Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius at the UNSC open debate on “Upholding international law within the context of the maintenance of international peace and security”
Thank you Mr. President,
Allow me to start by commending Poland as the President of the Security Council for the month of May for convening this exceptionally important open debate. I would also like to thank our briefers for their contributions to our discussion. My delegation aligns itself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union.
Lithuania celebrates the Centennial of the restauration of its independence this year. One of the factors that allowed us to begin developing our State was League of Nations and system based on international rules. We joined the League of Nations and cofounded the Permanent Court of International Justice, the predecessors of today’s United Nations and its International Court of Justice. Unfortunately, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union by the time when the League of Nations ceased its activities.
After returning to the international family Lithuania has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. Like others, we are happy to note the recent declarations recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court.
If rules are not observed, we see a clear threat to international peace and security. Today, lasting conflicts destroy many parts of the globe, and governments take steps to turn their contested claims into a fait accompli.
In Syria, Yemen and Central African Republic - to name a few - gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law continue on a daily basis. Barbaric crimes are being committed on a massive scale. A total collapse of law and order has also led to unspeakable atrocities.
In Europe, non-compliance with international law lead into clear violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states on several instances. Protracted conflict in Moldova lasts for almost 20 years. Violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia is counting its tenth anniversary. Moreover, recently we witnessed occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russian Federation and the military actions in the Eastern Ukraine, including downing of the Malaysian airplane MH17. They do not look like isolated incidents.
These blatant breaches of the Charter of the United Nations constitute a threat to international peace, security and stability and must not have place in the twenty-first century. UN and all international community have to be able to react effectively to such constantly repeating violations.
Lithuania during its non-permanent membership on the Security Council has consistently raised the issue of violation of international law in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the Security Council was not able to take any concrete actions. Especially we regret that the Council was not able to ensure that independent and impartial international court or tribunal would investigate downing of the Malaysian airplane MH17. That undermines credibility of the whole UN.
There are many ways to achieve long lasting peace and stability. Therefore, the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to put emphasis on conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy, peacebuilding and sustaining peace are of utmost importance. Advancement of preventive diplomacy, early action and mediation remain vital to prevent conflicts and mass atrocities. Early action does matter. Greater commitment and engagement must also be devoted to supporting political processes.
A crucial element of conflict prevention consists of putting an end to impunity and ensuring justice for all. The Council’s strong voice and actions in support of international law, accountability and justice matter a great deal. Accountability for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes is key to progress on the path of reconciliation and peace. Therefore, my Government commends the work done by International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Commission of Inquiry in laying the foundations for the accountability process in Syria. Moreover, a new French initiative launched this year on the international partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons is very timely.
It is the primary responsibility of national justice systems to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes of international concern. However, where national judicial systems fail to tackle impunity the Security Council should be ready to use the full range of tools at its disposal, including targeted sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court.
Relevant and strong UN requires an efficient, transparent and inclusive Security Council to meet today’s challenges to international peace and security, and to improve global governance. Restraining the veto use, inter alia, would make the Council’s responses to ongoing crises more effective and would reduce veto-induced paralysis. Lithuania, therefore, strongly supports the French-Mexican initiative on limiting the use of veto in cases of mass atrocities, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Lithuania also actively indorses Liechtenstein’s and ACT group relevant initiatives.
Thank you, Mr. President.
New York, 17 May 2018