13/05/2003
Press Release
SC/7756



Security Council

4753rd Meeting (AM & PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL COMMITS TO WIDER, EFFECTIVE USE OF CHARTER PROVISIONS

AIMED AT PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES


In Presidential Statement, Cites Framework of Chapter VI;

Secretary-General Says Council Should Use Influence to Pre-empt Volatile Issues


The Security Council today, following a day-long discussion on its role in the peaceful settlement of disputes, reiterated its commitment to make a wider and effective use of the procedures and means enshrined in the Charter to that end.


Through a statement read out by its President for the month, Munir Akram (Pakistan), the Council cited Articles 33 to 38 of Chapter VI, which sets forth means and a framework for the peaceful settlement of disputes, as an essential component of its work to promote and maintain international peace and security.  It underscored that efforts to strengthen that process should be continued and made more effective.


At the outset of the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the Council to use its imagination and influence in its key role of pre-empting volatile issues before they erupted into full-fledged threats to peace.  The primary responsibility for the pacific settlement of disputes, however, rested with the parties to a conflict.  While the framers of the Charter had provided for the use of force against threats to international peace and security, their hopes for a better world lay in the peaceful resolution of armed conflicts.


Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khurshid M. Kasuri, whose delegation holds the Council presidency for the month, convened the open debate.  Opening remarks were made by three eminent persons:  Sir Brian Urquhart, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs; Jamsheed Marker, former Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor; and Nabil Elaraby, Judge, International Court of Justice. 


Sir Brian Urquhart said that, given that the Council often suffered from the dichotomy between the noble responsibilities imposed on it in the Charter and the conflict of the national policies of its members and the reservations of national sovereignty, its record in the pacific settlement of disputes was a good deal more impressive than was generally admitted.  The very existence of the Council, and the continuous diplomatic exchanges, combined with the ceaseless peace-seeking activities of the Secretary-General, was an essential ongoing worldwide peace process that was hard to quantify.  Without it, the world would be a much more dangerous and unpredictable place. 


Noting the Council’s increasing tendency to resort to enforcement measures under Chapter VII of the Charter, Mr. Marker said that application of Chapter VII had led to criticism of the Council and had raised concerns about the utility of methods used in the pacific settlement of disputes.  Chapter VI set out a range of options for the peaceful resolution of disputes; Chapter VII was the ultimate instrument, or “iron fist”, for implementation of United Nations resolutions.  The complementarity between the two had been obscured; the latent efficacy of Chapter VII could be enhanced through a timely and judicious application of the “velvet glove” of Chapter VI.


Judge Elaraby, speaking in his personal capacity, said that experience had shown that the “highly advertised” Chapter VII was not a panacea for all situations all the time.  In his view, the Council’s decisions were reached on the basis of power politics and accommodations, and not necessarily on the strict application of legal norms.  That body functions, and even breathes, in accordance with the interpretation of the most powerful members.  The dividing line between political and legal disputes was almost always blurred.  It was imperative that the Council and the International Court of Justice -– the two principal organs vested with the power to adopt binding decisions –- act in tandem. 


Emphasis on the value of Chapter VI of the Charter as a crucial prelude to action under Chapter VII continued in the discussion that followed among Council members and other representatives.  Speakers drew attention to the Council mission this week to West Africa due to depart soon, as a current example of applying Chapter VI, by which the Council might investigate a situation first-hand where peace was precarious, in order to determine whether it was likely to endanger international peace and security.  Many highlighted the pre-eminent role of the Council in preserving peace and security, with one speaker asserting it was only possible to win the battle for peace if guns gave way to negotiations. 


In addition to statements by all Council members, representatives of the following delegations also spoke:  Greece, on behalf of the European Union; Honduras; India; Azerbaijan; Colombia; Indonesia; Ethiopia; and Armenia.  Two of the eminent persons took the floor again to respond.


The meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and was suspended at 1:27 p.m.  It resumed at 3:25 p.m. and adjourned at 5 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to discuss its role in the pacific settlement of disputes.  Before entering into an interactive dialogue, the Council was scheduled to first hear from the Secretary-General and three eminent persons: Sir Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs; Jamsheed Marker, former Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor; and Nabil Elaraby, Judge of the International Court of Justice.


Statements


KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General, said that Chapter VI of the Charter, on the pacific settlement of disputes, stood at the heart of the Organization’s system of collective security. Over the past 10 years, resolutions adopted under Chapter VII had been the better known.  But the majority of the Council’s work continued to be carried out under Chapter VI.  While the framers of the Charter understood clearly the need for an enforcement mechanism, and provided for the use of force against threats to international peace and security, their hopes for a better world lay in the peaceful resolution of armed conflicts.


In recent years, he continued, the Council had used Chapter VI in various ways.  It had entered into direct dialogue with the parties to conflict, for example, through its discussions with the Political Committee of the Lusaka Agreement.  It had tried to work more closely with the Economic and Social Council, and with regional and subregional organizations, to prevent and resolve conflicts in Africa.  The Council frequently called on him to use his good offices as Secretary-General, and had encouraged him to appoint a growing number of special representatives and envoys.


And, increasingly, he said, Council members were venturing into the field –- as they would later in the week in West Africa –- for fact-finding missions, to review implementation of a peace agreement, to deliver messages or even to conduct negotiations.  Everyone would agree that those efforts had achieved mixed results.  “We have seen genuine displays of political will, and instances where the Council has failed to dissuade the parties to a conflict from using force.”


While the primary responsibility for the pacific settlement of disputes rested with governments and the parties to dispute and conflicts, the Council had many tools at its disposal, and a key role to play.  The Council could help identify and address root causes early, when the opportunities for constructive dialogue and other peaceful means were greatest.  It could ensure an integrated approach that brought together all factors and all actors, including civil society.


Also, he continued, the Council could support the other United Nations organs in their efforts to resolve disputes or address volatile issues before they erupted into full-fledged threats to international peace and security.  “Let us be imaginative.  Let us use what influence we have.  And let us focus on implementation.”  Recourse to Chapter VII might have increased in the past decade, but that did not lessen the importance of Chapter VI.  The processes it set out for the peaceful settlement of disputes and situations affecting international peace and security remained as relevant today as ever.


(For the full text of the Secretary-General’s statement, see Press Release SG/SM/8697 issued today.)


Sir BRIAN URQUHART, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, said that, for all the ups and downs of its first 57 years, the Council’s primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security was as essential a concept as it was in 1946.  There were many obstacles to useful international action.  The Council often suffered from the dichotomy between the noble responsibilities imposed on it in the Charter and the conflict of the national policies of its members and the reservations of national sovereignty.  Given those limitations, the Council’s record, indeed of the United Nations, in general, in pacific settlement was a good deal more impressive than was generally admitted.


He said that the very existence of the Council, and the continuous diplomatic and other exchanges that went on in and around it, combined with the ceaseless peace-seeking activities of the Secretary-General, constituted an essential ongoing worldwide peace process that was hard to evaluate or to quantify.  Without it, the world would be a much more dangerous and unpredictable place.  The Council’s role as a last resort -– a place where restraint, concession, and compromise were a virtue rather than a sign of weakness or a loss of face -– had always been a major resource for peace.


Pacific settlement could be a long and untidy process, he said.  It was seldom newsworthy, especially when it was successful.  A war prevented was not usually news.  Much of the Council’s, and the Secretary-General’s, work in pacific settlement remained unpublicized.  It was no less important for that.  Situations that defied settlement had sometimes been contained by peacekeeping missions or other United Nations instruments, so that violence and the threat to the wider peace were reduced.  That was another activity that attracted little attention, unless, of course, the containment mechanism failed and conflict occurred.


In the cold war period, the universal fear of a nuclear confrontation between the East and the West lent urgency and support to the Council’s efforts to contain regional conflicts and to keep them out of the cold war orbit.  The cold war political situation also demanded that instruments such as peacekeeping should be strictly under United Nations’ auspices.  That incentive and that constraint no longer existed, and the instruments of pacific settlement had correspondingly diversified.  Sometimes now, those were outside the United Nations framework altogether.  Over the years, however, the Council had shown great flexibility and imagination in devising for each pacific settlement mission the instrument best suited to the particular demands of the problem.


Continuing, he said that in the last 15 years the Council had often been called on to deal with problems within the borders of a single State, and it seemed likely that that would continue to be one of its main challenges.  That was not what the technique of peacekeeping was originally designed for, and it was not surprising that many difficulties had arisen.  When dealing only with conflicting governments, the authority of the Council and the support of its members usually gave remarkable strength to small and lightly armed peacekeeping forces.  Dealing with violent non-governmental groups and factions, which had little knowledge of, or indeed respect for, the Security Council, was a very different matter.


In such situations, it was essential for the Council to have some reliable, and highly trained, capacity for rapid reaction and deployment –- the capacity to quell brush-fire violence before it developed into major conflict or genocide.  That was an extremely controversial issue, but impressive sounding decisions followed by sluggish and ineffective action both made bad situations worse and undermined the reputation of, and public confidence in, the United Nations itself.  The key elements for success had always been the authority and standing of the Council, its ability and willingness to take prompt action, and the skill, ingenuity and determination of those who implemented its decisions in the field.


He said that everyone knew that, in its present form, the Council was the product of another, very different historical period.  So far, substantial reform had proved impossible, but that did not detract from the importance of the Council’s position and authority.  When, as happened recently, the disagreements of its members -- which were, after all, nothing new -- were blamed on the institution of the Council itself, the Council’s standing in pacific settlement and in other matters was inevitably diminished.  The world was a dangerous, suffering and disorderly place in 1946; in a different way, it still is.  As Dag Hammarskjöld once said, the United Nations was “a venture in progress towards an international community living in peace under the laws of justice”.  That was still a very distant objective, but a worthy one.  An essential prerequisite for moving forward in that complex venture was the growing effectiveness of the pacific settlement of disputes.


JAMSHEED MARKER, former Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor (admitted to the United Nations as Timor-Leste), said that in recent years, especially following the end of the cold war, there had been an increasing tendency to resort to enforcement measures under Chapter VII of the Charter.  That had, on the one hand, led to criticism of the Council and, on the other hand, raised concerns about the utility of methods in the pacific settlement of disputes.  The complementarity of Chapters VI and VII was, unfortunately, often obscured in that process. 


Chapter VII, he said, was, of course, the ultimate instrument for the implementation of United Nations resolutions, and constituted in a sense its “iron fist”.  But its latent efficacy could be considerably enhanced through a timely and judicious application of the “velvet glove” of Chapter VI.  One of the main tasks was to ascertain the best and smoothest method for the glove to fit over the fist.


A review of the history of the Security Council revealed both successes and failures in the peaceful settlement of disputes, he said.  East Timor was a recent success story.  But there were other cases where success had not yet been achieved, such as the Middle East, Jammu and Kashmir, and Western Sahara.  In the first two cases, however, there was reason for some cautious optimism as a result of the recent signals emanating from those troubled regions.


The Council, he said, could do much to promote the pacific settlement of disputes.  It could ask the parties concerned to negotiate and report agreements for dispute settlement.  It could also authorize the Secretary-General to use his good offices and other possibilities for mediation and conciliation to resolve disputes, directly or through a special representative, and report to the Council.  In addition, the Council could appoint a commission of inquiry, conciliation or determination, which could, after consultations and/or negotiations with the parties, submit their recommendations.  It could also refer a dispute to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion, if not a legal decision or adjudication.


The Council could also utilize its mandatory enforcement authority under Chapter VII to persuade parties to disputes to engage in the processes for the peaceful settlement of disputes envisaged under Chapter VI of the Charter.  It was essential that the international community gave consideration to the option of a more frequent use of the devices for peaceful settlement of disputes.  That would not only require a strengthening of those methods, but also a greater commitment on the part of the international community and the political will to do so.


The challenge, he stated, was to reinvigorate the role of the United Nations, especially of the Secretary-General and his good offices, and of the Council, in strengthening the mechanisms for pacific settlement of disputes.  It was a challenge that assumed added significance in the current international milieu, with the discordant voices of the sceptics on the rise.  He remained convinced that, notwithstanding an uncomfortable increase in the climate of unilateralism in international affairs, the Council, together with the Secretary-General, could play a crucial role in the peaceful settlement of disputes.


NABIL ELARABY, Judge of the International Court of Justice, speaking in his personal capacity, said that experience had shown that the highly advertised Chapter VII of the Charter did not constitute a panacea for all situations all the time.  The Council’s responsibilities extended to all walks of life in the contemporary world.  The Council “holds the mantle of legitimacy” for common efforts in peace and security.  It was the sole enforcement agency for the international community.  It was vested with the power to adopt binding decisions, unleashing a wide range of measures.  Moreover, it was vested with the ultimate authority for ensuring legality.  That latter responsibility was exercised through enforcing International Court of Justice judgments, ensuring compliance with multilateral treaties, whether in disarmament or human rights areas.


He said that the Council’s decisions were reached on the basis of power politics and accommodations, and not necessarily through the strict application of legal norms.  The Council functions, and even breathes, in accordance with the interpretation of the most powerful members.  The dividing line between political and legal disputes was, as a general rule, always blurred.  It was of primordial importance that the Council and the International Court of Justice –- the two principal organs vested with the power to adopt binding decisions –- act in tandem.  The clarification of legal issues would always be conducive to resolving disputes.  Throughout its history, the Council had recourse to a variety of pacific settlement means, referred to in Chapter VI.  It had also often opted for verbal condemnation, admonition, economic sanctions, and enforcement measures in accordance with Chapter VII.


At times, he continued, when the political will did not exist, the Council resorted to mere procrastination or simply benign neglect.  The reliability and the predictability of the Council had been rightly questioned.  In the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Professor Michael Glennor remarked that “these days, no rational State will be deluded into believing that the United Nations Charter protects its security”.  In a sense, that reflected the “malaise” in the international system.  States sought assistance at the gate of the Council to score points and extract verbal condemnations against their foes, rather than to achieve genuine reconciliation.  “This situation has to be radically altered”, he stressed.


Today’s discussion should provide impetus to embark on a process of reflection and re-examination, he said.  No subject, however difficult, sensitive or controversial, including the scope of the veto, should be shied away from or considered taboo.  To encourage States to submit disputes to the Council, its expected reactions had to be credible, predictable and reliable.  The Council’s shortcomings in those areas were a matter of record.  Several accusations, rightly or wrongly, had been levelled against the Council.  An analysis of those charges would reveal, among other things, that the Council did not act in a consistent manner as a norm-setting organ, on the basis of a unified, albeit by necessity flexible, yardstick.


On the institutional level, the Council sometimes acted as if it enjoyed absolute and unchallengeable power to interpret the rule of law and the rights and obligations of States and resisted accountability to any other political or judicial organ, he said.  Operationally, the Council had been carrying out its responsibilities without the benefit of clearly defined rules.  Among his proposals was that, as a first step, the Council be provided with impartial and accurate up-to-date information.  That required strengthening the early warning information-gathering capabilities of the United Nations.  The Council should consider the strict and faithful application of Article 27, paragraph 3, which provided that “in decisions under Chapter VII, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting”.  It was axiomatic that no State should be allowed to be party, judge and jury at the same time.


Among his other proposals, he said the Council should consider requesting an advisory opinion from the Court to clarify legal questions.  Since its inception, the Council quickly developed a reluctance to yield to the competence of the Court on legal issues.  The Council had been accused of acting as if no authority was empowered to exercise any form of appreciation or judicial review of its actions and inactions.  The Council, however, was not a free agent, acting according to a private agenda outside the scope of international law, without due respect to legality or consistency.


The question of judicial review or accountability was sensitive and controversial, and the Charter did not contain a direct reference to be used for guidance, he said.  Yet, in light of the gravity of the consequences of some decisions, that matter should be addressed.


He said that, at the present juncture, enlarging the permanent category of Council members would restructure the fabric and nature of international relations.  It was true that expanding Council membership overall was a decision fraught with unforeseen consequences; yet, mathematically, an increase of the non-permanent category was long overdue.  Another aspect concerned the criteria that should be followed in selecting permanent members, such as size, population, military weight, nuclear capabilities, and wealth.


Regarding the Court, it was indeed desirable to increase the acceptance by States of its compulsory jurisdiction.  It was relevant to recall that the 1992 “Agenda for Peace” contained three important proposals aimed at enhancing the role of the Court, as follows:  all Member States should accept its general jurisdiction; when submission of a dispute to the full Court was not practical, the Chambers jurisdiction should be used; and authority should be conferred on the Secretary-General to request advisory opinions from the Court.


Statements by Council Members


ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said that the principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes was enshrined in his country’s Constitution and was one of the focal points guiding its foreign policy.  It was also the main principle on which the United Nations was built.  Mexico had always preferred to exhaust all peaceful means to settle a dispute.  It was not only a legal obligation, but a moral one in international relations.  Chapter VI was the fundamental tool provided by the Charter for the peaceful settlement of disputes.  The responsibility to resolve any conflict or dispute rested, first and foremost, on the parties.  The responsibilities of the General Assembly and the Council were  of a subsidiary nature.  The will of the parties to come forward and engage in negotiations to find a peaceful solution was paramount.


Nevertheless, he believed that the Assembly and the Council could play a more active part in preventing and resolving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Chapter VI provided the framework in which the Council could play a far more active part.  The maintenance of international peace and security would be considerably strengthened if the Council and its members had recourse more often to Chapter VI when conducting peace negotiations.  The peaceful settlement of disputes and prevention of conflicts were today consistent with the capacities of the international community and the United Nations, and their ability to assist in those types of crises.  Also, to that end, peacekeeping operations had displayed their usefulness in preventing future conflicts by dealing with underlying causes and bringing parties to the negotiating table.  The United Nations could make a significant contribution to prevent the spread of conflict, even once a conflict had broken out.


The central figure of the Secretary-General had also become a powerful tool in the prevention and peaceful solution of conflicts, he said.  Highlighting a lesson learned, he said that the involvement of women in all cases had been particularly useful.  In seeking and consolidating peace, women made a big difference.  He urged the Secretariat to achieve its gender-related goals by bringing in more women and giving them higher positions in the Organization.  To prevent conflict, the Council should establish a series of practical measures, such as calling for periodic reports on regional threats to international peace and security.  It could also establish an informal working group or some informal arrangement to discuss specific tools and measures for the peaceful settlement of disputes, in conflicts already on the agenda or soon to be added to the agenda.


INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) drew attention to five elements that would make it possible to improve the Council’s effectiveness.  Those included the need for political will, first and foremost.  The 1992 Agenda for Peace clearly set out that possible failures of the Organization to settle disputes had been largely caused by a lack of political will, and not because the United Nations lacked tools or because those tools were inadequate.  Another element was the need for interaction among the various organs of the United Nations system.  At times, there was a lack of synergy between the Council and other entities, and the level of cooperation, when it existed, often occurred too late.  There was also a need for proper analysis of information, aimed at evolving an improved conflict- prevention policy.


Also necessary, he said, was an adequate analysis of information originating from other sources, such as the media and civil society.  Cooperation with regional organizations and structures was another main aspect, as was the need to coordinate initiatives to restore peace.  The Secretary-General, in a 1998 report on the causes of conflicts and the promotion of peace in Africa, which could be universally applied, said that initiatives to bring about peace must be appropriately prepared and coordinated.  Competing initiatives among international agencies would further complicate a situation and should be avoided.


He concluded, therefore, that certain required improvements were needed.  It was not possible to talk about the pacific settlement of disputes, for example, without employing preventive measures.  The Council should do more to prevent conflict.  Not doing so was owed, in part, to the “power relationship” within the Council, which made it difficult to find the necessary consensus.  Also needed was greater synergy between the Council and regional groups.  The Council should also make greater use of the function it enjoyed under Article 34, in terms of investigating disputes that might lead to international tensions.  To prevent conflicts, a suitable analysis of information from outside sources was also required. 


JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that there was often much focus on the powers of the Council when it was taking action under Chapter VII.  But the provision of Chapter VI was every bit as important.  The prevention of disputes was, of course, more important than trying to find solutions to those already in progress.  However, that was a delicate matter, since early action could sometimes be construed as interference.  In Chapter VI of the Charter, the founding fathers set out a flexible mechanism, which brought together several components.  The Council could act alone or with others; it had many tools at its disposal; it could send missions to areas; it could also moderate peace processes and facilitate the arbitration of disputes.  “Do we use all these instruments to the full?” he asked. 


Whatever the assessment, the Council could do more than what was set out in the Charter’s examples, he noted.  The Council needed to draw attention to threats to peace and security earlier.  For that, it needed reliable information.  It also needed to apply lessons learned from earlier conflicts.  In addition, it needed to draw on the resources of the United Nations and the international community as a whole, including those of the Secretariat and civil society.  He agreed with the representative of Mexico that women could play a more pronounced peace-building role.


It would be easy, he said, to blame the United Nations, and particularly the Council, when situations deteriorated into conflict.  It was important to remember that the United Nations was not, and he believed should seldom be, the only or primary actor in the pacific settlement of disputes.  Chapter VI placed the responsibility primarily on the parties to the dispute to settle them peacefully.  Only when the parties to disputes were ready to face their responsibilities in that regard could the Council discharge effectively and successfully the role it had been given.  Only then could the international community bring its resources to bear on the disputes that had caused so much suffering over the years.


WANG YINGFAN (China) said that the pacific settlement of disputes was a principle under the Charter and the primary responsibility of the Security Council.  The Charter provided the Council with a broad arena and offered a variety of tools to play its role in maintaining peace and security.  History had demonstrated that the use of force did not resolve disputes by dealing with the root causes.  More and more countries and peoples had come to realize that the use, or threat of use, of force could hardly bring about peace and security, or sustain it.  The new security paradigm, characterized mainly by dialogue and cooperation, was today becoming a major trend.  The pacific settlement of disputes gave specific expression to that new security concept.


He noted that recent disputes in various regions around the world had been solved by peaceful means.  When the Council played a more positive role in that regard, the international community would undoubtedly have more hope for pacific settlements.  The success or failure of the Council to bring about such resolutions hinged on the willingness of the parties to the conflict to seek a political settlement.  The Council should make an objective evaluation of the conflict situation in a timely fashion, and then propose suggestions for settlement.  It should also strengthen cooperation with various other organs of the United Nations system and authorize the Secretary-General to conduct good offices and mediation, so as to fully use the Organization’s comprehensive potential for peaceful settlements.  At all times, Member States must also do their part.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that the role of the Council in the pacific settlement of disputes had been outlined, in particular, by the provisions of Chapter VI of the Charter.  Unlike situations that fell under Chapter VII, where the Council was Charter-bound to determine precisely whether the prerequisites for its invocation were met, Chapter VI provided the Council with a certain latitude in the evaluation of the situation and in the use of the most appropriate means.  It went without saying that the Council’s ability to anticipate emerging disputes and conflicts, and to react to them in the most appropriate way, depended, to a significant extent, on an early and solid knowledge of the situation.  The importance of “early warning” for the peaceful settlement of disputes could not be overemphasized.


When looking at ways and means to enhance the Council’s ability to react in the most appropriate manner, it was not necessary to reinvent the wheel, he noted.  Certain lessons from the United Nations experience in the field of post-conflict peace-building might well be applied to pre-conflict situations, or in situations of emerging conflicts.  The reason was simple -– the management of pre- and post-conflict situations required some identical ingredients, necessary to produce sustained peace and stability.


Some of the means available to the Council in addressing disputes and conflicts had been thoroughly explored, he said.  Others, such as the investigative powers enshrined in Article 34 of the Charter, might benefit from some reinvigoration, through the establishment of special missions or commissions of investigation, as appropriate.  The Council’s practice of dispatching fact-finding missions to fragile situations could benefit from some intensification.  Another “dormant” article of the Charter, which might well prove its usefulness in the context of conflict prevention, was Article 26 authorizing the Council, in the interest of maintaining peace and security, to establish a system to regulate armaments.


A further area that might deserve more attention was recourse to judicial mechanisms, he added.  No mechanism of dispute settlement could match the impartiality, and thus the acceptance, of judicial mechanisms.  It was somewhat surprising that the Council, throughout its history, proceeded only once to recommend, by virtue of Article 36, paragraph 3 of the Charter, that the parties refer their case to the International Court of Justice, while two other proposals to that effect, presented by Colombia and the United States, respectively, were defeated.  It would be interesting to hear whether Judge Elaraby might have any suggestions in that regard.


He also stressed another point that merited further attention, namely, strengthening cooperation between the Council and regional organizations in the pacific settlement of disputes.  Owing to their closer knowledge of the political, social and cultural context of a dispute, regional organizations were particularly well placed to provide early warning and to maintain political mechanisms for the settlement of disputes.


JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said that the Council’s upcoming mission to West Africa to witness, first hand, the situation in several areas where peace was precarious, was a very current example of the Council’s implementation of Chapter VI of the Charter, which provided that the Council might investigate any dispute or situation that might give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether it was likely to endanger international peace and security.  The Charter gave the Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and set forth a formula for fulfilling that charge, the focus of which was contained in the core Chapters VI and VII.


He said that the link between the peaceful settlement of disputes and the maintenance of international peace and security was obvious; there was a logical progression from Chapter VI, which provided for the use of peaceful means to settle disputes, and Chapter VII, which provided for measures to be taken to restore it.  The question could be asked about whether that sequence was being followed, or whether there was a tendency to react to events, rather than make a more proactive use of preventive diplomacy, in order to diffuse disputes during their early stages.  Chapter VII had been invoked only a handful of times in the Organization’s first 45 years.  Today, it was frequently cited in Council resolutions.  That did not signal, however, that the Council had abandoned  Chapter VI.


Much had been achieved through the efforts of the Secretary-General’s envoys and representatives in “hot spots” around the world, he said.  Over the years, mechanisms had been developed to enable the Council to prevent some disputes from reaching a stage where Chapter VII action was required.  Chapter VI had been “stretched” to accommodate the emergence of peacekeeping, which had been a valuable tool in dispute settlement.  Earlier missions, where unarmed military observers monitored international disputes, had been expanded to include armed infantry, in order to provide force protection, logistical support, and to carry out specific tasks, such as disarmament and demobilization.


He highlighted, as a very important contribution to the Secretary-General’s good offices role, the appointment of special representatives, who remained on the ground to work with the involved parties to find and implement peaceful solutions.  The Legal Committee of the General Assembly had also produced a number of important resolutions related to the topic, including the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes, and the Declaration on the Prevention and Removal of Disputes and Situations Which May Threaten International Peace and Security and the Role of the United Nations in This Field.  Nevertheless, the Council was frequently faced with the choice of whether to act alone, or in concert with another body.


Last July, he recalled, the Economic and Social Council established a mechanism to set up ad hoc advisory groups for African countries emerging from conflict.  The United States supported the establishment of such a group for Guinea-Bissau and sent observers from its embassy in Dakar to join the group in November.  Such a mechanism, if requested by a State that had actually emerged from conflict, could help to bridge the gap between relief and reconstruction, thereby enabling the United Nations system to respond coherently to conflict. 


J. GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said that one of the most cherished principles enshrined in the Charter was the obligation of Members to settle their disputes by peaceful means, so as not to endanger international peace and security.  It was true that the United Nations was crafted by its founders as an organization essentially committed to maintaining and re-establishing world peace.  That converged in perfect harmony with the essential responsibility of the Council to promote and preserve international peace and security.


He said that since the post-cold war period, there was a trend in the Council to make full use of the means in Chapter VI of the Charter.  Also in harmony with that trend, he noted the crafting of principles and doctrine based on the principle of preventive diplomacy.  However, despite efforts over recent years, the results obtained were still far from satisfactory.  The mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of disputes, set out in the Charter, were often not respected or used as often as they could be.


The Council, as the organ entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, had been given an important role in conflict settlement, he said.  It had the right to investigate situations that could give rise to conflict.  It could also urge parties to settle their disputes by peaceful means.  Also, it could recommend suitable solutions or arrangements.  In doing so, it must take due account of the fact that disputes of a legal nature should be referred to the International Court of Justice.  The Council should intensify the use of diplomatic procedures to settle disputes. 


Today, when it was asserted that the Council should be reformed, it was important to remember that the first need was to develop the means for the Council to discharge its responsibilities.  That implied making use of the experience gained by the Council and also to handle disputes at an early stage, before they became a threat to international peace and security.  Similarly, as international law required, it was necessary to look at the various methods and tools available to the States themselves.  They were the “first line” in preventing disputes. Also, it was essential for the Council to promote reliance on regional and subregional organizations for the settlement of local disputes.


STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said he agreed with the Secretary-General that the principle of the pacific settlement of disputes was at the very heart of the Charter.  His country was dedicated to that guiding principle, and also to diplomacy. Chapter VI enabled the Council to play an important, but not exclusive, role in the pacific settlement of disputes.  The primary responsibility for resolving conflict lay with the parties themselves.  From that perspective, the United Nations had an important role to play in encouraging the parties to embark upon the path of peace through negotiations.  The Council had a central role to play in that regard, but experience had shown that it succeeded most when there was interaction and cooperation with other United Nations bodies, which constituted crucial relationships.


He stressed that the major role of the Council was its ability to lay down clear-cut mandates for the Secretary-General, thereby allowing him to make the best possible use of all diplomatic instruments at his disposal.  The appointment by the Secretary-General of special representatives had been important throughout the years.  They very often had been the very embodiment of the spirit of peace for a large number of countries and local communities.  As other speakers had said, the Council had not made equal use of all the instruments available to it under Chapter VI, owing to historical and political reasons.


Under all circumstances, a spirit of pragmatism and common sense should prevail, he said.  In that regard, the formulas used by the Council should be diverse and varied.  One of the dangers it faced was that of routine and inertia.  He also emphasized the importance of Article 35 of the Charter, which enabled States to bring matters of its concern to the Council’s attention.  Cooperation between the Council and regional organizations had been increasing over the years.  In particular, the early warning capability non-governmental organizations would enable the Council to react more quickly and effectively.


MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said that one of the primordial objectives the United Nations had set for itself was the maintenance of a climate of peace among States.  To achieve that, the Organization had broad possibilities.  Many mediation efforts had been undertaken under Chapter VI.  However, it must be acknowledged that, despite efforts, there had been, and were, several conflicts that jeopardized regional and international balance.  The peaceful settlement of conflict was a challenge to all.  In that regard, the Council had a crucial role to play.  It must act to promote dialogue, since ideas that transcend differences emerged from dialogue. 


Also, he continued, the Council was called on to facilitate negotiations among parties once conflict had broken out.  Such negotiations required on the part of the parties a spirit of compromise.  He emphasized that subregional and regional organizations were appropriate channels for the management and settlement of conflicts.  The machinery established for that by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had shown themselves to be active and useful.


There was no doubt, he said, that while the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace lay with the Council, other United Nations bodies played no less an important role.  He was pleased to note that increasingly the parties to an emerging conflict went before the International Court of Justice for a settlement of their dispute, avoiding an overt escalation of the situation.  He reaffirmed that the preservation of international peace and security was a long-standing task, which required efforts from everyone. 


JEAN MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said that all threats were interlinked in today’s world.  Pacific settlement of disputes was as important now as it was at the time of the adoption of the Charter.  Chapter VI clearly set forth the ways to find specific solutions to disputes, including through negotiation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial means, the use of regional agencies, and so forth.  That Chapter struck a balance between the role of the parties, of the Council and possible other actors.  It placed primary responsibility for pacific settlement with the parties themselves, while leaving open the option of asking for external assistance. 


In practice, he said, implementation of the peaceful settlement of disputes had given rise to two developments.  First, the Secretary-General and his special representatives and envoys had been compelled to play an increasingly significant role.  In all situations, the discretion, imagination, impartiality and persistence used by the Secretary-General had helped him make a decisive contribution.  A second development pertained to the growing role of regional organizations.  Those organizations often had better knowledge of the crisis and the stakes involved.  In that context, he noted the outstanding action by the European Union in helping the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to endure a crisis period that could have destabilized the entire Balkan region.


Continuing, he said that much hope existing for implementing the “Road Map” established by the Quartet for the Middle East.  There was no point in changing the delicate balance defined by the Charter, but within the scheme established under Chapter VI, the Council could make a major contribution in various ways, including lending political support to the Secretary-General and to regional organizations, by establishing peacekeeping and observer missions and, in broader terms, by facilitating implementation of agreements reached between the parties, by sending messages that they had to find a negotiated solution.  His country was deeply committed to the pacific settlement of disputes, for which the Council could be a catalyst towards a meeting of minds and wills.


ISMAEL GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that today’s theme was particularly timely and well suited.  Important developments were taking place in South Asia, leading to the establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan, and creating favourable conditions to solve, through dialogue, a long-standing dispute.  He encouraged the two nations to forge ahead.


The world was still living through a complex process of global transition, unsettled as it was by political and technological changes, he noted.  Great hopes had been raised when the process was unleashed.  However, such changes had added new risks to old ones.  Issues such as poverty, famine, oppression and the growing disparity between nations had not been solved and required greater attention by all, if the world was to be spared from permanent conflict and insecurity.  The United Nations remained a unique and indispensable tool to face the threats to peace and create a more secure world.  States were the foundation stones of the Organization.  On them rested the primary responsibility to develop the United Nations’ potential for creating international cooperation for the peaceful settlement of disputes. 


The Charter, he said, was clear by entrusting on States the responsibility to settle disputes peacefully.  Preventive diplomacy was the most suitable way to resolve disputes before conflict broke out.  However, that could only be applied when political will and good faith were displayed by the parties.  He underlined the paragraph in the presidential statement relating to the commitment of the Council to make wider and more effective use of the procedures and means in the Charter for the peaceful settlement of disputes, as essential components of its work to maintain international peace and security.


A number of conflicts could have been prevented, he said.  However, too often the inaction of the international community and the United Nations let things grow to uncontrollable proportions.  When the Council received reports of emerging conflict, it should engage in immediate action and put in place measures at its disposal to prevent the escalation of situations into conflict.  In that regard, regional organizations were well suited to provide accurate assessments of crisis situations.  They could engage in preventive diplomacy and take decisions when situations became one of risk for the regions concerned.  They could play a fundamental role in the maintenance of international peace and security. 


MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that the Council had wide authority enabling it to take decisions affecting peace and security, including resorting to the use of armed force.  Many speakers today had said that Chapter VI had been used frequently during the cold war, but in the last decade the focus had been on Chapter VII.  The Council might move away from its main objective, if it relied solely on Chapter VII.  The role of the United Nations in preserving collective security was defined in the Charter.  The Council had the authority to, among other tasks, examine any threat to international peace and security and make the proper recommendations for the pacific settlement of disputes.  It could also impose sanctions, both diplomatic and economic, and it could use armed power, if needed.


He said that, for more than 50 years the United Nations, in general, and specifically the Security Council, had prevented many conflicts through diplomacy and dialogue.  It had also built peace in many regions.  Some problems remained, however, particularly the Middle East question, which was among the oldest conflicts before the Council.  All resolutions relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict had been adopted under Chapter VI of the Charter.  The Council had not taken the appropriate measures to achieve the peaceful settlement of that conflict, which was still raging today.  The Council’s role was not confined to the use of peaceful means, but extended to the use of all possible means to prevent a situation from raging out of control. 


The United Nations must effectively face all issues related to conflict, such as enhancing mechanisms for cooperation in the field of information, adopting preventive measures, and putting in place an improved early warning system, he said.  It was incumbent upon the Council to take into account the transformations under way in today’s world, as well as the reactions of the peoples who inhabited it, and for whose security the Council was responsible.  Reform of the Council’s methods of work, especially aimed at avoiding the practice of double standards, should be accelerated.  Such reforms should be done in accordance with current global developments.  Increasing that body’s membership should be done in a manner commensurate with the request made by the Non-Aligned Movement, for increasing both the permanent and elected membership.


SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) thanked the three main speakers for their comments, which he hoped would contribute to finding solutions in such difficult times.  An important role in the peaceful settlement of disputes belonged to the Council. It had a unique international legal legitimacy, a wealth of peacekeeping experience and a broad range of resources in that sphere.  That machinery was also applicable to the prevention of disputes.


He said that the adoption of the presidential statement later today was meant to become a contribution to the Council’s efforts in the task entrusted to it in the Charter, namely, the maintenance of international peace and security.  Recent events had, once again, reaffirmed that it was important that all States show political will and not resort to the use of force, except for reasons explained in the Charter.


As never before, he said, the ability of the Council to respond immediately to global threats to peace was of enormous significance.  A vital United Nations was a key instrument in confronting those threats.  In that connection, the main responsibility for the settlement of disputes lay with the parties themselves.  Cognizant of its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Council, his country was prepared to continue to find ways to enhance the Council’s ability to prevent and peacefully settle disputes.


MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that deep thinking had gone into the Charter to prevent war and maintain peace, with which the Council had been entrusted.  Lack of resources, and lack of political will on the part of its members, could drastically limit the conduct of its action.  The peaceful settlement of disputes was not a new issue.  By now, that should be the imperative norm and the accepted obligation of States, compelling them to favour negotiations over war.  The Charter gave the Council the pre-eminent role in that regard.  Indeed, it must act in a resolute and effective manner, in order to “prevent the guns from sounding”.  That was the essence of Chapter VI.


He said that the Manila Declaration “got it right” by inviting the Council and Member States to make use of every possible means to reach peaceful settlements, with a view to preventing breaches of the peace.  In order to fulfil its role, the Council had a range of tools and mechanisms at its disposal.  There was also the possibility for any Member State to bring a dispute to the Council’s attention, if it was a party to it.  That option was one of the most important contributions of the Charter in the peaceful settlement of disputes.  The Charter had also expanded that privilege to the General Assembly and to the Secretary-General, when a dispute threatened to violate international peace and security.  That reach of the Council’s jurisdiction enhanced its ability to discharge its responsibilities.


The Council could also refer States to the International Court of Justice, he said.  That, undoubtedly, was major progress in the promotion of international peace and security through peaceful means.  More than ever, the international community was called upon to strengthen its response to preventing disputes.  It was only possible to win the battle for peace if guns gave way to negotiations.  His country was convinced that there was no internal crisis, or one involving two States, that could not be solved peacefully.  Beyond dialogue, the major tool was reliance on law.  To overcome such dangers as the spread of unconventional weapons and terrorism, dialogue must be practised and dedication to the primacy of law in relations among States reaffirmed.


KHURSHID M. KASURI, Council President and Foreign Minister of Pakistan, speaking in his national capacity, recalled that his country’s involvement with the Council had come very early in the history of the United Nations.  It was intensified when the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir was referred to the Council.  One of the earliest applications of Chapter VI of the Charter was on the Kashmir dispute.  Following negotiations and agreements among the parties, the Council adopted resolution 47 (1948), which promised a free and fair plebiscite under United Nations auspices to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wished to join Pakistan or India. 


Before and after that resolution, he continued, the Council instituted a series of mechanisms, including the establishment of the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP), the deployment of a military observer mission (UNMOGIP) and appointment of eminent special representatives.  The process ran aground due to the cold war, when the Council could no longer act to persuade the parties to implement its resolutions.  Today, he was hopeful that the process of dialogue could be revived.  “While there is no road map as yet, we have embarked on a road.”


A peaceful solution of Jammu and Kashmir was possible, he said, if both sides displayed flexibility, goodwill and wisdom.  It was, however, obvious that there could be no durable solution unless the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir were taken into consideration.  He was confident that the international community, especially the Council and the Secretary-General, would extend their full support to Pakistan and India in their fresh endeavours for peace.


Some commentators, he remarked, had proclaimed that the Council had failed when it could not agree to a resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq.  The Council’s demurral against authorizing force against Iraq, notwithstanding the previous regime’s flagrant violations, highlighted the need to do everything possible to succeed in resolving conflicts through the processes set out in Chapter VI of the Charter.


The United Nations remained an indispensable forum, in spite of the enormous asymmetry of power among its Member States, he said.  It was in the interest of all Member States to address issues through the Council and the United Nations.  It was the only institution which offered international legitimacy, credibility and acceptability for the actions and policies of individual Member States or groups of States.  Those assets of legitimacy, credibility and acceptability must be more vigorously utilized by the Council to prevent armed conflicts and to settle disputes peacefully.


In an age of nuclear weapons and advanced conventional means of destruction, he added, the Council must give life to the central obligation of Member States under the Charter to refrain from the threat or use of force, avoid war, and seek and build peace through the vast spectrum of modalities envisaged in Chapter VI, and other provisions of the Charter.


Other Statements


As the Council meeting resumed this afternoon, ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Iceland, said he attached great importance to Chapter VI of the Charter and, in particular, to the various methods for the prevention and settlement of disputes which were incorporated in its Articles 33 to 38.  He also emphasized the importance of judicial mechanisms in the prevention and resolution of legal disputes.  The early and more frequent resort to those mechanisms, particularly to the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, would greatly contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as the promotion of the primacy of international law in international relations.


The Council should act without delay, in accordance with its functions and powers, in cases where international disputes developed into armed conflicts, he said.  It should also emphasize the importance of the peaceful settlement of internal conflicts, the number of which had increased significantly during the last decade.  He considered the role of the General Assembly in relation to the peaceful settlement of disputes to be an important one, particularly by developing recommendations or by calling the attention of the Council to situations that were likely to endanger international peace and security.  The Assembly should make the most effective use of its relevant competences under the Charter.


Preventive diplomacy and early warning could prevent the emergence and escalation of disputes, he said.  He underlined the role played in that respect by the Council, the Assembly and the Secretary-General and was convinced that they should further enhance it.  Also, regional arrangements and agencies could play an important role in prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes.  There was a need to increase regional responses to local disputes by strengthening the dispute settlement mechanisms and capacities of regional bodies.  In that regard, greater cooperation and coordination with the United Nations would contribute to lasting peace and security.


MANUEL ACOSTA BONILLA (Honduras) said that the international community firmly believed in the conciliatory role of the United Nations.  Security, peace and economic development sustained the peoples of the earth.  That could not be achieved, however, if valuable resources were not used for food, health and education.  New challenges threatened world peace and provided good reason to unite efforts worldwide.  Terrorism and drug trafficking were also tremendous threats.  Hunger, HIV/AIDS, and even Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), could erode social sectors in all corners of the globe.  To address those huge challenges, the role of the United Nations and the Security Council must be strengthened.  To bolster the Organization, its working methods should be reviewed and partnerships should be formed and renewed. 


He said that the Honduran people faithfully complied with international law.  The country’s Constitution was an expression of their commitment to peace.  Honduras had signed all instruments related to the peaceful resolution of disputes.  It also trusted in the Council as the guarantor for carrying out the sentences handed down by the international judicial bodies.  Peace, security and development would be thwarted if there was no consensus in the Council, and if compliance with the findings of the international courts could not be guaranteed. He sought more active diplomacy on the part of Secretary-General, the Organization’s greater capacity for analysis, and a proper use of resources available to the specialized agencies of the United Nations.  Once informed of a potential conflict, the Council could invite the parties for consultation, on an exceptional basis, to seek an early solution.


VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said that a cursory look at Chapter VI showed that it concerned only those disputes that endangered the maintenance of international peace and security.  Not all disputes that affected States or between them were covered.  While it needed to be recognized that the Council or the Assembly had in the normal course rarely refused to admit a question for failing to fulfil the clause “likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security” and had chosen to interpret that article liberally, it had generally adopted a flexible and pragmatic approach and one that had been grounded on a recognition of the political realities on the ground, rather than on purely legalistic approaches.


Evidently, he continued, the means provided for in Article 33 were not intended to be exhaustive.  The reference to “other peaceful means of their choices” was clearly added to provide the parties greater freedom of choice.  The drafters desired action by the Organization only in the last resort, with the onus left on the parties to settle disputes peacefully among themselves either directly, through the means listed in the Article, or through resort to regional organizations, if need be.


The idea that local disputes should be solved locally seemed to have been favoured by the drafters, he said.  Even where the Council or the Assembly had taken consideration of a situation or question, the primary responsibility for settlement remained with the parties themselves.  Given that primary responsibility rested with the parties to settle their differences or disputes between themselves, the competence of the United Nations organs was only subsidiary.  Likewise, the measures outlined in Chapter VI were non-coercive and possessed no legally binding character beyond what had been accepted by parties and in terms of their own understanding of such acceptance of commitment.


How far did the power of the Council under Chapter VI extend? he asked.  It was pertinent to note that Article 33 required the Council, when it deemed necessary, to call on the parties to settle their disputes by peaceful methods, but the choice of means of settlement by the parties, strictly construed, would entail that the parties were bound no further than to engage in their best efforts to find a peaceful solution.  The requirements of specific results were not indicated.  The path of negotiation was seen by many distinguished jurists as the most preferable method of settlement of disputes, since, among other things, an imposed solution to a dispute was likely to be reopened by the party that felt aggrieved or compelled at the time of the settlement, thus proving to be no real settlement at all. 


YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) noted that the Council had not always been successful and consistent in achieving implementation of its own resolutions, especially with regard to the settlement of the conflicts.  A quick look at the situation with the conflict in and around the Nagorny-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan demonstrated that the lack of implementation of Council resolutions had a dreadful impact on the settlement process.  One fifth of the territory of his country still remained under foreign occupation.  He stressed that nothing other than liberation of occupied Azerbaijani territories would restore his country’s confidence in Armenia.


Continuation of the conflict threatened the security of not only his country but also of the entire region, as well as Europe, he said.  The situation demanded principled approaches and actions on behalf of the international community.  Impartiality towards the settlement process had nothing to do with the wait-and-see policy taken by the Council.  There was no expiration date for the Council’s resolutions.  Therefore, he reiterated his appeal to the Council to insist on the implementation of its resolutions regarding the conflict in and around the Nagorny-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. 


Azerbaijan remained committed to the peaceful settlement of that protracted conflict based on full respect for the norms and principles of international law, full implementation of the relevant Council resolutions and appropriate Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) documents and decisions.  At the same time, his country would never compromise its territorial integrity.  The United Nations Charter offered vast possibilities for action by the Council to prevent disputes from arising between parties, to prevent existing disputes from escalating into conflicts and to contain and resolve conflicts when they occurred.


LUIS GUILLERMO GIRALDO (Colombia) said that the United Nations Charter and the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes referred only to the pacific settlement of international disputes -- in other words, between States, and the prevention of international conflicts.  Nowadays, the world and the United Nations were concerned with the internal conflicts in many States.


He drew the attention of the Council and the international community to the external factors affecting many of the armed conflicts around the world.  The role of diamonds in the financing of armed conflict in Africa had been recognized.  Similarly, it was necessary to recognize the role of the illicit drug trade in the funding of internal armed conflicts.  A deadly alliance between drug trafficking and illegal armed groups that financed themselves through those activities had been created.  The weapons and explosives armed groups used were purchased abroad through foreign accounts financed by illicit drug trafficking.


That situation, he continued, required an approach based on the principle of shared responsibility.  Logically, if an internal conflict was financed by drug trafficking, then drug users shared the responsibility for that conflict and of the violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law that took place in those countries.  The international community had fallen behind in fostering the needed cooperation on that issue.


SIGIT WARDONO (Indonesia) said today’s discussion came at a time when the credibility and responsibility of the Council for the maintenance of international peace and security was generating intense debate.  The Council’s role in the pacific settlement of disputes formed part of a broader and deeper intellectual, diplomatic and political exercise of practical concern to the peoples of the world.  In the settlement of disputes, the Council relief on the powers accorded it by Chapters VI and VII of the Charter.  Those conveyed the authority to the United Nations to conduct preventive and enforcement measures for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.


He said that a broad sweep of history had shown that, despite all the flashpoints of conflict at the international level since the Second World War, the world was indeed a safer and more secure place today.  The Council could take some consolation from that favourable development.  Indeed, relative peace and security had much to do with the work of the United Nations and the determination of its Members to save the world from the scourge of war.  In that connection, the work of the Security Council had been critical.  Chapter VI had given that work “a political foothold” and legal authority.  It was now widely acknowledged that development was the flip side of the coin of peace.  Without development, there could be no justice; in turn, injustice almost always unravelled what amounted to “false peace”.


Unfortunately, the Council had not always maintained the highest standards, he said.  There had been instances where parties to a dispute, or Member States, had pointed accusing fingers at the Council for what was perceived as double standards or disparity in its response to a variety of situations.  In the pacific resolution of disputes, it was critical that the impartiality of the judge be beyond reproach or dispute.  Also crucial was to address the broader issue of Council reform.  The United Nations must speak with one voice, work together and abide by agreed principles.


ABDUL MEJID HUSSEIN (Ethiopia) said that under the Charter, pacific settlement was provided for as one of the major functions of the United Nations, and a discussion of the topic today was absolutely necessary and timely.  The Secretary-General was given the responsibility under the Charter to bring to the notice of the Council threats to international peace and security, and the Council remained the guardian of such security.


Over the past decade, he continued, the world had seen minor misunderstanding degenerate into large-scale wars, as well as countless deaths and suffering due to conflict.  What went wrong?  Had the world fared better following the establishment of the United Nations to prevent conflict?  Could not the genocide in Rwanda have been prevented?  Could the continuing massacres taking place currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo not be prevented?  It was difficult to answer those questions in the affirmative.


Many speakers had cited the importance of the pacific settlement of international disputes, as stipulated under Chapter VI, he said. There was nothing more desirable than settling disputes by peaceful means.  But what happened when States and organizations within States ignored what was stated in Chapter VI?  What should be done in such cases?  The Brahimi Report answered that by stating the need to “call a spade a spade”.  It was necessary to point the finger at the culprit.


The predecessor to the United Nations, the League of Nations, had failed in the mid-1930s to take action against Mussolini when he invaded Ethiopia.  Ethiopia was again subject to a similar invasion more recently.  Also, in 1990, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq.  The Iraqi leadership was never held accountable, until recently under different circumstances.  Unless the Council acted on time and in unison, disputes could not be settled peacefully.


Peace would be enhanced if the Council took appropriate measures against those who flouted international law and the Council’s decisions, he said.  It would also be enhanced if the Council encouraged the role of civil society organizations in monitoring local threats to peace and security.  The role of the Secretary-General, in carrying out personal mediation efforts or dispatching envoys, should also continue to be strengthened and supported by the Council.


MARINE DAVTYAN (Armenia) said that, in order to reach the noble objective of peaceful coexistence of nations, vigorous actions at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels should be pursued.  With modern threats to international peace and security taking new shapes and forms, the Council should try to respond to the legal and historic basis for conflicts.  The Charter reaffirmed the collective faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small.  That must be put at the core of all policies, in order to achieve success in the common pursuit of global peace and security.


She said that success could occur by addressing the root causes of a conflict at the early stage, and by promoting economic and social development, and ensuring universal respect for human rights for all, including the right of peoples to self-determination.  In that regard, the United Nations and the Security Council had a crucial role to play.  Struggle continued in her region.  The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh was not a result of armed aggression, as Azerbaijan tried to present, but the forced resort to self-defence of the Karabakh population –- the only choice available to avoid mass deportation and massacre, following their peaceful and just quest for self-determination.


Azerbaijan’s claim on Nagorno-Karabakh and its “blind adherence” to the principle of the territorial integrity was “legally deficient and invalid” since Nagorno-Karabakh had never been a part of independent Azerbaijan, she said.  It was arbitrarily incorporated into the administrative borders of the Soviet Azerbaijan.  Consequently, during the break-up of the Soviet Union, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh had peacefully exercised their right to self-determination, through the popular vote, according to the laws and Constitution of the former Soviet Union, as well as international law.  It was particularly alarming that, despite the ceasefire and the ongoing negotiations, there were forces in Azerbaijan who called for a military solution.


Response of Eminent Persons


Sir Brian Urguhart said that, coming back after many years, he had been impressed at how the Council was a curious combination of formality and informality.  The informal side would inevitably lose its value if it were ever publicized.  But, what had impressed him was the reality of 15 highly qualified delegations working together, day and night, on a wide variety of problems and, most of the time, working as a team.  That was an encouraging sign of the Council’s vitality and the fact that a great deal more work was being done on the peaceful settlement of disputes than the public realized.  Hopefully, the suggestions made in today’s debate would help to speed up that very important process.

Judge Elaraby said that, after a four-year absence from the Council, today was definitely educational.  Everyone heard comments and assurances from Member States and Council members on the need to improve and enhance the Council’s capacity in the area of the pacific settlement of disputes.  The first step for improvement was to recognize that, like in any system, there were defects.  Many proposals had been made today.  Overall, members expressed their willingness to dedicate themselves to strengthening the Council.  The importance of preventive diplomacy was made clear by many, including the Secretary-General, who had called for moving from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.


He said that the Secretary-General’s role was extremely important and his Office held “endless potential” and definitely had surpassed the expectations of the drafters of the Charter.  That Office symbolized one of the basic purposes of the Charter, by being at the centre in harmonizing collective action for peace.  To a question posed by the German representative about why more disputes had not been referred to the International Court of Justice, he said that required wider acceptance of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction -- today, 63 States had accepted the Court out of 190.  That would also mean more referrals of disputes by the Council, and more requests for advisory opinions.


If one looked at those three different approaches and saw why disputes were not taken voluntarily by the parties to the General Assembly, or to the Secretary-General, or Security Council, or the International Court of Justice, one would find that the disputes were politically motivated, he added.  The permanent Court had tried to clarify that point by saying that a dispute was a disagreement on a point of law or fact.  The present Court was aware that political actors might be present in any dispute before it, but it wished to first establish that a dispute was a legal one and that could be settled through international law, and that the Court had jurisdiction to deal with it.  So, the political aspects of disputes should not really prevent their referral to the Court.


Today, he said, the Council had made very important and relevant proposals to enhance its role in the peaceful settlement of disputes.  That exercise should be pursued vigorously, to translate ideas and proposals into agreed practice.  In that context, the Council might find it appropriate to proceed in three parallel tracks:  early involvement and action in disputes, as well as active exercise of preventive diplomacy; clarification of legal matters; and the active and genuine revisiting of the Council’s working methods.


The Council President, MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), then read out the following presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/2003/5:


“The Council, guided by the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations Charter, reaffirms its commitment to maintain international peace and security through effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.


“The Security Council recognizes that the United Nations and its organs can play an important role in preventing disputes from arising between parties, in preventing existing disputes from escalating into conflicts, and in containing and resolving the conflicts when they occur.  The Security Council recalls, in this regard, the successes of the United Nations in this area.


“The Security Council recalls that the Charter of the United Nations, particularly Chapter VI, sets forth means and a framework for the pacific settlement of disputes.


“The Security Council underscores that the efforts to strengthen the process of the peaceful settlement of disputes should be continued and made more effective.


“The Security Council reiterates its commitment to make a wider and effective use of the procedures and means enshrined in the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations on the pacific settlement of disputes, particularly Articles 33-38 (Chapter VI), as one of the essential components of its work to promote and maintain international peace and security.


“The Security Council decides to continue to keep this item under review.”


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