AFRICA READY TO UNDO PAST ERRORS AND CONFRONT TRUTH, NO MATTER HOW PAINFUL, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

29 January 2002
SC/7282

AFRICA READY TO UNDO PAST ERRORS AND CONFRONT TRUTH, NO MATTER HOW PAINFUL, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

29/01/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7282

Security Council

4460th Meeting* (AM & PM)

AFRICA READY TO UNDO PAST ERRORS AND CONFRONT TRUTH,

NO MATTER HOW PAINFUL, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

Council Hears 37 Speakers in Day-long Meeting on Africa

Africa was ready to undo the errors of the past and shed the image of doom and gloom with its new breed of leaders who had the determination and political courage to confront the truth, no matter how painful that might be, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius told the Security Council today during its day-long consideration of the situation in Africa.

Chairing the meeting, the Minister, Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, hailed it as a unique opportunity to address the issues of the continent as a whole.  Of interest was not Africa’s past, but its future, he said.  Africa was still trapped in a multitude of problems, but a new paradigm had led to free and fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power, the revitalization of institutions, the liberalization of the economy, and the emergence of an independent and anti-corrupt judiciary.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette opened the meeting this morning, and it was suspended at 7:30 p.m.  Owing to the number of remaining speakers, the meeting was scheduled to resume Wednesday afternoon.

The Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) also participated in the session, along with 35 other speakers, including several from African nations at the ministerial level.  The Council President for the month, Jagdish Koonjul of Mauritius, convened the debate to refocus attention on Africa and lay down the basis for future dialogue between the OAU and the United Nations.

The Secretary-General of the OAU, Amara Essy, insisted that Africa shoulder its responsibility in dealing with the prevailing crises.  The response of the OAU -- comprised of 53 African countries -- had been dynamic in conflict prevention and resolution.  In all areas of the continent, however, the danger of deterioration remained.  In that connection, the Council was "the light guiding us forward".  The OAU, today, the African Union, tomorrow, would work unfailingly as partners for peace, justice and development.

__________

*     Press Release SC/7280 of 28 January 2002 should have been 4458th meeting.

4455th, 4456th, 4457th and 4459th meetings were closed.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Fréchette, urged the United Nations to step up its cooperation with African subregional organizations, which were an encouraging feature of the African landscape.  All such efforts would fail, however, without real political will, both on the part of African leaders to pursue the quest for peace, and on the part of Council members to act decisively in support of Africa.  Also vital was to help the African partners strengthen their own logistical capacities, now severely restricted by lack of training and resources, especially in the area of peacekeeping.

Ineffective government, poverty, power struggles, corruption, ethnic tensions, foreign interference, and misuse of funds, had all contributed to Africa’s chronic problems, asserted the Foreign Minister of Zambia.  The resulting conflicts had been ruinous, provoking distress and fear and destroying cohesion and unity.  Settling them required a fundamental rethinking of African security and the sustained involvement of the international community.  Indeed, in a globalized world, everyone must be part of the solution.

Peace had a price, warned the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea.  That was why she hoped that extinguishing conflict in her own region of West Africa would be accompanied by a global programme of economic recovery and the reintegration of ex-combatants.  With African issues occupying more than half of the Council’s work, she proposed the creation of a high-level working group to formulate a strategy for a multi-sectoral plan of action for Africa. 

Several Council members described Africa as one of the major challenges in international relations of all time.  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of the United Kingdom called the scope of political violence in Africa “breathtaking”.  Armed conflicts in Angola, Sudan and Somalia, where numerous peacemaking efforts had failed, were now all but ignored.  In the Great Lakes region, a dozen African nations had been sucked into a series of interlocking conflicts.  The challenge for the Council and the wider international system was not just to prevent or end hostilities, but also to help transform those political economies into healthy systems based on political participation, social and economic inclusion, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) said that the Security Council and ECOSOC could work together more effectively within the purview of their mandates.  The ECOSOC had, on several occasions, devoted its attention to development in Africa.  Most recently, in July 2001, it adopted a Ministerial Declaration reiterating the support expressed at the Millennium Summit to consolidate democracy in Africa and assist Africans in their quest for lasting peace, prosperity and sustainable development.

Statements were also made by:  the Minister in Charge of African Affairs of Algeria; Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique; Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Union and Senegalese Abroad of Senegal; Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism of South Africa; Vice-Minister for External Relations of Angola; Minister of State of Ireland; Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway; Deputy Minister for

(page 1b follows)

Foreign Affairs of Morocco; and the Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs for Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United Nations of Mexico.

Representatives of the following Council members spoke:  Colombia, China, Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Singapore, Syria, France and the United States.  Additional statements were made today by the representatives of Egypt, Spain, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Canada.  The Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy also addressed the Council.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and was first suspended at 1:30 p.m.  It resumed at 3:10 p.m. and was suspended at 7:30 p.m. until tomorrow at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Background

The Council convened a public meeting this morning on the situation in Africa.  It had before it a letter dated 10 January from the Council President for the month, Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), attaching an orientation paper for the meeting (document S/2002/46), which sought to refocus attention on Africa and take stock of developments and shortcomings through a series of questions.

According to the President's letter, the Council has been dealing with almost all of the conflict situations in Africa, but it has not been achieving the desired overall results.  It will revisit these issues in the presence of the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), who is expected to provide an African perspective.  Participation by the OAU should "lay down" the basis for future dialogue between the two organizations.

The paper notes that both the Council and the OAU, through its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, devote much of their time to addressing conflict situations in Africa.  Since both organizations seek to find  solutions to conflicts, it is of vital importance that their actions complement one another.  In this context, close cooperation is key.

The document suggests numerous areas for discussion:  conflict situations; cooperation with the OAU; mediation efforts; the role of subregional organizations; sanctions/embargoes; small arms and light weapons and the illegal exploitation of natural resources; humanitarian issues; and the African Union and its New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). 

On conflict situations, the paper raises a number of pertinent questions, such as why the responses of the international community, including the Council, to conflicts in Africa have been "so slow".  It also asks, among other questions, whether the Council's present level of engagement with African issues matches their complexity, what has been the response of the international community to intra-State instability and other conflicts in Africa, and what actions have been taken to prevent such outbreaks.

With respect to cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU, it asks, among other things, whether they have a different perception and assessment of the conflicts in Africa.  How could the United Nations and the OAU cooperate in their peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts for improved results?  And how could the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution and the Council coordinate their efforts for better results in Africa? 

On sanctions and embargoes, the paper asks about the effectiveness of the course of action outlined in the Secretary-General's report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.  That report highlights the importance of sanctions as preventive or coercive measures.  The present paper asks to what extent the Council consults with and heeds the advice of subregional organizations prior to imposing sanctions in a subregion.

Concerning small arms and light weapons, the paper asks what is needed for a successful and irreversible disarmament, demoblization, repatriation and resettlement programme in African conflicts, and how to stop the illegal exploitation of resources.  On humanitarian issues, it asks whether those issues had been given the required attention, especially with respect to recovery and reconstruction.  One question it raises is how the United Nations could assist the OAU in addressing the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons. 

The long-term conflicts in Africa and the worsening humanitarian situation there occupied much of the Council's attention in the last decade and remained a focus of its work in 2001.  In several actions, members stressed the complete implementation of hard-won ceasefire agreements, control of the illicit trade in resources and arms, and development for peace-building. 

Presently in Africa, there are United Nations Missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Western Sahara.  Others have been completed in Angola, Central African Republic, Chad/Lybia, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda/Uganda and Somalia, although the United Nations and the Security Council remain engaged there. 

The OAU, which was established in 1963 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, seeks to: promote the unity and solidarity of African States; defend their sovereignty; eradicate colonialism; promote international cooperation with due regard for the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and harmonize Member States’ economic, diplomatic, educational, health, welfare, scientific and defence policies.

The OAU now numbers 53 African States:  Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Kenya.

Also, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Statements

LOUISE FRÉCHETTE, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, welcomed the Council’s sustained focus on Africa –- which still occupied on average 60 per cent of its time –- at a moment when many people’s attention was focused elsewhere.  The clear and comprehensive list of questions provided by the Council President for the meeting should help focus everyone’s minds.  The deep-rooted causes of conflicts in Africa, which had been amply covered in the Secretary-General’s report of April 1998, and in subsequent reports and resolutions of the Council and the General Assembly, should be tackled as a matter of great urgency.

The gravest single threat to Africa’s social and economic development was HIV/AIDS, she said.  That factor contributed to most, if not all, of those deep-rooted causes of conflict.  The whole United Nations system was engaged, alongside the peoples of Africa, in the struggle against that terrible scourge, and this was certainly not the moment to relax those efforts.  Today, the most useful focus would be on issues where the Council had direct responsibilities and possibilities for action.  Particular advantage should be taken of the presence today of the OAU’s Secretary-General, Amara Essy, to concentrate on building a stronger partnership between the United Nations, the OAU, and the subregional organizations that were such an encouraging feature of the African landscape.

In particular, she went on, the United Nations should step up its cooperation with the political mechanisms that some of the subregional organizations had created to ensure the development of integrated approaches to conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building.  Such approaches must involve cooperation, not only in the areas of politics and security, but also across a wide range of issues, such as human rights, humanitarian relief, the struggle against HIV/AIDS, and economic and social development.  Hopefully, the establishment of the United Nations Office in West Africa, and the proposed International Conference on the Great Lakes, would help improve institutional links and build confidence among the countries of those subregions. 

None of that would get very far unless there was real political will, both on the part of African leaders to pursue the quest for peace, and on the part of Council members to act decisively in support of Africa.  Also vital was to help the African partners strengthen their own logistical capacities, especially in the area of peacekeeping.  While the OAU and some subregional organizations, as well as many African States, had shown a commendable interest in assuming a bigger role in peacekeeping, their present capacity to do so was severely restricted by lack of training and resources, especially shortages of equipment and basic supplies.

Indeed, she said, many peace processes in Africa had been “broken” because that crucial aspect of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes -– and particularly the reintegration component –- had been neglected or not sustained.  Equally crucial was national reconciliation and accountability for atrocities.  Those two processes were so important to the success of the United Nations Missions that the Council might wish to include them in United Nations mandates and to recommend that their funding be put on a more solid basis.  In Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General had shown great faith in the political will and commitment of Member States by agreeing to establish the Special Court, as mandated by the Council. 

Regarding the effectiveness of sanctions, she noted that most had centred on arms embargoes, and their effectiveness had been limited by various factors, including insufficient political support, porous un-policed borders, inadequate infrastructure, lack of resources for monitoring and implementation, and  -- once again –- inadequate regional or subregional capacities.  Progress had been made, however, since the Council began to set up panels of experts to investigate violations.  Those bodies had been able to identify criminal networks involved in “sanctions busting”, and had developed far-reaching, practical monitoring proposals.  In both Sierra Leone and Angola, illicit sales of diamonds and other natural resources had been made more difficult.  That had significantly diminished the ability of armed groups to defy the world community’s will. 

AMARA ESSY, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said one of the main issues in the world today was peace and security in Africa. That had become a special international issue following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States.  The world was more aware than ever before that security was a primary concern to the international community at large.  Africa needed to work together with the United Nations and other regional organizations to strengthen peace in the world.  Many conflict resolution mechanisms had already been set up that often generated effective measures to preserve peace.

The OAU had been working on many conflicts and some of the results had been encouraging, but there was room for pessimism, he said. Africa must truly become a part of the international trade system, because marginalization could be seriously detrimental to security.  In Africa, there had been a drop in inter-State conflicts, but that had been offset by internal conflicts, and United Nations mechanisms had not always been able to cope with those.  Africa needed security under the United Nations Charter, but regional and subregional organizations were becoming increasingly significant in combating organized crime and pandemics such as AIDS.  But there must be greater cooperation between the OAU and the United Nations.

There were cultural, geographic and other factors that affected conflicts, he continued.  The causes must be identified along with ways and means of eradicating them.  Africa’s partnership with the United Nations helped to determine in advance which situations might become crises.  He advocated a further strengthening of the partnership between the United Nations and OAU, as well as regional and subregional organizations in dealing with conflicts.  The United Nations must intensify cooperation with continental and regional organizations, which were the foundation of dealing with conflict in Africa.

The OAU/United Nations partnership must also ensure peace initiatives in Africa, which needed better coordination. He stressed the paramount responsibility of the Security Council in that partnership, but Africa must also shoulder its responsibilities.  The OAU for some years had been trying to shoulder its full share of responsibility.  More needed to be done in conflict resolution and management, but there could only be a genuine impact if African actions were backed up by the international community.

Baroness AMOS, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, of the United Kingdom, welcomed the hard work that Mali and Mauritius had done in keeping the issue of conflict in Africa high on the international agenda.  Violent conflict was one of the main obstacles to reducing poverty, upholding human rights and achieving sustainable development in Africa. It was a threat to global security as it led to large-scale displacement of people and environmental degradation, and provided opportunities for international criminal and terrorist activities.

The scope of the political violence in Africa was breathtaking, she said. Armed conflicts in Angola, Sudan and Somalia, where numerous peacemaking efforts had failed, were now all but ignored.  In the Great Lakes region, a dozen African nations had been sucked into a series of interlocking conflicts since the mid-1990s.  There were many other countries affected by or at risk of violent conflict as well.

There were positive signs, however, she continued, citing the progress in restoring peace in Sierra Leone and the close of hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Serious efforts were also under way between regional States and the United Nations to tackle the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.  Much of the progress had been made possible by the willingness of the Security Council to learn from the failures of earlier peacekeeping efforts.  The far-reaching recommendations of the Brahimi report were a road map for reform of the United Nations approach to tackling conflicts in Africa and elsewhere.

New approaches were needed to deal with the changing and diverse nature of violent conflict in Africa.  In many African societies, national and regional conflict had become the "normal" state of affairs.  Complex and abusive economies had grown up around conflict, she said.  Regional and international rivalries had exacerbated and prolonged conflicts.  The challenge for the Council and the wider international system, therefore, was not just to prevent or end hostilities, but also to help transform those regional and national political economies into healthy systems based on political participation, social and economic inclusion, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The task required the political commitment to provide the necessary human and financial resources and the refinement and adaptation of the instruments and mechanisms at the disposal of the United Nations.  The conflict-prevention capacity of the OAU and such subregional organizations as the SADC and ECOWAS should be strengthened.  There would also need to be regular consultations, information sharing and joint projects between those organizations and the United Nations.  She, therefore, welcomed the Mauritius proposal to establish a working group to examine ways of improving relations between the OAU and the United Nations.  The Council working group would need a clear mandate designed to produce concrete results and deliverable outcomes within a specific time frame.

Involvement of African regional organizations was one way of encouraging African "ownership" of conflict solutions, a concept that was present in the recently launched NEPAD.  In response to NEPAD, the leaders of the “G-8” industrialized countries had commissioned a G-8 Africa action plan, she continued. The United Kingdom hoped the dialogue would be used to encourage African nations to tackle indigenous causes of conflict, such as political, economic and social exclusion, poor governance and corruption.  The G-8, in turn, could help Africa by tackling the causes and drivers of conflict that lay in the international sphere, such as unfavourable terms of exchange between Africa and the West, the export of small arms and light weapons to conflict-prone zones, and the exploitation of economic resources by outside actors.  The United Kingdom would use its Council presidency in July to give a further African focus to the Council's work.

LIZ O'DONNELL, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said no one could fail to be inspired by the honesty and clarity of vision of NEPAD.  The wider international community must fully meet its commitments in helping African governments and the people of Africa to shape new horizons and grasp new opportunities.  The sense of past failure in Africa was being replaced by a new determination and a sense of new beginnings.  Democracy was spreading across the continent, supported by the OAU, which was strongly committed to addressing the causes of conflict and actively working in the prevention of conflict.

Every month, African issues strongly featured on the Council's agenda, and each situation was considered in terms of its own unique features.  The Organization's more active work on peace issues in Africa was as it should be, she said.  At the same time, though, Africa itself must lead the way and play its part.  Good governance must mean exactly that.  Elections must be fair and transparent.  The resources of Africa must be used for the people of Africa and not for the gain of a few.  The best way forward for Africa could only be along two parallel paths:  the first by conflict resolution and prevention, and the second by advancing economic and social development and greater integration of Africa into the world economy.

She called for enhanced coordination and cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU and other regional African organizations, as well as civil society players involved in mediation or support efforts.  Ireland would like to see greater and more structured dialogue between the OAU and the United Nations, especially the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  The same applied to the subregional organizations.  While the international community should continue to support regional peace initiatives, the leadership must come from Africa.  She pointed, in particular, to the value of special envoys, appointed by regional or subregional organizations, and the establishment of Councils of Elders to mediate disputes and promote practical solutions.

Turning specifically to Somalia, she said Ireland advocated the United Nations taking a role in supporting forces of peace there.  The countries of the region also had to work together to support peace in Somalia.

Without economic and social development in Africa, though, all other policies would ultimately prove to have been built on sand, she said.  African leaders themselves had indicated the way forward in NEPAD, a vision of development that was wise, generous and right.  For the vision to be realized, the international community would have to take decisive action on development financing, on trade opportunities, on encouraging inward investment, on debt-relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative and other initiatives.  The international community should set itself the unwavering objective of achieving in Africa the 2015 international development goals.  Those things would not happen by chance, nor would they happen without ethical political leadership from developed countries.

KIM TRAAVIK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that millions of people had lost their lives and countless civilians had been uprooted from their homes or separated from their families in Africa, owing to the conflicts there. That terrible human toll was the backdrop of today’s debate.  Also, it must not be forgotten that armed conflicts had also devastated economies and whole countries.  Conflict resolution and development efforts were mutually reinforcing.  In the post-conflict phase, closer cooperation was needed, including between the United Nations peacekeeping operations and long-term development plans.  In the Secretary-General’s report on prevention of armed conflict, he underscored the need to move from the culture of reaction to one of prevention, to which Norway fully subscribed. 

Indeed, he went on, an integrated approach to early warning, crisis management, and conflict resolution must be promoted.  Coercive military measures should be backed up by political, humanitarian and development strategies.  The Security Council had not always addressed evolving conflict in Africa in an adequate or even timely manner.  It must now be ready to scrutinize its actions and improve its efforts to implementing peace on the African continent.  Conflict resolution, of course, was not the responsibility of the Council alone.  The main responsibility rested with the parties to the conflict in question.  In order to break the cycle of violence, it was crucial that the warring parties should be truly committed to peace. 

He drew attention to the close linkage between peace and development.  African leaders must have the political will to build cooperation with the United Nations in defence of peace and security.  Despite shortcoming and setbacks, the Council had recently made some headway, including in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia/Eritrea and in initiating the inter-Congolese dialogue.  In all three cases, there had been constructive dialogue between the United Nations and the OAU, and other organization, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  A combination of a strong United Nations presence, targeted sanctions, an active regional organization, and tireless efforts by the leaders now seemed to be paying off.  Cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU in curbing the spread of small arms and eliminating landmines was another positive example of joint efforts. 

MIGUEL MARIN BOSCH (Mexico), Under-Secretary-General of Foreign Affairs for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the United Nations, said that conflicts in Africa needed more attention from the Security Council and the international community.  They must be comprehensively analysed once they were resolved, and ways to establish peace and sustainable economic growth must be found.  In Africa, the United Nations must be less reactive and more proactive.

The last General Assembly had asked the Organization to focus efforts on education and technology in Africa, he said.  He believed education was crucial in avoiding or resolving crises, and would also help overcome such pandemics as AIDS. The international community must increase cooperation and inter-agency coordination to tackle African problems at their roots and avert disastrous consequences.

The African continent needed higher investment flows, higher access to international markets, and steady efforts by its governments to promote democratic institutions, human rights and the rule of law, he continued.  During the Millennium Summit, African leaders stressed that the continent needed greater access to markets and reductions in trade barriers for African products.  Only through economic development would it be possible to resolve conflicts and promote peace.  However, there were also problems in Africa that needed speedier solutions.  Those included illicit trafficking in firearms, illegal exploitation of natural resources, such as diamonds, and humanitarian problems.

CAMARA HADJA MAHAWA BANGOURA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea, said that today’s meeting reflected the Council’s unanimous resolve to be more involved in seeking solutions to the recurrent peace- and security-related problems in Africa.  Debt burden, poverty, HIV/AIDS, bad governance, and the consequence of the many conflicts there were just some of the underlying factors.  All efforts to take up those challenges would be in vain, however, until conflicts were totally resolved.  Without peace and security, there was no hope of development; democracy, long urged by Africa’s partners, could not be achieved in poverty.

She highlighted several hotbeds of tension in Africa which continued to preoccupy the international community.  In the Great Lakes region, the situation was more complex and of great concern.  The conclusions of the national dialogue must be the foundation for genuine reconciliation.  The various State and non-State political elements must also play their part.  She fully supported an international conference on the Great Lakes, whose conclusions should support regional efforts.  At the same time, all regional actors should give priority to cooperating in the quest for regional peace and stability.  Concerning West Africa, there were indications that the work of the international community was about to bear fruit.

In Sierra Leone, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL)

had enabled the State to gradually re-establish its authority, she continued. There had been some success in implementing the programme of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, but the weapons still circulating among the population should be collected, as those could threaten post-electoral peace.  Sierra Leone, long ravaged by conflict, would soon organize general elections.  She welcomed UNAMSIL’s support for the electoral process, but ex-combatants were still a major concern.  The steps taken in that regard should be strengthened to prevent a recurrence of the “Liberian syndrome”.   Also welcome had been the efforts made in the Mano River Union countries to restore confidence and restart the work programme.

Given the current situation in West Africa, ECOWAS had taken many important steps, including the establishment of mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution, such as the creation of a council of elders.  Confidence-building measures among the States were helping them to consolidate democracy, set up an early warning system and sustain the moratorium on the import, export, and manufacture of light weapons, which had just been renewed for a further three years.  Also welcome had been the close cooperation between ECOWAS and the United Nations.  Crisis management there had been rather enlightening in the context of a genuine partnership between the two.  The opening of a United Nations office at ECOWAS was further evidence of the desire to strengthen ties and unite efforts. 

Peace had a price, she said.  That was why she hoped that extinguishing conflict in West Africa would be accompanied by a global programme for economic recovery and the reintegration of ex-combatants.  Also, the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons should be ensured.  The linkage in West Africa between fighting and the illicit flow of natural resources was evident.  Measures taken by the Council must be implemented so as to neutralize those activities, which were damaging to international peace and security. 

With African issues occupying more than half of the Council’s work, she proposed the establishment of a new instrument that would help it prevent and resolve African conflicts.  That would involve the creation of a high-level working group of the Council to take a long look at what was being done in Africa, leading to the elaboration of an integrated and comprehensive strategy for a multi-sectoral plan of action.  That would be a way of taking stock and assessing how to improve cooperation between the organizations involved.  Perhaps there could be a unit within the Secretariat for coordinating multi-sectoral activities in Africa.  Such a focal point would have a global multi-sectoral vision and would be able to streamline work on African issues.

LEONARD SHE OKITUNDU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said it was regrettable that the Security Council had been unable to achieve more desirable results in resolving conflicts in Africa.  Since the OAU was also seeking viable solutions, it was of capital importance that cooperation between the two organizations be strengthened.

Africa was the theatre of many conflicts and crises that threatened international peace and security, he said.  It was important that the United Nations assist in strengthening the continent’s capacity, as well as the work of subregional organizations.  However, that kind of partnership was not yet in operation. International action based on Security Council resolutions did not seem to be yielding results in Africa.  In other problem areas of the world, assistance was granted on a massive scale through trade, economic reforms and assistance to enable good governance and lay the foundations for lasting development.  That kind of assistance did not occur in Africa.

Since the United Nations was created, no programme had succeeded in eradicating poverty, he said.  Yet, poverty was at the root of every conflict.  On the threshold of the twenty-first century, with the end of the cold war and the advent of the technology revolution, strategies to maintain peace must be rethought.  Better interaction was needed between the United Nations and the Economic and Social Council.  He welcomed the NEPAD initiative.  That commendable project showed that Africa was willing to assume responsibility for its future. However, it was still faced with challenges, in particular the HIV/AIDs pandemic, which could halt further development.

ABDELKADER MESSAHEL, Minister in Charge of African Affairs of Algeria, said that the NEPAD initiative, adopted last July, was a global and pragmatic plan for tackling the problem of Africa renewal.  It had placed at the top of its list of priorities the settlement of disputes, and had incorporated the overall lines of a plan of action that considered the question of peace and security from every angle.  It recognized that shortcomings in governance had considerably aggravated poverty and marginalization.  The NEPAD enshrined peace, security and stability in Africa as the cornerstone of the process to launch an authentic and lasting momentum for growth and economic social development.

From that perspective, he said, the strategy rested on three fundamental pillars:  the promotion of long-term conditions favourable to development and security; the strengthened capacity of African institutions, such as the early warning mechanism; and the formulation of principles on which the new partnership rested.  By committing itself to that great new project, the African leaders had demonstrated their will to concentrate on the added value inherent in such an initiative, without duplicating the aims of other mechanisms.  The NEPAD initiative had given itself the task of strengthening existing institutions by playing a political role as a catalyst and facilitator in the quest for and maintenance of peace.  It would also support reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction.

He said that political will among the injured parties was indispensable to the success of a peace negotiation.  Also crucial were clarity and transparency, and the creation of a favourable regional environment.  Settlement of a conflict must also be accompanied by measures to bring about reconciliation and reconstruction.  The new impetus that the United Nations wished to lend to conflict and prevention and settlement was in keeping with his own desire to see the emergence of a genuine synergy between direct and indirect actors in disputes.  In the context of that collective effort, several conditions must be met to bring about the full actualization of peace objectives.  Among them were the strengthening of regional capacities through financial and technical contributions; landmine removal; aid for rehabilitation, reconstruction and post-conflict development; and lasting cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

CHEIKH TIDIANE GADIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, said that the search for lasting peace in Africa had always been at the heart of United Nations concerns.  In that respect, his country continued to launch appeals to the international community to assist Guinea-Bissau.  That country had about 35,000 soldiers who were ready to fight and required urgent assistance.  If conflict prevention had any meaning, it should be applied as quickly as possible in Guinea-Bissau.  He was gratified to see a United Nations office in West Africa that would help with peace and security in the subregion.

Efforts by Africans themselves to resolve conflict were vital.  Only those actions, coupled with a determined effort by the international community, could result in a global solution for Africa.  He appealed to the global community to assist with the New Partnership for Africa and opt for that strategy in putting an end to the continent's most pressing needs.  Those included increasing domestic savings, attracting foreign capital, improving infrastructure and health, and reducing the gap in the digital divide.  If Africa did not narrow the gap in infrastructure, it would remain marginalized.

He stressed ECOWAS’ readiness to eradicate conflict and ensure economic development in partnership with the United Nations.  He hoped the international community would be taking an active part in the continent's efforts to reconcile itself with its biggest challenges.  African rebirth was under way and would occur if Africans, along with the international community, believed in it.

KATELE KALUMBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zambia, said that close cooperation between the Council and the OAU would be of immense value in finding solutions to Africa’s chronic problems.  For more than 40 years, various parties had been afflicted by one conflict or another, derived from many causes, both internal and external.  Nearly all of the most difficult situations had arisen from the fundamental challenge of building structures that could ensure security and dignity.  That process had often bred conflict, attributable to the following causes:  ineffective government and weak institutions; poverty; ethnicity; power struggles within and among the elite; poor services and weak public institutions; corruption and nepotism; faulty allocation of resources; foreign interference; and instability as a result of that very fluid and political culture. 

He said that conflicts, whether internal or external, had had the same results -– they were ruinous and provoked distress, fear, aggression and anxiety.  Conflict obstructed problem-solving and destroyed cohesion and unity.  It had displaced persons and forced them to flee across borders, resulting in a heavy burden to host countries such as his own.  Indeed, the diversity of conflicts in Africa had required a fundamental rethinking of African security.  The tools for managing conflict lay in the “Agenda for Peace” and the Millennium Report, entitled “We the People”.  Conflict prevention was essential to sustaining development and eradicating poverty.  Policies should be clear, comprehensive and well coordinated.  Relevant policy areas included trade, finance, investment, defence and development.

In terms of economic well-being, he said that social development, environmental sustainability and regeneration were ingredients for success.  There must also be social peace and respect for the rule of law and human rights.  Security, including human security, was the critical foundation for sustainable development.  Poverty and insecurity reinforced each other.  To achieve meaningful peace, the involvement of the international community was essential.  Peace-building hinged on trust and cooperation, and a deepened partnership.  Donor participation was extremely important; he rejected the notion of donor fatigue.  Development cooperation required shared objectives and common approaches.  The African States must work with the international community to devise workable solutions. 

In a globalized world, everyone must be part of the solution, he said.  Underpinning the perpetuation of conflict in Africa was a growing international awareness of that turbulent environment in which public life would flourish or falter.  Whether called globalization, neo-colonization, or something else, that turbulence was forcing government responses that were partial, incoherent and provisional in nature.  Political solutions had grown numb in the face of such growing problems as environmental degradation, AIDS, ethnic tensions, and others.  The question was why African governments should be in such crisis when their people were better informed.  The answer was that morality was missing in political life.  Now there was a growing demand that leaders be both good managers and good preachers, and selfless, truthful and effective.

FRANCES VELHO RODRIGUES, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, said that good governance and democracy were crucial to prevent conflicts.  However, those were projects that required adequate resources, as well as a reasonable level of human development, conditions that were not present in most African countries.  Prevention meant addressing the root causes of conflicts, which in Africa included poverty, endemic disease, exclusion, State legitimacy, ethnic divisions and proliferation of arms.  Those and other causes should not be dealt with separately.  Peace, democracy and development should be pursued in an integrated and mutually reinforcing manner.

The African continent attached great importance to prevention, resolution and management of conflicts, she said.  It was strongly committed to solving problems that affected the continent and to reversing the appalling situation of conflicts in Africa.  It was within that framework that individual countries and regional and subregional organizations such as the OAU and ECOWAS were becoming active and important players.

Analysis of conflicts in Africa must be comprehensive, pragmatic and result-oriented, she continued.  It should encompass a clear understanding of their root causes, the actors involved and the issues at stake.  But, together with the dynamics of the current conflicts in Africa, the international community needed to address other equally important issues, such as poverty, underdevelopment and endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and cholera which claimed millions of lives -- even more than the prevailing conflicts themselves did.

Innovating approaches were needed to better people’s lives in Africa, she said.  The establishment of the African Union was a clear indication that the international community could only find effective solutions for problems affecting the continent through joint effort.  The NEPAD was aimed at setting an agenda to renew the continent, based on national and regional priorities and development plans, through a participatory process and a new framework of interaction with the rest of the world.

GEORGES CHIKOTI, Vice-Minister for External Relations of Angola, said that the challenges facing African governments today were how to reduce the potential for conflict through sustainable political measures while, at the same time, implementing policies to enhance economic development and reduce poverty.  The NEPAD was a new hope to which he pledged his country’s full support.  The response of the international community to the sad events of 11 September was a clear demonstration of its capacity to stand firm before the scourge of terrorism and other forms of conflict, which had plagued the globe, particularly the African continent. 

He said that political transition in southern and central Africa over the past 12 years had seen the end of apartheid and the emergence of democratically elected governments in both Namibia and South Africa, as well as the eruption of a new conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Hopefully, United Nations efforts there would lead to a positive conclusion.  In Zimbabwe, the region had recently appealed to the international community to support efforts aimed at strengthening democracy, in order to ensure the effective management of the elections.  The SADC countries had called for the cessation of all interference from Western countries that would undermine the sovereignty of that sister country and exacerbate the situation.

In Angola, the efforts of the Secretary-General to keep the country at the centre of United Nations attention had been welcome.  The recent visits by Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Africa, and the members of the monitoring mechanism team to Angola, had reinforced the importance of sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) as a means to bring UNITA-Savimbi to stop the war and embrace the terms of the Lusaka Protocol.  In that connection, he reiterated his sincere request to the Secretary-General to continue to engage in initiatives towards those goals. 

TAIEB FASSI FIHRI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco, recalled that his country had always contributed to the ideals of African unity.  It had never hesitated when the international community had requested its participation in international peacekeeping.  Over the years, it had played the role of mediator or drawn up partnerships in the economic, educational and social fields.

Much progress had been made in Africa in economic development, democracy and human rights, but much remained to be done, he said.  Regarding conflicts, it was clear that the international community could not limit itself to separating belligerent parties and setting up ceasefires.  It must also focus on social, economic and humanitarian problems, as well as on strengthening State institutions.

With respect to social and economic development, Africa had taken the initiative in drawing up the New Partnership for Africa, to place the continent on the path to growth and sustainable development.  Pursuing that goal needed organized efforts from Africa and sustained interest on the part of the international community.  Actions undertaken for Africa could only succeed with support from international institutions.  Morocco was ready to contribute its expertise to a plan of action to implement objectives laid down by Africa.  It was convinced that subregional and bilateral action was indispensable for lasting development.

R.T. MABUDAFHASI, Deputy Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism of South Africa, said that the urgent need for peace and security in Africa posed a special challenge for the Security Council.  Undoubtedly, the root causes of conflicts there included poverty and underdevelopment –- two issues that fell outside the Council’s mandate.  Given that reality, the question was how the Council could remain relevant to the search for comprehensive peace in Africa while also remaining true to its mandate.  She believed that the Council’s mandate was based on the broader United Nations framework.  That mandate included maintaining peace and security through arrangements with regions and subregions, as specified in the Charter.

She said that in order for the Council to broaden its engagement with Africa, it was necessary to define the context for such engagement.  In an historic action, the African leaders had defined such a framework in NEPAD.  The aim was to address issues of peace and security while, at the same time, dealing with the root causes of conflict.  The NEPAD was a holistic, integrated, sustainable development initiative for the economic and social revival of Africa, involving a constructive partnership between Africa and the development world.  It was a pledge by African leaders of their determination to eradicate poverty and place their countries on a path of sustainable growth and development, while also participating in the world economy and body politic. 

In proposing the partnership between developed countries and Africa, the latter had recognized that it “holds the key” to its own development, she said.  The adoption of a development strategy, together with a detailed programme of action, marked the beginning of a new phase in the partnership and cooperation between Africa and the developed world.  South Africa sought partnership in implementing three elements of peace and security, as identified by NEPAD:  the promotion of long-term conditions for development and security; building the capacity of African institutions for early warning; and enhancing African institutional capacity for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.

She said the Council would forever be faced with issues that lay beyond its mandate.  She urged it to review its relationship with the Economic and Social Council.  How those two main Councils worked together would go a long way towards addressing some of the challenges faced in Africa.  She called upon the Council and the United Nations to assist Africa in rebuilding its capacity to manage all aspects of conflict, by strengthening existing African regional and subregional institutions in the following key areas:  conflict prevention and resolution; peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace enforcement; post-conflict reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction; and combating the proliferation of small arms, light weapons and landmines. 

IVAN SIMONOVIC, President of the Economic and Social Council, said the multidimensional nature of post-conflict peace-building demanded a multidisciplinary approach tailored to the unique circumstances of each situation. The Security Council and the Economic and Social Council could work together more effectively within the purview of mandates set for each body by the United Nations Charter.  Mindful of the independence of the two Charter bodies, the aim would be

to ensure that they collaborated effectively, so that all United Nations actors in the field could work in a complementary fashion.

The Economic and Social Council had, on several occasions, devoted its attention to development in Africa, the most recent being the high-level segment of its substantive session in July 2001, he continued.  A Ministerial Declaration was adopted that reiterated support expressed at the Millennium Summit to consolidate democracy in Africa and assist Africans in their struggle for lasting peace, poverty eradication and sustainable development.  The Ministers also called on the United Nations system to support the New African Initiative adopted by the OAU at its Lusaka Summit, which was now the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

The meeting was suspended at 1:30 p.m. and resumed at 3:10 p.m.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that the Members of the United Nations, by virtue of the Millennium Declaration, had assumed an unswerving commitment to respond to the special needs of Africa.  That commitment summed up the challenges posed by Africa’s complete integration into the international community.

He emphasized areas that the Council could focus attention on in maintaining international peace and security.  One of those was conflict prevention, which could be strengthened by coordinating the efforts of the United Nations and subregional organizations in building trust among the parties.  That objective could also be addressed by applying measures considered at past summits of the OAU against governments trying to stay in power or take power through unconventional means.

Another area was peacekeeping operations, he continued.  He recognized and encouraged peacekeeping organizations of Africa, such as ECOWAS.  The Council could encourage the use of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter for actions needing broad support from the international community.

A third area was action against the proliferation of small arms.  Some

100 million arms were circulating in Africa, many of them supplied years ago by cold war protagonists trying to gain influence.  Many of those arms were now used by bands of criminals in post-conflict situations.  The Council could urge arms exporters to exert more control over the sale of their arms abroad.  Nations should also support with concrete action the proclaimed moratorium on small arms in western Africa, as well as action against international arms dealers, especially those in clear violation of embargoes established by the Council.

Finally, he recalled the special needs of 15 million refugees and displaced persons, as well as the millions suffering from AIDS in Africa.  All nations needed to respond to the call for contributions by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to address those problems.  Less than 50 per cent of last year’s needs had been contributed by international donors.

WANG YINFAN (China) said the United Nations had achieved progress to different degrees in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ethiopia-Eritrea border and other places.  However, the situation remained grave in other areas, which were still plagued by armed conflicts, poverty, diseases and other problems.  The Council meeting was a chance to have a direct exchange of views with the OAU, as well as with African countries, on the issue of Africa.  It was important to strengthen communication, cooperation and coordination between the Council and the OAU.

As a result of colonialism, among other reasons, the economic foundation of most African countries was extremely weak, education for their people was minimal, and socio-economic development had been hampered.  Like many other places, he said, Africa confronted the two tasks of peace and development.  When discussing and seeking a solution to the African issue, though, the international community must never forget the realities there, nor neglect its unique characteristics.  He agreed with the Secretary-General's observation that the international community must summon the political will and take concrete action to intervene where it can have an impact.  The only solid basis for a thorough solution was to increase development to help African countries grow their economies and eradicate poverty.

He supported strengthening cooperation and coordination between the Council and the OAU and other subregional organizations.  The Council should institutionalize its dialogue with the OAU.  Promoting peace and development in Africa and strengthening cooperation with African countries were an important part of China's foreign policy.  The Government had made a pledge to reduce and exempt debts owed by African countries to China.  The Government had also decided to raise the level of its participation in standby arrangements of United Nations peacekeeping operations.  That would allow China to take a more active part in peacekeeping operations in Africa.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said today’s meeting was yet another affirmation of serious concern for Africa and the desire to maintain an effective strategy for peace there.  African States comprised one third of the international community, yet those remained in a “fault zone” of economic and political instability.  Acknowledging the vital link between peace and development, he favoured a comprehensive approach to the prevention and resolution of conflicts.  At the same time, the vicious cycle of insufficient development, social and ethnic problems, political instability, conflicts and the collapse of development programmes must be broken.  Priority should be given to diplomatic efforts and neutralizing the root causes.  A key role in that regard belonged to the Africans themselves.

He said that the peacekeeping efforts of regional and subregional organizations, in many cases, had made it possible to resolve conflicts.  Russia favoured efforts by the Africans themselves, fully bolstered by the authority of the Council and the logistical capability of the United Nations.  He supported the expansion of links between the United Nations and the OAU and other regional organizations in resolving conflicts.  He also supported United Nations efforts to enhance Africa’s peacekeeping capacity, for example, through personnel training and information exchange.  There was substantial potential in the United Nations system and its standby arrangements, and that could contribute significantly to mobilizing donor support. 

The logical approach, he emphasized, was to follow the direction of peace as promoted by the Africans themselves.  At the same time, any preventive or coercive actions, sanctions or the use of military force, must be authorized by the Security Council.  The illegal spread of weapons, the diamonds traffic, and the arming of illegal anti-government groups were of great concern.  An important component of the international strategy for Africa must be conflict rehabilitation and development assistance.  To achieve that, certain actions must be agreed among the social, economic and humanitarian arms of the United Nations, including through the use of Article 65 on cooperation between the Council and the Economic and Social Council.  Recovery should focus on preventing recurrence and ensuring effective linkage between emergency assistance and the promotion of social and sustainable development.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that Africa had the sad privilege of often being on the Council agenda.  At present, over 15 conflicts were unfolding on that continent.  About one fifth of the population lived in areas in the grip of war. He stressed that the structural weaknesses of some States that had been unable to develop strong institutions often contributed to the emergence of armed conflict.

Bulgaria was gratified by the increased cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in Africa.  The countries of Africa must rely on political rather than military solutions, and also show respect for the law, human rights, and transparency in public affairs.  It must also recognize the importance of economic development in preventing conflicts and sustaining peace.

He supported close cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU and efforts to harmonize approaches towards conflicts in Africa.  The establishment of a strategic partnership between those organizations made it possible to rationalize initiatives for conflict prevention.  He stressed the importance of better cooperation between regional and subregional organizations, which helped understanding between the main protagonists.  As for mediation, there were no established recipes, but often the efforts of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General made a great difference.  Mediation by African personalities with political and moral prestige was an instrument of inestimable value.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) called for action to restore the Council’s credibility in the eyes of the African people.  He said he hoped that today’s dialogue would be the beginning of a more resolute commitment in Africa and other parts of the world.  Concrete actions should be sought to meet the expectations of peoples everywhere.  The efforts of the international community to implement various analyses and recommendations had not always equalled the requirements of the situation in Africa.  Slowness and timidity had been a source of great frustration for Africans, given the risk of the emergence of conflicts and crises. 

He said that in order to transform the present state of affairs, African leaders had pledged to help Africa establish democracy and good governance, combat poverty, support regional and subregional mechanisms for conflict prevention, and promote political stability.  They had also committed themselves to financing peacekeeping operations being carried out on the continent.  In the Millennium Declaration, the will of world leaders was clear, and the Security Council was challenged now more than ever.  The present working document of the Council President could be used to identify proposals for action.  Given the commitments of African heads of State to finance peacekeeping operations, they were surely entitled to expect the Council to act with greater promptness and determination and adopt mandates that reflected the complexity of the conflicts. 

He drew attention to the financial component of peace accords in other regions, aimed at resolving pending problems and promoting reconstruction.  Why was that not the same for Africa?  He was pleased to see the participation of the Economic and Social Council in today’s debate.  Overall, Council resolutions should be more concrete in order to restore hope and bring development to Africa.  A plan of action should be directed at certain areas, such as increasing the amount of official development assistance (ODA), ridding the poorest countries of their severe debt burdens, and facilitating African exports to ensure that the continent no longer remained on the sidelines of the globalized world. 

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said he would focus on one key word –- results.  What results had been achieved by the Council between 1999 and 2001, for example?  One of the structural weaknesses of the Council was that there was no institutional memory of debates on the same subject.  That absence of knowledge meant stabbing in the dark to find out what had happened.

Regarding conflicts, there had been significant improvements over that two-year period.  Even the situation in the Great Lakes had improved, and the United Nations had been doing a better job at peacekeeping in Africa.  He hoped that the international community would try to come up with a concrete, comprehensive analysis of whether it was moving forward or backward in resolving conflicts.

Singapore had participated in various meetings on Africa, so it was clear there had been many of them, but the Council had to move beyond meetings to actions. The issues of conflict and development were interrelated, he noted, and the Council must come together with other United Nations bodies to solve many of Africa’s problems.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that the high-level representation of today’s meeting truly reflected the importance of commitments in Africa to resolve the many problems besetting those countries.  Those problems required a multi-sectoral approach.  The strategies for resolving disputes must take into consideration the true causes of conflict, as well as their economic and social dimensions.  Efforts aimed at building security and peace meant lessening poverty and facing up to the problems of deadly pandemics, such as AIDS and malaria.  Also vital was to find fair solutions to the debt burden. 

He said that while no one could deny that the international community had registered some concrete successes in recent years in dealing with conflicts and peace-building, the grave challenges continuing to plague the continent, in such fields as sustainable development and peace-building, must be addressed.  In addition, the negative repercussions of sanctions and refugee flows should also be addressed.  He was pleased to note that the peace process in Sierra Leone had achieved concrete progress with the completion of the disarmament progress and preparations under way for next month’s elections.  Also satisfying had been the progress made in achieving a comprehensive peace agreement in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000.

Yet, there were other disputes to be resolved which threatened to spread to neighbouring countries, he said.  Facing up to African disputes required a comprehensive methodology based on preventive diplomacy -– an ounce of prevention was much better than a pound of cure.  That required long-term strategies that took into account the root causes of conflicts and the link between sustainable development and peace.  Failure to achieve economic revival carried with it the grave danger of a return to conflict.  There was an urgent need for the greatest possible coordination between the United Nations and the OAU.

Perhaps the challenges facing the Mano River Union countries best illustrated the need for a regional and subregional strategy, he said.  Such issues as refugee flows, the illicit traffick of small arms and the need for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were all linked.  Failure to tackle those problems in a comprehensive manner could result in a widening conflict.  The negative repercussions of economic sanctions on the poorest and least developed countries also needed consideration.  In the long term, sanctions would not eradicate the causes of conflict or promote stability; they would only escalate poverty and tension. 

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said Africa had made indisputable progress over the past few years in the areas of democracy and economic development.  Nevertheless, numerous conflicts were slowing and eclipsing the gains.  That was why the Council had progressively agreed to become engaged there in a partnership for peace and security.  The Council fully supported the initiatives of the OAU and subregional organizations to prevent conflicts, but usually the Council was invited to act in conflict resolution, in support of efforts begun by Africans themselves. 

He hailed the success of the United Nations-led peace operation in Sierra Leone.  On the strength of its achievement, elections could be organized, putting an end to 10 years of conflict.  Everyone was determined to conduct that operation through to its complete success.  He highlighted the United Nations’ involvement in the Horn of Africa, Somalia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Taken together, peacekeeping operations in Africa involved more than half the total number of blue helmets deployed throughout the world, at a cost of more than $1.5 billion.  Indeed, Africa was an “absolute” priority for the Council.

As a complement to diplomatic efforts and the deployment of peacekeepers, the Council had made more effective use of sanctions, he went on.  The application of sanctions was regularly evaluated by panels of independent experts.  That was how the Council had brought to light the key role of arms smuggling and the illicit trafficking of valuable natural resources in perpetuating conflicts in Africa, from Sierra Leone to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Angola.  The Council must increase its pressure to halt such trafficking.  With that in mind, he proposed the creation of a “permanent follow-up mechanism” on the application of Council embargoes.  A unit of independent experts could be established under the Council’s supervision and Sanctions Committee. 

He said that the promising partnership between the OAU and the Council had been progressively expanded to other institutions.  In the face of complex conflicts, the Council had devised exit strategies that included a military component, as well as the integration of the requisite reconstruction of the State, the economy and society of the countries concerned.  To implement those coherent strategies, the Council had learned to work with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  It was essential that the ravaged peoples of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo receive the dividends of the coming peace.  All the donors could make a decisive contribution to the success of those two peace processes by making an immediate commitment.  Such strategies would lead to the lasting benefits of good governance and human rights.

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) said there were no substitutes for healthy nations and a dynamic regional organization in promoting peace and security in Africa.  But there were sometimes limits to what regional organizations could realistically achieve on their own, when it came to ending Africa’s wars.  When the Council could bolster regional and national efforts, greater cooperation was useful.  He encouraged the United Nations Liaison Office to the OAU, for example, to consult with the Council on actions taken by the OAU’s Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in tackling conflicts in Africa.

There were times when the Council, joined by African States and regional organizations, must be willing to clearly state where responsibility lay, he continued.  The Council must give all parties in African conflicts the opportunity to accept negotiated settlements, but if one side acted in bad faith, the Council must break out of impartiality.  When the Council and African governments were clear about who bore responsibility for war in Africa, efforts to end the aggression were bolstered.  For example, a clear expression by the Council of who was at fault for the breakdown of peace and imposition of sanctions on the responsible party in Sierra Leone had produced welcome progress.

While the efforts of the Council, regional groups and individual States had certainly not brought a conclusive end to all of Africa’s wars, there was cause for cautious optimism for the first time in years, he said.  In every case, however, progress to end those conflicts depended on African leaders and governments taking bold steps for peace.  Sustaining that progress would require equally bold steps to strengthen democracy, governance and the rule of law in Africa.  The OAU and African subregional organizations were making useful contributions to that effort.  The OAU took an historic step when it decided to refuse to seat governments that came to power via unconstitutional means.  That had a positive impact in countries like Côte d’Ivoire and the Comoros islands.

ANIL KUMARSINGH GAYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius, said the present session was a unique opportunity to address African issues as a package.  Of interest was not the past, but the future of the continent.  Africa was ready to undo the errors of the past and shed the image of “doom and gloom”.  The new breed of African leaders had the determination and political courage to confront the truth and reality, however painful that might be.  With the provisions of resolutions 1170 and 1197 not yet implemented, he proposed an ad hoc working group comprised of Council members to look into implementation and enhance coordination between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.

He said he was concerned by the links between conflicts and the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and the lack of success of the sanctions regime.  In spite of sanctions against UNITA, for example, that movement still had the capability of carrying out terrorist acts against civilians.  At the same time, it was also important to study the collateral effects of sanctions on civilians.  For its part, Africa had undertaken major reassessments of an infinite variety of issues, resulting in a political transformation of “the highest order”.  The mistakes of the past must not be repeated and the blueprint set out by the African Union and NEPAD must be abided.

Since 1960, coups d’état or assassinations had become the only mode of changing governments in many countries, he said.  Unfortunately, that had been a “recipe for instability, the death of democracy and the absence of any semblance of good governance”.  Africa had paid, and was still paying, an intolerable price for those man-made disasters.  The unlimited power of the heads of State who had become presidents for life had undermined the structure of States and crumbled their institutions.  Overall, more than 7 million Africans had died in 32 wars.  Also, there were nearly 10 million refugees and internally displaced persons in post-colonial Africa.  Hopefully, a great number of conflicts now were being resolved.

He urged the establishment of an effective and workable early warning system, which was of paramount importance in preventing conflict.  No conflict or war started overnight; it should be possible, therefore, to intervene before it was too late.  Clearly, Africa was trapped:  poverty, disease, conflicts, HIV/AIDS/AIDS and a multiplicity of other problems demonstrated the magnitude of the task the continent faced.  The most significant development in recent African history had been the decision of the OAU in 1998 to deny recognition to any government that came to power through unconstitutional means.  That concept was now an integral part of the Constitutive Act of the African Union. 

Experience in Africa had shown that heads of State clung to power out of fear of what an incoming government could exact from them by way of retribution and vengeance, he said.  Under such circumstances, they were prepared to go to any length to remain in power.  That problem must be addressed in a dispassionate and objective manner; Africa was mature enough to guarantee to any outgoing leader a minimum of personal security, as well as adequate resources to lead a life in a dignified way.  There was a new paradigm for Africa:  elections were free and fair, power was transferred peacefully, institutions were being revitalized, the economy was being liberalized, and an independent judiciary and anti-corruption tribunals was being set up. 

Africans were determined to escape the cycle of poverty and despair and rid themselves of conflicts, he said.  Reconstruction concerned not only of bridges and infrastructure, but also a new mindset.  Africa must claim ownership of its difficulties so that it could also claim ownership of its successes.  It could not do it on its own, however. It needed assistance and support. There was a new brand of leadership in African, which meant what it said.  The NEPAD, as well as the Constitutive Act of the African Union, contained commitments and targets. He urged the Council to be seized of Africa's concerns and ensure timely follow-up action. 

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) recounted recent United Nations successes in assisting Africa to assist itself, saying efforts could be expedited now in concrete ways.  First, the Council should assume its responsibility to address conflict situations in a uniform, consistent and non-selective manner rather than using its present approach, which lacked uniformity and was plagued by selectivity.  Given the interrelated nature of Africa’s problems, there was no reason why the Council was eager to resolve the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea while ignoring that in Somalia, no rationale for ignoring a growing insecurity in Liberia while continuing pivotal activities towards Sierra Leone.  For the Council to be responsive to Africa’s needs, it must display the needed enthusiasm and take concrete measures in all the continent’s conflicts and not only some of its challenges.

Further, he said, the Council must assume its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security with no less urgency in Africa than in Afghanistan, East Timor, Kosovo or elsewhere.  There was no limit to what the OAU could achieve with the support of regional and subregional groups, but still the Council must take primary responsibility when Africa could not shoulder the heavy burdens of maintaining peace.  The Council must, however, involve OAU members in missions it dispatches to Africa.  The February Council mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea was an opportunity to put the mechanism into practice.  However, peacekeeping was the area in which the OAU had the least capacity to assume responsibility, while the Security Council had the most.  The guiding principle should be to establish operations when required with an appropriate mandate and in the required size and strength, whether to implement a peace agreement or prevent a massive humanitarian crisis.

In light of the tragic events of 11 September, he said, the most effective way to ensure that Africa remained a partner in the global fight against terrorism was to stabilize it as a prosperous, peaceful continent where terrorism found no home.  There was no justification for resorting to military targeting of any African State in the context of responding to 11 September.  Rather, the focus should be on two priorities.  The first was to help Africa implement the OAU Convention on countering terrorism by using the structured mechanism of the Council’s Counter-terrorism Committee, interacting with the OAU.  The second was to implement NEPAD and thereby eradicate the root causes in which terrorism found fertile ground.

INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain) said it was an historic moment in which the OAU was being transformed into the African Union.  Africa was a priority for the United Nations and for the European Union, whose high representative had come.  He then introduced Javier Solana of the European Union. 

JAVIER SOLANA, High Representative for the European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy, said Europe cared about Africa and had an active policy towards it based on three pillars.  Those included a commitment to engage in a dialogue of equals; to address the evils of poverty, disease and conflict; and to maintain an attachment to the fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and good governance.

Elaborating on those three pillars, he said the foundation for the dialogue was based on the two principal instruments of the Barcelona process and the Cotonou Agreement that established long-term contractual partnerships with African countries.  To implement the Cotonou Agreement, for example, 12 billion euros

had been earmarked for projects in the first five years, along with another

1.7 billion euros worth of loans from the European Investment Bank.  The European Union would soon enter into negotiations for regional economic partnership agreements to strengthen relations in full conformity with rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to foster African regional integration.  In addition, the “Cairo process” had established a strategic partnership since the April 2000 Africa-Europe Summit in Cairo.  The next Summit in 2003 would take place in Portugal.  In short, the European Union was strongly committed to working directly with Africa and through the United Nations in all problem areas for Africa, from the illicit trade in arms and the ruthless exploitation of Africa’s resources to the use of child soldiers and the curse of anti-personnel mines.

Surveying European Union initiatives in the area of attacking poverty, disease and conflict, he said his group recognized that poverty and deprivation were breeding grounds for discontent and anger, making ethnic and religious issues easily exploitable and magnified.  The Union was actively working to address those challenges.  It was the world’s leading source of development and humanitarian assistance in Africa.  For example, out of a total contribution to the Global Fund on AIDS, which amounted to 1.8 billion euros, more than a billion had been contributed by European Union member States and the European Commission.  The Union was actively participating in preparations for the two upcoming development conferences.

The values to which the European Union attached itself were not an optional extra to be applied when circumstances allowed, but rather were essential elements in its partnership with Africa.  Democracy was the foundation for durable development in which all citizens had a stake, he continued.  Human rights and the rule of law were not just moral imperatives, but essential conditions for the flourishing of economies.  “Good governance is not a luxury”, he said.  “It is the route to domestic stability and valuable foreign investment.”

Finally, he said, everyone had a stake in Africa’s success.  It would create a more just and safe world, it would reduce dependency on aid and would contribute to global prosperity.  African leaders had made a strong personal commitment to NEPAD with a striking candour about recognizing the challenges.  A new partnership on that basis would enable Africa to reap the benefits of globalization, allowing the international community and Africa to get more results out of activities they were already carrying out together.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said it was common knowledge that Africa bore more suffering than any other continent.  Many countries suffered extreme poverty; conflicts often broke out; refugees were displaced repeatedly; and small arms were rampant.  The Council had taken many steps to help Africa, but initiatives had been flawed in any number of ways.

First, he said many attempts to help Africa had not been in keeping with local cultural norms, and resources had been lacking for implementation.  Coordination and cooperation between the Council, the OAU and regional organizations had been limited.  Interventions had missed out on timeliness, and measures had fallen short in dealing with crises.  The mandate and the resources being made available after late intervention were inappropriate and inadequate.  The strategic importance of countries to certain parties had influenced the Council’s decision about whether to intervene; some troubling questions such as Somalia were nearly absent from the Council’s agenda.  The far-reaching ramifications of many conflicts were not recognized, and lessons were not learned.  As an example, sanctions had proved ineffective in stemming the flow of weapons, as in Somalia.  Such ineffectual measures served only to further inflame tensions.

Since conflict prevention depended on recognizing the close relationship between post-conflict peace-building and development initiatives, he said, such weaknesses in helping Africa must be addressed.  Today’s debate would lead to useful and practical ideas that would help find the answers.  For starters, African capacities should be strengthened by providing troop training and through regional organizations.  Sound measures should be developed through dialogue and in line with the OAU mechanisms for conflict management, bringing the Council into closer understanding of the African situation.  The Council should increase field missions and should conduct joint missions with the OAU, the two working together on strategies.  All necessary resources must be made available to contain conflicts, recognizing that stability could not be ensured in one country without achieving it in neighbouring States.  The flow of small weapons must receive attention, with international machinery to monitor weapons sources.

Above all, he said, there must be unconditional support for NEPAD.  Africa would not be able to lift itself out of its troubles alone.  Today’s meeting should be followed up by regular sessions on Africa.  It should be placed as a regular item on the Council’s agenda.

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the high-level representation of both Council and non-Council members in the meeting demonstrated the importance all attached to Africa.  Many regional groups were making progress in cooperating, but strident conflicts still attracted attention.  Reviewing situations in the Great Lakes region as an example, he said the Security Council could not resolve conflicts alone, nor could it alone lend the help regional groups needed.  The help of other United Nations entities, and that of all stakeholders, was required to effectively implement post-conflict initiatives and to build the political will for peace efforts.

Reviewing the numerous actions that had been taken to promote peace and development in Africa, he said follow-up was essential.  Commitments were not always matched by action.  Also, many conflicts were rooted in endemic poverty and in other vulnerabilities, including the fact that civil wars had created the world’s largest arms bazaar across Africa.  Only HIV/AIDS rivalled that scourge as a killer.  Adopting the Programme of Action on Small Arms could make a big difference in African lives.

He concluded that while the past record on Africa was mixed and often disappointing, the future appeared promising due to new initiatives, such as the two conferences on development later this year, the African Union Summit in July and NEPAD.  Africa and the cause of peace must receive priority attention in all the forums.  The situation of refugees and internally displaced persons must be given particular attention.  The daily ordeal of those uprooted from hearth and home, to be humiliated and persecuted, was a horrendous tale.  That reality should be recognized, and their suffering halted.  The present Council meeting should be a watershed to mark a difference in their lives.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said that nobody knew African problems, or was in a better position to determine the best solutions, than its leaders.  Africa did not need lessons, but economic development.  It did not need recipes or adjustment programmes, but financial resources, official development assistance (ODA) and support from the United Nations.  The current working methods and makeup of the Council –- where developing countries were totally under-represented -- did nothing to focus effective attention on African issues.  Africa, whose conflicts were included in most of the agenda items of the Council, did not have a single representative among its permanent members.

Some 34 out of the world’s 49 least developed countries were located in Africa, he said.  While Africa accounted for 18.5 per cent of world population and had huge natural resources, it contributed merely 1.0 per cent to gross world product and only 2.0 per cent to global trade.  Africa had only 1.8 per cent of the world’s telephones, 1.3 per cent of its computers, and 0.6 per cent of

Internet users.  It was the only region in the world where tuition rates decreased, with some 100 million children never going to school.  It had a debt accounting for 110 per cent of gross product.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had received more funds from sub-Saharan Africa since 1985 than it had contributed to the continent.  Africa spent more money in debt service than in the health and education sectors put together.

The historical origin of the African crisis, the appalling role played by colonial and neo-colonial Powers practising slavery, promoting the lack of unity, drawing arbitrary borderlines, encouraging tribal conflicts, plundering natural resources and selling weapons could not be overlooked.  The prevalence of an unjust and unsustainable international economic order, which continued to use Africa as the main source of wealth serving the unsustainable consumer patterns of industrialized countries, was among factors that exacerbated the situation.

PHILIPPE DJESSAN DJANGONE-BI (Côte d’Ivoire) said that despite serious attention to the issue, including by the Council, “we are still at square one”.  One could not accuse the Africans, themselves, for not taking positive and concrete steps to remedy its problems.  Indeed, Africa was resolutely working to address them.  Progress achieved in the area of conflict resolution was owed, in large part, to the African leaders, with the help of the United Nations.  Indeed, various efforts were beginning to bear fruit.  The continent was an entity that was now viewed by its own leaders as unified; and the heads of State were ready to maintain constructive dialogue among themselves.

He said the international community must assist the African leaders without ulterior motives.  It was an “open secret” that Africa and its leaders were actively seeking mechanisms to engage in domestic reforms and to strengthen governance.  Today, very few African States did not have pluralistic and democratic systems of government.  The evolution of political leadership was a source of optimism, and although much remained to be done, certain progress had been achieved in combating poor governance and weak administration.  The civil society was also aware of its responsibilities.

Clearly, democracy could not flourish in a climate characterized by poverty, he went on.  Democracy was also about “purchasing power”.  That aspect had depended also on the readiness of the international community to assist the continent, which could not accept conditionality that was unrelated to the true needs of the African people.  The international community, as a whole, should make a very firm and long-term commitment.  Without peace and the cessation of conflicts, there could be no security or development, or any victory over poverty, or Africa’s integration into the global scene.  The ODA flows had fallen markedly in recent years and foreign investment had stagnated.  Halving poverty by 2015 meant greatly increasing Africa’s annual growth rate. 

Of the 36 million HIV/AIDS infected persons worldwide, 25 million were Africans, he said.  That hampered development plans, as that struck young people the most and affected the educational systems throughout the continent.  The disease was in the South, whereas the medication was in the North.  Last July, the Secretary-General had called upon the G-8 meeting in Genoa to contribute to the world fight against AIDS by financing the Fund established for that purpose, yet the range had not been met.

KOJI HANEDA (Japan) said African countries were still facing numerous obstacles threatening peace and stability, despite tremendous efforts made so far. Internal peace, security and stability were prerequisites for achieving sustainable development in any society, while economy and good governance played a critical role.  He welcomed transformation of the OAU into the African Union, adopted at the OAU Summit held in Zambia last July.  The major role of the African Union was to promote peace, security and stability, as well as good governance, based on democratic principles and institutions, throughout Africa.

The NEPAD initiative, also adopted at the July OAU Summit, provided a policy orientation for African Union activities.  Its adoption had significance for sustainable development in Africa.  The fact that various African development plans submitted by several African leaders were coordinated and amalgamated into NEPAD demonstrated African “ownership” of peace-building and development.

NEPAD’s major thrusts, namely, to strengthen the ability of African countries to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts, and to anchor democratic governance on solid economic foundations, were an essential approach if African countries were to fully participate in the global economy.  The initiative, with its important policy framework for peace and sustainable development in Africa, with the African Union as its implementing organ, deserved the strong support of the international community.

TENIOLA APATA (Nigeria) said NEPAD was a bold, imaginative initiative by African leaders to transform African societies and improve life for their people.  They accepted primary responsibility for the task, but they could not do it alone in an era of globalization.  Partnerships were key: alliances between governmental and non-governmental organizations; between public and private sectors, governments and all segments of society; and particularly between Africa and the international community.

To accomplish NEPAD’s goals quickly, he said the international community was invited to complement NEPAD’s initiatives in key areas.  Those included the strengthening of conflict-management mechanisms and the promotion and protection of democracy.  They also included the stabilizing of macroeconomies through the implementation of fiscal and monetary policies; the promotion of infrastructure development and manufacturing; and, finally, through the revitalizing of educational and medical training institutes to tackle HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.

He urged the Security Council to intensify support for regional initiatives to maintain peace and security in Africa by lending financial and logistic assistance.  He also endorsed the use of inter-disciplinary fact-finding and confidence-building missions to volatile regions, as well as Council visits and the assignment of special envoys when needed.  However, he urged the Council to take into account the views of subregional leaders before imposing sanctions.  He also urged that justice be pursued under international law with regard to warlords and others committing crimes, asking the Council to ensure that such activities be funded from the regular United Nations budget, rather than through voluntary contributions.

IBRAHIM KAMARA (Sierra Leone) said the situation in his country was typical of other conflict areas in that the concept of intra-State conflict was a misnomer.  Most conflicts were international in character and dimension, fuelled

and financed by international networks of illicit arms traders and illicit transfer of minerals.  Since the principal beneficiaries of the transactions were miles away from the conflicts, the responsibility for curbing the activities belonged with the international community.  There would be no stability or peace on the African continent until the Council dealt with that purveyors of death and terror.

Just a week ago, he recalled, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) had helped to finish the job of disarming some 42,000 ex-combatants in his country.  His country appreciated that remarkable accomplishment, as did the entire West Africa subregion, for which a solid foundation of peace and stability had been laid down.  In retrospect, however, the question had to be asked:  could the international community have helped save thousands of lives and limbs?  Evidence suggested the answer was a resounding yes, especially in the shortfall of responses to consolidated appeals for humanitarian assistance in the conflict.

When considering initiatives for the continent, he said he wanted to stress the Council’s role in the peace-building process that was an important means of conflict prevention, since conflicts could re-ignite without the resources to reintegrate ex-combatants into society.  The Council should also strengthen monitoring mechanisms in implementing arms embargoes; dispatch more missions to potential conflict areas; and investigate breaches of international humanitarian law.  In addition, it should strengthen peace-building efforts by mandating measures to empower United Nations bodies with resources for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities.  And finally, since Africa’s problems were already well known, the Council should mount a speedy global response, with the emphasis on “speedy” and “global”.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that Africa’s share of the world gross product had dropped considerably, while its share of global population had doubled.  The continent’s gross national product (GNP) per capita had stagnated, despite a half a century of effort.  Conflicts were the most obvious cause of those tragic stories of underdevelopment.  Conflict affected, either directly or indirectly, almost half the population of Africa.  One African in five lived daily with conflict or civil war.  About 19 million refugees who lived in Africa were both the causes and effects of conflict.

African countries caught in conflict lost ground to other countries every day, contributing to the continent’s marginalization.  In the NEPAD initiative, African leaders acknowledged problems facing the continent and firmly stated their determination to act.  The NEPAD document was one of leadership and vision, issuing a call to other nations for partnership, which he fully supported.  The NEPAD would be the focus of the June 2002 Group of 8 Summit in Alberta, Canada.  The goal was to put a new partnership in place that would unlock more resources, public and private, over time.

Much effort had been expended at the United Nations to prevent and respond to crises in Africa, he said.  Action was better than reaction, and prevention was worth the proverbial pound of cure.  The use of Council missions and inter-agency fact-finding had been extremely useful in highlighting problems to be addressed.  When prevention failed, the duty to protect civilians began, and nowhere was that more prevalent than in Africa.  The Council should make the protection of civilians a standard feature of its mission mandates.

For information media. Not an official record.