The Group of Friends in Defense of the United Nations Charter held its first ministerial meeting at Venezuela’s UN Mission in New York City on Thursday, September 23 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. The 18-country group adopted a declaration which outlines a policy in favor of respecting the UN charter.
The statement says, “The UN Charter and its purposes and principles remain timeless, universal, and that all are indispensable, not only to preserve and promote international peace and security, the rule of law, the economic development and social progress, but also human rights and to achieve a more peaceful, prosperous, just and equitable world.”
The group’s members currently are Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Laos, Nicaragua, Palestine, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Syria.
While the group is made up of countries with diverse political and ideological orientations, they are united in their mission to respect the multilateral origins of the UN, outlined in its charter. Many of the countries are also currently suffering under the impacts of unilateralism. Most of the countries suffer from unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States and the European Union which are in violation of international law and the UN charter.
During the pandemic, many of these countries have had their payments blocked while trying to buy crucial supplies, protect their populations, and sustain their economies. In many countries, this has exacerbated the impact of the pandemic and cost lives. In June, Venezuela’s payment to the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative was blocked by the Union Bank of Switzerland.
In the declaration. member states reiterated their “serious concern about the growing tendency to resort to unilateralism, to the detriment of not only multilateralism, but also international cooperation and solidarity, which must be deepened more than ever in order to forge collective, inclusive solutions. and effective against the common challenges and threats of the 21st century, including the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The group invited other countries to join the Group of Friends and stated that they will be organizing further meetings throughout the year with other offices of the UN and agencies.