30 November 1999

Press Release



Two-Day Discussion Ends; Some Speakers Urge More Decisive Action, Others Caution on Need to Respect National Sovereignty

The Security Council this afternoon concluded its open debate on its role in preventing armed conflict in which, over the course of two days, 38 speakers expressed a diverse array of views ranging from the need to address the roots of conflict, such as poverty, to the relationship between the principles of maintaining international peace and security and that of States’ sovereignty.

The Council President, Danilo Turk of Slovenia, speaking as representative of his country, said the discussion had been an important device for the gradual creation of such an international ethos of conflict prevention, and generally reaffirmed support for a proactive, prevention-oriented Council. The Council’s powers were most often used in situations of imminent armed conflicts, which meant at times of particular sensitivity and risk, where States and others involved could be reluctant to accept the Council’s intervention, he noted. The argument of preservation of sovereignty could be used irrationally, even to the extent of actually endangering sovereignty in a potential armed conflict, which could be prevented by timely action by the Council. Limitations on preventive action must be avoided as they would harm both the United Nations and sovereign Member States.

Egypt’s representative said the Council must respect territorial integrity and the non-intervention in the internal affairs of States. It must obtain the approval of States that would be affected by its decisions before adopting such measures. The Council’s actions with regard to the culture of prevention called for close scrutiny. Intervention must not impact the territorial integrity or sovereignty of a sovereign state under any circumstances. The Council was often impeded from playing its role in preventing conflict because of its own obstacles, such as the veto and the lack of transparency.

Zambia’s representative said the Council should give equal treatment to all conflicts. By authorizing of 6,000 military personnel for Sierra Leone but 9,100 for East Timor it created the impression that a double standard was being employed. The Council’s support would be imperative for the successful implementation of the ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it was not moving quickly enough to authorize the second stage of deployment of military observers. The conflict was complex and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the largest land mass on the continent, so the force mandated should be several times larger than that authorized for East Timor.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6761 Resumed 4072nd Meeting (PM) 30 November 1999

The representative of Bangladesh said there was considerable international public opinion behind the demand that the Council play an "avant garde role" in matters of international peace and security. The Charter had not envisaged today’s complex inter-State conflicts. The preventive measures prescribed in Chapter VI were subject to consent of the parties involved, but what happened when the parties remained determined to fight? he asked. Perhaps it was time to rethink the way the question of peace and security were addressed.

The Security Council should build closer ties with the Economic and Social Council, perhaps through regular joint briefings and occasional joint meetings, said the representative of Croatia. The two organs played complementary roles in building a culture of prevention. The Economic and Social Council, with its agenda concerning poverty eradication and social development, was best equipped to identify the root causes of potential conflicts to and act preemptively. He also noted that while international relations were traditionally based on the sovereignty of States, today’s interdependence might make reducing such sovereignty a rational choice -- but only if based on the principle of equality of States.

Norway’s representative stressed the need for continued efforts to counter the culture of impunity for serious violations of humanitarian law. He urged all states to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The existence of a permanent global institution of that nature would enhance deterrence against heinous crimes.

Iraq’s representative said that because of United States influence in the Council, the Council's credibility had seriously deteriorated over the last 10 years. The Council must work for all Member States, and be reformed to include an expanded membership. The Assembly should have the right to hold the Council responsible for resolutions that violated the Charter. The Council had done nothing to respond to the most recent United States aggression against Iraq. He stressed the need to address the root causes of conflict, such as poverty and underdevelopment. Even in the United States, there were many homeless people and millions lacked health care. Funds spent on acts of intervention would be better used for development.

During the debate, many speakers expressed dissatisfaction with the Council’s working methods. In particular, they noted that the presidential statement, to be read out after the debate concluded, had already been approved by Council members -– even before the views of non-Council members had been heard.

The representatives of Liechtenstein, Nigeria, New Zealand, Senegal, Iran, Pakistan and Ukraine also spoke.

The meeting began at 11:19 a.m. and adjourned at 2:15 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Council met this morning to continue its debate on the role of the Security Council in the prevention of armed conflict.


AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the United Nations Charter required the involvement of all major bodies of the Organization, each within its own competence, to combat the threats to peace. Poverty and ignorance were two major causes of conflict, but remedying them fell within the purview of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. The Council should deal with the issue only within the context of the checks and balances established between it and the other bodies of the Organization.

He said the Council must respect territorial integrity and non-intervention in the internal affairs of States. It must obtain the approval of States that would be affected by its decisions, before adopting such measures. Basic to the Charter was the necessity to observe the dividing line between Chapters VI and VII. If the Council was about to make recommendations or to implement specific measures, it must give the concerned parties an opportunity to present their views to the Council. Moreover, any States that believed the measures would harm their interests should also have the right to express their concerns.

If the Council failed to fulfil its obligations, the only resort was the Assembly, he said. He was astonished by the approach of some countries, which avoided the role of the Assembly completely, particularly since those countries had resorted to that approach when it was in their interest.

Continuing, he said the actions of the Council to develop its role with regard to the culture of prevention called for close scrutiny. The Council should work in accordance with the role accepted by the international community. It should not take up concepts that did not enjoy full acceptance by the Member States. Of particular concern were the concepts of humanitarian intervention or humanitarian security.

If a decision to intervene was taken, there should be no distinction between one region and another, or one country and another, he said. That principle was not currently in force. Also, once a decision was taken, the Council must be determined to carry out the task in the face of any obstacles. No operation should be terminated because of casualties or risks. The peacekeeping force should feel that the international community was backing it and monitoring its performance, and that any military action taken against it would have consequences.

Continuing, he said that intervention must not impact the territorial integrity or sovereignty of a sovereign State under any circumstances. It was of great importance that the Council not rush to deal with a specific situation on the basis of a predetermined belief.

He went on to say that many of the obstacles that prevented the United Nations from taking up its role in the maintenance of international peace stemmed from the Council itself. The role of the veto precluded the Council from undertaking its responsibility. The lack of transparency was another obstacle. The theory that the Charter was a flexible document was taboo. Acting outside the Charter would not necessarily resolve the problems that the international community faced today.

Stating that he supported the reform of the working methods of the Council, he said the veto should be limited to use in extreme cases. The Council should respond to the many voices calling on it to reform its methods of work, so that it could represent the will of the full membership of the Organization. Further, the role of the Secretary-General was important and he must be kept free of any pressures. In the framework of reforming the United Nations, the Secretary- General's tenure should be for one term, even if it was for ten years. That would allow him to undertake his responsibility free from pressure.

CLAUDIA FRITSCHE (Liechtenstein) said the capability of the United Nations to prevent armed conflict could be enhanced by several measures. Cooperation with regional organizations must be strengthened. Avoiding competition between their activities and those carried out by the United Nations and adapting a pragmatic approach must be key elements in joint efforts. An enhanced role of the Secretary- General was a further key element of successful United Nations action in the area of prevention.

Article 99 of the Charter gave a legally and politically sound basis for such an enhanced role, she continued. The Secretariat should be able to provide the Council with relevant early-warning information, collected from different sources, and with independent assessments on regions and areas where conflicts were emerging. In many cases, relevant information was already available within the United Nations system, but it needed to be presented in a compact and meaningful manner and in the right context.

Also, more work should be done to address the root causes of conflict, she continued. The international community must develop tools through which situations of tension between communities and central governments could be addressed earlier and with greater effect. Liechtenstein had proposed ideas on the effective and flexible application of the right of self-determination, which could be an element of the ongoing process of enhancing the role of the Organization in the area of prevention.

Creating a culture of prevention would require a concerted effort by the entire United Nations membership, she said. There was need to adapt a flexible notion of the term “prevention”, which comprised activities as diverse as early- warning, disarmament measures and post-conflict peace-building. Prevention would be most successful if it was carried out with discretion and efficiency. Collective responsibility for the consequences of disasters, through sharing the burden, was one of the foundations upon which the United Nations was built.

PETER L. KASANDA (Zambia) said the debate served to enhance the collective commitment of Member States to the pursuit of peace, stability and cooperation among nations. Africa continued to be one of the greatest challenges to the Security Council, and that would continue to be the case in the foreseeable future, if the international community failed to assist in addressing the causes of conflict. Africa had generated more than 8 million refugees, in addition to millions of internally displaced. Armed conflicts in Africa deserved the attention of the international community.

The Council had a clear role in stopping the flow of small arms, he said. Private arms merchants should be identified, as should the zones of conflict that served as their markets. Merchants of death should be exposed to international condemnation and censure. The Council should also strengthen sanctions regimes. He congratulated the Chairman of the Security Council Sanctions Committee for breathing new life into Angolan sanctions against National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

The Council also had a role in prevention of armed conflict, he said. It should give equal treatment to all conflicts, and should be fair in its execution of its peace and security responsibilities. Its authorizing of 6,000 military personnel for Sierra Leone, but 9,100 for East Timor, made it difficult to escape the perception that a double standard was being employed. Ceasefire agreements had been concluded for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, which indicated African leaders determination to seek solutions to the continent's problems.

For the successful implementation of the ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of Congo the continued support of the Council was expected and imperative, he said. He welcomed the positive steps taken to deploy military liaison offices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However he was gravely concerned that the Council was not moving quickly enough to authorize the second stage of deployment of military observers. That delay was sending the wrong message to the parties, and there was a real danger that the peace process could unravel. The third stage, involving a peacekeeping force, was unnecessarily being held hostage to demands for "security guarantees". Quick action by the Council was required to prevent a vacuum that could be filled by forces opposed to peace in the region. The nature of the conflict was complex and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the largest land mass on the continent, so the force mandated should be several times larger than that authorized for East Timor. It should also have a Chapter VII mandate, as envisaged in the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement.

OLUSEGUN APATA (Nigeria) said the United Nations best efforts to resolve conflicts were hindered by the lack of financial resources, and limited knowledge and familiarity with the local situations. The Organization’s relative weakness on that score should be added reason for enhanced cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In the increasingly interdependent world, and in the wake of the proliferation of armed conflicts, it was important that the Council retool existing mechanisms and design innovative early warning systems to address in a timely manner those situations that could lead to a breach of peace.

Preventive diplomacy was the most assured and cost-effective method for maintaining international peace and security, he continued. However, for the Council to enhance its role in preventing armed conflicts, parties to disputes must demonstrate the necessary political will, and the Council must be provided adequate resources to carry out preventive action. As a major component of the maintenance of peace and security, conflict prevention should be accorded the highest priority, in light of the monumental costs of peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building. It underscored the imperative of developing common indicators for early warning and joint training of staff in the field of conflict prevention.

The United Nations should establish a “conflict prevention and peace-building budget”, similar to the peacekeeping budget, he said. Such a stand-by financial facility would ensure the availability of financial resources to promptly kick- start preventive activities. It would improve on the current situation, where appeals for donations had to be made before any significant progress could be recorded. While Member States must demonstrate greater political will for conflict prevention, the Council had a vital role to play in giving preventive action the priority it deserved, in discharging its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.

MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand) said that the Security Council had primary but not exclusive responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It exercised that responsibility on behalf of the wider membership. An impressive bag of tools had been provided within the Charter for the peaceful settlement of disputes, including negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement and resort to regional agencies or arrangements. The Council had also been empowered to investigate any dispute or situation which might give rise to a dispute that could endanger international peace and security.

If the Security Council had failed to carry out its responsibilities effectively in the past, it would seem not to be a system-design failure but a consequence of other factors, he said. Two key factors were political will and resources. Member States looked to the Council members to show leadership, given their special responsibilities. That included at the very least timely, complete and unconditional payment of assessed contributions. It also included a willingness on the part of Council members to ensure that the United Nations would have the wherewithal to do the job that had been mandated, whether it was sufficient troops to defend a “safe area” or money to pay for the restoration of public services in post-conflict peace-building.

He said that there was a strong link between international peace and security on the one hand and disarmament and development on the other. If international peace and security was to mean more than absence of war or even an absence of the threat of war, the contributions of the other organs of the United Nations, including the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, were of obvious importance in laying the necessary foundations. Finally, there was the role of the Secretary-General’s special political missions. Those were typically small-scale but effective interventions.

The Carnegie Commission in its 1997 report, “Preventing Deadly Conflict”, spoke of the need to create a “culture of prevention”. That included measures to deal with imminent violence, such as preventive diplomacy and early warning, and measures to deal with the root causes of violence, such as the promotion of well- being and justice. There could be no institution better placed than the United Nations to take on that multifaceted task, he said.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said there was considerable international public opinion behind the demand that the Council play an "avant garde role" in matters of international peace and security. It was expected that the Council’s role should be visible before a situation developed into crisis, before hostilities degenerated into armed conflict, and before war had broken out. Regional organizations, whose role was recognized by the Charter, had in recent years played critical roles in preventing or containing armed conflicts. But then the Council had been criticized for “sub-contracting” its peace and security mission. Such a perception required serious attention in today’s debate.

Regarding sovereignty, he said the question was how to balance between the principles of political independence, sovereign equality and States’ territorial integrity with the humanitarian and legal imperatives of maintaining international peace and security. Those two imperatives were not necessarily contradictory; the Charter treated them as complementary. The task ahead was to find the parameters of such complementarity. The Charter had not envisaged today’s complex interstate conflicts. The preventive measures prescribed in Chapter VI were subject to consent of the parties involved, but what happened when the parties remained determined to fight? he asked.

Perhaps it was time to rethink the way the question of peace and security were addressed, he added. The responsibility of actors within States had to be determined and redress should be made available. The United Nations could not keep a peace that did not exist and the international community could not be expected to pay for or remain involved indefinitely in wars of attrition fought in total disregard for law.

Another important issue was the question of uniformity and consistency in practice, he said. The Council’s protection should be available to all. To be credible, the Council must be guided by a consistent approach in addressing all conflicts. It should work on current and potential threats to peace. Regarding the question of delayed action, he said the Council had been discredited in world public opinion in that regard. The United Nations rapid deployment capacity should be enhanced. The credibility of the Council must not be further compromised by failure to act promptly and consistently. The impediments to the proper functioning of the Council should be identified, analyzed and debated.

Since wars began in the minds of men, it was in the minds of men that peace must be constructed, as stated in the constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), he said. The Secretary-General had proposed the institution of a culture of prevention. A comprehensive approach to prevention of conflicts could be taken through implementation of the plan of action for a culture of peace. Success would depend on system-wide integration of that plan, as well as national implementation, and the active participation of media and civil society.

He said the role of the Council in relation to the other major organs must be considered. The Council’s primary responsibility notwithstanding, its role should be seen within the broad framework of the principles and purposes of the United Nations in which specific roles were assigned to each of the principle organs. Their contributions should converge on the goal of humankind’s common progress in a world of peace. In today’s world, the “narrow national interest-centric approach” to crises and conflicts was anachronistic. Giving priority to dispute resolution and conflict prevention went to the heart of equipping the United Nations for taking its rightful place as the pre-eminent cooperative security institution in the post-cold war era.

The most promising approach to upgrading United Nations preventive diplomacy would be its ability to offer dispute resolution services and provide skilled third-party assistance through good offices and mediation, he said. Preventive diplomacy in the field was less expensive than a post-conflict peace-building operation. Early warning was only the first step in preventive diplomacy.

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said that in view of the emergence of the interstate and civil conflicts, it was important to focus on the prevention of conflict in Africa. African leaders had been prompted to organize flexible mechanisms to deal with conflict at all levels. The international community must support their efforts to prevent international crises. He welcomed Japan's initiative to organize a conference on preventive strategies last year. That issue needed to be revisited and magnified.

Stating that peace and security were a concern and challenge for both South and North, he said the challenge was whether it was possible to prevent conflict without tackling head on the other issues connected with it. All recognized the close relation between peace, stability and security and development. Poverty, disease, famine and depression were still ravaging the world. They were both the source and consequence of armed conflict. The attention of the Council must not slacken.

Also, he said, the international community must move beyond the question of whether arms were the cause or the consequence of armed conflict. It was clear that the influx of weapons led to armed conflict. The new armed civilians were a major problem. He supported the convening of an international convention on illicit traffic in and the proliferation of light weapons.

Continuing, he said that to prevent armed conflict, a special fund should be established that would also finance operations already in existence. Conflict prevention was an absolute priority for Africa. The Organization of African Unity, which had established in 1993 a mechanism for conflict prevention, management and settlement, had also established a peace fund.

Conflict prevention required the mobilization of several actors and a comprehensive resolute approach, including the participation of several United Nations bodies operating in their areas of competence, he said. The Organization should establish a flexible open mechanism that would be capable of alerting it to crises and recommending responses. The issue of conflict prevention must continue to be on the agenda of the Council.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that more than 5.5 million people have died in war in the 1990s, and many more lives have been ruined. The vast majority of those people were from the developing world, where many countries also took on the heavy burden of accepting refugees from neighbouring countries, often without due credit. Norway had no doubt that more attention must be paid, and more resources directed, to resolving conflicts. Preventing violence clearly contributed to lasting and sustainable development, just as poverty alleviation and social progress reduced the risk of war and conflict. Norway appreciated Slovenia's initiative for the meeting, and welcomed the transparency and openness that inviting non-Council members to speak created. The Council should further expand the practice of open meetings.

Given the Council's primary role in the maintenance of international peace and security, early consideration and preventive action by the Council should remain the primary instrument of international conflict prevention efforts, he said. The higher the Council's readiness for preventive action, the more likely disputes could be settled peacefully. The role of the Secretary-General, charged by the Charter with bringing threats to the Council's attention, was very important and should be strengthened, through the allocation of human and financial resources. For that reason, Norway had contributed to the Trust Fund for Preventive Action since 1996. Preventive diplomacy and peacemaking were cost effective, and should not be financed by exchange rate gains and trust funds. Therefore, he welcomed the inclusion of special political mission funds in the 2000-2001 programme budget.

Continued efforts must be made to counter the culture of impunity for serious violations of humanitarian law, he said. His Government, therefore, urged all States to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The existence of a permanent global institution of that nature would enhance deterrence against heinous crimes. Close cooperation with regional organizations was also important to conflict prevention, and Norway, as Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was developing such cooperation.

Through continued involvement in development assistance, poverty alleviation, and humanitarian assistance, Norway had realized that an integrated approach to peace and development efforts was necessary, he said. The root causes of conflict must be dealt with. Norway had adopted a national strategy combining humanitarian assistance with conflict prevention, peace and reconciliation and development. It would be active in further developing coordinated efforts. Bilateral donors, multilateral organizations, regional organizations and governments must work in constructive partnership. Building a culture of prevention was not easy, but the approach taken by the Secretary-General was a constructive way forward. Underdevelopment, poverty and violent conflicts are closely linked. One could not be addressed without the others.

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said the inability of the Council to address a number of key security issues in the past year was cause for deep concern. There was a tendency to allow situations to deteriorate to the point at which there was a great loss of life and a large-scale humanitarian disaster. The fact that financial considerations were allowed to influence decision-making on the response to clear threats to international peace and security was a threat of growing concern.

He said Afghanistan deserved the Council's thorough attention. Drug cultivation and trafficking there had endangered all of its neighbours directly and Europe indirectly, and hundreds of thousands of people were stranded in the northern mountains without shelter or means of sustaining themselves. The problem of extremism and terrorism stemming from the Taliban was an important destabilizing factor, which required a decisive response by the Council. However, to address only the problem of terrorism would be a limited approach, which might correspond to the immediate concern of some permanent members of the Council, but would not address the larger problem of the Afghan people and the region. If the same problem were present in Europe, he doubted that the Council would have reacted in the same fashion.

It was essential to achieve the delicate balance enshrined in the Charter in the relationship between the Assembly and the Council, he said. The Council should have greater accountability to the Assembly for decisions affecting the interests of all. He urged the Council to be responsive to the comments and discussions in the Assembly. Moreover, the Council should encourage contributions by a Member State or groups of States that had a special interest in a particular crisis situation. When the Council dealt with situations of great importance, it should obtain direct information from the parties concerned.

Much of the impasse in and paralysis of the Council had to do with the use or threat of use of the veto power, he said. That had been at the core of the Council's inaction in the face of the Kosovo tragedy and which prompted the use of force without the authorization of the Council. The issue of the veto would have to be seriously reconsidered and ways found to manage it better, if the Council was to function effectively in preventing and dealing with armed conflicts.

INAM-UL-HAQUE (Pakistan) said that in the post-cold war era, the world had witnessed cruelties on a staggering scale. The question was whether conflicts and attendant devastation were preventable. While it might not be possible to prevent conflicts all the time, outbreaks were preventable much of the time, given a sufficient degree of commitment, concern, engagement, objectivity and even-handedness by the international community.

He said that while the cost of the seven major wars of the 1990s had been estimated at close to $200 billion, that must be a conservative estimate and could not take into account the huge human costs and the costs of reconstruction and rehabilitation, which were much more than the resources wasted in actually waging war. Imagine if those resources had been used for equitable development in conflict-prone and developing countries. The most bitter fact was that most of the conflicts were occurring in developing countries, destroying their economies and blighting the lives of their peoples.

Any prescription for conflict prevention must be multi-dimensional, since there was no single cause for conflicts, he continued. In the short term, preventive diplomacy and preventive deployment should be the primary focus, but the concept of “preventive disarmament” must be examined with the utmost care, since that concept would militate against the Charter-sanctified right to self-defence, and was likely to be applied to the small and the weak. Any strategy for conflict prevention would be durable only if it addressed the root causes of conflict. It would be delusional to think otherwise. In focusing on resolving political, economic, social, cultural or humanitarian problems, it was important to remember the areas of responsibility of the different organs of the United Nations, as delineated by the Charter. There was a need for greater cooperation, but there should be no attempt at encroachment.

The international community must evolve ground rules on conflict prevention, he said. He reviewed a number of the elements to be involved, such as respecting the principle of State sovereignty and non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign States. However, that principle must not be extended to situations where people under colonial rule, foreign occupation or alien domination were struggling for their inalienable right to self-determination. Conflict prevention must be based on the principles of collective security, as defined in the Charter.

He said the central role of the General Assembly, as the only body with universal representation in the United Nations system, must be respected and maintained. In recent years, the Council had sought to assume jurisdiction over tasks assigned to other bodies, or set direction for them by establishing a link -– however tenuous -– with international peace and security. But, the Council must resist that temptation. Particular attention should be paid to resolving outstanding disputes, such as the protracted conflict over illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by India and the denial to the people of that territory of their right to determine their own future, which posed a serious threat to international peace and security.

The need for a coordinated effort for conflict prevention by the United Nations system was far greater than ever before, due to the complex nature of conflicts and their potential for damage and destruction, he said. The key to better management of the problems of international peace and security lay in shared responsibility with the General Assembly, the Council and other organs, as provided by the Charter. Unfortunately, the Council had been unable or unwilling to fulfil its responsibilities, either because of the use of the veto, or because it lacked the collective will to implement its own resolutions. That must be rectified, to enhance the Council’s credibility.

Members of the Council must exercise caution in labelling situations as threats to international peace and security. In assessing whether situations required preventive measures, there was need for introspection and discussion to ensure that all the main organs of the United Nations worked in accordance with the mandates assigned them by the Charter, for the peace and prosperity of the peoples of the world. He added that the Council had already approved the draft presidential statement, even before hearing the views of non-Members. That practice should be reviewed, as it reduced open debates to a sterile exercise in peacemaking. The Council should meet informally after the views of non-Members were heard.

VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said there was growing perception within the international community that armed conflicts were not inevitable and that the costliest peace was still better than the cheapest war. The common challenge today was the transition from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention. While there was skepticism about the Council’s current capabilities concerning the entire spectrum of preventive diplomacy, it should be recalled that no single remedy could resolve the problem in question.

Differences related to preventive measures could be bridged, he said. The current meeting should give impetus towards successful completion of the work on the concept and strategies for preventing armed conflict. It would be useful to define the criteria for engagement, multilateral capacities for early warning, prevention and resolution of conflicts. Unless such criteria abide, no military preventive action should be authorized by the Council without the consent of the State concerned.

The Council would find itself in a better position to defuse potential armed conflicts if it could rely on an enhanced capacity for rapid reaction by the United Nations. His country stood for further development of the United Nations Standby Arrangements System and the earliest completion of establishing the Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters. Also, the Council should encourage the Secretariat to use more actively all available instruments to undertake timely preventive diplomatic measures, such as confidence-building, early warning, and fact-finding. The mechanism of the Secretary-General’s special representatives or envoys should be used more often. Also, further thinking was needed about the instrument of economic sanctions as a preventive measure. Imposing economic sanctions should be preceded by careful consideration of the potential negative consequences to third countries.

SAEED HASAN (Iraq)said that due to United States influence in the Council, the Council's credibility had seriously deteriorated over the last 10 years. One needed only to review the Council's positions towards Iraq. Total sanctions had been imposed against Iraq, a cover for the destruction of all forms of life in Iraq. The new British/Dutch draft resolution being considered by the Council, aimed to rewrite the previous resolution, imposing new conditions and restrictions on Iraq for an undetermined period. It paved the away for a new aggression against Iraq.

He said the most recent aggression by the United States was its bombardment of a private school in northern Iraq, resulting in the death of civilians, including four children. The Council had not responded to that action in any manner.

The Council should work for all Member States, he said. Comprehensive reform of the Council should include an expanded membership and developing countries as members of the Council. Decision-making should fully respect the principles and goals of the Charter and the Assembly should have the right to hold the Council responsible for resolutions that violated the Charter, as well as Council impassivity when it should act.

The root causes of conflict must be taken care of, rather than the symptom, he said. The roots lay in poverty and the lack of development, due to former colonialist policies. Two thirds of the world's population suffered from backwardness. The world was divided into the rich and the poor. There must be a fair and balanced international policy that reduced that gap and promoted human rights, bringing about a better life for all people. Funds spent on acts of intervention could have been better used for fair and sustainable development, he said.

He said the Council and the United Nations as a whole must reject the old security concepts based on the stockpiling of arms, particularly nuclear arms, and encourage a new security concept based on cooperation. It must work in the domain of disarmament. The nuclear-powered permanent members of the Council had a special responsibility. The Council should implement its resolution concerning disarmament and the establishment of nuclear-free zones.

Continuing, he said it would be divisive to assume that human rights could be protected through acts that ignored the sovereignty of all States. The United States, the richest nation in the world, did not have equal rights for the poor and the rich. Rather, large numbers were homeless and here in New York there were many who lived in subways tunnels. Forty-three million Americans were without health care. The incidence of infant mortality among African-Americans was double that of whites. At the same time, the United States sponsored comprehensive sanctions against Iraq and deprived 24 million Iraqis of the right to live a decent life. That was an act of genocide.

Discussing the role of the Council in the prevention of armed conflict must include a more comprehensive discussion of the international situation, he said.

IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said that investing in longer-term prevention of conflicts called for recognition and action of the multitude of causes of contemporary threats to peace and security. What occurred in a remote corner of the globe eventually became relevant to all. While the world operated on analytical constructs of local, national, regional and global markets, there was tendency to cling to the normative ideals of national economies and politics. But, with advancements in transcontinental production and distribution chains and global trade in goods and services, there was need to give and take in order to protect the principal value: life on this planet.

The sovereign equality of States had been the traditional cornerstone of international relations, he continued. Interdependence made reducing the sovereignty of States a rational choice. In reducing the sovereignty, however, only respect for the fundamental principle of equality of States could provide sufficiently broad support for that regional transformation of international relations.

Even a superficial review of several conflict and post-conflict zones in the current decade in Africa and Europe showed that preventive action was required both before and after the conflict, he said. The international community’s commitment must be coordinated, sustained and comprehensive to address problems which, if left unchecked, could ignite or reignite conflicts. For example, following eight Council resolutions dealing exclusively with the Prevlaka issue in Croatia and eight extensions of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), the issue remained unresolved because the applicable international law lacked enforcement.

The issues of law and justice also figured prominently on the agenda of societal intervention before and after the conflict, he continued. The International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia prosecuted criminals, thus assisting in post-conflict healing. A complementary role was played by truth and reconciliation commissions. A culture of prevention of armed conflicts called for serious commitment to “historical demystification”. That commitment could then sustain and build upon the international community’s investments in reconstruction, economic growth, civil society and good governance. Within the United Nations framework, the role of the Council in building a culture of prevention complemented that of the Economic and Social Council. Indeed, that body, with its broad agenda concerning poverty eradication and social development, remained best equipped to identify the root causes of potential conflicts and act preemptively on those matters. The Council should build closer ties with the Economic and Social Council, perhaps through regular joint briefings and occasional joint meetings.

The President of the Council, DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) speaking as representative of his country, said a number of provisions in the Charter expressed the United Nations will to save people from the scourge of war and to take collective measures to remove threats to peace. From a normative perspective, preventing armed conflicts was very much the Organization’s raison d’être. It was clear, however, that normative expectations and political potential did not suffice. The past decades had seen inaction and excessive caution, resulting from short-term national interests. The cold-war period established constraints that greatly hampered the ability of the United Nations to take preventive action. The previous Secretary-General noted that it was impossible to impose change on sovereign States, so the solution lay in the long term and was linked to an adequate climate of opinion or ethos within the international community. The discussion yesterday and today had been an important device for the gradual creation of such an opinion or ethos.

In general, the debate reaffirmed support for a proactive, prevention- oriented Council, he said. There were expressions of concern for the sovereignty of States, some of which went beyond actual needs. The United Nations and its Members must be careful not to impose limitations on preventive action, which in the end would harm both the Organization and its sovereign Member States. Expressions of concern could not blur the generally supportive context of the discussion. He was particularly encouraged that the views of the Council members offered a balanced and forward-looking approach. The draft presidential statement proposed for adoption today summed up the consensus views of the Council, reflecting the will to advance a comprehensive and viable platform for action in the future.

He then underlined two aspects of that platform. The first was the clear recognition that preventive strategies and actions must be developed by all United Nations organs and agencies. That was necessary if the international community was to be effective in addressing the causes of military conflicts, such as poverty, social injustice and human rights violations. Those must be addressed through appropriate international institutions. Those institutions could not claim success if they were unable to devise policies that eliminated poverty and strengthened human rights. That applied to the World Trade Organization as much as it did to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he stressed.

On the Council’s work, he added, it must be understood that the Council’s powers were most often used in situations of imminent armed conflicts, which meant at times of particular sensitivity and risk. In such circumstances, the States and others involved could be reluctant to accept the Council’s intervention. The argument of preservation of sovereignty could be used irrationally, even to the extent of actually endangering sovereignty in a potential armed conflict, which could be prevented by timely action by the Council.

There were many recent examples that spoke in favour of a proactive role by the Council, he said. That role should include a more active use of powers of the Council such as those enshrined in Article 34 of the Charter, relating to international disputes, and those of Article 40, on provisional measures to prevent aggravation of a situation which already required action by the Council under Chapter VII. The question of how proactive the Council wanted to be was a sensitive one. The Council should consider carefully the distribution of roles between it, the Secretary-General and regional organizations. The Council was not strengthened in its relevance, if it left the actual role to others. In cooperating with regional and subregional organizations, a balanced approach was needed. The Council must seek an approach with full awareness of its own responsibilities under the Charter and of the need to ensure its central role by wise decisions and meaningful action. In general, a proactive Council had a fair chance to be seen as a wise and meaningful Council.

* *** *