Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on Security Challenges in the Mediterranean
National Statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Security Challenges in the Mediterranean, 17 November 2017, New York.
Thank you for initiating this discussion. Let me begin by thanking the Secretary-General for his as always excellent briefing to the Council today. As the Secretary-General has so clearly articulated, the security challenges in the Mediterranean region are the consequence of a confluence of factors at play in the immediate region and beyond.
Today, perhaps more than ever before, the prosperity, stability and security of the peoples of the Mediterranean region, and their neighbours, are bound together by challenges that are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. They include conflict, terrorism and violent extremism, multidimensional poverty, climate change, forced displacement, organized crime and political instability. They are all transboundary in nature. Overcoming them requires comprehensive approaches, regional perspectives and new partnerships at all levels.
This is not the type of discussion we normally have in this Council. Most days we meet to discuss one report, one country, one conflict. Yet, it is becoming more and more evident that most of today's conflicts do not exist in a vacuum, within neatly defined borders. Likewise, we are also recognising that modern conflicts are being driven not by one issue, but are a function of how different drivers – such as poverty, inequality, climate change, to name a few - interact with one another and the cumulative impact on individuals and societies.
It is clear therefore, that our responses must follow a similar logic if we are to be effective. We must meet people's present needs based on their realities, while at the same time building resilience and investing in peaceful societies.
Protecting human dignity and human rights is not only the surest way to prevent conflict, but also the foundation for building peaceful, prosperous and sustainable societies.
Today, therefore, marks a welcome opportunity for the Council 'zoom out' and to take a broader perspective, to discuss the root causes of security challenges in the Mediterranean region, and how to address them.
With this in mind, let me make five brief points:
Firstly, the most vulnerable within society are hit hardest when factors such as instability, underdevelopment and terrorism combine. It is essential that we continue to respond to the needs of these people in the short and medium term. This includes providing life-saving humanitarian assistance while at the same time building the resilience of individuals and communities to future shocks. It also means responding to the needs of those displaced as a result of poverty, conflict and insecurity, whose human rights must be upheld. We are particularly concerned about the current situation for refugees and migrants in parts of the Mediterranean region. Mr. Secretary-General, you have spoken often about ensuring the dignity of the refugees and need to re-establish the integrity of the refugee protection regime. All states must comply with the international human rights and refugee frameworks, particularly when it comes to detention. As I said in this chamber only yesterday, the situation in Libya is unacceptable in this regard and further efforts are needed to ensure that international standards are met.
Secondly, our overarching focus must be sustaining peace and preventing conflicts from emerging in the first place, or when they do, responding and resolving them quickly. Building on the sustaining peace agenda, the Security Council and the United Nations system as a whole must be more effective in addressing conflicts in the Mediterranean and neighbouring regions early on, including by enhancing analysis, understanding of root causes and information sharing. The Council needs to draw upon more integrated analysis from the entire UN system in order for it to effectively assess, address, prevent and respond to conflicts and threats to international peace and security. See the Secretary-Generals reform initiative very much as a way to improve this effort.
Thirdly, we need to expand our ability to manage long-term structural risks, such as security related climate change risks. This includes identifying and responding to the risks of instability and insecurity arising from the interaction of climate change and social, economic and political factors. This Council has already recognized the adverse effects of climate change on stability in the Lake Chad region, and called for adequate risk assessments, risk management strategies and early warning mechanisms. The Council must remain alert to these issues.
Fourthly, we know that many of the challenges facing the Mediterranean region stem from chronic underdevelopment, poverty, human rights violations and abuses, weak governance and a lack of opportunities. Hence, any long-term strategy needs to tackle these issues as a matter of priority. This includes addressing youth unemployment, social exclusion, inequality, respect for and enjoyment of human rights, including freedom of expression and of assembly, as well as creating economic opportunities, a society built on Rule of Law, and sustainable growth. Above all, we need to see dedicated and determined implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which, with its aim to leave no one behind, in itself constitutes a powerful tool for prevention. There are established links between gender inequality, political instability, and underdevelopment. For this reason, the full and effective participation of women in decision making at all levels is necessary in order to create stability and achieve sustainable development in the region.
Finally, in order to adopt an approach that is truly comprehensive, we need true partnerships between states, regional organizations, and between people. We are encouraged by the close cooperation between UN-AU and support the P5 for Sahel efforts. The EU has a key role to play in promoting security and prosperity inside and outside the borders of the Union. The upcoming AU-EU Summit in Abidjan at the end of this month provides an important opportunity to strengthen crucial partnerships, with a timely focus on Regional investment in Youth.
Situated at the intersection of three continents, the Mediterranean has acted throughout history as a melting pot for culture, trade and people. The new types of complex security challenges facing the Mediterranean region are by no means unique. They are being replicated in different regions throughout the world. Responding will requires us to work together, with the whole of the United Nations system supporting national and regional efforts with a range of flexible, integrated and innovative tools. Only by joint action, can we respond to these overlapping challenges and ensure a better future for all.