December 13, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Constantine Moushoutas at the Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly – Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization

Mr. President,

The Millennium Summit and the General Debate which was just concluded, gave preeminence as never before to man’s quest for a more equitable distribution of wealth. The halls of this Assembly are echoing the concern and anger of the Least developed, the Small Island states and the Developing States in general, about the widening gap between rich and poor, the negative impact of globalization, the unsustainable debt burden, the inexcusable and unacceptable loss of life from curable diseases such as malaria, while the HIV/AIDS which plagues, especially the African states is spreading with frightening speed in other parts of the world. We agree that we live in a world of abundance but with extreme poverty on our doorsteps. The urgency for action has never been highlighted as it was during the Millennium Summit and at the highest representative level. The Declaration of this historic summit, setting specific goals for the eradication of curable diseases, and for combating extreme poverty, are realistic. What is needed is determination for action, here and now, to make the Summit’s promise a reality as stated by the Secretary-General.

We agree with the assessment that in the fight against poverty and the negative effects of globalization, allowing favorable trade terms, foreign investments and increase in the Official Development Assistance are of paramount importance. What is more we believe that international institutions could assist by being more receptive to the special problems and special needs of a number of developing states.

Extreme poverty and poverty in general, beyond the suffering it causes, is a source of the deterioration of the environment, it breeds crime, and forms the root causes of conflicts. Hungry people, said one speaker, wake up angry people. We must drive to implement the 1990’s agenda commitments on development, especially now, after the reinforcement of these commitments by the Millennium Summit Declaration.

Mr. President,

The Secretary-General’s report concedes that many states have serious and legitimate concerns about intervention and goes on to pose the question “If humanitarian intervention is indeed an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to gross and systematic violations of human rights?” I must say, Mr. President, that we are one of the many who share the concerns to which the Secretary-General referred.

We hold that the Charter of the United Nations signed by 189 sovereign member states bestowed on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and granted to it the authority to employ coercive measures, including the use of force, when threats or breaches of peace and security occur. Except in cases of self-defense, (article 51 of the Charter), any use of armed force by any state for the solution of international problems is absolutely and unambiguously prohibited.

The Security Council remains exclusively the sole source of legitimate use of armed force when dealing with breaches of peace and of course when systematic and gross violations of human rights are involved.

We cannot supercede or substitute these Charter provisions, for there is no alternative to the Security Council’s legality in the use of armed force. What is more, there is no other international instrument which enjoys, as the Charter does, the unanimous support of mankind. Despite its five decades plus of existence, the Charter is as relevant as ever and indispensable even more so today. What is needed is the strict adherence to its provisions by all.

If we accept intervention outside the UN, it may also encourage militant separatists to create such conditions of bloodshed conducive to intervention. Even where the Security Council fails to agree to the use of armed force, there are other remedies which the Council may agree upon to employ. The founding fathers in Article 41 of the Charter gave us a list of coercive measures not involving the use of armed force which the Council may adopt. The coming into full operation of the International Criminal Court is an added restrain to human rights violations.

If the measures provided in Article 41 prove inadequate, then the problem may be brought for deliberation in the General Assembly which is the most representative main organ of the United Nations. We must not forget also that states have primary responsibility for safeguarding the human rights of their people.

Respect for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states and non interference in their internal affairs cannot be and must not be interpreted as impediment to safeguarding human rights or justifying inaction when systematic and gross violations of human rights occur. To the contrary, when the action to be taken enjoys the legality of a UN Mandate, the preponderance of chances is that it will meet its goals in redressing grave violations of human rights situations.

Use of armed force, motivated by good intentions but in violation of provisions of the Charter regarding respect for the sovereignty of states is no solution. It is a cause for more problems to come. If we allow well intending interventions outside the UN, we will be opening Pandora’s box. For, as we said before, there will always be leaders who under the pretext of humanitarian protection of rights of people or minorities or ethnic communities will use aggression for expansionist reasons. Article 2, para. 4 of the Charter prohibits such use of force.

Mr. President,

The subject of humanitarian intervention is both crucial and challenging and needs thorough discussion within and outside the United Nations. We welcome, therefore, the Canadian initiative on the subject.

On other subjects of the Report, Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, and civil society, should be further strengthened while cooperation of the United Nations with the private sector a potent partner which has a stake in the future of the world, could reap many benefits for mankind, especially in the domain of environment, when well monitored and Charter-oriented.

As to reforms, we believe that an enlarged Security Council reflecting the realities of today’s world would also better serve the interests of peace and security. It is time to turn this generally shared position into practice.

On the question of sanctions, we believe that there is room for improvement and share the Secretary-General’s view that the administration of the sanctions must be geared to minimize the negative effects on civilian populations and neighboring states.

Ending, we would like to express appreciation to the Secretary-General for his lucid report, document A/55/1 and for the ideas, suggestions and recommendations he has provided us, as food for thought. We fully support the advice of the Secretary-General for implementation of the goals of the Declaration of the Millennium Summit especially his solemn warning never to let the United Nations without resources to protect those who placed their trust in it.

Thank you, Mr. President.