At the UN General Assembly: a global network for multilateralism

At the UN General Assembly: a global network for multilateralism

I write after coming back from the United Nations’ General Assembly – my last one as High Representative: during these five years we strengthened cooperation between the European Union and the UN like never before, and we made the EU a global point of reference for all those who believe that our world must be governed together, joining forces, instead of going for unilateral approaches that do not solve our problems.

As every year, we dealt with the great crises of our times – from our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, to the compromise reached by the Syrian regime and opposition on a “constitutional committee”; from the attempt to relaunch a political negotiation in Libya, to the work for Venezuela with the Contact Group and the international conference we just announced to support Venezuelan refugees.

Our approach has been clear: we have always tried to bring all relevant actors to the table, and to keep the United Nations at the core of our work. This is the best way to protect and to strengthen the multilateral system, with action not just words.

 

New energy for multilateralism

I discussed this approach with Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, at the beginning of the General Assembly (press release here). And most importantly, we put this approach in practice throughout the week. This was the case, for instance, with the joint task force of the European Union, the African Union and the UN agencies, thanks to which more than fifty thousand migrants have been transferred from Libya. Or with the new partnership that we have just created with the Pacific Alliance (the group formed by Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile) to work on issues we both care about, from climate to trade and jobs creation (here is our joint declaration). The same goes for the declaration with the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states on sustainable development and climate. The European Union is today at the heart of a global network of partners that share the same goals and the same ideal of a more cooperative global order.

During this General Assembly we took part in a great number of initiatives that bring new energy to the multilateral system, I gathered once again the Global Tach Panel, with a concrete proposal on how to regulate the use of artificial intelligence in weapon systems. I took part in the launching of a new Alliance for Multilateralism, with a special focus on climate and new technologies (here is my speech). We discussed how to train a new generation of mediators to tackle crises that are more complex than ever  (my remarks are here). We took stock of the work done with UNICEF so that all young people in the world can go to school or find a job by 2030 (speech here, and here are my remarks on the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). We brought to Africa our global Spotlight initiative to fight violence against women (speech here). We expanded our “Good Human Rights Stories” initiative, gathering stories of emancipation and new rights from all around the world (here is my speech).

 

Stop the escalation in the Gulf

Of course we also worked a lot to address today’s toughest crises. In a difficult week for the nuclear deal with Iran, I gathered the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and Iran: together we confirmed that everyone’s goal is to preserve Iran deal and guarantee its full implementation – here are our joint statement and my press conference.

Nuclear non-proliferation was also at the centre of the annual meeting to support the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty – here is my statement on behalf of the EU, with a few final words in a personal capacity.

 

A political solution for Syria and Libya

At the beginning of the week I met with the Syrian opposition’s representatives, on the eve of the agreement between opposition and regime about the formation of a committee to draft the new Syrian constitution. It is the first intra-Syrian agreement since the start of the war, and it has to be the first step towards a political solution to the crisis. This is what I discussed with the UN Envoy Geir Pedersen and at the meeting on Syria that we organised, where I also announce that over 90 per cent of the donations pledged at last March’s Brussels Conference for Syria have now been confirmed – here is my speech

We dedicated special attention to Libya, too: together with our Arab and African partners we reiterated that there is no military solution to the crisis and it is essential to restart a political process leading to new elections. I talked about this with Libyan President Fayez al Serraj, with the UN Envoy Ghassan Salameh, and all regional partners.

 

Protect the two-state perspective

We worked a lot, as ever, on Israel and Palestine. Our priority remains to avoid that the two-state solution becomes impossible to achieve: we worked towards this goal at the meeting of international donors for Palestine (the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, here is my speech) and at the meeting for UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees. I also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and with US President Trump’s advisor Jared Kushner.

 

On the side of the Venezuelan people

The General Assembly was the occasion for a round of consultation of Venezuela, together with the International Contact Group we created. At the Group’s meeting, we discussed our contacts inside the country and with international partner to support a process leading to new democratic elections – here is my speech and the Group’s communique. In New York we also met with the Lima Group Representatives (press release here) to coordinate our work.

I also took part in the meeting on the situation of Venezuelan migrants and refugees and their host communities (video here). And I announced that next month we will host in Brussels a conference to mobilise the international community’s support to Venezuelans who are feeling their country.

 

Turning the page in Africa

Our new partnership with Africa was at the centre of a meeting with the Chairman of the African Union’s Commission Moussa Faki. I then took part in two important meetings on two crises areas in the continent: the Sahel, where the European Union has invested enormously in peace, security and development, but it is now essential that local leaders take responsibility for turning the page; and the Central African Republic, where we support the work of President Faustine Archange Touadera for the full implementation of the peace deal agreed at the beginning of the year.

 

The meetings

This year, coordination among European countries at the UN was once again very close. Like every year, I gathered all the EU Ministers who were in New York and, for the second year in a row, those form EU members seating in the UN Security Council.

The General Assembly is always an opportunity to meet partners from all over the world. I hosted the usual dinner with our six Balkan partners. I met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and Ministers from our Eastern Partners: the new Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, and of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov,

I chaired the meeting of the European Union with the Gulf Cooperation Council and I met with the Arab league’s Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit. I met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Cavusoglu, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi, Lebanon’s Gebran Bassil, Morocco’s Nasser Bourita, the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Iran’s Javad Zarif. 

At the traditional Transatlantic dinner I met with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. I held several meeting with Latin American partners: with Panama’s Foreign Minister Alejandro Ferrer, Ecuador’s José Valencia Amores, Peru’s Nestor Popolizio, Brazil’s Ernesto Araújo, and with Alicia Bárcena, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s Secretary general. At the Bloomberg Global Business Forum I spoke about Colombia with President Ivan Duque and Bill Clinton (video here).

Finally, India’s Foreign Minister Shri Muraleedharan and Pakistan’s Mehmood Qureshi, Kenya’s Foreign Minister Monica Juma and Australia’s Marise Payne.