8 May 2020
“75 Years from the End of the Second World War on European Soil”
Address by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson
Let me start by thanking Estonia and my friend Urmas for organising this virtual Arria formula Security Council meeting. Commemorating and revisiting the hard-earned lessons of the Second World War has, perhaps, never been as pertinent.
We are in the midst of a global crisis with far-reaching humanitarian, social and economic consequences that has no parallels in the last 75 years since the end of the War.
The Second World War brought death and untold sufferings to Europe and other parts of the world. The North-Atlantic was one of these battlefields where many lives were lost, including significant numbers of my own countrymen.
The great generation, that experienced the war, committed to build a better future based on shared ideals and principles. These principles are reflected in the UN Charter and the rule-based international order today - and have served us well in the struggle for peace, social and economic progress, human rights and democracy.
Ongoing conflicts, human rights abuses and the almost unprecedent global refugee situation underline that progress is neither linear nor irreversible. Even in Europe, which has been blessed with robust security architecture, strong regional co-operation and economic prosperity, we continue to witness incursions and violations of sovereignty – a stark reminder that the principles enshrined in the UN Charter need to be fulfilled and carried out – not only in good faith but with clear determination – by all states, always and everywhere.
The Security Council, not least its permanent members, need to lead by example in preventing and solving international crises instead of being held hostage by the narrow national interest that may gradually undermine its legitimacy. Violations of international law by permanent members of the Council as we witnessed with the illegal annexation of Crimea peninsula in 2014 strain the credibility of this important body. There is a clear need for reform, leadership and vision.
As we reflect on the Second World War, mankind is facing a common threat, COVID-19, which again is testing our solidarity and ability to work together. Let me use this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for his leadership - calling for unity, pressing for a global ceasefire and mobilising the United Nations in saving lives and preparing for recovery.
It falls on all of us to weather this storm together and make sure that the multilateral system, with its strengths and imperfections, will come out this turmoil stronger than before. We owe it to the generation that made the ultimate sacrifice 75 years ago and had the foresight to unite nations in the immediate aftermath, but, more importantly, we also owe it to future generations.