The Security Council today welcomed the growing cooperation between the United Nations system and the League of Arab States in the wake of the transformations taking place across the Middle East and North Africa.
The Council also recognized and further encouraged efforts by the Arab League to “contribute to collective endeavours to settle conflicts in the Middle East peacefully as well as to promoting international responses to the transformations experienced in the region,” in a presidential statement that followed a high-level meeting, held on the margins of the 67th session of the General Assembly.
“With a new political era at hand in the Arab world, the Arab League has acquired a new sense of purpose,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks to the meeting, chaired by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for this month.
He noted that both the UN and the Arab League worked to help ensure the transparency of landmark elections in Tunisia and Libya following the uprisings in those countries.
“Our joint role has been most prominent in Syria,” the Secretary-General said, noting that members of the Arab League made significant contributions to the UN military observer mission deployed earlier this year.
The two organizations also jointly appointed first a Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, and now a Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, as their emissaries in the search for a political solution to the crisis in Syria, where more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began 18 months ago.
Mr. Ban cited four areas that merited special attention, beginning with improving the exchange of information, including through “focused and frequent” dialogue between the secretariats of the two bodies. Another avenue for enhanced contacts, he added, may be the placement of the Office of the Joint Special Representative for Syria and his Deputy in Cairo, a possibility that is being explored.
Attention should also be given to putting conflict prevention front and centre; exploring new areas for collaboration; and ensuring the success of the transitions that have been set in motion.
“We must continue to be ready to provide concrete assistance, if and when requested. Outsiders can share their experience and encourage progress – humbly, patiently and respectfully. But the major work has to be done by and in each society,” said Mr. Ban.
Nabil El-Araby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said that a fundamental pillar for international peace and security is the effectiveness and credibility of the Security Council, as well as the “full, faithful and precise” implementation of its resolutions.
“The League believes that non-implementation of said resolutions is one of the fundamental reasons for tension and instability, both regionally and internationally,” he added.
Mr. El-Araby also pointed out that the challenges confronting the Arab world are varied, and are not just political and military but also related to development and humanitarian issues. Cooperation between the UN and the League on these issues and others requires a review of the relations between the two organizations, as well as new mechanisms, he said.
He proposed that the cooperation agreement signed between the League and the UN be updated to keep up with priorities as well as emerging and future challenges. Also suggested is the holding of regular meetings, as well as those required by events, between the two bodies; raising the status of the meetings between them so as to enable them to reach decisions that are implementable, particularly in preventing and resolving disputes and maintaining peace; and giving more importance to cooperation between the Council and the League in humanitarian assistance.