Thank you, Mr. President.
I congratulate you for convening this open debate and for bringing us together to discuss the serious challenges that the world face today to promote peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa. We also appreciate that the conceptual note prepared by the Russian Federation encourages a more in-depth reflection on the primary causes of conflicts and terrorism.
The threats to international peace and security in the Middle East and North Africa have been a recurring topic in this Council. The increase in the number and complexity of threats in those two strategic regions attests to our collective inability to solve long-lasting conflicts and to prevent the outbreak of new ones.
As Brazil has consistently upheld in this Council, we must address those problems by conceiving an overarching strategy based on the combination of diplomacy and peacebuilding efforts.
Last year we witnessed the third tragic war in five years in Gaza. The peace process between Israelis and Palestinians has remained stalled. Violence reached unimaginable levels of brutality in Syria and the prospects for resolving the conflict remain elusive. The so-called “Islamic State” took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria and has been perpetrating the most barbaric crimes against innocent civilians. Both Libya and Yemen are falling into a spiral of political disputes and violence, resulting in destruction and serious humanitarian crises.
Let me state in no uncertain terms Brazil’s utmost repudiation for all forms of terrorism and extremism. There are simply no justifiable grounds for terrorist acts. The Brazilian Government was appalled by the acts of provocation that resulted in the senseless destruction of cultural and historic heritage in Syria, Iraq, Mali and elsewhere.
It should be noted that the common trait to all those situations is the international community’s failure in dealing with the underlying causes of conflicts. As long as we disregard poverty and the fragility of national institutions as drivers of armed conflict, there will no lasting solution in sight.
We have seen time and again the harmful effects of bending the rules and invoking exceptional rights in order to justify military interventions. Those strategies have enfeebled the multilateral system and aggravated the situation on the ground. Iraq and Libya are two clear examples of the failure of any approach based on the vicious cycle of threats, sanctions and violence.
Military interventions led only to weak national institutions, increased sectarianism, power vacuums and arms proliferation, paving the way for the rise of radical groups such as the “Islamic State”. Those groups thrive in the absence of the State and benefit from the flow of weapons to non-State actors.
It is high time that the Security Council assesses the inventory of preventable tragedies and learn from past mistakes. We should be all committed to demonstrate our resolve to focus on political dialogue and preventive actions. The use of sanctions and military force should always be the last resort and, when it so happens, it must be in line with the provisions of the UN Charter. What we really need is better diplomacy to face the numerous challenges that still lie ahead.
The humanitarian tragedy that emerged from the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa remains a matter of great concern. We commend the work done by the United Nations agencies and its partners to help millions of people in need, as well as the outstanding generosity of many countries in the region, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, which have been receiving the bulk of Syrian refugees.
Brazil has been striving to contribute to these humanitarian efforts. We have issued more than 7,700 entry visas for Syrian residents affected by the crisis and provided food and medicine to help alleviate the dire situation faced by refugees and displaced people in the region. As President Dilma Rousseff pledged before the 70th General Assembly, Brazil will continue to host those who had to flee their home country and need a place to restart their lives. As the home of the largest Syrian diaspora in the world, and a country committed to international peace and security, Brazil is ready to shoulder its responsibilities in the diplomatic and humanitarian fronts.
Even in light of those tragic facts, there is still reason for hope. Hope generated by a renewed belief in the virtues of diplomacy. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Iranian nuclear program and the Syrian chemical weapons resolutions demonstrate that, when political will is present, reaching agreement is possible even on complex and highly sensitive issues
Brazil commends all those involved in those efforts and their persistence in dialogue and negotiation. This set a positive trend that should help us to effectively address the ongoing conflicts in the region. We should look up to these examples of successful diplomatic engagement and redouble our collective efforts to halt and settle the conflicts in the Middle East.
Peace talks between Israel and Palestine must be urgently resumed under parameters that could lead to a two-State solution. There can be no more delay in achieving an inclusive political solution in Syria. A first step to encourage dialogue and avoid the aggravation of conflict should be halting the flow of arms into the country. We look forward to a renewed political process, led by the UN, to deal with the situation in Syria. Brazil wishes for a territorially united, sovereign, plural, and democratic Syria to emerge from the ashes of war.
In Libya and Yemen, the international community should be united in condemning violence, avoiding the use of unilateral force and working with the parties to promote dialogue, bridge differences and reach a peaceful and durable solution.
Diplomacy, cooperation and multilateralism should guide us in the quest for a more stable and peaceful Middle East and North Africa. This Council has the primary responsibility in encouraging political dialogue and in addressing the root causes of conflicts. It is our duty to restore the Council´s capacity to fulfill its duties in upholding international peace and security.
The Council´s effectiveness and continued authority require that it be viewed as legitimate and representative. After 70 years of work, a reformed Security Council, with new permanent and non-permanent members, would be better positioned to adequately address the challenges of a multipolar world and lead a new phase of active diplomatic engagement to resolve those disputes. The opportunity is before us. One needs to look no further than to the situations mentioned in this debate to realize how urgent this task is.
Since 1945, Brazil has been an enthusiast of multilateralism and everything the UN stands for. We hope that in the next 70 years – and beyond – the international community lives up to the promise enshrined in the UN Charter to rid future generations of the scourges of war and all forms of meaningless suffering.
Thank you very much.