Thank you, Madame President, for convening this important debate on UN cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations. Thank you, also, Madame President, Foreign Minister Castro, Ambassador* Mammadyarov, and Ambassador Gasana, and all of my colleagues here who have welcomed me so warmly today. I am most honored to be here for the first time representing the United States in the Security Council and I am especially honored to sit here among so many distinguished ministers, colleagues and guests. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General and the representatives of the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Union of South American Nations for their briefings. Their comments provide a glimpse of the critical, essential contribution that regional organizations make to global peace and stability.
The United States believes that regional organizations can be invaluable partners for this Council as it carries out its unique responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. That is why we in the Obama administration have intensified our engagement with regional organizations, including the OSCE, ASEAN, the OAS, the AU and the LAS. Anchored in their regions, such organizations have a keen understanding of the political, social, and historical contexts that can drive conflicts—and that can help prevent them. Regional organizations can leverage local knowledge, relationships and resources to mitigate—and hopefully end—conflicts, as well as support post-conflict recovery and stabilization efforts. And because instability in one state can and often does adversely impact on its neighbors, regional organizations have a compelling interest and sense of urgency in addressing conflicts in their neighborhood.
Preventing conflict often depends on early action to defuse internal and cross-border tensions, protect civilians and halt mass atrocities. Regional organizations are essential to such efforts, as we saw in Libya. The League of Arab States was among the first to sound the alarm that Gadhafi’s regime was on the verge of killing thousands of his own people. The League’s call helped galvanize this Council to take decisive action to protect civilians and give the Libyan people the chance to shape their own future, free of oppression. The UN’s strong partnership with the African Union has been vital to stabilizing the volatile relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and has helped prevent another outbreak of war. The UN Security Council, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, and the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei have provided critical political and material support to the AU as it continues to seek solutions to the difficult disputes that divide Sudan and South Sudan. They have brought great creativity and perseverance.
Despite our best efforts, however, sometimes prevention fails and conflict rages. Here, too, regional organizations play an essential role. As the twin governance and security crises threatened the stability and unity of Mali, the Economic Community of West African States helped broker a political deal that culminated in the signing of an important peace agreement in June and nationwide presidential elections just last month. African Union and ECOWAS troops form the nucleus of the UN’s newest peacekeeping mission. Continued cooperation among ECOWAS, the AU and the UN will be vital to ensuring the security and constitutional order are fully restored in Mali. This coordinated action serves as a good example of how the UN and regional organizations complement each other and underscores the value of offices like the UN Office in West Africa, where the Special Representative of the Secretary General … his productive partnership with ECOWAS serves to facilitate regional and sub-regional approaches to addressing the cross-cutting threats to peace and security across the region.
Cooperation between regional and UN efforts in the field is essential to success. The UN Mission to Somalia has begun vigorous outreach to the African Union to create a dynamic UNSOM-AU partnership that can help bring peace and stability to Somalia.
Finally, regional organizations help states and people recover from conflicts and other crises. The Security Council last met to discuss cooperation with regional organizations on January 13, 2010—that was just one day after a massive earthquake devastated Haiti. Speakers that day voiced profound sorrow at Haiti’s loss, yet expressed hope that the international community would pull together to help Haiti recover. Today, we can see that UN and regionally-led efforts have made a major difference for Haiti and its people. The Organization of American States and the CARICOM led a joint observer mission to Haiti’s post-earthquake elections that helped ensure a credible democratic outcome, while the UN stabilization mission worked with the government of Haiti to ensure security throughout the election period. The United States applauds states around the region, including many represented in this room, for the essential support they give to Haiti through contributing troops to MINUSTAH, providing development assistance, and helping build Haitian capacity.
While UN cooperation with regional organizations will remain important, we must also be clear-eyed about its limits. Although the League of Arab States has been at the forefront of pushing for a political transition in Syria, well-known divisions have prevented this Council from supporting that effort. Moreover, as this Council continues cooperation with regional and sub-regional groups to fulfill its core mandate to maintain international peace and security, we must remember that collaboration needs to be based on the facts of the crisis at hand, and solutions need to be agreed on and pursued together.
As we look to the future, the United States will continue to support strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and its regional partners. We will look to leverage the valuable capabilities that regional and sub-regional organizations can contribute to our shared goal of building a more peaceful, just and secure world.
Thank you very much, Madame President.
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