In his introductory remarks at UN headquarters in New York recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Linas Linkevicius spoke during the UNSC Open Debate on Upholding International Law. He commended Poland which held the Presidency of the Security Council for that month, and mentioned that the Lithuanian delegation was aligning itself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union.
Outlined below are remarks made by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius in his own words on upholding international law within the context of the maintenance of international peace and security at the United Nations.
“Lithuania celebrates the Centennial of the restoration of its independence this year. One of the factors that allowed us to begin developing our State was the League of Nations and system based on international rules. We joined the League of Nations and co-founded the Permanent Court of International Justice, the predecessors of today’s United Nations and its International Court of Justice, the predecessors of today’s United Nations and its International Court of Justice. Unfortunately, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union by the time when the League of Nations ceased its activities.”
He added, “After returning to the international family, Lithuania has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. Like others, we are happy to note the recent declarations recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court.”
But what happens if rules are not observed? According to the statement made by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius in the UN Security recently: “If rules are not observed, we see a clear threat to international peace and security. Today, lasting conflicts destroy many parts of the globe, and governments take steps to turn their contested claims into a ‘fait accompli.'”
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevicius then stated: “In Syria, Yemen, and the Central African Republic – to name a few – gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law continue on a daily basis. Barbaric crimes are being committed on a massive scale. A total collapse of law and order has also led to unspeakable atrocities.”
“In Europe, non-compliance with international law lead into clear violation of sovereignty andterritorial integrity of states in several instances. Protracted conflict in Moldova lasts for almost 20 years. Violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia is counting its tenth anniversary. Moreover, recently we witnessed the occupation and annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the military actions in Eastern Ukraine, including the downing of the Malaysian airplane MH l7. They do not look like isolated incidents.”
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister went on to say: “These blatant breaches of the Charter of the United Nations constitute a threat to international peace, security and stability and must not have a place in the twenty-first century. The UN and all the international community have to be able to react effectively to such constantly repeating violations.”
As the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevicius stated “Lithuania during its non-permanent membership on the Security Council has consistently raised the issue of “the violation of international law in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the Security Council was not able to take any concrete actions. Especially, we regret that the Council was not able to ensure that an independent and impartial international court or tribunal would investigate the downing of the Malaysian airplane MH l7. That undermines the credibility of the whole UN.”
In his closing statement, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevcius said the following: “A relevant and strong UN requires an efficient, transparent and inclusive Security Council to meet today’s challenges to international peace and security, and to improve global governance. Restraining the veto use, inter alia, would make the Council’s responses to ongoing crises more effective and would reduce veto-induced paralysis. Lithuania, therefore, strongly supports the French-Mexican initiative on limiting the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, Lithuania also actively endorses Liechtenstein’s and ACT group relevant initiatives.