I would like to thank the Chinese Presidency of the Security Council for organizing this open debate in order to reflect on the need of strengthening multilateralism. I also thank the UN Secretary-General for his statement in this regard. Latvia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
In an interdependent and globalized world we can address and resolve global problems only through multilateral means, including dialogue and international cooperation. History shows that a strong multilateral, inclusive, rules-based international order is essential for the maintenance of global peace and security. It must be our joint responsibility to defend and strengthen it.
The United Nations was created because the world had paid too high price for the absence of a credible and functional international system. It was necessary to put an end to the world where might makes right, where big powers dominate and dismember their neighbors. Latvia is convinced that only genuine respect of the UN Charter can prevent the world from plunging into a chaos; the relations between states must be exclusively based on law and dialog and not force and coercion.
Since regaining of independence and accession to the United Nations in 1991, Latvia has been a strong supporter of multilateralism. Latvia has always been a staunch supporter of international law and promoter of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These principles are fundamental for maintaining the international order based on predictability, stability and security of States.
For us, the United Nations is the core of the multilateral system – the proper place for finding global solutions for global problems.
Current pressing issues – such as conflicts, terrorism, climate change and migration – to name a few - affirm the relevance and increased interdependence of all three pillars of the United Nations – peace and security, human rights, and development. It is even more relevant now, as the UN and its member states advance with the implementation of the bold 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals.
Conflict prevention has the rightful place at the center of the UN agenda. Also, early action of the UN in situations of concern is critical. Latvia strongly believes that respect of human rights, the rule of law and good governance are key to maintaining peace and security, therefore it is important to act early and effectively where serious human rights law and humanitarian law violations take place. They can be an early indication of a descent into conflict or escalation of conflict.
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 UN 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 this regard, Latvia champions the Secretary General`s gender responsive agenda, including on conventional and light weapons. This is why Latvia has selected “gender based violence” as our theme of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Presidency.
The Member States of the Security Council have a particular responsibility in maintaining international peace and security. Inaction by the Security Council, when mass atrocities are taking place, runs counter to the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations.
Since permanent members of the Council are granted a special privilege – the veto power – in order to protect the Charter of the United Nations and the international order, they also bear a special responsibility that this power is used in the interests of common peace and security. We also believe that Security Council reform is long overdue, and we should all aim for strengthening the legitimacy of this important body.
In order to strengthen the role of the United Nations, serious efforts should be made to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Territorial integrity and sovereignty as enshrined in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be respected by all UN Member States.
At the same time, United Nations as the organization must be able to change in order to respond to the 21st century accordingly. Latvia supports the reforms of the Secretary-General in order to bring the United Nations closer to the people and be able to respond to their needs for security and well-being. The United Nations can be and must be a significant global player, a community of nations proud of its values, committed to multilateralism and the principles of international law.
Multilateral diplomacy can be challenging, but even with differences between Member States great compromises in the form of international agreements have been achieved while putting people and our planet at the center of what we do. With more unity and collective action we can strengthen the principle of multilateralism. We all have the obligation to overcome the grim challenges of the present times and to make the world a better place.