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Statement by Director General of Political Affairs Paul Teesalu at a side-event “Preventing and Ending Mass Atrocities: Tools for More Effective UN Security Council Action”, 22 September 2017

22.09.2017

Security Council has an explicitly defined primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security but considering the number of crises around the world and the disastrous consequences they have on the civilian population, it is clear that the Security Council has not lived up to its tasks. Far too often we have seen how the distinct privilege of the veto, or even just the threat of using it, has been abused leaving the Security Council paralyzed and passive on the side-lines in situations where it is most needed.

Estonia has in many occasions expressed its position that permanent members of the Council should voluntarily and collectively commit themselves to not using their veto to block Council action aimed at preventing or ending situations involving mass atrocity crimes.

Estonia cannot speak from first-hand experience about the complicated everyday work of the Security Council since we have never served as one of its members. But we would like to make a positive impact in bringing the spirit of openness, transparency and inclusivity to Council´s work and to contribute to maintenance of international peace and security by having presented our candidature for the seat in the Council for 2020 to 2021.

As a member of the ACT group, we welcome the support expressed by a large number of Member States for the ACT code of conduct which entails a broader pledge to support timely and decisive Security Council action. We hope that more countries will join the 114 supporters of the code so far. However, this is only the beginning; the main task is to focus on its implementation by the members of the Security Council. It would send a clear message that there is no impunity and would thus possibly help to deter those who might commit future crimes. Furthermore, Estonia has also expressed its support to the proposal formerly introduced by France and Mexico here at the UN. We believe that these two initiatives are complementary and share a common goal.

To conclude let me say that atrocity crimes concern the international community as a whole, they are prohibited under customary international law and constitute a threat to international peace and security. Where national or regional mechanisms fail, timely and decisive Security Council action is necessary to prevent or end the commission of these crimes. Perpetrators must be held accountable. In this regard, Estonia also values highly the role of the ICC.

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