League of Arab States Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Monday called on the Security Council and other UN bodies to establish a strategic working partnership with the league and its member states.
The aim, he said, would be to lay the foundations for “security, stability and sustainable development in the Arab region, based on a genuine understanding of the problems facing the region, and on the primary responsibility of the UN in maintaining international peace and security.”
His call came during a high-level Security Council meeting on Monday that highlighted the importance of UN cooperation with regional and subregional organizations as part of efforts to maintain global peace and security, and considered how this might be enhanced.
The meeting was convened by Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the president of Vietnam, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, to discuss ways of fostering confidence building and dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the presidency noted that the council’s primary responsibility under its charter is to safeguard international peace and security. It added that “regional and subregional organizations are well positioned to understand the root causes of armed conflicts owing to their knowledge of the region, which can be a benefit for their efforts to influence the prevention or resolution of these conflicts. (They are also) well positioned in promoting confidence, trust and dialogue among concerned parties within their respective regions.” It also pointed out that regional organizations play a vital role in post-conflict reconstruction and sustainable development.
The statement reaffirmed a commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes. It called on council members to utilize the potential of regional and subregional organizations by “encouraging countries in the region to resolve differences peacefully through dialogue, reconciliation, consultation, negotiation, good offices, mediation and judicial settlement of disputes (and) by the promotion of confidence-building measures and political dialogue through full engagement with concerned parties.”
Since taking office in 2016, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made such cooperation a key priority. Since 1945, he told council members, cooperation has grown significantly to now encompass “preventive diplomacy, mediation, counterterrorism, preventing violent extremism, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, promoting human rights, advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda, combating climate change and, since last year, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He highlighted the establishment of a civilian-led transitional government in Sudan, in which women and young people play vital roles, as an example of effective cooperation — between the UN and the African Union (AU) and Ethiopia — to facilitate negotiations between rival parties. This type of collaboration led to signing of the Juba Peace Agreement in October 2020, he added.
Guterres also underscored the importance of the cooperation between the UN, the AU, the League of Arab States and the EU (the Libya Quartet) to support the “Libyan-led, Libyan-owned dialogue process and transition.” Working together in this way continues to support the implementation of the ceasefire and the promotion of national reconciliation, he added.
Meanwhile, Aboul Gheit said that the COVID-19 pandemic represents an additional problem for an Arab region already burdened by “wars, armed conflicts, refugees, internally displaced persons and other structural challenges affecting the security and stability of many of its countries.”
He urged council members to maximize international solidarity in the efforts to deal with the repercussions of the pandemic and all its human, economic and social costs. It is essential, he said, to end the fighting that is tearing apart the societal fabric of countries in conflict.
Highlighting the war in Syria and the “unprecedented external and regional interventions in this important Arab country,” Aboul Gheit warned that “the chances of extricating Syria from this terrifying spiral of conflict will continue to erode with the passage of time, and that the cost of rebuilding what the war has destroyed will increase day by day, and that the risks of unrest spreading to neighboring countries will remain unless a radical and integrated political settlement is reached.”
Aboul Gheit also spoke about Yemen, where the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis continues to unfold “due to the intransigence of the Houthi group and its rejection of all settlement attempts made over the past years, the latest of which is the Saudi initiative supported by the Arab world, and as a result of regional interventions that made Yemen a platform to threaten the security of its neighbors in the Gulf (and) energy and sea routes in the region.”
He also called for “more joint efforts to accompany the Libyan brothers in this march (toward national elections in December), through our coordinated work with the UN mission and also through the Quartet.”