INTERVIEW Romania’s ambassador at UN Ion Jinga: Romania can become a significant actor in implementing 2030 Agenda

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Published on 27.10. 2015 by Agerpress.

Romania’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ion Jinga, has granted an interview to AGERPRES in which he speaks of the activity and priorities of Romania at the United Nations in the context of the challenges faced by the international community, but also of Romania’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda regarding sustainable development.

AGERPRES: Ambassador, how do you view Romania’s contribution to the UN in this moment of reflection, given that this year’s December will mark 60 years since the accession to the United Nations of Romania? What are the priorities and challenges on a short—and medium-term?

Ion Jinga: I’d like to begin by defining the context: the UN is the only global international organization, the place where multilateral diplomacy exists in its “pure state.” The soundest argument for its long-term relevance is the evolution of the number of members: from 51 founding states in 1945 to 193 member states today. Candidacies were already announced for a place of non-permanent member of the Security Council until 2009, and for President of the General Assembly until 2067. The explanation for this unyielding interest for the UN is the trust the states place in the principles and values promoted by the organization. The UN membership offers prestige, honour, recognition and an international status. An intelligent use of the UN lectern for promoting national interests can leverage the influence of a country beyond the level given by its geographical size and its economic or military force. Romania expressed its wish of joining the UN as early as 1946, through the voice of its Foreign Affairs Minister Gheorghe Tatarescu, at the Paris Peace Conference. The international context of the Cold War resulted, however, in its admission on December 14, 1955, alongside 15 other states.

Over the past six decades, exceptional diplomats have contributed to elevating our country’s profile and prestige in the most complex international forum. The landmark of the Romanian diplomacy’s presence at the UN was the election of Foreign Minister Corneliu Manescu as President of the UN General Assembly in the 1967-1968 session. He was also the first representative of a East European country to hold this prestigious office. Corneliu Manescu thus repeated the performance of Nicolae Titulescu, elected President of the League of Nations Assembly in 1930. As an homage to the two great diplomats, since September 2015, their portraits open the series of Romanian Foreign Ministers who participated in annual sessions of the General Assembly after 1989, at the offices of Romania’s Mission to the UN in New York.

Romania’s priorities at the UN are circumscribed by our foreign policy goals, in accordance with the status of NATO and EU member state. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted on September 27, 2015, will be a permanent goal over the next 15 years, and an important moment will be the taking over by Romania, in the second half of 2019, of the EU Council Presidency, when Romania’s Mission to the UN, alongside its Permanent Delegation to the EU, will ensure the harmonization of the positions of the 28 missions of the EU member states.

The developments in Ukraine, in the Middle East and Northern Africa, as well as the settlement of prolonged conflicts in the region are closely monitored by Romania’s mission to the UN, as are the problems of refugees, growing acute not just in Europe, as there are 60 million refugees worldwide today. Fighting terrorism is another priority. In 2016, ten years will have passed since the adoption of the global antiterrorist strategy; it has to be updated to respond to recent changes of the nature and types of concrete terrorist threats and for a better cooperation within the UN to counter violent extremism. Moreover, this was the theme of the summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on September 29 this year on the sidelines of the UN session. A list of our priorities cannot leave aside the organization’s reform, the negotiations for reforming the Security Council, the reviving of the General Assembly, and the promotion of multilateral partnerships with regional organizations. In the context of the global security agenda, the Romanian diplomacy acted continuously to promote regional and sub-regional cooperation in Central and Southeastern Europe.

October 24, 2015 was the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations, and on December 14, 2015 we will celebrate 60 years since Romania joined the organization. This double anniversary is an opportunity to reassert our country’s commitment to the UN ideals and actions.

AGERPRES: What is Romania’s role in the 2030 Agenda? What are Romania’s strong and weak points in the context of the 2030 Agenda, what should we accomplish, what will be difficult and why?

Ion Jinga: Romania was one of the 70 countries to form the working group for defining the sustainable development goals. The result consists of 17 goals and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda. During the negotiations, which took 16 months, Romania assumed the role of leader on the topic of governance for sustainable development. No country can act alone nowadays, because the challenges are global and interconnected, and governance on an international level requires mobilizing resources, offering financial, political and technical aid, monitoring the implementation of goals. Through its contribution to the global partnership for development and its participation to the economic and financial markets, and by stimulating the private environment, Romania can become a significant actor in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Each state will base its sustainable development strategy on the new global framework, but nuances come from the national needs and realities. For instance, the goal of promoting gender equality is more relevant for African or Middle East countries, compared to Western ones, where it has been mostly achieved and where the current priority is the protection of resources, the consumption and sustainable production models. Romania exceeds the milestones of the 2030 Agenda in some cases, but we must focus on goals such as the integration of the environmental dimension in the development paradigm, the adoption of sustainable agricultural techniques, the promotion of sustainable industrialization and the encouragement of innovation, the transition to sustainable consumption and production models, the fight against climate changes.

We have a National Strategy for sustainable development for the 2013 — 2020 — 2030 horizons, with a range of elements included in the U.N. Agenda: the climate changes and clean energy, transport, sustainable production and consumption, the conservation and management of natural resources, public health, social inclusion, demography and migration, poverty, education and professional training, scientific research, technological development. The effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda entails the coordination of the efforts of various institutions on a local, national, regional and global level. The promotion of dialogue, cooperation and coordination of this multitude of institutional players — the so-called “governance for sustainable development” — puts a major challenge to all countries.

AGERPRES: How is Romania perceived at the UN?

Ion Jinga: Romania has a solid reputation at the United Nations, built over 60 years. The Romanian diplomacy traditionally promotes the essential role of multilateralism in providing stability, development and cooperation at a global and regional level and the United Nations represents a central element of such an approach. I would note among the performances that Romania was a non-permanent member of the Security Council four times (1962, 1976-77, 1990-91, 2004-2005), it chaired the General Assembly (the 1967-1968 session), it was a vice president of the General Assembly (2013-2014) and chaired the Human Rights Council (2007-2008).

In the current context characterised by the multiplication and inter-connection of the challenges facing the international community, the United Nations returns to the forefront as the only resort for negotiation, mediation, compromise and consensus on files of global breadth. In the EU priorities at the 70th session of the General Assembly it is underscored: “The United Nations is today more relevant and more necessary than ever. The multitude of challenges to the international order destabilises the global system, that is why there is need that the U.N. be more efficient and placed at the centre of the multilateral system”.

The respect Romania enjoys in the UN system is also given by its presence with troops and police and civil staff in ten of the 17 UN peacekeeping missions, with an announcement having been made for 2016 to beef up the allotted resources. 12 percent of the UN. protection personnel is made up of Romanians, with the SPP [the Dignitaries Protection Service] having a very good image here. In 2015, Romania chaired the 2nd Main Committee of the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We hold positions of a chairman and vice chairman in the Commission for Sustainable Development and the Commission for Population and Development respectively, we are a focus of the East European Group for candidacies and a facilitator on the administration of justice at the United Nations. The credibility that Romania enjoys has led to the setting up of the Emergency Transit Centre for Refugees in Timisoara and the SPP Excellence Centre for training the U.N. protection personnel.

Romania is actively involved in promoting the equal chances and capitalizing on women’s capacity, with President Klaus Iohannis being one of the promoters of the HeforShe solidarity movement placed under the UN aegis and including ten heads of states, ten presidents of major international companies and ten chancellors of renowned universities. Recently, [Romanian] Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu presented at the UN together with Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo the common initiative of setting up an International Court against Terrorism, with the Romanian top diplomat arguing that terrorism is a global threat which should be fought against with the instruments of law too: international justice and the international criminal law. We have several ambitious projects that might consolidate our influence on an international level.

AGERPRES: What is your opinion of the role played by the news media in the war against terror? Is this war of ideologies that President Obama was speaking of actually a war of the information circulated in the public space?

Ion Jinga: One of the pillars on which the terrorist organisations rely today is the propaganda war, manipulation by means of the media, by means of the social networks included, which is a formidable weapon. The radical actions of the terrorist groups are disseminated via the social media, contributing to drawing new followers from among the deprived and ignorant. The military fight and the efforts for stemming the flow of foreign fighters is but part of the solution, since there is a type of terrorism that has the capability of regenerating itself. Understanding the pre-eminently conservative culture characteristic of the concerned areas, as well as its impact on the online space dominated by hyper-communication and immediate access to any type of information represent the other side of the solution. We witness a war of the information, but the international press, in order to win it must understand the sources of the extremist propaganda, so as to be able to dismantle the myths on which it is built. In this confrontation, the role of the media becomes increasingly important. The journalists not only communicate the information via the news channels, many times risking their lives; they are also genuine missionaries in service of the truth, so that the trenches dug by words might be more efficient than the physical ones for the defence of human freedom and dignity. AGERPRES

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