaul of the Dublin Regulation, to make it fairer, more genuinely solidarity-based and more effective. Now it is up to the Council to act.
The challenges facing Africa
But all this is not enough. We need to address the problem at its roots. Unless we can offer them real prospects of well-being and stability, it will no longer be tens of thousands but millions of people who choose to leave their home countries behind. The UN estimates that, even in the short term, more than half a million people every year will seek a better future in Europe.
Supporting Africa is not only a duty. It is clearly also in our shared economic and political interest.
Many African countries are already showing that their continent offers genuine opportunities: in 2016, five African economies were among the top ten in the world in terms of growth, with rates of more than 7%.
Africa has critical raw materials essential for our industries: 64% of the world’s cobalt, without which batteries for electric cars cannot be made, comes from Congo; tantalum, which is used in solar panels, comes from Rwanda; platinum, which is used to limit harmful emissions from cars, comes from South Africa.
These raw materials are also of interest to our competitors, starting with China, which is seeking to establish a dominant position in order to boost its own industries.
There is also a problem of environmental sustainability. In the context of the Raw Materials Partnership, which I promoted when I was Industry Commissioner in 2012, cooperation developed between EU and African geological surveys which has led to innovation and greater awareness of the need to protect the environment.
There are many other good examples of our work with Africa. To start with, there is the integration of markets, under the Lomé Conventions and the current Cotonou Agreement. These agreements have granted free access to the European market for 99.5 % of African products.
Discussions on the post-Cotonou settlement are continuing. I should like to thank Parliament’s rapporteurs for their contribution.
Despite these efforts and the tens of billions that have been invested, there is still a long way to go if we are to guarantee decent living conditions and greater security for people in Africa.
Many parts of Africa are affected by conflicts, instability, terrorism, bad governance – just think about what is currently happening in Zimbabwe, in the Horn of Africa or in the Central African Republic.
According to World Bank figures, the GDP of all the African countries put together is barely higher than that of France.
Despite disastrous levels of child mortality – 38% of all the newborns who died in 2015 were African – the continent has the world’s fastest growing population.
We are far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN with a view to reducing poverty: one-third of Africans live below the poverty line; one-sixth of them need humanitarian aid to survive; in rural areas, 60% of people have less than one euro a day to live on.
Farming and raw materials, including energy, are the main sources of revenue, whilst the level of industrialisation is extremely low.
Last Monday was Africa Industrialisation Day, which provided an opportunity to emphasise once again that developing a manufacturing base is fundamental to growth and employment.
Only 15% of Africans have the internet at home. Barely one person in three has electricity.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest illiteracy rates: one child in every five does not go to school, and almost 60% of young people are not undergoing training of any kind.
Is it any surprise, therefore, that young Africans should believe that they have nothing to lose; that they should decide to risk their lives to come to Europe; or that they should be seduced by people who preach violence in God’s name.
Many problems could be solved by means of greater investment in education, infrastructure, industry and modern farming techniques. Africa, however, is the continent which attracts by far the lowest volume of foreign investment: barely more than EUR 80 billion a year, only 3% of African GDP. China is the country whose investments are increasing the most in proportional terms.
Africa’s destiny must be put back in the hands of Africans. But Europe must play its part as well.
We must work together with Africa, as equals, and make available the fruits of our leadership in the areas of technology, quality, industrial know-how and training.
Ten years have passed since the EU-Africa strategy was adopted. In that time many hopes have been dashed. Europe has lacked the courage to develop truly effective instruments.
Instead of consolidating our position as Africa’s main partner, we are losing ground. Not only China but other emerging investors as well, such as Turkey, India and Singapore, are gaining in influence.
A Marshall Plan for Africa
The fifth African Union-European Union Summit, which will be held on 29 and 30 November in Abidjan and bring together more than 80 heads of state, comes at a crucial time.
We must send out a clear signal that we are determined to relaunch and strengthen our partnership, and speak with a single, strong voice.
The focus of all our efforts must be young people: they hold the key to a more stable, prosperous and modern Africa.
The EUR 3.4 billion investment plan for Africa is an important step in the right direction. But it is nowhere near enough.
We must support the efforts Africans themselves are making to establish a sustainable manufacturing base and develop efficient farming, renewable energy sources and proper water, energy, mobility, logistical and digital infrastructure, by drawing up a real ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa. By doing so we will strengthen governance and the rule of law, step up the fight against corruption and foster the emancipation of women and education.
We must work to ensure that under the next EU multiannual budget at least EUR 40 billion is earmarked for the investment fund for Africa. The leverage effect and synergies generated with the funding provided by the European Investment Bank could make it possible to mobilise some EUR 500 billion in public and private investment.
On that basis, we can continue to conduct effective economic diplomacy which promotes the integration of markets, the transfer of technology and industrial know-how, sustainability and training.
The aim must be to establish an environment conducive to the development of a manufacturing base and entrepreneurship and the creation of SMIs and jobs for young people. For that we also need instruments such as Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, which should be extended to cover Africa.
At the same time, legal immigrants from Africa can meet the demand for workers in some sectors of the economy in the EU and acquire professional skills which they can then use to create businesses in Europe.
We also need academic and cultural diplomacy which, by expanding Erasmus+ and stepping up cooperation between universities on research and mobility projects, makes it possible for more Africans to study in Europe.
More resources are not in themselves the answer. Already today we are investing EUR 33 billion from the EU budget alone, not counting the bilateral aid provided by individual Member States.
If our taxpayers’ generosity has failed to produce the hoped-for results, we must ask ourselves whether the current development cooperation model is the right one.
Carrying on as we have always done would be a serious mistake. Our citizens are calling for a political Europe which is capable of making brave choices. Starting with the budget; more of the same is not acceptable, and the budget must reflect the priorities of the peoples of Europe,
The proposed sum of EUR 40 billion – 12 times more than the current budget for the Investment Plan – is needed to generate an impact commensurate with our objectives. This is a critical mass large enough to attract European private and public investment.
It is not a Utopian idea. If the political will is there, resources can be found, partly by using the funds already earmarked for Africa more effectively, partly by providing guarantees under the EU budget, and partly by identifying new sources of funding.
It is for just that reason that I have proposed an increase in the next budget. Making new resources available must not serve to impose a burden on citizens or SMIs. Instead, we must use new own resources for this purpose, by collecting taxes from those who currently don’t pay them and reducing taxes on those who do pay them.
I am thinking of tax havens, the internet giants and speculative financial transactions of all kinds.
Today, the European Parliament is committing itself to playing a central role in a new Partnership with Africa. Our debate, involving young people, political leaders, experts and investors from Europe and Africa, must serve as preparation for the new start we will make in Abidjan.
This conference must be more than a formal event at which we read out speeches – rather, we must take the opportunity it offers to relaunch our partnership.
If our partnership really is a priority, then we must meet more regularly – every two years.
Follow-up meetings should be held at multiple levels on a regular basis, including between the representatives of civil society, business and commerce and the young.
Abidjan must mark a new beginning in our relations.Read more
Secretary‑General Underlines Collective Responsibility to ‘Stop These Crimes’
The Security Council reiterated its condemnation of trafficking in human beings today, particularly the sale of people by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), as well as other violations and abuses by Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other such groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2388 (2017) ahead of a day‑long debate on that subject, the Council underscored the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts so as to ensure that those responsible could be held accountable. It reaffirmed its condemnation, in the strongest terms, of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who made up the vast majority of all trafficking victims in areas affected by armed conflict.
Also by the text, the Council stressed that trafficking undermined the rule of law and contributed to other forms of transnational organized crime that could exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability, thereby undermining development. The Council underscored the importance of cooperation in enforcing international law in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.
The Council also expressed, by further terms of the text, its intention to give greater consideration to how peacekeeping and political missions could help host States combatting human trafficking. It also requested that the Secretary‑General ensure the inclusion of trafficking in assessments of country situations and in the training of mission personnel, which would help in identifying, confirming, responding and reporting on situations of trafficking.
Briefing ahead of the debate were Secretary‑General António Guterres as well as Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and Smail Chergui, the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.
Secretary‑General Guterres declared “it is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable. There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration and to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime. “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed. However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, he noted.
A framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action. Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to that framework’s implementation, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system. “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.
Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he emphasized, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons. Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up. More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished. He called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children. “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared. “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”
Mr. Fedotov said the UNODC had designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data‑collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and helped victims. It was now considering how to strengthen the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordinating Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, he said. In more general terms, he said widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights during mass movements remained a grave concern. Thanks to efforts by the Council and the wider United Nations system, there was forward momentum against trafficking, but the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized.
Ms. Giammarinaro said egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous. Violations such as trafficking were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause, she pointed out, saying the Security Council’s agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the processes linked to the Global Compact on Migration and Refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda. Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.
Mr. Chergui said interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, noting that national legal frameworks were inadequate and often needed strengthening. Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring: “Our common humanity is at stake.”
With more than 70 speakers participating in the open debate, delegates affirmed the serious violation of human rights represented by trafficking in persons, with many relating the harrowing stories of victims, particularly women and children. Some speakers outlined national programmes to help victims and root out trafficking through the three‑part effort of prevention, protection and prosecution.
While most delegates hailed the resolution, many others questioned the expansion of the normative framework, some expressing regret that too many frameworks would fragment anti‑trafficking efforts. Spain’s representative suggested that the UNODC take the lead in creating a global strategy.
In addition, many delegates called for greater legal migration opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of those to whom borders were now closed. Bolivia’s representative advocated universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants.
Many delegates began their statements by expressing disgust over recently disseminated images of African migrants in Libya being auctioned as slaves.
Libya’s representative, condemning such activity, said the authorities had initiated an investigation and would hold perpetrators accountable. He called on the international community to help his country address challenges posed by irregular mass migration through Libya rather than using such media misrepresentations for defamatory purposes.
Also speaking today were representatives of Ethiopia, Sweden, Ukraine, Russian Federation, France, United States, Bolivia, Senegal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Uruguay, China, United Kingdom, Italy, Venezuela (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Colombia, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Estonia, Belgium, Peru, Indonesia, Slovakia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, South Africa, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Panama, Norway, Morocco, Sudan, Austria, Philippines, Guatemala, Argentina, Canada, Bangladesh, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Botswana, Botswana, Maldives, Malaysia, Belize, Portugal, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Myanmar, Netherlands and Armenia.
Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Organization for Migration also spoke, as did the observer for the Holy See.
The meeting opened at 10:08 a.m. and closed at 5:09 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said “criminals and terrorists are capitalizing on, and perpetuating, the disorder and mayhem of conflict”, funding their crimes by brutally preying on the vulnerable. Sexual exploitation, forced labour, the removal of bodily organs and slavery were the tools of their trade. Citing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as having forced women, boys and girls into dehumanizing servitude, he said such activities constituted serious abuses of human rights, as did the horrific practice of selling African migrants as “goods” in Libya.
“It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable, he emphasized. There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration, to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime and to increase the number of refugees in the developed world. “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed. However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
He said a framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,Read more