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Ukraine war ‘stark reminder’ of the trials facing multilateralism

Foreign Minster Ian Borg of Malta, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, briefs members of the UN Security Council.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías
Foreign Minster Ian Borg of Malta, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, briefs members of the UN Security Council.

Ukraine war ‘stark reminder’ of the trials facing multilateralism

Peace and Security

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is “a stark reminder” of the challenges to multilateralism and remains the top priority of UN partner the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Security Council heard on Friday. 

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ian Borg briefed ambassadors during their annual meeting on cooperation between the UN and the regional body, which is comprised of 57 States spanning Europe, Central Asia and North America, representing one billion people.  

The Maltese Foreign Minister said OSCE countries and their societies “are confronted with an era of profound uncertainty”, given the challenging security situation in the region following more than two years of conflict in Ukraine.

Multilateralism under fire 

“Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine not only reverberates through the dark corridors of history, but also serves as a stark reminder of the trials our multilateral system currently faces,” he said. 

Mr. Borg told the Council that the international rules-based order designed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war is being rigorously tested in the current unprecedented times. 

Multilateral frameworks established not only to prevent the outbreak of conflict but also to nurture lasting peace are now being eroded as they strive to meet the complex demands of today’s world.  

He said these “testing times” should galvanize the international community “to move beyond support for the cause of multilateralism and commit ourselves to effective, tangible and sustainable engagement.” 

Meanwhile, the OSCE must remain anchored in the principles and commitments members agreed to 50 years ago, aimed at restoring peace and security across the region. 

End the war in Ukraine 

“Using the organization as a platform for accountability for acts in breach of these principles, this is why we must, and we will, keep Russia's illegal war of aggression against Ukraine at the top of the agenda,” he said. 

Mr. Borg visited Ukraine and saw firsthand the devastation caused by the war, which has left thousands dead and forced millions to flee their homes. While in the capital, Kyiv, he also reaffirmed the OSCE’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in accordance with international law.  

“The ongoing attacks must stop. This war must come to an end,” he said, while reaffirming commitment towards securing the release of three OSCE officials who have been detained in eastern Ukraine since April 2022.  

Preventing escalation, strengthening democracy  

During his tenure, Mr. Borg will also prioritize other conflicts in Nagorno-Kharabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria. 

“We aim to engage with all sides to improve the prospects for comprehensive resolution of conflicts by preventing escalation and restoring stability.”  

He also reported on recent visits to Serbia, Kosovo, and Moldova, where he underscored the OSCE’s readiness to support peace and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.  

Women, peace and security 

“We will continue leveraging our diplomatic initiatives here at the Security Council concerning the women, peace and security agenda,” he added. “Women's agency, perspectives and capabilities are crucial for fostering meaningful dialogue, shaping more effective policies, and enhancing security.” 

Other areas of focus include strengthening the OSCE’s work on challenges in the cybersphere, addressing transnational threats, narrowing the digital divide, promoting greater collaboration on climate action, and ensuring the safety of journalists, both on and offline, with particular emphasis on the safety of women journalists. 

As Foreign Minister of Malta, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, Mr. Borg said he had accepted the OSCE chair because “any multilateral organization depends on the work and commitment of all its members, regardless of their size.”