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Linas Linkevičius

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Lithuania at UN Security Council

Created: 2014.02.18 / Updated: 2016.12.07 13:56

The publication „Lithuania at the United Nations Security Council 2014-2015“, published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, looks back at Lithuania’s work at one of the main organs of the United Nations. In addition to a short review of Lithuania’s activities and the most important Security Council’s documents, the publication in both Lithuanian and English also includes speeches by Lithuanian representatives on Ukraine, the Middle East, Africa, terrorism, sanctions, and other topical issues.

 

 

 

 

The UN Security Council is one of the six principal bodies of the United Nations, tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security. It has exclusive right to establish peacekeeping operations, impose international sanctions, and authorize military action through Security Council resolutions. Under the UN Charter, all UN Member States are obligated to comply with the Security Council decisions.

UN Security Council consists of five permanent members (P5) – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States of America and ten non-permanent members which hold their seats on a rotating basis by geographic region. They are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. To ensure geographical continuity, a certain number of members is allocated for each of the five UN regional groupings: three to African states, two to Western European and other states, two to Asian states, two to Latin American and Caribbean states and one to Eastern European States.

According to the UN Charter, all Security Council members have equal rights and duties. The Charter nevertheless grants a veto power to any substantive resolution to the permanent five members - this allows a permanent member to block adoption of a resolution, but not to prevent or end debate. Any Security Council decision requires the affirmative votes of nine members.

Security Council does not have a permanent chair - the presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States names. The functions of the Security Council President include organizing the work of the Council, setting agenda, chairing the meetings and, subject to consensus, issuing Presidential statements and notes. President is also expected to produce a timely response to an emerging crisis or any potential threat to international security. If necessary, President has to organize both formal and informal negotiations of the Security Council members with a view to seeking for consensus and common response.

During its two year’s membership, Lithuania is to preside over the Council twice – in 2014 March and 2015 May.

Lithuania as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council

On the 17th October 2013 Lithuania was unanimously elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (187 votes) for the term 2014-2015. Together with Chad, Chile, Nigeria and Jordan Lithuania commenced its two-year term on the 1st of January, 2014.

On the occasion of Lithuania’s election, Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius has said that the “Membership of the UN Security Council provides Lithuania with a unique opportunity to participate in the global political process and opens up possibilities to aim to achieve that the respect for human rights, democracy, and equality of all states are the guiding principles for the conduct of international relations. This is especially important for Lithuania and other small states which aspire to safeguard their rights and interests in both the global world and their close neighbourhood”.

Throughout 2014 Lithuania has focused on the rule of law, protection of civilians in armed conflict and strengthening cooperation between the UN and the European Union. Due to Lithuania’s efforts a discussion on the situation in Crimea and Ukraine has been included into the agenda of the Security Council and became the top priority for us.

During the second year on the Council, Lithuania sought to maintain the conflict in Ukraine on Security Council agenda, initiating a number of meetings on the matter, also focusing on the issues of accountability, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their impact on civilian populations, protection of civilians and journalists in conflicts, combatting terrorism, and improving sanctions effectiveness.

Lithuania at the UN Security Council 2014

Throughout 2014 Lithuania has focused on addressing the conflict in Ukraine, ensuring the rule of law, protecting civilians in armed conflict, strengthening cooperation between the UN and the European Union, and proper implementation of Security Council’s decisions on sanctions.

During its first Presidency of the Security Council in February 2014, Lithuania focused on the issues of the rule of law, protection of civilians, and cooperation between the UN and regional organisations (EU, OSCE). On the last day of Lithuania’s Presidency (February 28), at Lithuania’s request, the conflict in Ukraine was included into the Security Council agenda, and the first meeting on the situation in Ukraine was held. Since February, Lithuania has initiated 8 meetings of the Security Council to discuss the situation in Ukraine; since then this issue has been discussed 26 times.

Lithuania was one of the authors of a Security Council draft resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which was vetoed by Russia. To counter the Russian narrative of the events in Ukraine and to strengthen coordination on the issue, Lithuanian diplomats formed an informal group of friends of Ukraine. Lithuania also regularly raised the issues around human rights violations in the Russia-annexed Crimea; in April 2014, Lithuania organised an informal discussion of members of the Security Council with the leader of the Crimean Tatars and a Crimean journalist; a round table discussion with representatives of Ukrainian non-governmental organizations took place in December 2014.

In February 2014, Lithuania has initiated a document, adopted by the Security Council for the first time that consolidates the status of the European Union as a strategic partner of the UN. This step strengthened the cooperation between the two organizations in mediation, crisis management, humanitarian sphere and the rule of law. Lithuania has also headed negotiations on the document of the Security Council to promote rule of law and the resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Lithuania, as the Chair of the Sanctions Committees for the Central African Republic (2127), Yemen (2140) and Counter-Terrorism Committee (1267/1989), has actively contributed to the improvement of the effectiveness of implementation of the Security Council’s sanctions and to the promotion of cooperation between various Sanctions Committees. In order to ensure transparency of the activities of the Sanctions Committees, Lithuania has organised public briefings of the Committees’ activities and invited the countries of the region to participate in the meetings of the Committees.

In the Security Council Lithuania continuously raised the issues of responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, illegal arms trade, violations of international humanitarian law, sexual violence, the protection of women and children in armed conflict. In December 2014, Lithuania together with other members of the Security Council, initiated a discussion on North Korea’s human rights situation in the Security Council.

Lithuania at the UN Security Council 2015

During the second year on the Council, Lithuania sought to maintain the conflict in Ukraine on Security Council agenda, initiating a number of meetings on the matter, also focusing on the issues of accountability, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their impact on civilian populations, protection of civilians and journalists in conflicts, combatting terrorism, and improving sanctions effectiveness.

In May 2015, Lithuania held the Presidency of the Council for a second time and spotlighted on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, protection of journalists in conflict situations and threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. During the month of May, Lithuania organized an interactive dialogue on human smuggling in the Mediterranean Sea between members of the Security Council and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Lithuania also held two open debates (on small arms and light weapons and the protection of journalists in armed conflict) and a high level open briefing on foreign terrorist fighters, which was the first ever meeting of the Council at the level of Ministers of the Interior. The two open debates resulted in resolutions:

A Presidential Statement on intensified action against the threat of foreign terrorist fighters was adopted after the high level meeting of Ministers of the Interior.

During 2015, the protection of women and children in conflict zones, violence against women, and use of sexual violence as a weapon of war remained among the most important issues. In these discussions, the Lithuanian delegation was a staunch supporter of respect for human rights and putting an end to impunity for human rights violations, justice and accountability for crimes to humanity and war crimes.

Lithuania was actively engaged in improving the work of the sanctions regimes and other subsidiary bodies of the Security Council. In 2015 the CAR Sanctions Committee chaired by Lithuania was the most active geographical subsidiary body, while the Counter-Terrorism Committee was the most active committee among all Security Council subsidiary bodies. Lithuania introduced a variety of innovations in the work of the Council’s subsidiary bodies, promoted transparency in its working methods and reached out to the countries under sanctions regimes, neighbouring countries, and regional actors.