Geneva, 8 July 1999
FROM DIPLOMACY OF POWER TO POWER OF DIPLOMACY
The European Regional Hearing for the United Nations
Millennium Assembly Takes up Peace and Disarmament
This morning's session of the regional Hearings for the preparation of the United Nations Millennium Assembly, due to take place next year in New York, focussed on peace and disarmament.
The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Mr. Guido de Marco, President of Malta. Mr. Vladimir Petrovsky, Secretary-General, Conference on Disarmament acted as moderator. Ms. Mari Fitzduff, Director, Institute for Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity, United Kingdom; Ms. Maj Britt Theorin, Chairperson, International Council of Parliamentarians for Global Action, New York; Ms. Eugenia Piza-Lopez, International Alert, London; Mr. Vladimir Lukin, Chairman, International Affairs Committee, State Duma, Moscow; and Mr. Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Director, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Stockholm, acted as panellists.
The fact that the concept of conflict and of disarmament has acquired new dimensions since the end of the cold war was recognized. From an equilibrium of terror, the world has gone to the eruption of a great number of local conflicts. It was stressed that the number of these conflicts might even increase in the coming years because of the increasing "fragmentation" of the world. While globalization and regionalization are key words in the fields of communication, trade and more generally economics, it seems that as far as States are concerned, the opposite trend is taking place. While 49 States were members of the United Nations after World War II they are now 187 and some forecast that by year 2050 there might be a much greater number of States around the world. The process of fragmentation might generate additional local conflicts and thereafter lead to an increase in the number of conflicts among States.
To prevent these conflicts participants suggested several types of actions. First, more flexible constitutions which would allow for local minorities to be recognized. In this context the United Nations could play an advisory role. Second, an early warning system monitored by the United Nations to prevent the explosion of these conflicts should be implemented and used, as in many cases warning may have been raised in the past without resulting in any political move. Thirdly, more resources should be allocated in the United Nations to this early warning system, which would at the end of the day pay off if armed conflicts are avoided. Education should also be at the heart of conflict prevention. The creation of a University for Peace-making under the auspices of the United Nations was proposed.
It was also mentioned that no military enforcement actions should be undertaken without the prior consent of the United Nations. In turn, aspects of conflict prevention could be decentralized to regional organizations. The creation of a standing United Nations Force for humanitarian interventions was also advocated.
While all participants considered disarmament as an important element for maintaining peace throughout the world, some considered that the nature of the new types of conflicts and the nature of new weapons would require a new approach to this issue.
This afternoon's session will be devoted to conclusions. The meeting will resume at 3.30 p.m.
For further information, please contact:
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE)
Palais des Nations, Room 356
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 917 44 44
Fax: +41 22 917 05 05