Lithuania is actively engaged in the activities of the United Nations (UN) and its agencies. In its activities at the UN Lithuania places emphasis on sustainable development, good governance, rule of law, human rights, peacekeeping, and arms control and disarmament.
Disarmament and non-proliferation
One of the areas where Lithuania has been consistently active is that of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Lithuania is a state party to all major international treaties in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as relevant instruments of international humanitarian law.
Lithuania was the first Baltic State to join the Mine Ban Treaty and has been active on issues under the scope of the Convention ever since. Lithuania completed the destruction of its stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines in 2004. Lithuania has sought to improve aid for victims of landmines, to foster regulations on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines in the region and supports the destruction of these inhuman weapons. Lithuania co-chaired the Ottawa Convention Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction in 2011.
On 4 June 2013, Lithuania together with more than 60 representatives of other states, signed the Arms Trade Treaty, which for the first time in the history established rules for the international arms trade and aims to curb illegal agreements.
Lithuania is also an active advocate for the need to address environmental threats and damage related to sea-dumped chemical munitions. On 21 December 2016 the UN General Assembly by consensus adopted a resolution on “Cooperative measures to assess and increase awareness of environmental effects related to waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea” (A/RES/71/220), which was initiated by Lithuania. The resolution calls on member states and international organizations to cooperate more closely in assessing jointly the environmental threats related to waste originating from such munitions and also to explore the possibility of establishing a database and options for the most appropriate institutional framework for such a database, as well as identifying the appropriate intergovernmental bodies within the United Nations system for further consideration and implementation of the cooperative measures envisaged in the resolution. The Resolution invites member states to share experience, good practices and information on the available technologies to treat, conserve, or safely destroy the waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea. A similar resolution (A/RES/65/149), which was also initiated by Lithuania, for the first time was adopted in December 2010.
In the last few years Lithuania has contributed to more than a dozen of disarmament projects, including the destruction of stockpiles of explosive ordinance in Afghanistan and mine and SALW destruction in Central and Eastern Europe.
Lithuania in peacekeeping missions
Lithuania’s commitment to international peace and security is realized through its contribution to the UN-led peacekeeping missions and the UN-mandated European Union (EU) operations. In 1997 Lithuania joined the Standby Arrangements System for the UN peacekeeping operations and placed its civilian policemen and military under the UN standby arrangement system.
Since 1994 Lithuania has participated in the following UN peacekeeping missions:
- United Nations Protection Force in Croatia (UNPROFOR),
- United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES),
- United Nations Civilian Police Support Group in Croatia (UNPSG),
- United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH),
- United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),
- United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI),
- United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG),
- United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK),
- United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH),
- United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS),
- United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (INFICYP),
- United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL),
- United Nations Logistic Base in Brindisi, Italy (UNLB),
United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Lithuanian military officers have also served in the operational headquarters of UN-mandated EU military operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (operation ALTHEA) and Chad/Central African Republic (EUFOR Tchad/RCA).
Climate change, energy security, national and global security are issues of a crosscutting nature. They are closely related to other issues high on the UN agenda: gender, migration, population and development. There is a consensus that while climate change alone does not cause conflict it acts as a security threats multiplier. It is leading to increased competition for scare natural resources, further weakens fragile governments and exacerbates migratory pressures.
Combating climate change policy has recently become an integrated part of foreign policy. Effective results in the fight against climate change can be only achieved at the global level through international diplomacy measures.
At the Paris climate conference in December 2015, 195 parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate agreement. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming. In April 22, 2016 Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, together with the leaders of 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities. The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Lithuania adopted its National Policy on Climate Change management strategy in 6 November 2012. The purpose of the strategy - to develop and implement Lithuanian climate change management policy, identify short-term (up to 2020), medium (up to 2030- 2040) and long term (up to 2050) goals on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Lithuania is a state party to all the most important international instruments aimed at fighting the negative effects of climate change. Lithuania ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995 and is one of the Annex I countries with binding emission reduction commitments. Lithuania successfully implemented the commitments set for 2008 - 2012 years to reduce emissions by 8 per cent compared with 1990 levels.
Lithuania’s development cooperation policy is an integral part of Lithuania’s foreign policy aimed at these objectives:
Contribute to the global efforts to reduce poverty in developing countries, as well as to implementation of other Sustainable Development Goals declared by the United Nations;
Contribute to elaboration of sustainable development, democracy, security and stability in partner countries;
Contribute to elaboration of human rights and gender equality in partner countries;
Strengthen political, economic, social and cultural relations with developing countries;
Inform and raise awareness of Lithuanian society on UN’s, EU’s and Lithuanian development policies, their goals, challenges, achieved results, and to seek greater public approval and support for development cooperation.
Implementing its international commitments and seeking to ensure visibility of Lithuania’s development cooperation policy within the international arena, Lithuania provides multilateral development assistance through obligatory and voluntary contributions and payments to the funds and international organisations carrying out or coordinating development cooperation activities. Taking into consideration the needs, foreign policy priorities of developing countries and its own financial capacities, Lithuania provides assistance to other states included into the list of ODA recipients of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Thus, Lithuania reinforces its role in the United Nations, the European Council, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the World Trade Organisation, and other international organisations and strengthens its political, economic and cultural relations with various countries.
When providing assistance to the partner countries, attention first of all is devoted to democracy and civil society, strengthening of the administrative capacities and European integration processes of the countries, human rights, in particular, equal opportunities for women and men, fostering of historical and cultural heritage, protection of the interests of the disabled, children and other most vulnerable groups in society, and enhancement of disaster resilience of communities.
Lithuania supports activities of international and regional organizations in preventing and combating human rights violations. Lithuania contributes to the elaboration of new human rights standards (conventions) and cooperates with the monitoring instruments of their implementation, encourages international cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights and reacting rapidly to the crisis situations. Lithuania supports initiatives to strengthen multilateral mechanisms for human rights protection and improve their effectiveness. Lithuania engages in constructive dialogue with the international human rights monitoring institutions.
Rule of law
Compliance with voluntarily accepted commitments and respect for universally recognized principles and norms of international law is the legal tradition and constitutional principle of Lithuania.
Since restoring independence more than two decades ago, Lithuania had to overcome serious challenges while building a modern democratic state based on the concept of the rule of law. Today Lithuania, like other states with modern experience in comprehensive reform making, is ready to assist developing nations in their efforts to reform legal and administration systems in order to enhance the rule of law. Lithuania’s development cooperation already includes promotion of the rule of law as one of its main elements and focuses on areas where it has a comparative advantage arising from its own state-building experience, including good governance and democratic reform.
At the same time, Lithuania continues to pursue the high standards in the field of the rule of law, both at the national and international levels.
Lithuania attaches particular importance to the predictability and legitimacy of the actions of states in their international relations. Just like the relations themselves, the choice of means for peaceful settlement of disputes emanating from those relations relies upon the willingness of the parties and is central in maintaining international peace and security. In order to reinforce its own commitments and to contribute to the strengthening of international judicial mechanisms, Lithuania recently recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
As a state party to the Rome Statute, Lithuania also supports the International Criminal Court in its role as an impartial arbiter of international criminal justice. The Court’s existence signifies common determination to close off accountability gaps for the most serious international crimes. The Court’s jurisdiction was established, however, to complement national criminal jurisdictions and it is therefore essential that States exercise effectively their criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for the international crimes.
While the responsibility to ensure the rule of law lies with individual states, Lithuania supports bilateral and multilateral efforts in assisting it. In this context, Lithuania welcomes coordination efforts within the United Nations system, as well as efforts to develop further the linkages between the rule of law and the three main pillars of the United Nations.