21 September 1999

Press Release



In Open Briefing of Council, President Appeals for Peacekeeping Force in Democratic Republic of Congo

"There is a perception that the United Nations, and in particular the Security Council, is usually slow and reluctant to support peace efforts in Africa", said the President of Zambia, Frederick J.T. Chiluba, this afternoon, as he briefed the Council on the situation in Africa. While Africa was responsible for its own problems, the Council had the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, he added.

President Chiluba, who chaired the year-long regional mediation effort to achieve a ceasefire agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, appealed to the Council to send a peacekeeping force to that country with an appropriate mandate and size. He expressed concern that the Council seemed more forthcoming when dealing with peace efforts in other regions, even though Africa formed the largest component of United Nations membership.

He asked the Council to: quickly dispatch a technical survey team; provide adequate resources for the peacekeeping; help in the mobilization of humanitarian assistance; and assist with resources for the economic reconstruction and development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He stressed that cost should not be the determining factor in establishing a peacekeeping force.

The Foreign Minister of Gabon, Jean Ping, said Africans would not understand a delay in the establishment of a peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Calling for urgent action to ameliorate humanitarian crises, he expressed concern that refugees and displaced persons in Africa did not carry the same weight as refugees in other continents.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the Council had been neither swift nor successful in addressing the problems of Africa, but that was not due to a lack of willingness. The Council must work with African leaders and have a structure for addressing the problems. The territory was vast and the approach of the leaders was not always united. Moreover, there was a need to ensure that the parties to the conflict lived up to their publicly expressed political obligations.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6731 4047th Meeting (PM) 21 September 1999

The representative of Canada said an early challenge would be how to assist in the return of an estimated 700,000 internally displaced persons and another 300,000 in other countries. The safety of international personnel must be assured. The promotion of human rights was critical.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain also responded to the briefing by President Chiluba. Other statements were made by the representatives of France, China, Argentina, United States, Gambia, Malaysia, Slovenia, Brazil and the Netherlands.

The meeting, which began at 3:43 p.m., was adjourned at 5:28 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Africa. It was scheduled to hear a briefing by the President of Zambia, Frederick J.T. Chiluba.


FREDERICK J.T. CHILUBA (Zambia) said the Great Lakes region, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in particular, had recently been ravaged by wars in which thousands of people had died and hundreds of thousands of others had been made homeless. After a full year of mediation by governments of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), however, the combatants in the Democratic Republic had chosen the way of peace to resolve their differences. He reviewed efforts undertaken by the heads of State of the region and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to find a solution to the conflict.

Realizing that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had both and internal and external dimension, he continued, the heads of State agreed on five basic principles: an immediate cessation of hostilities; respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic; the withdrawal of foreign forces from the Democratic Republic; the need to address the security concerns of the Democratic Republic and the neighbouring countries; and the need to broaden the political space in the Democratic Republic and to facilitate an internal political dialogue, which would take into account the interests of all Congolese people.

He said the holding of meetings by the Political Committee and the Joint Military Committee of the Democratic Republic after the last signatures were obtained was a clear indication that the implementation of ceasefire agreement had begun in earnest. With the support of the international community, the implementation process would proceed smoothly. No one, including the United Nations, should have any security fears of concerns in the Democratic Republic. He welcomed the quick reaction by the United Nations in sending a team of military liaison personnel to the Democratic Republic and some neighbouring countries. He hoped that other phases regarding deployment of United Nations personnel would also be undertaken soon.

While it was necessary for Africa to take responsibility for its own problems, he said, the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security lay with the Council. He appealed to the Council to send a peacekeeping force to the Democratic Republic with an appropriate mandate and size to tackle the complex and unique problems in that country. The ceasefire agreement prescribed tasks to be tackled by the United Nations peacekeeping force that went beyond Chapter VI of the Charter.

Cost should not be placed above everything else when determining the mandate and size of the peacekeeping force, he said. He was disappointed that whenever the international community dealt with issues pertaining to Africa, cost was always the determining factor and an obstacle to the effective involvement of the Organization. In other regions of the world, where conflicts had occurred, no expense had been spared in the pursuit of peace. The Council needed to do the same for the Democratic Republic and for Africa. He appealed to the United Nations to contribute generously towards meeting the humanitarian needs of the Democratic Republic.

He requested the Council to: authorize and support the deployment of a peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic with appropriate mandate and size, based on the assessed needs on the ground; quickly dispatch the technical survey team to the Democratic Republic, in addition to the military liaison team; make available adequate resources for the Democratic Republic peacekeeping mission; and extend necessary and adequate support to facilitate the process of internal Congolese dialogue. He also asked the Council to help in the mobilization of humanitarian assistance to Congolese refugees and internally displaced persons and to assist with resources for economic reconstruction and development.

He concluded by reminding the Council of the perception that the United Nations, and in particular the Council, was usually slow and reluctant to support peace efforts in Africa. He hoped the Council would act with due proportion and understanding of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Response of Council Members

SHAIKH MOHAMMED BIN MUBARAK AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said he hoped all parties to the problem would be committed to the Lusaka agreement, to which there was no alternative. He looked forward to the Council focusing its attention on alleviating tensions in Africa, and hoped it would put into effect practical steps to bring stability to the continent. The time had come for the international community to find suitable solutions to the strife in Africa, allowing African States to devote attention to their economies and the exploitation of their resources. Also, the international community should redouble its efforts to alleviate suffering of civilians who were the victims of military conflicts, particularly in the context of the recent statement made by the Secretary-General to the Council.

ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) expressed pleasure that the meeting was occurring in a public setting, allowing the largest number of Member States to hear issues of key importance. The Government of Zambia, and President Chiluba in particular, deserved praise for its efforts. For several years, Zambia had played an important role in the peace process in southern Africa. The accords, of vital importance to the people of the region, must now be put into effect. For that, the international community had an important role to play. The Secretary-General should keep the Council closely apprised on his thoughts regarding United Nations support for the Lusaka accord.

One early challenge would be how to assist in the return of an estimated 700,000 internally displaced persons and another 300,000 in other countries, he said. The safety of international humanitarian personnel must be assured, and the promotion of human rights and the demobilization of soldiers -- particularly of child soldiers –- were critical. Regarding the time frame for deploying a peacekeeping operation, he asked when such deployment would be feasible and necessary.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), stressing the primary responsibility of regional organizations, in particular of the SADC in Africa, said the Community and the President of Zambia had played their roles in achieving the agreement. The continent's responsibility was correlated by the Council's ability to support the efforts of African countries. The Council had adopted an additional resolution as soon as it learned of the agreement of the Lusaka accord. Now, that accord must be implemented.

The United Nations had already sent liaison officers, which was merely a first stage, he continued. As President Chiluba had said, an appraisal and evaluation mission to the region must be deployed to envisage the next stage, which would

involve sending ceasefire monitors, with a view to deploying a real peacekeeping operation. France stood ready to give its full support to such an operation. It was good that the Council had taken speedy action in the crises in Kosovo and East Timor, but it must respond with the same speed to crises in Africa.

Since the joint commission had now been set up, he wondered whether it would be possible to verify information that there were still troop movements. That might have consequences for the full implementation of the Lusaka accord.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the Lusaka process was the basis of what the Council would wish to do regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council had not been either swift or successful in addressing the problems of Africa, but that was not due a lack of willingness. There was a need to work with the leaders of Africa and to have a structure for addressing the problems. The territory was vast and the approach of the continent leaders was not always united. The realities must be considered, such as resource requirements and the timing of completing certain tasks.

There was need to ensure that the parties to the conflict lived up to their publicly expressed and political obligations, he said. Was there a role that outside players -- particularly the Council -- could play in ensuring the players stuck to their obligations? he asked. Should such endeavours be constant? Should African leaders take the lead on that? Was there a need for an international conference to bring together the countries of the Great Lakes and set a longer- term strategy for the countries of the region?

QIN HUASUN (China) said his country had always supported the just demands of the African peoples, and supported the efforts by African countries to strengthen their unity and cooperation. The Council should cooperate with regional organizations in Africa. Without President Chiluba's skills, the accord would not have been signed. The United Nations and the international community should pay more attention to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was at the heart of Africa. The conflict there concerned the peace and stability of the continent as a whole. The signing of the accord had begun the peace process, but full implementation was a difficult process, and it required the international community's active participation. Without investing the necessary resources to address the root causes, a more tragic cost would be paid.

JEAN PING, Foreign Minister of Gabon, said he agreed with the points raised by President Chiluba. His statement had greatly contributed to solving the problem in Africa. The effort that he had led constituted the first time that 10 African countries had been involved in the solving such a problem. All the heads of State in the region had made contributions under President Chiluba's leadership.

He welcomed the proposals made by President Chiluba and hoped the Council and the Secretary-General would be able to put them into action. Africa would not understand a delay in the establishment of a peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also awaited urgent action with regard to humanitarian needs. He expressed concern that refugees and displaced persons in Africa did not carry the same weight as refugees in other continents.

ANA MARIA RAMIREZ (Argentina) said the information provided by the President of Zambia was important, because he had played an important role in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It gave the Council a clear orientation on the situation. Regarding his request for an appropriate mandate, she said that quality was the key to the success of any

peacekeeping operation. She also supported his request for help in the mobilization of humanitarian assistance to Congolese refugees and internally displaced persons. Another important aspect emphasized by the President was assistance for the economic reconstruction and development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Council could not disregard those principles, she said. There was complex work ahead for African leaders and international community, as well. By helping the Democratic Republic, the international community would be helping all of Africa. She asked President Chiluba to outline the essential elements to achieving stability in Africa.

A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said he agreed with the remarks by the representative of the United Kingdom regarding a practical and realistic mandate for peacekeeping operations. He noted that the Congress was involved in United States’ decisions in that regard, and that would be the case with any peacekeeping operation. Interaction and coordination must be improved between the Council, the OAU and the SADC. The technical assessment mission should be detached as soon as possible.

He said there should be a hard-headed evaluation of the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so that there could be a further deployment of United Nations personnel. There were still areas of the Democratic Republic where the situation had not been secure in the recent past. He would like further information about the role of the Joint Military Commission. Did the President have advice or observations about how disarmament might work? he asked.

BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said that while there was hope for peace, the international community could not rest on its laurels. He was confident that the much-needed cooperation between the Council and Africa would be placed on a firmer footing, and that the Council would not shy away from giving Africa a helping hand.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said open Council meetings, such as that being held today, were important to the process of transparency in the Council.

He hoped that there would be an early deployment of military personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He looked forward to setting up a peacekeeping operation that would have an appropriate mandate with adequate numbers. He also hoped that it would be set up expeditiously, as had been in other areas. He also hoped President Chiluba's proposals would be seriously considered by the Council. He asked President Chiluba if it was realistic to think that the Interhamwe could be demobilized in six months.

DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said the Council had entered a period in which the unity of Council members was contributing to the success of the work of the Council. The Council would not be successful unless it contributed to amelioration of the core problems in Africa. Short-term tasks ahead included making the Joint Military Committee fully operational. Among the long-term tasks was the establishment of regional conferences that would produce ideas on how to achieve broader cooperation in the region. The Council needed further and strengthened cooperation with the OAU.

ENIO CORDEIRO (Brazil) said it was appropriate that the meeting was open, so the entire United Nations membership could take part. Commending the efforts of President Chiluba to bring peace to the region, he said the agreement was the starting point for the region's reintegration and rehabilitation. The Council had responded by dispatching liaison officers, and the six elements outlined by the President would be taken into consideration. He agreed that there was no reason that conflict in Africa should be dealt with less effectively than in other regions of the globe. What was the immediate agenda of the Political Committee? he asked. How did the President envisage the organization of the international conference on the Great Lakes.

The President of the Council, PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands), speaking as his country's representative, said some Council members had referred to the distinction between the African role and the non-African role. Some tasks were in better hands with African actors, while others would be better dealt with by outside actors. Based on its experience with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Council had grown accustomed to think of African peacekeepers partly financed by non-African countries. President Chiluba had called for additional resources, but had not mentioned personnel. Did African countries, in general, and the signatories of the agreement, in particular, envisage a force of African troops, or was its composition an open question? he asked.

Responding to the Council, President CHILUBA said it was difficult to expect any conflict to end immediately after the signing of an agreement. In some cases, Nobel Peace prizes had been given, while the peace process went another way. It was not only in Africa that "we cannot be sure". In 1973, Yassir Arafat had offered an olive branch to the Israelis, saying he was ready to negotiate, but if that failed, his gun was in his pocket. In that conflict, agreements were still being made.

He said he had gotten involved in the negotiation between the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Government of Angola in what was known as the Lusaka Protocol. Regarding the commitment of the parties to the signed agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it had been the product of many hours of work, and not one of the parties to it had expressed concern or doubt about its contents. Rather, it was their own agreement, and the way in which it had been negotiated offered hope that those involved would hold to it as their own. The parties were committed and would remain so.

Canada's representative had spoken about participation in the internal debate and the United Nations role, he said. In the agreement, there was provision for the internal debate. Internal debate was a matter that had been advanced by the rebels. They had sought broader political space, and a more democratized system of government. The internal dialogue was a matter with which all parties would be concerned. The choice of facilitator was another matter requiring agreement of the parties concerned. The OAU would play an important role in that area. He had appealed to the United Nations to play a role in providing the OAU with the experts to help make the question of internal dialogue successful.

The Democratic Republic had been ravaged by war, yet, it had vast resources that had yet to be exploited, he said. The United Nations should play a role in ensuring that development took a particular path.

The safety of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers in the Democratic Republic was assured, he said. The Joint Military Commission and the Political Committee would work in the spirit of collective responsibility. The members of those entities would identify obstacles to peace. The two sides knew that the Congolese

people were "war fatigued" and wanted development. "I can assure those present that there will be security of personnel in the peacekeeping role, as well as those attending to humanitarian efforts", he said.

The Joint Military Commission and the Political Committee had met and done their initial work, he said. On 10 October, the next Commission meeting would be held. Things were moving, and the procedures for ensuring the peace process would be followed. A technical survey team must assess the ground in order for other efforts to follow suit.

The Great Lakes region wanted to cooperate, he continued. Africa had created structures through which to collaborate with the international community, such as ECOWAS and the SADC. It had been said that Africa created its problems then turned to other countries. But in the current case, an African solution had been sought. Europe was in an advanced stage economically and politically; its help was being sought. Slowly, Africa was saying, "let us take responsibility". If it had to ask for help, that was to supplement the efforts it was making. The commitment was there.

It was the Council's primary responsibility to ensure international peace and security, he said. The United States and the Security Council had been steadfast regarding the long-standing Middle East problem. That same commitment was needed for peace in Africa. Regarding the Middle East, agreements had been signed and broken, yet, the process continued to advance. Africa wanted the same commitment. The Council must play that same role to ensure that peace was secured in Africa. The OAU was addressing the matter of the Conference for peace in the Great Lakes region, he said.

"We are indebted to the United Nations", he continued. The Organization had a role to play in the continued search for peace in Africa. Noting that countries going to East Timor were demanding an appropriate mandate to deal with the situation effectively on the ground, he said an appropriate mandate allowed a flexible response. The best way to end problems in Africa was by widening political space and democratizing government systems. There was no universal model for that, although there were general characteristics of democracy. When people lived in poverty, democracy was a chimera. Therefore, external debt should be eradicated.

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