The Security Council today urgently called on African States and all parties concerned to demonstrate the political will to settle their disputes by peaceful rather than military means.
Meeting at the level of foreign minister to assess progress in achieving peace and security in Africa since the last ministerial-level Council meeting on the subject, in September 1997, the Council expressed its continuing concern over the number, intensity and interrelationship among conflicts in Africa, and especially at the emergence of new conflicts during the past year.
In a statement read out on its behalf by the President of the Council, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Lena Heljm-Wallen, the Council encouraged its ad hoc Working Group -- established in May to review the Secretary-General's report on maintaining peace and security in Africa -- to make further concrete recommendations, particulary with regard to: stemming the illicit arms flow; assisting host governments in Africa in maintaining the security and neutrality of refugee camps; and enhancing the Council's ability to monitor activities authorized by it, but carried out by Member States or coalitions of Member States.
In May of this year, the Council expressed its intention to meet at the level of foreign minister on a biennial basis, beginning in September, to assess progress in promoting peace and security in Africa.
Opening today's meeting, the President of Burkino Faso and current Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Blaise Compaoré, said that through union and cooperation with the United Nations, the international community would win the battle for peace in Africa. However, there were genuine challenges to be faced on the continent, such as those in Somalia and Angola. There was also serious potential for destabilization in the region,
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with the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Such a crisis called for United Nations action and it should be ready to take such action when called upon.
The Secretary-General of the OAU, Salim A. Salim, said that international efforts to promote peace and stability should not ignore the magnitude of the socio-economic problems confronting Africa. One of the key issues facing Africa was external indebtedness and the attainment of sustainable development would hinge on the effective elimination of that debt. The United Nations should encourage a new departure in international economic relations, based on a true partnership and a shared vision for a common destiny.
"Let us never forget that it is for them -- the peoples of Africa -- that our ideas must matter, and make a difference", Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. Ordinary men and women in every part of Africa had heard their United Nations speak in a voice that recognized the realities that they faced. He appealed to the wisdom and responsibility of leaders to put the interests of their people over their own. He suggested that the African leaders and the international community look to Nelson Mandela and show themselves worthy of his great hope for the continent of Africa.
Statements were also made by the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, United States, Bahrain, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, France, Gabon, Gambia, Japan, Kenya, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. The representative of the Russian Federation also spoke.
The meeting, which began at 10:20 a.m., was adjourned at 2:50 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning at the level of foreign minister to assess progress in achieving peace and security in Africa since the ministerial-level Council meeting on the subject in September 1997. At that meeting, the Council called for a more comprehensive United Nations response to the challenges in Africa. It requested the Secretary-General to submit concrete recommendations on the sources of conflict in Africa, ways to prevent and address those conflicts and how to lay the foundation for durable peace and economic growth following their resolution.
The report (document A/52/871-S/198/318), issued in April of this year, provides a candid analysis of the sources of conflicts in Africa and the reasons why they persist. The Secretary-General suggests three areas which deserve particular attention: First, he says Africa must demonstrate the will to rely upon political rather than military responses to problems. Democratic channels for pursuing legitimate interests and expressing dissent must be protected, and political opposition respected and accommodated in constitutional forms.
Second, Africa must summon the will to take good governance seriously, ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law, strengthening democratization, and promoting transparency and capability in public administration. Unless good governance is prized, he says Africa will not break free of the threat and the reality of conflict that are so evident today.
Third, he asserts that Africa must enact and adhere to the various reforms needed to promote economic growth. Long-term success can be achieved only if African governments have the political will to enact sound economic policies, and to persevere in their implementation until a solid economic foundation had been established.
Key recommendations of the report refer specifically to arms and arms trafficking, sanctions, refugees, structural adjustment, development assistance, debt and trade, the Security Council and international business and practices. (For further information, see Press Release SG/2045-AFR/50- SC/6501 of 15 April.)
Following consideration of the report, the Council, on 24 April, heard 52 speakers in a day-long debate on the situation of Africa and the challenges and potential of that continent. On 28 May, the Council, by resolution 1160 (1998), established an Ad Hoc Working Group to review all the Secretary- General's recommendations. The Council also decided to work closely with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and to meet at the ministerial level twice a year.
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The working group comprises all Council members. Its tasks were to prepare a framework for the implementation of the Secretary-General's recommendations and submit specific proposals for concrete action for consideration by the Council by September. Six subgroups were established to look at the main recommendations of the Secretary-General's report. Three of those groups produced documents concerning their work.
The work of the subgroup dealing with strengthening the effectiveness of Council-imposed arms embargoes was covered by the Council on 16 September (resolution 1196 (1998)). It encouraged each Member State to consider adopting legislation or other legal measures to make the violation of embargoes established by the Council a criminal offence. It also encouraged the Chairmen of the Security Council committees charged with monitoring arms embargoes in Africa, to establish channels of communication with regional and subregional organizations and bodies, in addition to other sources of information, including Member States, in order to improve the monitoring of arms embargoes.
At the same meeting, the Council issued a Presidential statement based on the work of the subgroup looking into the strengthening of Africa's peacekeeping capacity (S/PRST/1998/28). The Council encouraged increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of peacekeeping, especially capacity-building, among Member States, the United Nations and the OAU, as well as subregional organizations in Africa. The Secretary-General was requested to study ways to improve the availability of logistics for peacekeeping efforts in Africa.
On 18 September, the work of the subgroup concerning regional cooperation was incorporated in Council resolution 1197 (1998). Under the terms of that resolution, the Council urged the Secretary-General to assist in the establishment in the OAU of an early warning system, and in strengthening in making operational the OAU's conflict-management centre and its situation room.
Three other subgroups have not yet concluded their work. Their themes are: an international mechanism to assist host governments in maintaining the security and neutrality of refugee camps; arms flows, particularly with regard to suppliers and intermediaries; and enhancing the capacity of the Council to monitor activities authorized by it.
At today's meeting, the Council is expected to hear 18 speakers, including the Secretary-General; the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré; the Secretary-General of the OAU, Salim A. Salim; and the 15 members of the Council.
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BLAISE COMPAORÉ, President of Burkina Faso and current Chairman of the Organization of African Unity, said that, through union and cooperation with the United Nations, the international community would win the battle for peace in Africa. However, there were genuine challenges to be faced on the continent, such as those in Somalia and Angola. There was also serious potential for destabilization in the region with the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Such a crisis called for United Nations action and it should be ready to take such action when called upon. It should be understood by all nations that no solution to conflicts could be found without constructive dialogue.
Concerning the situation in Libya, and the arrangements for a trial of the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing, he said a minimum set of safeguards should be given to the two suspects to ensure that they receive a fair trial. On the bombing of the pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan, an inquiry should be undertaken into the bombing and that kind of reprisal against terrorism should be discouraged. Terrorism was a serious problem around the world. The international community should address the issue and find a response. In the year 2000, there should be a high-level international conference on terrorism held under the auspices of the United Nations.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that, throughout the last six months, African leaders had pledged to help implement the recommendations of his report. Ordinary men and women in every part of Africa had heard their United Nations speak in a voice that recognized the realities that they faced. "Let us never forget that it is for them -- the peoples of Africa -- that our ideas must matter, and make a difference", he said.
He said he was pleased to witness the serious and constructive manner in which the Council, through its Ad Hoc Working Group -- had begun to address the report's recommendations. The Secretariat was working vigorously on follow-up activities to the report. He had asked the Deputy Secretary-General to monitor its implementation. In July, there had been international conferences on Guinea and Sierra Leone to focus international attention on the efforts of those two countries to restore peace and stability and to help them do so. The Council had also shown its commitment to the aims of the report and to lasting peace in Africa. The General Assembly would be considering his report in October.
He said that at yesterday's meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Development Assistance Countries to highlight priority areas in meeting Africa's economic challenges, all the governments represented had reaffirmed their support for the recommendations in his report, and in particular for the five priority areas -- the need to increase the volume and improve the quality of official development assistance (ODA); to consider converting all remaining
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official bilateral debt owed by the poorest African countries into grants; to liberalize access to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative; to ease access conditions for African exports; and to encourage investments in Africa. At the same time, they stressed the need on the part of the African States to create enabling environments for investment and economic growth.
The United Nations was increasingly taking a comprehensive holistic approach to all our peace-building activities, he said. It was applying the lessons it had learned, including: that electoral assistance must be part of democracy-building; that securing human rights would ensure genuine political liberty; and that political development must be integral to economic development.
He expressed hope that the leadership of Nigeria would continue on the path to good governance and the rule of law. It was unfortunate, however, that that moved away from the rule of the gun seemed the exception rather than the rule in recent months. The United Nations, in partnership with the OAU, was actively involved in every one of the crises in Africa and in helping to alleviate the suffering borne by innocent civilians, but "we can only appeal to the wisdom and responsibility of leaders to put the interests of their people over their own", he said. Without the determination of the parties themselves to reach political accommodation, there was little the United Nations could do except offer the band-aid of humanitarian assistance, often with great difficulties and great risks.
What would it take for Africa's leaders to reject military solutions to political challenges? he asked. Not one of the conflicts could end in the absence of compromise, tolerance and the peaceful resolution of disputes. He suggested that the African leaders and the international community look to Nelson Mandela and that they show themselves worthy of his great hope for the continent of Africa.
SALIM A. SALIM, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said that Africa continued to be confronted with severe problems of a socio-economic and political nature. On the political front, despite some encouraging developments in Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic, among others, conflicts had resulted in the loss of life, destruction of property and immense suffering.
Despite those daunting problems, he said, Africa's determination to seek solutions that could improve its situation was a matter of record. African leaders had left no stone unturned in taking initiatives to promote a peaceful resolution to the various conflicts afflicting the continent. The sustained efforts deployed by African leaders were a clear testimony of Africa's commitment.
While international efforts should continue to focus on achieving peace, security and stability, it should not ignore the magnitude of the socio- economic problems confronting the continent, he added. One of the key issues facing Africa was external indebtedness. The OAU believed that the attainment of sustainable development would hinge on the effective elimination of external indebtedness. The United Nations should encourage a new departure in international economic relations based on a true partnership and a shared vision for a common destiny.
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ROBIN COOK, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said his country was committed to goals that were central to the Secretary-General's report. It would help build prosperity in Africa by promoting African trade, reducing African debt, promoting African development and encouraging sound economic management.
He said the United Kingdom would also make it a priority of its diplomacy in Africa to build peace and prevent conflict. "Without peace, nothing else is possible" he said, no development, no prosperity, no improvements in the lives of ordinary Africans. The United Kingdom would support the OAU in its peacekeeping initiatives and would also fund the process of rebuilding peace where war had destroyed it. It would also exercise responsibility in its policy on the export of arms.
Further, the United Kingdom would be a friend of democracy in Africa. It would support the democratic process through the funding of voter education and the supply of election monitors. With its friends in the Commonwealth, it would work for the observance of the Harare principles of human rights and democratic government. It would also support human rights through development aid.
Regarding the Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie plane bombing, he said he had confidence that a trial before Scottish judges and Scottish law and procedures would indeed be just. Prison facilities had already been set aside should they be convicted, and their treatment there would be fair. Libya must now respond to the fair offer and surrender the suspects. Accommodation could not be achieved by concessions from one side only.
Concluding, he said that the United Kingdom would remain fully engaged with the regeneration of Africa and would approach a shared future in the spirit of partnership.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Secretary of State of the United States, said that the world was shocked and saddened by the tragic terrorist attacks in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Cape Town. She congratulated local authorities for their diligence in pursuing those responsible and expressed America's sorrow for those who were hurt or lost loved ones.
From the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and from Africa's western coast to its southern highlands, countries that had begun to recover from strife were being swept back into it, she continued. Societies that had begun to
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rebuild were seeing their labours lost. For example, the dangerous stand-off in the Horn of Africa threatened to become a full-scale, inter-State war. A bloody crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had ensnared the armies of neighbouring countries, sparking inter-ethnic violence and raising again the spectre of genocide.
She said the leaders of countries in crisis had a choice. They could be statesmen and guide their nations towards a future of cooperation, or they could continue full-speed into the past, a past of hatred, violence, instability and isolation. No one else -- not their neighbours, not the international community -- could make the choice for them. But, the international community did have a critical role to play. Nations, acting together, could make it more difficult to resort to violence to solve disputes. Nations could make it easier for African nations to choose the path of peace. For example, actions should be taken to curb arms transfers to zones of conflict in Africa. There was a need to commit to full and timely disclosure of all arms shipments into those regions.
On the situation in Libya, she said, the United States and the United Kingdom had proposed a solution to the problem and it was now up to Libya to act. "We have done our part and we believe it was important for Libya to do its part", she added.
SHAIKH MOHAMMED BIN MUBARAK AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said the continued deterioration in the areas of tension in Africa would eventually lead to graver problems, which would affect the economic and social conditions of not just the parties to the conflicts, but others as well. The international community must expedite the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and reaffirm the principles of: respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States; and the inviolability of traditionally accepted international boundaries. Reason and dialogue were essential to the preservation of security and stability.
He supported the role of the Security Council in the prevention of conflicts and elimination of tension, as well as the efforts of the Secretary- General to enhance the United Nations through the contacts with regional organizations. Also, he supported all steps taken with a view to containing or preventing conflicts, as provided for in Chapter VII of the Charter.
He emphasized the importance of enhancing the capabilities of African States in the peacekeeping missions in Africa, whether those missions were United Nations missions, or were within the framework of regional organizations or a group of States with a mandate from the Security Council. In addition, refugees and displaced persons must be protected and their sustenance provided in accordance with international standards and regulations. Further, the use of sanctions to reduce the capacity of parties to a conflict to continue fighting should be enhanced. Sanctions should also
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be used more effectively against the decision makers in the States concerned. Concluding, he said a speedy trial of the suspects involved in the Lockerbie incident would lead to the lifting of the sanctions on Libya and the Libyan people.
LUIZ FELIPE LAMPREIA, Minister for Foreign Relations of Brazil, said that although the tides of violence continued to wreak havoc among societies in Africa that had already endured suffering and exploitation for much too long, there were also signs of hope and rebirth. The challenge confronting the international community and the United Nations was that of promoting stability in a way that reinforced the hand of those in Africa who remained committed to dialogue and reconciliation.
Brazil had been actively involved in various bilateral and plurilateral initiatives aimed at fostering peace in parts of Africa and beyond, he said. He cited the examples of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and the Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic, as well as the effort towards the formation of a southern hemisphere free from nuclear weapons. As a troop contributor to peacekeeping operations in Angola and Mozambique, Brazil had shown its steadfast support for national reconciliation in those two nations.
He said the Council must invest its moral authority and use its entire gamut of diplomatic resources to promote peace and stability. The establishment of a peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic could be seen as a positive development after three years of reluctance by the Council to authorize the deployment of peacekeepers in the continent. The United Nations operation in Sierra Leone could be cited as further evidence of the Council's engagement in Africa.
Additional work was necessary to enhance the capacity of African States to develop their own mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution, he said. The Council should also focus on the question of the illegal flow of arms in Africa and strengthening the effectiveness of arms embargoes imposed by the Council. The unabated flow of arms to Africa reduced the prospects for peace and squandered precious resources that could otherwise be put at the service of development. The international community must also rely on the active involvement of other relevant United Nations bodies. The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, in particular, must discharge their responsibilities regarding the ideas in the Secretary-General's report.
He emphasized the need for an intense and urgent diplomatic effort to reverse the present sombre scenario in Angola. The continued lack of observance of the Lusaka Protocol by Jonas Savimbi was unacceptable. The complete demilitarization of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the completion of the process of extension of State administration were essential conditions for the peace process to be placed
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back on track. Mr. Savimbi's persistent defiance of Security Council decisions could not be tolerated.
TANG JIAXUAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that despite the mainstream pursuit in Africa of peace, stability, development and cooperation, local conflicts had broken out, one after another, since last May. Those had adversely impacted unity, stability, security and development and had aroused the concern of the international community.
Peace and stability in Africa were part and parcel of peace, stability and development in the world, he said. China was deeply concerned about the recent conflicts and sincerely hoped that the relevant African countries would consider the fundamental and long-term interest of their States and their populations, and properly settle those disputes.
For its part, the Security Council had an inescapable obligation to maintain peace and security in Africa, he said. In that regard, the United Nations should strengthen its coordination and cooperation with the OAU in resolving the conflicts. It should also earnestly consider the reasonable demands of the African countries and support their efforts in maintaining regional peace and security and defending their State sovereignty and territorial integrity.
His Government called upon the international community to support the efforts of the regional organizations of Africa to prevent and resolve conflicts, he said. Further, the world community should provide the necessary material and financial assistance to Africa's security and peacekeeping mechanism, with no political conditions attached. With the world now moving more rapidly towards multipolarity, his country would, as always, strengthen its friendly relations and cooperation with the African countries and further contribute to the promotion of peace, stability and development there.
ROBERTO ROJAS LOPEZ, Minister for External Relations and Worship of Costa Rica, said the Security Council and the international community had developed a common approach to address the needs of Africa. Africa's regional leadership in that regard had proven efficient and decisive. In Africa, the concepts of peace and security encompassed social and economic factors. Any attempt to bring peace to Africa should address those factors. Resorting to force had never helped solve the problems of the continent and had instead only caused more suffering. Only through serious dialogue could pressing problems be solved.
The international community should not seek to impose alien solutions to problems, he added. African men and women could devise their own responses in order to bring peace and prosperity. A new vision was needed for policy towards Africa, which would encompass a new degree of understanding. In the months of work by the Council on Africa, it was clear that it possessed the
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sufficient political will and commitment to tackle problems in Africa. However, it was now time for action. Demilitarization, cutting military expenditures, and restoring human rights were at the root of conflicts that beset the continent and were factors that needed to be directly addressed.
HUBERT VEDRINE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said that while the contagious effect of the crises in Africa warranted a greater role by the regional organizations, the Security Council must retain primary responsibility for international peacekeeping and security operations in Africa and elsewhere. Indeed, despite the bitter experiences of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), the Council was right in not abdicating its responsibilities and in establishing peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic and Sierra Leone, as well as trying to maintain the Mission in Angola in an effort to save the peace process.
He said that the Secretary-General rightly insisted on the Organization's need for the financial, material and human resources required for intervention. Peacekeeping could not depend solely on shifting coalitions and optional financing. His Government, for its part, would continue to contribute significantly towards strengthening the peacekeeping capabilities of the African countries. In that context, good coordination between the United Nations and the OAU and subregional organizations took on special importance. In Africa, as elsewhere, the Council must retain control of the operations it authorized, in accordance with its responsibilities.
He said that the particular nature of the present conflicts called for a comprehensive approach. The regional crisis involving six or seven States on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had demonstrated the need for an international peace conference in the Great Lakes region, which would permit all the protagonists to address and try to resolve together the problems of security, refugees, minorities, while laying the groundwork for regional cooperation. He hoped that the countries concerned would commit themselves to that path and he would support all efforts in that direction.
With regard to refugees, he said that the Secretary-General rightly stated that it was essential to guarantee their rights and safety, ensure the security of the countries who received them, and prevent them from being used by one or another party as a pretext for political or military action. With illegal arm flows helping transform tensions into armed confrontations, the Council must urge restraint on the part of supplier countries and users and enhance the effectiveness of its arms embargoes, which were often "a dead letter", as recent history had shown.
While the Secretary-General rightly emphasized the need for sustainable economic development and the development of society, how could one not be worried about the sharp reduction in aid to Africa in the past few years? he
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asked. Development assistance remained a vital component to the policies pursued by the African countries. That applied, in particular, to the least developed countries. For its part, his Government would maintain its ODA. Along with its European Union partners, his country had sought broader access to world trade for Africa. The choice did not have to be between aid and commerce -- both were indispensable.
CASIMIR OYE MBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Gabon, said there was an imperative need for an early warning system to address conflicts in Africa, as proposed in the Secretary General's report. His country was making every effort to host the Headquarters of such an early warning system. There had been a number of regional and subregional meetings between leaders in Africa that had brought together members of civil society, experts on political freedoms and security experts to address problems. It had been suggested that the establishment of a subregional parliament in Africa could strengthen regional peace.
There was also currently a special summit of heads of State taking place in Africa, designed to find a solution to recent crises besetting the continent, including the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he added. That meeting was a result of the trust and friendship between leaders. Yet, political actions alone could not guarantee durable peace and security. Such efforts could not succeed without addressing economic and social problems, which were the real cause of turmoil. A comprehensive response to the Secretary General's report was needed. It was now time to move beyond mere declarations of intent.
MOMODOU LAMIN SEDAT JOBE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, said his country was deeply saddened by the present plight of the African continent. Although rich in resources and culture, the African people continued to suffer greatly. In dealing with the complex conflict situations in Africa, it was not enough to address the symptoms. The root causes must be addressed, which required a coordinated and comprehensive approach. That should involve the entire United Nations system.
The United Nations must not let the Rwanda situation repeat itself elsewhere, he said. The Council must act where and when it should. It was no longer justifiable, if it ever was, to use the financial cost -- or fear of it -- as a guiding principle for intervention. In order to avert humanitarian catastrophes, intervention was often necessary. The United Nations should, therefore, consider ways of providing the necessary resources for peacekeeping operations. The United Nations should also enhance its capacity for early action, as a swift response to conflict situations was necessary, if catastrophes were to be avoided.
MASAHIKO KOUMURA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that the question of the role that Africa would play in the new era required the urgent
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attention of the United Nations. If world peace and prosperity were to be realized, the African situation could not be neglected. The Secretary-General had analysed the sources of African conflicts and had made broad recommendations for their prevention and resolution. The Council had the opportunity to enunciate its own commitment to Africa and engage in an earnest debate.
The issues of conflict prevention and development in Africa were inextricably linked, he said. Based on the initiatives of the African countries themselves, the Council should work towards solving the economic and social problems, which were the root of the conflicts. When conflicts did break out, the Council should promptly promote the political peace process. Finally, the Council should prepare the foundation for post-conflict social reintegration and economic development. He hoped the international community would cooperate as partners, both spiritually and materially, in devising a framework to ensure the effective efforts of the African nations.
He said that the report of the Tokyo International Conference on Preventive Strategy had recommended measures which could be immediately undertaken by both the United Nations and regional organizations. Among them were initiatives aimed at enhancing Africa's preventive capacity, especially its early warning capability, as well as the effective monitoring of the accumulation and transfer of small arms into conflict areas. In addition, the plan of action to be adopted at the second Tokyo International Conference on African Development, scheduled for next month, should emphasize the importance of conflict prevention and post- conflict reconstruction in securing the stability which was the very foundation of development.
He said that while it was important for African countries to develop new strategies to address development and conflict issues, Japan wished to further its efforts towards crystallizing those strategies. That, in turn, would solidify a strategic and ongoing partnership between the countries of Africa, the world community and the various United Nations bodies. The international community should take up the historic challenge before it, namely, the achievement of peace and development in Africa.
BONAYA ADHI GODANA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, said that, in the recent past, many had doubted the United Nations commitment to Africa. He hoped that the current reassessment by the Council with regard to its Charter obligations would make it possible for the Council to avoid the indecisiveness witnessed with regard to situations in Somalia, Rwanda, Zaire and the Republic of the Congo. He urged the Council to establish a clear criteria for authorizing peacekeeping and enforcement action whenever situations arose, regardless of their geographical locations.
He said that Africa had the highest number of internally displaced persons and refugees. It was a real problem, not only from a human rights standpoint, but also because of the sheer dimensions of the situation. It
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constituted a threat to international peace and security. A portion of that displaced population constituted what was now called "armed labour". Despite the danger of the problem, no meaningful action had been taken by the international community to resolve the crisis in a comprehensive manner. He challenged the members of the Council and international community to summon sufficient political will to deal with the problem.
He supported holding an international conference on all aspects of illicit arms trade. He also supported the strengthening of the region's economic and social foundation with assistance for development, which was an indispensable complement to the policies of African States. Steps should also be taken to increase market access for African exports through the removal of trade barriers and other protectionist policies.
He expressed concern that the number of conflicts in Africa was increasing, citing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ethiopia/Eritrea border dispute, the internal conflict in Guinea-Bissau and the fragile situation in Angola. The bombing incidents in Africa last month were also cause for concern. In the Kenya incident, 437 people had died and more than 5,000 had suffered debilitating injuries. Acts of terrorism, for whatever ideology or justification, should not be tolerated.
JAIME GAMA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said that weapons proliferation was one of the most devastating scourges currently affecting Africa. The international community should mobilize its collective efforts effectively to overcome that problem. Much more had to be done to stop the flow of weapons, particularly small arms, across borders from conflict to conflict. It would be useful to reduce defence budgets in Africa, wherever possible, as well as to carry out a reassessment of the objectives of bilateral military cooperation programmes with developed countries.
The wounds that affected Africa were particularly deep in certain parts of the continent, he said. Some of those were long-standing and did not show signs of improvement, while others were more recent and could spread out of control. It was now time to transform rhetoric into reality and to choose peace and development, instead of war and selfishness. The will must be found to opt for change in Africa. The comprehensive approach towards Africa recommended by the Secretary-General relied on an act of will of the international community. The international community should meet that challenge.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the way to settle the conflagrations that continued to blaze throughout Africa was through overcoming the chronic political, ethnic and socio-economic problems there. He supported proposals that the Council resume in December its informal discussions of the progress made in the implementation of decisions.
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Without secure and lasting resolution of local conflicts, it would be impossible to ensure that African countries entered the mainstream of sustainable and dynamic development, he continued. The establishment of an effective African system geared for both conflict prevention and resolution implementation of the objectives related to post-conflict rehabilitation should be a key element of the strategy aimed at strengthening peace. Steps made by the Africans should be supported by the authority and potential of the United Nations.
It was also important to use the provisions of the Charter that encouraged regional organizations to show greater initiative in the field of preventive diplomacy and peaceful settlement of disputes, he said. At the same time, the Charter stipulates that the Council initiate peacekeeping operations and that principle should be complied with. Military operations conducted by regional structures, especially with the use of force, should only be allowed if they were explicitly authorized by the Council.
His Government was elaborating various options on how to broaden its practical involvement in strengthening the African peacemaking potential, he said. His country was ready to provide: transport and technical support of relief projects; training for rescue team members and peacekeeping personnel; and experts in demining.
BORIS FRLEC, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, said a large part of the solution to the current African problems lay in recognizing the intrinsic link between the promotion of economic growth and the construction of durable peace. That was also one of the most powerful messages of the Secretary- General's report on Africa. It was important to recognize that the international community had an obligation to enhance the capacity of African governments to manage their economies effectively. Many countries in Africa were still hobbled by a lack of adequate basic infrastructure and severe fiscal problems. International involvement, especially by financial institutions, was also required to address the pressing issue of unsustainable debt. Action in that area would contribute greatly to the restoration of stability in Africa.
His Government supported important new ideas that were being advanced to strengthen the effectiveness of arms embargoes imposed by the Security Council and to stem illicit arms flows to and within Africa, he said. The adoption of specific proposals for the strengthening of African peacekeeping potential was also positive. It was also important to establish a credible and effective rapid response capacity, backed by sufficient political will and the practical assistance of the international community.
LENA HJELM-WALLÉN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said that a heavy agenda was before the Council owing to events unfolding in Africa. While crises and security threats there dominated the Council's attention, there were positive developments that should be remembered, such as the
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greatly improved health and education systems, as well as democratic elections in a majority of States.
In defining the common responsibility for international peace and security in Africa, she said the Council should consider how it had met that responsibility, and look ahead to what it could do differently and better. First and foremost, the Council must summon the necessary political will and be ready to take action in Africa and elsewhere, from early warning, prevention and political persuasion to peacekeeping and, if necessary, to Chapter VII action, as well as post-conflict peace-building.
She said that the Council should develop a new generation of peacekeeping operations, with better balance and coordination between military, political, civilian police and other civilian components. When new or expanded peacekeeping operations were needed, Council members must be ready to reach decisions without undue delay and to take financial responsibility for them. It must also support African action for regional security, not as a way of minimizing its own involvement, but in order to ensure sustainable regional support for peaceful solutions. It should also actively follow up the operations that it had mandated.
Both the Council and the United Nations system must close the gap between political and humanitarian action, she said. The heavy burden borne by Africa of refugees and internally displaced people, as well as of landmines and the proliferation of small arms, were serious threats to human security. While every State must ensure the well-being of its people, the Council should do its utmost to ensure that the measures taken in that regard serve also as stepping stones to long-term political solutions.
Finally, the Council should ensure that the United Nations system, together with African organizations, gave full priority to conflict prevention, she said. That was not only a moral imperative, but a political, humanitarian and economic necessity.
Ms. Hjelm-Wallén, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, speaking in her capacity as President of the Council, then read the following statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1998/29:
"The Security Council met on 24 September 1998, at the level of Foreign Ministers, in accordance with its resolution 1170 (1998) of 28 May 1998, to assess progress in achieving peace and security in Africa since the last Ministerial Meeting on 25 September 1997. It recalls the statement of its President (S/PRST/1997/46) of 25 September 1997 and reiterates its appreciation of the Secretary-General for his report of 13 April 1998 (A/52/871-S/1998/318).
Security Council - 16 - Press Release SC/6578 3931st Meeting (AM) 24 September 1998
"The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to Africa in the areas of conflict prevention and the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with its responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations. It also reaffirms the principles of the political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States.
"The Security Council underlines that peaceful societies rest upon respect for fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person. It recognizes the close linkage between the promotion of economic and social development and the prevention of conflict. It stresses that the quest for peace in Africa requires a comprehensive, concerted and determined approach, encompassing the eradication of poverty, the promotion of democracy, sustainable development and respect for human rights, as well as conflict prevention and resolution, including peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance. It underlines that genuine political will is necessary, in Africa and beyond, to achieve durable results towards these ends, and stresses the urgent need for Member States, the United Nations system, including the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, the international financial institutions and other relevant organizations to continue to consider appropriate action in response to the comprehensive recommendations set out by the Secretary-General in his report.
"The Security Council recognizes the positive development in Africa in the past year and welcomes progress achieved by African States in promoting democratization, economic reform, the protection of human rights and sustainable development. It commends efforts by African States and regional and subregional organizations, in particular the Organization of African Unity, to resolve conflicts by peaceful means. It welcomes progress made in Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic, and in the peace process in Burundi. It urges all States and relevant bodies to provide financial and technical support to strengthen African regional and subregional arrangements for conflict prevention, the maintenance of peace and security and dispute settlement. It calls for an enhanced partnership between the United Nations and African regional and subregional organizations in support of these efforts.
"The Security Council expresses its continuing concern over the number and intensity of, and the interrelationship among, conflicts in Africa, and especially at the emergence of new conflicts during the past year. The border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the resurgence of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the impasse in the peace process in Angola, the continued violence in Sierra Leone, and the complex emergencies in Somalia and Sudan, among others, cause grave concern. These situations, which in some cases threaten the stability of large parts of the continent, call for concerted action by African States, the international community and the United Nations system to prevent further tragedy.
Security Council - 17 - Press Release SC/6578 3931st Meeting (AM) 24 September 1998
"The Security Council urgently calls on African States and all parties concerned to demonstrate the political will to settle their disputes by peaceful, rather than military, means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and to respect international humanitarian law and the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of States in the region. It also encourages States in the region to continue to improve the implementation of good governance and undertake the various reforms needed to promote economic growth. It calls upon the international community to assist those efforts initiated by African States and regional and subregional organizations aimed at such goals.
"For its part, the Security Council expresses its renewed commitment to contributing to conflict resolution in Africa. In this context, it recalls its decisions during the past year to authorize two new United Nations peacekeeping operations, in the Central African Republic and Sierra Leone, to assist efforts towards peace and national reconciliation. It also expresses its determination to improve further its ability to prevent conflicts, and to make its responses to conflicts more efficient and effective, and underlines its support for measures taken within the United Nations system to strengthen post conflict peace-building efforts.
"The Security Council, based on the recommendations of its ad hoc Working Group established pursuant to its resolution 1170 (1998), has already begun to take concrete steps as part of a wider, comprehensive response to the recommendations put forward by the Secretary-General. It has taken action to help strengthen support for regional and subregional initiatives, as well as to enhance coordination between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in the areas of conflict prevention and the maintenance of peace. It has also taken action in order to strengthen the effectiveness of arms embargoes imposed by the Council and addressed the need to support the strengthening of African peacekeeping capacity.
"The Security Council encourages the ad hoc Working Group to continue its work, in accordance with is mandate, and to elaborate further concrete recommendations to the Council, in particular on the need to stem illicit arms flows to and in Africa and with regard to measures to assist host Governments in Africa in maintaining the security and neutrality of refugee camps and to enhance the ability of the Council to monitor activities authorized by it, but carried out by Member States or coalitions of Member States.
"The Security Council, recognizing that the challenge of achieving peace and security in Africa is a continuous process, will continue to assess progress in promoting peace and security in Africa at the level of Foreign Ministers, on a biennial basis, in accordance with its resolution 1170 (1998)."
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