30/03/2005
Press Release
SC/8348


Security Council

5156th Meeting (AM)


In monthly wrap-up meeting, Security Council discusses strategies

 

to address African conflicts


Main Themes Include Strengthening UN Cooperation

With African Organizations, Addressing Root Causes of Conflict


There had been a steady increase in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts in Africa since 1998 and African issues currently added up to more than 60 per cent of the Security Council’s agenda, Council President Ronaldo Mota Sadenberg (Brazil) said today.


Speaking in his national capacity on “The African dimension in the work of the Security Council” during a wrap-up meeting at the end of the Brazilian presidency, he said that, until 1997, most United Nations operations had been deployed in Europe and the Middle EastBrazil’s historical and cultural ties with Africa were another reason for choosing the topic for today’s session, he said, adding that the country had the world’s second largest population of African descendants and the largest outside the continent.


The mixed results of the Council’s engagement in Africa should lead to further reflection, he said, noting that side by side with the success stories were textbook cases of re-emerging conflict.  While the Council could benefit from past experience, it must accept that the international order was in a state of flux and that, as a principal organ of the United Nations, it must also be ready for a permanent process of evolution.  The Council could never cease to question and improve its work methods, political perceptions, cost-benefit analyses and structure.


Touching on some of the points raised today, he noted that many delegations had highlighted the need to strengthen cooperation with African organizations.  Some had acknowledged the need for concerted efforts, including fair trade and the involvement of international financial institutions.  Also, the Council’s decision-making would be improved substantially by making first-hand use of information regarding African conflicts.  For instance, only two days ago, African Union mediators had briefed members on the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.  While the Council benefited from information provided by the Secretariat and individual MemberStates, the views of those directly linked to conflicts under review must be duly taken into consideration.


Closer cooperation between peacekeeping operations and political missions deployed in the same region was a positive development that must be further supported and advanced, he emphasized.  The various United Nations presences in West Africa were demonstrating how much could be gained through coordinated efforts and joint activities.  In addition, the consideration of African interests and general views would be greatly reinforced by permanent Council membership of African countries.  Brazil supported the proposal that two new permanent seats be conferred on the African Regional Group.


He said that addressing the deep-rooted social and economic causes of conflict in Africa, either as a way to prevent their outbreak or resurgence, seemed to be a vanguard task to be tackled by the United Nations as a whole.  However, welcome though greater involvement of the Economic and Social Council would be, joint efforts between that organ and the Security Council still lacked the necessary formal institutional framework or adequate channels to maximize the quality of their responses.


The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania echoed the need for effective joint conflict-prevention efforts by the entire United Nations system and in collaboration with multilateral and bilateral actors, stressing that the Council could no longer concentrate solely on diplomatic missions and peacekeeping operations.  It must focus on longer-term efforts to assist countries like Guinea-Bissau to build durable structures that were conducive to peace and democratic stability.  Countries emerging from conflict were at the greatest risk of slipping back into violence or instability within the first four years of peace agreements.  With a large number of African peace processes already at or near that point, the Council must be willing to look seriously into how it could help keep countries undergoing such delicate transformations from falling into chaos and anarchy after considerable investment.


Turning to the situation in the Sudan, he said that, after the signing of the North/South peace agreement, the complexities of the situation in Darfur posed serious challenges to the Council’s effectiveness.  It illustrated that, when the Council failed to make a timely response to an evolving political and humanitarian tragedy, it risked being perceived as indecisive and ineffective.  While its working methods were characterized by dialogue, mutual respect and consensus, the interlinked nature of threats to international peace and security demanded that the Council demonstrate unity, as well as urgency, in responding to situations of potential or actual conflict.  It should continue to emphasize the need for early action/warning; exploit and strengthen partnerships for peace and development with the African Union; and integrate mutually reinforcing approaches to development.


Benin’s representative also emphasized the need for greater coordination between the Council and African conflict-management organizations, which could be carried out through regular exchanges of information.  In addition, the Council must pay more attention to “forgotten” crises, as well as closer relations between itself and the non-governmental organizations that provided crucial humanitarian assistance.  The Council must also give up its reluctance when it came to adopting courageous measures to stop those who victimized civilians.  Likewise, it should let go of the linear treatment of post-conflict societies, which created bottlenecks, limiting the possibility of responding appropriately.


He said that, in addition to diplomatic efforts and the deployment of “blue helmets”, the Council should refine its practice regarding sanctions, which should continue to be assessed and monitored by an independent panel of experts.  Wherever a United Nations operation was in place, it should serve to enforce those sanctions, and its rules of engagement should be drafted accordingly.  Also, greater support should be provided to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) small arms moratorium, which was presently being converted into a legal convention.


Somalia’s representative noted that the flow of weapons and the flouting of arms embargos were among the root causes of conflicts in addition to underdevelopment, poverty and lack of good governance.  Addressing them could avert such tragic situations as that of Somalia.  The international community had achieved considerable success in resolving some conflicts, while inexplicably failing in others.  What did it take to trigger Council action in conflict prevention and/or resolution? he asked.  Was it Charter obligations, humanitarian intervention or economic considerations?  What happened to a country that had no major “sponsor”?  With some 3.2 million people, or nearly half the population, either dead, displaced or dispersed in Somalia, how many more would have to suffer similarly before the Council seriously engaged in that country?


Cuba’s representative, while expressing appreciation for the Council’s efforts to better understand African conflicts, said that, despite the statements made in debates and affirmed in many resolutions, the emphasis was still on reacting to African conflicts rather than preventing them.  Prevention implied addressing the deepest causes of conflicts, such as poverty and underdevelopment.  There could be neither peace without development nor development without peace.  Africa did not need paternalism, but deserved respect and solidarity, as well as cooperation free from all sorts of influences and interventions.


During the meeting, the Council President expressed members’ condolences to the representative of Indonesia for the deaths that resulted from the recent earthquake in the Indian Ocean.


Other speakers today included the representatives of Romania, Algeria, Denmark, Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, Argentina, China, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Indonesia, Philippines, Russian Federation, Gambia, United States, Greece and Tunisia.


The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 1:16 p.m.


Statements


Council President RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that, throughout the years since the founding of the United Nations, inter- and intra-State conflicts in Africa had required the attention of the international community and the Security Council’s involvement, in line with its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  The Council’s response to each particular case had varied widely and a number of best practices and lessons learned had gradually been incorporated into its usual approach.  The overall balance of the Council’s engagement in Africa presented a mixed picture, with some cases of success and others in which conflict had re-emerged.  Yet, current mandates for peacekeeping operations in Africa, as well as for political missions and peace-building offices, benefited highly from past experience.


He said that, during the month of March, the Council had already adopted five resolutions on African issues.  The Council had considered more than 10 reports and held over 20 formal and informal meetings related to situations in different African countries.  The wrap-up session should not be an occasion for re-addressing the particularities of specific situations; it should provide for an institutional debate that built on previous discussions vis-à-vis the Council’s current agenda and its work methods.


MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said the critical mass of conflict situations in Africa represented serious perils for international peace and security.  Faced with an extensive African conflict agenda, the Council had not failed to act.  The numerous and dangerous African situations had prompted a commensurate implication of the Council, amounting not only to a massive investment, in political and material terms, by the international community for Africa, but also for the sake of international peace and security.  In the Council’s “tool box” for dealing with African issues, the instruments available had increased.  Africa was the main host of United Nations peacekeeping operations, and the surge in peacekeeping activities there had continued in 2004 and 2005.  The concentration in Africa of the bulk of the peacekeeping troops deployed today was proof that the continent had become the destination of choice for United Nations involvement in maintaining peace and security around the world.


The Council had authorized more multidimensional mandates for the Organization’s operations, with civilian, military and civilian police components, he said.  As the missions in Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed, repeated adjustments of both mandate and strength were necessary for increasing their efficacy.  Better predicting needs from the inception stage would help missions more rapidly reach their objectives.  The need for complementarity between peacekeeping and some specific tools provided by the Charter was manifest.  Security Council missions to Africa had clearly demonstrated the continuing interest in and engagement with solving crises and conflicts on the continent.  The Council intended to organize several missions to Africa in 2005.  They should carry a powerful message that the Council remained focused on African issues.


A specific internal tool of the Council with great potential to consolidate its tackling of African matters was the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, he added.  He hoped the Council would soon adopt the Group’s programme for the year, as African conflicts could not be resolved without taking their regional dimension fully into account.  Both preventive measures and effect conflict management must be designed and implemented through active cooperation with and support from regional and sub-regional organizations.  He welcomed developments within the African Union to enhance its capacities for crisis management and strengthen coordination between the United Nations and subregional organizations and non-African partners.


ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that, for several years, African issues had taken up the lion’s share of the Council’s attention.  This month was no exception.  There were no fewer than eight conflicts affecting Africa, which had seized the attention of the Council.  He recalled that Africa had half of the overall number of United Nations peacekeeping operations.  The format for the work of the Council for March provided an opportunity to consider a range of issues in the search for greater effectiveness of the Organization’s activities on the continent.


The deployment of peacekeeping operations was important in the settlement of conflict, he noted.  But that alone could not be a guarantee for lasting peace.  To succeed, those operations must be based on an overall plan to deal with the consequences of conflict and to consolidate peace.  The situations considered this month showed that international operations supported such plans, such as in the case of Côte d’Ivoire, the Sudan and Ethiopia and Eritrea.  In most of those situations, United Nations operations benefited from robust, multidimensional mandates.  Highlighting mediation efforts on the continent, he paid tribute to the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) for its efforts, as well as those of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.


Africans themselves were contributing to the settlement of conflicts on the continent, he said.  In view of the considerable increase in needs for resources and the need for Africa to shoulder its responsibility for conflict settlement, he said that the United Nations and the African Union must now develop an institutional framework for collective security.  The African Union was prepared to do that through its Peace and Security Council and by creating a Standby Force.  He appealed for the institutionalization of cooperation, and emphasized the contribution of the African Union to stabilizing the situation in Darfur.


ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) said that cooperation between the Security Council and the regional and subregional organizations should be developed further.  She welcomed the strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, as demonstrated in the case of the African Union Mission in Sudan and the African Mission in Burundi.  She firmly believed that African ownership and participation in conflict management should be further strengthened and encouraged.  The goal should be to establish efficient partnerships and an equitable division of labour between the United Nations and the African organizations.


Denmark, she continued, contributed to enhancing the African regional and subregional organizations’ capacity in conflict prevention not only through the European Union but also through substantial bilateral assistance.  It had provided, through its African Programme for Peace, $40 million for capacity-building.


Cooperation between United Nations missions was an important element in a comprehensive response that recognized the regional aspects of conflicts, she said.  More could be done to join forces and pool assets across the United Nations missions in West and Central Africa to better tackle cross-border issues.  Efforts to stop sanctions busters, soldiers of fortune and mercenaries from operating across the borders and taking their deadly business from one country to the next could be increased by mandating peace operations to engage in the monitoring and enforcement of sanctions.  That would include joint cross-border controls.  Further sharing of resources would free up capacity for other pressing tasks and make room for economies of scale.


MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that the Council was aware of the links among different African conflicts, such as those in West Africa and had sought to approach them with a regional approach.  That approach had also been undertaken with some success in the Great Lakes, although the road ahead was still difficult, given that the region’s rich resources were directly related to the conflicts there.  In that subregional context, and in order to help the Mano River Union States of West Africa, King Mohammed VI had undertaken a mission in 2002 to assist those countries to hold a dialogue to prevent interference along their borders and to solve their problems with mercenaries.


He said his country had also tried to help resolve the problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and had been among the first countries to send troops there during its first crisis in the 1960s, when Morocco had itself just achieved independence.  Morocco had also been present when the United Nations had confronted the crisis in Somalia and had recently responded to the Council’s appeal for help to stabilize the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, which had been a beacon in West Africa, a subregion with which Morocco enjoyed ties that went back to pre-colonial times.  The Council had not acted only to put out fires as they occurred, but had also acted in Mozambique and Angola to reintegrate the combatants into society and restore the rule of law.  The international community must contribute to the Council’s efforts and help Africa catch up so that it could achieve the Millennium Development Goals.


MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said that an in-depth look into African issues and the measures adopted in dealing with those issues revealed several features he wanted to focus on.  The first was the need for the Council to make extra efforts to deal with conflicts on the continent and devote more attention to the root causes of those conflicts.  The second was the need for the Council to support the role of regional and subregional organizations in Africa, helping them to grapple with the variety of problems there.  Africa had made strides since the establishment of the African Union to foster that role in an integrated, endeavour incorporating all social, political and economic aspects.


The third feature was the need for the Council to perform its role in a more integrated Organization that included the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretariat and the specialized agencies, and taking into account the need for a phased approach, beginning with preventive measures, conflict management, conflict settlement and resulting in post-conflict peace-building.  The fourth was to promote the success of peacekeeping operations.  In that connection, the decision to establish a force in Sudan constituted a good initiative to help that country overcome its crisis.  He emphasized his country’s full support for the Council’s efforts in Africa, including through its growing participation in peacekeeping operations.


He also emphasized the need for the Council and the other main organs, to foster the role to be played by the African Union in dealing with African issues, including the settlement of African conflicts.  The Council should make use of today’s debate in elaborating an integrated vision to overcome the root causes of African conflicts.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), noting that Africa was sadly, but necessarily, a major preoccupation of the Council, said that, during its own presidency in May 2003, Pakistan had convened a similar session on the promotion of peace and security in Africa, and in 2004 it had organized a meeting to discuss a United Nations response to African crises.  Hopefully today’s session would complement those sessions and make use of the significant databank that had resulted from them.


He said that, in Africa’s many conflicts, armed rebellions and civil wars, including those involving outside interference and those with cross-border implications, poverty and underdevelopment were ever-present.  It was the poverty and scramble for resources that gave rise to most of those problems.  The Council’s response in peacekeeping had been quite good, bringing together the international community’s military and other resources in successful missions such as the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).


In order to be effective, peacekeeping operations must be well-conceived and planned, with competent management and adequate resources, robust mandates and clear rules of engagement, he said.  That applied especially in the case of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), which required the Council’s full support, having recently suffered casualties and engaged in firefights.  The Council had recognized the need for regional and subregional approaches, and Pakistan was encouraged by its increasing cooperation with the African Union.


Regarding the Horn of Africa, he said Somalia was a test case, having been on the Security Council’s agenda for years, yet not having benefited from the kind of political support that it so desperately needed and which only the Council could provide.  Pakistan welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to appoint a special representative for that country.  Guinea-Bissau could be a test case for the combined efforts of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  Today’s discussion had highlighted the importance of comprehensive system-wide approaches to conflict resolution rather than stop-gap measures.


CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said today’s debate provided an opportunity to examine the African topics in the Council in a broad manner and take a fresh look at the problems and their common characteristics.  It should make the point that it was the entire Organization, and not just the Council, that must tackle African conflicts in an integrated manner, taking into account not only the security dimension but also equally the humanitarian dimension.  It should lead to more creative and more inclusive approaches.  The economic, social and political conditions which formed the basis of African conflicts remained unchanged throughout the military operations and then reappeared in the same manner once the armed conflict seemed to be resolved.  The Council’s task within its responsibility to maintain peace and security could not be fully effective unless it carried out, in parallel, activities in the post-conflict phase to establish bulwarks against the resurgence of the conflict.


Such bulwarks, he continued, should include practical steps for development and reconstruction, and measures in the areas of human rights, rule of law and democracy.  A concern for the multi-dimensional nature of conflicts was not new.  The setting up of the Ad Hoc Working Group on preventing and resolving conflicts in Africa, as well as the existence of parallel groups in the Council and the ECOSOC, bore witness to the fact that the multiple dimensions of many conflicts were understood.  Similarly, the integration of various dimensions in the mandates of peacekeeping operations was a recognition of that fact.


Despite all those initiatives, he said, the resurgence of certain conflicts indicated that such efforts were not enough, and new steps were needed to address conflicts in an integrated manner to consolidate peace.  The time had come to generate new structures to take charge of the situation of countries emerging from conflict in an integrated manner.  The Council would play an indispensable role in those discussions.  Absent a suitable security context, it was impossible to take steps in the areas of development, human rights, the rule of law and democracy.  The proposals set out in the Secretary-General’s report “In Larger Freedom” for the establishment of a peace-building commission provided a foundation for the discussion of new mechanisms, which were necessary.  To be viable, such a mechanism must have an appropriate mandate and capacity, thereby guaranteeing activities in the early post-conflict phase with the adequate presence of the United Nations funds and programmes, and financed through an adequate and flexible funding mechanism.


WANG GUANGYA (China) noted that African issues had always taken up a large share of the Council’s agenda.  It was particularly gratifying that last week the Council had unanimously adopted resolution 1590 authorizing a United Nations mission to southern Sudan.  In recent years it had also been gratifying to see that some long drawn-out conflicts had subsided although others were continuing.


The Council should urge increased attention and greater political will in seeking solutions to those conflicts and place them at the top of its agenda, he said.  It should also take careful heed of African views and enhance its cooperation with African organizations.


Urging the Security Council to enhance its capacity-building efforts and cooperation with peacekeeping operations and other United Nations entities and to create synergies to avoid duplication, he said that sessions like today’s could help it take continuous stock when implementing its decisions on African issues.


KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said that the notion of Africa’s ownership should be emphasized and supported as an important guiding principle in addressing any issues related to Africa that the Council was called on to address.  He was encouraged that such ownership was increasingly accepted by Africans themselves and supported by the international community.  It was increasingly finding its clear and robust expression, for example, in the important roles played by African regional and subregional organizations.  African efforts must not only be encouraged but supported where needed, through the extension of moral, political, financial and material support by the international community.  At the same time, ways should be found to develop a closer and pragmatic working relationship and institutional linkages between the United Nations and key African regional organizations, in particular the African Union.


Also, there was a need to promote inter-mission synergies and cooperation among various United Nations missions in Africa, he said.  A number of United Nations missions deployed in West Africa had initiated the practice of sharing logistical assets and materials through their inter-mission coordination mechanism.  Such inter-mission linkages in Africa should be further strengthened, and he hoped to see a systematic review of the operational concepts of the various peace missions deployed in the subregion conducted.  With greater integration and inter-mission synergies, the flexible and more effective use of the operational assets and resources of the various missions deployed would become possible, to the advantage of all and also possibly to save mission costs.


EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, cited Prime Minister Tony Blair’s remark that the plight of Africa was a scar upon the conscience of the world.  The good news was that 2005 was the crucial year for the continent.  The upcoming summit in September offered more possible gain for Africa than for any other continent.  But its interest in that summit, as well as in the G7/G8 summit, all emphasized why this year would have to make a real difference in Africa.


Successful intervention required coherent policy, which should involve tackling the whole range and different aspects of conflict, democracy, capacity- and peace-building and sustainable development, he said.  There was also a need, in the event of intervention, for coherent involvement by the entire United Nations family, without duplication and in a mutually reinforcing manner.  Such efforts must be undertaken by Africans, as well as the United Nations and the entire international community.  While the Security Council’s role was pivotal, it could not be exclusive.


MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that the Council’s activity bore to a great extent on African matters, which could be seen in its work for the month of March.  What was true in March also applied to the rest of the year.  He would rather that the Council did not have to spend so much time on the crises that afflicted that continent.  Also, cooperation between the Council and African regional organizations was growing.  Africans were taking control of their fate and were necessary partners in the settlement of conflicts on the continent.  That being so, it was desirable for the Council and those organizations to work together closely, thereby guaranteeing effectiveness.


In addition, the Council had created many peacekeeping operations in Africa, where the majority of blue helmets were deployed.  Therefore, it was up to the Council to bring all its weight to bear to settling African conflicts.  However, the international community’s resources were not unlimited.  That was why the Council, in each case, must define a good exit strategy.  In some cases, such as Côte d’Ivoire, an additional but temporary investment was sometimes indispensable, if it would bring the end of the crisis any closer.  In all cases, the Council must have a long-term perspective.


Turning to the issue of combating sexual exploitation in peacekeeping operations, he said that collective efforts in that regard must extend not only to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) but far beyond.  Recalling that several United Nations soldiers were killed or injured in Africa in March, he said tribute should be paid to them and the courage of all those serving the cause of peace under the Council’s mandate commended.


MARC BICHLER (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said that the Council’s important contribution to peace and security in Africa would certainly benefit from increased cooperation and coordination within partnerships developed among the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and subregional organizations in preventing, resolving and managing conflicts, including by addressing their root causes.  New models of flexible partnerships had already made valuable contributions in that context as demonstrated by the African missions in Burundi and the Sudan.


Beyond partnerships and practical cooperation, he said, there was a need to strengthen the institutional relationship between the United Nations and the African Union, particularly in the field of peace and security.  Given the number of conflicts in Africa and their increasing complexity, such institutional relationships could maximize the efficiency of the international community’s efforts by relying on the comparative advantages of regional and subregional organizations and their complementarities with the United Nations system.


In that context, the European Union welcomed the invitation to the Secretary-General expressed in the statement by the Council President of 19 November 2004 in Nairobi to explore new means of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union.  Less than three years after its inception, the African Union had made considerable progress and earned international respect as a credible and legitimate continental interlocutor for Africa, he said.  It had decisively assumed responsibility and leadership in dealing with some of the many armed conflicts that for so long had marred the continent, and its efforts to stabilize the situation in Darfur were a recent manifestation of its strong determination.


He said the European Union was firmly committed to develop its dialogue with the African Union to establish institutional relations and to define an operational agenda, particularly in the area of peace and security, in line with the Council’s presidential statement of 20 July 2004 on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in stabilization processes.  In November 2004, the European Union had established an Action Plan for support to Peace and Security in Africa, which identified practical ways to support African organizations in building autonomous conflict-prevention and management capacities.  It had been offering personnel and financial, as well as logistical, technical and political support for most African mediation and peace processes.  To make financial support easier for that type of operation, the European Union had developed, at the African Union’s request, the African Peace Facility, a 250 million euro development instrument serving the continent’s peace and security, which had been operational since June 2004.


DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said the African continent had dominated the Council’s work this month, which included meetings on MONUC, among others, as well as large number of briefings and reports on an assortment of African conflicts, reflecting the 15-nation body’s desire to ensure peace and security there.  Indonesia supported that focus and aim, and would urge the Council not to relent in its efforts, and remain cognizant of the fact that the first requirement for development was peace.  Indonesia would also encourage the Council to continue and enhance its cooperation with the African Union.


He said that his delegation strongly supported the Council’s efforts to rigorously pursue democracy and development in Africa.  By focusing on lessons learned in the wake of conflicts, failed ceasefires and even a few abortive peace efforts, the United Nations could turn Africa’s challenges into celebrated successes.  By helping to secure and sustain peace, the Council could lead the way in that respect and perhaps ensure that the wider international community renewed its focus on progress in Africa, he said, calling on the United Nations system to further support home-grown initiative’s such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).


He also noted that, in his recently-released report “In Larger Freedom”, the Secretary-General had observed that Africa was “falling seriously short” in most of its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  For its part, Indonesia had been long committed to ensuring that the African continent achieved its dreams of socio-economic development and prosperity.  Indonesia continued to contribute peacekeepers to the United Nations peace missions in the region, the latest being to MONUC and, next month, will host a fiftieth anniversary commemoration of the landmark 1995 Africa-Asia Conference in Bandung.


JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said that a partnership for peace and security in Africa had developed between the Council and Africa.  The Council had committed itself to finding solutions to different African crises by mobilizing instruments available to it at different stages.  The activities and impact of the Council had improved over time.  It now devoted 10 times more attention to Africa, and debates were held in a more systematic manner.  Africa showed what could happen when conflicts were not handled properly in time and how the costs escalated.  The Council should do more to prevent conflicts in Africa and should act rather than react.  It should examine the underlying causes of conflict.  To prevent conflict, more attention must be given to how democracy could take root on the continent.


The Council, he continued, should be more open to greater coordination and cooperation with other United Nations organs, when necessary.  He welcomed the favourable development that had transformed peacekeeping missions into multidimensional operations that responded to the crises they were meant to address.  In addition to diplomatic efforts and the deployment of blue helmets, the Council should refine its practice regarding sanctions.  Sanctions should continue to be assessed and monitored by an independent panel of experts.  Wherever a United Nations operation was taking place, it should serve to enforce the sanctions.  The rules of engagement should be drafted accordingly.  Also, greater support should be provided to the ECOWAS small arms moratorium, which was presently being converted into a legal convention.


Regarding the Council’s relations with African regional organizations, greater coordination was needed with conflict management organizations in Africa, which could be carried out with regular exchanges of information.  The Council must give more attention to forgotten crises, and closer relations between the Council and the non-governmental organizations which provided humanitarian assistance, was also crucial.  The Council had to give up its reluctance when it came to adopting courageous measures to stop those who victimized civilians.  Likewise, it should let go of the linear treatment of post-conflict societies, which created bottlenecks, limiting the possibility of responding appropriately.


LAURO L. BAJA, JR. (Philippines), highlighting the Council’s work in Africa,  acknowledged the Secretariat’s efforts in promoting inter-mission cooperation, particularly in the context of Central and West Africa operations.  Such cooperation was necessary for rationalizing and maximizing assets on the ground.  Most of the issues in a country were linked and should be addressed as comprehensively as possible.  Sanctions, for example, should not be treated as distinct but rather in the context of broader peace processes.  The history of sanctions resolutions showed that they did not produce immediate and full compliance.  The effectiveness of Council action in that regard boiled down to the question of respect for its authority.  That respect was diluted and the message blurred when fault lines among members accompanied a particular Council action.


Concerning the situation of Africa in general, he said there were two kinds of dying in Africa, one through machete wounds and the other through disease.  The nexus between security and development was, therefore, pronounced in Africa.  In considering measures for Africa, the Council should bear in mind that the shape of Africa it was trying to manage was, in large part, defined by colonialism.  Boundaries were set without sufficient regard to the ethnic, cultural, tribal and other dynamics on the ground.  In that regard, Council attitudes and treatment should be made in the context of a broad strategy of international diplomatic engagement and pressure, taking into consideration historic and current realities on the ground.


ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said that the most important means to prevent conflict in African States was the development of the rule of law and good government.  They must be assured that neither their neighbours, countries in their region or subregion or the international community at large would support unlawful changes of government or the destruction of their economies.  The Russian Federation welcomed, therefore, the decisive action recently taken by ECOWAS in restoring legality in Togo.


With regard to improving Security Council decision-making, he noted that there were often difficulties when there was a need to change peacekeeping mandates, particularly in the cases of Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Council relied on the Secretariat’s expertise when drawing up mandates, whereas the views of troop-contributing countries, whose troops were directly involved in peacekeeping operations, were not incorporated.  That situation was not justifiable.


He emphasized the need for the Security Council and the entire international community to take a highly responsible approach to the question of imposing sanctions, calling for caution in the choice of measures and in their targeting.  After the introduction of sanctions, the Council should consider machinery for their implementation so as not to harm the Council’s authority.


CRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia) said that the African continent had challenged the international system in many ways, not least in the many conflicts it had spawned in the past several years.  That was why it was appropriate that the Council devote so much of its attention to Africa.  So many conflicts on the continent were a source of concern, and an analysis must be undertaken on their causes.  It was true that there had been an ongoing debate on the causes of conflict.  What was needed was a specific focus on the causes of conflicts in Africa.  Some of those conflicts had been resolved, and others were stuck in no-war/no-peace limbo, while others raged on.  It was necessary to examine what those conflicts had in common.


The steps taken by the Council to address the situation in Africa must be acknowledged, he said, such as its efforts to combat the proliferation of small arms.  The tremendous promise shown by coordination between the Council and regional organizations could be seen, and should be applied to conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building.  Post-conflict peace-building should be given more attention, as should evolving disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes on a subregional basis.  The way conflicts erupted suggested the need for the Council to be more proactive in handling such matters.  The Council must strengthen early warning and find ways to engage adversaries in dialogue before they resorted to violence.


AHMED ABDI HASHI (Somalia) noted that there had been a marked decline in the prevalence of inter-State wars, but there had been a dramatic rise in the frequency of civil wars, especially in Africa.  Among the root causes of those conflicts were underdevelopment and poverty, lack of good governance and the flow of weapons and non-observance of arms embargos.  Addressing such issues could avert tragic situations in conflicts like that of Somalia.  The international community had achieved considerable success in resolving some conflicts, while, at the same time, inexplicably failing in others.


He said it was necessary to ask some honest questions in order to fully appreciate the human dimension of conflicts.  For example, what did it take for the Council to be seriously seized with a conflict situation in Africa and what triggered Council action in conflict prevention and/or resolution?  Was it the Council’s Charter obligations, humanitarian intervention or economic considerations?  What happened to a country when there was no major “sponsor”?  In the case of Somalia, some 3.2 million people or almost half the population were either dead, displaced or dispersed.  How many more would have to die or be displaced before the Council seriously engaged in conflicts like that of Somalia? he wondered.


The other dynamic in addressing the conflicts in Africa was the emerging role of regional or subregional organizations, he said.  Admittedly, an enhanced role for those organizations was welcome.  The “Somalia-Rwanda syndrome” had contributed to an ad hoc arrangement where those organizations acted under Chapter VIII of the Charter.  In fact, since 1997, the majority of peacekeeping operations had, in fact, been assumed by either regional or subregional organizations.  Certain constraints limited an interventionist role, including lack of adequate rapid military deployment capacities, lack of adequate financial resources and inadequate institutional capacity.  The African Union’s efforts to create the capacities necessary for deployment in African conflicts must be supported and enhanced.  He urged the Council to address conflicts with equal attention.


REED JACKSON FENDRICK (United States) said his country was customarily sceptical of thematic debates in the Security Council, preferring to deal with specific situations.  However, the Council had held them in the past, such as those on HIV/AIDS and women and security, which had been time truly well spent.  Hopefully, today’s session would be remembered as having been worth holding.


He said it was manifestly in the interest of the United Nations membership that Council members did everything possible to ensure well-budgeted and effective use of peacekeeping resources.  In African countries where the United Nations was most heavily invested -- such as Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, increasingly, the Sudan -- crumbling infrastructure, refugees and internally displaced persons were prevalent.  Helping their peoples to achieve their political and economic goals should be the guiding principle of the Council’s work.  Sometimes, the threat of sanctions was enough to make States change their behaviour, but all too often they failed to cause individuals to reverse their behaviour.  The Council must be prepared to impose sanctions and make them effective, but its record on that score was mixed at best.


The importance of developing regional and subregional organizations could not be overstated, he said.  The United States had been heavily involved in various such training programmes for African countries, which was a wise investment.  Another area where the Council and other United Nations bodies should focus attention was the prevention of recidivism, where countries emerged from conflict only to slide back.  Peacekeeping was too expensive to be carried out without a well thought-out plan for what should be done post-conflict.  Ex-combatants must have recourse to education or other occupations, and efforts must be harmonized if disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts were to succeed.


ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece), aligning himself with the European Union, said that the resolution authorizing the deployment of a United Nations mission of more than 10,000 people constituted a positive contribution to the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of Nairobi.  It also represented real hope for the settlement of the conflict in Darfur, the continuation of which had led the Council to adopt further measures if the parties did not comply with the relevant Council standards.  In the case of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) had given the Council the opportunity to address the stalemate in the settlement of the differences between those two countries.


In the case of Côte d’Ivoire, the Council had decided to reinforce the arms embargo, he said.  Individual sanctions had not yet been put into effect in order to give time to the African Union’s mediation effort to bear fruit.  With the security situation deteriorating, there was a strong feeling among Council members that sanctions should become effective.  The Council was still considering the resolution on the arms embargo on the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to better define and strengthen its scope and implementation, and it was unfortunate that the embargo was systematically violated while there was still no consensus on the different elements that would contribute to its effective and thorough implementation.


The problems tackled by the Council had regional and even global dimensions, yet almost all of them affected Africa disproportionately, he said.  In trying to resolve those problems, the Council should take into consideration the following common trends:  the emergence of the African Union as a reliable and active player; sanctions as a fundamental tool in the Council’s efforts to ensure international peace and security; the crucial need to prevent impunity, both as a matter of principle and as a means of upholding the rule of law and justice; and the need to effectively tackle poverty and violence together in order to promote long-term development.


AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the Council’s engagement with African issues this past month had continued to demonstrate the significance of “conflict prevention” elements in conflict management, including such wide-ranging factors as development, democratization, early-warning systems, institutional capacity-building in human rights and the rule of law, and assisting regional organizations in mediation efforts.


Effective prevention required the joint efforts of the entire United Nations system, under the leadership of the Secretary-General, in collaboration with multilateral and bilateral actors, he said.  Equally, experience showed that the Council could no longer concentrate solely on the effectiveness of diplomacy missions and peacekeeping operations: it now needed to focus on longer-term efforts to assist countries like Guinea-Bissau in enhancing durable structures that were conducive to peace and democratic stability.


In addition, evidence suggested that countries emerging from conflict were most at risk of slipping back into violence or instability within the first four years of peace agreements.  And with a great number of African peace processes already at or near that point, the Council must be willing to look seriously into how it could help keep the countries undergoing such delicate transformations from falling into chaos and anarchy after considerable investment.  With that in mind, the United Nations should press for a quick adoption of the Secretary-General’s recent recommendation for creating a peace-building commission.


He stressed that Africans recognized that he primary responsibility for peace-building and conflict prevention rested with them.  It was in that sense that, even amid war and strife, there was a new era of peace and stability emerging, through which African leaders had forged a common vision and shared commitment exemplified by the African Union and NEPAD.  But if Africa was to be successful overall, the international community, the United Nations, and especially the Security Council, must remain important peace and development partners.


Turning to the situation in the Sudan, he said the manner of addressing conflicts was a critical component of conflict management.  After the Naivasha peace process yielded a North/South peace agreement, there had been huge anticipation for action in relation to the peacekeeping mission in south Sudan.  The complexities of the situation in Darfur posed serious challenges to the Council’s effectiveness and illustrated that, when the Council failed to respond in a timely manner to an evolving political and humanitarian tragedy, it risked being perceived as indecisive and ineffective.  The Council’s working methods were characterized by dialogue, mutual respect and the search for consensus.  And although the pursuit for consensus had been at times criticized for generating inertia, the prize for unity was strength and credibility, he said.


The interlinked nature of threats to international peace and security demanded that the Council demonstrate unity, as well as urgency, in responding to situations of potential or actual conflicts.  Finally, he said that the Council could be proud of its successes in Angola and Mozambique, and in its ongoing efforts to ensure a successful partnership with Africa it should continue to emphasize the need for early action/warning; exploit and strengthen the partnership for peace and development with the African Union and its organs and regional groups; and integrate a mutually reinforcing approach to development.  Conflict prevention should be seen as enhancing rather than stretching the mandate of the Council.


ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said he attached importance to conflict prevention through, among other things, improving coordination among various institutions of the United Nations.  He also noted the importance of combating illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.  The dissemination of illicit small arms was an impediment to the peaceful settlement of disputes.  He hoped the second meeting on the United Nations Programme on Small Arms and Light Weapons, to be held in July of this year, would provide beneficial results.  Likewise, he hoped the working group tasked with elaborating an international instrument for tracing illegal small arms and light weapons would come to a successful conclusion.


He appreciated the efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to confront the crises in Africa.  However, those efforts alone would not suffice.  He advocated greater consultations between the Council and troop-contributing countries to enable States to be better informed about the situation on the ground.  Greater consideration should be given to the opinions of the troop-contributing countries, whose role should be more than just advisory.  He emphasized the need for cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, particularly to improve the institutional capacity of the latter.  African efforts to come into its own required greater assistance from the United Nations and the international community.  The establishment of the Union’s Peace and Security Council, among other things, would greatly help African States.


He was pleased with the efforts at peace and reconciliation which were beginning to take place in Somalia, and concurred with the need to give consideration to the situation in that country.  Also, he emphasized that the end of the mandates of peacekeeping missions did not mean that firm peace had been established.  The proposal for a peace-building commission deserved attention.  While he preferred peaceful resolutions to conflicts, some extreme situations required the use of sanctions.  Given the more frequent recourse to sanctions, that prerogative of the Council should be carried out in accordance with the Charter and international law.


RODNEY LOPEZ CLEMENTE (Cuba) said he appreciated the Council’s efforts to achieve a better understanding of African conflicts, accompanied in recent years by the development of African mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts.  Nevertheless, a greater and more systematic support of the United Nations and the international community in general was required, as insufficient financial resources handicapped the achievement and/or consolidation of peace.  Despite what was stated in debates and affirmed in many resolutions, emphasis was still on reacting to African conflicts and not on their prevention.  Prevention implied addressing the deepest causes of conflicts, such as poverty and underdevelopment.  There could be no peace without development or development without peace.


Many of the necessary measures to eliminate the causes of conflicts in Africa and achieve the consolidation of peace and sustainable development were clearly not within the scope of the Council’s mandate and corresponded more to the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council.  Thus, an adequate level of coordination between those principal organs was required.  Africa did not need paternalism, but deserved respect and solidarity, as well as cooperation free from all sorts of influences and interventions.  There was much wisdom and experience in African leaders and representatives.  No one was better qualified than they were to know their problems and determine the best solutions.


Council President RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil), speaking in his national capacity, said that today’s topic had been chosen because African issues currently comprised more than 60 per cent of the Council’s agenda.  While, until 1997, most United Nations operations were deployed in Europe and the Middle East, there had been a steady increase in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts in Africa since 1998.  Another reason the topic had been chosen was due to his country’s historical and cultural ties with AfricaBrazil had the second largest population of African descendents in the world and the largest outside Africa.


The mixed picture offered by the results of the Council’s engagement in Africa should lead to further reflection, he said.  Side by side, there were some success stories, and there were textbook cases of the re-emergence of conflict.  While the Council could benefit from past experience, it must accept that the international order was in a state of flux.  As a principal organ of the United Nations, the Council must also be ready for a permanent process of evolution.  It must never cease to question and to improve its methods of work, political perceptions, cost-benefit analyses and its structure.


Touching on some of the points raised today, he said many had highlighted the need to strengthen cooperation with African organizations.  Some acknowledged the need for concerted efforts, including fair trade and the involvement of international financial institutions.  Also, reference had been made to the recent recommendations of the Secretary-General in his “In Larger Freedom” report, especially regarding the establishment of a peace-building commission.  It was his intention to provide a summary of the ideas discussed today and circulate them at a later date.


Turning to the Brazilian national views on those matters, he said that addressing deep-rooted social and economic causes of conflict in Africa, either as a way to prevent their outbreak or their resurgence, seemed to be a vanguard task to be tackled by the United Nations as a whole.  While welcoming the greater involvement of the Economic and Social Council in that task, he believed that joint efforts between the two Councils still lacked the formal institutional framework or adequate channels to maximize the quality of their responses.


Also, the decision-making process within the Security Council would be substantially improved by making use of first-hand information regarding conflicts in Africa, he said.  For instance, only two days ago, the Council was briefed by the African Union mediators on the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.  Certainly, the Council benefits from information provided by the Secretariat, as well as from individual Member States.  Yet, the views of those directly linked to the conflicts under review must be duly taken into consideration.  In the context of amassing tools for decision-making, he was also highly supportive of regular Council missions to countries in conflict.


He added that closer cooperation between peacekeeping operations and political missions deployed in the same region was a positive development that must be further supported and advanced.  The various United Nations presences in West Africa were demonstrating how much could be gained through coordinated efforts and joint activities.


He also believed that African interests and general views would have their consideration greatly reinforced if the Council were to count on the permanent membership of African countries.  He supported the proposal that two new permanent seats be conferred to the African Regional Group.


On the highly important issue of combating impunity, he believed that the primary responsibility for bringing perpetrators to justice belonged to local courts and tribunals.  However, in some cases, local institutions did not have the capacity to investigate and prosecute, while in other cases, the fight against impunity might be hampered by reluctant authorities.  In those cases, the Council should look to the International Criminal Court.  With two investigations already under way, the Court was proving to be an effective tool of deterrence and, as such, would greatly contribute to international security.  He encouraged States who had not done so to accede to the Rome Statute.


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