Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Open Debate on Preventative Diplomacy
Statement16 November 2021
Thank you, Mr. President.
I want to thank also our briefers for their interventions this morning. Secretary-General, President Shahid, our dear friend and colleague Ambassador Kelapile and Judge Donoghue, it is reassuring to have such staunch supporters of multilateralism at the helm of this organisation. Your powerful words remind us of why we are here today, and reinforces our common purpose to alleviate suffering and build peace across the globe.
The ambitious vision of the Charter was to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Sitting around this symbolic horseshoe table, we should always carry the weight of that vision on our shoulders. There are times when we come together, when the optimism and spirit of cooperation of our forebears shines through. When that happens, we know we can save lives. However, far too often the positive impact of our work is diminished by a siloed, disjointed approach. The messages of our briefers today share a common thread: that our challenges are too great to tackle alone. They convey the reality that just as we Member States need to work in lockstep, so too must the organs of the UN. I want to highlight three ways, which Ireland believes are critical to achieving this goal.
First, we need to invest in prevention. Too often, this Council is in crisis response mode. We know that issues such as food insecurity, poverty and gender inequality are often precursors to conflict. We know that their intersection with climate change further aggravates existing tensions. To address these challenges, we see it as critical for humanitarian, development and peace support actors to work in a coordinated manner.
The Peacebuilding Commission, through its convening role, is uniquely placed to facilitate that work. Indeed, it is already doing so. The PBC is providing the Council with very broad based advice on specific country and regional situations, such as the Central African Republic and the Great Lakes region, as well as themes relevant across all of our work.
What is needed now is for this Council to discuss that advice and to heed it where we can.
We welcome the Secretary-General’s recommendation in “Our Common Agenda” to expand the Commission’s role to additional settings. This should go hand in hand with a genuine commitment to ensuring that peacebuilding activities, and in particular the valuable work of the Peacebuilding Fund, are adequately supported and sustainably financed.
Mr. President, my second point is the need to foster a more coherent relationship between human rights and the Security Council. Let us be clear, violations of human rights are the obvious harbingers of conflict to come. When we protect and defend human rights, we create bulwarks against conflict. That is why, in Ireland’s view, human rights belong at the Security Council.
Put simply, human rights are a peace and security issue.
Bodies and entities such as the Third Committee of the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the treaty bodies and the Special Rapporteurs all play an important role in the maintenance of international peace and security. Indeed, the entirety of the human rights architecture is, in our view, inextricably linked to the work we do here at the Security Council.
Many of the items on our agenda today are also under discussion at the Human Rights Council. That is no coincidence. Further, mechanisms created by the HRC such as the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism on Myanmar are key to ensuring accountability.
The joint investigation of the OHCHR with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into human rights violations in Tigray, including sexual violence, is another important example of the interplay between human rights and the subjects of most acute concern to the Security Council.
We believe that the relationship between human rights and the Council should be constructed around an inclusive understanding of prevention. An understanding that recognises the key role of human rights in early warning and in building national resilience. Critical to that relationship are the voices of human rights defenders, women leaders and civil society. We need to listen and learn from their testimonies. Importantly, we need to act.
Mr. President, my third point, is the role of the International Court of Justice as a key tool for conflict prevention. We strongly believe that we should not underestimate the Court’s potential role in determining disputes between states that might otherwise have led to conflict.
However, the Court remains underutilised as a resource for the peaceful adjudication of disputes in accordance with international law. It is our view that the Court’s role in preventing conflict could be bolstered by greater interaction between the Council and the Court. Ireland believes the Council should consider, where appropriate, the possibility of seeking the Court’s input in the form of advisory opinions. The Council could also recommend that States with a dispute on its agenda resolve the legal aspect of their dispute before the ICJ.
In conclusion, Mr. President,
The inescapable reality that faces us all, individually and collectively, is that the contemporary challenges we face do not fit neatly into preordained, predefined boxes. The effects of climate change do not stop at the doors of this Chamber. Human rights do not only exist in Geneva. These challenges cut across all aspects of our work, from development, to human rights to peace and security. We have heard today that the UN system is ready to step up and step in. Not just ready to react to conflict, but to prevent it. It is incumbent upon us around this table to do the same. Millions of vulnerable people are relying on us. We will be in dereliction of our duty if we let them down.