Calling for New Chapter in Cooperation Between UN and Arab League
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle with UN Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon in the Security Council (© Photothek / Th. Imo )
For more than 18 months now, the Arab world has been undergoing sweeping changes which have presented the countries in the region and the international community with major challenges. The resulting opportunities and risks were the subject of a High Level Meeting on September 26, which was chaired by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. In a Presidential Statement, the Security Council also welcomed the intensifying of cooperation between the United Nations and the Arab League.
The High Level Meeting, which took place on the margins of the general debate of the General Assembly, was the result of a German initiative. Germany was conscious of the challenges posed by the changes in the Arab world, Westerwelle said during the meeting, but also believed in the “historic opportunities” inherent in the process.
- Germany is chairing the UN Security Council for the month of September. Foreign Minister Westerwelle is thus the President of this body, which has primary responsibility within the United Nations for the maintenance of peace and security. The majority of Security Council members were represented at the meeting on peace and security in the Middle East by their Foreign Ministers, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, Laurent Fabius of France and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon and Nabil El Araby, Secretary General of the Arab League, also participated.
Continue political leadership
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle meets the Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil El Araby. (© Photothek / Th. Imo ) Foreign Minister Westerwelle called for a “new chapter” to be opened in cooperation between the United Nations and the Arab League. Specifically, he suggested holding joint meetings on a more regular basis, as well as the establishment of a UN office in Cairo.
Westerwelle met Nabil El Araby, the Secretary General of the Arab League, in the run up to the meeting, to sound out possibilities for closer cooperation. He welcomed the “remarkable political leadership” the Arab League had shown in recent months. “And we want to encourage it to carry on.”
In a Presidential Statement, the members of the Security Council agreed to intensify cooperation between the United Nations and the Arab League. Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations regulates the role of regional organizations in peacekeeping. It has taken on increasing significance in recent years.
Building bridges between cultures
During the Security Council session, Westerwelle also emphasized Germany’s readiness to support the Arab world in its efforts towards democracy. “The offer of a transformation partnership for education, jobs and growth still stands,” he said.
Other major topics of discussion at the meeting were the continuing violence in Syria and the Middle East peace process. This latter, Westerwelle said, had to remain a priority on the international agenda. The need now, he went on, was for negotiations towards a two state solution taking account of the legitimate claims of Israel and the Palestinians.
Westerwelle also commented again on the protests and violent outbreaks over recent weeks in connection with a video critical of Islam. He said he could understand that believers felt insulted by this video, but said: “Violence cannot be the answer to such provocation. There is no justification for violence or murder.”
The UN general debate week should build bridges, stated Westerwelle, “bridges between countries, between cultures, between religions and between societies.” He said that the oft cited clash of civilizations did not exist. “What we see is a clash within civilizations. It is a conflict between open and closed minds, a struggle between intolerance and tolerance,” he stressed.