Statement by H.E. Mr. Edgars Rinkēvičs Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia at the Open Debate of the Security Council “Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace”

19.10.2017. 14:40

Madam President,

Thank you for organizing this important debate. Congratulations and best wishes to the Swedish presidency and to your membership of the Security Council. My best wishes also to you, Mr. Secretary-General. You can count on Latvia’s support.

Madam President,

The United Nations was created because the world had paid too high price for the absence of a credible international system. However, the potential of the United Nations in preventing the outbreak, continuation or resurgence of conflicts has not been used effectively. Far too often the United Nations has been unable to prevent conflicts or build peace or stop atrocities. Too often resources are spent on responding to and managing crises instead of preventing them.

In 2017 many complex violent conflicts around the globe persist. All of these conflicts not only threaten the principles of international order and the global rules-based system. They also fundamentally affect the security of our world. Most importantly, these conflicts have a devastating impact on millions of civilians. 

All recent reviews of the United Nations’ peace and security pillar call for the strengthening of preventive diplomacy. The United Nations must develop an effective culture of prevention. Tools for prevention are long available, including in the United Nations Charter. We need to move from mere commitment to concrete action – individually and collectively as the international community. 

Mr. Secretary-General, I appreciate your energetic engagement today and your vision of more effective United Nations. I would like to thank you personally for putting conflict prevention at the centre of the United Nations agenda. In this context, we look forward to the implementation of your initiatives announced on January 3rd, that will enhance the UN performance in the peace and security pillar and will strengthen the arrangements for information and crisis management. The success of your strong appeal for peace from the day one in your office largely depends on all of us. We expect that you will use all the tools at your disposal to preserve the rules-based international order and to restore it where it has been broken.

Madam President,

The best way of preventing conflicts is solving existing ones in the most efficient ways. All Member States of the United Nations are the guardians of this international system and of the UN Charter.

Member States of the Security Council have a particular responsibility. With the privilege of being a permanent member of the Council and having the veto power also comes the responsibility to use this power in the interests of common peace and security. The Council has not always lived up to this special responsibility.

In the case of Syria, the Council was not and is not able to stop the State from committing crimes against its own population. Failure to act promptly to prevent or stop the conflict, and to demand accountability, has brought immense human costs. The brutal horrors of five years of ongoing bloodshed in Syria haunt our conscience as human beings and diplomats.

Madam President,

Accountability is an essential part of any political process, reconciliation and peace in Syria. In the framework of UN General Assembly Latvia strongly supported the creation of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist investigation and prosecution of serious crimes committed in Syria and to ensure justice for all victims. Latvia has also called to refer the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court – which the Council has been unable to do. I repeat that call.

Through the United Nations Charter all UN Member States have committed to renounce the illegal threat or use of force, and to settle their disputes by peaceful means. As it was in the case of Ukraine, the Council was not able to prevent and stop the act of aggression which triggered the commission of further crimes. Russia’s actions in Ukraine are a blatant violation of international law and a serious challenge to the principles of the UN Charter. We must return to the rules based security order in Europe. The peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine that respects Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity must be a priority.

In order to maintain international peace and to ensure that the United Nations is an organisation in which people trust and believe, it is important that the Security Council members move beyond their domestic interests in the name of genuinely addressing global challenges. It is also important to further strengthen early warning measures. In this regard respect for international law, protection of human rights and the rule of law are key.

Thank you.