Photo: A wide view of the Security Council. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine (file) - Photo: 2016

UN Stresses Importance of Cooperation with Regional Bodies

By Jamshed Baruah

NEW YORK (IDN) – Despite differing strategies, the United Nations is committed to strengthening its partnership with regional organizations in Eurasia and Central Asia on peace and security matters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told the Security Council.

“That is why it is so important to deepen our strategic dialogue, forge common approaches to emerging crises, and strive to improve our collective responses to peace and security threats,” he said, as the Council discussed on October 28 cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.

Ban said recent major reviews of United Nations efforts emphasized the urgent need to prioritize conflict prevention in a collective manner, drawing on regional and global partnerships. 

In that context and in line with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, intensified interactions had been sought with the heads of regional and subregional organizations, he said, noting that in Central Asia, the Organization had been in close contact with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

He pointed out that those organizations regularly exchanged information with the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia on terrorism, violent extremism, drug trafficking and other issues of shared interest and concern. 

Petko Draganov, Special Representative for Central Asia and Head of the United Nations Regional Centre, met regularly with their leaders to discuss their joint agenda. The Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) were cooperating with those organizations on drug trafficking, irregular migration and counter-terrorism. They had discussed how peacekeeping challenges could be tackled more effectively together and worked to promote stability in Afghanistan through the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.

Resources, capabilities and mandates varied and regional organizations might sometimes have “particular challenges that could limit their role as honest brokers”, Ban noted. “That is why it is so important to deepen our strategic dialogue, forge common approaches to emerging crises, and strive to improve our collective responses to peace and security threats, “ he emphasized. 

 “In that way, we can make the most of our respective strengths,” he added, calling on all to “use this valuable Security Council meeting to advance our partnerships for the sake of the peoples of these regions and our world”.

Before the Council was a concept note prepared for the meeting (document S/2016/867), in which the Russia’s Council presidency for October explained that regional organizations were seen as increasingly valuable in seeking peaceful political solutions to emerging conflicts in their respective areas. 

For that reason, the Council regularly holds meetings on cooperation with the African Union, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union. 

Many speakers described the work of their respective regional organizations, with some calling for strengthening the cooperation between the CIS and CSTO entities, particularly in fighting terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and in other security areas.

Some speakers, however, while welcoming cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, stressed that all entities involved must abide by Charter principles. 

The representatives of Ukraine and the United States said that, in the case of Georgia and Ukraine, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organization had been unable to defend or advocate for the principle of territorial integrity. The United Kingdom’s representative called for the application of standards to organizations cooperating with the UN.

The Russian Federation’s representative, speaking in his national capacity, said that if such criteria were to be applied, they should also apply to other regional organizations. Given the important work that the three organizations before the Council were undertaking in a region fraught with threats, ties with them should be strengthened and the knowledge of their valuable cooperation disseminated.

The representatives of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan spoke in their capacities as Chairs of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Also speaking were representatives of China, Japan, Uruguay, Angola, Spain, Egypt, Malaysia, New Zealand, France, Venezuela, Senegal, India, Iran, Pakistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Nikolai Bordyuzha, Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), gave an overview of that organization’s history and its development of a collective security strategy focused on coordinating the work of senior officials of its member States and cooperation with the United Nations, other organizations and bilateral partners. 

Rapid deployment mechanisms were a particular focus, he said, adding that international terrorism and extremism, illicit trafficking in narcotics and persons, cybercrime and conflict prevention were also major concerns.  He described the organization’s efforts in tracking terrorists, training for counter-terrorism, monitoring migration flows and other areas.

He said the organization had established a crisis centre and was strengthening coordination with crisis centres of the United Nations.  Noting that cooperation with the United Nations was enshrined in the CSTO’s observer status in the General Assembly, he described contacts with high-level officials of the Organization, including the Secretary-General, and expressed hope that close relations would continue with his successor. 

He also described cooperation with the UNODC on countering narcotics and with the Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee on countering terrorism.  Particularly broad, he said, was cooperation with the Central Asia Regional Centre and with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in training peacekeepers from Member States and other efforts. 

Enhancing the relationships should include more mutual briefings and information-sharing, closer contacts among existing organizations, establishing an effective system to end the illegal drug trade, and dealing with the problems of drug addiction that drove it, among other efforts.

Rashid Alimov, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said the organization was implementing a model of intergovernmental cooperation based on the “Shanghai spirit” that encompassed the principles of mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation and development. Members of the organization believed the United Nations was the main international platform for maintaining international peace and security, and they believed in enhancing its coordinating role in international affairs.

Among the main priorities of the organization were ensuring regional security and stability; counteracting terrorism, separatism and extremism; and addressing illegal trade and trans-border crime, he said.  It advocated greater coordination under the aegis of the United Nations to address the terrorist threat. 

He described how terrorist organizations had been destroyed, and terrorists arrested, extradited and sentenced, by relevant bodies under the coordination of regional anti-terrorist structures also known as RATS. 

He emphasized the importance of stability in Afghanistan and the organization’s readiness, as expressed in its Tashkent Declaration, to support an intra-Afghan settlement.  He went on to discuss the confiscation of many tonnes of heroin, marijuana and other drugs and underscored cooperation with the UNODC. 

Speaking on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Kazakhstan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, said the organization’s member States had been actively developing contacts and cooperation with other countries, as well as with regional and international organizations. 

In accordance with the principle of openness, procedures were under way to admit India and Pakistan as full members, he reported. The rapidly changing world situation was characterized by ever-increasing geopolitical tensions, intensifying terrorism, separatism and extremism that negatively affected the entire system of international relations.

Under such conditions, the United Nations remained the leading international organization for the maintenance of global security and the main platform for addressing inter-State and other international issues, he continued. 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization stood for further strengthening of the Security Council’s leading role in the maintenance of international peace and security and continued extensive consultations with it in the search for a “package solution” to the issue of reforming the Council in order to enhance its transparency and effectiveness. 

All disputes should be resolved peacefully through friendly negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned without external interference, he emphasized.

China’s Liu Jieyi emphasized the essential importance of Chapter VIII partnerships with regional organizations in today’s complex security environment. They must abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter under a well-developed framework, and the partners should be supported in their work in their respective regional efforts.

National sovereignty must be respected and the unique advantages of each regional organization should be applied in efforts aimed at the peaceful settlement of disputes. 

The three organizations under discussion today had been valuable in their region, he said, noting that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in particular, had produced excellent results in its short history. 

It had strengthened its relationships within the region as well as internationally through openness and good-neighbourly relations, thereby providing a model for regional relations.  China had recently adopted measures to comprehensively enhance regional cooperation in development and other areas, including security, he said, reaffirming his country’s readiness to work towards a new order of international relations for durable peace, security and prosperity.

Sergey Ivanov, Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said the constructive potential of the Commonwealth had been recognized as an important element of extensive international cooperation. CIS representatives regularly attended United Nations meetings and maintained contacts with its specialized agencies, he said, giving several examples. 

CIS member States actively participated in all United Nations activities.  Economic cooperation was their priority, but now — given growing international security threats — security cooperation needed to be addressed. New hotbeds of tension aggravated protracted conflicts and serious crises, permanently endangering not only individual countries but also entire regions.

Terrorist threats required increased collective counter-measures, including the relevant efforts of regional organizations, he said. The Commonwealth was concerned by serious risks near its external borders, including the Afghan-Pakistani region. External interference and the export of “colour revolutions” and artificial regime change had meanwhile plunged once-stable countries into chaos. 

At the same time, the information space of CIS countries had come under aggressive attacks from some States trying to use to their domination of the global information network for economic, political and military goals. 

Given such an environment, cooperation between the Commonwealth’s member States and the family of United Nations institutions and other international organizations should be deepened and expanded. It would be appropriate therefore to resume the practice of conferences and high-level meetings between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe that had been held annually since 1993 in order to engage in high-level dialogue to elaborate common approaches to address them.

Japan’s Yoshifumi Okamura, affirming support for regional and international cooperation on peace and security matters, emphasized that the activities of all organizations participating in mutual efforts must be in line with United Nations principles. He said that his country had strong ties with members of the Eurasian organizations under discussion. 

Detailing Japan’s ties with OSCE as well, particularly in its activities relating to Central Asia, he said mutual trust and confidence was the key to stability in the region, expressing strong hope that all organizations would redouble their efforts to that end.

India’s Tanmaya Lal said that security problems, including terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational crime, often spilled over borders, and regional and subregional groups could play an important role in facilitating closer international cooperation in countering such threats. 

As a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, whose membership spanned from the Pacific region to Europe, India could contribute its capacities in trade, investment and other spheres to the creation of widespread synergies among its member States, she said. 

Effective partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations must be rooted in respect for regional processes, complementarity and a division of labour based on comparative advantage. Under the United Nations Charter, regional and subregional organizations must make every effort to help their member States settle disputes in peaceful ways, in cooperation with the United Nations, as appropriate, she said, emphasizing that cooperation should encompass all relevant international peace and security issues, including the fight against terrorism.

Pakistan’s Maleeha Lodhi said the international order established after the Second World War was falling apart, but a new order had yet to emerge. While the United Nations remained indispensable, it faced the imposing task of dealing simultaneously with a variety of opportunities and challenges. It could therefore benefit from enhanced cooperation with regional and subregional intergovernmental organizations. 

Noting that Pakistan had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, paving the way for its full membership, she called for enhanced dialogue and cooperation between that entity and the United Nations since they shared the same purposes and principles. 

“The United Nations provides the umbrella under which regional organizations can promote cooperation with each other in advancing their objectives of peace, stability and prosperity,” she said, adding that the principles contained in the United Nations Charter remained the foundation upon which nations could cooperate across regions in an interdependent world. [IDN-InDepthNews – 31 October 2016]

Photo: A wide view of the Security Council. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine (file)

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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