Ecuador boasts a stunning geographical landscape © WIKIMEDIA COMMONS LICENSE

Understanding Ecuador’s diplomatic priorities
In an interview with UN Today, His Excellency Hernán Pérez Loose divulges his aims to contribute to peace and fight against climate change
1 Sep 2023

Your Excellency, please tell us briefly about your career, why you joined the diplomatic service, and how you were appointed to your current position as Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN?

I have been involved in the public area of diplomacy from many different angles over the years. My interest in international affairs began during my studies at university, both in Ecuador and the US, where I concentrated in the areas of comparative and international law and international relations. I extended this interest during the completion of my SJD dissertation at Harvard (1989), which dealt with the then emerging concept of international “soft law” and the efforts of developing countries to establish an international regime for multinational corporations through multilateral negotiations at the United Nations. This topic stemmed from my experience during my time studying comparative law at NYU, where I worked at UNITAR as intern at the request of Prof. Thomas M. Frank, a great international scholar.

My current position as Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN is a recognition by the President of Ecuador of my involvement in the public sphere. In Ecuador, I was a member of the diplomatic commission that negotiated a settlement with the Republic of Peru that put an end to a long territorial dispute. I was also a member of the Constitutional Assembly that adopted the 1998 Constitution.

Following my university education, I practiced law and accumulated experience in the areas of international investments, international arbitration, and human rights litigation. Alongside my co-founding partner of the Coronel and Pérez Law Firm, I served as my country’s representative before the Alternative Dispute Resolution Arbitration Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce. Alongside my diplomatic and law ventures, for more than twenty years I was a columnist for El Universo, one of the largest newspapers of my country, where I wrote about politics and international affairs, while I have another column devoted to literature.

I believe in educating the future and imparting knowledge to the next generation, so I have also taught international and constitutional law at various universities.

His Excellency, Hernán Pérez Loose © UNWEBTV

The 78th session of the General Assembly starts this month in New York. What are Ecuador’s priorities for this session?

These are important times for the UN and the General Assembly. The Summit of the SDGs marks the midpoint of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This will provide guidance for the yearlong work of the six main committees and, also, for the preparation of the 2024 Summit of the Future. These summits will touch on every aspect of multilateralism and should aim at improving our work towards the objectives of the UN. Namely, the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of human rights and the achievement of sustainable development and international cooperation. Ecuador hopes to contribute constructively so that in all these areas we can see effective multilateralism which is capable of delivering concrete results for the well-being of our nations.

Ecuador is currently a member of the Security Council. What do you think of the functioning of the Security Council? Do you have any suggestions to improve the way business is conducted?

Ecuador assesses the work of the Security Council through the amplifying lenses of being both a permanent member of the General Assembly and an elected member of the Council. During the first seven months of 2023, the Council has been able to adopt several key decisions including renewing and strengthening Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions mandates, notably BINUH with resolution 2692 (2023), facilitated by Ecuador and the United States as co-penholders.

I think that the Security Council functions well but agree with the frustration for the Council’s inability to prevent and to stop the ongoing aggression against Ukraine, like it failed to do with the aggression against Iraq in 2003. I believe that this is not because of the institutional architecture of the Council and that any methods of prevention would have not been sufficient to prevent the invasion of Ukraine.

Instead, in hosting more than 60 meetings on Ukraine since February 2022, the Council is ensuring awareness, pressure, and building the case for “accountability” and deterrence. The Council also adopted ‘Resolution 2623’ calling for a Special Session of the General Assembly on Ukraine, and adopted a Presidential Statement on 6 May 2022, supporting the SG’s efforts for a peaceful solution.

To improve the Council, I would suggest it adopts greater synergies with other principal organs, notably the General Assembly, with the aim to revitalize working methods to reduce gaps between the Permanent and the Elected Members.

As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, how is Ecuador fighting climate change?

Ecuador is wholeheartedly committed both to protecting its natural and biological resources and to the fight against climate change. Our country has recently announced a strategy to swap debt in favor of nature conservation, which will save us $1.1 billion of debt, of which $450 million will be invested in the conservation of the Galapagos islands. These funds will promote climate resilience and support sustainable fisheries, thus taking a crucial step toward a financial transition where diplomacy, conservation and finance walk together. This is the world’s biggest ocean-friendly debt swap to protect unique natural resources and is just one example of our commitment to protect the environment while taking into account our social and economic needs and realities. 

* Valerie Coutarel is Chief of the French Section Interpretation Service at the UN in New York.
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