Saturday, 16/12/2017 | 3:25 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • What Libya’s “slave auctions” tell us about the humanitarian system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The impact of injustice

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

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

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

    Read more

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

    Disposable Africians – migration and its consequences

    The forgotten frontline of the migration crisis

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

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

    Is global humanitarianism ready to talk about race? 

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

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

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

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

    But the rules have changed.

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

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

    Criminalising migrants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ignoring the suffering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    New voices

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

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

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

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

    nn/oa/ag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The impact of injustice

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

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

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

    Read more

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

    Disposable Africians – migration and its consequences

    The forgotten frontline of the migration crisis

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

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

    Is global humanitarianism ready to talk about race? 

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

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

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

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

    But the rules have changed.

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

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

    Criminalising migrants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ignoring the suffering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    New voices

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

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

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

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

    nn/oa/ag

    Read more
  • Activities of Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire, 27–30 November

    United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres left New York on Monday, 27 November to attend the fifth African Union‑European Union Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.  He arrived in Abidjan late on Tuesday, 28 November.

    On Wednesday, the Secretary‑General held bilateral meetings with the following Heads of State:  President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire; President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço of Angola; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo.

    In the morning, he attended a trilateral meeting with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat; the President of the European Commission, Jean‑Claude Juncker; and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice‑President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini.  They agreed to put in place a joint African Union‑European Union‑United Nations task force to save and protect the lives of migrants and refugees along the routes, and in particular inside Libya, accelerating the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin and the resettlement of those in need of international protection.

    Following a working luncheon hosted by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the Secretary-General addressed the opening ceremony of the Summit.  He said that there was a need to change the relationship with Africa and establish a new cooperation platform that recognizes the huge potential of the continent.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18803.)

    He then met with representatives of the United Nations country team.

    The Secretary-General left Côte d’Ivoire on Wednesday night, 29 November, and arrived back in New York on Thursday afternoon, 30 November.

    Read more
  • Activities of Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire, 27–30 November

    United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres left New York on Monday, 27 November to attend the fifth African Union‑European Union Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.  He arrived in Abidjan late on Tuesday, 28 November.

    On Wednesday, the Secretary‑General held bilateral meetings with the following Heads of State:  President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire; President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço of Angola; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo.

    In the morning, he attended a trilateral meeting with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat; the President of the European Commission, Jean‑Claude Juncker; and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice‑President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini.  They agreed to put in place a joint African Union‑European Union‑United Nations task force to save and protect the lives of migrants and refugees along the routes, and in particular inside Libya, accelerating the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin and the resettlement of those in need of international protection.

    Following a working luncheon hosted by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the Secretary-General addressed the opening ceremony of the Summit.  He said that there was a need to change the relationship with Africa and establish a new cooperation platform that recognizes the huge potential of the continent.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18803.)

    He then met with representatives of the United Nations country team.

    The Secretary-General left Côte d’Ivoire on Wednesday night, 29 November, and arrived back in New York on Thursday afternoon, 30 November.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Question of Palestine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Situation in Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Action on Draft Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (2017/2123(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Union’s strategic environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Institutional framework

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Permanent Structured Cooperation

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Defence Directorate-General

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

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

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

    Coordinated strategic and annual defence reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CSDP missions and operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    EU-NATO cooperation

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

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

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

    CSDP partnerships

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

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

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

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

    °

    °  °

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

    (1)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0344.

    (2)

    Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0381.

    (3)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0435.

    (4)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0440.

    (5)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0092.

    (6)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0302.

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

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

    (2017/2123(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Union’s strategic environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Institutional framework

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Permanent Structured Cooperation

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Defence Directorate-General

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

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

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

    Coordinated strategic and annual defence reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CSDP missions and operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    EU-NATO cooperation

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

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

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

    CSDP partnerships

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

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

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

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

    °

    °  °

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

    (1)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0344.

    (2)

    Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0381.

    (3)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0435.

    (4)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0440.

    (5)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0092.

    (6)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0302.

    Read more
  • High Commissioner for Refugees Calls Slavery, Other Abuses in Libya ‘Abomination’ That Can No Longer Be Ignored, while Briefing Security Council

    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.

    Briefings

    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.

    Statements

    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.

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