19th Jun 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.

News in Brief

  1. UK candidates disagree on Brexit in TV debate
  2. House prices up by 15 percent in EU since 2010
  3. China 'most trade-restrictive partner' for the EU
  4. EU court rules against German highway toll for non-residents
  5. French most sceptical on safety of vaccines
  6. Facebook 'currency' met with scepticism in Europe
  7. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  8. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group


EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU keeps North Macedonia and Albania at arm's length
  2. What's going on in Moldova - and what next?
  3. EU officials prepare for US extravaganza on Palestine
  4. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  5. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  6. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  7. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  8. EU summit must give effective answer on migration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us