EU celebrates the UN at 75
NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION - Thomas Wiersing (The Philippine Star) - October 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Last Oct. 24, our head office in Brussels lit up in blue to pay tribute to the UN, an institution which, just like the EU, was built for peace.

With peace as a common denominator, both the EU and the UN have persevered to pursue global cooperation, multilateralism, rule of law, sustainable development, human rights and action on climate change.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell reaffirmed EU’s commitment “to continue to be a pillar of the United Nations, its main contributor and its main supporter, for the sake of our citizens and of the whole world.”

As other countries undermine the multilateral system, the EU continues to rally behind multilateral institutions, with the UN at the apex.

Both organizations have likewise promoted negotiated diplomatic solutions to conflicts. In September this year, the UN and the EU signed a framework agreement on mutual support to further enhance their partnership and consolidate their response in peace operations and crisis management. This agreement was also the reiteration of a common advocacy for international peace and security. It also strengthened our strategic and operational collaboration in response to global crises and threats.

In the development arena, the EU also shares common development goals and supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Working together

To illustrate the EU-UN synergy, let me share with you some initiatives in the region and in the country:

To reduce the vulnerability of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to violent extremism, to decrease the dangers of radicalization and increase community resiliency, the EU-UNDP tandem supported the drafting of the Philippine national action plan on preventing and countering violent extremism. It also facilitated peace education and early warning mechanisms in 50 towns in Lanao del Sur. YouTube creators for change ambassadorships and fellowships spread positive content in the areas of diversity, inclusivity and social change in social media platforms.

The EU also shares the UN’s commitments on women and gender equality.

Through the “Safe and  Fair: Realizing the Rights and Opportunities of Women Migrant Workers” in ASEAN, migrant workers’ resource centers were set up; technical support in policy-making and in the development of training modules were provided to frontline service providers; and help desks in selected airports and areas were set up. The EU, UN Women and ILO spearheaded these actions.

To empower women at work, the EU and UN Women guided businesses in promoting gender equality and women empowerment. Both provided technical support in the drafting of policy documents for the Commission on Human Rights and helped strengthen partnerships between private/business sectors and civil society organizations on women’s economic empowerment.

The EU and the UN have also jointly fought against COVID-19.

The EU has supported the World Health Organization to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, providing a 400-million-euro contribution to the vaccine global access facility. The EU and its member-states have also mobilized 37 billion euros for partner-countries through the “Team Europe” approach.

Last but not least, and perhaps something unknown to many, is that the EU and its member-states are the largest financial contributors to the UN system. In 2019, the EU funding to the UN, as voluntary contributions, amounted to 3.05 billion euros.

I have barely discussed all facets of EU-UN cooperation.

What is clear though is that while these institutions do not operate like twin peas in a pod, they have both managed to work harmoniously in the pursuit of peace and development. Maligayang Kaarawan, UN.

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The author is Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines.

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