Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN at the Security Council Debate on ‘Maintenance of International Peace and Security: comprehensive review of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa’ (25 June 2018)

Mr. President,

Let me first thank the Russian Presidency for convening of this important debate.

We thank the Secretary General for his insightful and frank briefing on the situation in the Middle East.

Historically the region has been the cradle of civilization. But today, it is in deep turmoil.

The geostrategic landscape of the Middle East is dominated by a complex interplay of multiple and intersecting fault-lines - competing interests and divergences between major regional powers have further fueled instability and pushed the region into a vortex of turmoil and violence.

Reconciliation between the major regional powers is necessary to address the growing instability.

Already, a combustible mix in the Middle East has been exacerbated by big power rivalries, raising the danger of wider conflict, with far reaching consequences.

As rightly noted in the concept paper, the situation necessitates a comprehensive approach to effectively address the many challenges - one that takes into account the underlying regional and historical contexts of each conflict and is consistent with the norms of international law.

Anything less would not work – for we know all too well that unilateral measures driven by narrow interests and false assumptions have only brought greater suffering to the people of the region.

Mr. President,

Worryingly, instead of abandoning these flawed policies, attempts are still being made by some external actors to shape the region according to their own political preferences.

Nowhere is this unfortunate spectacle more apparent than in Palestine. The two-state solution is tragically being dismantled in full sight of the international community.

The latest report of the Secretary General also attests to a familiar pattern of systematic abuse of Palestinians at the hands of the illegal Israeli occupation.

Mr. President,

It is also on Palestine that inaction by the Security Council is continuing to worsen the situation.

Thus, as the Palestinians observed their ‘Great March of Return’, the killing fields of Gaza were drenched in the blood of over 130 innocent Palestinians.

Yet the Security Council stood as a bystander to the plight of the long-suffering Palestinian people.

This represented a dereliction by the Council from its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security; for the Palestinian issue is not a byproduct of conflict in the Middle East, it is the primary source of instability in the region.

On 13 June, the General Assembly was called upon, to reaffirm to the Palestinians, their right to safety and protection – a right expressly recognized by several Security Council Resolutions, which this Council had failed to endorse on 01 June.

Mr. President,

Our discussion on the protection of civilians is not taking place in isolation; it is a fundamental tenet of the prevention-centric and rights-oriented work here at the UN.

It is, therefore, no coincidence that the General Assembly is also holding a formal plenary on the Responsibility to Protect, today.

Our words during this debate will be weighed against the actions that we take for the protection needs of all civilian populations, including the Palestinians.

We must not allow the plight of the Palestinian people to be betrayed at the altar of narrow and myopic political interests

Mr. President,

The seething fires of conflict across the region show no signs of abating.

Amid this pervasive gloom, the successful conduct of the parliamentary elections in Iraq last month marks a new chapter in Iraqi democracy. It also serves as a successful model of inclusive and representative political participation.

As the conflict in Syria enters its eighth year, the need for an intra-Syrian process of political engagement, is as urgent as ever. Much as progress may be slow, every forward step on this path is a gain for peace in the country.

The grim situation in Yemen also necessitates a political outcome. Over 22 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance in the country. That only reinforces the need for such a solution.

Mr. President,

The edifice of peace cannot be built without the foundation of justice.

We cannot expect some to reap the dividend of peace when others are forcibly deprived of the fruits of justice.

Self-evident as it is, this ‘fallacy’ remains at the core of the instability in the region, for peace is not a zero-sum game. We are all insecure if some of us are vulnerable.

The road to peace in the Middle East lies in a just settlement of the Palestinian issue.

This is an objective reality, not a partisan assessment. The test of our commitment to peace in the region lies in this acknowledgment and our ability to act on it.

It is time to stand up and be counted.

I thank you.