Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on upcoming multilateral meetings (Human Rights Council, Conference on Disarmament, Security Council, Alliance for Multilateralism)

22.02.2021 - Press release

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (22 February) on multilateral meetings taking place this week (the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Conference on Disarmament, the meeting of the UN Security Council on Climate and Security, and a meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism):

During its time on the Security Council, Germany fought for the issues of human rights, disarmament, the climate and strengthening the multilateral system. These efforts will be continued in Geneva and New York this week.

We will be discussing the situation in Myanmar and Belarus at today’s meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It is a truly encouraging sign that the US is taking part in this session after almost three years of absence. The important work of the Human Rights Council will be much more effective with Washington on board. We are strengthening the human rights institutions of the United Nations and will therefore be almost doubling our contribution to the Office of the High Commissioner this year, bringing it to a total of 9.5 million euro. Because unless we are moving forwards, we will be moving backwards, particularly when it comes to human rights.

It’s clear to see that there is movement in the multilateral system. A new foundation is being laid. Happily, this includes the issue of disarmament. The extension of the New START Treaty between the United States and Russia sent out an important message. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to speak at the Conference on Disarmament, marking the start of a new era. This year can be a turning point if we are able, together, to regain the international attention that is so desperately needed for the issue of disarmament and arms control.

At the meeting of the Security Council, the United Kingdom will hold a debate to drive progress on the issue of climate and security. We are delighted to be representing the Group of Friends on Climate and Security at this session – a group which we helped found and which now has 54 members – and are calling for a resolution to be passed. The Security Council must establish binding principles on the issue of climate and security. Now is an opportune time to do so, with the beginning of President Biden’s term in office creating a reset in international climate policy.

The Alliance for Multilateralism will address the effects of both climate change and digitalisation on human rights. The fight against COVID‑19 will be on the agenda at this meeting, too. We are working on learning lessons from the pandemic so that we can emerge from this crisis stronger than before. To do so, we must strengthen the global health architecture. We will therefore be speaking with the newly appointed head of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo‑Iweala, about how we can support her reform agenda.


The 46th session of the Human Rights Council begins on 22 February and will continue over the next five weeks. The Council has 47 members chosen to represent different regions, who will be meeting virtually for this latest session. The US left the Council in 2018. It is currently taking part as an observer and has announced that it will re‑engage with the body under President Biden.

The Geneva Conference on Disarmament (22 February) is the only permanent global negotiating forum for disarmament, arms control and non‑proliferation. It was created in 1978 by a resolution of the UN General Assembly. Sixty‑five states from around the world are members, and a further 35 countries will be participating as observers this year.

On 23 February, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the issue of climate and security chaired by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and attended by UN Secretary‑General António Guterres. Foreign Minister Maas will speak at the session on behalf of the 54 members of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, which he initiated in 2018. The Group brings together both countries and organisations.

The Alliance for Multilateralism will be meeting on 24 February on the sidelines of the high‑level segment of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It is a supra‑regional network of countries and institutions working together in different configurations on various issues with the goal of reinforcing the rules‑based international order. The Alliance first met on 26 September 2019 on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, at the initiative of Germany, France, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Singapore and Ghana. It has since grown to include over 70 members. The Alliance most recently met in November 2020 at the Paris Peace Forum, where it showcased its work to reinforce the multilateral global health architecture.


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