of the United Nations
in Mainaining International Peace and Security
of the President at the Global Agenda Forum
Parliament, Vienna, 7 April 2003
am very pleased to have this opportunity to talk to you about
the role of the United Nations in maintenance of international
peace and security. It might seem peculiar to speak on this subject
at a time when the United Nations is confronted with, perhaps,
the greatest misgivings about its role in maintenance of international
peace and security in its fifty-seven-year long history. The discussion
on this subject has perhaps never been greater and more crucial.
It might therefore seem even more odd, at this juncture, to argue
that the United Nations does have a role in maintenance of international
peace and security. But it is precisely what I intend to do, as
I am convinced that despite the recent failure of diplomacy in
the United Nations Security Council, the Organization's role in
securing safe, stable, and prosperous environment around the world
the outset, let me mention that there are six principle organs
of the United Nations - they are the General Assembly, Security
Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, the
International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. The responsibility
for maintaining peace and security belongs to the Security Council.
we have concentrated our attention on the most outstanding issue
before the United Nations - the Iraqi crisis. This is no surprise.
The Organization has just gone through one of the most intricate
moments, which will without doubt resonate into its future. But
its failure to obtain, in the Security Council, a workable multilateral
solution to Iraq's defiance of its resolutions, did not stop it
from fulfilling its multitude of mandates. The work of the United
Nations in the area of peace and security is broad. It includes
peacekeeping, peace-building, disarmament, clearing of landmines,
electoral assistance, development and exercise of international
law, (for example through the International Criminal Court or
the tribunals), to name some of the most well-known ones.
my opinion, the frequently heard obituaries to the United Nations,
particularly with respect to its role in maintaining peace and
security, stem just from the lack of thorough knowledge and examination
of the Organization's broad mandate and day-to-day activities.
Allow me thus elaborate on the work of the Organization in the
area of maintaining peace and security, on the accomplishments,
as well as limitations.
MAINTENANCE OF INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY AS A PRINCIPLE
MANDATE OF THE UNITED NATIONS
United Nations was created on the ruins of the Second World War.
Inherently, the victorious powers were establishing a new organization
with one predominant objective in mind: to save the succeeding
generations from the scourge of war. To this end, the states were
to practice tolerance, good neighbourlines and cooperation. The
primary objectives with respect to maintenance of international
peace and security are defined right at the outset of the United
Nations' Charter. Its first chapter states, inter alia, that to
maintain international peace and security, Member States are to
take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal
of threats to peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression
or other breaches of peace, and to bring about by peaceful means,
and in conformity with the principles of justice and international
law, adjustments or settlement of international disputes or situations
which might lead to a breach of peace. It further envisions development
of friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle
of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and taking
other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace. Among
the means, economic and social cooperation, cultural exchange,
promotion of respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms
for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion
are also stated.
The United Nations has forged various structures to carry out
this mandate, such as for peacekeeping, peacemaking, mediation,
or using its good offices. United Nations Peacekeeping Forces
were rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988 and the Organization
as a whole was awarded the prize in 2001. In the course of the
last decade, the operations have become more complex and besides
its traditional function of observing cease-fires and implementation
of peace agreements, it has taken on the responsibility of post-conflict
LAYING DOWN THE FOUNDATIONS
laying down a blueprint for the new organization, in the late
summer and early fall of 1944, in Dumbarton Oaks in Washington
D.C., and later during drafting of the Charter at the San Francisco
Conference in the spring of 1945, one of the main concerns of
the victorious states was the separation of powers between the
General Assembly and the Security Council, giving them a distinct
mandate with respect to maintenance of peace and security. Consequently,
the primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace
and security was assigned to the Security Council, leaving the
General Assembly with a secondary, largely deliberative, role.
constructing the new organization and assigning its principle
organs their powers, the founding states could not have foreseen
that the Cold War would impede the Security Council in carrying
out its chief mandate. The frequent use of veto by its five permanent
members, especially by the Soviet Union, caused the Security Council
to be paralyzed to effectively deal with threats to and breaches
of international peace and security and to forestall conflicts.
Invasion of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, war in Vietnam
or Falklands/Malvinas, and others, unveiled before the eyes of
the Security Council, a body paralysed by the bipolar rivalry
and frequent use of veto. As the Secretary-General Boutros Boutros
Ghali observed, 127 wars erupted during the first fifty years
of the United Nations' existence. The attributes "powerless"
or "irrelevant" are, by no means, new additions into
the UN word list.
UN SECURITY MACHINERY
end of the Cold War brought a new promise for the world organization.
Some spoke of a renaissance, especially in the security area.
The optimism about finally putting the system of collective security
into work was underpinned by the authorization of the Operation
Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf in 1991. It soon became apparent,
however, that the post-Cold War reality would be more complex.
Intrastate conflicts, fuelled by separatism, nationalism, in which
civilians were increasingly the primary victims, proliferated.
The United Nations had before it the enormous task of dealing
with these military and humanitarian emergencies, and it was largely
unequipped and unprepared.
not originally envisioned in the Charter, the traditional UN involvement
with respect to peace and security have been its peacekeeping
operations. Known widely as "blue helmets," United Nations
peacekeepers monitor ceasefires, patrol buffer zones between hostile
parties, and help defuse local conflicts. The first peacekeeping
operation was in 1948 UN Truce Supervision Operation - UNTSO -
to supervise truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians,
followed by peacekeeping operation in Kashmir, Cyprus, Golan Heights,
Lebanon, Western Sahara, and currently in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia
and Eritrea, Kosovo, Central America, and many other places.
the years, the United Nations peacekeeping went through several
phases. By the 1990s, the peacekeeping operations increased not
only in their number (18 authorized during the Cold War as opposed
to more than thirty in the 1990s), but also in their complexity.
Their mandates now also include alleviating humanitarian emergencies,
assistance in establishment of legitimate and functioning government
and institutions, or, in the interim, taking these powers on themselves,
election organizing, reorganizing and training of police and military
forces, weapons collection and demobilization and reintegration
of former combatants.
United Nations currently operates 15 peacekeeping missions, in
addition to peace-building missions. Among its recent achievements
are the closing of UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and UN
Mission in Prevlaka, establishing a mission in Timor Leste with
a new mandate to support the transitional period, and disarmament
and demobilization of over 47,000 rebel fighters in Sierra Leone.
The United Nations plays an essential role in the re-building
ROLE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
the privilege of presiding over the General Assembly, I cannot
refrain from highlighting the role of this body in international
security. The General Assembly, in general, considers a wide range
of global issues, elects members to United Nations' bodies, allocates
funds from the budget. It is the only principle organ of the Organization
in which all the Member States are represented and participate
on an equal basis, that is one vote per Member State. Currently,
there are 191 Member States. It provides the membership with a
forum to articulate their positions, air their grievances, find
consensus and engage in diplomatic exchange. The General Assembly
has, throughout its history, considered situations which have
not yet developed into a conflict but have such a potential, disputes
between nations, breaches of peace, or acts of aggression, violations
of territorial integrity or political independence, colonialism,
decisions in respect to resolving disputes and conflicts are,
albeit, not binding and serve merely as recommendations. They
usually take the form of an appeal for peaceful settlement and
of encouragement of conciliatory policy to relieve tensions. They
may contain concrete proposals for specific action and set forward
objectives, ask the parties to the dispute to take necessary steps
to overcome the friction, request dialogue and negotiations. The
General Assembly issues formal statements expressing disagreement
or denunciations of specific situations of conflict, declaring
hope that the solution can be found in accordance with the purposes
and principles of the Charter. The General Assembly also expresses
satisfaction with the course of action taken by way of adopting
resolutions to that effect.
General Assembly can also recommend that an issue is considered
by its standing subsidiary organ or an appointed commission, or
the Secretary-General and his special envoys through their good
offices. The General Assembly can further initiate investigations,
inquiries, studies, or progress reports.
can also contribute indirectly through its agenda related to economic,
social, cultural, educational, and health issues, and through
development of international law. The contemporary understanding
of the concept of security has become much broader and by heeding
these issues and allocating roles for the relevant members of
the UN system, the General Assembly's role in creating peaceful
and secure conditions throughout the world has become more ample.
agenda of the General Assembly with respect to international peace
and security includes areas such as disarmament, human rights,
humanitarian assistance, democratization, environmental degradation,
terrorism, HIV/AIDS, or international law. The General Assembly
discusses and reviews, on an annual basis, complex political and
security situations in different regions, such as the situation
in Afghanistan, Central America, the Balkans, the Middle East,
several agenda items deal with conflict in Africa. It reviews
the implementation of a de-mining program. Disarmament agenda
is considered in the International Security and Disarmament Committee
and questions of decolonization, peacekeeping operations, or peaceful
uses of outer space are taken up by the Special Political and
Decolonization Committee. Both of these belong to the General
Assembly's six main committees.
would like to emphasize that the concept of security has evolved.
Today, the maintenance of peace and security is closely inter-linked
with socio-economic security, respect for human rights and democratic
values, which the United Nations has taken upon itself to promote.
The General Assembly has a particular role in promoting security
by helping to establish the right socio-economic environment.
Not surprisingly, there have been proposals for enhanced cooperation
and dialogue between the Security Council, General Assembly, and
the Economic and Social Council to enhance the Organization's
capacity in dealing with the many aspects of security.
MORE EMPHASIS ON PREVENTION
United Nations has recently, largely due to the Secretary-General's
emphasis on replacing the culture of reaction with culture of
prevention, focused on the ways and means for effective conflict
prevention before they escalate and become unmanageable. Historically,
however, the United Nations has not been good at anticipating
crisis situations and often dealt with the conflict after it had
started. It needs to be said though, that the United Nations can
only act after a request from a Member State. Its possibilities
are thus limited.
largely employed tool is preventive diplomacy, conducted predominantly
by the Secretary-General or his envoys. Other options include
preventive deployment, early warning, fact-finding missions, or
confidence-building measures. I have myself included prevention
of conflict among the priorities of my presidency, as I believe
that the General Assembly should join the efforts in progressively
building the culture of prevention. The General Assembly could
identify and develop mechanisms for peaceful resolution of disputes,
or, in other words, it could assemble a comprehensive compilation
of elements for conflict prevention capacity to which the Member
States and the UN system could refer to.
General Assembly is currently in the process of drafting its first
resolution devoted to ways and means of preventing armed conflict.
These are challenging negotiations, as they reflect the multitude
of different priorities, perspectives, and of course, interests.
As prevention of conflict is one of the priorities of my presidency,
I hope that the General Assembly will adopt, by consensus, a pragmatic
resolution. The resolution should, inter alia, reaffirm the primary
responsibility of Member States in conflict prevention. It should
recognize the role of democratization, socio-economic development,
or compliance with international law, as having a preventive value.
The resolution should also determine the role of the relevant
UN actors in conflict prevention and give an impetus to their
greater cooperation in this area.
conclusion, I would like to say that it was my intention to portray
the United Nations as a carrier of a multitude of agendas which
aim at achieving a peaceful and secure world. I hope I have succeeded,
for I believe that it would be greatly biased to engage in a discussion
on the role of the United Nations in maintaining international
peace and security without seeing the whole picture and without
having an appreciation for its daily work that escapes the attention
of the media. The role of the Organization with nearly universal
membership in carrying out these tasks, be it peacekeeping operations,
mine clearance, disarmament of combatants, promotion of healthy
socio-economic programs, or creation of international laws, is
and will remain irreplaceable.