SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION AND REINTEGRATION OF EX-COMBATANTS IN PEACEKEEPING ENVIRONMENT

8 July 1999
SC/6697

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION AND REINTEGRATION OF EX-COMBATANTS IN PEACEKEEPING ENVIRONMENT

8 July 1999

Press ReleaseSC/6697

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION AND REINTEGRATION OF EX-COMBATANTS IN PEACEKEEPING ENVIRONMENT

19990708 Deputy Secretary-General Addresses Council; Emphasis Placed on Need To Resolve Problem of Child Soldiers

In the future, the Security Council should make the needs of child soldiers a central concern when it considered specific crises, mandated peacemaking or peacekeeping missions, and designed peace-building programmes, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette told members of the Council this morning. The Deputy Secretary-General was addressing the Council at its day- long meeting on the maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peace- building: Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants in a peacekeeping environment.

She said the special needs of child soldiers -- more than 300,000 of whom had been used in conflicts around the world between 1995 and 1997 -- should be seen as a crucial element in a peacekeeping operation's mandate. The problem would not be solved until the international community adopted a concerted approach, which must address the social, economic and political factors which made children susceptible to recruitment.

The representative of Mozambique, addressing the Council in the afternoon, when it resumed after a suspension, said reintegration meant reconciling combatants with communities which were victims of atrocities. Reintegration had to be such that former combatants would identify more with the community than with their former roles as fighters. Particularly important was the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers. While governments could be held accountable for the use of children as soldiers, it was often difficult to induce change in rebel groups and to have them admit to the use of children. In Africa alone, about 120,000 people, under the age of 18, were currently participating in armed conflicts.

Also speaking in the afternoon, the representative of Namibia stressed that ex-combatants were former enemies who still wanted to avenge past activities. In addition, while fighting for their cause, former fighters had high hopes, which were never fully realized, resulting in frustration and sensitivities. Equally important was the fact that the confidence of combatants evolved around their weapons. When they were disarmed and demobilized, fear, panic and insecurity crept in. Efforts must be made to address problems, which might contribute to the re-emergence of conflicts. Premature withdrawal of peacekeeping forces was dangerous because belligerents rearmed if presented with any vacuum.

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"All of our nations which sell small arms and light weapons, or which are involved in the traffic or the flow or these weapons, bear responsibility for turning a blind eye to the destruction they cause", said the representative of the United States. "We should act together now to curb arms transfers to zones of conflict." The United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, had proposed pursuit of a global convention based on the path-breaking Organization of American States Convention against Illicit Arms Trafficking. Negotiations on the global convention should be concluded as soon as possible, he stressed.

The representative of the Russian Federation said disarmament was not an area where good decisions should be confined to paper, as had often been the case in the past. One example of the grave consequences of the failure of efforts to disarm was the collapse of the peace process in Angola. The main reason there was the failure of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to implement its agreements under the peace agreements. The Council could successfully draw due lessons from that experience and step up its efforts in the implementation of other peace agreements. Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) on Kosovo clearly and unambiguously provided for the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and others factions. That process was clearly not moving ahead fast enough, he noted.

Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia and President of the Council during its morning session, speaking in his national capacity, said that, while disarmament was a crucial prerequisite for the consolidation of peace and stability in countries emerging from conflict, experience had shown that it could not guarantee the achievement of the long- term objectives of sustainable peace, stability and development alone. It had to be followed with the demobilization of ex-combatants and their peaceful reintegration into society.

Financing continued to be a problem in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, he said. Protracted conflict naturally put a severe strain on the resources of a country. Obviously, the question of adequate financing needed to be addressed by all concerned. "Clearly, we cannot ignore the developmental aspects of post-conflict peace- building", he said. Reintegration programmes, in particular, would require some amount of economic assistance.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Bahrain, United Kingdom, Slovenia, Argentina, Brazil, Gabon, France, Gambia, Netherlands, China, Canada, Finland (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Guatemala, South Africa, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Croatia and El Salvador.

The meeting which began at 11:12 a.m. was suspended at 1:15 p.m., resumed at 3:30 p.m., and adjourned at 5:54 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to consider the issue: Maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peace-building: Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants in a peacekeeping environment.

Statements

Deputy Secretary-General LOUISE FRÉCHETTE said that the conflicts with which the Security Council was grappling were more often than not internal civil wars, with some degree of cross-border or international implications. They tended to take place in poorer countries, with vast movements of internally displaced persons and refugees. Easily available light arms, including landmines, were the weapons of choice, and often young children were conscripted as soldiers. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration were distinct tasks which often overlapped and which must be approached as part of an integrated peace-building process.

She said disarmament was the assembly and cantonment of combatants and the voluntary handing over of their weapons to peacekeeping troops, who then ensured the safe storage of the weapons and their final disposition. As a rule, the disarmament of civilians was not the responsibility of a peacekeeping mission, but was incumbent upon national authorities, sometimes with the assistance of the international community. Civilian buy-back programmes might inhibit military disarmament. Furthermore, the establishment of a high price for weapons to promote disarmament could create an artificial market for weapons, and spark an overwhelming movement of weapons into the country and the surrounding region. Weapons collection programmes might need to be linked with such incentives as the provision of jobs or training, which were not easily converted into cash, and related to development initiatives that benefited entire communities.

Demobilization, she said, involved registration, medical examinations, assistance to help combatants meet their immediate basic needs, and transportation to their home communities or, sometimes, absorption into a unified military force. Reintegration denoted helping ex-combatants adapt successfully to a productive civilian life. That assistance had to be given to returning refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as demobilized combatants and their families. It included employment and micro-credit programmes, vocational training and education. Clearly, reintegration was a long-term social and economic process, which was necessary even after a peacekeeping operation had completed its mandate.

She said that the international community's success in supporting disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes would be determined by several considerations. First, terms for arms and ammunition disposal should be included within peace agreements when they were first negotiated, so that

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the issue did not become an obstacle to peace at a later stage. Second, predictable financing was critical. Starting a programme without the funding to complete it might raise expectations on the part of ex-combatants that could not be fulfilled. Voluntary financing could also be a problem, as any delays in receiving contributions could jeopardize the entire process.

Third, she said, the special needs of child soldiers -- more than 300,000 of whom had been used in conflicts around the world between 1995 and 1997 -- should be seen as a crucial element in a peacekeeping operation's mandate. The problem would not be solved until the international community adopted a concerted approach, which must address the social, economic and political factors which made children susceptible to recruitment. The Security Council should, in future, make the needs of child soldiers a central concern when it considered specific crises, when it mandated peacemaking or peacekeeping missions, and when it designed peace-building programmes.

JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that there was no doubt that today's discussion indicated the importance given to the issue of disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of ex-combatants and the role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security. The international community suffered from a continuation of conflicts in the world. The major reason for that was due to the flow of arms, particularly light arms. There was no doubt that States had a sovereign right to self- defence, but the interest of humanity required giving the minimum to military purposes. Therefore, States must reduce military expenditures and increase funds for social and economic sectors. Those exporting weapons were responsible for exacerbating the problem of continued conflicts.

The Security Council had to confront the issue as an urgent matter, he said. Peacekeeping missions had an important role in building peace and security in post-conflict situations. The maintenance of peace required huge efforts, and the international community must support those efforts. The role of the United Nations in building peace must be supported. In addition, without the political will of the country involved, it would be impossible to bring about peace. Bahrain welcomed the United Nations intention to set up peace-building offices in Haiti and Guinea-Bissau.

Disarmament and reintegration were separate, but complimentary ideas, he said. If disarmament did not take place first, the return of conflict would be inevitable. Once disarmament was achieved, the more difficult task of reintegration began. The readiness of soldiers to surrender their weapons was a major factor in the reintegration of combatants. The reintegration process also assumed a conducive economic environment for the return of soldiers.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants must be given a higher priority in peace agreements and be subject to careful planning. Where

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possible, a plan should be written into a peace agreement with its provisions set out clearly. Second, effective coordination was essential. The United Nations funds and programmes, the Bretton Woods institutions, multilateral and bilateral donors all had a role to play. But, their efforts must be concerted and, in most cases, the United Nations should provide the coordinating framework. Third, such programmes must receive the resources necessary to be effective and be tailored to the specific circumstances of different societies, including existing norms of weapons possession.

Fourth, the specific problems of child soldiers must be addressed, he continued. Child soldiers were often the last to disarm and the first to rearm. The emphasis must be on long-term reintegration. Also, the security of collected weapons was important, if they were to be placed under the control of legitimate military authorities. Otherwise, they must be destroyed as soon as possible. Those who surrender weapons must also be given a strong and credible guarantee of their security. All such efforts must be set in the context of wider security sector reform, including the restructuring of armed forces and assistance to the civilian police force and judiciary. Unless the State itself could provide security to its citizens, there would be no incentive for disarmament.

Reintegration was an equally important element of today's debate, he said. The international community must find a way to ensure that former soldiers had a stake in building the peace and that their future was assured. Also, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration could not be effective if new weapons were flowing into the target area. Therefore, arms-exporting countries must exercise responsibility in their small arms transfers, and the illicit trafficking of such weapons had to be combated.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that disarmament was important in normalizing regions in crisis. The issue required coordinated efforts by the international community. In the absence of such efforts, reliable guarantees could not be given. Disarmament was also not an area where good decisions should be confined to paper and not be implemented, as was often the case in the past. One example of the grave consequences of the failure of efforts to disarm was the collapse of the peace process in Angola. The main reason for that was the failure of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to implement its agreements under the peace accords.

The Council could successfully draw due lessons from that experience and step up its efforts in the implementation of other peace agreements, he said. Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) on Kosovo clearly and unambiguously provided for the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and others factions. The process of demilitarizing the KLA, however, was clearly not moving ahead quickly enough. The Russian Federation expected that the demilitarization of the KLA would be a breakthrough. It would, however, require concerted efforts by all concerned for it to be ensured.

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He said Tajikistan was another glaring issue, due to the dragging out of the protocol on military issues. The main responsibility for that lay with United Tajik Opposition. However, the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) could have played a more active role. Moreover, demobilization of fighters and their reintegration into civil society required financial and material support from the international community. Such support was so far inadequate. He noted that the task of demobilization was linked to the proliferation of small and light weapons. His country had stepped up its efforts to prohibit the use of conventional weapons. The United Nations had to enhance the effectiveness of Security Council-imposed arms embargoes, since flawed embargoes made conflicts worse and cast doubt on the credibility of the United Nations.

DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said making peace often entailed difficult choices, a fact of which the United Nations was intensely aware as peace was concluded in Sierra Leone. However, the wisdom of Erasmus should be kept in mind: "The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war." That maxim meant specifically that peace was a challenge. It could be disadvantageous from the standpoint of the basic values of humanity, but the real struggle for those values was given a chance when the war was ended. Since comprehensive peace agreements were not always possible, post-conflict activities often began on the basis of an imperfect peace or a mere ceasefire agreement. Even in those situations, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities, especially those related to the fate of child soldiers, should be pursued.

He said that, in the right conditions, the United Nations had accomplished several large-scale disarmament, demobilization and reintegration projects. In the 1993/1994 success in Mozambique, more than 70,000 government and Movement of National Resistance (RENAMO) soldiers had been demobilized. The Reintegration Support Scheme implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had included cash payments, vocational training, promotion of small-scale economic activities and credit facilities for the demobilized soldiers. The scheme had been essential for the successful reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life. Mozambique was a classic example both of the success and the inherent importance of disarmament in post-conflict situations.

Although mine action had a separate identity, it must be mentioned in view of its overall importance for post-conflict normalization, he said. It was more than just demining; it also contained assistance to mine victims and the creation of mine awareness in the public at large. The implementation of international instruments regarding demining and the destruction of landmines must be among the first priorities after a conflict. Rehabilitation of mine victims was an important condition of normalization after a conflict, as well as the way to restore both productivity and human dignity to those most severely affected.

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He said that demobilization and disarmament were essential, but not ends in themselves. The objective was the restoration of normalcy and reintegration of all segments of society. All ex-combatants should be reintegrated, except persons responsible for war crimes and crime against humanity. Peace with impunity was an unstable peace. Though it may not always be possible to prosecute the perpetrators immediately after the conflict, statutory limitations did not apply in the case of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bringing the perpetrators to justice remained essential for the durability of peace.

FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said it was a tragic fact that, in many places where food, education, and health were not available, it was easy to find arms, grenades and anti-personnel mines. Intra-State conflicts had their roots in weak governments, histories of social and ethnic tension, corruption, economic strife, and abuse of minorities. Those factors were all combined with poverty and hopelessness. Whether those problems contributed individually to a conflict or acted in an interrelated manner, they were joined by the added factor of access to small weapons.

Such wars recognized no ideological content, he continued. For many, especially adolescents, joining the militia was the only occupation. What was needed was a re-examination of the concept of security. New and creative forms had to be developed to make international peace and security a reality. There was no doubt that what needed to be preserved was the security of the human person.

He said human security and peace-building were key and complementary concepts. It was necessary to strengthen democratic institutions and promote good governance and sustainable development. States had to reconstruct their economies through access to capital markets. The proliferation of small arms was a threat to human security itself. That did not mean that there should be an unconditional end to arms, since there was still a need for the right to self-defence.

It was essential to restore the confidence and well-being of affected societies through initiatives to reintegrate ex-combatants, he said. The task, however, did not end there. Post-conflict peace-building could benefit from projects based on cooperation. In that area, regional organizations could prove useful. The capacity of the United Nations to prevent and respond to conflicts must be strengthened, as must its efforts in peacemaking and peace-building. That was only possible in the framework of development.

GELSON FONSECA, JR. (Brazil) said that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration could not be dealt with separately -- they had to be seen under the more embracing light of promoting peace, prosperity and stability. The rehabilitation of ex-combatants and their reintegration into society was also essential. That process, however, could not be carried out successfully without a firm political commitment by the parties involved, since the

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dimensions of such considerations extended well beyond the peace and security levels, and touched a number of social and economic issues. The political will shown by the parties must be supplemented by support from the international community. The Economic and Social Council had a coordinating role to play in those efforts.

He said it was important for the international community to come up with a network of experienced arms experts from those States that contributed to peacekeeping operations, thus, forming a worldwide database on those matters. In that connection, continuous attention must be paid by the international community during the post-conflict period, which might include the presence of follow-up political missions on the ground. He called for the strict implementation of arms embargoes, where applicable, with particular emphasis on stopping the circulation of small and light arms.

He said the observance of the steps he called for was fundamental to ensuring the positive outcome, in terms of peace-building and strengthening peace, in a particular conflict. Where that had been the case -- as the examples of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mozambique showed -- peace was established and ex-combatants were reintegrated into society. Where that had not been the case, as in Angola, tensions and conflict lingered.

DENIS DANGUE RÉWAKA (Gabon) said that the upheavals that had occurred in the world in the last decade had shown a new kind of conflict, that of internal conflict. The complexities of that conflict should not lead the Council to shirk their primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The Council, in its original concept, was established to deal with inter-State conflicts. However, in this new era of history, the Council had to find the right solution for such conflicts. The best thing to do would be to identify, early on, the causes of conflict before the onset of an actual armed clash. It must be recognized that in the area of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the United Nations had acquired considerable experience, which should be furthered.

Successes could be seen in certain areas, such as Guatemala, Liberia, Mozambique and Cambodia, he said. Those successes were partly due to cooperation by the parties. In the case of Angola, cooperation of one party -- UNITA -- was seriously lacking. The experiences of the United Nations should help to prepare for future peacekeeping operations, for example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While each conflict had its own features, it would be wise, after a ceasefire had been agreed to, for the United Nations mission to have written into its mandate the collection and destruction of weapons seized, as well as the monitoring of the transfer of arms.

Those efforts must be supported by multi-sectoral action to strengthen peace, he said. That would assume that the Council would appeal to the specialized agencies of the United Nations, international financial institutions

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and bilateral donors to demonstrate greater flexibility in the granting of loans to countries emerging from conflicts. While a cure was no substitute for prevention, it could not be overemphasized that the Council, in cooperation with regional bodies, should make use of the potential for conflict resolution and ensure optimum use of funds needed for development.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that, in the decade that was now drawing to a close, no region of the world had been spared the heightening of internal conflicts. The proliferation of armed groups, combined with the spread of light weapons, had made the conclusion of peace agreements more difficult. Where peace agreements did exist, it was more difficult to verify their compliance. The international community had the responsibility to do all in its power to ensure guarantees for peace. While peace was the result of the efforts of all, the role of the United Nations was decisive.

Recent crises had shown the danger that the accumulation of light weapons posed for the settlement of conflict, he continued. The collection of weapons must go hand in hand with demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. Without reintegration, ex-combatants would be inclined to take up weapons again, seeing that as the best way to improve their living conditions. It was vital that peace agreements include precise provisions with modalities for the implementation and monitoring of demobilization and disarmament. Where multinational forces were deployed, the task of collecting and destroying weapons and helping in the restructuring of the armed forces, and reintegrating ex-combatants must be included in its mandate.

More generous support on the part of the international community would be necessary, he said. The lack of financial resources was the main obstacle to successfully implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. Too often, the implementation of programmes depended on voluntary contributions. Hence, the records of efforts made over the past years was extremely uneven, the saddest example being Angola. On the other hand, in places such as Mali and Mozambique, the task of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants into civil life were undertaken and successfully completed.

In Guinea-Bissau, it was indispensable that a programme of collecting weapons be resumed, he added. Also, the agreement just signed in Sierra Leone included a section on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the United Nations would be called on, together with the parties involved, to see to it that that task was successfully completed, if peace was to be restored. The same could be said for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The presidential statement to be adopted today would confirm the importance the Council attached to the issue and its determination to find answers.

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A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said the political will of the parties in conflict to abide by a peace agreement and to disarm could not be overemphasized. Without such will, there was little the United Nations could effectively do. Angola was but one glaring and unfortunate example of a potential success that turned into a failure. Despite the Organization having successfully disarmed and demobilized over 50,000 UNITA combatants, their hard-fought gains were quickly lost, due to the lack of commitment by UNITA to the peace accords. In Sierra Leone, the United States was encouraged by the peace agreement that was signed yesterday. Securing lasting peace in that worn-torn country, however, would not be easy. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations anticipated that over 33,000 combatants would have to be disarmed and reintegrated in Sierra Leonean society before peace could be assured. That was a formidable task.

He said that, in order to succeed in future endeavours, "we must learn from past experiences and seek innovative ways to make disarmament and demobilization more effective". The United States was thus encouraged by the excellent work of the Lessons Learned Unit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which was planing to finalize a report of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration later this year. One creative and innovative idea in the area of disarmament of small arms and light weapons came form the trip by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala to Albania last year, where the United Nations Secretariat helped to develop an idea to empower local Albanian leaders to collect and exchange arms in return for local community civil construction projects. Despite the success of new initiatives, however, it was not sufficient to merely collect arms. The international community must also take steps to control the flow of legal and illicit arms to areas of conflict.

He said "all of our nations which sell small arms and light weapons, or which are involved in the traffic or the flow of these weapons, bear responsibility for turning a blind eye to the destruction they cause. We should act together now to curb arms transfers to zones of conflict". The United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, had proposed pursuit of a global convention based on the path-breaking Organization of American States (OAS) Convention against Illicit Arms Trafficking. Negotiations on the global convention should be concluded as soon as possible.

He said the reintegration of former combatants into their societies fell between two areas of international assistance -- relief and development. In order for combatants to be successfully reintegrated, they must be able to find work in other areas of the economy. The fact that two major organs of the United Nations, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, were looking at that matter was an indication of the importance that demobilization and reintegration of soldiers had on civil society in countries racked by internal conflict.

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BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said that the international community must find ways to ensure that, in peacekeeping or peace-building operations, combatants were effectively disarmed to avoid a recurrence of the conflict. That could be achieved by: incorporating clear terms for disarmament in peace agreements and giving a clear and comprehensive mandate to the peacekeeping or peace-building operation; and devising appropriate and workable schemes of incentives to induce voluntary handover of weapons. A scheme of incentives would, however, require the financial support of the international community.

Demobilization of ex-combatants was also an important aspect in the quest for a lasting settlement of a conflict, he said. It was a necessary complement of disarmament and was the next stage in the sequence of events. It was, however, often regarded as the responsibility of humanitarian and development agencies. While there was merit in the sharing of responsibilities, adequate funding arrangements should be made to avoid situations in which the lack of funds becomes the reason for the premature termination of such an important process.

The next stage in the sequence of events, reintegration, also suffered the same fate, he continued. It was an open secret that the integration of ex-combatants into society was not only desirable, but necessary. Failure to do so properly often led to a rise in banditry and other violent crimes. In countries where there were serious economic hardships, programmes to assist ex-combatants to adapt successfully into productive civilian life were fundamental. Without that, a fragile peace could be easily derailed.

He added that it was estimated that over 500,000 small arms were in circulation in Africa. The availability of such arms fuelled existing conflicts and sparked new ones. The adoption of a moratorium on the import and export of such arms to regions in conflict was becoming a compelling necessity. Other mechanisms to deal with that situation should also be explored.

PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said that without the political will of the parties concerned, it was difficult, if not impossible, to implement a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. It was true that political will could not be enforced, but in the context of a truly integrated approach, more could be done to stimulate it. From the very beginning of international involvement, parties could be made aware of their collective vital interest in a functioning programme. They could be made to realize that a credible programme served as an indication that parties took their commitment to peace seriously, and that the international community's willingness to contribute to the larger post-conflict peace-building process would largely depend on that perception.

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It was essential that the Council pronounce itself on the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in any peace agreement, he said. It was the Council that could monitor and influence the drafting of a peace agreement from its initial stage and make sure that all elements conducive to a durable settlement were adequately incorporated into the document. A conflict could not simply be switched off, and a country where the fighting had ended must never be left to its own devices.

The problem of demobilization and reintegration became critically compounded where child soldiers were concerned, he continued. It was obvious that ex-combatant children would require a high degree of supervision for a considerable length of time. A country that demobilized its child soldiers, but then failed to accompany them until they had been fully integrated into civilian society, was placing a ticking time bomb at its own foundations. Finally, accountability and reconciliation were not incompatible. Lasting peace was not attainable without accountability, and that principle should always be fully reflected in every programme reintegrating ex-combatants.

DATUK SERI SYED HAMID ALBAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, and President of the Council, speaking in his capacity as the representative of his country, said that in exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Council should not be preoccupied mainly with specific conflict situations on its agenda. It must occasionally be able to discuss issues that could help it in making decisions that would ultimately bring about positive results.

Increasingly, he noted, the United Nations had to deal with conflicts that were primarily internal, but with some degree of international implications. They involved warring parties and factions that which engaged in bitter and often protracted fighting, which threatened political institutions, damaged the economy and caused severe social problems. Some of those parties resorted to practices and activities that were in clear violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. That inevitably resulted in a culture of violence and intimidation.

He said disarmament was a crucial prerequisite for the consolidation of peace and stability in countries emerging from conflict. However, experience had shown that disarmament alone could not guarantee the achievement of the long-term objectives of sustainable peace, stability and development. It had to be followed with the effective demobilization of ex-combatants and their timely and peaceful reintegration into society. Those three elements should be part of a continuous process that stretched from the peacekeeping phase to that of post-conflict peace-building.

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Financing continued to be a problem in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, he said. Protracted conflict naturally put a severe strain on the resources of a country. Obviously, the question of adequate financing needed to be addressed by all concerned. He believed that the various United Nations organs and bodies could work out arrangements that would satisfy the requirements of specific disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in different post-conflict situations. "Clearly, we cannot ignore the developmental aspects of post- conflict peace-building", he said. "Reintegration programmes, in particular, would require some amount of economic assistance."

The meeting suspended at 1:15 p.m.

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The meeting reconvened at 3:30 p.m.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) stressed that ex-combatants were former enemies who still wanted to avenge past activities. In addition, while fighting for their cause, former fighters had high hopes, which were never fully realized. Furthermore, due to the nature of the decentralized logistics of irregular forces, weapon caches would be littered countrywide and ex-combatants would have recourse to those weapons, if disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were not properly implemented and coordinated.

Many parts of Africa were plagued by hunger and malnutrition, yet the proliferation of arms presented a stark contrast, he continued. Equally important was the fact that the confidence of combatants evolved around their weapons. When they were disarmed and demobilized, fear, panic and insecurity crept in. It was that uncertainty that made disarmament and demobilization painful, but necessary.

He said the reintegration of ex-combatants could not be left to just the countries involved. Not only was it financially challenging, it had other dimensions that presented equal difficulties. The international community must seriously assist countries involved in post-conflict peace-building. Today, Namibia was managing the reintegration of ex-combatants. That, however, would not have been possible without the support of and assistance from many countries. Providing employment for ex-combatants was a priority, if post-conflict stability was to be achieved. The United Nations Post- Conflict Peace-building Office needed to help fledgling democracies with the thorough reintegration of ex-combatants.

Furthermore, he continued, efforts must be made to address problems, which might contribute to the re-emergence of conflicts. Premature withdrawal of peacekeeping forces was dangerous, because belligerents rearmed if presented with any vacuum. Inadequate responses by the Council and the international community could also prolong a conflict, which, in turn, could render post-conflict peace-building very difficult. Sierra Leone and Angola were strong cases in point. While the process of reconciliation there might prove difficult, it was hoped that the people of Sierre Leone, who had endured the most abhorrent human rights abuses, would rise to the challenge to make peace in their country a reality.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said that be it peacekeeping or post-conflict peace-building, the United Nations should always follow the principles of non- interference in internal affairs and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. The same principles should apply in United Nations activities for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. When there exists a legitimate government in the country involved, actions should only be taken after getting the consent of that government. In cases where no legitimate government exists, measures should be taken after a peace agreement

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has been signed and the conflicting parties have all pledged their support. Those measures should be carried out in line with a specific Council mandate.

Besides, he continued, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants involved such sensitive issues as a country's armed forces and security. Thus, actions in that connection should only be taken when they were absolutely necessary, and they should be strictly limited to conflict regions where United Nations peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building activities were being carried out. Peace, security and development were more and more closely intertwined. Only when the issue of development was solved could the root cause of conflict and war be eliminated, and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants be effectively realized. That was especially the case in the economically disadvantaged areas.

His Government always favoured an important role by the United Nations in peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building, he said. To achieve sustainable peace in post-conflict regions, he supported the formulation and implementation of measures like the collection and disposal of weapons and the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. Also, a strict monitoring mechanism should be set up to oversee implementation.

MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said that an effective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programme, central to beginning the overall process of reconciliation, should aim to turn all ex-combatants -- men, women and, all too often, children -- into productive members of society. A properly planned and implemented programme was an important and cost-effective instrument in the overall rebuilding of a post-conflict society. For it to be successful, all three of its components must be in place at the beginning of a mission, continue throughout the peacekeeping mandate and remain after the peacekeepers left. Moreover, it needed: proper resources, including adequate financial support in all stages; the political will of all parties to the dispute to ensure its successful conclusion; and close coordination between the military, police and civilian aspects of any peacekeeping mission.

One of the fundamental principles guiding any disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process was the enhancement of local, national and even regional capacities through active consultation, engagement and participation in all elements of the programme, he said. Also, it was in the creation of new peacekeeping missions that the Council played the critical role in ensuring that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration task was clear. It must be clear to all the parties, all peacekeepers -- military, police and civilian alike, and to the civilian population.

The spread of small arms was a major destabilizing element in a post- conflict situation, he said. Where appropriate, the Council must mandate missions, which included provisions for the immediate implementation of a comprehensive programme combining both voluntary elements and mandatory

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measures for short-term disarmament and longer-term weapons management. Likewise, the Council's role could not stop with mandating disarmament. Demobilization could only proceed if the conditions existed for all ex-combatants to feel secure. Finally, the Council must recognize that reintegration must be addressed if the first phases were to be ultimately successful. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration would not end with the completion of a peacekeeping mandate. The deployment of a follow-up political mission, mandated by the Council, would ensure coordination and continuity. ANNA-MAIJA KORPI (Finland, spoke on behalf of the European Union. The associated countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Cyprus and Malta, as well the European Free Trade Area countries, members of the European Environment Agency, Iceland and Norway, aligned themselves with the statement.

She said that the promotion of sustainable employment and skills training should be a priority in integration programmes for former combatants. International assistance should be made available for that purpose. At the same time, States should be encouraged to reflect in their educational and economic programmes the integration of combatants and secure domestic resources for such activities. The needs of different target groups among the reintegrated combatants, including such vulnerable groups as women and children, should be identified and options designed for their integration to suit local conditions. The reintegration of child soldiers required such special measures as medical and psychological treatment, as well as education, housing and other similar measures.

The European Union was particularly concerned by the extension of armed conflicts and the huge influx of arms and military equipment into conflict areas in Africa, she said. More than one third of African countries were at present or had recently been involved in conflicts. The European Union considered that, in the search for a long-term solution to conflicts, priority should be given to measures which curbed arms supplies, their illicit circulation and the illicit trafficking of gold, diamonds and other lucrative commodities which might finance the arms. The Union would actively contribute to the mechanism set up to help in the implementation of the West African Moratorium, adopted within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the initiative of Mali, and whose main purpose was to prevent the illicit manufacture of, and trade in, small arms.

She said that in Central America the European Union had paid increasing attention to the reintegration of demobilized ex-combatants from both sides of the conflict into the economic and social life of their communities, through financing important development programmes in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Those programmes had shown very promising results. Ex-combatants who had participated in reconciliation programmes had turned out to be active promoters of local development processes.

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Given the reality of present-day conflicts, she said, the United Nations should consider: giving direction to United Nations mediation efforts, so that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration were properly included in peace agreements; and seeing to it that enabling United Nations resolutions integrated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration as part of the mandate of peacekeeping operations. But, the key was that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration also needed development. Disarming and demobilizing the troops and reintegrating them could not be done in a vacuum. The Security Council should endorse the integrated and proportionate approach to security and development.

LUIS RAUL ESTEVEZ-LOPEZ (Guatemala) recalled that, on 29 December 1996, the Government of Guatemala had concluded with the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatamalteca (URNG) an agreement for a firm and lasting peace, which had ended 36 years of armed conflict in the country. The agreement, based on incorporating the URNG into a legality and on the re-establishment of civilian power and the function of the army in a democratic society, had laid down valuable guidelines, particularly with respect to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants into civil society.

He said that a Special Commission for Incorporation had succeeded in establishing the best possible conditions for incorporating URNG members into the country's political, economic, social and cultural life, within a framework of dignity, security, legal guarantees and the full exercise of their legal rights and duties as citizens. The URNG had officially been registered as a political party and would, in alliance with three others, participate in general elections to be held on 7 November 1999.

The URNG's incorporation into legality had epitomized the spirit of reconciliation prevailing among Guatemalans, he said. In rural areas, ex-combatants had often returned to their places of origin and had been well received, even though other inhabitants of the particular locality had fought on the opposite side during the conflict. In the political and social life of urban areas, the URNG's presence had been seen as normal from the outset and had extended and heightened the spirit of pluralism.

CHRISTIAAN BADENHORST (South Africa) said that a political commitment was required to address the issue as a priority. In addressing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, it must be viewed from an perspective that included arms control and disarmament, post-conflict peace-building, conflict prevention and socio-economic development. Holistic approaches should be adopted to stem the proliferation problem. Regionally, leaders should commit themselves to solve the problem through effective regional cooperation and security action, addressing the underlying demand factors, such as criminal activities and socio-economic underdevelopment. Also, strict control should be exercised in the transfer of small arms and light weapons and, where appropriate, the surplus stockpiles of small arms and light weapons should be destroyed.

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He said that it was imperative that the mandate of any future peacekeeping operation include the implementation of a comprehensive disarmament and arms management programme, which would continue into the post- conflict reconstruction phase. South Africa, for its part, had declared the combating of small arms proliferation as a priority and had implemented a coherent strategy to deal with the problem in all its aspects. That strategy represented an integral and holistic approach to introducing stricter control measures and to eventually removing the casual factors of small arms proliferation. As a result of the availability and recirculation of vast quantities of small arms and light weapons in the region, South Africa had entered into agreements with several southern African States to curb the trafficking of illegal small arms and ammunition. In that regard, bilateral agreements had been signed between South Africa and Mozambique, and between South Africa and Swaziland to address cross-border crime.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said his country believed that international peace and security could best be strengthened through the development of a culture of peace and non-violence. The objective of a culture of peace was the empowerment of people. It was an effective expedient to minimize and prevent violence and conflict, and effectively contribute to the building and strengthening of peace in post-conflict situations.

The transition from peacekeeping to peace-building would need the close attention of the international community. Such a transition, if not properly managed, could seriously undermine every positive peacemaking effort. Ex-combatants should be reintegrated into the mainstream of the society in a way that enabled them to get involved in the peace process and contribute to normalizing the situation. In Bangladesh, the Government had negotiated an end to a long-standing problem in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in December 1997, with the signing of a peace accord that met the legitimate concerns of the population of that area. Following the signing of the accord, the ex-combatants had surrendered their arms to the Government, and were being successfully involved in development activities through administrative councils headed by their leaders.

His Government was committed to the cause of international peace and security. It had been a major contributor to United Nations peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts and was prepared to work constructively with Member States in the promotion of the objectives of the Charter.

LEE SEE-YOUNG (Republic of Korea) said that recent experiences had shown that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration could not succeed without genuine political cooperation among all actors involved, including peacekeepers, international mediators and parties to the conflict. Any final political settlement to a conflict should include an agreement on such measures, and peacekeepers who carried them out should be equipped with the explicit mandate of the Council, supported by adequate resources.

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Also, he said, appropriate incentives should be devised to encourage ex-combatants to disarm and demobilize voluntarily. The nature and type of an incentive system should vary depending on the different contexts of conflict situations. Priority should be given to helping disarmed ex-combatants to help themselves in the long term, through vocational training and job creation. The international community should also provide affected communities with the necessary financial and technical assistance.

In that connection, he said that the international community should pay attention to the disturbing situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa, where increasing banditry and criminality were being perpetrated by armed ex-combatants. Many former combatants, including child soldiers, were still roaming the area and often threatened the security and civilian character of refugee camps. The Council should urgently address that problem, as it posed a potential threat to regional peace and security. Finally, regional or subregional approaches should be explored to stem the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons.

RYUICHIRO YAMAZAKI (Japan) said it was important to consider disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in a coordinated and consistent manner. Until now, their different aspects had been discussed in a variety of places. The issue of small arms, for example, had been discussed in the General Assembly and other forums. The Government of Japan had taken several initiatives with a view towards coordinating those efforts. It had also sponsored General Assembly resolution 52/298, which had established the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms.

A second important aspect, he said, was the control of illicit arms transfers to and within a region in order to prevent the resumption of hostilities. The success of a proposed international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects was eagerly anticipated by the Group of Governmental Experts. In that context, during its presidency of the Security Council last year, Japan had coordinated efforts on the working group on illicit arms flows to and in Africa, whose results were contained in Security Council resolution 1209.

A third aspect, and one whose importance to sustainable peace could not be overstated, was that of development, he said. Recognizing that one of the causes of social instability was often extreme poverty, Japan had hosted the first and second Tokyo International Conferences on African Development (TICAD), in 1993 and 1998, respectively. It was hoped that the TICAD process would underscore the importance of conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction in restoring stability throughout society.

He said that because disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was a comparatively new area of endeavour for the United Nations and its related bodies, the input and cooperation of interested States and non-governmental

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organizations (NGOs) were especially important. In that connection, Japan had held an open symposium to stress the importance of cooperation among international organizations and NGOs under the theme "civil society and small arms" on the occasion of the Tokyo workshop on small arms.

A fifth aspect, he said, was the importance of establishing an institutional memory, so that past experience would be utilized to ensure the maximum effectiveness of future peacekeeping operations. Towards that end, the Government of Japan had funded a study on lessons learned from disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and a workshop in Geneva held by the Lessons Learned Unit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Through those and other studies, Japan hoped to devise a strategy for implementing principles and guidelines for future peacekeeping operations, which would have a major bearing on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said that Mozambique was today considered a success story in United Nations peacekeeping history. While taking pride in its successes, the country was still conscious of the challenges that lay ahead in its war-torn society. The 1992 Rome Peace Agreement for Mozambique provided for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. Providing combatants with cash payments for a few months following the cessation of hostilities would not suffice. They needed continued assistance to be empowered to generate their own means for survival and to lead normal lives, so that going back to war would no longer be a viable option. The inclusion of those provisions and mechanisms in the Peace Agreement had a very positive impact in the consolidation of peace in the country.

Mozambique had spared no effort to address the problem of the reintegration of former combatants, including those who fought for its independence, he said. Reintegration meant reconciling combatants with communities that had been victim of atrocities, which required the participation of communities and civil society. Reintegration had to be such that former combatants would identify more with the community than with their former roles as fighters. Particularly important was the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers. While governments could be held accountable for the use of children as soldiers, it was often difficult to induce change in rebel groups and to have them admit to the use of children. In Africa alone, about 120,000 people under the age of 18 were currently participating in armed conflicts.

Seven years after the Rome Agreement, the Mozambican authorities had been discovering weapons that were supposed to have been handed over at the time of demobilization, he said. Provisions in agreements, therefore, would not be sufficient; a close monitoring of the process would be required within the mandate of peacekeeping missions. The presence of large numbers of small weapons in unlawful hands would remain a constant danger to peace and stability in post- conflict areas. While the problem of landmines could not be completely solved by peacekeeping missions, mission mandates should include provisions for

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assisting local authorities to deal with the different aspects of the problem, including mine awareness, victim assistance, stockpile destruction and technology for mine action.

RODERICK RICHARD SMITH (Australia) said his country's practical experience in the aftermath of the conflict on the island of Bougainville supported the conclusion that there were no simple solutions to the problems posed by former combatants. The challenges included effective demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants into productive civilian life; post- conflict reconstruction and reconciliation in stable and secure environments; reform and capacity-building of police, judicial and penal systems; and promotion of respect for international humanitarian law, including the use and transfer of small arms.

Working with the Bougainvilleans and the Government of Papua New Guinea, Australia had been pleased to be able to help address both the immediate and long-term needs of ex-combatants, its representative said. Rehabilitating social services, restoring much-needed employment opportunities and addressing unresolved social issues of weapons disposal, alcohol abuse, family violence and ongoing trauma were examples of areas where initiatives were being taken. The Australian Government encouraged the participation and employment of local Bougainvilleans, including ex-combatants, in its aid projects.

The presence of the Peace Monitoring Group -- a multinational force led by Australia and comprising approximately 300 personnel from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu -- working with the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville had also been crucial in managing the problem of disenfranchised combatants. Their collective presence had provided a critical climate of security for Bougainvilleans and had instilled in them the confidence to work through their differences. Without their presence, he said the threat to the Bougainville peace process posed by large numbers of ex-combatants would certainly have been more serious.

In early June 1999, the Peace Process Consultative Committee -- a forum through which the parties could discuss peace process-related issues and make recommendations to leaders -- had authorized the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville to develop a plan for weapons disposal, in conjunction with the parties. The parties' agreement to the plan would not only be significant in terms of reducing the number of weapons on the island, but would also be an important confidence-building measure in the context of negotiations over Bougainville's political future.

Demobilization, weapons disposal and peace monitoring programmes, such as those in which Australia had been involved in Bougainville, could and did play a key role in managing the problems caused in many other parts of the world by the proliferation and misuse of small arms, he added.

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ARIZAL EFFENDI (Indonesia) said that the handing over of weapons to authorities and the consequent demobilization would have positive implications for security in post-conflict States, especially in ensuring and advancing the peace process. In creating an atmosphere conducive to security, it would be necessary to disarm combatants and to collect arms from civilians, within the framework of an overall weapons collection programme to promote an environment where weapons were no longer perceived as necessary in a post-conflict society.

In the period from 1995 to 1997, 300,000 children under the age of 18 had been used as soldiers in conflicts around the world, he said. Their future was at stake, especially where adequate opportunities in education to prepare for careers and counselling to overcome the trauma of hostilities were limited. It was evident that much more needed to be done to alleviate their sufferings and to ensure a rightful place in their societies through adequate support programmes.

The problem of curbing the flow of arms through clandestine means, even after disarmament was achieved, called for determined and coordinated efforts at the national, regional and global levels, he continued. Also of utmost importance was the need for peace agreements to stipulate clearly and unequivocally the modalities for arms disposal, which should not be permitted to become an obstacle to those endeavours.

TREVOR HUGHES (New Zealand) said that in designing a framework for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, three factors were essential, namely, flexibility, building-capacity and sustainability. It was essential to recognize that different circumstances warranted different approaches. There was need to provide education, training and information on options which might be available to ex-combatants to help them deal with problems encountered in demobilization. Initiatives should be designed to avoid a return to conflict. It also meant promoting growth and development and ensuring equitable access to the benefits of such growth.

One of the key lessons learned from New Zealand's experience in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, was the need to give ownership of the peace settlement and subsequent disarmament and reconstruction mechanisms to the parties concerned, he said. Along with Australia, Fiji and Vanuatu, New Zealand continued to provide personnel to the Peace Monitoring Group and to take part in regular peace process consultative meetings. However, New Zealand's own role was essentially peripheral to that played by the political leaders themselves.

As regarded Bougainville, he said, New Zealand was continuing to provide support for the peace process, including restoration of civil authority and a variety of vocational training programmes with a focus on reintegration. It had found it possible to offer training programmes in which former protagonists learned side by side. A further essential building block was the promotion of

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good governance, which meant that priorities were based on a broad consensus in society, while, at the same time, the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable were heard. Without a successful reintegration effort, the dividends of disarmament and demobilization might prove short-lived.

IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said that having hosted five distinct United Nations peacekeeping operations in the last eight years, Croatia had gained experience and wisdom that entitled it to reflect on the lessons learned in peacekeeping and peace-building. Three points had emerged from the lessons learned from the successful United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES). They were: a pioneering model of disarmament that had been used in the Croatian Danubian region during the UNTAES mission; follow-on security assistance and political missions that had ensued upon the successful completion of that mission; and national strategy and policy measures regarding rehabilitation and reintegration of former combatants.

The UNTAES had been created in an environment favourable to its ultimate goal of peaceful reintegration of the formerly occupied Croatian territory, he said. Critical to the orderly implementation of the civilian timetable of reintegration was the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. That process had been launched and completed swiftly and competently in an innovative manner of a weapons buy-back scheme.

In the interest of speeding up reconciliation and overall post-conflict recovery, special importance should be attached to economic and social measures, he said. In that respect, reintegration of ex-combatants into civil society carried additional weight. Croatia had tried to stimulate that reintegration in several ways, including the adoption of an amnesty law that exonerated former rebels, although not for war crimes.

All of the measures had proven expensive, he said. They were taxing on the national budget of an economy burdened with reconstruction, low investment and real growth rates and high unemployment, as was always the case in a post- conflict society. That was why Croatia strongly recommended that, as a part of the international financial assistance provided to post-conflict societies, special funds be earmarked for, and allocated to, specific programmes that supported rehabilitation and reintegration of former combatants.

GUILLERMO MELENDEZ (El Salvador) said that on 16 January 1992 with the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Agreement, a new phase had begun in the political history of El Salvador, putting an end to armed conflict and bringing about national reconciliation and democratization. From the very beginning of the negotiations until the signing of the Agreement, the United Nations had played a key role. It had furthered its involvement through the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) and had carried out the delicate task of verifying compliance on the ground with the Agreement

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entered into. The ONUSAL's mandate had been extended and expanded to one of a more complex and multi-disciplinary nature. The other aspects of its expanded mandate had included the separation of forces, the demobilization and destruction of the rebels' arms, the reduction and reform of the armed forces, military and constitutional reform, the creation of a new national police force, and the incorporation of ex-combatants into the social and economic life of the society.

In the economic and social sphere, national efforts were complimented by international cooperation, he continued. A regional development programme for displaced persons, refugees and returnees had been established. The implementation phase of the Agreement had not been without difficulties due to the resistance of the armed forces to accept changes. Those difficulties had been overcome by the intervention of ONUSAL and the political will by the parties to achieve peace. The United Nations had contributed by acting without bias.

Among the lessons to be learned from his country's experience was that it was possible to establish cooperation between the United Nations and individual countries. The involvement of the United Nations had come about through a sovereign decision by the Government of El Salvador, in keeping with the wishes of the parties to the conflict. The Mission's mandate had been carried out impartially and objectively, so that the parties had faith in the Organization as the mediator. Cooperation and international financial assistance were vital for social development programmes. Despite the complexities of the operation in El Salvador, it was clear that once there was political will and agreement on a clear-cut framework, and an established mandate setting out the functions of the operation, the United Nations was able to contribute to resolving a conflict, as had been the case in El Salvador.

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For information media. Not an official record.