7 September 2000


Press Release
SG/SM/7535



SECRETARY-GENERAL, ADDRESSING COUNCIL SUMMIT ON INTERNATIONAL PEACE, SECURITY, STRESSES COUNCIL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADEQUATE SUPPORT OF PEACEKEEPERS

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Following is the text of the address by Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivered this afternoon to the Summit Meeting of the Security Council:

C'est un honneur pour moi de vous accueillir aux Nations Unies pour cette réunion historique du Conseil de sécurité. Vous êtes venus à New York pour participer au Sommet du millénaire, au cours duquel nous allons nous efforcer de donner un nouvel élan à l'Organisation des Nations Unies pour le siècle qui commence.

To say that the eyes of the world are upon you is both to say too little and too much. Too little, because the fate of future generations could be affected by the decisions of this Security Council Summit. Too much, because many in the present generation are losing confidence in the ability of the United Nations to make the difference between war and peace.

This contradiction reflects what I believe to be a crisis of credibility facing this Council -- and this Organization -- in discharging its gravest responsibility: the maintenance of peace and security. Too many vulnerable communities in too many regions of the world now hesitate to look to the United Nations to assist them in their hour of need. No amount of resolutions or statements can change this reality. Only action can: prompt, united and effective action, pursued with skill and discipline to halt conflict and restore the peace. Only such determined action can restore the reputation of the United Nations as a credible force for peace and justice.

Nowhere is your commitment more urgently needed than in the continent of Africa, where millions are suffering daily from the ravages of war. I am therefore pleased that Africa will be a focus of your deliberations today.

Whenever possible, we must summon the will to act preventively, before a crisis reaches the point of no return.

When that fails, and the Council resorts to sanctions, it must summon the will and the wisdom to ensure, on the one hand, that they are effectively enforced, and on the other that they reach their intended target without inflicting unnecessary hardship on innocent people.

When we are asked to deploy a peacekeeping operation, we must ensure that it has a clear and achievable mandate and the strength and authority to defend itself and its mandate.

When all else fails, and only armed intervention can save large numbers of people from genocide or crimes against humanity, there too the Council must summon the will and the wisdom to confront the agonizing dilemma which such cases pose to the world's conscience.


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Yet in all these cases, summoning the will to act is only the essential first step. Having the ability to act -- and to act effectively and decisively -- is the other imperative. We all recognize that too often in the peacekeeping operations of the past decade, the path to failure was paved with good intentions and inadequate mandates. We all agree that often, peacekeepers were asked to take on complex missions without the training, equipment, force structure or authority necessary to succeed. We all know that the time has come to truly enable the United Nations to succeed in its mission for peace.

Last March, I asked a panel of distinguished veterans of peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions to provide frank and realistic recommendations to assist you and the larger membership in fulfilling this urgent task. Their report is before you, and I have already committed myself to implementing those changes for which I am responsible. It is my sincere hope that you will do the same.

The United Nations and its peacekeepers cannot be the answer to every crisis, or every conflict, or every threat to human life. Nor can United Nations peacekeeping be a substitute for the political will of the parties to achieve a peaceful settlement. But where we are the answer, where only our unique universality and legitimacy can help a wounded and abandoned people return to a life of peace and dignity, we must be given the means to make the difference between life and death. The world looks to you for an answer.

Allow me to close by reiterating to this Council what I told the larger membership yesterday: that the safety of United Nations personnel, in both peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, is a matter of vital concern. Yesterday's fatal attacks on United Nations staff working in West Timor highlight again the dangers faced by men and women, military and civilian, who venture into the field for the United Nations -- that is, on assignments and missions decided upon by this Council. I would like to stress the responsibility of the Security Council to focus on this matter. Let us, together, ensure that staff have the safety and security they need to do their job.

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