4334th Meeting (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL, IN DAY-LONG DEBATE ON CONFLICT PREVENTION, EXAMINES MECHANISMS
FOR MOVING ‘FROM CULTURE OF REACTION TO ONE OF PREVENTION’
Efforts must be intensified within the United Nations to move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechétte told the Security Council this morning as it met to discuss its role in the prevention of armed conflict.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s new report on the subject, she quoted 10 principles he had proposed to guide the Organization’s future approach to conflict prevention. She said the Secretary-General’s own preventive role could be enhanced by increasing the use of inter-disciplinary fact-finding and confidence-building missions to volatile areas; by developing regional prevention strategies with regional partners and relevant United Nations organs; by establishing an informal network of eminent persons; and by improving the capacity and resource base for preventive action in the Secretariat.
She emphasized that effective conflict prevention required action beyond what was recommended in the report, and beyond any institutional mechanism. If a government refused to admit it had a problem that could lead to violent conflict and rejected offers for assistance, there was often very little outside actors could do. The ways in which Member States defined their national interest in any given crisis was also an obstacle to effective preventive action. A new, more broadly defined definition of national interest in the new century would induce States to find far greater unity in the pursuit of the fundamental goals of the Charter.
Abdus Samad Azad, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Council President, speaking in his national capacity, stressed that the Council must assume its primary responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. That would mean resolute action to prevent threats to peace, breaches of peace and acts of aggression. It would also mean timely and effective intervention to prevent genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. “We must not witness another preventable genocide, as in Rwanda, another preventable massacre, as in Srebrenica.”
He said the effective discharge of the Council’s responsibilities would require the political will of Member States. They would have to accept human and material sacrifices and should be prepared to support the actions of the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security. Providing support to the peace and security mission of the United Nations was a Charter obligation -– not charity. In a globalizing world, as the Secretary-General had stressed, “collective interest was the national interest”.
Jamaica’s representative said the Council must give serious consideration to recommendations in the report that were specific to its responsibilities, and must undertake work in collaboration with other organs in giving effect to them. She supported the Secretary-General’s stated intention to provide periodic regional or subregional reports to the Council on threats to international peace and security, and to provide suggestions with respect to how those threats might be addressed by the Council. She also supported discussion in the Council on preventive deployments before the onset of conflict and the employment of such a strategy where appropriate.
Peace-building was much more difficult than prevention, the representative of France noted. A true culture of prevention that envisaged actions in a long-term time-frame and embraced the entire United Nations system must be developed. It was important that not only the United Nations system, but also the Bretton Woods institutions and private actors should acquire a true “preventive reflex”.
Argentina’s representative identified three instruments which could help the Council to better assess pre-conflict situations: the Council should hold regular meetings with high-ranking officers of regional and subregional organizations to exchange ideas and information; Council missions should also be carried out in pre-conflict situations, with the consent of the parties concerned; and the Council should have a frank and direct dialogue with those parties. Under particular circumstances, parties directly affected by a conflict should have the chance to participate in informal consultations, he said.
The representative of Costa Rica said the report indicated that the fundamental responsibility for prevention rested with local authorities. Unfortunately, in many cases, governments and political leaders themselves fueled social tension. The harmful existence of poverty or ethnic differences in themselves did not cause violence. It happened only if leaders incited that violence to further their own objectives. Preventing armed conflict in the long term meant supporting practices of good governance, rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights.
The representatives of Council members Colombia, United States, United Kingdom, China, Tunisia, Russian Federation, Ireland, Norway, Ukraine, Singapore, Mali and Mauritius also spoke.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Canada, Sweden (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Republic of Korea, Japan, India, Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Iraq, Pakistan, Belarus and Nepal.
The Permanent Observer for Palestine also spoke.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh made opening and concluding remarks in his capacity as Council President.
The meeting, which began at 10:25 a.m., was suspended at 1:15 p.m. It reconvened at 3:21 p.m. and adjourned at 6:32 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider its role in the prevention of armed conflict. The Council first considered the subject in a two-day debate on 29 and 30 November 1999. At the end of a one-day debate on 20 July 2000, the Council, in presidential statement S/PRST/2000/25, recognized “that peace is not only the absence of conflict, but requires a positive, dynamic, participatory process where dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation”.
Among other things, the Council highlighted in that statement the importance of preventive deployment in armed conflicts and reiterated its willingness to consider the deployment, with the consent of the host country, of preventive missions in appropriate circumstances. It recognized the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, and stressed the importance of their increased participation in all aspects of the conflict prevention and resolution process.
Inviting the Secretary-General to submit a report containing an analysis and recommendations on initiatives within the United Nations on the prevention of armed conflict, the Council affirmed that a reformed, strengthened and effective United Nations remained central to the maintenance of peace and security, of which prevention is a key component, and underlined the importance of enhancing the Organization in preventive action, peacekeeping and peace-building.
The Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the prevention of armed conflict (document A/55/985-S/2001/574), which he begins by stating that “perhaps the most pitiful lesson of the past decade has been that the prevention of violent conflict is far better and more cost-effective than cure”. The challenge, he writes, is to apply that lesson so that prevention exists not just at the rhetorical level but also practically.
This is easier said than done, the report continues. Existing problems usually take precedence over potential ones and, while the benefits of prevention lie in the future and are difficult to quantify, the cost must be paid in the present. On the other hand, the costs of not preventing violence are enormous. In that regard, the report cites, among other situations, the genocide in Rwanda.
The Secretary-General writes that the basic premise for his examination of the issues is that the primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with national governments and other local actors. He also notes that for early prevention to be effective, the multi-dimensional root causes of conflict need to be identified and addressed. Another point he makes is that an investment in long-term structural prevention is ultimately an investment in sustainable development.
He then goes on to make a series of 29 recommendations aimed at instituting a culture of prevention throughout the United Nations system. The first recommendation is that the General Assembly consider a more active use of its powers –- in accordance with the relevant Article of the United Nations Charter –- in the prevention of armed conflicts. He also recommends that it consider ways to enhance its interaction with the Security Council on conflict prevention, particularly in developing long-term conflict-prevention and peace-building strategies.
He encourages the Security Council to consider innovative mechanisms, such as establishing a subsidiary organ, an ad hoc informal working group or other informal technical arrangement to discuss prevention cases on a continuing basis, particularly with regard to periodic regional or subregional reports that he intends to submit to the Council, as well as other early warning or prevention cases brought to its attention by Member States.
The Secretary-General suggests that a future high-level segment of the annual substantive session of the Economic and Social Council be devoted to the question of addressing the root causes of conflict and the role of development in promoting long-term conflict prevention. He then urges Member States to resort to the International Court of Justice earlier and more often to settle their disputes in a peaceful manner and to promote the rule of law in international relations.
Among the other recommendations he makes are ones aimed at enhancing his own role in conflict prevention. These are: increasing the use of United Nations interdisciplinary fact-finding missions to volatile regions; developing regional prevention strategies; establishing an informal network of eminent persons for conflict prevention; and improving the capacity and resource base for preventive action in the Secretariat.
He also encourages Member States and the Security Council to make more active use of preventive deployments before the onset of conflict, as appropriate. He then urges the Council to support peace-building components within peacekeeping operations, as relevant, and to strengthen Secretariat capacity in that regard.
Further, he urges the General Assembly at its forthcoming special session on HIV/AIDS to examine how strategies for the prevention of the disease can be broadened to take into account the important contribution that they can make to conflict prevention, particularly in seriously affected regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa. He urges Member States to support policies and resources that target the needs of children and adolescents in situations of potential conflict, since this is an important aspect of long-term conflict-prevention strategy.
The Secretary-General concludes his report by proposing 10 principles to guide the future approach of the United Nations to conflict prevention:
-- Conflict prevention is one of the primary obligations of Member States set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, and United Nations efforts in conflict prevention must be in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter.
-- Conflict prevention must have national ownership. The primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with national governments, with civil society playing an important role. The United Nations and the international community should support national efforts for conflict prevention and should assist in building national capacity in this field. Conflict-prevention activities of the United Nations can, therefore, help to support the sovereignty of Member States.
-- Conflict prevention is an activity best undertaken under Chapter VI of the Charter. In this regard, the means described in the Charter for the peaceful settlement of disputes are an important instrument for conflict prevention, including such means as negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement or other peaceful means, as set forth in
Article 33 of the Charter. It must also be recognized that certain measures under Chapter VII of the Charter, such as sanctions, can have an important deterrent effect.
-- Preventive action should be initiated at the earliest possible stage of a conflict cycle in order to be most effective.
-- The primary focus of preventive action should be in addressing the deep-rooted socio-economic, cultural, environmental, institutional, political and other structural causes that often underlie the immediate symptoms of conflicts.
-- An effective preventive strategy requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses both short-term and long-term political, diplomatic, humanitarian, human rights, developmental, institutional and other measures taken by the international community, in cooperation with national and regional actors. It also requires a strong focus on gender equality and the situation of children.
-- Conflict prevention and sustainable and equitable development are mutually reinforcing activities. An investment in national and international efforts for conflict prevention must be seen as a simultaneous investment in sustainable development, since the latter can best take place in an environment of sustainable peace.
-- The preceding suggests that there is a clear need for introducing a conflict-prevention element into the United Nations system’s multifaceted development programmes and activities, so that they contribute to the prevention of conflict by design and not by default. This, in turn, requires greater coherence and coordination in the United Nations system, with a specific focus on conflict prevention.
-- A successful preventive strategy depends upon the cooperation of many United Nations actors, including the Secretary-General, the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and United Nations agencies, offices, funds and programmes, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions. However, the United Nations is not the only actor in prevention and may often not be the actor best suited to take the lead. Therefore, Member States, international, regional and subregional organizations, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other civil society actors also have very important roles to play in this field.
-- Effective preventive action by the United Nations requires sustained political will on the part of Member States. First and foremost, this includes a readiness by the membership as a whole to provide the United Nations with the necessary political support and resources for undertaking effective preventive action in specific situations.
ABDUS SAMAD AZAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Council President, said the Jamaican delegation, which had presided over the Council debate on conflict prevention last July, deserved the Council’s appreciation for the initiative in following up the issue in a substantive manner. The Secretary-General’s report provided for the first time a substantive basis for the Council discussion on conflict prevention. The need for such a systematic approach had, however, been felt for a long time. "An Agenda for Peace" had, he noted, put emphasis on prevention.
The Council’s purpose today was to take the matter a decisive step forward. A constructive and forward-looking approach to the report and its recommendations by participants in today’s debate would facilitate that process. The General Assembly was expected to take up the report on 12 July. That would also provide the occasion for a more elaborate discussion. He encouraged speakers to focus on the recommendations made specifically for action by the Council.
The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, LOUISE FRECHETTE, introducing the Secretary-General’s report, said there was wide agreement on the need to make conflict prevention a central pillar of the collective security system in the twenty-first century. If the report had one message, it was that efforts must be intensified to move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention. Drawing on lessons learned, the Secretary-General had proposed 10 principles which should guide the future approach to conflict prevention.
The Secretary-General had proposed a number of means in which the Council could enhance its role in conflict prevention, such as: providing to the Council periodic regional or subregional reports on disputes with a potential to threaten international peace and security; establishing a new mechanism for discussing prevention cases in a more sustained and structured way; and sending fact-finding missions with multidisciplinary expert support to potential conflict areas. The report also called on the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to play a more active role in conflict prevention.
The Secretary-General’s own preventive role could be enhanced by increasing the use of inter-disciplinary fact-finding and confidence-building missions to volatile areas; by developing regional prevention strategies with regional partners and relevant United Nations organs; by establishing an informal network of eminent persons; and by improving the capacity and resource base for preventive action in the Secretariat.
She emphasized that effective conflict prevention required action beyond what was recommended in the report, and beyond any institutional mechanism. The international community had a moral responsibility to ensure that vulnerable peoples were protected.
She said that if a government refused to admit it had a problem that could lead to violent conflict and rejected offers for assistance, there was often very little outside actors could do. The ways in which Member States defined their national interest in any given crisis was also an obstacle to effective preventive action. A new, more broadly defined definition of national interest in the new century would induce States to find far greater unity in the pursuit of the fundamental goals of the Charter.
Preventive strategies were not easy to implement, she said. The costs of prevention had to be paid in the present, while its benefits lay in the future. Governments which peacefully resolve a situation that might deteriorate into a violent conflict, and call for preventive assistance, provide the best protection for their citizens against unwelcome outside interference. Used in that way, international preventive action can significantly strengthen the capacity of Member States to preserve and exercise their national sovereignty.
ANDRES FRANCO (Colombia) said conflict prevention involved many actors and institutions working with widely different mandates. Conflict prevention required an ethical, political and social commitment on the part of world governments. While the United Nations organs should consider both short- and long-term measures to address conflict prevention, long-term measures should serve as the starting point for a collective focus. He added that he supported the Secretary-General’s suggestion that, among others, the Economic and Social Council should devote considerable attention to the topic.
Short-terms measures such as preventive diplomacy and fact-finding missions all provided fertile ground for the relationship between the Council and the Secretary-General, he said. The Council had been using missions to conflict areas to promote peace. Their use for conflict prevention would necessitate changes in their terms of reference and changes in their funding arrangements. The Secretary-General had proposed the establishment of an ad hoc group to examine conflict-prevention issues. The feasibility of taking the discussion of political issues to the expert level should be explored.
Encouraging a culture of prevention should be one of the major focuses of today’s debate, he said. Nations rooted in their own reality would enable the United Nations to successfully promote such a culture. He agreed with the Secretary-General that perhaps the time had come to adopt a solid declaration of principles on conflict prevention.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said her delegation welcomed the Secretary-General’s response to the discussions in the Security Council during Jamaica’s presidency last July, in which the complex dimensions, causes and prevention of armed conflicts had been reviewed. Noting that the Council had, on a number of occasions, examined the root causes of deadly conflicts, she said that what “we have not fully rationalized are the means to engage meaningfully in preventing these causes from turning into deadly conflict”. The experiences of Rwanda and Srebrenica and many other conflicts around the world should have provided the political will and impetus for conflict prevention.
She said the Council must give serious consideration to those recommendations specific to its responsibilities, and must undertake work in collaboration with other organs in giving effect to them. She supported the Secretary-General’s stated intention to provide periodic regional or subregional reports to the Council on threats to international peace and security, and to provide suggestions with respect to how those threats might be addressed by the Council. She supported the steps proposed by the Secretary-General to enhance his traditional preventive role. She also supported discussion in the Council on preventive deployments before the onset of conflict and to employ such strategy where appropriate.
Among the other aspects of the report supported by her delegation was the view that the Council should include peace-building components within peacekeeping operations. Jamaica also fully supported the view that adoption by the international community of measures to prevent the misuse and illicit transfer of small arms was of great importance in the prevention of armed conflict. She added that it was imperative that the Bretton Woods institutions become engaged in conflict prevention, and that they support peace-building initiatives at an early stage in post-conflict situations.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that perhaps the most useful service provided by the Secretary-General’s report had been to clarify how the various parts of the United Nations system could improve cooperation and coordination in the service of conflict prevention. He fully agreed that the Secretary-General, the Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and the various United Nations agencies, funds and programmes all had contributions to make to conflict prevention. It was also necessary that the various parts of the United Nations system improve communication with one another to forge new partnerships in response to the issue.
He strongly supported the recommendation that the Council and the Assembly make full use of the information and analysis provided by the United Nations human rights mechanisms, as well as non-governmental organizations, to identify massive human rights violations and take early preventive action.
He applauded the Secretary-General’s announced commitment to enhance his own role in conflict prevention, as well as the Secretary-General’s recognition of the important role that must be played by civil society and private economic interests in conflict prevention. Noting that the Council and other United Nations bodies would need further time to fully digest the details, he said the report had focused attention and suggested a programme of work. “To the extent that we are able to use it to devise better means to prevent conflicts, we may in the future find that we need fewer interventions, peacekeeping missions, or massive humanitarian relief efforts.”
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said any assessment of conflict must include the political, socio-economic and development variables relevant to that conflict. Preventive action must address its root causes, rather than its symptoms. He strongly supported the linkage the report made between conflict prevention and sustainable development. Collective efforts to meet the international development targets and the other commitments set out in the Millennium Declaration were an important contribution towards addressing the root causes of conflict.
He said that where the United Nations was the actor best placed to take the lead, the challenge was to mobilize the collective potential of the United Nations system with greater coherence and focus. One had to do better in that area. He strongly encouraged more systematic cooperation between other parts of the United Nations system, between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, and between other international actors. The United Nations also needed to work with and help strengthen the capacity of regional partners. The use of inter-agency task forces, such as the recent task force visit to West Africa, offered opportunities to integrate the efforts of the United Nations with those of regional and subregional organizations.
The recent interagency mission to West Africa had recommended the establishment of a United Nations office in West Africa, headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General. He would welcome clarification of the roles and mandate of that office vis-à-vis other Special Representatives in the region, and the political and post-conflict peace-building offices and United Nations country teams in the region. He encouraged stronger links with United Nations country teams in the field.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said the report was comprehensive and provided a detailed analysis of the role of the United Nations in conflict prevention. It reiterated that United Nations efforts must be in conformity with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and must depend on the agreement and support of the national and regional actors. Through the report’s consideration, members would have a better understanding of the role of the United Nations in conflict prevention.
Conflict prevention must treat both the symptoms and causes of the disease, he said. Prevention strategies must suit the different needs of different regions. Following the cold war, there had been an increase in intra-State conflict, including ethnic conflict. The realization of national unity and harmony was the basic condition for social stability. National harmony and equality, with full participation of minorities, must be sought. He stressed the need to advocate mutual respect, tolerance and reconciliation among religious groups.
Given the differences among countries, the basic principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity must be supported, he said. The United Nations must play an important role in the democratization of inter-State relations. That would help to resolve conflicts early. In that respect, he noted that a conference had recently been held in Shanghai including -- among other States in the region -- China, Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said the debate today was highly important. The topic took the Council to the heart of the prerogatives of the United Nations and its mission. After 50 years of existence, the United Nations approach to prevention of armed conflicts remained a burning topic, and the United Nations was endowed with a wealth of experience which would enable it to fine-tune its role. Today, there was a growing awareness in the international community of the need for a sea-change in the perception of the role of prevention. The Council had been intensely active in the field of prevention in setting up peacekeeping operations.
He said the Secretary-General had promoted conflict prevention during all of his tenure, and had defined a guiding principle: the need to change from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention of armed conflicts. Other actors had also made efforts in that direction. The time had come for the international community to develop a common strategy to place conflict prevention at the heart of its strategies for international security and development. The report had great importance in that context. The analysis was perceptive, in particular the 10 principles it put forward.
He supported the recommendations on the whole. The Council should carefully examine the document. He proposed establishing a working group to study the report and make suggestions on decisions and actions the Council could take to implement the recommendations. Consideration of all aspects of prevention should become a priority.
ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said he agreed with the main thrust of the report and supported most of its recommendations. The Secretary-General’s conclusions should be the basis of the overall approach to settling crises, including humanitarian ones. He stressed the key role of the United Nations in conflict prevention and the essential nature of the support of the governments affected.
He said he supported the proposal to look for new forms of interaction between the Council and the Assembly in conflict prevention. Periodic formal meetings of the Council with a frank exchange of views about “hot spots” would be productive. He also supported the Secretary-General’s proposal about preparing reports on areas of risk. Council fact-finding missions were also very important.
He said he had doubts about creating subsidiary bodies of the Council to discuss conflict prevention. He did not see the need to institutionalize the Council’s discussion.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) supported the Secretary-General’s contention that a conceptual leap must be taken to seeing conflict in terms of prevention. An effective conflict-prevention strategy would require a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach that encompassed both short-term preventative and long-term developmental aspects. As the Secretary-General had noted, developmental assistance by itself could not prevent or end conflict. But it could help create the underlying conditions for the development of peaceful, stable and prosperous societies. Development cooperation focused on poverty eradication was the most powerful instrument that the international community had to address the long-term root causes of conflict and to promote peace.
Successful conflict prevention meant that the United Nations must work closely alongside its developing country partners before, during and after conflict, he said. Prevention also meant preventing the re-emergence of serious conflict. In that context, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were increasingly seen as an essential part of post-conflict resolution. He agreed very much with the Secretary-General that efforts to prevent conflict should promote a broad range of human rights -– including civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development.
Meaningful conflict-prevention strategies must also take account of gender equality, he said. He then went on to stress the important role to be played by regional organizations in conflict prevention. In that regard, he pointed out the “growing synergy” between the European Union’s work and the work of the United Nations in conflict prevention.
JEAN DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the report and the discussion in the Council and the General Assembly were timely. The Brahimi report and the Millennium Summit had paved the way for necessary reforms in peacekeeping. Given the considerable efforts of the United Nations in peacekeeping operations, mostly on a short-term basis, this was the moment to consider whether the United Nations should not make an effort to prevent conflicts while there was still time. Prevention was certainly the less costly approach. Often, the United Nations faced the worst possible conditions in war-torn countries without clear prospects for restoring trust among the parties. To implement development programmes under those conditions was a considerable challenge. Clearly, peace-building was much more difficult than prevention.
The report offered useful avenues for action, he said. There was a need to develop a true culture of prevention which designed action in a long-term time-frame and embraced the entire United Nations system. It was important that not only the United Nations system, but also the Bretton Woods institutions and private actors should acquire a true “preventive reflex”. Efforts already undertaken in that area should be encouraged. The increased trend in United Nations activities -- advocating good governance and making development part of a harmonious and sustainable programme of economic and social development -- was a step in the right direction. The United Nations bodies could also draw on proposals to create the structures for a dialogue with other institutions.
Increased coordination among the various actors in conflict prevention was also important. Coordination was decisive in mobilizing energy for conflict prevention. A third point was the importance of the role played by the Secretary-General and the Security Council. The proposed regional reports would provide an opportunity to nourish dialogue in advance with the Council, he said.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said an understanding of the local and underlying causes of each conflict was a fundamental premise for successful prevention. The United Nations presence at the country level was important for the early prevention of conflict. There was a need to clarify roles, responsibilities and lines of communication for the United Nations system’s work at the country level, in order to secure the best use of existing resources for conflict prevention. The DPA’s role as focal point for prevention and peace-building made it paramount that the department coordinate and cooperate with other departments, funds and agencies.
The Council needed to address conflict prevention in a more systematic manner. He supported the report’s recommendation of more active use of preventive deployment, as well as the inclusion of peace-building components in peacekeeping operations. Timing was key in conflict prevention, and financial resources must be available for swift action. He appealed to other donor countries to provide financial resources to the Trust Fund for Preventive Action. Regional and subregional organizations were developing their capacity for conflict prevention, and such measures should be actively supported by the international community.
He said reducing the profits of war was an important preventive measure. The Council should continue its work regarding the illegal exploitation of natural resources. The profits of war fueled illegal trade in small arms. Practical disarmament measures such as “weapons for development” and demobilization, disarmament and resettlement, were important tools for conflict prevention. In general, he supported the proposal for a Council-sponsored mechanism to discuss prevention cases on a continuing bases -- but the appropriateness of using existing mechanisms should be considered first.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said the 10 principles proposed by the Secretary-General as guidelines for future United Nations approaches to conflict prevention laid down solid conceptual foundations for further elaboration of a comprehensive long-term prevention strategy. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to provide the Council with periodic reports on the regional aspects of conflicts.
The recommendation to consider establishment of new mechanisms to discuss prevention cases deserved further examination, he said. At the initial stage of the practice of periodical regional reports, the working group on peacekeeping operations could be mandated to consider them. The Council should resort more frequently to past experience of preventive deployment, for example the United Nations Mission in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. That unique and successful experience, the only preventive deployment in the history of United Nations peace-support efforts, should be further exploited and developed with a view to creating a qualitatively new type of operation: conflict-prevention operations.
While maintaining its position about the leading role of the Council in prevention of armed conflicts, his country upheld the position that the task of eliminating the root causes of those conflicts -- in particular those of an economic, social and humanitarian nature -- fell under the competence of other principal United Nations organs. A successful preventive strategy depended on close cooperation among many United Nations actors. It would be appropriate for the Council to consider follow-up of today’s debate in the form of an official document which should endorse the Secretary-General’s recommendations.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) noted that this was the third open debate of the Council on the issue of conflict prevention. As the Secretary-General had suggested, the time had come to translate rhetoric into action. The Council had by no means an exclusive role in preventing conflict, she stressed, also noting that the cardinal principles of State sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs should be observed. If each actor could play its role in conflict prevention effectively, the international community would be well on its way to instituting a culture of prevention.
The Council should resolve to address the gap between what was said and what was done on conflict prevention. She commended recent efforts of the Secretary-General to strengthen his role in conflict prevention. In that regard, she cited his recent mission to the Middle East. She welcomed his proposal to present periodic reports to the Council –- that would enhance the Council’s capacity to take effective measures to prevent conflicts.
SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said the recommendations in the report were bold and relevant. After half a century, it must be admitted that the United Nations had traditionally sought to secure international peace by peace-keeping missions rather than through prevention. The Millennium Summit had reaffirmed the relevance of conflict prevention. Success in prevention required a comprehensive approach, involving all United Nations institutions, regional organizations and civil society.
The Council had a key part to play in conflict prevention, and he encouraged the Secretary-General in his intention of periodically submitting regional reports on threats to international peace. He also supported the recommendation to establish mechanisms to consider the whole issue of prevention, as well as the proposal that the Economic and Social Council address the issue in its substantive session.
Coordination between the United Nations and other actors should be emphasized. As the report stated, certain regional organizations had acquired mechanisms for early warning and prevention. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had created a system for monitoring peace and security. It included a monitor and follow-up centre, part of whose mission was to establish links of cooperation with relevant international and regional organizations. Those efforts required support from the international community. He reiterated Mali’s support for the inter-agency task force, in particular establishment of an office in West Africa. He drew attention to the pathetic spectacle of child soldiers, and called upon Member States to sign the additional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said the subject of conflict prevention was of the highest concern to all in the United Nations. The report was comprehensive and made a number of recommendations that merited serious consideration by the Council and the Assembly. As the Secretary-General had asserted, there was a need to move the United Nations to a culture of prevention, and rhetoric regarding conflict prevention must be turned into action. Conflicts today were largely within States and must be dealt with differently from conflicts between States. He noted that he had participated in Council missions to the Great Lakes region in Africa and, most recently, to Kosovo, and had returned with the conviction that those conflicts could have been avoided. He shared the view of the Secretary-General that the primary responsibility for conflict prevention lay with national governments.
Conflicts could be traced to such factors as unstable leadership, tribalism, ethnic discrimination, social injustices and violations of human rights. The international community could expect effective national governments to address such issues themselves. Problems such as poverty and lack of economic and social infrastructure, however, required international support. Proper strategies must be developed within the United Nations system in order to address conflicts at their embryonic stage.
He welcomed the proposal regarding preventive deployment missions, which could help to save lives and promote stability. Through comprehensive and coherent conflict-prevention strategies, peace could be assured and a sustainable environment could be established. He supported fact-finding missions to conflict or potential conflict regions, as well as preventive action by regional and subregional organizations.
Mr. AZAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Council President, speaking in his national capacity, said today’s deliberations would provide necessary political direction and input for Council action. The Council must assume its primary responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. That would mean resolute action to prevent threats to peace, breach of peace and acts of aggression. It would also mean timely and effective intervention to prevent genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. “We must not witness another preventable genocide, as in Rwanda, another preventable massacre, as in Srebrenica.”
He said the effective discharge of the Council’s responsibilities would require the political will of Member States. They would have to accept human and material sacrifices and should be prepared to support the actions of the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security. Providing support to the peace and security mission of the United Nations was a Charter obligation -– not charity. In a globalizing world, as the Secretary-General had stressed, “collective interest was the national interest”. In order to be effective, the Council must be able to take a decision on the basis of what the situation required –- not on the basis of what some members were willing to support.
The key to prevention lay in addressing the sources or root causes of conflicts, he said. The April 1998 report of the Secretary-General on causes of conflict in Africa had identified the major sources of conflicts. In his analysis, the sources of many conflicts there included the colonial and cold war legacies. It was hence a natural conclusion that special responsibility had to be assumed by those concerned. They could play a crucial role in helping address the political, economic and social challenges in those societies.
Autocratic regimes, politicization of ethnicity, denial of the fundamental freedoms and human rights, monopolization of political power and national resources were often at the root of conflicts. Last year, his Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, had called for the protection of democracy, because democracy, rule of law, human rights and good governance constituted the foundation of durable peace. He added that a common understanding of the complementarity of conflict prevention and sustainable development would be crucial for a United Nations system-wide comprehensive approach to conflict prevention.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said conflict prevention was at the moral heart of the mandate of the United Nations. Member States had primary responsibility for preventing violent conflict and a key role to play in developing a collective capacity to avoid future Rwandas and Srebrenicas. Preventing the outbreak of armed conflict required action by both the General Assembly and the Council. There was no time for jurisdictional arguments. There was urgent work to be done by both bodies. Other actors, such as regional organizations, the international financial institutions and civil society, also had an important role to play in supporting the efforts of Member States to develop the capacity to respond to factors such as exclusion and inequality which, if left unchecked, could spark violent confrontations.
Effective conflict prevention was as much an issue of economics and governance as it was of diplomacy. It required engagement over the long term, beginning with the moment that armed conflict appeared possible and continuing throughout the period when the embers of conflict risked re-igniting. Emergency assistance, reconstruction and peace-building all formed part of conflict prevention. He shared the Secretary-General’s conviction that small arms proliferation was not simply a security issue but also an issue of human rights and development. Measures to address the demand for, and misuse of, small arms and light weapons were necessary to prevent armed conflict, he said.
The report underlined the need for a gender-sensitive approach to conflict prevention and peace-building efforts on the part of the Council and the United Nations as a whole. A gender-sensitive approach to peace-support operations required appropriate training. Canada and the United Kingdom had developed a gender training initiative for military and civilian personnel involved in peace-support operations. He also recognized the importance of addressing the situation of war-affected children. The international conference on war-affected children, held last September in Winnipeg, Canada, had outlined priorities for international action.
Resumption of Meeting
Speaking when the meeting was resumed in the afternoon, PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden) made a statement on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland. Conflict prevention lay at the heart of the mandate of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. Improving coordination was vital for effective prevention. He noted that the Union had recently adopted a programme for the prevention of violent conflicts, in which cooperation with the United Nations was a prominent feature. The programme, like the Secretary-General’s report, emphasized, among other things, the need to build and sustain effective and mutually reinforcing partnerships for prevention between the United Nations system, regional and subregional organizations, and civil society.
The recommendations contained in the report were pertinent and wise, and several of them could be implemented without requiring additional resources, he said. For example, the Union supported the proposal for closer interaction between the Council, the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and considered that practical arrangements should not be hard to find. The proposal that the Council consider some kind of innovative mechanism for discussions on prevention cases on a continuing basis was among a number of other recommendations that deserved close attention. Another important recommendation was that the Council make more active use of preventive deployments before the onset of conflict, as appropriate, to support peace-building components within peacekeeping operations.
The report also highlighted the comprehensive nature of conflict prevention, involving operational and structural elements, and short- and long-term measures, he said. An effective preventive strategy required that deep-rooted, socio-economic, cultural, environmental, institutional and structural causes be addressed. That entailed political, diplomatic, humanitarian, human rights, developmental and other measures. In that context, he stressed the importance of adherence to international law. Applying the rule of law in relations between States and ensuring respect for human rights reduced the risk of violent conflict, he said.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said the primary responsibility for preventing conflicts lay with nations themselves. However, in an age of ever-increasing challenges related to international peace and security, the role of the United Nations was becoming more and more pivotal. He firmly believed that the prevention of such conflicts largely hinged on the preventive capacity of the United Nations and Member States. Indeed, conflict prevention lay at the heart of the United Nations mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security.
His delegation fully supported the Secretary-General’s intention to move the United Nations from a “culture of reaction” to a “culture of prevention”, a notion that was closely tied to the vision of a “culture of peace”. He noted, however, that the political will and financial commitment of Member States were often elusive in the earliest stages of conflicts. He favored a comprehensive approach that encompassed democratization, respect for human rights and the rule of law, socio-economic development and the promotion of good governance.
He said his delegation concurred with the Secretary-General’s recommendations for strengthening the capacities of the principal United Nations organs for conflict prevention. He noted that a broader, more holistic approach to conflict prevention had emerged, in response to the growing realization that sustainable peace could not be achieved without addressing the structural root cause of conflicts. He also emphasized that a stable social environment was key to preventing the outbreak or recurrence of conflicts, and supported the recommendation that greater resources be devoted to United Nations humanitarian agencies.
ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) said the new concept of international security which emerged after the cold war made it necessary for the Council to re-examine the way it dealt with conflicts it was not originally created to solve. The majority of conflicts in the post-cold war era were essentially domestic with international effects, with complex causes, ranging from economic to ethnic and religious questions. Civilian populations had become the main victim.
He identified three instruments which could help the Council to better assess pre-conflict situations. The Council should hold regular meetings with high-ranking officers of regional and subregional organizations to exchange ideas and information. Council missions should be carried out also in pre-conflict situations, with the consent of the parties concerned. The Council should have a frank and direct dialogue with those parties. Under particular circumstances, parties directly affected by a conflict should have the chance to participate in informal consultations, he said.
Intelligence data-gathering was essential in any successful preventive action; otherwise the early-warning systems could not operate. It must be accompanied, however, by the political will to act. Prevention also meant creating proper conditions for the rule of law, human rights, religious tolerance, productive investments, and equal access to health and economic and educational opportunities. The aspect of prevention that dealt with the root causes of conflict was a task for the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and should be carried out in cooperation and coordination with the Council.
Justice was an indispensable component of peace. The International Criminal Tribunals were another instrument for conflict prevention, because they generated the perception that crimes against humanity will not go unpunished. The work of those Tribunals must be fully supported. The entering into force of the Statute of Rome would also have an important deterrent effect. No preventive action would be effective unless the parties to a conflict had the political will to meet the objectives of peace, reconstruction and development, and unless the international community had the political will to support prevention efforts with patience and the necessary resources.
BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said the United Nations and the international community had the moral obligation to prevent armed conflicts. That obligation emanated not only from the Charter, but also from basic principles of solidarity and fraternity. The promotion of peace required a sustained effort to create an environment of mutual respect and non-violence. It required measures aimed at meeting multiple needs for food, housing, water, health, job training, access to opportunities and strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights.
The Secretary-General had indicated that fundamental responsibility for prevention rested with local authorities. Unfortunately, in many cases, the governments' political leaders themselves fueled social tension. The harmful existence of poverty or ethnic differences in themselves did not cause violence. It happened only if leaders incited that violence to further their own objectives. Both in the Great Lakes region in Africa and the Balkans the political leaders had made negative use of ethnic differences and had intentionally ignited ethnic violence. Armed conflict and genocide were the premeditated creation of those who had the obligation to protect the population.
He believed that preventing armed conflict in the long term was to support practices of good governance, rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights. Sending fact-finding missions could, on some occasions, convey important political messages, but the scope of the missions should not be exaggerated. He favoured the holding of in-depth investigative missions, composed of real experts. He also doubted the effectiveness of new subsidiary organs of the Council. The proliferation of such organs would reduce both the transparency of the Council and its effectiveness.
KIYOTAKA AKASAKA (Japan) said he fully agreed that the time had come to translate the rhetoric of conflict prevention into concrete action. He shared the view that the Council needed to discuss prevention on a continuous basis. While concurring with the Secretary-General that preventive deployment could make a crucial contribution to conflict prevention, he considered it essential that the Council undertake a thorough appraisal and examination of its past preventive deployment efforts.
He agreed that fact-finding missions of the Council could be effective, particularly when deployed at the initial stages of a conflict. However, before the Council decided to dispatch fact-finding missions in future, Japan would like to see it identify concrete needs and clear objectives, based upon the assessment of the outcome of past missions. He added that the suggestion in the report of new mechanisms for the Council’s discussion of prevention required careful consideration, since such mechanisms might duplicate the ongoing activities of the Secretariat.
Though the primary role in maintaining international peace and security lay with the Council, the Secretary-General and his Secretariat had a unique and important role to play in conflict prevention. He therefore supported the ideas contained in the report for strengthening the Secretary-General’s traditional roles in that area. He also shared the view that ad hoc “groups of friends of the Secretary-General” could be useful in supplementing the Secretary-General’s conflict-prevention activities.
SATYABRATA PAL (India) said conflict should be seen as a disease of the body politic, and the medical distinction between prophylaxis, cure and therapy should be followed. Conflict management and peacekeeping were the curative phase, post-conflict peace-building was the therapeutic stage. Today’s discussion should be on prophylaxis -- on ways and means to prevent armed conflict from breaking out within societies and between them. He encouraged the Council to see the meeting as a debate on the sections of the report that fell within its mandate, not as an exercise to accept or reject recommendations.
Within societies, democracy was a must, he said. Truly democratic societies were far less likely to erupt into domestic conflict than those under totalitarian or military rule. The United Nations should continue to encourage democracy as a norm of governance that lessened the chances of conflict. Between States, he continued, treaties must be honoured. States must also accept and act on the norms of international law, and on the principles adopted by the United Nations to guide relations between States. Nuclear war was clearly the conflict that must be prevented at all costs, he said, adding that nuclear disarmament must have the highest priority. No theory or doctrine could justify the indefinite retention of nuclear weapons by the permanent members of the Council. “If they cling to their weapons, others will follow, even if against their will”, he said.
At the other end of the spectrum, small arms and light weapons were what most conflicts were now fought with. He was therefore concerned that the recently negotiated firearms protocol should have such wide exceptions to its scope. The Council should not rush into areas where it had no role to play, he added. HIV/AIDS should be a horrible example for the Council, which had last year decided that it was a security problem, and Blue Helmets a risk factor.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said his country supported the role of the General Assembly in conflict prevention, and he was glad that the Assembly would meet to discuss it next month. The recommendations on presenting periodic reports to the Council on conflict situations and the formation of a subsidiary body were matters that should be addressed with great caution. Determining the stage where the Council should intervene in a situation was a very complicated issue. The Council should take its decision to intervene with complete unanimity.
He welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to strengthen his role in conflict prevention, but stressed that this should be done within the system’s checks and balances and with the complete consent of the parties involved. Furthermore, Member States should play a role in determining the criteria for the selection of eminent persons to help in conflict prevention.
He added that he was disappointed, on reading paragraphs 86-93 of the report on disarmament, to find that only small weapons had been mentioned. He pointed out another lapse in the report, in paragraph 77, regarding a mention of “occupied territories” and asked how this incorrect usage had not been corrected. He called on the Council to have greater cooperation with the General Assembly and with the Economic and Social Council, as the situation required.
JORGE EDUARDO NAVARRETE (Mexico) said the importance of the report’s numerous recommendations required careful analysis by delegations and governments. He fully shared the recommendation that the General Assembly, as the most democratic and universal organ of the United Nations, should make a more active use of the powers bestowed on it by the Charter. A first step to strengthening coordination between the Council and the Assembly would be to increase consultations between the Presidents of both bodies, as often as the circumstances required it.
The role the Council could play in conflict prevention was undoubtedly important, especially in implementing the provisions of Chapter VI of the Charter, he said. However, in order for the United Nations to be successful in prevention matters, more effective action should be pursued through other organs that were directly responsible, including the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the specialized agencies of the system. The importance of that was underlined when one considered that poverty, discrimination and lack of economic prospects were frequent causes of conflict.
Full respect for human rights, the fight against the scourge of drugs, and combating transnational organized crime constituted fundamental components of a culture of peace, he said. The recommendations of the Secretary-General for strengthening the work of the Organization in those fields were therefore timely. Mexico also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations on disarmament issues. Mexico would continue encouraging the adoption of measures aimed at consolidating the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, including the universalization and full validity of the various international treaties on the matter.
GELSON FONSECA Jr. (Brazil) said the first merit of the report was that it addressed conflict prevention as a cross-cutting issue. The report also recognized that implementation of an effective strategy of prevention must involve the whole United Nations system and all other relevant non-United Nations actors and stakeholders. Improved coordination was key. Conflict prevention involved not only the best possible use of measures at the disposal of the Council, but also efforts in the areas of humanitarian assistance and long-term development, which fell within the purview of both the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
Ideally, a well-rooted culture of prevention should be able to address comprehensively the many symptoms of social injustice and unrest identified in the report. A simple recipe for conflict prevention would be to work on the root causes. The most difficult and sensitive challenge was to prevent conflicts where the United Nations had not yet established a peacekeeping presence. The difference of approach needed in those circumstances was enormous. There was very little the international community could do if a government denied the existence of a situation of imminent disruption.
The Council had undoubtedly a central role in the maintenance of international peace and security. But the shared responsibility of all actors referred to in the report could turn out to be the very guarantee of a successful strategy. The idea of regular joint meetings between the Council and the Economic and Social Council remained valid, and could prove to be an excellent tool of coordination. The United Nations had a mixed record in its attempts to cope with the complexity of armed-conflict prevention. His country was supportive of proposals such as measures to promote coherence and coordination, and fact-finding and confidence-building missions as a useful tool in dealing with not-so-evident pre-conflict situations.
ZAINUDDIN YAHYA (Malaysia) said his delegation agreed on the need for the United Nations to embark on preventive diplomacy and preventive action. They were a far better and more cost-effective approach, financial as well as in human terms, than mounting any operation or activity after a conflict had erupted. Malaysia also agreed on the need for greater coordination and cooperation on the part of the entire United Nations system.
In any meaningful discussion by the Council on the prevention of conflict, one could not help but also address the issue of the Middle East -- especially the Palestinian question in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. It was a matter of deepest regret for his delegation that earlier initiatives by the Non-Aligned members of the Council to prevent further conflict through the establishment of a United Nations monitoring force had failed. The result was an increasing number of deaths and injuries, mostly on the Palestinian side. The international community could not turn a blind eye to instances of foreign occupation and the effect occupation had on regional and international peace and security.
He welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to initiate the practice of providing periodic regional or subregional reports to the Council on threats to international peace and security. He also stressed the importance of the Council’s fact-finding missions, which could have important preventive effects.
ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said that given limited financial and human resources, and given that it was more expensive to maintain a peacekeeping operation than to implement conflict-prevention measures, the international community needed to focus more on the development of a culture of conflict prevention. He urged the Secretary-General to continue the use of tools of “quiet diplomacy” and supported his recommendation regarding the use of inter-disciplinary fact-finding and confidence-building missions to volatile regions.
Considering the part that the Council and the Assembly played in the prevention of armed conflicts, the Assembly should make more effective use of its powers, as stipulated in Articles 10, 11 and 14 of the Charter. He welcomed the recommendation to develop regional strategies, and appealed for financial and logistical assistance to regional organizations. He called on the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other relevant United Nations agencies to address the issues of drugs and illicit trade in arms and natural resources emanating from conflict areas, because of their role in fueling conflict.
Both short-term and long-term strategies for prevention of armed conflicts must include a focus on strengthening respect for human rights and addressing core issues on human rights violations. The Council and Assembly should make use of information and analyses from non-governmental organizations on human rights violations in their consideration of conflict situations. Because of the role development played in conflict prevention, he appealed to the international donor community to increase the flow of development assistance. He also asked Member States to implement the recommendations of the High-level Panel on Financing for Development.
JEANETTE NDHLOVU (South Africa) said her country’s own experience had convinced it that the prevention of armed conflict required the establishment of institutions of democratic governance, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights, including the right to development. Those values had also found greater acceptance among the leaders and people of the African continent, as demonstrated by the adoption of a number of declarations that aimed to highlight the interdependence of peace, democracy and development. However, efforts to promote and institutionalize those values and principles would not be fully realized without an enabling international environment, in which the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment could be dealt with.
It was from that vantage point that her delegation commended the Secretary-General for his efforts to raise greater awareness of the necessity for developing a culture of prevention, not just among Member States, but also among important actors in the international arena. She welcomed the recent trend by the Council to dispatch fact-finding missions to areas of conflict, such as the recent missions to Kosovo and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Those missions provided the Council with valuable first-hand insight into the dynamics of a particular situation.
She said she supported the recommendation by the Secretary-General that the Council should consider establishing innovative mechanisms, such as an informal working group to discuss prevention cases on a continuing basis. Early-warning inputs, including periodic regional or subregional reports from the Secretary-General, would be invaluable to such a working group. She also stressed the key role to be played by regional organizations in conflict prevention.
MOHAMMED A. AL-DOURI (Iraq) said there was no doubt that prevention of armed conflicts was at the core of the United Nations mandate. The first purpose of the Organization was the maintenance of international peace and security. The last decade was distinguished by regional and internal strife and had resulted in millions of victims, refugees and handicapped. One super-Power continued to give priority to its interests alone, without according any importance to the principles of the Charter or to international law.
The Charter entrusted the Assembly with the settlement of conflicts. He hoped that the current consultations on the role and working methods of the Assembly would lead to an activation of the Assembly’s role in armed-conflict prevention. The Council was the concerned party for maintenance of peace and security, but it did not deal with conflicts in a balanced manner. Sometimes it took quick action, while other times it “pussy-footed”.
The United States and the United Kingdom tended to act in their own interest only, which was evident in the continued aggression against his country. The countless victims of that aggression were civilians. The last example of it was the recent attack by United States and United Kingdom aircraft on a soccer field in which 23 children were killed. The Council did nothing about that. The real causes of armed conflict were underdevelopment, poverty, the plunder of southern wealth during the colonial era, the continuous intervention of hegemonic States in the internal affairs of other countries, and sanctions that starved people. It was imperative to galvanize the International Court of Justice and regional organizations into dealing with the real causes, he said. Regional organizations had a very important role to play in solving the problems of the countries that belonged to those organizations.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) hoped the good offices of the Secretary-General would also extend to those disputes which still remained unresolved before the Council: Kashmir and Palestine. Both were cases of continued denial of the right to self-determination. The Secretary-General should have no hesitation in assuming a more proactive role to facilitate a peaceful solution of the two issues.
Member States and civil society alone did not have primary responsibility for conflict prevention. If that were the case, what was the raison d’être of the United Nations? No other institution than the United Nations had the primary role for conflict prevention. A conflict could be addressed effectively only if the United Nations had the political will to do so. Too often, this vital catalyst was conspicuously absent, and too often, good intentions had fallen victim to political expediency and power politics. There was a tendency in the report to confuse root causes of conflicts with their symptoms. All root causes were essentially described as economic and social. There was, however, no social or economic genesis to the conflicts in Palestine or Kashmir. There were other, deeper and intractable causes of all major conflicts which the report had not been able to address.
Kashmir and Afghanistan were classic examples of the Council’s selectivity. Selectivity on Kashmir was seen in the Council’s total inaction on its own resolutions; and selectivity on Afghanistan was manifest in excessive enactment of punitive measures and so-called smart actions. There should be no discrimination in the implementation of resolutions on the basis of their adoption under Chapter VI or Chapter VII of the Charter. The present report, in spite of some positive suggestions, offered no solution to the misery of millions of people in his region.
OLEG LAPTENOK (Belarus) said the specific mandates of various United Nations bodies did not allow for all the root causes of conflicts to be addressed by the Security Council itself. However, that should not hinder the Council’s participation in the work of other United Nations bodies when it came to developing joint conflict-prevention strategies. The coordinating functions in that interaction rested with the Assembly. Establishing ad-hoc open-ended groups to develop mechanisms of interaction between the Council, the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the International Court must be adjusted to the specific situations in the conflict-prone regions.
He said preventive diplomacy should address factors that might prompt conflict situations at the earliest possible stage, creating the necessary prerequisites to assist in sustainable socio-economic development. Reversing the decrease in official development assistance, providing adequate resources to enhance national and regional conflict prevention, and assistance in promoting South-South cooperation were of particular importance. Refugee spillovers from every armed conflict highlighted the need to complement preventive-diplomacy measures with complex preventive international programmes under the aegis of the United Nations.
The Council and the Economic and Social Council must not fail to address such a major destabilizing factor as terrorism. The idea of establishing a functional Economic and Social Council commission on combating terrorism deserved closer attention. The task of combating HIV/AIDS was no less important in maintaining stability and sustainable national development. The orientation debates in the Council had virtually turned it into a standing open-ended working group. However, significant improvement was needed in the mechanisms for extracting practical results from those discussions, based on views and opinions expressed by Member States. Resolving that problem was something the Council should focus on, he said.
DURGA P. BHATTARAI (Nepal) said that despite being frequently praised for its virtues, prevention of armed conflict remained one of the least practiced aspects of the search for international peace and security. The Secretary-General had, however, established with empirical evidence that prevention could be comparatively economical -- in addition to saving lives, property, a sense of common humanity and a development-friendly environment. He feared that, once policies and strategies for prevention were on the table, political will and commitment of resources required for their implementation might be less than forthcoming.
As the lead organization in global efforts, the United Nations must strengthen its capacity to support national governments in preventing conflicts. Interactions with relevant regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector were necessary for greater synergy and complementarity. All aspects, ranging from the role of the media to assistance
for women and children, from human rights to food security programmes, needed to be implemented in tandem. The role of peacekeeping was crucial in preventing recurrence of conflicts. Post-conflict management was important to ensure continued security. Close involvement of troop-contributing countries was always a prerequisite for success.
It was time to embrace the Secretary-General’s suggestion that conflict prevention be made the cornerstone of collective security under the United Nations in the present century. It should involve full understanding of the concepts of sustainable peace and security and sustainable development. The success of preventive measures was contingent upon sustained political will and a long-term commitment of resources from all stakeholders. While his delegation appreciated the Secretary-General’s determination to work towards building a culture of prevention within the existing resources, he remained convinced that institutional strengthening of the key organs of the Organization, and their reorientation where necessary, would be crucial in strengthening the ability of national governments to prevent conflicts.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said the United Nations in general and the Council in particular had a clear responsibility in the area of the maintenance of peace and security. That necessitated the promotion of a global environment anchored in respect for international law. The culture of impunity must be ended and justice, fairness and self-determination must be assured.
He had noticed for some time now that reports on armed conflict by the Secretary-General and the Secretariat had avoided addressing foreign occupation as an aspect of armed conflict. They had also avoided specific reference to Israel’s occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. He added that he did not understand the vague reference in the report to “occupied territories”, especially given the current situation in the world.
The Council’s failure to play any meaningful role over the past nine months in the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, represented a challenge to the integrity of the Council. The Council had been prevented from fulfilling its obligations under the Charter, and that undermined its credibility regarding the prevention of armed conflict. He looked forward to a rectification of that anomaly.
Mr. AZAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Council President, said that from the discussion –- which had been substantive and focused -- he found that the principles and the recommendations as presented by the Secretary-General had been received positively. The Fourth High-level Meeting between the United Nations and the regional organizations in February had marked a major step in strengthening cooperation on conflict prevention, he noted.
The momentum created by the release of the report and today’s discussion should be maintained, he said. The Council would take an early decision on the recommendations specifically addressed to it. “Prevention of armed conflict is one of our primary obligations under the Charter. Let us live up to our solemn pledges to save the peoples of the United Nations from the scourge of war”, he said.
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