The Role of International Organizations in the National Security of Ukraine

Sep 17, 2013

Ladies and gentleman, it is a privilege to be here today.  

Ukraine’s leadership of the United Nations stretches back many decades. Indeed, as one of the pioneers of international law and the principles that guide the United Nations, Ukraine continues to actively contribute to the maintenance of peace and security, the upholding of human rights and to human development in the world. Ukraine’s contribution to major efforts related to crisis management and resolution has weighed heavily towards conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy, a policy the government of Ukraine continues to maintain. Many distinguished speakers here today, have carried forward the proud tradition of Ukraine’s leadership of the United Nations.

While Ukraine is widely recognized for its role in maintaining peace and security, the evolving nature of security including the shift from state-centered security to people-centered security has led to a recalibration of Ukraine’s contribution to areas that go far beyond traditional notions of international security as the maintaining of peaceful inter-state relations. The understanding that there can be no peace without development, no development without peace, and that neither can be achieved without full respect for human rights and the rule of law is being reinforced by UN member states, which recognized the causality and correlation between human development and international security by agreeing to promote the concept of human security.

Today, UN Member states recognize that ‘security’ means far more than the absence of conflict. The paradigm shift from security as the protection of the state and its borders by military means to the protection of individuals from a wider range of threats to their well-being and security, including the threat posed by political, economic, social and cultural exclusion has emerged as a common goal for all international organizations, regardless of their geographic or functional scope.

While the UN Charter is the framework within which Ukraine exercises its foreign policy, maintaining equilibrium between ‘internationalism’ and ‘regionalism’, between the functional and geographic competencies of various entities including the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the CIS, GUAM and the UN system is the process through which it can exercise leadership in international affairs. However such equilibrium can only be maintained if international standards and norms, including international human rights law principles are adhered to, be they part of Ukraine’s international treaty obligations or multilateral frameworks such as the European Union-Ukraine association agreement which the Government of Ukraine confirmed it intends to sign in November of this year. If indeed the deepening of relations between Ukraine and other UN member states is standards and norms based, then there is a very high likelihood that the intensification of political or economic or cultural ties will also reinforce the human security of the people of Ukraine.

The UN has tried to maintain international peace and security for more than 60 years; however it is only now that UN member states recognize that people need to feel secure in their own lives – through schools, jobs, basic services, the opportunities to live in freedom. This is why our work to define a post-2015 development agenda and to hear from the people of Ukraine, and most importantly its youth, is so essential to ensuring the continued convergence of security, development and human rights. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, if ‘we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children’.

It is indeed essential that the work of the UN meets the needs and aspirations of the largest generation of youth the world has ever known. The UN system is most encouraged by the emphasis placed by the Government of Ukraine on engaging youth, including its formulation of a national youth policy. Working with and for young people is also the UN system’s biggest priority. The challenges faced by youth – from growing inequalities and shrinking economic opportunities, to the threats of climate change have emerged as ‘the’ security threat of the decade ahead, which, through the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, UN member states including Ukraine will seek to address.

As a member state, Ukraine has focused on strengthening the United Nations to meet the challenges of the 21st century by improving its effectiveness and accountability. Ukraine was amongst many states which endorsed a landmark resolution (A/Res/67/226) on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of UN operational activities for development (QCPR), which the General Assembly adopted on 21 December 2012. Member States stressed that they would like to see a strong UN development system which is strategically relevant, nimble, and ready and able to help deliver sustainable development results. A more effective, coherent, and results-oriented UN development system will indeed ensure that human security, development and human rights remain at the core of all political, social, economic and cultural priorities of its member states.

As the UN General Assembly gathers this month, UN member states have reiterated their intention to enhance the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the organization, to enable it to set the agenda for a world in the midst of a profound strategic and environmental transformation. If the reform of the UN system is completed with the requisite boldness and foresight necessary, and in a manner that ensures equitable representativeness of all states in all UN bodies including the Security Council, than the UN will likely continue to assume its rightful place at the helm of world affairs. As a UN Member State, and if elected (in October 2015) as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2016-2017, Ukraine will continue shape the future of the organization, led by its past, present and future generations of diplomats. As Dag Hammarskjold, the former UN Secretary General once said – everything will be all right ‘when people, just people, stop thinking of the UN as a weird Picasso abstraction and see it as a drawing they made themselves’.

Thank you.