4748th Meeting* (AM)
SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL SAY UNITED NATIONS’ EXPERIENCE IN CONFLICT
RESOLUTION, PEACEKEEPING CAN PROVE USEFUL IN IRAQ, OTHER NEW SITUATIONS
Secretary-General Appeals for Unity in Addressing Post-War Phase in Iraq
Secretary-General Kofi Annan this morning appealed to the Security Council to set aside its past differences over Iraq and find a new “unity of purpose in the post-war phase” that would allow the Iraqi people to take charge of their own destiny.
As the Council wrapped up its work for the month of April, focusing on the role of the United Nations in post-conflict situations, the role of the Organization in Iraq -– the latest of the conflicts considered by the Council –- was at the centre of attention.
Also today, many speakers agreed that in dealing with new situations, it was possible to learn important lessons from the Organization’s previous conflict resolution and peacekeeping experience, including in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Timor-Leste and Afghanistan. Pointing out that, in some cases, gaps had emerged in the transition from peacekeeping to peace-building, speakers stressed the importance of coherence of efforts, coordination among various United Nations bodies, and flexibility in adapting to the situations on the ground. Of particular importance was the provision of adequate human and financial resources.
The Secretary-General said that an impartial, representative and transparent process was needed in Iraq, leading to the choice by Iraqis themselves of a credible and legitimate political authority, to which sovereignty could be restored. He trusted the Council would also agree on the need to put an end to Iraq’s isolation and help the people of the country, as quickly as possible, to establish conditions for a normal life.
In the coming weeks, the Council would have to take important decisions on the existing mandates within the context of the new situation -– notably on sanctions, the “oil-for-food” programme and weapons inspections. Beyond that, it would need to consider how best the international community could help Iraqis rebuild their country -– and what part the United Nations might play in assisting that effort. He hoped he could rely on the Council to make sure that any mandate
* The 4747th Meeting was closed.
the Council entrusted to the United Nations was clear, coherent and matched by the necessary resources. “Let us all set aside our past disagreements, ask what will help the Iraqi people most, and act accordingly”, he added.
Also commenting on the role of the United Nations in post-war Iraq, the President of the General Assembly, Jan Kavan (Czech Republic), who participated in the Council discussion along with the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today, said the United Nations role should not be confined to an advisory one. For all its shortcomings, real or perceived, the United Nations was still the only forum with the grass-roots experience and personnel to deal with a wide range of the crises inherent in conflict management and post-conflict peace-building.
In his opening remarks, the outgoing President of the Council, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser (Mexico), said that the values and robustness of the Organization made it an ideal forum to tackle major global challenges. The United Nations had performed excellent work in conflict prevention, restoring security conditions, the rule of law, protection of human rights and institution-building. Those primary responsibilities should be underscored.
Efforts to give attention to countries emerging from conflict provided an opportunity for a more productive interaction between the two Councils, President of ECOSOC Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala) said. The strengths exhibited by each of the Organization’s bodies tended to be transmitted to others, but the same held true regarding weaknesses. For that reason, he trusted that the recent differences in points of view that had marked the Security Council discussions regarding the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would be overcome when the Council next addressed the matter. “Should this not be forthcoming, all our organs, and the United Nations in its entirety, will suffer the consequences”, he said.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Greece reaffirmed that, based on its unique capacity and experience, the United Nations had to play a central role in the peace-building process. Economic rehabilitation and reconstruction constituted especially important elements in the long-term development of post-conflict societies and in maintaining lasting peace. Regional organizations could build institutional mechanisms to deal with conflicts in a structured and coherent way, particularly in close cooperation with the Security Council.
Syria’s representative also emphasized the importance of the regional aspect, reminding the Council that it had devoted an open meeting to the role of regional organizations in international peacekeeping efforts this month. The countries adjoining Iraq had shown total agreement regarding the need to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq and let the people elect their own Government. The United Nations should help Iraq to maintain its sovereignty and independence, and he believed that their recent communiqué could be a point of reference in dealing with the future of Iraq after the war.
The United States’ representative agreed that, by virtue of having been involved in over 60 conflicts, the United Nations had developed important
(page 1b follows)
experience and needed to play a role in post-conflict situations. However, as no two conflicts were alike, the United Nations should tailor its involvement on a case-by-case basis. It should not overpromise or raise unrealistic expectations. The coalition had liberated the Iraqi people from tyranny and would not remain in the country longer than required. As the international community reached out to help the population in need, it must provide for a population with a voice in what came next.
First and foremost, it was important to establish legitimacy in trying to rebuild the society, France’s representative said. The United Nations could bring its unique expertise and offer training, as had been done by donor countries and the international financial institutions. The European Union had those elements in mind when it adopted the declaration on Iraq on 16 April in Athens, Greece, which said the United Nations must play a central role in the process leading to establishing a legitimate government there.
While admitting that a settlement in Iraq could be reached without the United Nations’ participation, the Russian Federation’s representative expressed doubt that such a settlement would be effective and just. It was important to define actions regarding the humanitarian problem in Iraq and address the problem of weapons of mass destruction, which directly related to the security situation in the region. His country was prepared to take an active part in ensuring the effectiveness of inspections in Iraq, which had to be continued. In response to the humanitarian situation there, the Russian Federation was prepared to suspend certain sanctions. Other components of the programme could be resumed under United Nations control. All those matters should be discussed in the Council, the sooner the better.
Also participating in today’s discussion were representatives of Guinea, Cameroon, United Kingdom, Brazil, Angola, South Africa, Japan, China, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Georgia, Egypt, Spain, Indonesia, Canada, Germany and Chile. The President of the Council also made a statement in his national capacity as a representative of Mexico.
The meeting was called to order at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 1.55 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hold a wrap-up discussion on its work in April under the presidency of Mexico.
In opening remarks, the President of the Security Council, ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico), highlighted participation in the meeting of the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General, as well as the presence of non-member States of the Council. He said it was a defining moment for the Organization. The values and robustness of the institution made it an ideal forum to tackle global challenges such as the threat of communicable diseases, threats to the environment, and the constant breakdowns in the peace.
He was, therefore, grateful that the various organs were here to work together to define the role the Organization could play in post-conflict situations, showing unity and determination. The United Nations had performed excellent work in conflict prevention, restoring security conditions, the rule of law, protection of human rights and institution-building. That was a time where those primary responsibilities had to be underscored, he said. Specific proposals were necessary for the best way in which the United Nations could work to benefit countries emerging from conflict.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said that the thing that stood out when looking at international engagement in countries affected by conflict was that no single approach had even been adopted twice, because no two conflicts or post-conflict situations were alike. Even the four recent cases of Afghanistan, Kosovo, Timor-Leste and Sierra Leone were very different from each other, in terms of their causes and consequences, the Organization’s previous involvement, the political and legal context governing the international community’s response, and the sheer size of the affected population and territory.
Therefore, he continued, one of the most important lessons, when it came to planning the international community’s engagement in a new situation –- such as it now faced in Iraq -– was the need, first, to reach a common understanding of what made the crisis in question unique, and then to develop its responses accordingly. It was necessary to draw on previous experiences to make the Organization’s response as effective as possible, while bearing in mind that completely new approaches or forms of assistance could be required.
That meant it was necessary to begin with asking some fundamental questions, such as: Did the parties to the conflict seek or welcome international involvement, and if so, for what purpose? Was the international community able to provide the necessary resources and sustain that commitment long enough to ensure success? What were the preconditions for ensuring a self-sustaining and durable peace? What were the needs to be addressed and in what order of priority? At what pace did the process need to run?
Among the specific lessons that stood out from recent case histories, he mentioned the fact that the trust of the parties and the population could be fragile and could not be taken for granted. Their consent needed to be cultivated and preserved. The role of the international community was not to solve all of a country’s problems, but to help its people to become self-reliant. Priorities must be set, starting with the essential humanitarian needs of the populations, which included the need for basic conditions of security, law and order. Decisions on the reform of key State institutions and legal and political structures must, if they were to be sustainable in the long run, be taken by the people of the country themselves.
Such a process could be a success only if all the main groups in the country played a part in it; felt that it belonged to them; and did not perceive it as leading to a predetermined outcome, he said. The pacing of the overall process and the timing of its component parts were also crucial to success. Moving too slowly risked losing momentum and fuelling frustration, but going too fast could be equally counter-productive. The regional dimension needed early and sustained attention.
There was also a direct correlation between the United Nations and Security Council unity –- and between United Nations setbacks and divisions among Council members about the strategy to be pursued. The Council must be united in setting out the overall objectives for international assistance and a clear division of labour, and then maintain its unity in providing strong political support -– both during rough periods when progress was at risk, and when the acute phase of the conflict had passed and no longer commanded the attention of the world’s media. In the case of Iraq, the Council now had the chance to leave behind earlier disagreements and find unity of purpose in the post-war phase. The overriding objective must be to enable the Iraqi people to take charge of their own destiny.
Already in resolution 1472, the Council had reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, he said, its respect for the right of its people to determine their own political future and control their own natural resources, as well as its belief that all parties must abide by their obligations under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. He was sure the Council members would agree that sovereignty implied political independence, and that, in order to determine their political future, the Iraqi people must be free to choose their own system of government and political leadership. What was needed was an impartial, representative and transparent process, leading to the choice by Iraqis themselves of a credible and legitimate political authority, to which sovereignty could be restored. He trusted the Council would also agree on the need to put an end to Iraq’s isolation and help the people of the country, as quickly as possible, to establish conditions for a normal life.
Over the coming weeks, the Council would have important decisions to take on the existing mandates within the context of the new situation -– notably on sanctions, the “oil-for-food” programme and weapons inspections. Beyond that, it would need to consider how best the international community could help Iraqis rebuild their country -– and what part the United Nations might play in assisting that effort. He hoped he could rely on the Council to make sure that any mandate the Council entrusted to the United Nations was clear, coherent and matched by the necessary resources. “Let us all set aside our past disagreements, ask what will help the Iraqi people most, and act accordingly”, he concluded.
JAN KAVAN (Czech Republic), President of the General Assembly, said the international community had major capabilities to influence the security situation in post-conflict States and regions. Military authorities were responsible for building and sustaining the security situation, but returning the maintenance of security tasks to the host country should be a priority. Forming the multi-ethnic police force in Bosnia and Kosovo, or the training of the Afghan army, had been steps in that direction. Further, war affected society profoundly and disrupted social relations at the national political level and at that of basic human interactions. Only when social relations were restored could a durable peace be promoted and sustained.
More was needed in post-conflict situations than efforts to restore law and order, he stressed. Taking historical background into account was crucial to any successful peace-building efforts. Beyond bringing peace and humanitarian aid into a society emerging from conflict, any external involvement in the society’s affairs must be conducted in the most respectful manner regarding the specific features and the rich diversity of the society.
Iraq’s post-conflict society was confronted with various problems of instability, he said. Recent United Nations experience in Kosovo and East Timor, among others, had clearly demonstrated that a comprehensive strategy to tackle issues in the immediate post-conflict phase was critical. It had also become evident that a strategy for political and economic reforms should be crafted in conjunction with an overall vision. The role of the Untied Nations in Iraq should not be confined to an advisory one. Broader responsibilities aimed at promoting democracy should be part of any planning. For all its shortcomings, real or perceived, the United Nations was still the only forum with the grass-roots experience and personnel to deal with a wide range of the crises inherent in conflict management and post-conflict peace-building.
The President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala), said one issue that offered the possibility for a more productive interaction between the two Councils would be efforts to give attention to countries emerging from conflict. One example was the ECOSOC decision of July last year to create an ad hoc advisory group on African countries emerging from conflicts. The first ad hoc group was created in October on Guinea-Bissau. That group included the Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Security Council on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa. He hoped such “pioneering action of cooperation” between the two Councils would be a harbinger for an even more fruitful interaction in the future.
Various forums of the United Nations had stressed for years the need for deepening reciprocal support between themselves and the Bretton Woods Institutions, a matter without relevance to the Security Council in its peace-building efforts, he continued. The ECOSOC had achieved significant progress in consolidating that mutual support and in enhancing coherence, cooperation and coordination between the Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In more general terms, he said, both Councils reflected the two columns on which the United Nations was built: the maintenance of peace, on the one hand, and economic and social development and respect for human rights and humanitarian assistance, on the other. The Charter laid out some connections between the General Assembly, the Security Council and ECOSOC, and links had been added. That trend needed to be continued and strengthened, as it was a truism that without development there would be no peace, and without peace there would be no development.
In conclusion, he said the strengths exhibited by each of the Organization’s bodies tended to be transmitted to others, but the same held true regarding weaknesses. For that reason, he trusted that the recent differences in points of view that had marked the Security Council regarding the elimination weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would be overcome when the Council next addressed the matter. “Should this not be forthcoming, all our organs, and the United Nations in its entirety, will suffer the consequences”, he said.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said that more than a mere recapitulation of the Council’s work in April, today’s discussion, which addressed the role of the United Nations in post-conflict situations, was part of the larger context of the Council’s mission to maintain international peace and security. Conflicts were caused by a variety of complex phenomena and could not be overcome until those were identified. Building peace and security was closely linked to development and building democracy. The creation of viable judicial systems, the establishment of an inclusive dialogue within the countries involved and reconciliation were also among the guarantees of peace and security. Effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants, including child soldiers, were also important.
Consolidating peace also involved dealing with the issues of small arms and light weapons, as well as return of refugees and displaced persons, he said. The elimination of conflict must be accompanied by the establishment of comprehensive programmes for economic recovery, including job creation. Peacekeeping operations around the world taught the international community that withdrawal of troops must be gradual and go hand in hand with reconstructions efforts. Partnership and complementarity of the United Nations and regional organizations remained essential. From that interaction, real synergies that could restore peace could emerge. Beyond that, it was important to promote internal cooperation within the Security Council, as well as its interaction with other bodies of the United Nations system.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that last month, apart from causing the loss of human lives, war also destroyed the socio-economic and political infrastructure of affected countries. Thus, the sole task in the post-conflict period was to build and rebuild. The population must be given a new desire for life by restoring their dignity as individuals and as a people master of their own destiny. Affected countries needed institutions that would enable their people to develop a different kind of life. The United Nations had, over time, acquired a unique experience in that regard and, in recent years, it had increased its capacities considerably.
Nowadays, the United Nations achieved greater success in peace-building and reconstruction operations on all continents, he continued. Africa required particular attention because poverty, pandemics, fragile State structures and external circumstances made conflicts on the continent even more complicated. United Nations efforts should focus on financing, coordination of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, the holding and supervision of elections, institution-building and human rights protection, as well as economic recovery. In Mozambique and Angola, that approach had achieved considerable success. The cooperation between the two ad hoc groups on Africa of the Council and of ECOSOC was also a good example. In Somalia, the Secretary-General was working to set up a programme of preparatory activities for peace-building and recovery. That approach could also be applied to situations where crises tended to be protracted.
The United Nations should convince donors to use innovative measures and flexible conditions, he said. The United Nations played a vital, positive and effective role in post-conflict situations. However, given recent events, the international community should reflect further about the Organization’s role in certain post-conflict situations. He, therefore, endorsed the Secretary-General’s appeal to seize the opportunity to set aside differences of the past and unite around principles that would benefit all Iraqis.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said he would try to look forward rather than backwards. After a conflict, there was always a fragile situation, and the agencies of the United Nations and civil society did extraordinarily well in bringing about immediate relief, but post-conflict aspects often remained weak. All recognized the dangers of the transition gap, and he encouraged the Council and ECOSOC to talk about complementarity in their efforts. The Security Council needed to recognize the links between security, economic and development issues. It was also fair to ask whether the structure and work methods of the Secretariat truly reflected the need for such a seamless approach.
In the future, it was necessary to look particularly at the situation in Timor-Leste and Sierra Leone. It was true that no two situations were the same, but in every situation, it was possible to learn lessons from others. He hoped that looking at the period after the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), it would be possible to create a template for handling the post-conflict period. Coherence was required in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts and in determining the roles and capacities of implementing partners, including regional organizations. It was important to clearly determine what the United Nations could and could not be expected to do. There, the role of public information was particularly important.
The structure of the United Nations presence needed much more attention, he continued. Also, the exit strategy for the United Nations peace-building efforts needed to be addressed. Among the main factors that needed to be borne in mind, he mentioned the need to develop operational responses and ensure the rule of law. The role of women in reconstructing societies needed to be taken into account. Economic and social development had to be part of the equation on the ground. The United Nations had played a key role in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Timor-Leste and Afghanistan, and one must not underestimate the importance of drawing from its experience in each operation.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the European Union, and acceding and associated countries, reaffirmed that the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security rested with the Security Council, and that the United Nations had a central role in the peace-building process to achieve stability and legitimacy in post-conflict State-building utilizing its unique capacity and experience. Peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building were often closely interrelated, which required a comprehensive approach to preserve the results achieved and prevent the re-emergence of conflicts.
The quest for peace required a comprehensive, concerted and determined approach to address the root causes of conflicts, including the economic, social, political, cultural and humanitarian problems often associated with them. Economic rehabilitation and reconstruction constituted especially important elements in the long-term development of post-conflict societies and in maintaining a lasting peace. International assistance played an important role in that regard. Regional organizations could play a role in post-conflict situations by building institutional mechanisms to deal with conflicts in a more structured and coherent way, and in close cooperation with the Security Council when facing problems. Peace-building elements should be included in the mandate of peacekeeping operations, such as the important preventive role played by civilian police.
The European Union’s first crisis-management operation was its Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which began operations on 1 January this year, and was conceived and established as a follow-on to the United Nations International Police Task Force based in Bosnia for the last seven years. The operation aimed at consolidating the success of the United Nations mission in reforming the police force and ensuring that the United Nations’ achievements were sustained over time. He stressed the need for the United Nations to develop peace-building capacities and strategies, and to implement programmes to support them. Those efforts required increased solidarity, sustained political will and adequate resources from the international community.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said the initiative to have a theme for the monthly wrap-up meetings was an innovation that could make those meetings more constructive and reflective. The current period was marked by uncertainty and instability, which could lead to conflicts and post-conflict situations that the United Nations could be called upon to address. Ensuring proper settlement of outstanding issues at the end of a conflict was vital to build peace on a solid foundation. The situation in Timor-Leste was a clear example, proving that coordinated action in a multilateral sphere was effective.
The same attention would be required from the international community in a new situation. The role of the United Nations in the post-conflict period was not restricted to peacekeeping, but also included reconstruction and development. It was, therefore, appropriate that the Secretary-General and the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council were present. Efforts to ensure coordination between the organs were nothing new. He recalled that in 1999 the Council had held a debate on post-conflict peace-building, highlighting the need for the entities of the United Nations system to cooperate closely and maintain a dialogue. That approach had resulted in the coordinated mechanism between the Security Council and ECOSOC regarding countries in Africa emerging from conflict. The importance of coordination with regional organizations had been underlined in the Council debate of 11 April.
The United Nations was the instrument best suited to create a climate to prevent conflict and provide coherent solutions to post-conflict problems, he concluded.
ISMAEL ARBAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the presence of the Presidents of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council was indicative of the importance of the issues discussed today. Of particular interest was handling of post-conflict situations in Africa, Asia and, more recently, in Iraq. His country was probably the only member of the Council today fully involved in a post-conflict situation, and it had a long and important relationship with the United Nations. During the period of national emergency, the assistance of the international community had saved millions of lives. The solidarity of the international community and, in particular, the Council stand, had been instrumental in bringing the war to an end. Angola’s Government had pledged to complete the peace process, in particular, to implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and address the problem of refugees.
United Nations assistance was a vital factor in the consolidation of peace, he said. The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had engaged in the post-conflict reconstruction in Angola, providing coordination and support for humanitarian and development activities. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies were also involved in the transition towards reintegration and reconstruction of the country. Building of institutional capacity was of particularly important. The Government was now engaged in economic reforms designed to help its people, and he hoped the donor community would mobilize again to provide the resources required for the recovery and development of the country. His Government was committed to reaching the objectives of peace, and he looked forward to the United Nations providing it with assistance to achieve those goals.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the peace-building efforts of the United Nations had been comprehensive, and coordination between other United Nations bodies and the Council was very important in that regard. A comprehensive approach to post-conflict situations required that there be no gap in sequencing from one phase to the other. A graphic example of a comprehensive approach could be seen, for instance, in Kosovo. Regional organizations had made an important contribution to that situation. In Kosovo, a particular responsibility lay with the parties – unfortunately, the international presence there often hampered cooperation between them. That lesson should be taken into account.
Afghanistan was moving towards a settlement of the conflict, largely because the settlement was based on principles agreed by Afghans themselves, endorsed by the Council. At the crucial stage leading to the general elections and the Constitutional Loya Jirga, the coordinating functions of the United Nations had proven more important than ever before. The lessons in peacekeeping in Sierra Leone showed how dangerous it was to let attention drop regarding post-conflict restoration. That reduction in attention by the international community, when the post-conflict process had not been completed, might be one of the reasons that conflict had transferred to other countries. In Timor-Leste, there was need for a quick reaction to changes in the country’s situation during its current post-conflict phase.
All of those lessons had to be taken into account regarding post-conflict restoration in Iraq, he said. There was a need to define clearly what the role of the United Nations and the Council would be at all stages of rebuilding Iraq. He did not rule out that a settlement in Iraq could be reached without United Nations participation, but he doubted that that kind of settlement would be, in the long term, effective and just. He believed there was a need, first and foremost, to define actions regarding the humanitarian problem in Iraq and also define how to address the problem of weapons of mass destruction, which directly related to the security situation in the region. His country was prepared to take an active part in ensuring the effectiveness of inspections in Iraq -- inspections that had to be continued. Regarding humanitarian matters, his country was prepared to suspend certain sanctions. Other components of the programme could be resumed under United Nations control. All those matters should be discussed in the Council, the sooner the better, for the benefit of the people of Iraq.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that today’s meeting presented a great opportunity to assess the work of the Council this month. The presence of the Secretary-General and Presidents of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council testified to the importance of coordinating the efforts of various bodies of the United Nations in post-conflict situations. There was no doubt that the United Nations had played an important role in helping many countries to emerge from conflict and restore their institutional structures. However, the role of the international community in dealing with root causes of conflict and prevention should remain a priority agenda item. That was in line with the Arab proverb that prevention was better than treatment.
The United Nations was involved in many successful experiences of post-conflict building. In particular, it had played an important role in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and Kosovo. The most recent example was Iraq, where the United Nations had a vital role to play in rebuilding the country. The many successes of the United Nations could be attributed to the presence of political will to help societies and countries involved and implement ambitious development programmes, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and re-establishment of infrastructures.
Turning to Iraq, he supported the vision of the Secretary-General on the role of the United Nations and the Security Council there, as well as his appeal to the Council to unite. The United Nations should help Iraq to maintain its sovereignty and independence. The Iraqi people should be able to elect their own Government and restore Iraq on the international arena. The settlement in Iraq could not be just and fair without effective participation by the United Nations. The Organization had helped achieve progress in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste, not to mention the steps to transfer the authority from the United Nations to the transitional Government in Kosovo. It needed to play a role in Iraq.
Success in Sierra Leone would not have been possible without the political will and investment of human and financial resources, he continued. He was satisfied with the efforts to move forward in Afghanistan. However, the Afghan people should make their own decisions concerning the political issues and the future of their country. That had been confirmed in the Kabul declaration.
In conclusion, he confirmed the need to respect the sovereignty of post-conflict States and pay special attention to their national conditions, as well as the need to let the people to decide their own destiny. The regional aspect of the issue should not be underestimated. It was necessary to have cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, for which a special meeting had been designated by the Council this month. In that connection, he said that the countries adjoining Iraq had shown total agreement regarding the need to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq and let the people elect their own Government. He believed that their recent communiqué could be a point of reference in dealing with the future of Iraq after the war.
DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa) said the United Nations was the only organization that could bestow legitimacy and credibility to transitional arrangements. The Secretary-General and his staff, acting with an approved United Nations mandate, had the political credibility, skills and objectivity for creating an enabling environment in which post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction could take place. The Council had consistently taken the principled position that its responsibilities did not end with the termination of hostilities. An integrated view of security had been adopted, which took development and reconstruction issues into account.
The Council had also remained open to establishing a working relationship with the Economic and Social Council and with international financial institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank, he said. The presence of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council Presidents was indicative of the Organization’s capability to address the complex challenges of post-conflict situations.
He said the Council was central to the success of post-conflict stability and transition. It should, however, consider the overall role of the United Nations in post-conflict situations in light of actively engaging regional partners and incorporating their views, which could be critical in the post-conflict period. In short, the United Nations was collectively larger than the sum of its individual parts. After successes and failures, it was the most appropriate instrument for ensuring an enabling environment was created in places of conflict and suffering, so that people could shape their own future.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that post-conflict situations demanded as much attention of the international community from the conflicts themselves. Profoundly, important tasks that must be undertaken in post-conflict situations included responding to the immediate needs of refugees and internally displaced persons and promoting their resettlement, restoring internal security and disarming ex-combatants. Also important were removal of landmines, restoration of services and reconstruction of basic infrastructures. The committed response of the international community to those issues was indispensable, for its failure to effectively respond to them could very well result in a resumption of a conflict.
For some time, Japan had been emphasizing the concept of “human security” at the United Nations, he continued. As globalization proceeded, it was becoming increasingly difficult to protect the lives, livelihood and dignity of individuals solely under the traditional framework of “State security”. That was particularly true in the cases of so-called “failed” or “bankrupt” States. At Japan’s initiative, a Commission on Human Security had been established at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Shortly, the Commission would submit its final report to the Secretary-General, which would be made public on 1 May. The report emphasized the task of “protecting and empowering people in post-conflict situations”.
Turning to the role of the United Nations in post-conflict situations, he said that the United Nations system had wide experience in that respect, but that did not mean that the Organization was not confronted with serious challenges. For example, the coordination of various tasks had not always been adequate. In a number of cases, gaps had emerged between the provision of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction and development assistance. There was no reason for such activities to be planned and carried out under separate policies and schedules. It was crucially important for the United Nations to consider how to implement the seamless and coherent delivery of assistance, from the humanitarian to the reconstruction and development stages.
The United Nations also had an important responsibility in maintaining the international community’s interest and commitment to post-conflict situations until peace had been consolidated, he said. Comprised of 191 Member States, the United Nations was the only genuine universal organization in the world today. Therefore, once it made a decision to become actively involved in a post-conflict situation, such a decision would be regarded as reflecting the will of the international community as a whole. It was important to remember that in countries emerging from conflict, from Afghanistan and Sierra Leone to Timor-Leste and Kosovo, as well as countries like Iraq, which was emerging from the shadow of a cruel dictator, international assistance would be much enhanced through the active involvement of the United Nations.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said post-conflict situations not only involved peace settlements, reconciliation, and addressing humanitarian situations, but also relations with neighbouring countries and stabilization in the region. Whether the United Nations could play a role depended on the political will of the parties. The support of the international community, both politically and materially, was an important guarantee for stabilization and development, which was especially true for developing countries, particularly in Africa. The United Nations should promptly formulate a comprehensive strategy for cooperation with regional and subregional organizations. Conflict situations varied. The United Nations should, therefore, take a tailored approach.
The international community was closely watching the post-conflict arrangements in Iraq, he said. As the Council had adopted resolutions regarding inspections, the “oil-for-food” programme and sanctions, the handling of those issues would require the participation of the United Nations in the post-conflict arrangements in Iraq. China was open to any programme that was in the interest of the Iraqi people and conducive to the stability and peace in the region as a whole. The United Nations and the Council should play their roles in that regard.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that it was necessary to better coordinate the Council’s action with those of other principal organs of the United Nations, since managing post-conflict situations required an integrated approach, given the increasing complexity of those situations. Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste were four success stories, as far as managing post-conflict situations was concerned. Now was the right time to take stock of the reasons for that.
It was clear that today’s discussion was taking place against the background of the situation in Iraq and the discussion regarding the role of the United Nations there, he said. The Council’s job in finding its role in Iraq could be helped by lessons to be drawn from the above-mentioned four cases. First of all, United Nations success there stemmed from the sense of legitimacy and justice. Clearly, the very nature of what the United Nations was doing in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste reinforced its credibility.
Of particular importance were the Organization’s efforts to preserve human rights and create relevant institutions, he continued. One of the common points which emerged from United Nations’ work was how to manage the aftermath of conflicts, including human rights violations. The desire for peace and stability should not impede the desire for truth, so that the societies could be rebuilt on a sound foundation. It was also important that the United Nations tailor its mandate to the specifics of the situation on the ground. As demonstrated by Kosovo, the participation of regional stakeholders was crucial. Being faithful to the principles of the Charter and a realistic approach should guide the United Nations in the choices it would be making regarding the situation in Iraq.
MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said, at times, in its exercise of responsibility for maintaining peace and security, the United Nations’ responsibility went beyond traditional peacekeeping, by ensuring that peace at the end of conflict was sustained. For that reason, the United Nations had been involved in post-conflict situation to ensure institutional and socio-economic reconstruction. Many of the issues on the Council agenda had strong post-conflict elements, especially in Timor-Leste, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
He said one prime example was Afghanistan, where winning the peace still remained a challenge. The restoration of peace there was of utmost importance to his country. The United Nations had to ensure that it remained engaged in the short, medium and long term on the reconstruction and recovery of the country. The issue of security also needed to be ensured. Unless those issues were simultaneously addressed, peace in Afghanistan would remain elusive.
Iraq presented a different challenge, he continued. There was a need to take immediate measures for security and reconstruction in which the international community must assist. Engagement of the international community through the United Nations would be the best assurance for the observance of Iraqi rights and ensuring durable stability. Post-conflict peace-building had become an important element in intra-State conflicts. Pakistani peacekeepers in Sierra Leone had prepared places of worship, school, hospitals and recreational facilities.
Where did United Nations involvement in post-conflict situation start and end? he asked. Premature withdrawal had led to disastrous consequences in the past. The United Nations had, therefore, an obligation to address each dispute without any selectivity. Once the process of peacemaking began, it had to be taken to its logical conclusions. Jammu and Kashmir presented a post-conflict situation over which three wars had been fought and which could lead to a new war. It was the United Nations’ obligation to enable the people of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination, according to the United Nations Charter. Any peace built on the compromise of principles was no peace at all, he said.
REVAZ ADAMIA (Georgia) said that, in most cases, the United Nations role in post-conflict situations was shaped and structured by the scope and nature of its involvement at the stage of conflict resolution. The extent of such an involvement was to be set as a benchmark, against which the success or failure of the United Nations in post-conflict situations was measured. In the United Nations Charter, the “action” by the United Nations was correlative to “promptness” and “effectiveness”.
Where such conditions were not present, he added, where the United Nations resolutions were dishonoured by inaction, due to the lack of will or sometimes by narrowly defined self-interest, high human, political and security costs were to be paid. That was a compelling reason that made intervention by a State or group of States inevitable to uphold objectives of maintaining international peace and security, as was the case in Iraq. Those States had sound moral, political and legal grounds for doing so. That was the main lesson the international community had learned in Iraq and had not yet come to learn in the region of his country -– Abkhazia.
The United Nations had an important role to play in post-conflict situations, given its unique expertise, he said. The Organization was particularly well-placed for that role, as it was capable of forging cooperation across institutional boundaries, between organizations and States. The United Nations must continue its sustained peace-building efforts in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, in particular, to address pressing issues of security and stability through establishing and increasing the capacity of the local army and police. Likewise, reconstruction of Iraq required the United Nations to play a vital role through utilizing its resources and expertise in achieving those goals.
It would greatly benefit the United Nations if it could draw a kind of “ready-to-use” model out of its post-conflict experience, he continued. The Council should commit itself to ensuring that its mandates were best tailored to meet the need of specific post-conflict situations and were fully implemented. The Council’s handling of the issue of Iraq’s post-conflict reconstruction could serve as a litmus test of its members’ commitments. The attempt to manipulate the issue with technicalities of previously adopted resolutions, and thus prevent the Council from lifting sanctions and pave the way for launching the reconstruction process in Iraq, was unacceptable.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the role of the United Nations in peace-building was gaining importance in light of United Nations successes in Angola and Mozambique, as well as in Kosovo and Sierra Leone. That role had differed in each conflict. Experience had shown that the United Nations had succeeded in developing expertise in planning peacekeeping operations subjected to various mandates. It had also established cooperation with regional organizations. However, the United Nations faced many challenges, among which was the fact that donor States had not met their pledges for assistance in post-conflict situations. Programmes for institution building, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), demining and prosecuting war crimes had also not been implemented.
The question of Iraq threatened to overturn principles of the United Nations Charter, he said. During last month, the Council had shown the readiness of the international community to deal with post-war Iraq. Council Resolution 1472 (2003) had referred to the Geneva Conventions regarding protection of civilians and the responsibility of the occupying Power in that regard. That was an issue to which he attached great importance. To avert further risks in the Middle East region, the coalition forces in control of Iraq must provide for the security of the Iraqi people, as well as respect their dignity. The international community must also consolidate efforts to establish a legitimate government. The occupation should be terminated and foreign forces withdrawn as soon as possible. The United Nations should undertake its pivotal role in the reconstruction of Iraq, bringing the legitimacy and the credibility of the United Nations to the process.
Although the issue of enhancing the role of the United Nations in post-conflict situations was important, the United Nations must also shoulder its responsibility for saving humanity from the scourge of war before war occurred.
INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said the key role of the United Nations in maintaining peace and security should also be applied to the crucial phase of post-conflict efforts. There was a need to promote democratic institutions and strengthen the rule of law while fostering sustainable development and judiciary measures. Before putting in place DDR efforts, it was also necessary to tackle the problem of small arms and light weapons.
Experience showed that an early United Nations involvement was required in post-conflict situations, and that its mandate should be determined at the beginning of the process. Involvement needed to go hand in hand with necessary material and human resources. The resources allocated to peacekeeping operations often abruptly vanished during the transition to the post-conflict phase. It was important to maintain the Council’s interaction with other key United Nations bodies. It was also necessary to adapt to particular situations, because no uniform structure could be applied to United Nations efforts in different post-conflict situations.
Flexibility was vital in order to adjust the mandates of the missions to the requirements on the ground, he said. Also indispensable was the evolving nature of United Nations involvement throughout the post-conflict period. The Organization should be able to adjust to the new demands as the situation evolved. It was also important to minimize the contribution of international personnel while building the capacity of local personnel.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said the involvement of the Council in conflict management had been accompanied by an awareness of the post- and pre-conflict situation. For some time now, the Council had been involved in conflict prevention, and much progress had been made. The Council tried to identify the early signs of conflict, so that timely intervention was possible. Effective management of post-conflict situations had taught that the crisis a country was emerging from deeply affected its people.
A robust post-conflict policy must be developed to prevent further conflict, he said. That had been the case in Sierra Leone and Kosovo. The collective record of the United Nations in post-conflict situations was rather outstanding. With hindsight, the results of what had been done in different situations were impressive. Key to success was the adoption of a comprehensive approach, including coordination of an overall strategy of security, humanitarian aspects and socio-economic policies. There was no fixed model that could be used in every post-conflict situation. Every situation required a specific approach. Experience must, therefore, be adapted to the given situation.
In a post-conflict situation, the United Nations should establish legitimacy and reweave the links of society. The United Nations could bring its unique expertise, as well as offer training, as had been done by donor countries and the international financial institutions. The European Union had had those elements in mind when it adopted the declaration on Iraq on 16 April in Athens, Greece, which said the United Nations must play a central role in the process leading to establishing a legitimate government there.
RICHARD S. WILLIAMSON (United States) agreed with the Secretary-General that every conflict was unique and added that the role of the United Nations and various regional organizations varied from case to case. The conflict in Afghanistan was different from Timor-Leste, for example, and the United Nations should tailor its involvement on a case-by-case basis. Such flexibility had been institutionalized in the Brahimi reform process. By virtue of having been involved in over 60 conflicts, the United Nations had developed important experience.
Part of the Organization’s flexibility was in understanding what the United Nations could and could not do, he continued. It should not overpromise or raise unrealistic expectations. Sierra Leone and other situations in Africa pointed to the need for putting in place donor coordination mechanisms and incorporating disarmament, demobilization and reintegration as part of post-conflict process. The need for coordination in humanitarian assistance as the Organization moved from peacekeeping to post-conflict reconstruction was also important. Many lessons could be learned from the conflict in Sierra Leone, for example, in the way the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) had responded to refugees and internally displaced persons and in the area of transitional justice.
The primary task of peacekeeping missions was to support the political process, he said. Another lesson on the humanitarian side was the importance of disseminating guidelines on the role of various agencies and mechanisms to avoid their overlapping among themselves and with non-governmental organizations. In Timor-Leste, Australia had played an indispensable role, and the United Nations had been extremely important in post-conflict resolution.
He went on to say that in Kosovo, after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had employed force to end the genocide of Kosovo Albanians, the United Nations had also played an important role. Although the work in Kosovo had not been completed, the United States was confident that the Council’s continued involvement was required. In Afghanistan, the coalition forces had ended the rule of the Taliban, and the United Nations had been the key coordinator in reconstruction of the country.
As some speakers had raised the topic of Iraq, he reiterated that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction no longer threatened international peace and security. The days when thousands disappeared were over, as were the days of torture and the use of chemical weapons against various groups of the country’s population. The coalition had liberated the Iraqi people from tyranny and was seeing that they got supplies until the country returned to normalcy, and the United Nations could play an important role in Iraq. Fortunately, predictions of humanitarian crisis had proven inaccurate. The coalition was committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, and it would not remain in the country longer than required. As the international community reached out to help the population in need, it must provide for a population with a voice in what came next. That was particularly important in cases where a new model of government was being instituted.
MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said that, in a post-conflict scenario, the maintenance of peace and security, an important value in itself, was also a precondition for development. The first priority of the United Nations in a post-conflict situation was to respond to the humanitarian needs of the people in a timely and organized fashion. Such a response must be administered without debate or delay. The United Nations should continue to develop skills, capacity and institutional memory in that regard in order to have them available and tuned for deployment whenever required. It was of the utmost importance that in every situation the United Nations was seen as a genuine friend and helper, not as an external body with a suspect motive.
He said experience had taught that the challenge of political settlement often required significant United Nations involvement. The ability of the United Nations to be prepared and to work with the people fairly, authoritatively and impartially was one of its greatest strengths, which must be jealously guarded. The Organization must enter a conflict or its aftermath as a committed, but not controversial, arbiter. If the people in conflict did not see the United Nations as strong, united and impartial, they could not rely on it to supervise or be part of any negotiations.
The United Nations must always be prepared, relying on experience, for potential post-conflict challenges, he said. Many situations were different, and unintended mistakes might be possible. The Council should, therefore, undertake modification and review of mandates relating to post-conflict situations, keeping in mind the political and cultural contexts in which they were taking place. Finally, in every post-conflict situation, it was crucial for the United Nations to support development programmes and the equal access of all parties to the benefits of such programmes. Given the relationship between peace and development, that approach must be faithfully held as a standard so that future conflicts might be discouraged.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said the United Nations had been effective and even indispensable in many conflicts. It each case, the role of the Organization had been different. In Iraq, there were immediate post-conflict and humanitarian challenges. It was important to ensure that Iraq became a functional, stable and self-governing State. The coalition nations had distinct responsibilities as occupying Powers to maintain security, protect civilians and provide services to the population. The international community and financial organizations also had an important role to play. The United Nations had extensive expertise that should be brought to bear in that situation.
United Nations agencies had an in-depth understanding of the realities on the ground and the challenges in Iraq, he said. Building on their experience, the United Nations could provide much-needed humanitarian assistance. It was necessary to support the people of the country in a flexible and pragmatic manner. Canada had allocated some $75 million to humanitarian relief and reconstruction in Iraq. Yesterday, it had announced that it would expand its role. It was prepared to provide police and other human resources and draw on its units of disaster response teams, if needed.
He added that the experience of Kosovo showed that one should not draw lessons too early. It was necessary to “wait for the dust to settle”. It was also necessary not to forget the crises in Africa. The people there needed the United Nations as much today as ever. The war in Iraq had not made them less vulnerable.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), associating himself with Greece’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said that whether it was in the Balkans, Africa, Afghanistan or Iraq, peace-building was the great challenge for the Council. Efforts to find a non-military solution in Iraq had failed. Millions of people there needed basic services to be restored in the aftermath of the war. The Council had successfully managed that phase by unanimously adopting resolutions 1472 and 1476, which were needed to prevent breakdown in the flow of humanitarian goods.
He said an important initial phase in a post-conflict situation was introduction of a political process taking into account the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. In Afghanistan, the United Nations had launched a process that might serve as a model for the future. This year, the Afghans hopefully would adopt a new constitution. However, every crisis was different, and there was no general recipe. Peace-building needed a comprehensive strategy including establishment of security including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, launching a process leading to legitimate institutions, economic development, justice and reconciliation and social development.
Peace-building could only be successful if supported by the people in the country, the international community and the region, he said. Only if activities were accepted by a majority of the people in the conflict area could a lasting solution be found. That task could best be managed and achieved by the United Nations and the Council, as the United Nations had the necessary capability, legitimacy and the credibility.
In Iraq, involvement of the United Nations did not exclude the work of other actors, such as regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, Member States and the international financial institutions. All those organizations were essential in peace-building. Peace-building in post-conflict was, at the same time, conflict prevention, as it helped prevent the resurgence of conflict. The legitimate rights of the Iraqi people had to be protected. Difficult decisions had to be taken on sanctions, inspections, the oil-for-food programme and legitimate governance, and the United Nations and the Council should play an essential role in that. He hoped the Council could overcome its past differences and return to its unity of purpose for the sake of the Iraqi people and the international community.
GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said that the important role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes were unanimously recognized. One of the most important functions of the United Nations had been action in the post-conflict period. The societies emerging from conflict required reconstruction of law and order, which, in turn, required the emergence of sovereign and legitimate power structures. As a unique and irreplaceable organization, the United Nations had an important role to play on behalf of the whole international community. The results had been mixed over the years, however.
The experience of Timor-Leste showed that the United Nations could contribute to the solution of crises, but the experiences of Rwanda and Somalia, for example, had not been that successful. It was important to learn the lessons from both successes and failures. When the Council provided unclear mandates or when there was insufficient political will, the problems had proven difficult to overcome. Among the positive lessons, he mentioned steps to ensure rapid self-determination and dialogue with regional structures, which were capable of backing up the Organization’s efforts.
Multilateral action was indispensable, for it could establish a firm basis for peace, he said. For example, despite tremendous problems in Afghanistan, now there was a strong basis for reconstruction. In the Americas, the United Nations had successfully curbed the war that was destroying many societies. On Iraq, he added that previous experience could help to ensure that the vital role of the United Nations could be secured there.
Speaking in his national capacity, the Council’s President, ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico), said, although the United Nations was still far removed from achieving its ideal, it was a valid ideal, nevertheless. In every crisis the United Nations was reborn. Despite all its shortcomings, to date the United Nations was the best creation of the international community and the only option for curbing war.
He said the United Nations had done much in a number of areas, including banning weapons of mass destruction, controlling environmental degradation, providing equality for women, protecting women and children in conflict situations and protecting human rights. It was a multifaceted institution, thanks to its diversity, among other things. Although peace was often still elusive, in its experience in post-conflict situations, the Organization was finding a way towards peace. Every conflict carried the seed for another conflict. For that reason, post-conflict rebuilding by the United Nations was the best chance for peace.
In post-conflict situations, the United Nations should help build communities and give them ways to address humanitarian situations, while preserving human rights. Pointing to several examples in successful post-conflict situation management, he said that in all situations the United Nations had understood that the key was a comprehensive approach, and that it had to draw upon the work of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations. The United Nations must pursue its tasks based on clear mandates and with sufficient resources.
Regarding Iraq, he said the Council had been deeply divided. Given the events, the differences would not be resolved by mere statements. The Council, however, was duty-bound to overcome its differences. That could only be achieved if it worked with unity of purpose concerning the role the United Nations should play in the reconstruction of Iraq. The key to reconstruction must be the inalienable rights of the Iraqis to decide their own future. The United Nations must also safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and guarantee that the national resources would be used by the Iraqi people for their benefit. The Organization should also help to maintain and safeguard the cultural heritage of the country. He was convinced that the United Nations was the best instrument for finding multilateral solutions to the challenges of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction.