75 Years from the End of the Second World War on European Soil – Lessons Learned for Preventing Future Atrocities, Responsibility of the Security Council

(High-Level Arria Formula meeting, May 8th 2020)


Mr. President,

Commemorating the end of World War II in Europe takes us back to the foundational events of the European integration that ultimately led to the European Union.

By choosing to integrate the EU, its member states - like Portugal -, have embraced two of the core principles of the UN Charter: to cooperate to spearhead the economic and social progress of our peoples; and to relinquish the use of force to solve disputes.

European integration ensured the longest period of peace in modern history. Together with the Council of Europe and the OSCE, it promoted the European reconciliation.

For Portugal, this process was also naturally intertwined with the transatlantic link and with the membership of other relevant organizations, like the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries and the Ibero-american Cooperation.

Mr. President,

The United Nations was born precisely as a necessity after the end of World War II.

One of the goals of the foundation of the United Nations was to avoid the repetition of atrocities committed before and during the War, notably the Holocaust.

The generalized suffering was also the catalyst to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ensuing covenants, as well as the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes of Genocide.

Regrettably, since then we have witnessed persecutions and massacres in different continents. As well as several attempts to change international borders by force.

The lessons of World War II should have taught us to better understand the warnings, to avoid complacency with hate speech and to spot the dangers attached to the suppression of diversity or to the demonization of minorities.

The best way to pay tribute to those who resisted Nazism and Fascism is to invest more in dialogue and mediation, to sharpen the regulatory institutions, to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, to respect Human Rights, and to deepen International Law.

In brief, to empower effective multilateralism.

Our common programme is the 2030 Agenda. Pursuing and implementing the SDG’s will enhance the wellbeing of our citizens without irreversibly harming our Planet.

Mr. President,

Since the pandemic was declared, the Security Council has been able to proceed with its regular decision-making on Peacekeeping.

Because a pandemic is also a security threat, we hope that the Council will soon be able to also exert the needed leadership on its impact, including by backing up the Secretary-General’s call to a global cease-fire.

Portugal has consistently called for the Security Council to consider non-traditional threats to peace and security, including climate change, cybercrime or global health crises. And to utilize more often the Peace Continuum instruments, in close cooperation with the Peace Building Commission.

The world has changed dramatically in 75 years. Questions that were residual or nonexistent have evolved into looming threats.

And the Security Council must adapt, adjusting its modus operandi, in order to fully preserve its credibility and its leverage.

Thank you.

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