The following are the opening remarks of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres during the Security Council briefing on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States, in New York today:
I welcome this opportunity to address the Security Council on cooperation with the League of Arab States. Strengthening our cooperation with regional organizations is a sine qua non for strengthening multilateralism on a global scale. We need partnership at all levels, from local to regional to global.
The League of Arab States is essential in all of our work. When COVID-19 disrupted societies and economies and threatened new vectors of instability, the Secretary-General [Ahmed] Aboul Gheit and I have called on this Council to open space for multilateral efforts, humanitarian action and diplomatic solutions. Scanning the region today, these calls are even more critical.
We remain united in our quest for multilateral responses to the cascading challenges facing the Arab world and beyond. These efforts are all the more urgent as we face the profound global ramifications of the war in Ukraine. Many countries, for example, import at least half of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia, including Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Food, fuel and fertilizer prices are skyrocketing. Supply chains are disrupted. And transport costs and delays for imported goods – when available – are at record highs. All of this hits the poorest the hardest and sows the seeds of political instability and unrest around the world.
Additionally, we see clear evidence that this war is draining resources and attention from other hotspots that desperately need it. Just last week, I was deeply disappointed that our appeal for Yemen received less than a third of the funds so urgently needed. I cannot overstate the gravity of the suffering of the Yemeni people. Twenty million Yemenis need life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection, with women and children most in need of support.
I appeal to the generosity of Arab League members at this critical time. And I renew my call on all countries to find creative ways to finance the growing humanitarian and development needs around the world, to give generously and to immediately release the promised funds.
In Libya, I welcome the League’s constructive engagement to help preserve the hard-won unity and stability since the signing of the Libyan ceasefire agreement in October 2020. I count on the League and its members to continue to prioritize agreement on a comprehensive political process and advance the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2570 (2021).
In Sudan, the League of Arab States and the United Nations are working closely together, both bilaterally and through the Group of Friends of Sudan, to encourage constructive dialogue for an inclusive and peaceful transition.
In Syria, our two organizations are firmly united in supporting the Syrian people, who feel abandoned by the world as they enter the eleventh year of a war that has subjected them to massive and systematic violations of human rights. man and left the country in ruins.
The only way to break the impasse and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people is through a credible political process that sees the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). We must continue to work to forge a political path to a lasting peace in which all Syrians are heard, grievances addressed, detainees released and needs met. There must be no impunity.
In Lebanon, we are grateful to the Arab League and its members for urging the government to resolve the country’s crisis through meaningful reforms, timely elections, constructive engagement with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the full implementation implementation of Security Council resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006).
In Iraq, we welcome the strengthening of strategic cooperation between the Government and League members, which included an observation mission to monitor the legislative elections in Iraq last October.
Strengthening regional cooperation and collaboration is also essential in Yemen, where the escalation of hostilities threatens to further aggravate dire humanitarian needs and further dim hopes for peace. I count on the League of Arab States to support United Nations-led efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire, defuse tensions, advance an inclusive political process, and provide humanitarian and economic assistance to the Yemeni people. In the face of a catastrophic funding crisis, I urge everyone to do all they can to prevent hunger and starvation from claiming millions of lives.
In Israel-Palestine, the League and the United Nations remain determined to find a way to advance the peace process and end the occupation. Our common goal remains two States – Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, viable and sovereign Palestinian State – living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, based on pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the common capital of the two states.
Political, economic and security conditions throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory are deteriorating as Palestinians experience dispossession, violence and insecurity. At the same time, the existential financial crisis of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) affects the rights and well-being of Palestinian refugees throughout the region. I reiterate my call on Member States to increase their financial support for the Palestinian people and their contributions to UNRWA, a vital pillar of regional stability.
Ever closer cooperation with the Arab League is essential to achieve these goals. From regular meetings with my special envoys and staff exchanges to workshops on mediation and capacity-building exercises on inclusive peacemaking, our relationship is widening and deepening. We look forward to further strengthening our ties, including through the United Nations Liaison Office to the League of Arab States, which has opened new channels of communication between our organizations both at headquarters and in the field.
We are particularly focused on building stronger partnerships with the League in the areas of women, peace and security, disarmament, mediation and peacebuilding. And we are expanding our cooperation on youth, peace and security issues in which capacity building and consultations on a regional strategy in the Arab region are increasing. Looking ahead, we will hold our fifteenth General Cooperation Meeting in July to move our biennial framework forward, and we will work together on a sectoral meeting on climate change.
Now more than ever, we need to unite and unite in support of peaceful multilateral solutions. This is why our relationship with the League of Arab States and the strong support of its members have never been more essential — or more appreciated.