SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS WITH REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS TO CONSIDER WAYS TO STRENGTHEN COLLECTIVE SECURITY

11 April 2003
SC/7724

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS WITH REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS TO CONSIDER WAYS TO STRENGTHEN COLLECTIVE SECURITY

11/04/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7724

Security Council

4739th Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS WITH REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS TO CONSIDER WAYS

TO STRENGTHEN COLLECTIVE SECURITY

Secretary-General Suggests Need for Network

of Flexible, Responsive Regional and Global Mechanisms

To strengthen collective security, the Security Council and regional and subregional organizations needed to adopt a common approach and a comprehensive strategy.  That strategy should be based on the principles of a multilateral approach, compliance with international law, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, the Security Council was told this morning as it held a joint meeting with regional organizations on the theme “The Security Council and regional organizations:  Facing New Challenges to International Peace and Security”.

“We need to move towards creating a network of effective and mutually reinforcing mechanisms -– regional and global –- that are flexible and responsive to the reality we live in today”, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his opening statement.  With people and States looking to the United Nations for security in an era of ever-greater global insecurity, he called for the world body and regional organizations to work together with redoubled vigour to fulfil their “cardinal mission” of ensuring peace.

Noting that the Organization was “clearly at a crucial juncture in the development of international relations”, the Secretary-General listed the global challenges that had “the potential to threaten not only our stability, but our survival”, including globalization, co-existence of unprecedented wealth and terrible deprivation, the unprecedented promise of science while a child died of AIDS every minute, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the trafficking of small arms.  Those issues were not new, but for many they had been brought into more acute focus by the events of 11 September 2001, and now even more so by the war in Iraq.

      Among organizations taking part in the session chaired by Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez of Mexico, which holds the Council’s Presidency for April, were the Organization of American States, the League of Arab States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Commission of the African Union, the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  The discussion focused on conflict prevention, management and resolution, both in terms of recent developments and new opportunities for cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. 

Most speakers agreed that the Security Council had the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace, but regional organizations played an increasingly important role in dealing with situations that threatened collective security.  Cooperation between the Council and regional organizations should be based on complementarity of action, keeping in mind the differences between the regions.  The fruitful work of regional organizations should be promoted through a dynamic relationship with the Council in the context of Chapter VIII of the Charter, they said. 

[Article 52 of the Charter specifically requires the contracting parties to regional arrangements or the founding members of regional organizations to make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through regional means before referring them to the Council.  Under its terms, the Council is required to promote forms of local/regional dispute settlement, be it at the request of the States concerned, or on its own initiative.  Under Article 53, the Council retains exclusive competence for the imposition of enforcement action.

As the participants of the discussion elaborated on the means of improving the Organization’s interaction with regional structures, the Minister for Provincial and Local Government of South Africa, and Interim Chairman of the Commission of the African Union, said the African Union’s instruments for peace-building, peacemaking and peacekeeping had proven their immense potential.  He was in favour of working with the Security Council to assume collective responsibility for the identification of problems and the formulation of appropriate strategies.  In particular, it was necessary to develop structural arrangements, which would allow all regions to fully participate in the evolution and implementation of solutions to the current peace and security problems.

There was a clear and pressing need for collaboration between ECOWAS and the United Nations in the area of conflict resolution and management, the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS said.  In particular, now that the ECOWAS Force in Côte d’Ivoire had been endorsed by the Council in accordance with Chapters VI and VII of the Charter, his organization wanted to work with the Security Council to maintain it in place.  The pressing concern was that the force was expected to run out of funding by the end of April.  The United Nations, working closely with ECOWAS, could and should provide the necessary funds to sustain the operations of the Mission, the collapse of which would have dire consequences for the peace and security of the entire subregion. 

Sharing his organization’s experiences, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the OSCE had demonstrated a high degree of effectiveness in developing and rapidly deploying multidimensional activities.  It had also proved to be a good partner for other organizations involved in complex peace operations such as in Kosovo, Georgia, Tajikistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Several speakers also focused on the effect of the current crisis in Iraq on international relations and the existing collective security structures.  The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States said that the Council’s silence after the beginning of the war in Iraq had seriously affected its role and the multilateral system as a whole.  “We cannot accept that the Council be held in

(page 1b follows)

contempt, being reduced to executing the policies it has not designed”, he said.  He called for the convening of an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations to address the problems that affected the lives of societies, including peace and collective security.  Such an event should be preceded by regional meetings on the same subjects. 

Pakistan’s representative countered that it was not the Security Council that had failed in the current crisis.  It was a failure of the Member States to agree, and in particular of the Permanent Members who held the veto power.  Even if the rule of law had been violated, it was incumbent upon the international community to restore it.  It should not do so by questioning the role of the Council.  The Council should remain central to the future of peace and stability, including in the Middle East. 

The representatives of Germany, Angola, Chile, United States, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Cameroon, China, Spain, Syria, France and Guinea also spoke.

The meeting began at 10.20 a.m. and adjourned at 2.20 p.m.

Background

The Security Council this morning met on the item “The Security Council and regional organizations:  facing the new challenges of peace and security”.  The Secretary-General is expected to make a statement, followed by representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS), the African Union, the League of Arab States, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Opening Statement by President of Security Council

The President of the Security Council, LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said a group of representatives of political parties in Mexico were also present, as well as members of the Mexican Senate and seven members of the Mexican Lower House.

He thanked the representatives of the regional organizations for their presence.  They, as well as others, he said, were organizations that had distinguished themselves for their high level of cooperation with the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security.  They worked actively with the Secretary-General to develop a framework for more cooperation  in that area.  The meeting today would perhaps mark a new stage in international relations.

The current situation obliged us to identify courses of actions to strengthen international security, he said.

Statement by Secretary-General

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, KOFI ANNAN, said a crucial juncture in the development of international relations had been reached.  The feeling of global insecurity had seldom, if ever, been greater than it was today. Equally, there had never been a more keenly felt desire among peoples and nations for a peace and security framework based firmly on the international rule of law. That framework must be capable of responding swiftly and effectively to the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

“We live in a world where unprecedented wealth coexists with terrible deprivation”, he said.  Globalization brought opportunities for some, but excluded far too many.  Interdependence and open borders knitted people closer together, while intolerance drove them apart.  Science offered unprecedented promise, yet AIDS killed a child every minute.  Technological progress enabled communication in a split second across thousands of miles, but had given international terrorists tools that could help them in their plans to obliterate thousands of people in the same split second.

It was clear that in the twenty-first century, many of the challenges faced were global.  From the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to the trafficking of small arms, from climate change to the emergence of new, deadly viruses –- they had all the potential to threaten not only stability, but survival, he said.

The issues were not new to the United Nations agenda, but had been brought into more acute and painful focus by the events of 11 September 2001, and now even more so by the war in Iraq.  The Organization -– for all its imperfections, real and perceived -– had built up unique experience in dealing with a range of crises, by bringing humanitarian relief to millions in need, helping people rebuild their countries after the ruins of armed conflict, promoting human rights and the rule of law, and many other activities that had come to be seen as essential parts of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building.

In all those endeavours, the Secretary-General said, the United Nations had relied, to a greater or lesser extent, on regional partners -- in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.  “Together, through all the turbulent years of the past few decades, we have learnt a great deal about the need to transform a sense of collective insecurity into a system of collective security”, he said.  That was precisely the purpose of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.

“Now, we need to redouble our efforts to find common ground and purpose again.  We need to move towards creating a network of effective and mutually reinforcing mechanisms -– regional and global –- that are flexible and responsive to the reality we live in today”, he said, and continued, “The United Nations stands ready to work together with you, the regional organizations, in that cardinal mission.  Your meeting today promises to inject new momentum into our partnership.  For the sake of the world’s people, we must make that partnership succeed.”

[For the full text of the Secretary-General’s statement, see today’s Press Release SG/SM/8665/SC/7725.]

Other Statements

HANNS H. SCHUMACHER (Germany) welcomed the Mexican initiative to discuss cooperation with the regional organizations and expressed support for the position of the European Union and the OSCE on the matter.  The remarkably promising development of contacts between the Security Council and the regional organizations demonstrated that the potential of Chapter VIII of the Charter was now unfolding in a positive manner.  Today’s debate was part of the ongoing reform of the United Nations, which underlined the relevance of the Organization as a vital cornerstone of multilateral cooperation.

As the Organization had been extending and strengthening its instruments of conflict management in the last decade, the expectations directed towards it had risen dramatically.  Many of the challenges currently faced by the international community had the potential to threaten not only stability, but the very survival of humankind.  The United Nations did not have the potential to deal with such challenges alone.  In that context, cooperation with regional organizations became ever more important.  The Council was the central forum for international conflict management.  If the primacy of the Council were rejected, the very foundations of the international law as represented by the Charter would be brought into question.

It was imperative that regional security operations remained mandated by the Council, he said.  To bring the primacy of the United Nations and the Security Council and the complementarity of the regional organizations in sync with each other, the dialogue with regional organizations should be put on a regular and substantive basis.  For many reasons, the Security Council should also improve and strengthen its channel of dialogue with the General Assembly. 

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) also expressed his gratitude to the President of the Council for scheduling today’s debate and said that the Secretary-General’s statement contained points for further reflection for the Council.  The moments of crisis were particularly appropriate for reflection on the future.  Today, the world was facing a crisis of great proportions, which could have serious impact on the world situation in the future.

The Council and regional organizations had an important role to play under Chapter VIII of the Charter.  The regional organizations did not substitute the role of character of the United Nations as a universal organization.  Instead, they were intermediate structures that allowed cooperation and coordination at the regional level.  The manner in which regional organizations interacted with the United Nations had been a matter of debate in the past and would continue the focus of attention in the future.  Their role depended on the soundness and cohesion of the regional consensus.  When the role of regional arrangements was taken into account, it improved the sustainability of decisions to deal with conflicts in various parts of the world.

Turning to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), he said that it had played a key role in his region.  Its participation in bringing an end to colonialism and apartheid in many countries was well recognized.  Today, that organization continued to play a pivotal role in conflict resolution and development of Member States.  In particular, the SADC had played an important role in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In his view, the fundamental decision States must make rested on their political will and efforts to be deployed, without hesitation or fear, with a view of strengthening the regional and subregional organizations to which they were parties.  That would improve relations with their neighbours, the assertion of their international positions and the provision of an active contribution to collective security.

Regional arrangements, based on the political will of States had an enormous potential and could play an increasingly important role in conflict resolution and securing an equitable world, he said.  Now more than ever, the United Nations had to promote dialogue among its Members to strengthen those organizations.  Today’s meeting should help to define cooperation in the years ahead.

CESAR GAVIRIA, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), said peace and security could not be achieved without decisions, sacrifices and political will.  The OAS had assumed the responsibility for regional peace and stability to ensure that local disputes did not become international crises and had built structures to preserve peace and security.  Democracy, human rights, non-intervention, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as peaceful settlement of disputes, were keystones of its Charter.

In the 1990s, the organization had worked on confidence-building measures, which had assisted in eradicating a number of regional disputes.  The greatest challenges in the hemisphere lay in non-military threats such as terrorism, drugs and arms trafficking.  In Caribbean States, natural disasters were the primary challenge to peace and security.  Regional instruments had been developed to tackle those problems.  There had been two conferences over the last decade on terrorism, and a counter-terrorism committee had been established.  There was cooperation in the financial field to address money-laundering related to terrorism.  The organization had ridded itself of confrontational language of the past and used the language of cooperation.  The inter-American system also had autonomous human rights institutions.

The Conference of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General addressed challenges of a non-military nature on a basis of legal cooperation between States of the America to tackle problems such as corruption.  The organization had also addressed the problem of anti-personnel mines and had succeeded in demining Central American republics following the conflicts of the 1980s.  Since 1994, the Conference of Ministers of Defence had addressed questions of confidence-building, establishing registers of conventional arms and strategic arms transfers.  It had acted as a facilitator in negotiations between countries.  In May, there would be a conference in Mexico on new challenges to peace and security.

GABRIEL VALDEZ (Chile) said it was clear that the future of international systems had to be addressed.  Today, security threats were intensified by globalization.  International networks were beyond local controls. In the struggle against terrorism, illegal drug trafficking and consumption fuelled terrorist activities and were interlinked.  The future battle against those scourges would be complex, and the role of the regional organizations would be crucial.

He said the fruitful work of regional organizations should be promoted through a dynamic relationship with the Council in the context of Chapter VIII of the Charter.  He emphasized, however, that dealing with the scourges could not be separated from the struggle for development.  Moral aversion to terrorism could not prevent looking at the root causes.  Destitution, corruption and other factors contributed to the development of such plagues on the continent.  The solutions were not military, as the problems were not military.

The OAS had promoted democracy, human rights and legal cooperation, and was enabling States to tackle questions of good governance and corruption.  But there were great inequalities.  Sooner or later those inequalities would have a decisive effect on peace and security.

He asked the Secretary-General of the OAS how the synergy between the OAS and the United Nations could be enhanced.

RICHARD S. WILLIAMSON (United States) said regional organizations had a vital role to play, as the United Nations could sometimes be too distant and bureaucratic.  Regional organizations had a greater vested interest in regional situations, as they recognized that a crisis in a neigbouring State could soon become their own crisis.  Regional organizations had also a great deal to learn from each other in areas such as elections, border control, and rule of law.  He asked in that regard whether the OAS had developed expertise that could be shared with other organizations.

He said the United Nations should rely increasingly on regional organizations for maintaining peace and stability.  He welcomed, in that regard, the decision of the African Union to establish a Peace and Security Council, and asked how that body could assist in addressing problems in African States that were facing internal instability and conflicts that, while not immediate threats to peace and security, required the attention of the international community.  What role could the African Union play in issues of human rights atrocities and ending the culture of impunity?  Would the perception of justice be better served if a regional organization assisted with fact-finding tribunals rather than having them run entirely by the United Nations?

He said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had established a moratorium on importing small arms which could have a most useful potential for stopping the flood of weapons.  However, the moratorium and its enforcement provisions were not working, as the pledged Monitoring and Enforcement Agencies had not been established.  What could the United Nations Secretariat do about that? he asked.

In counter-terrorism, regional organizations could also work in conjunction with the United Nations, he said.  No State could control its own borders alone, but must have the active cooperation of its neighbours.  The special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee on 6 March had shown that international organizations, including global, regional and subregional organizations, had major roles to play in the full implementation of resolution 1373 (2001).  Ultimately, States must take responsibility for conflicts that plagues their region.  Through dealing with issues on a regional level, States  might take pride in living up to their responsibilities to their neighbours and their people.  Regional organizations would be most successful if their member States were truly representative of their people.

Responding to comments, Mr. GAVIRIA said the OAS could be of use to other regional organizations, for example, in the counter-terrorism efforts.  It had focused on the critical issue of cooperation and promotion of existing conventions and other international instruments, which promoted real international legitimacy.  Full acceptance of Security Council resolutions was also important.  The organization’s experience in the field of peaceful settlement of disputes also could be useful to other organizations.  The OAS had made significant efforts in finding post-conflict solutions to development, including following the Nicaraguan internal conflict.

The OAS emphasized commitment to regional solutions to the problems of terrorism, he continued.  Latin America was also very concerned about such issues as anti-drug efforts and money-laundering.  It was setting up data bases open to other regions, combining those efforts with legal and judicial cooperation.  It was using various instruments to combat various types of widespread crime, which was now acquiring global dimensions.  The OAS was developing a methodology, which might be of interest to others.

AMRE MOUSSA, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said that every effort had been made to prevent the Iraqi conflict.  It should be recalled that it had been possible to succeed in solving the problem of possession of weapons of mass destruction, of which Iraq was suspected.  The Council had been right in refusing to authorize the war in Iraq.  Once the war had started, the Council had remained silent, however.  That silence had seriously affected the role of the Council and the multilateral system as a whole.  He would have wished to meet today with the Council at the helm of international efforts, facing the threats to peace and security.

“Judging by the ways things are, can we believe that the Council is in charge of maintaining international peace and security?” he asked.  This soul-searching was valid, especially in the countries which felt that the role of the Council had been undermined.  “Despite the reservations about the role of the Council, we cannot accept that the Council be held in contempt, being reduced to executing the policies it has not designed”, he said, dealing with the consequences without being responsible for the causes.

The League of Arab States was seriously affected by the current situation, he continued.  It did play a role expected of it, however, responding to the developments in Iraq, Israel and Palestine.  On the issue of Israel and Palestine, it had decided on the highest level to call for a resolution of the question of Palestine, based on the creation of an independent Palestinian State.  A just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East was the position of Arab States.  Had the Council try to build upon that position, however?  What had it done to end the total disregard and defiance by Israel towards its resolutions?  It had done nothing.

The Arab League had played an important role in the efforts to resolve the Iraq-Kuwait conflict in 1991, he said.  It had also contributed to the return of the inspectors to Iraq.  It had opposed the military option in Iraq, which had been vehemently pursued since last summer.  The League had supported Council resolution 1441, which had not been intended to trigger war, implicitly or explicitly.  The Arab States had firmly stood against the attack upon Iraq, calling for a peaceful solution of the crisis.  The League stood in support of international legitimacy, which was the path to peace and security in the Middle East.  Its vision could only be achieved through elimination of weapons of mass destruction without exception, creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.  In particular, it was necessary to address Israel’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.

Given the importance attached to fighting terrorism, the League had established a focal point to enhance coordination of counter-terrorism efforts, he said.  In cooperation with the United Nations, it had played an important role in providing a comprehensive vision to address the vulnerabilities of the countries of the region.  The system of collective security under the Charter was based on solid principles, including respect for international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the Council’s responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as its cooperation with regional organizations.

The system, which had withstood the challenges in the past, was now being put to the test, he said.  Defiance of international legitimacy had become commonplace.  The Council was even invited to legitimize occupation.  That was a bad omen for the international relations in the future.  The Council could not legitimize the government artificially installed by foreign forces in Iraq.  Chapter VIII allowed regional organizations considerable leeway in the settlement of disputes, with the primary responsibility remaining with the Council.  The Council should use the assistance by regional organizations in dealing with crises.  Perhaps the first chapter in Iraq was over, but more was to come, for the emotions around the region were running high.  The people were enraged and infuriated.

While the United Nations had been silenced while the war was raging, the Security Council should call for the convening of an international conference under the United Nations auspices to address the problems that affected the lives of societies, including peace, population and collective security.  It should be preceded by regional meetings on the same subjects.  International and regional security should not be defined by one State or a group of States.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that under the Charter the Council was supposed to provide for a system of collective security, which had been designed to protect the weak against the strong.  Despite the imperfections of the Council and the Charter, those who needed the United Nations more than the stronger States must not do anything to erode its authority or question its viability in the current difficult times.  It was not the Security Council that had failed in the current crisis.  It was a failure of the Member States to agree, and in particular of the permanent members who held the veto power.  In fact, if anything, what had been established was that the Council had set very high benchmarks on the action under the Charter.  That was a positive aspect.

Quoting from yesterday’s Herald Tribune obituary to the United Nations employee who had died of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Viet Nam, he added that the United Nations was not a bully and not a superior force.  Also, it was not irrelevant.  Even if the rule of law had been violated, it was incumbent upon the international community to restore it.  It should not do so by questioning the role of the Council.  His delegation continued to believe that the Council would remain central to the future peace and stability, including in the Middle East.  The Council resolutions established a framework of legality there.  Regional organizations could be helpful and viable only so long as they acted in accordance with the principles of the Charter and the Council’s resolutions.  In the future, it was necessary to address the disputes through “a hybrid format”, which should include the countries involved in the dispute, major Powers and the Council, which should provide the legality and power in solution of regional conflicts.

ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said that, in the face of new threats, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism, the task of the Council was becoming increasingly more complex.  To protect international peace and security, the Council needed to develop tools dealing with those threats as well.  Regional and subregional organizations were key players in implementing the Council’s work, and the Council’s relationship with regional organizations should, therefore, be strengthened.  The special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of 6 March might offer some models.

Regarding information exchange, he asked how well informed the regional organizations felt regarding Council decisions.  How could regional organizations better respond to Council requests for information, for instance, regarding sanctions?  Was there a need for better liaison?  What could the Council do to encourage information exchanges between regional organizations?

Regarding capacity for local dispute settlement, he asked if the Council was overlooking organizations such as civil society organizations and human rights groups.  Was there scope for a formal structured dialogue between regional organizations and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs?

In answering comments and questions, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Mr. MOUSSA, said everything possible must be done to prevent erosion in the Council authority and confidence in the United Nations system.  There was indeed a growing feeling that the Council had come under threat.  He hoped the Council would remain central in maintaining international peace and security, but for that to happen, it needed to learn lessons from the last few weeks.

He agreed with the representative of the United Kingdom that a system had to be developed where information could go both ways between regional organizations and the Council, in order to profit from the wealth of information available.  In dispute settlement, he said cooperation between the Council and regional organizations was lacking at the moment.  There was a need for a programme for cooperation within the framework of the Charter.

The Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), JÁN KUBIŠ, said that during the Istanbul Summit in 1999 the participating States of the OSCE had recognized the primary responsibility of the United Nations Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security and its crucial role in contributing to security and stability in the region, and had reaffirmed the OSCE as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the Charter.  From its inception in 1975, the organization’s work had been based on the concept of comprehensive, common and indivisible security.  It promoted equally human rights, the rule of law, democratic institutions, free media, free and fair elections, and good governance, alongside more traditional political and politico-military aspects of security.

A decade ago, he said, the OSCE had deployed its first mission.  Currently, OSCE missions and field operations utilized some 8 per cent of the budget.  Four thousand international and local staff worked in 19 civilian field operations.  To increase the organization’s responsiveness to modern security challenges, the OSCE had decided to develop a “Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the Twenty-first Century”, which would make an inventory of threats to security and stability and analyse their changing nature and main causes, setting out how the OSCE could prevent or counter such threats.

Since 11 September 2001, issues related to preventing and combating terrorism had come to the top of the agenda.  The OSCE had adopted the Plan of Action for Combating Terrorism and the Charter on Preventing and Combating Terrorism.  Other capacities built up over the past years include policing, border monitoring and security, and combating trafficking.  The forthcoming OSCE 2003 Economic Forum was fully dedicated to the issue of combating trafficking in human beings, drugs and arms.

Because of its broad and supportive membership, its comprehensive approach to security and its operational flexibility, the OSCE had demonstrated a high degree of effectiveness in developing and rapidly deploying multidimensional activities.  It had also proved to be a good partner for other organizations involved in complex peace operations such as in Kosovo, Georgia, Tajikistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  He added that the OSCE was also a general framework forum for interaction and cooperation of subregional organizations and had maintained or intensified contacts with other regional organizations.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that the level of today’s debate reaffirmed the importance of the theme proposed by Mexico for today’s meeting.  The Council was actively cooperating with many regional organizations, including the OAS, African regional organizations and European structures.  The League of Arab States should play an important role in addressing the problems of the  Middle East.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) cooperated closely with the United Nations in resolving conflicts, he continued.  For example, the Commonwealth’s peacekeepers made a significant contribution to settling the crisis in Tajikistan and maintaining security in the Georgia-Abkhazia area.  He also stressed the role of the collective security organization in the area, which was the first one to raise the question regarding the need to address the problem of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.  In Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization played an important role.

At this complicated stage in international relations, the need to improve the United Nations cooperation with regional and subregional mechanisms was becoming even more pressing, he said.  It should be built on the solid basis of the Charter of the United Nations.  Bearing in mind the increasing role of regional peacekeeping, more use should be made of their resources.  It was necessary to step up interaction with them, which should be flexible, based on a “division of labour” between the United Nations and regional and subregional structures.  The world international organization should play the leading role in the maintenance of international peace and security, however, as determined by the Charter.  His country believed that one essential attribute was authorization of regional operations by the Council, especially if elements of enforcement were involved.

The threat of international terrorism had brought to life the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and he actively supported its work, as well as its cooperation with regional organizations.  Russia was firmly convinced that the future lay with collective efforts to resolve such problems.  Under modern conditions, to implement the concept of collective security, it was necessary to establish a global system to counter threats.  It should be universal and comprehensive.  The United Nations should serve as the coordinating centre of such a system.  The Millennium Declaration had already outlined the main goals of the future work.  The consensus adoption by this session of the General Assembly of the resolution on reacting to global threats directly envisioned a contribution of regional organizations in international efforts. 

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) associated himself with the position of the European Union and said that there was a consensus that cooperation with regional organizations could be productive and important.  As the threats to international peace and security were mutating, increasingly they required working out adapted responses to them.  The emergence of transnational actors as a threat to peace and terrorism was among the challenges today.  The Charter provided a framework for cooperation with regional organizations.

As the history of peacekeeping operations demonstrated, along with traditional functions of monitoring hostile forces, peacekeeping now included police and civilian personnel components, he said.  The civilian facet of peacekeeping was of ever-growing importance.  There was a need to define a global and complex approach to the maintenance of peace and security around the world, which should encompass respect for human rights and freedoms, and the primacy of the rule of law.  Regional organizations were increasingly required to serve as an effective instrument in addressing the challenges, focusing not only on the consequences, but also on the causes of conflicts.

He stressed that the Council continued to bear primary responsibility for defining the mandates of peacekeeping operations, especially where their implementation involved regional organizations.  It needed to expand and strengthen its cooperation with regional organizations in the context of their work vis-à-vis civil society, strengthening the rule of law, strengthening democracies and ensuring respect for human rights.  The complex structure of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) gave an example of cooperation with such organizations as the European Union, the OSCE and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In conclusion, he said that as of next year Bulgaria would serve as President of the OSCE for a year.  Undoubtedly, cooperation with the Security Council would be a priority during its presidency.

The Secretary-General of the OSCE, Mr. KUBIŠ, said cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations would be one of the priorities of the next presidency of the organization.  He was grateful to the United Kingdom for a number of ideas regarding enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.  On information exchange, there was never enough.  The OSCE was engaged in regular information exchange with the United Nations system, as well as with its partner organizations.

Regarding capacity development, he confirmed how strongly the organization welcomed the initiative for the current meeting, which would bring a better understanding of what capacities were available among regional organizations.   The OSCE had held meetings with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs, and other departments, as well.  It had participated in the special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of 6 March, where the organization had been acknowledged as having developed a strong programme of work to implement resolution 1373 (2001).

FHOLISANI SYDNEY MUFAMADI, Minister for Provincial and Local Government of South Africa, and Interim Chairman of the Commission of the African Union, said that the theme of today’s dialogue assumed that the international community was dealing with new factors, which mandated the need to rethink the propriety of strategies currently in use for the maintenance of global peace and security.  Among the challenges faced by post-colonial Africa were outbreaks of violent conflicts in various parts of the continent.  Moral exhortations had often failed to dissuade the perpetrators of that development-debilitating scourge, as many of those conflicts resulted from the lack of access to resources.

In recent times, the African Union had been working to bring to fruition the vision of its predecessor, he continued.  In 2002, the African Union had agreed to establish a Peace and Security Council.  Increasingly, the Union saw deliberate mobilization of African resources for dousing the flames of conflicts, which afflicted such countries as Burundi, Sudan, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He went on to say that the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had finally agreed, through dialogue, on a vision of the society they wanted to build.  They had also agreed on the modalities, by which such a society could be created.  The recently signed agreements had only started the country on the long journey towards lasting peace and sustainable development.  Understanding that the burden would become lightened only when shared, the signatories of the agreement had invited the international community to fulfil an indispensable role in helping to implement their plans.  He hoped the Security Council would support those agreements.

The developments on the continent constituted a powerful counter-argument against “Afro-pessimism”, he said.  His optimism about the future of the continent was based on what the Africans were prepared to do and were doing.  As he understood it, Article 52 of the United Nations Charter enjoined the Council to support those initiatives.  The fact that those initiatives were being taken in the spirit of Africans taking responsibility for the stability of their own region was itself an important development, which must be encouraged.  Of course, the strategies used in those initiatives were open to discussion and critical scrutiny, for only then would it be possible to add value to the existing global resources for conflict resolution and peacemaking.

“We live in a world which requires governments to deal with one another in the context of multilateral fora and organizations, as well as through the traditional mechanisms of bilateral diplomacy”, he continued.  Although some of the African Union’s instruments for peace-building, peacemaking and peacekeeping were still being finalized, recent developments had proven the immense potential that they had.  “Our own disposition continues to be towards working with the Security Council to assume collective responsibility for the identification of problems and the formulation of appropriate strategies by which such problems can be solved.”  In particular, it was necessary to develop structural arrangements, which would allow all regions to fully participate in the evolution and implementation of solutions to the current peace and security problems.

Strengthening of regional organizations would, in turn, strengthen the United Nations, he said.  It was necessary to collectively define the relationship between regional organizations and the United Nations.  The African Union had always seen itself as supporting and strengthening the efforts of the Organization.  Any other approach would lead to chaos and anarchy.  For any region to be successful in resolving conflicts, there would always be a need for a strong multilateral system that could address the collective security of the world.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said Africa was the region most affected by armed conflicts.  Its development had been held up as a consequence of that.  Africa, however, was aware of that situation, did not accept it, and was organizing to ensure maintenance of peace and security on the continent.  The establishments of the Central Mechanism for Conflict Prevention and Settlement in 1993 and the Council for Peace and Security in 2001 were examples of that.  Those institutions needed the assistance of the United Nations, including capacity-building, training, logistical and financial support.

The creation of the Council Ad Hoc Working Croup on the prevention and settlement of conflicts in Africa attested to the Council’s determination to strengthen its cooperation with Africa.  The Group’s recommendations had given a blueprint for the best kind of cooperation.  The appointment of a Special Envoy to the Commission of the African Union was another example.  He welcomed initiatives to guarantee better coordination of regional efforts in conflict management.

He said seven of 11 countries in the Central African region were in the throes of conflict.  Central Africa had six of the Secretary-General’s special representatives.  The Council in its presidential statement 2002/31 had recommended the dispatch of an inter-agency mission to Central Africa to assess the situation.  The Central African subregion had established several institutions to address issues of peace and stability.  The capacities of those institutions needed to be bolstered by the United Nations through training programmes and through technical and financial assistance.

He asked the African Union what the priority areas were that required immediate action by the United Nations.  How could the Council reflect African Union decisions on African questions that were before the Council?  What contribution could the Union make in the area of conflict prevention and the maintenance of international peace and security?  He also asked what could be done to set up a focal point within the United Nations system for African problems.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said, while the Council had primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, regional organizations could play an important role in settling conflicts.  The African Union and ECOWAS had made great efforts in solving African conflicts.  In addressing situations in the Mano River countries and Côte d’Ivoire, ECOWAS had played an important role.  The African countries knew Africa best and must have the foremost say in settling African issues.  The Council must fully respect the opinions of the African Union and other African regional organizations.

Prior to deciding on African issues, the Council should try to coordinate with regional organizations in Africa, he said, in order to improve Council decisions.  The African Union, ECOWAS and other organizations had taken the initiative to address problems in the Great Lakes region.  In the future, the Council should coordinate as early as possible on actions to be taken with the Union and other regional organizations.  The United Nations had addressed the crisis in Sierra Leone in cooperation with ECOWAS.  That integrated approach should have relevance for other situations.  The Council should summarize its experiences in cooperation with regional organizations.

IOANNIS MAGRIOTIS, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, spoke on behalf of the European Union and Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania.  He said that in recent years a number of regional arrangements, organizations or agencies had created institutional capacities for early warning and conflict prevention to respond to the proliferation of internal disputes that might pose a threat to regional or international stability.  The European Union recognized that the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and stability lay with the United Nations and aimed to support the Council in carrying out its responsibilities under the Charter.

He said a guiding principle of European Union crisis management was that it must include a wide range of instruments, military as well as civilian.  Also, efforts in crisis response must bring real added value to international crisis management. The European Union had four priority areas in civilian crisis management:  police, the rule of law, civilian administration, and civil protection. The Union was committed to building mutually reinforcing and effective relationships with the United Nations, as well as with other regional organizations in prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.  That required action at the political level, in terms of capacity-building of partner organizations and through operational interaction.

At the political level, dialogue with the United Nations and regional organizations took place in a wide range of different contexts.  A key aspect of capacity-building remained the relevant need of regional organizations in terms of early warning, conflict prevention and peacekeeping.  In relation to operational interaction, through the European Union Programme for Prevention of Violent Conflicts, the Union, through the European Commission, was intensifying its practical cooperation with the United Nations system and other regional and subregional organizations.

In pursuance of its goals, the European Union had set targets to be achieved by 2003, involving a concrete number of personnel which Member States had committed to provide. They also included concrete goals for rapid reaction to crisis. The European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the first example of the practical possibilities of cooperation between the Union and the United Nations. Members of the Union had currently more than 30,000 women and men working for peace in United Nations and United Nations-mandated operations.  They also provided over 40 per cent of the total peacekeeping budget.  The European Union strongly supported United Nations peace-building action that prevented the recurrence of conflict and ensured peace and stability in the future.  In that context, the Union firmly believed that the United Nations should play a central role in post-conflict Iraq, as well as in other post-conflict situations.

ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) said that Mexico’s initiative could not be more timely, for it was important to respond to the new challenges to international peace and security with participation of the regional organizations.  One aspect of particular interest to her country was cooperation in the area of conflict prevention, which required not only knowledge of the situation on the ground, but also dealing with the root causes leading to conflict.  It was vital to include a strategy for prevention in all United Nations policies, working together with national governments, as well as regional and subregional organizations.  Those organizations represented an ideal instrument to gauge the true nature of each particular situation.  Both the Security Council and the General Assembly were discussing conflict prevention, and she unreservedly supported those efforts.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said the question under consideration today was governed by Article 52 of the Charter.  The great importance of the issue stemmed from the fact that it came at a crucial stage for regional developments, particularly in the Palestinian question and the war in Iraq.  With the invasion of Iraq, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had intensified.  The situation testified to the dire need to address the failure in the mechanism, which had been designed to bring about international peace and security.  On the basis of the bitter realities in the Middle East and in Africa, he called for establishing a network of mechanisms to bring effective international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations and leaving the traditional methods, which had proven to be a failure up to now. 

He stressed the importance of putting an end to international terrorism in all its forms, including State terrorism.  It was also necessary to put an end to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, establishing zones free of those weapons in various areas.  No country should be permitted to be an exception from those comprehensive structures.  The Security Council had failed to stop the eruption of the war and invasion by a Member State in recent weeks.  He hoped that regional organizations would be in a better situation to bring about new momentum in international cooperation to maintain international peace and security.  He hoped the Council would restore its effective role in using preventive diplomacy.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League had addressed that issue, particularly referring to the failures in the Arab region.  The League had taken positive action without finding any positive response from the Council.  He believed in close cooperation among various regional organizations, including Arab, African and European ones.  There was an imperative need to exchange information among various regional systems.  He fully agreed with the European Union that the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security lay with the United Nations, in particular, the Security Council.

MOHAMED IBN CHAMBAS, Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said that the West African subregion would very much welcome a collaborative working relationship with the Council and other organs of the United Nations.  For that reason, he welcomed the establishment last year of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa in Dakar, Senegal.  The spate of conflicts was a major challenge facing the subregion.  A notable common denominator in the conflict-prone situations was increasing marginalization of a large part of the population -– predominantly young, uneducated and unemployed, who then became readily available as recruits for unscrupulous warlords with an excessive supply of small arms.  In response, in 1999, ECOWAS had introduced a Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Resolution, Management, Peace and Security.

There was a clear and pressing need for collaboration between ECOWAS and the United Nations in the area of conflict resolution and management, he pointed out.  The cases of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia were illustrative in that regard.  ECOWAS’ diplomatic efforts had resulted in ceasefire agreements between the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the three rebel movements, paving the way for the Linas-Marcoussis negotiations and a resulting accord.  The Linas-Marcoussis Accord had been subsequently endorsed by ECOWAS heads of State and by the Security Council in its resolution 1464 of 4 February, which endorsed the ECOWAS force and authorized a mission in accordance with Chapters VI and VII of the Charter.  Belgium, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States had provided essential assistance to support the deployment of the force.  The pressing concern now was that the force was expected to run out of funding by the end of April.

The ECOWAS wanted to work with the Security Council to maintain the force in place, he said.  The ECOWAS Peace Mission had so far demonstrated that it could consolidate the peace already achieved on the political front and help return Côte d’Ivoire to its well-deserved position of stability and prosperity.  The United Nations, working closely with ECOWAS, could and should provide the necessary funds to sustain the operations of the Mission, the collapse of which would have dire consequences for the peace and security of the entire subregion.

Regarding Liberia, he said continuing instability there posed threats to neighbouring countries of the Mano River Union.  Working with the International Contact Group on Liberia, ECOWAS had embarked on a new initiative to bring the Government of Liberia and the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) into direct talks for a ceasefire.  The ECOWAS wished the Council to consider an appropriate monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire.  The sad saga of Liberia should now be brought to a close.  He trusted the Council would help ECOWAS to avoid a sad end to an otherwise happy story of the subregional effort to maintain peace and security in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), associating himself with Greece’s statement on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the fact that Europe was playing an important role in international peace and security, particularly in the Balkans and Afghanistan.  He said France and the United Kingdom had proposed a European security and defence policy, and he hoped that policy could contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Cooperation between the Council and regional organizations must be based on complementarity.  Each organization should intervene first where it provided real added value.  One of the future Council priorities should be to increase coordination between the Council and regional organizations, keeping in mind that all parts of the world were not structured in the same way by regional organizations.  The Council, therefore, needed to be flexible and inventive.

He said Europe and Africa had the most active regional organizations.  In Africa, involvement in solving problems was crucial, as had been demonstrated in Côte d'Ivoire.  He acknowledged the important role ECOWAS had been playing in the region over the last decade, for instance, in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia.  In Côte d'Ivoire, ECOWAS’ role was indispensable.  ECOWAS activities there were completely transparent and in harmony with the United Nations.  It was a sterling example of what regional organizations in cooperation with the United Nations could do.

There was a need to strengthen cooperation between regional organizations and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  The African organizations were sometimes encountering difficulties in moving from the stage of sending observers to the stage of deploying peacekeeping operations, due to logistical and financial restraints.  Donors must live up to their commitments and pay in a timely fashion. Increasing cooperation in areas such as combating mercenaries and small arms trafficking was also in order.  Mercenarism could be overcome if action by the Council was complemented by regional border actions.

MAMADY TRAORÉ (Guinea) said that because of their experience and structures, regional organizations could face up to virtually all crisis situations.  However, they were facing difficulties such as limited financial, material and logistical means.  For more than a decade, ECOWAS had addressed conflict in the region, often

with major results.  However, in Côte d'Ivoire, there was an urgent need for funds.

He stressed compliance with Council resolutions through cooperation rather than confrontation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.  It was natural for regional organizations to sometimes defend the interest of Member States, but some States systematically violated Council resolutions.  The regional organizations must, in that respect, work closely with the Council.  Without naming any country, he said that when a State thought it was normal to justify to the President of the Council resolution violations, such an attitude should be denounced and not supported by regional organizations.

In his concluding remarks, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ, speaking in his capacity as President of the Council, said the delegation of Mexico had convened the meeting out of its concern over security at the regional level.  He was grateful to all the representatives of regional organizations who had participated in the debate.  The conclusions of the Council would be circulated at a later date.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.