16th Jan 2019

EU bid for more rights at UN suffers surprise defeat

  • The UN General Assembly chamber: Van Rompuy and Ashton will still be sitting off to the side near the Red Cross and the Vatican (Photo: tomdz)

The European Union suffered a defeat at the United Nations on Tuesday (14 September) in its attempt to win most of the rights enjoyed by fully-fledged UN members after other regional blocs said it was unfair that Europe would get a boost in its standing at the global body but not them.

A UN General Assembly resolution that sought to allow European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to address the UN chamber - no differently from US President Barack Obama or Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmedinejad - was narrowly defeated after a majority of nations voted to delay debate on the matter.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The resolution would also have awarded the EU, which currently only carries observer status at the UN, the right to make proposals and submit amendments, the right of reply, the right to raise points of order and the right to circulate documents.

There would also be additional seats put in the chamber for the EU's foreign policy chief, High Representative Catherine Ashton and her officials.

The EU currently has only observer status at the UN. Its delegates do not sit among the UN member states, but off to the side, along with entities such as the Vatican, the Red Cross and the Arab League.

However, a majority of countries, mainly from the developing world with regional blocs of their own, asked why the EU should win additional rights but not the Carribean Community, the African Union, or the South American Union.

A delaying motion, put forward by the Caribbean Community (Caricom), was backed by 76 nations to 71, with 26 abstentions.

The following session starts on Wednesday, but the agenda is already quite full and a return to the discussion is not expected until well into 2011.

As a result, it will remain the case that only the nation that holds the rotating presidency of the EU, currently Belgium, will be able to speak for Europe in the UN chamber.

The Belgian UN ambassador, Jan Grauls, had urged the delaying motion be defeated and encouraged nations to support the original resolution.

Acknowledging the feelings of the other blocs who feel snubbed by the EU's move, Mr Grauls had amended the wording to say that other regional organisations should be given similar rights in the future.

But the poorer nations argued that there had not been sufficient discussion on the matter for approval yet.

Surinamese ambassador Henry Mac-Donald, representing Caricom, said: "We submit that the draft text before us has not yet had the benefit of full consultations."

The defeat came as something of a surprise to European ambassadors, who had been hoping that the resolution would be approved in time for Mr Van Rompuy and Ms Ashton to represent the bloc at the UN's gathering of international leaders in New York next week.

The thinking behind the move had been to try to boost the EU's profile on the world stage, according to an EU diplomat.

A spokesperson for high representative Ashton told EUobserver that the result was disappointing but that the EU expected to win the vote next year.

"The procedural vote was naturally disappointing in view of the extensive consultations that have been carried out by the EU and its member states," said the individual.

"However, it was not a poll on the substance of the question and we are absolutely certain that there is wide support for this initiative in the United Nations."

The bloc is now to consult with other powers to push for a win, although Ms Ashton has ruled out backing stronger representation at the UN for other regional organisations.

Putin tests new missile to frighten Europe

Russia has tested a "hypersonic" missile capable of a nuclear strike anywhere in Europe, in what Russian president Vladimir Putin called "a great New Year's present for the country".

EU sides with protests against Bosnian Serb chief

EU diplomats in Bosnia have voiced sympathy for protesters against lawlessness in the Serb entity ruled by Russian darling Milorad Dodik, after demonstrations in Banja Luka left one police officer injured.

News in Brief

  1. British PM scrapes through no confidence vote
  2. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  3. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  4. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  5. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  6. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  7. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  8. German economy hit by global economic turbulence


China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.


The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us