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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC on Maintenance on International Peace and Security

I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Ireland.

First, I want to sincerely thank the Elders for being with us today. President Robinson and Elder Emeritus Brahimi, your briefings were both important and alarming. I also thank former Presidents Johnson Sirleaf and Zedillo for your presence with us today. This Council needs the wisdom, clarity and courage that your messages convey.

Mary, Lakhdar, you have called our attention to the deep challenges we face. The challenges we often struggle to recognise, and the challenges we have many times failed to address.

In your calls you recognise a common inescapable reality:  the challenges we face are too great, and too global, for any one country, to overcome alone — whether a small island like my own, or a global superpower of whom there are several at this table.  That’s why we all sit in this symbolic horseshoe, looking across at each other, talking about working together, not always succeeding in doing so.

Time and again, we pay lip service to the imperative of unity of purpose, to the need for this Council to listen to “other voices”, the voices of regional organisations and of influential and experienced actors, such as The Elders. Your messages today drive home the truth - we are bound together by our inaction, as well as by the responsibility for the consequences of that inaction.

The inescapable reality is that multilateralism must be at the heart of how we seek to deal with our global challenges, not least to the threats to international peace and security. That was the ambitious vision of the drafters of the Charter in 1945; with the almost unbridled optimism that their determination to work together could save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. That is actually the momentous responsibility placed on the shoulders of this Council every day. And that is the clarion call we heard this morning from the Elders.

For a small country like Ireland, multilateralism is in our DNA.  We are a global island, deeply connected in everything we do.  It is at the core of how we approach international peace and security. It is expressed in our commitment to the blue helmet of UN Peacekeeping. It is expressed in our commitment to promoting disarmament in Ireland’s foreign policy. And, it is grounded in our lived experience of conflict. An experience that continues to teach us that for peace processes to be sustainable, they must be inclusive, ensuring that the voices of the most vulnerable, often women and other marginalised groups, are not only heard but listened to. Our commitment to multilateralism is matched by our courage to defend it.

The threats to peace and security have changed since 1945. Today, climate change is the defining challenge of our generation. Its impact is global and our collective security is at risk. We have heard, first hand, in this Council how the negative effects of climate change are compounding other drivers of conflict such as poverty and inequality to undermine stability in regions like the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. If we fail to face up to the reality, the destabilising effects of climate change will eventually be felt in all countries.

We are using our Presidency this month to consider the concrete steps this Council can take in response to climate security risks. We must put the necessary systems in place to allow this Council to take account of the adverse impacts of climate change in the delivery of its mandate.

Like many around this table, and around the world, I am inspired by the work and the wisdom of the Elders. As an Irish woman, the words of Ireland’s former President Mary Robinson have particular resonance. Many have mentioned the crisis in Afghanistan today. With the plight of women and girls in Afghanistan foremost in my mind in recent weeks, I am reminded of something former President Robinson once said, and I quote:

“In a society where the rights and potential of women are constrained, no man can be truly free. He may have power, but he will not have freedom.”

This Council continues its urgent consideration of the situation in Afghanistan in debate on Thursday, and in the negotiation of the mandate for the UN mission in Afghanistan. As we do so, I call on this Council to do everything in its power to promote and to protect the human rights of the brave women of Afghanistan. A key measure of the new dispensation in Kabul will be how it treats its women and girls.

Afghanistan is but one of the many crises which this Council is grappling with. From Ethiopia to Yemen, to Haiti and Syria, we must work together on collective responses to increasingly complex challenging circumstances. The promotion of respect for human rights, including the protection of civil society space and of human rights defenders, must lie at the heart of our commitment to these and other countries in crisis. 

It is a lesson hard learned that at the Security Council, we simply cannot afford to be divided on issues that require urgent action. If and when we are divided, the vulnerable in fragile contexts suffer the consequences.  Appeals for a united Council may sound idealistic, but this is not merely an ideal. This is a reality for millions of vulnerable people around the world. These people, many faced with war, famine, sexual violence in conflict – are relying on us, here in this room, to come together and to act. This is our responsibility, individually and collectively. That was the promise of the Charter in 1945. That is still the promise of the Charter in 2021. We know that The Elders are working tirelessly to help realise that promise and we will rely on your encouragement today to fortify our efforts at this table.

I will now resume my function as President of this Council.

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