The United Nations (UN) were founded in 1945, in the aftermath of the WWII. Up until this day almost all the states in the world are members of the UN (currently – 193 states). The main document regulating the work of the UN is the UN Charter. In accordance to the Charter, six main UN bodies have been established: General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the Secretariat – these are located in the UN headquarters in New York, US, and the International Court of Justice – in the Hague, Netherlands. (Trusteeship Council suspended its operation on 1 November 1994).
For more information about the UN see here:
- United Nations
- United Nations General Assembly
- United Nations Security Council
- United Nations Secretariat
- International Court of Justice
Lithuania and the United Nations
Following the reestablishment of its statehood in 1990, Lithuania joined the United Nations on 17 September 1991 alongside Estonia and Latvia.
Lithuania is actively involved in the UN activities in the areas of:
- peacekeeping and international security,
- international humanitarian law,
- arms control and disarmament,
- human security,
- sustainable economic and social development,
- good governance,
- promotion of human rights and others.
For more information about Lithuania‘s work in the UN: Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the UN.
Lithuania in Peacekeeping Missions
Lithuania’s commitment to international peace and security is realized through its contribution to the UN-led peacekeeping missions and the UN-mandated European Union (EU) operations. In 1997 Lithuania joined the Standby Arrangements System for the UN peacekeeping operations and placed its civilian policemen and military under the UN standby arrangement system.
Since 1994 Lithuania has participated in the following UN peacekeeping missions:
- United Nations Protection Force in Croatia (UNPROFOR),
- United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES),
- United Nations Civilian Police Support Group in Croatia (UNPSG),
- United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH),
- United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),
- United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI),
- United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG),
- United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK),
- United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH),
- United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS),
- United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (INFICYP),
- United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL),
- United Nations Logistic Base in Brindisi, Italy (UNLB).
Lithuanian military officers have also served in the operational headquarters of UN-mandated EU military operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (operation ALTHEA) and Chad/Central African Republic (EUFOR Tchad/RCA).
Disarmament and non-proliferation
One of the areas where Lithuania has been consistently active is that of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Lithuania is a state party to all major international treaties in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as relevant instruments of international humanitarian law.
Over the years, Lithuania held a number of positions in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and chaired the Second Conference of States Parties to CCW Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War.
Lithuania was the first Baltic State to join the Mine Ban Treaty and has been active on issues under the scope of the Convention ever since. Lithuania completed the destruction of its stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines in 2004. Lithuania has sought to improve aid for victims of landmines, to foster regulations on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines in the region and supports the destruction of these inhuman weapons. Lithuania co-chaired the Ottawa Convention Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction in 2011.
In the last few years Lithuania has contributed to more than a dozen of disarmament projects, including the destruction of stockpiles of explosive ordinance in Afghanistan and mine and SALW (Small Arms and Light Weapons) destruction in Central and Eastern Europe.
In 2008, Lithuania chaired the Third Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in SALW in All Its Aspects.
Lithuania is also an active advocate for the need to address environmental threats and damage related to sea-dumped chemical munitions. On 20 December 2013 the UN General Assembly by consensus adopted a resolution “Cooperative measures to assess and increase awareness of environmental effects related to waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea” (A/RES/68/208), which was initiated by Lithuania. The resolution calls on member states and international organizations to cooperate more closely in assessing jointly the environmental threats related to waste originating from such munitions. A similar resolution (A/RES/65/149), which was also initiated by Lithuania, was adopted in December 2010.
On 4 March 2013, Lithuania together with more than 60 representatives of other states, signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which for the first time in the history established rules for the international arms trade and aims to curb illegal agreements.
For more information: Arms control and non-proliferation.
Lithuania is party to all major human rights instruments, including inter alia the eight basic United Nations human rights conventions and also other universal and regional human rights instruments.
For more information: Human rights.
Development cooperation and democracy promotion
In a relatively short time Lithuania transformed itself from an aid receiver to an aid donor. Lithuania’s official development assistance increased a few times in the past years.
Lithuania’s development cooperation focuses on enforcement of democracy, human rights, good governance and democratic reform, rule of law and building a functioning market economy, sustainable development, education and eurointegration processes. Lithuania is working to expand its development cooperation geography: having started by a relatively small number of projects in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, it now focuses on Afghanistan and the Middle East.
The main objective of Lithuanian humanitarian aid is to provide a needs-based emergency response aimed at preserving life and alleviating human suffering. Lithuania is firmly committed to uphold and promote the fundamental humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality and independence thus European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid and the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) Principles and Best Practice are guiding documents to take action.
In the recent years, humanitarian aid has been delivered to a wide range of countries such as Afghanistan, Belarus, China, Czech Republic, Georgia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kirgizia, Libya, Lebanon, Moldova, Burma/Myanmar, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey, and Ukraine.
For more information: Development cooperation and democracy promotion.
Lithuania as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council 2014-2015
The UN Security Council (SC) is the second most important UN organ after the General Assembly. On the 17th October 2013 Lithuania, together with Chad, Chile, Nigeria and Jordan, was elected as a non-permanent member for a two-year term, which started on 1 in January 2014.
The UN SC membership provides Lithuania with a possibility to demonstrate mature and active foreign policy, contribute to the solution of international peace and security issues, strengthen international authority of Lithuania and establish Lithuania as a visible and influential state in the region.
For more information: Lithuania at the UN SC.
Lithuania’s presidency in ECOSOC
The ECOSOC is the third most important body of the UN.
Lithuania was a member of the ECOSOC for a two-year term in 2005-2007. In 2006 Lithuania held its vice-presidency and on 17 January 2007 Dalius Čekuolis, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the UN, was elected ECOSOC president.
During the year of Lithuania’s presidency, important achievements in reforming ECOSOC were accomplished:
- a fruitful meeting of ECOSOC with world financial institutions was organized,
- the three-week session in Geneva was a success,
- the Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum were launched.
Lithuania also initiated the inclusion of climate change into the ECOSOC agenda. The presidency of Lithuania was praised by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. During the year of presidency, Lithuania has gained invaluable experience learning how to lead world class debates and is now much more prepared to work in other international organs.
Lithuanian priorities at the United Nations
Rule of Law. Lithuania remains a faithful supporter of the rules based international order and will continue to advocate for the accountability for the illegal use of force in international relations.
UN reform. To contribute to the ongoing effort Lithuania joined the political declaration expressing support for the Secretary General’s initiative to develop a UN reform agenda in areas of peace and security, development and management. We fully support Secretary General’s leadership in this regard and look forward to engaging in the process of reforms implementation.
Peacekeeping. UN peacekeeping has been a vital tool for promoting and maintaining international peace and security for over 7 decades. However, in light of changing global security environment, there is a need for the UN peacekeeping system reform, modernising and optimising existing tools and developing new, more efficient tactics. Lithuania contributes to the UN peacekeeping efforts. In October additional 34 troops from Lithuania joined the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali MINUSMA; that makes a total of 39 servicemen. Just recently Lithuania joined the Kigali principles, the initiative of the best practices for protecting civilians in peacekeeping operations including assessment and planning, force generation, training and equipping personnel, performance and accountability.
Cyber-security. Security becomes more and more multidimensional. With rapid technological changes, international organizations must also be able to adapt new methods and respond to new challenges. We are witnessing the fact that cyber-attacks can also cause damage, which sometimes can be as harmful as traditional ways of interference. We must begin discussing the challenge of cyber-security within the UN in order to avoid gaps that might appear between international organizations and situation on the ground.
Chemical disarmament and non-proliferation. Use of chemical weapon is against international and humanitarian law and the use of chemical weapons pose a threat to the complete international community: consequences could be unpredictable, interfere with our health, safety, environment many generations in advance. About 40,000 tons of chemical munitions were dumped into the Baltic Sea after the Second World War. This fact creates interest for Lithuania to speak about the threats and consequences chemical weapons pose. Solution must be found for munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea to avoid greater catastrophes.
Protection of civilians and human rights in conflict zones. Within the UN system protection of civilians and promoting and protection human rights in conflicts remain one of the main priorities for Lithuania will keep the question of aggression in Georgia, Eastern Ukraine and Crimea as one of the most relevant priorities. UNGA serves as helpful space for dialogue, expression of views, encouragement to restore the justice in line with international law. We also pay attention to the crisis in Syria, Palestine and African states. We strongly believe that rules must be observed in order to maintain international peace and security.
Women rights and rights of the child. Protection of human rights and the rights of the vulnerable groups – such as women and children – should be the basis of any policy international community agrees to implement. Lithuania will stand firmly in order to the principles of equality, women empowerment (as well as women economic empowerment), the fight of violence against women to be implemented. Rights of the child, including the fight against bullying and cyber-bullying, should also be at the heart of every policy.
Safety of journalists remains Lithuania’s priority. Lithuania has always been a vocal advocate for freedom of speech and liberties, belonging to free and democratic society. Safety of journalists creates solid background for informed, capable, enabled civil society and stronger democracy.
Safety of journalists is one of the top priorities of Lithuanian candidature program to the Human Rights Council in the elections to be held in 2021.