Koenders: world must offer UN a future

The United Nations (UN) demonstrated its worth in 2014, and it is now up to the member states to ensure that it can deliver even better work in the future. Foreign minister Bert Koenders made this statement in a speech to the International Peace Institute in New York on Tuesday.

‘In 2014 we saw how effective the UN can be,’ said the minister. ‘It responded firmly to the Ebola crisis, it helped more refugees than ever before and it dismantled Syria’s chemical weapons programme. But we also saw that it needs to do more. The UN Security Council has been paralysed in responding to the situation in Syria, even though its people urgently need our help. Too many people throughout the world are still suffering from hunger. And women are still not always allowed to play their rightful role in peace negotiations.’

Mr Koenders said that the UN could do with the member states’ support on several issues. ‘We need to dedicate ourselves to achieving new sustainable development goals, so that we can end poverty by 2030,’ he said. ‘We also need a new climate convention. Once political agreements have been made, the UN can take charge of implementation.’

The UN must also be able to focus on protecting civilians in conflict-affected countries. ‘We need to make peace operations more effective and work more closely with regional organisations like the African Union and the European Union,’ said the minister. He also spoke of the need to advance women’s rights: ‘By adopting resolution 1325 we have promised to improve the position of women in conflict-affected countries. And we must keep that promise.’

Mr Koenders stressed the importance of reforming the UN Security Council. ‘At present we are unable to tackle the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, despite the overwhelming need to do so,’ he said. ‘We need to make the Security Council more effective.’

The minister called for a number of changes. For instance, countries should agree to refrain from exercising their veto if mass atrocities are being committed. Also, more emphasis should be placed on talking with countries than about them. The minister regards the UN as a vital forum for promoting peace, justice and development. That is why the Netherlands is campaigning for a seat in the Security Council in 2017-2018.

The minister will also be in New York on Wednesday, when he will hold talks with various people, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Minister Koenders bij het International Peace Institute
Minister Koenders bij het International Peace Institute