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Trafficking In Persons: A Growing Challenge For Humanity

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Thoughts by H.E. Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations – New York, published in Huffington Post on 22.12.2016

On 20 December 2016, the Spanish Presidency of the Security Council has organized a ministerial level open debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security. Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations”. The debate, chaired by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, took place only a few days before Spain will end a remarkable accomplished two-year term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes and the world’s second largest criminal enterprise, after drug trafficking. But unlike drugs, here the commodity of crime is human beings who are sold and bought without any consideration for human dignity. Today, there are more human slaves in the world than ever before in history: an estimated 27 million adults and 13 million children.

Trafficking in persons is a topic that, unfortunately, has become a cruel reality for many people because of their simple presence in a conflict area.

During the open debate, I was deeply moved by the testimony of Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a survivor of Daesh human trafficking, who on 16 September 2016 was appointed the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. It is the first time a survivor of human trafficking has been appointed Goodwill Ambassador.

Worldwide conflicts are becoming more connected to terrorist activities, while human trafficking plays a growing role in the operation of terrorist organizations, generating revenue and being an instrument for vanquishing those who oppose them.

Linkages between conflict and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and children, have been identified by the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, and the case of horrendous crimes perpetrated by Daesh against Yazidi women and girls gained the deep sympathy of the entire world.

Both in conflict and non-conflict situations, prevention is key even though we might not be able to make use of the same instruments. An enhanced role may be played by the peacekeeping personnel deployed in UN operations. Pre-deployment training of the blue helmets on the specificity of trafficking in persons will contribute to increasing their knowledge about the phenomenon, in order to identify and fight against it. In fact, all persons having access to conflict areas, including representatives of civil society organizations or humanitarian actors, should be trained in this regard. For instance, prior to deployment in UN peacekeeping operations, the Romanian personnel receives a special training on how to identify and protect victims of human trafficking.

Assistance to victims requires addressing their needs on a case by case model. An interdisciplinary approach is necessary to ensure that they have access to medical, psycho-social assistance and legal aid, for a successful rehabilitation and social reintegration.

Evidence proves the existence of a complex nexus between trafficking in persons, organized crime, corruption, armed conflict and terrorism. This requires a further mapping effort. Joining forces becomes increasingly important, because combating successfully the scourge of trafficking in persons cannot be achieved only at national level, especially in cases of conflict situation. Cooperation at regional and international levels to complement national efforts is therefore needed, as well as the exchange of information among relevant authorities from states that are a source, transit or destination for victims of trafficking. This cooperation is also essential in identifying those responsible for the trafficking, with a view to hold the perpetrators accountable. Alongside the UN, the INTERPOL and the International Organization for Migration, civil society, private sector and media have to be major partners.

Combating trafficking in human beings is an ongoing battle, and the focus must be on protecting the victims. Necessary legislative and other measures to prevent, investigate, punish and provide reparation for acts relating to human trafficking need to continue to be enforced. The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its additional Protocol, as well as the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, are part of this legal backbone.

But in our efforts we should also use the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (target 8.7), which provides a clear mandate to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking.

Exchanging best practices may equally be part of the solution. In Romania, we have the Anti-trafficking National Agency with the main role to coordinate, evaluate and monitor the activities of authorities dealing with human trafficking, as well as the protection and assistance of victims. Partnerships with civil society are important too, because preventing and tackling this scourge require a multidisciplinary approach. The Agency currently cooperates with more than 60 partners.

Within the Romanian National Police there is a dedicated Unit for fighting against trafficking in persons, with 15 regional teams comprising specialized officers available at county level and totaling around 250 operational staff. The Police Border Department has 400 police officers detached to the EU Agency FRONTEX, who work in European Border and Coast Guard Teams to fight trafficking in persons and drug trafficking. Currently, 22 Romanian debriefing experts contribute to identify victims of trafficking among the immigrants.

The key words are Prevention, Protection (of victims), Prosecutions (of criminals) and Partnerships. The fight against trafficking in human beings must be part of our collective sense of humanity.



“ONU se adaptează noilor realităţi” – interviu cu Ion Jinga, ambasadorul României la ONU

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Sursa: rfi, 19 decembrie 2016

220px-HE_Dr_Ion_JingaCriza siriană se reflectă într-un mod negativ asupra Organizaţiei Naţiunilor Unite, criticată tot mai des pentru paralizia de care a dat dovadă în acest context. Ambasadorul României la ONU, Ion Jinga, subliniază însă în interviul pe care ni l-a acordat la RFI că ONU rămîne, în ciuda tuturor criticilor formulate, singurul cadru legitim de dezbatere a problemelor umanităţii.

Cotidianul Le Monde cu data de 20 decembrie îşi deschide ediţia cu titlul următor: “ONU – cinci ani de neputinţă în faţa haosului sirian.” Eixistă însă un plan de reformă a organizaţiei, de natură să adapteze acest complicat mecanism problemelor şi crizelor contemporane, consideră Ion Jinga.

Ambasadorul României pe lîngă Organizaţia Naţiunilor Unite, Ion Jinga, ne vorbeşte pe larg despre tradiţiile diplomaţiei româneşti, despre prezenţa României la ONU şi despre iniţiativele româneşti în acest context. Sunt evocate şi alte subiecte importante precum  reforma instituţiei care este un proces lung (nu întotdeauna vizibil). Ion Jinga ne evocă şi personalitatea noului secretar general al Organizaţiei, Antonio Guterres.

Ion Jinga a intrat în diplomaţie în 1992 şi a acumulat o vastă experienţă ca ambasador al României în Belgia şi apoi în Marea Britanie.

La microfonul lui Matei Vişniec, ambasadorul României la ONU, Ion Jinga, ne mai vorbeşte despre ataşamentul său francofon, cu atît mai mult cu cît limba franceză este una din limbile de lucru ale organizaţiei.

Interviul poate fi ascultat aici.

Ziua Națională a României sărbătorită de oficialii ONU

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Misiunea Permanentă a României pe lângă Organizația Națiunilor Unite a organizat la New York o recepție cu ocazia Zilei Naționale a României. Alături de Ambasadorul României la ONU, Ion Jinga, la eveniment au fost prezenți și Secretarul general al ONU, Ban Ki-moon, precum și Președintele Adunării Generale a ONU, Peter Thomson.

“Ar trebui să fiți foarte mândri că mulți români lucrează la ONU în multe domenii diferite”, a spus Secretarul general al ONU. Totodată, referindu-se la activitatea E.S. Dr. Ion Jinga, Reprezentantul Permanent al României la ONU – New York, Ban Ki-moon a precizat că acesta este “unul dintre cei mai activi și vizibili ambasadori ai comunității diplomatice de la ONU.”

Peter Thompson, Președintele Adunării Generale a ONU s-a referit în alocuțiunea sa nivelul remarcabil al profesionalismului diplomaților români de-a lungul celor 61 de ani de activitate a României în cadrul organizației, precizând ca înaltul calibru al reprezentantului permanent actual al României a determinat numirea sa în funcția de co-președinte al negocierilor interguvernamentale pentru reforma Consiliului de Securitate al ONU.

La recepție a fost difuzat și documentarul video “Tărâmul dintre ape”.




A Critical Nexus: Water, Development And Security

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Thoughts by Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations – New York, posted in Nine o’Clock on 28 November 2016

An ancient Chinese proverb says: “Not only can water float a boat, it can sink it also”. Indeed, water can be productive and destructive at the same time. It is the foundation of sustainable development and poverty eradication, but also a cause of disasters and a driver of conflicts. The 2015 Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum pointed out that water-related issues, such as drought or the pollution of water, are the biggest world threat for the next decade.

On 22 November, the Senegalese Presidency of the Security Council convened an open debate on “Water, Peace and Security”. It was a timely event devoted to rising awareness on the fact that water, rarefied by climate change and by mismanagement and subject of disputes between states, affects the peace and security at a global scale.

Water is a finite and irreplaceable resource. It is only renewable if well managed. Today, more than 1.7 billion people live in river basins where depletion through use exceeds natural recharge. If this trend continues, by 2025 two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed countries. Water scarcity can be a trigger of instability, and a driver for migration and confrontation.

No other resource is more essential to human survival than fresh water, which represents only 3% of the total water on the Earth; the quantity available for human use is a hundred times smaller. Population growth, urbanization, industrialization and increases in production and consumption have generated ever increasing demands for water. To the scarcity of this resource adds the inequitable geographical distribution. For instance, Asia accounts for 60% of the world population but has 36% of available water resources, while Europe with 12% of the world’s population detains 8% of the water, and Latin America and the Caribbean regions have 9% of world’s population but 26% of the water resources.

While Africa has the same annual rainfall as Europe, the variability and unpredictability of its rainfall is much higher. Currently, 3.5 billion people suffer from water insecurity, with the poorest countries facing the greatest water vulnerability. By 2030, the world is projected to face a 40% global water deficit. For many small island developing states (SIDS), dealing with water threats is a matter of survival due to rising sea levels, whereas many least developed countries (LDCs) are affected by increasing droughts and extreme weather events.

These require to revisit the paradigm of water governance. Because water issues are linked to climate change, poverty, food, health and energy, water should be seen cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary.

In some parts of the world there is a long history of mistrust related to the joint access to water resources, and the lack of institutional capacity to manage shared rivers enhances misperceptions and fears. The alternative to confrontation is to conclude water agreements. Good communication, strengthened relations between upstream and downstream states, strong institutions and sharing best practices are equally important for successful negotiations on water.

In this respect, the European cooperation in the Danube River Basin may be an inspiring model to follow. Initiated by Romania and Austria, the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region contributed to advance cooperation among Danube’s riparian countries in essential areas such as transport, energy security, information society, environment protection, education, culture, research, tourism, rural development and competitiveness.

Last but not least, protection of water in conflicts is essential. While the Geneva Conventions of 1949 mention water resources and water installations as key civilian infrastructure, and therefore immune from attacks, there are conflicts where water is used as a weapon. Placing limitations on the access to water supplies for civilian population in time of war is a grave breach of international humanitarian law and of human rights. Depending on the circumstances, such acts might constitute war crimes.

The UN Charter provides the solutions to resolve water disputes: bilateral cooperation, facilitation, good offices, dialogue and mediation. The UN deployed sustained diplomatic efforts in this respect. Additional focus is needed to addressing potential root causes of conflict related to water at an early stage. Water diplomacy has also a key role to play, as many opportunities can emerge from negotiations on energy, agriculture and infrastructure. But the issue is not only about water, it is about people. Therefore, education is important in order to prepare a next generation of leaders sensitive to climate and water issues.

Because economic development, environment protection, social sustainability, peace and security are interconnected, the 2030 Agenda is the framework to prevent conflicts caused by water. The Agenda devotes two of its 17 sustainable development goals to water: SDG 6 – Ensure access to water and sanitation for all, and SDG 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources, and next June in New York Sweden and Fiji will organize a UN High Level Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14.

In 2011, the Security Council has discussed the link between conflict, natural resources and climate change, and expressed concern that climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security. The entering into force of the Paris Agreement, on 4 November 2016, has brought a silver line of optimism on this issue. It is now high time to focus on the nexus between water, development and security. Water knowledge has become a global public good and, because water ignores political boundaries, water itself has become a political matter. As the Action Plan released in September 2016 by the UN High Level Panel on Water remarks: “Technical solutions to many of the world’s water problems already exist, but strong and coordinated political leadership is required to make progress.”


White Smoke Over The Security Council

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Thoughts by Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations – New York, posted in Nine o’Clock on 12 October 2016

Traditionally, when white smoke comes over the Vatican in St Peter’s Square, Rome, it is the sign that the College of Cardinals has elected a new Pope. The cardinals proceed to cast their votes by using paper ballots. After the vote, the ballots are burned and the smoke goes out into St. Peter’s Square through a special chimney in the Sistine Chapel. If there is a consensus on a new pontiff, the smoke is white. If no new Pope has been chosen, the smoke is black. Smoke is thus used to let the public know the outcome of the balloting.

The fifteen members of the Security Council who gather in close doors meetings to choose the UN Secretary General are not cardinals, but they decide on the future of the only global organization in the world, which comprises 193 countries. They use (colored) paper ballots to cast their vote, and the process itself is marked by the same secrecy as in Vatican. The ballots are not burned, so there is no real smoke coming over the UN Headquarters in New York, but in the current complicated international context the election of the next Secretary General may have a significance comparable to the election of a Pope.

Thirteen candidates – seven women and six men from three continents, entered the race to get the job of the next (the ninth) Secretary General of the United Nations: nine candidates from Eastern European Group (the only region that was not given yet a UN Secretary General), two from Latin American and Caribbean Group, and two from Western European and Others Group. Three candidates withdrew before the final selection took place.

After an unprecedented transparent procedure which included hearings of all candidates by the General Assembly, meetings with the ambassadors from the five regional groups and even a first ever Global Town Hall Meeting broadcasted life by Al Jazeera, the Security Council organized five informal (and secret) straw polls where the candidates were rated with “encourage”, “discourage” or “no opinion”. Antonio Guterres, former Portuguese Prime Minister (1995-2002) who also served for ten years as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015), won categorically in all five, being the only candidate to always score 11 or 12 “encouragements”. The moment of truth came with the sixth straw poll on 5th October, when the P5 (the five Permanent Members) used colored ballots to signal their eventual vetoes. Mr. Guterres received 13 positive votes and two “no opinion”, with no veto from any of the P5.

At the end of the vote, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the President of the Security Council for the month of October, announced that: “after sixth straw polls we have a clear favorite and his name is Antonio Guterres”, while US Ambassador Samantha Power remarked: “In the end, there was just a candidate whose experience, vision, and versatility across a range of areas proved compelling”. I add that Mr. Guterres was also the only candidate who, during the hearings in the UN General Assembly, spoke without any written notes and, when answering questions posed by the audience, he switched from English to French or Spanish, responding in the language questions were asked.

On 6th October, the Security Council adopted by acclamation a resolution which “recommends to the General Assembly that Mr. Antonio Guterres be appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations for a term of office from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021”. Maybe the best synthesis of this text came from Matthew Rycroft, British Ambassador to the UN, who twitted: “Resolution only has 49 words in it, but the two most important ones are Antonio & Guterres”.

The vision Antonio Guterres has on the organization’s role has been presented to the General Assembly on 12 April 2016, when he said: “The UN is the institutional expression of the international community, the cornerstone of our international system and the key actor of effective multilateralism. It is the essential instrument of member States to confront common challenges, manage shared responsibilities and exercise collective action. The UN is uniquely placed to connect the dots to overcome these challenges. To succeed, it must further strengthen the nexus between peace and security, sustainable development and human rights policies – a holistic approach to the mutually-reinforcing linkages between its three pillars. Now that we know what, we must work on how. With the horizon of 2030 the focus is on action and the watchword is implementation, implementation, implementation.”

And he added: “The Secretary General must maintain unwavering commitment to transparency, accountability and oversight. Moreover, the SG must stand firmly for the reputation of the UN and its dedicated staff. Leading by example and imposing the highest ethical standards on everyone serving under the UN flag.”

Concrete results at high standards is a long term credo of Mr. Guterres. In his first speech as UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, on 17 June 2005, he announced: “What really matters is delivering protection and solutions to those who need it. UNHCR must be a pioneer in the international community. I am personally committed to a management system based on attaining measured results.”

Ten years later in New York, on 21 December 2015, in his last statement as High Commissioner, he said: “Many times we have early warning and then we do nothing. To address a complex phenomenon we need holistic views. There is no such thing as an easy solution or a one size fits all solution… The lessons of history show that peace cannot wait. The world needs a surge in diplomacy for peace.”

In a piece I published in Huffington Post on 21st April 2016 (“The Race for the Next UN Secretary General – First Round”), I argued that candidates for Secretary General should possess professional skills, political acceptance, and acceptability to public opinion. All the thirteen candidates shown commitment and determination to make the UN fit for purpose in the XXI century.

But the UN needs in its top job not only a knowledgeable person and a skilled manager. It also needs a visionary leader with moral authority, able to guide the organization through an extraordinary array of global challenges, in a time when there is no substitute for the United Nations legitimacy.

Antonio Guterres was the candidate who proved unwavering credentials for all these qualities. He will succeed to Ban Ki-moon, whose tenure comes to an end on 31st December 2016. After ten years as Secretary General, Mr. Ban’s legacy is about the power of relationship, engagement, dialogue before confrontation and humanity. In the document “Furthering the work of the United Nations”, recently released, he says: “Today, we are more connected than ever, better informed than ever, and have better tools than ever. The recipes for positive change are on the table; the ingredients for success are in our hands.” A reverence must also go to the current Deputy Secretary General, the exceptional diplomat Jan Eliasson.

On 13th October, the UN General Assembly will convene to appoint the candidate recommended by the Security Council. At that moment the race for the next Secretary General will come to its final round. As so inspired The New York Times titled a few days ago, the UN will have “a new voice for a complicated world.” Let’s wish the best of luck to Mr. Antonio Guterres. We all need his term to be successful.


Addressing Large Movements Of Refugees And Migrants

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Thoughts by Dr Ion Jinga Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, New York, published in Huffington Post on 16.09.2016. 

On 19 September, the United Nations will host a high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim to better coordinate the international response to this challenge that has reached a global dimension.

“Since earliest times, humanity has been on the move.” These are the opening words of “The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants” to be adopted next week. Indeed, migration was present all throughout the history of humankind. Humans always moved from the places where they started living, or they settled for shorter or longer periods of time, driven by hunger, by the cold or the floods, by invasions of other more powerful groups, or by fear of persecution.

In recent decades, people also migrate to experience different types of school and university education, for cultural exchanges or a better professional accomplishment. Migrations were blamed for having brought destruction of illustrious civilizations and Empires – like the Persian, the Roman or the Maya – but in other circumstances they were the engine of development of strong and rich countries, and what better example than the history of the American continent.
This phenomenon has reached now unprecedented levels: 244 million international migrants in 2015, with 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes – more than at any time since the end of the Second World War (more than 40 million displaced people within countries, over 21 million refugees and 3 million asylum seekers). Last year almost one million refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, while 3,500 died at sea. Only last week, thirteen thousand migrants and refugees dropped on the Italian shores. There are 400 refugee camps in the world. Without proper means to resolve its causes, it is to be expected that every migration wave will outrank the previous one.

The basic root-causes of such large movements can be found in conflicts, terrorism, human rights violations, poverty, growing inequalities, poor governance, climate change, environmental disasters. Many people move for a combination of these factors. Currently, 1.5 billion persons live in countries affected by violent conflict. The stabilization of conflict zones is therefore a prerequisite to bringing to an end the flow of refugees and to creating the premises for a safe return of individuals to their countries of origin. At the same time, a World Bank report released in 2016 found that water scarcity exacerbated by climate change can generate waves of migration, violence and conflicts within countries.

Romania contributes to alleviate the refugee situation by hosting, already since 2008, the Emergency Transit Center for Refugees in the city of Timisoara which, at the time of its establishment, was the first such facility in the world. Based on the principles of solidarity and shared responsibility, we are also part of the European Union efforts to relocate individuals who arrived in Europe in need of international protection. Additionally, Romania increased its financial contribution to UNHCR and the World Food Program. Many other countries do the same. But no State can manage such movements on its own. The large scale refugee crisis calls for a global approach and requires global solutions. We need a renewed multilateralism, and the best place for it is the United Nations.

The UN undertook a series of initiatives in 2016: the conference on the Syria humanitarian crisis in London (February), the Resettlement Plus conference in Geneva (March), the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (May), and the High-Level Summit on managing large movements of migrants and refugees in New York, which will be the biggest issue at the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations next week.

This Summit is expected to be a historical landmark for creating a more responsible and predictable system to address the root causes of large movements of refugees, the positive contributions of migrants and the international cooperation on this issue, as well as to shape a comprehensive refugee response framework and a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration. It will also tackle the vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants on their journeys from the countries of origin to the countries of arrival.

There are separate legal definitions for “refugees” and “migrants”. Refugees are persons who are outside their country of origin for reasons of persecution, violence or conflict, and they require international protection. International migrants are persons who change their country of residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status. However, refugees and migrants have the same universal human rights and, as stated in the UN documents prepared for the Summit, “they face many common challenges and have similar vulnerabilities,” which may suggest that the boundaries between these groups are blurred.

65 years ago, the UN adopted the Convention related to the Status of Refugees, to protect refugees after the Second World War. Today again, the international community has to take up its responsibility to protect people on the move and find long-term solutions both for refugees and migrants, as well as for their societies. The New York Declaration mentions that “our challenge is above all moral and humanitarian”, therefore such solutions have to be inspired by the essence of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development: “to leave no one behind”. In doing so, we must keep in mind that the immigration has to be tackled first at source, that we need to develop a worldwide culture of peace and non-violence, and that this is not a task only for governments, but also for civil society organizations, the business community, refugees and migrants alike. At the same time, there is a need for more empathy with refugees and migrants. The UN is a reflection of the world as it is, and as we want it to be. We must step up with responsibility sharing, not with responsibility shifting.


UN, essential in preventing conflict

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Thoughts by Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations – New York, published in Nine o’Clock on 6 September 2016

If the United Nations never existed, there would be many more interstate conflicts and civil wars.

Prevention means early detection of outbreaks and potential outbreaks, mediation and finding peace-building solutions and continues, after the violence has stopped, with post-conflict normalization and sustainable development.

We, in Europe, face around one million refugees, most coming from Syria. For Europe, that is a big number, a massive influx; but worldwide there are 60 million refugees. There are over 400 refugee camps, there are countries that shelter 1.6 million, 1.1 million, 1.5 million, a million refugees. I’m not going to mention them, they’re nearby, and in some cases the number of refugees is close to the number of the local population, which causes existential problems.

On the other hand, migration is a phenomenon with many deep-rooted causes. In the last 15 years, the number of conflicts tripled. This is what the UN statistics say. If in 2000, around 12 percent of the population on the globe lived in conflict areas, today the percentage reaches 40.

Terrorism and extremism are also causes of migration, alongside weak governments, human rights violations, lack of access to resources, lack of opportunities for youth and climate change. It may seem like a paradox, but there is a tight link between climate change, migration and conflict in many areas of the world. Let’s look at the fact that 80 percent of people on the African continent live from cultivating land and climate change generated prolonged draughts in many areas. What do you think people do in this situation? They migrate to areas with more favorable climate, where the soil is more fertile. These areas, invariably I would say, are occupied by other populations and this leads to conflict.

Europe has to be aware that in a globalized world, a massive migration on a neighboring continent cannot avoid to affect it.

There are forecasts – and I hope they won’t come true – that warn against the lack of real long-term plans to solve the root causes of migration, a few tens of millions inhabitants of Sub-Saharan Africa might migrate in the next 20 years towards North Africa and even Europe. I know the figure sounds like fantasy. But we could wonder how a few tens of millions of people could reach Europe, if only a million reached the continent and countries are taking steps to not let them in. I wouldn’t want us to face this problem.

Regarding UN’s capacity to currently manage growing global threats and problems such as migration, the international organization’s yearly budget is just half of what the city of New York spends in a year. The UN can only do what the member countries and its budget allow it to do. Every year, the organization is asked to do more with less money. The biannual budget, a bit over 5.4 billion dollars, is 300 million lower than the previous biannual budget, and 150 million less than the Secretary General had asked for. Beyond all this, problems and challenges humanity faces – implicitly the UN faces – are growing. The UN is the only global international organization and we live in a world with growing global problems. Migration, terrorism, climate change and pandemics are four major global threats that ask for global action. The United Nations Development Program is functioning quite well. But its resources are little compared to the growing needs.

Romania is widely respected in the international organization, due to its century long experience in multilateral diplomacy. There are many instances related to the history and achievements of Romanian diplomacy that continue to give credit to our performance at the UN, in New York. For instance, I still run into people in New York, at various meetings, who come from African countries and who speak Romanian. I had a very funny episode when I presided the Commission for Social Development. (…) A minister from an African country came to me and asked “Are you the Romanian ambassador? I studied in Romania and all graduates from Romanian universities meet up once a month in my country to talk about our time in Bucharest.  It should be stressed that many graduates from Romanian universities, not only in African countries, but also in Latin America and Asia, hold high-ranking positions in their countries’ governments and this could be a great advantage for Romania in terms of diplomacy.

The 28 EU member countries are one voice in New York, but Romania’s relations with Asian, Latin American and African countries become often quite important.

In most cases we have common stances, but our votes – 28 – are not enough, by far, to advance a resolution. G-77 and China counts 134 members; two thirds of the UN member states in one shot. In these situations, it’s important to find bridges and things in common. EU ambassadors and G-77 ambassadors meet periodically. On the other hand, many times European and Latin-American countries have common stances. There are 32 or 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is, again, a factor that brings us closer.

In terms of development assistance the focus is currently on Africa, and building relations based on understanding of the issues and mutual respect with the African countries is essential for the UN.