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Statement on the 75th Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter

Date: Fri 26th Jun, 2020 | 00:01

Today, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the unanimous adoption of the United Nations Charter, the principle aim of which was to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, it is appropriate to renew our commitment to and our support for the United Nations, its Charter and institutions.

The adoption, in 1945, of the UN Charter represented a beacon of hope, a demonstration of the necessity and value of global solidarity in defence of shared values. The United Nations has functioned as our key mechanism for the defence of international law and has made our world a safer, more peaceful, more inclusive place.

Today, the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Charter provides an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved by the United Nations.

We must not be hesitant in speaking of how the United Nations, as a global institution of multilateralism, has driven major advances for people across the world: building programmes for poverty alleviation, better healthcare, access to education, and women’s empowerment.

It is the multilateralism it enshrines, too, that has allowed us to develop mechanisms for conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. The progress made in the development and vindication of international law is a testament to the significant steps for humanity we can take when the international community works in harmony.

The strength of the United Nations lies in the collective commitments it fosters. Recent achievements such as The Sustainable Development Goals that emanate from the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement responding to Climate Change offer a blueprint for achieving a more sustainable future for all, addressing, as they do, some of the most urgent contemporary challenges we face, those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. No other international organisation could have achieved such a moment of global solidarity and responsibility.

The United Nations has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries, including those already in the midst of humanitarian crises caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.

The United Nations anchors Ireland’s foreign policy, and its Charter, institutions and personnel are held in the highest esteem by the people of Ireland.

We view the United Nations as that singular institution where newly free nations found a home after their struggles for independence and their emergence from the dark legacies of colonisation. We see the United Nations as a forum that has been provided to give a voice to the voiceless, the marginalised and those lacking power, wealth and status. For so many, it is the only such forum available to them, underscoring its importance.

The United Nations is the world’s great shared peace project, one that strives for fair and sustainable global development, for the resolution of conflicts, both ancient and contemporary, for the support of the many fleeing war, persecution, famine and natural disasters. The United Nations, for all generations, has been, and remains, an institution of hope, an institution in which words have sought to matter, carry weight, and offer emancipatory possibilities. As words travel from the General Assembly they must be seen to be recognised and vindicated at the Security Council and within the United Nations institutions.

We find ourselves now in a geopolitical environment in which that international order is once again under grave pressure. The very idea of a rules-based order has been called into question and undermined by so many. The international institutions – while far from perfect and in need of a reform that is Charter based – which have been nurtured since 1945, and which have brought many advances to our peoples, are the subject of hostile questioning, withdrawal of support, and wilful attacks by some of the most powerful, and for the least worthy of self-interested reasons

We must all therefore continue to defend, strengthen and advocate for multilateralism, and for the United Nations specifically as the key institutional manifestation of multilateralism, as our best hope, our greatest instrument of global cooperation. We must strengthen the pillars of the United Nations and of the Charter – peace, human rights and sustainable development. We must also recognise, accept and act on the need to reform the Security Council, including, for example, the ongoing under-representation of Africa.

International law must be defended and vindicated. Among the many matters of grave concern is Israel’s planned further annexation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank which has grave consequences for Palestinians. Ireland strongly opposes this proposed move and urges Israel to cease these plans immediately, plans which could be disastrous for the fragile peace process in the Middle-East. This is but one of the many challenges to peacebuilding and conflict resolution which we currently face.

It is a sustainable peace that offers us our best prospects for the future. The United Nations offers us our best space for beginning again, restoring balance lost, such as that between ecology, economics, society and culture.

The United Nations' 75th anniversary offers a chance for us all to recommit to the promise and vision of the United Nations Charter and to resurrect the Security Council’s responsibility to ensure a multilateral response to common challenges, based on universally accepted principles.

We must all step forward to defend and save the global order that the UN has helped to establish. Having just been elected to a seat on the Security Council, Ireland looks forward to playing an enhanced role in the achievement of sustainable development and the elimination of obstacles to the fullest participation of all in conditions of secure peace, drawing on our deep and often painful experience in the area of peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

As President of Ireland, I take this opportunity to commend the United Nations’ staff and institutions, and reaffirm Ireland’s profound commitment to this primary global organisation we share and the objectives on which it was founded.