24/11/2003
Press Release
SC/7935



Security Council

4871st Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD PROBLEMS OF CENTRAL AFRICAN SUBREGION


NEED COMPREHENSIVE, INTEGRATED CROSS-BORDER APPROACH


Options Reviewed in Debate on Report of Economic Assessment

Mission; Secretary-General Proposes Appointment of Special Envoy


A holistic, integrated and cross-border approach was needed to resolve the problems of the Central African subregion, speakers in the Security Council stressed this morning as the Council considered strengthening cooperation between the United Nations system and the States of the area.


The Council discussed the topic in light of the results of an assessment mission to the countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).  Those countries included Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, the Congo, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and the Central African Republic.


Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the mission, Tuliameni Kalomoh, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said the mission had been well-received and had met with all levels of society in each of the ECCAS countries.  The holistic, cross-border approach was needed to find solutions to armed conflict and promote long-term stability and development in the area, and counter such problems as illicit trade in arms, mass movement of refugees, widespread poverty and weak State institutions.


On the question of the establishment of a United Nations office in the subregion, he said the Secretary-General noted that there were already a number of offices in the States concerned, as well as other initiatives in which the ECCAS members were involved.  Instead of an office, the Secretary-General had proposed the appointment of a special envoy to work on political issues in the subregion.


Nelson Cosme, Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs of ECCAS, said that organizational progress in the subregion included a collective mechanism for security, joint peacekeeping exercises and a nearly complete early warning system.  These efforts, along with milestones toward peace by many States in the region, showed the new dynamic of cooperation in the region.  The opening of a United Nations office could further reinforce stability, security, cooperation and sustainable development.


Most speakers, in the discussion among member States, agreed with the need for an integrated, cross-cutting and subregional approach to problems in the area.  The representative of the United Kingdom warned, however, that not all issues should be treated the same way.  Certain issues might be better treated in a national context, while others, such as HIV/AIDS should be handled over wider regions.


Cameroon’s representative took strong objection to the lack of support for a stronger United Nations presence in the form of an office for the subregion.  States of ECCAS supported it, he said, because it was needed to help develop the holistic approach to the area’s problems.


Some members, however, agreed with the Secretary-General that it was important to avoid adding new bureaucratic structures, preferring that specific activities were developed instead, and that United Nations units already in place were better coordinated.


The representative of France suggested that the proposal of sending a special envoy, in addition, should be considered in the context of the forthcoming International Conference on the Great Lakes.


Other Council members speaking this morning were the representatives of Guinea, China, Germany, Pakistan, Syria, Spain, Russian Federation, United States, Chile, Mexico and Angola.


The representatives of the Congo, Italy (on behalf of the European Union), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Chad and Equatorial Guinea also spoke.


The Permanent Observer of the African Union also made a statement.


The meeting, which began at 10:20 a.m., adjourned at 1:40 p.m.


Background


When the Security Council met this morning to consider strengthening cooperation between the United Nations system and the Central Africa subregion in the maintenance of peace and security, it had before it a letter dated 10 November from the Secretary-General, conveying the Interim report of the multidisciplinary assessment mission to the Central African subregion (S/2003/1077).


Pursuant to the Council’s request in its presidential statement of 31 October 2002 (see Press Release SC/7555 of 31 October, 2002), the multidisciplinary assessment mission visited Central Africa from 8 to 22 June, where it focused on issues of peace, security, economic development, humanitarian affairs, human rights and HIV/AIDS, and to define subregional strategies to address challenges.  The mission, headed by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, visited all 11 member States of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS):  Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Congo, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and the Central African Republic.


According to the interim report, the mission left the subregion with a strong sense of a striking paradox, namely, that Central Africa was potentially one of the richest subregions in Africa but also contained the largest number of States recording the lowest in almost all human development indices.  Central Africa was also mired in armed conflicts; crises of governance; proliferation of small arms; fragility of security sectors; cross-border movement of weapons, drugs and armed groups; mass movements of refugees; underdevelopment of infrastructure; widespread poverty, and weak State institutions.


The mission concluded that, as a result of cross-cutting challenges that transcended national boundaries, an integrated and holistic subregional approach was required to complement national solutions.  Despite many problems, prospects for positive change were high.  The mission noted that all countries except one called for the setting-up of a political presence of the United Nations in the subregion through the establishment of an office in Central Africa, in order to facilitate implementation of a comprehensive and integrated approach to the issues of peace, security and development.


In his letter conveying the report, however, the Secretary-General wrote that he was concerned about the proliferation of offices, noting that there were already a number of United Nations structures in the subregion, including three offices headed by Special Representatives of the Secretary-General.  There were also numerous initiatives that encompassed a large number of the ECCAS States, some of which were also part of other subregional groupings.  Moreover, many of the countries concerned would be involved in the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region, which was expected to result in a regional framework to enhance stability, security, cooperation and development.


The Secretary-General wrote that he had requested, a thorough review of the programmes of the United Nations with a view to enhancing their coherence and effectiveness.  There was also a need to undertake further examination of the root causes of the conflicts that had plagued some of the countries in the subregion.


The Secretary-General proposes to appoint a special envoy who would be available –- as required -– to work on political issues with governments in the subregion.  One of the key priorities will be to identify concrete measures to support the capacity of ECCAS and other mechanisms that the countries in the subregion have established.


TULIAMENI KALOMOH, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report.  He said he had headed the mission to the Central African region last year to explore approaches to peace and development there.  The mission was well received in all States of ECCAS.  The mission met with representatives of government and civil society, as well as United Nation agencies.


The mission determined that a holistic approach was needed to address the linkage between conflict and poverty, involving all actors concerned with the region, he said.  The Secretary-General agreed with the assessment as a whole, and requested a thorough review of all programmes of the Organization in terms of their effectiveness.


Regarding a United Nations office in the region, the Secretary-General noted that there were already a number of offices in the region, as well as other initiatives in which the ECCAS members were involved.  Instead of an office, he proposed the appointment of a special envoy to work on political issues in the subregion.


While acknowledging the responsibilities of the States in the region, Mr. Kalomoh called on the international community to support those efforts of countries toward achieving peace and development in the region.  There was a need for immediate and effective action to work for the end of conflict and a step-up in development.  Good governance would also promote stability.


Given the resources of the area, a climate of sustainable peace, supported by the international community, could result in much progress, he said.  He assured participants that the United Nations would continue to work with the countries in the region.


Statements


MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon), aligning himself with the statement by Congo on behalf of ECCAS, said his country attached fundamental importance to the mission, which had fulfilled its mandate.  However, the countries in the region had requested establishment of a United Nations subregional office.  The report had not fully dealt with that point, which gave rise to disappointment in the region.  That sense of disappointment had been increased by the Secretary-General’s letter, as it said that the desire for a political presence of the United Nations in Central Africa was not something expressed by all members of ECCAS.  He asked how many countries had objected to the idea of a strong United Nations presence in Central Africa through establishment of an office there.  In his opinion, the request had come from the membership of the region as a whole.


The proliferation of offices and Special Representatives was indeed a problem, he said, but those problems existed in other regions as well and had not prevented the Secretary-General from setting up an institution as proposed by the Central Africa region.  The offices in Central Africa were national offices, dealing with specific national issues and not with regional issues as a whole.  Also, in the Secretary-General’s letter, there was a reference to a study on conflicts in Central Africa.  However, Central Africa itself had carried out a study on that issue and the Secretary-General had issued a report on conflicts in Africa which had dealt with the matter.


There was a Special Representative to prepare for the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, he said.  However, only three countries of the Central Africa region were covered by the Great Lakes region.  Central Africa had its own identity and should not be hooked on to other entities.


He said Central Africa had come to the Council to say exactly what Central Africa hoped for, from the Council and from the United Nations.  It had requested that the United Nations have a permanent presence in Central Africa.  He hoped the United Nations would do its utmost to ensure that a positive response be provided to the request.  He hoped that, at the end of deliberations, the statement to be adopted would reconfirm the need for a globally agreed and integrated approach.  He also hoped that the Secretary-General would be requested, within existing resources, to meet the Central African request.


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) agreed with the regional nature of many of Central Africa’s problems.  Security issues were priority and peacekeeping should be coordinated between the United Nations and regional organizations, especially in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Every effort should also be made to combat arms trafficking, including a monitoring mechanism for arms embargos.


Refugees, the AIDS pandemic and combating poverty also required a regional approach, he said.  The States in the region should develop economic cooperation as well.


The proposal of sending a special envoy should be considered in the context of the International Conference on the Great Lakes, he said.  It was true that there was no strict equivalence between participants in that Conference and Central African subregion members, but the Conference would have an impact on countries of the subregion and their relations with the United Nations.


BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the report showed clearly the instability of Central Africa, because of many cross-border issues, which called for a regional approach.  Central Africa now had some regional mechanisms and he expressed approval of growing cooperation in the area.  The prospects of political change were good.  The political will of the States must be supported by an assistance mechanism of the international community.  He appealed to States of the region to continue the courageous bold reforms that were essential.


WANG GUANGYA (China) said the mission’s recommendations must be implemented as soon as possible.  Central Africa was rich in natural resources but was one of the least developed regions in the world.  A major cause of that situation was the armed conflicts.  How to put an end to conflict, achieve national reconciliation and sustainable development was a major challenge to the Central African countries and to the international community.  Efforts made by countries themselves were key.  The peace process in Angola was consolidated.  Peace processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and the Central African Republic were making progress.  No external force could replace the role played by countries concerned.


He said addressing the issue of Central Africa must start from a regional perspective.  In recent years, such organizations as the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, the African Union and ECCAS had taken measures to stabilize the situations in the region.  Through peacekeeping operations, the United Nations had actively helped the countries in their peacekeeping and rehabilitation efforts.  He supported the recommendation to appoint a special envoy.  He called on the international community to increase political and economic support to the region to eradicate poverty and prevent HIV/AIDS.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), aligning himself with the statement of Italy on behalf of the European Union, said the Central African region was still affected by crises and conflicts, and a subregional approach offered the best chance for a comprehensive strategy to address the problems, taking into account the root causes for the conflicts.  He regretted that the mission to the subregion had been unable to visit the Central African Republic as the situation there remained fragile.


He said a subregional approach meant strengthening existing subregional mechanisms.  The ECCAS enjoyed the broadest membership of countries in the subregion and could, therefore, develop regional strategies.  However, it had inadequate capacities.  There were also insufficient capacities for conflict resolution in the Great Lakes region, because there were no adequate subregional structures in place.  The international conference for the Great Lakes might provide some solution.  It was for the countries in the subregion itself to establish clear guidelines and avoid duplication.  Strengthening of cooperation between subregional organizations and the United Nations would be desirable.  The United Nations itself must avoid duplication of mechanisms as well.  A mandate for a special envoy would overlap with the mandate of the Special Representative for the Great Lakes region.


He said the United Nations missions in the Central African subregion should identify possible areas of cooperation regarding cross-cutting issues such as small arms, reintegration of former combatants and cross-border issues.  The multi-country demobilization and reintegration programme was an initiative in that regard.  Germany had contributed $35 million to that programme.  His country would also contribute to quick-impact projects regarding child soldiers.  He urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi to establish national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.


MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) also supported a cross-cutting, regional and holistic approach to the subregions problems, with the root causes of those problems considered.  He welcomed follow-up recommendations by the Secretariat; the United Nations had a great responsibility towards the area and assistance there must be increased.


Health issues, he said, especially HIV/AIDS, should be high priority in the region, as should addressing issues of law and order, exploitation of resources.  The monitoring mechanism of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for illegal trafficking could be extended.  He also proposed more cooperation between United Nations organs in addressing cross-cutting issues.


MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said he agreed with the need for a regional, integrated approach, and the need for a special envoy to help pursue that aim.  He renewed his appeal to all States concerned to participate in the Great Lakes Conference.  He supported all regional, subregional and international efforts to prevent conflicts, prevent circulation of weapons, help refugees and combat underdevelopment and illegal exploitation of resources.


The States of the region could not accomplish those tasks alone, he said.  International assistance was required.  He supported efforts of the United Nations and ECCAS in that regard.


ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) said she supported the statement of Italy to be made on behalf of the European Union, and concurred with the analysis in the report before the Council regarding the main challenges facing the region in areas such as peace and security, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, HIV/AIDS, lack of development, the human rights situation and the vulnerable humanitarian situation.  An effective response to the issues called for an integrated subregional approach.


She said she supported the review of United Nations programmes in the region as a means to improve consistency and effectiveness of the Organization’s activities there, and asked for more information in that regard.  The United Nations had available structures in the region, and the effective use of existing structures should be made before establishing new structures, she said.


On the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, she said it was essential to strengthen national programmes through subregional initiatives.  In that regard she welcomed progress made in establishing the multinational demobilization and reintegration programme for the Great Lakes.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in border areas, and an integrated approach of the United Nations system as a whole, would be welcome.  She stressed the importance of the subregional approach to reduce illegal trafficking in small arms and light weapons.  She also noted the report’s interesting recommendations regarding combating impunity and the link between reform of the judicial system and human rights issues.


ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom), also aligning himself with the statement to be made by Italy on behalf of the European Union, said the Council had proposed the mission a year ago with the aim of establishing effective operational linkages between the United Nations system and across borders.  The mission had concluded that an integrated and holistic subregional approach was required.  However, a blanket subregional approach was not always warranted; some problems could be best tackled on a national level.  Problems such as HIV/AIDS needed to be addressed beyond a subregional approach.  One should not impose templates.


Duplicating existing subregional approaches or mechanisms should also be avoided, he continued, and he spoke of the forthcoming International Conference on the Great Lakes, saying he did not, therefore, support the establishment of a new level of bureaucracy in the region.  It would be better to build upon existing mechanisms.  There was a need to ensure that each part of the system was playing to its strengths.  For instance, the report had identified blurring between the roles of ECCAS and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States.  Review of United Nations programmes should focus on areas where there was some scope for improvement.  The Council should support new security structures of ECCAS and could contribute in other areas such as tackling proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  He urged for a “bottom-up” approach, taking account of the views of those already working in the field.


ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said the mission’s assessments were nearly the same as others by the Council, which meant that an agreed-upon strategy could be formulated.  The problems had been continuing for decades, however, and it was necessary to ask why African States were facing the same root causes of instability as they were facing 40 years ago, at independence.


It was the Africans themselves who had to define themselves, he said.  Their subregional efforts should be transparent and pragmatic.  Better use should be made of multinational and bilateral potential before considering a United Nations office and international efforts, though additional assistance should be provided where appropriate.  He supported the appointment of a special envoy.


JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) expressed approval of recent progress toward peace in the region, which could lead in the direction of economic progress.  He also expressed satisfaction at the development of oil and gas resources in the region, but said the funds that resulted should be targeted toward development.


The naming of a special envoy, he said, should be deferred until after the opening of the Great Lakes Conference.  Many critical elements addressed by the Secretary-General’s report would be addressed there as well.  Adding new bureaucratic structures could be counterproductive; United Nations units in the region should be challenged to work more effectively together.


CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said it was appropriate to introduce holistic solutions, considering the subregion as a whole in areas such as illegal small arms trafficking, use of mercenaries, illegal exploitation of national resources, extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.  It was, therefore, logical to pursue proposals for a more active presence of the United Nations in the region to promote good governance, and coordinated programmes of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration among other things.


He said his country supported the need to establish mechanisms to support human rights victims, including compensation.  It was important to have a process of democratization and for ending impunity.  The report’s recommendations about good governance should be followed, something which required coordinated action by the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  Although progress in that area had been made, an operational formula had not been found.  As for proliferation of United Nations offices in the region, there was a need to have clear goals and to avoid duplication of functions.


CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said the most complex problem facing the region was that of extreme poverty.  The second problem was the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons with its great impact on human rights.  A third problem concerned the massive flows of refugees.  There was a need to improve economic conditions and establish mechanisms to sustain good governance.  A comprehensive approach to the conflicts in Central Africa should include inter-ethnic disputes, illicit trafficking of small arms, and the use of children as combatants, so that the Council could find an integrated solution.  It was necessary to strengthen systems of justice and to formulate human rights policies.


The Council had begun to incorporate actions to strengthen institutional capacities of States in its mandates for peacekeeping operations.  That trend needed to be sustained.  The Central African region required urgent measures.  It was possible in that regard to build on the benefit that could be provided by the wealth of resources in the region.  Only through a joint coordinated effort would it be possible to solve the problems faced by so many African countries.


The President of the Council, ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), speaking in his national capacity, commended those involved with the mission for their efforts, as well as the representative of Cameroon, under whose Council presidency the subregional activity was initiated.


He agreed that a comprehensive and integrated approach was needed for the subregion.  Current structures had to be made more effective.  Better-coordinated support would help sustain the current progress toward peace.


ALDO MANTOVANI (Italy), speaking for the European Union and associated States, said Central Africa’s fundamental problems could be tackled only through an integrated, regional approach.  To that end, mechanisms set up by ECCAS, including the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa, the Early-Warning Mechanism for Central Africa and the Central African Multinational Force, must be strengthened.  In addition, while the region’s governments were primarily responsible for consolidating peace and ensuring development, the international community must assist them at all levels.


Stressing that the European Union was fully committed to peace and stabilization in Central Africa, he noted that “Operation Artemis” had succeeded in stabilizing security, improving the humanitarian situation and protecting the civilian population of Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Moreover, the European multinational force –- the first ever outside European boundaries –- had halted a dangerous downward spiral, and helped reactivate the peace process in that country.


He also observed that more than 1 million illegal small arms were circulating in the Great Lakes region alone, and that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants was slow.  Without a regional solution to those problems, any peace and stabilization effort would fail in the long term.  He welcomed all national, subregional and international initiatives to strengthen the capacities of Central African countries, especially the International Conference for the Great Lakes.


BASILE IKOUEBE (Congo), speaking on behalf of ECCAS, said the level of talks held by the mission in the countries visited had shown the interest of the leaders in the region to strengthen cooperation with the United Nations.  Africa wanted to emerge from the cycle of violence and poverty, but was also aware that positive developments would remain fragile without the support of the international community.  Referring to progress made in settling conflicts in the subregion, he said there was a true determination to settle conflicts, but the challenges remained enormous.  Financing was the key issue in areas such as implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; promotion of national reconciliation; protection of human rights; and control of illicit small arms trafficking.


There was an imperative need for a consolidated subregional approach, he said, in which interlocutors of the United Nations were necessary.  He reaffirmed the subregion’s determination to strengthen subregional cooperation and to revitalize ECCAS.  Co-existence of several institutions was not necessarily competitive, but could have an accelerating effect on the integration process of ECCAS; that process would benefit from a partner.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representatives played an essential role, but for a global, integrative approach, a coordination structure was necessary.  That was why a request had been made for establishment for a subregional office in Central Africa.


He questioned the need for another study on conflicts in Central Africa; there were enough studies on the issue.  He said he welcomed the positive will to strengthen coherence of United Nations programmes in Central Africa and he would continue to work with the Secretary-General to strengthen the partnership between the United Nations and the subregion.  Action on pledges made at inter-agency appeals had been very slow, harming planned measures.  Lack of resources was also a problem for subregional peacekeeping operations.  He said the member States of ECCAS welcomed the Council’s presidential statement of 21 November on the International Conference on the Great Lakes.  It was an eloquent illustration of the way the subregion wanted to address its problems.


ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) associated himself with the statement made by the Congo’s representative on behalf of ECCAS.  His country, he said, was making progress; it was now crucial to extend government authority, provide access to the whole country and carry out the repatriation of foreign troops and ex-soldiers.  He hoped the arms embargo mechanisms could be made effective to counter the problem of weapons.


He said that the holding of a forthcoming forum would be important for transparent cooperation between countries of the subregion.  He also agreed that the private sector should be involved in developing the appropriate exploitation of natural resources in the area.


The humanitarian devastation caused by the conflict in his country was shocking, he said, and was worsening in parts of the east.  Humanitarian access was necessary, but nothing short of a full Marshall Plan for the country was needed.  Stabilization and economic recovery remained, at the same time, priorities of the Government.  Ending impunity was also important, with the setting-up of some form of court, and so was the question of compensation for aggression.


Resources of the region should be pooled for future progress, he said.  The most valuable resource was human -- the young people of the region.  But the economic potential was also enormous.  To better cooperate with the United Nations, his Government had proposed that the Organization establish the proposed subregional office in Kinshasa.


NICHOLAS SHALITA (Rwanda) noted several positive developments in Central Africa over the past few months.  His country, for example, had held free, fair presidential and parliamentary elections in August and September, and consolidated the national democratization programme with elections at the grassroots level of administration.  Sections of the population that had previously been marginalized were now playing active political roles.  For the first time ever, an African country -– Rwanda -– was the world leader in the number of elected women representatives, with 48.8 per cent in the National Assembly and 30 per cent in the Senate.


As for the region’s remaining challenges, he stressed that an integrated subregional approach was needed to complement national solutions.  The upcoming Conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region must be holistic in addressing challenges to the region’s peace and security, but also reflect measures at the national, regional and global levels to transform Central African economies.  The Conference should consider how large numbers of armed militia in some parts of the subregion could be neutralized, the question of Africa’s marginalization in the global trading system, and international support for education.


KOUMTOG LAOTEGGUELNODJI (Chad), aligning himself with the statement made by the Congo on behalf of ECCAS, said that just a year ago Chad had come to the Council because of a complaint launched by Central African Republic.  Chad had explained the matter, which was a domestic one, and now welcomed the atmosphere of peace and harmony between the two countries.  However, lessons could be learned from the situation.


The tragic events in Central Africa were sometimes due to shortcomings in the national dialogue.  Where national dialogue prevailed over the logic of war, there was a real chance to achieve peace.  Where national dialogue was weak, it must be strengthened.


He said the assessment mission to Central Africa in June had, among other things, helped to strengthen the national dialogue within States.  He supported the proposal to appoint a special envoy, but hoped that appointment would be just one stage towards establishing a global, integrated and lasting strategy where all bodies and organizations operating in Central Africa worked together on all issues.


LINO SIMA EKUA AVOMO (Equatorial Guinea) said he fully subscribed to the statement made by the representative of the Congo on behalf of ECCAS, and endorsed comments made by the representative of Cameroon.


Endowed with many resources, he said, the region remained underdeveloped because of internecine wars.  The Security Council had the mandate to resolve such conflicts, which represented a real threat to peace and an obstacle to development.  He expressed appreciation for the standing committee on the region, as well as the early-warning mechanism for Central Africa that would soon be operational.  The continuing fragility of the regional situation, however, showed the need for a permanent United Nations office in the area.


AMADOU KEBE, Permanent Observer, African Union, said the mission’s report went to the heart of the matter of the problems faced by Central Africa.  The African Union agreed with the cause and effect relationship between poor governance, exclusion, impunity and tensions on the one hand, and conflicts and insecurity on the other.  It was essential to tackle the root causes of conflict and economic problems in the region.  The diagnosis and the cure, stated in the report, could be applied to all countries of Africa.  The paradox was that Central Africa was one of the most economically rich areas potentially, but it was considered one of the lowest performers economically.


He noted that several regional and subregional organizations had already been established.  The United Nations had several programmes and offices in the region.  There were also continental initiatives.  The Council of Peace and Security, now being established and becoming operational, was to coordinate regional mechanisms dealing with prevention and management of conflict.  Another initiative was the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which covered all problems of peace and security and economic development identified in the report.  There was, therefore, a need to further enhance the capacity of regional and subregional organizations that already existed, such as ECCAS, so that they could be more effective.


Given the great variety of challenges facing the region, he went on, it was essential to have an integrated, global and resolute approach.  There must also be a better coordination of all operations in the region, both at the vertical level, in order to avoid duplication, but also at the horizontal level, in order to cover the wide range of activities under way.


He said he supported the request by countries in the subregion for a political United Nations presence in Central Africa.  He stressed that the form of such a presence was less important than the effectiveness of actual coordination.


NELSON COSME, Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs of ECCAS, said that body stood ready to implement any decisions of the Security Council.  Progress in the region included the collective mechanism for security.  Conflict prevention and settlement were important in that context, and members of ECCAS had conducted simulated peacekeeping exercises in Gabon.


In order to better prevent conflict, his Organization was working with the European Union on a related study, and the early warning mechanism was nearly complete.  Those efforts, along with milestones towards peace by many States in the region, showed the new dynamic of regional cooperation.  The opening of a United Nations office could further reinforce stability, security, cooperation and sustainable development.


Concluding Remarks


Responding to speakers’ comments and questions, Mr. KALOMOH, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, expressing appreciation for the support and understanding of the Council, said it would be wrong to speak of opposition in the region to establishing a permanent United Nations office in the subregion.  All but one of the countries had noted a strong desire for such an office.  Only one country had not raised the question.


As to concerns on how the Secretary-General intended to respond to requests by ECCAS members, he said the Secretary-General would seek a further review of United Nations programmes and activities in the region with a view to better coordinating those activities.  He also intended to appoint a special envoy to continue further discussions with the region’s leaders on complex issues of economic integration and political cooperation among others.


Notwithstanding some divergent viewpoints on immediate action, he said he had noted a general consensus on the need for the international community to remain engaged in, and support efforts of, the countries of the subregion.  It was also clear that the countries concerned were aware of the fact that economic development was primarily their responsibility.  They were not seeking the support of the international community as a substitute for their own efforts, but as a supplement to those efforts.


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