SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT WELCOMES NEW SECRETARY-GENERAL, COMMITS TO WORKING CLOSELY TO ADDRESS MULTIFACETED WORLD THREATS

8 January 2007
SC/8933

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT WELCOMES NEW SECRETARY-GENERAL, COMMITS TO WORKING CLOSELY TO ADDRESS MULTIFACETED WORLD THREATS

8 January 2007
Security Council
SC/8933
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5615th Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT WELCOMES NEW SECRETARY-GENERAL,

COMMITS TO WORKING CLOSELY TO ADDRESS MULTIFACETED WORLD THREATS

Ban Ki-moon Highlights Deep Sense of Mission, Dedication,

As He Addresses Council for First Time as United Nations Chief

The Security Council today welcomed Ban Ki-moon –- participating today for the first time in his capacity as United Nations Secretary-General in a formal debate of the Security Council -- and committed itself to work closely and in a focused and action-oriented manner with him to better address the world’s multifaceted and interconnected challenges and threats, within its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. 

In a statement read out by the Council President for January, Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation), following an exchange of views on threats to international peace and security, the Council encouraged the Secretary-General to provide more regular, analytical reporting on regions of potential armed conflict, and stressed the importance of establishing comprehensive strategies on conflict prevention, in order to avoid the high human and material costs of armed conflict.

The 15-member body emphasized that the present global challenges and threats demanded a resolute and coherent response, based on the collective security system of the United Nations Charter.  It reaffirmed its commitment to address the whole range of threats to international peace and security, including armed conflict, terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Assuring the Council of his deep sense of mission, duty and dedication as he took the floor for the first time, Mr. Ban said that the Council members knew, perhaps better than anyone, that he assumed his post at a daunting time in world affairs.  The presidential statement, which called for a strategic approach to the assessment of conflict situations and the planning and management of peacekeeping operations, would be an important guideline for him in building such improved capacities and enhancing delivery of common objectives, and it would be a top priority for him in the coming weeks.

Pointing to an exceptionally challenging agenda ahead in 2007, Mr. Ban said at the debate’s conclusion that some of the most acute and persistent challenges were in Africa, pledging that one of his top priorities would be to step up efforts to address the crisis in Darfur.  He would also seek to consolidate the recent positive developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Equally, he would strive to inject new momentum into the search for peace and stability in the Middle East by rededicating himself to the work of the Quartet in resolving differences between Israel and Palestine, and supporting Lebanon towards a peaceful, democratic and fully independent future.

In the wider reaches of the region, he would continue to address the political and security challenges of Afghanistan and Iraq.  He would also keep working for a conclusion to the uncertainty that still hung over the status of Kosovo, which, if unresolved, threatened to cast a shadow over regional stability in South-Eastern Europe.

The representative of the United Kingdom worried that, too often, the Council and the international community were witnesses to the emergence of conflict, rather than actively involved in preventing it.  It saw, or failed to see, a crisis developing and agreed to act only when it was too late.  The Council and the Secretariat must form a stronger partnership in conflict prevention through ambitious implementation of resolution 1625 (2005), to ensure that it did better collectively at the early stages in anticipating and, thus, preventing conflict.  Peacekeeping missions, the recent demand for which had been striking, must have clearer mandates and time frames, and form part of a wider peacebuilding strategy.  In many post-conflict situations, the risk was that peacekeeping missions would become part of the landscape.  The Council should formulate a coherent approach by being more strategic in resolving the underlying issues and giving missions more purposeful mandates, he urged.

The five newly elected Council members were welcomed today at the start of their two-year terms:  Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa.  Among them, Belgium’s representative said that peacekeeping operations were the Council’s instrument of choice in shouldering its responsibility.  That showed the Council’s growing support for a more operational and pragmatic approach to managing its functions.  At the same time, he underlined the “risk of blind proliferation of such operations”, as not all crisis situations could be resolved in that manner.  Each case should be studied on the basis of specific criteria to determine which approach was best and, before deployment, a credible political process should be under way.

The representatives of France, Qatar, Italy, Slovakia, Ghana, Congo, United States, Indonesia, South Africa, Panama, China, Peru and the Russian Federation also made statements.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:25 p.m.

The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/2007/1, reads as follows:

“The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon.  The Council commits itself to work closely and in a focused and action oriented manner with him, in order to better address the multifaceted and interconnected challenges and threats confronting our world, within its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, as provided for by the Charter of the United Nations.

“The Security Council pledges to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirms its commitment to the principles of sovereign equality, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States, underlines further the need for respect for human rights and the rule of law, including protection of civilians in armed conflict, and the importance of adhering to the principles of refraining, in international relations, from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, and of peaceful settlement of international disputes.

“The Security Council, recalling that the 2005 World Summit Outcome recognized that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, emphasizes that the challenges and threats confronting the international community demand a resolute and coherent response, based on the collective security system of the Charter of the United Nations.  The Council reaffirms its commitment to address the whole range of threats to international peace and security, including armed conflict, terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

“The Security Council recognizes the essential role of the United Nations in the global effort to combat terrorism, which in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security.  The Council, therefore, welcomes the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  It stands ready to play its part in its implementation.  The Council, in keeping with its responsibility in the international community’s efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, underlines its determination to intensify its efforts, including in translating the commitments made at the Security Council Summit meeting, in the course of the 2005 World Summit meeting, into practical results.  It reiterates further that States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law.

“The Security Council reaffirms its resolve to take appropriate and effective actions against any threat to international peace and security caused by the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery, in conformity with its primary responsibilities, as provided for in the United Nations Charter.

“The Security Council recognises the importance of more effective international efforts to prevent conflict, including intra-state conflicts, and encourages the Secretary-General, as already requested in Security Council resolution 1625 (2005), to provide the Council with more regular, analytical reporting on regions of potential armed conflict, and stresses the importance of establishing comprehensive strategies on conflict prevention in order to avoid the high human and material costs of armed conflict.

“The Security Council underlines the need for improved United Nations capacity to assess conflict situations and for the effective planning and management of United Nations peacekeeping operations and for quick and effective responses to any Security Council mandate.  The Council also recognizes the importance of a more strategic approach to the oversight and direction of peacekeeping, to maximize the prospects for successful transition in the countries concerned, and so as to make possible the most effective use of scarce peacekeeping resources.  To this end, the Council requests the Secretary-General to focus in managing of and reporting on peacekeeping missions on the steps needed to achieve the objectives of the mission, both by the host Government and by the international community, and to propose to the Council, as appropriate, initiatives to accelerate the transition process.

“The Security Council emphasizes the importance of post-conflict peacebuilding to assist countries emerging from conflict in laying the foundation for sustainable peace and development and, in this context, welcomes the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission that should play an important role to achieve the objective of improving United Nations capacity to coordinate with regional organizations, countries in the relevant regions, donors, troop contributors and recipient countries, and to perform peacebuilding activities, in particular from the start of peacekeeping operations through stabilization, reconstruction and development.  It appreciates the progress made thus far in the initial work of the Commission on Burundi and Sierra Leone.  The Council underlines the importance of close interaction between the two bodies and will regularly address the work of the Commission in its own discussions and will take into account the advice of the Peacebuilding Commission.

“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to working in partnership with the Secretary-General and the Secretariat, other United Nations organs, regional, subregional and other intergovernmental organizations, non-Council members, including those Member States that are parties to a conflict, and with troop-contributing countries, financial and other stakeholders in pursuit of the common objective of maintenance of international peace and security.”

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider threats to international peace and security.

Introductory Remarks

Before opening the debate, VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) welcomed Ban Ki-moon, who was taking part in today’s meeting of the Security Council for the first time in his capacity as United Nations Secretary-General.  He agreed with remarks made earlier by the new Secretary-General, including those emphasizing that no single State could solve the abundance of current global contemporary challenges, whose only solution lay in multilateralism and in enhancing the role of the United Nations and the Security Council.  Mr. Churkin also expressed his gratitude and paid tribute to Kofi Annan, who, over the years, had fulfilled his duties in a dignified manner as Secretary-General.

Addressing the Council, Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said he was honoured to be in the historic Chamber and for the opportunity to meet with the Council’s distinguished members.  He assured them all of his deep sense of mission, duty and dedication, as he assumed his high office.  The members knew, perhaps better than anyone, that he did so at a daunting time in world affairs.  The international community faced a range of challenges –- from Darfur to the Middle East -- and other crises also troubled the world, from defending human rights to the need to move forward in reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

He said he looked forward to working closely with the Security Council to ensure that the Organization lived up to the considerable expectations the international community placed on it.  As the Council considered the perspective of the Member States on threats to international peace and security, he was here to listen to all of the members.

Statements

OLIVIER LACROIX ( France) welcomed new members and the new Secretary-General.  It was crucial that the Council be able to engage in dialogue with the Secretary-General to address the challenges facing the Organization, which were diverse in nature.  Armed conflict persisted around the world, particularly on the African continent.  The Council had the responsibility to respond to each threat and, in that regard, needed to play an increased role.  The deployment of some 80,000 “blue helmets” and new forces was an example of that enhanced role.  The Council also had to work together to address transnational challenges.  Security would only arise through collective efforts, including a shared vision of the challenges to peace and security and the solutions to address them.  In that regard, he stressed the need for cooperation between the Council, the Secretariat and regional organizations.

The Council must also be able to prevent crises, he said.  In that connection, the United Nations required an enhanced conflict-prevention strategy.  The Council also had to pay close attention to the management of the post-conflict period.  The Peacebuilding Commission must play its role to the fullest, in that regard.  It was also necessary to work closely with the Secretary-General to consider ways and means to perfect existing instruments for the maintenance of international peace and security.  The proper management of resources, flanking measures for the transitional period, close attention to the political process and the application of sanctions and other binding measures were also important.  Those strands of action must be considered together.  Peace and security also included the fight against poverty and impunity.  Justice was a precondition for peace.  The International Criminal Court would be an essential tool, in that regard.  The challenges were daunting and the work ahead was vast.

JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER ( Qatar) welcomed the Secretary-General, who was participating for the first time in the Council.  He was confident that his experience, wisdom and skills would be conducive to achieving the Council’s aims.  Cooperation between the Council and the Secretary-General was a sine qua non for the success of the Council’s work.

As the Council’s basic responsibility was the maintenance of international peace and security, it was fitting that the Council should be addressing that topic today, he said.  The Council also needed to look at new threats to international peace and security.  War threatened people.  The Council, thus, needed to focus on preventing conflict.  All United Nations organizations needed to work together to achieve that goal.  The Council’s primary task of maintaining international peace and security should be in line with the Charter’s principles of maintaining peaceful relations among States.  The Council could not deny the mutual link among development, peace and human rights.  None of the Council’s goals could be achieved alone without the others.  The establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council last year demonstrated the international community’s interest in those issues.

New challenges had emerged, he added.  The international community must stand against such scourges as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.  Coming from a region long plagued with conflict, he looked forward to the Council’s and the Secretary-General’s efforts in achieving peace.

ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) urged the United Nations Secretariat to enhance its essential role in presenting the Council with analyses of possible new crisis situations, pressing it to offer the greatest possible cooperation in that field.  The Council’s operative decisions should also give adequate consideration to the views of countries that, while not Council members, provided human, technical and financial resources to United Nations missions.  There was a strong need for a more regular interaction between the Council, the troop-contributing countries and the General Assembly bodies that had a voice in peacekeeping operations, as well as the Secretariat, whose crucial role was to ensure that the conduct of peacekeeping operations effectively matched the purposes for which they were established.  Italy, based on its renewed participation in United Nations-led missions, most recently in Lebanon, would continue to work in close cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in that respect.

He said he also believed that the essential role of the Organization in peacekeeping should be enhanced through closer cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, such as the African Union, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and others.  As a strong believer in the European Union’s values, Italy would be striving to ensure that the European political and military cooperation mechanisms interact more closely with the United Nations Secretariat, in compliance with the United Nations-European Union Declaration on Crisis Management adopted in September 2003.  On peacebuilding, the general membership and civil society had great expectations for the Peacebuilding Commission’s role in stabilizing countries emerging from conflict.  It was crucial that, not only the Commission, but the entire United Nations system focus a strategy to meet those expectations.

Turning to terrorism, he said he strongly supported the first Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  The action of the Council and its subsidiary bodies could not be separated in that field from that of other United Nations bodies in the fulfilment of their respective mandates.  Italy intended to provide constructive inputs to the Council in its fight against international terrorism, working to ensure that the international community perceived the challenge as a common endeavour.  Coordination between the various initiatives under way should be pursued effectively in the framework of the Global Strategy.  Overall, multilateralism was the best way to address the increasing threats on the international horizon.  That was why Italy aimed at further strengthening the Council’s actions through a comprehensive reform that encompassed representativeness, transparency and efficiency and, through that, highlighted the real ownership of the decision-making process by all members of the United Nations family.

PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) joined others in welcoming the Secretary-General.  While the tasks before the Council were truly multidimensional and far-reaching, its main objective was making the world safer and more just.  People around the world were looking to the Council and the Organization with great hope and expectation.  Words, statements and proclamations needed to be materialized into practical measures that made a real difference on the ground.  The Council, in addition to its usual focus on peacekeeping operations, must equally concentrate on conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding.  As part of the Council’s preventive diplomacy, it needed to concentrate on such areas as protection of civilians, women, peace and security, and children in armed conflict.  In that regard, he fully endorsed the concept of the responsibility to protect.

Regarding post-conflict peacebuilding, he said it was crucial that the Council make better use of the Peacebuilding Commission’s potential, as well as its coordination and advisory function.  Smooth transitions from peacekeeping to post-conflict ought to be addressed in a more comprehensive and systematic way, and should include substantive stabilization, reconstruction and development efforts.  In that connection, he highlighted the issue of security sector reform as one of the crucial challenges.  Among the Council’s top priorities were the imminent threat of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  More needed to be done in that area and tangible results were needed in terms of implementing existing decisions.

Stressing the need for a comprehensive reform of the Council, he said such reform must include both increasing the Council’s membership and improving its working methods.  The Council needed to be more representative, effective and transparent.  The Council also needed to be enlarged in both categories of its membership, as the present membership structure did not reflect the current world situation.  United Nations reform could not bypass its most powerful organ.  Some important progress had already been made to make the Council more transparent and efficient.  Mandate review was another essential element of the 2005 World Summit reform agenda –- one that could make the whole Organization, including the Council, more effective in its work.

EMYR JONES PARRY ( United Kingdom) said it was timely that the Council President had brought the members together with the new Secretary-General to look ahead at the challenges and opportunities they faced.  The Council had always been at the forefront of international efforts to maintain international peace and security, but the international landscape and the consequent requirement for Council activity had rarely seemed as complex.  In the last year, the Council had played a crucial role in helping to end the fighting between Lebanon and Israel; it had worked continuously to try to bring peace to Darfur; and it had responded firmly to the actions of Iran and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It had also continued to support African Union efforts to bring an end to the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire and it had supported the first free elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 40 years.

He said that the year ahead would doubtless be no less challenging.  It must be ensured that international efforts intensify to bring an end to the suffering for the people of Darfur.  The Council must also tackle the threats of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Above all, the international community needed a comprehensive Middle East strategy.  It must redouble its efforts to support those who wanted to achieve peace, rather than turmoil in that region.  At the core of that strategy would be Israel-Palestine.

Today’s meeting was an opportunity to reflect on how the Council, in partnership with the Secretary-General and Secretariat, as well as with other United Nations organs and international actors, could improve its capacity to meet those challenges, he said.  In addressing that, he focused on the conflict cycle, since the maintenance of international peace and security demanded, above all, more effective action to prevent conflicts occurring and reoccurring and, where they did exist, to help bring them to an end on a sustainable basis.  So, the challenges for the Council were how to be better at conflict prevention and resolution, crisis management, including peacekeeping, and post-conflict peacebuilding.  In each of those areas, the Secretariat could help to improve collective efforts.

He said that it was important that the issues were covered concisely, but cogently, and with proposals for action, in the presidential statement to be adopted later today.  On conflict prevention, the Council, through its resolution 1625 (2005), had set out an ambitious vision for a more comprehensive, integrated and proactive approach to prevention.  It had called for more regular and analytical reporting from the Secretariat.  It had asked the Secretary-General to help countries at risk of conflict to perform strategic conflict risk assessments, and it had stressed the importance of effective conflict-prevention strategies, embracing not just traditional security and political factors, but also economic, social and humanitarian, as well as the field of governance and human rights.

Too often, the Council and the international community were witnesses to the emergence of conflict, rather than actively involved in preventing it, he said.  It saw, or failed to see, a crisis developing and agreed to act only when it was too late.  The Council and the Secretariat must form a stronger partnership in conflict prevention through ambitious implementation of resolution 1625 (2005) to ensure that it did better collectively at the early stages in anticipating and, thus, preventing conflict. 

Drawing attention to a second priority -- peacekeeping -- he said that the surge in missions and numbers over recent years was striking.  It was incumbent on the Council, therefore, to ensure the most effective use of scarce resources.  An important part of that was to ensure that the missions had clearer, more focused mandates with specific objectives in given timeframes.  They should form part of a wider peacebuilding strategy to achieve the progress necessary, so that the missions were no longer needed.  In many post-conflict situations the risk was that peacekeeping missions would become part of the landscape and allow a status quo to persist.  So, the focus should be on a coherent approach that sought to resolve the underlying issues.  To do that, the Council should be more strategic in addressing the underlying issues and in giving missions more purposeful mandates.  That required from the Secretariat reporting that made clear proposals on how the missions could, and should, evolve and what action the countries concerned, the international community and the Council itself could take to accelerate transition from peacekeeping to self-sustaining peace.  A closely related point was post-conflict peacebuilding, for which the establishment of the new Commission was an important achievement.

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) said globalization had thrust upon the international community new responsibilities, the intensity of which could never have been anticipated.  The immediate priority must be to deal with ongoing conflicts and immediate threats, such as terrorism.  It was also necessary to focus on such issues as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, small arms and light weapons, and human rights abuses.  Global warming and the weaponization of outer space must also be on the Council’s radar, as well as the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  In short, threats to international peace and security could not be dealt with piecemeal through a patchwork of initiatives that merely addressed the symptoms and hardly touched the root causes.  The realities of today required that the Council pursue its mandate within a comprehensive conceptual framework of peace and security.

Development must be an important component of the collective security system, he said.  Combating poverty, as well as improving education and health care would save millions of lives and strengthen the capacity of States to combat terrorism, organized crime and other threats.  If development was deemed so crucial to security, then more determined and focused efforts should be made to monitor the implementation of the internationally agreed goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.  In dealing with conflicts, more emphasis was needed on conflict prevention.  Peace in Africa required a coherent approach to post-conflict peacebuilding, with a view to achieving sustainable development.  Global terrorism was one of the foremost threats to international peace and security today.  Terrorism was an assault on the human rights and the principles on which the United Nations was founded.  While terrorism could not be justified, alienation bred terrorism.  The international community must act with unflinching determination to address unresolved conflicts, which fostered support for terrorism.  Much remained to be done in terms of providing technical assistance to Member States.

Transnational organized crime also had the potential to heighten the risks of all the other threats, he said.  Terrorists used organized criminal groups to move money, men and materials around the globe.  Governments and rebels sold natural resources through organized criminal groups to finance war.  In the process, the capacity of States to establish the rule of law was weakened.  Further, preventing the spread and the use of weapons of mass destruction by States and non-State actors was imperative for a more secure world.  A related issue was the threat posed to international peace and security by the proliferation of small arms.  The issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was related to disarmament.  Preventing the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction was imperative for a more secure world.  It behoved the Council to look for more creative ways of actively engaging in its work the United Nations wider Membership.  Such an approach would make the Council’s work more effective.

JOHAN VERBEKE (Belgium) said that, over the past decade, the concept of security had expanded from a narrow political and military concept to one with new aspects that corresponded to new threats and challenges, be they terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, serious human rights violations, organized crime, fragile States or environmental degradation.  In order to meet those threats, an effective multilateral system was needed that was founded on respect for international law.  For Belgium, the Security Council was at the heart of the solution.  Essential in the new concept of security was recognition that, at the end of the day, it was the security of people that was at stake.  Thus, he welcomed the Council’s growing attention to the protection of civilians in armed conflict.  Now, it was time to implement the relevant resolutions.  Of equal importance was the close monitoring and rigorous implementation of the arms embargoes in conflict areas, as it was first and foremost civilians who were the first victims of those weapons, owing to a lack of compliance with the arms bans.

He said that operationalizing the principle of the responsibility to protect was now part of the work of the Security Council.  Terrorism posed one of the greatest threats to international peace and security, and the Council played a leading role in global action against that scourge.  He welcomed the adoption of resolution 1624 (2005), which was a good example of the preventative dimension of the Council’s work.  The Council could also consider how best to counteract the media that promoted hatred, which incited violence before and during conflict, in order to prevent its resurgence.  Words could be just as deadly as weapons. 

Conflict prevention was the main but less visible task of the Council, as conflict management was its most visible, he said.  Peace operations were the instrument of choice of the Council in shouldering its responsibility.  Those operations covered a broad range, from classic peacekeeping operations to multidimensional ones culminating in transitional administrative missions.  That showed the Council’s growing support for a more operational and pragmatic approach to shouldering its functions, and he welcomed it.  At the same time, he urged caution at the “risk of blind proliferation of such operations”, as not all crisis situations could be resolved in that manner.  Each case should be studied on the basis of specific criteria to determine which approach was best.  Before deployment, a credible political process should be under way.  The establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission completed the conceptual evolution of the Council’s work from preventive diplomacy to crisis management to peacebuilding.  He hoped the Commission would be flexible, effective and pragmatic, and free from procedural hindrances.

BASILE IKOUEBE ( Congo) welcomed the Secretary-General and extended wishes for full success in the accomplishment of his noble and delicate mission.  He was pleased that the Council was beginning the year with today’s debate.  In 2006, threats to international peace and security had been present in various conflicts, including terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Such threats were a constant danger to people living in fear and under threat.  The best way to cope with threats to international peace and security was, first and foremost, prevention.  He was pleased that the culture of prevention was beginning to take root in the United Nations and certain States.  Substantial progress had already been achieved, with, among other things, the adoption of resolution 1625.  He also hailed the Assembly’s recent adoption of a Global Strategy to combat terrorism.

The best way to solve crises was to reduce the risk of them, he said.  While Governments had the responsibility to prevent conflict, they were sometimes unable to live up to that expectation.  External support was, therefore, needed.  Among the machinery for the settlement of conflict was political dialogue.  His delegation would help the Secretary-General in his mediation efforts.  When prevention was not enough, however, there was the sad necessity of conflict management, including strengthening the capacity for peacekeeping and partnerships, within the United Nations system and within regional organizations.  He also welcomed positive relations between the Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.   The determination of the African continent was not always enough to cover logistical or management needs in such complex situations as Darfur.

The year 2006 had also been a reminder of the threat of weapons of mass destruction, which could only be dealt with through the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  It was important to implement that instrument in full, taking into account the three pillars of disarmament.  Weapons of mass destruction would always be a threat to humankind.   Council unity and objectivity was crucial.  He welcomed the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission, which had made its first tentative steps, and also emphasized the need to take into account development and human rights in any conflict-prevention strategy.

ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF ( United States) said that, as the work of the Council over the past years had demonstrated, the range of challenges facing the international community had grown more complex and more challenging.  The Council must act, not only to manage conflict, but also to prevent it.  The reality was that a significant amount of its time was spent dealing with intra-State conflict, rather than conflict between States.  Little comfort should be taken from that fact.  Not only did the Council need to act to protect civilian populations that were the target of their own Government, but, in today’s world, events in one country had an impact on the world beyond its borders.  Internal conflicts created unstable borders, increased regional tensions and created significant economic and social burdens.

He said that the international community had long recognized that a general breakdown of governance and political order, terrorism, cross-border activities of armed groups, widespread and systematic human rights violations and outflows of migrants and refugees all threatened international peace and security.  The Council must be ready to identify and address those kinds of threats before they broke out into open conflict or created unacceptable human or material costs.  It must also strive, together with the Secretariat, to ensure that traditional peacekeeping operations continued to benefit from more sophisticated approaches to assessment and planning.  At a time of growing demand for peacekeeping, the Council should properly exercise its responsibilities, working with other United Nations bodies to ensure sufficient oversight and management of peace operations.

In that regard, he said he was very troubled by the recent reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by personnel participating in some United Nations missions, and he urged the Secretariat to take appropriate action to ensure that those reports were fully investigated and that those responsible for any such abuses were held accountable.  It was also critical for the Council to help countries emerging from crisis to transition to a more stable, long-term path of economic and political development.  To that end, he welcomed the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Its success would be measured on the ground in Burundi, Sierra Leone and other countries in which it would engage.

He said he knew, with unfortunate certainty, that the Council would continue to be seized with issues of combating terrorism and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Last week, Al-Qaida had issued an explicit threat against the United Nations and its peacekeepers overseas.  It was known that terrorists still worked to kill innocent civilians around the world, and that the Council had a responsibility to meet those threats with unity of purpose and clear resolve.  It must also continue to work to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons and their delivery means.  That applied not only to terrorists that sought them, but also to States that posed a threat to international peace and security.

In facing those and other challenges, the Council must be prepared to act quickly to respond to emerging threats or developing crises, he added.  But, it must act in a way that improved the situation on the ground in affected areas.  Efforts must focus on improving the abilities of the parties to conflict to reach a solution, and not to make that solution more difficult or simply score political points for one side or the other.  Better ways must also be found to anticipate crises and act to prevent the outbreak of, or relapse into, conflict.

REZLAN ISHAR JENIE ( Indonesia) said that, at the beginning of the new year, he carried a feeling of both contentment and dissatisfaction.  He took comfort in witnessing the cessation of some conflicts and the transformation of conflict-affected countries into ones that were steadily rebuilding and reconstructing.  The experience in all those conflicts reaffirmed the critical importance of peacekeeping operations in the fulfilment of the Council’s primary responsibility in saving humankind from the scourge of war.  The continuing importance of peacekeeping missions should be duly recognized.  Successful missions in the past had been ensured by strict observation of the fundamental principles of peacekeeping, such as the consent of the parties and impartially.  Peacekeeping alone, however, was not sufficient if the goal was sustainable peace, he added.  Post-conflict peacebuilding was vital.  The Peacebuilding Commission would be critical in helping war-torn societies make the transition towards durable peace.

In addressing conflicts, he reaffirmed the need for respect for the principles of sovereign equality, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States, as well as the principles of refraining from the threat or use of force.  The principles of peaceful settlement of disputes, inclusive dialogue, constructive collaboration and preventive diplomacy should be kept a priority in addressing threats to international peace and security.  Sanctions should be the last resort, with clear, transparent and measurable timetables.  In the Middle East, peace remained far from a reality.  The situation in the Middle East would remain grim and protracted if the Israel-Palestine conflict was not resolved in a just and peaceful way.  Settling that conflict in a way acceptable to all parties would have a profound impact on the prospect of peace in the region.

As a victim of terrorist attacks, Indonesia was convinced that the Council should remain vigilant and act in accordance with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and international law, he said.  He also saw the urgent need for dialogue to address the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Asia.  While the threat of nuclear weapons had subsided in other regions, a new nuclear theatre might be developing throughout West and East Asia.  It was, therefore, important to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of disarmament must be strengthened and there should be a balanced understanding among the Treaty’s three pillars, namely non-proliferation, disarmament and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.

Given the level of complexity and magnitude of the challenges that humankind was dealing with in the present day, partnership was the key word, he said.  “We cannot go it alone,” he added.  Conceptually, peace might require a master architect, but in execution it needed the labour of many.  The Council’s membership and its working methods were in need of substantive revision.  The Council’s comprehensive reform was an integral feature of the Organization’s overall reform process.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO ( South Africa) said that, 60 years ago, the world had faced different kinds of threats, mostly emanating from inter-State conflicts.  Today, it was challenged by complex, multifaceted and interconnected threats that went beyond the Council’s mandate.  For example, there was the fundamental threat of poverty and underdevelopment, which was at the root of most conflicts that found their way onto the Council’s agenda.  In fact, even threats posed by terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had a common thread linking them to poverty and underdevelopment.  Yet, the mere existence of nuclear weapons was itself a threat against international peace and security.

He said that there was little doubt that poverty alleviation was the most effective tool for conflict prevention.  The dilemma facing the Council was that the issues of poverty and underdevelopment should not, and must not, be left to an organ of such limited membership.  The General Assembly, which enjoyed universal membership, remained the central multilateral forum for addressing the pressing global issues and challenges presently confronting all States.  The responsibility for managing and achieving worldwide economic development and social progress, as well as responding to threats to international peace and security, must be shared among all States and exercised multilaterally through the United Nations.  The active participation of each and every main organ of the Organization was crucial, both in exercise of its respective functions and powers, without upsetting the balance established by the Charter.  A range of other multilateral institutions, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) also had important roles in addressing the current threats.

The Council, as presently constituted, was limited in the way it could deal with the threats of the twenty-first century, he said.  Mandated to maintain international peace meant that the Council would have far-reaching impact on the lives of many people worldwide.  In recent years, however, the Council had been too quick to threaten or authorize enforcement action in some cases, while being silent or inactive in others.  For example, the Palestinian-Israeli issue was a legitimate item for the Council.  The Council, however, had failed to act even in the face of the most shocking contraventions of international law.  Instead, it had increasingly resorted to taking up issues that did not fall within its mandate.  Often, the Council had resorted to Chapter VII of the Charter as an umbrella for addressing issues that might not necessarily pose a threat to international peace and security, when the Council could have opted for alternative provisions.  Chapter VII should be invoked, but as a measure of last resort.

RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) welcomed the opportunity to address the issue of current threats to international peace and security.  Historically a country of many ethnic, cultural and religious groups, Panama was a demilitarized State that adhered to the doctrine of human security as part of its legal canon.  His country also had a tradition of contributing to the pacific settlement of controversy.  Since the United Nations’ establishment, the world had changed dramatically.  Destabilization as a result of poverty, injustice, marginalization, scarcity of natural resources and ethnic, cultural and religious conflicts was the source of today’s greatest threats.  Transnational organized crime, the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and fundamentalism also posed threats.

Dealing with such threats required an understanding of their root causes, he added.  While a large share of the responsibility fell on the United Nations, other organizations, States and non-governmental organizations also had a responsibility.  Further, while the Council had the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, not all threats should be immediately addressed.  Other organs could contribute, including the Secretariat, the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council.

The spirit and reason for the Security Council’s establishment had been the need to have one single organ in the United Nations to resolve critical situations before they developed into conflicts of greater complexity, he continued.  The Charter demanded that the Council cooperate with regional organizations before considering sanctions or the use of force under Chapter VII.  Humanity had placed its hope in the Organization.  All United Nations decisions, particularly those of the Council, should be adopted in strict conformity with international law. 

WANG GUANGYA ( China) said the international community was facing unusual times posing major tests.  After “9/11”, profound changes had swept the international security landscape, with traditional threats persisting unabated and non-traditional threats becoming ever more acute.  In the face of that situation, the Council had not evaded its responsibility, but had worked hard to adapt itself to the contemporary changes, shifting from peacekeeping deployment to a gradual focus on reconstruction and alleviation of the symptoms and root causes of conflict.  It had also responded to new threats, such as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  In September 2005, Heads of State and Government had gathered in the Chamber and unanimously adopted the landmark resolutions 1624 and 1625.  Indeed, the changes in the international situation had prompted progress in the Council’s work and expanded the scope of its agenda.

He said that, as the core of the collective security system, the Council was confronted by numerous challenges in an ever-changing situation.  In China’s view, multilateralism must be upheld and enhanced, and the Security Council’s authority preserved.  The Council should take a long-term and strategic perspective that covered all aspects of conflict, from peacekeeping to post-conflict reconstruction, and it should enhance coordination with the General Assembly and listen to the views and concerns of non-Council members, especially those of the States concerned in a conflict.  It should also strengthen coordination with relevant regional organizations, and improve its own working methods and enhance its efficiency.

The Secretary-General had a unique role to play in mediating international and regional issues, he said.  Behind the heavy agenda of the Council had been the support provided by successive Secretaries-General and their teams.  He had highly appreciated the work of Mr. Annan in the past decade and expected an even more outstanding performance from Mr. Ban, who brought to the position diligence, perseverance, moderation and knack for constructive.  China would continue to support the work of the Secretary-General and enhance cooperation with him.  It was convinced that the future of the United Nations and the Security Council would be bright.

JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) welcomed the new Secretary-General and wished him every possible success.  As development, peace and security, and human rights were interlinked, coordinated actions were needed to address threats to international peace and security.  While globalization had had a major impact on the potential of economic inclusion and the sharing of knowledge, it also had a dark side.  New risk factors had arisen as a result of globalization.  A large part of the Council’s agenda was taken up by intra-State conflicts.  To prevent such conflicts, it was necessary to address the issue of military and institutional recovery.  It was also necessary to pay closer attention to structural factors, such as poverty and organized crime.  Unresolved inter-State conflicts also required attention.  The Council must be vigilant in protecting people when States were unable or unwilling to comply with its obligations.

Equally urgent was the need to strengthen disarmament and non-proliferation regimes, he said.  Further progress was needed in that regard, in order to develop security based on cooperation and prevent a global arms race.  Terrorism, a universal scourge, was unacceptable for any reason and must be fought without exception.  The Council’s resolute action was fundamental to halting that threat.  The actions of irregular armed groups, trafficking in drugs and other forms of organized crime were also threats to security.   It was also important to recognize the role that the environment played in preserving international security.  Deforestation, pollution and climate change all had a negative impact on people’s ability to survive.  Peru remained committed to contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Mr. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation), in his national capacity, highlighted the special significance of today’s meeting, given the fact that the new Secretary-General was participating for the first time in the formal work of the Security Council.  In September 2005, world leaders had debated the topic under consideration today, but there could be no doubt that the world not had become more stable or predictable.  The international community continued to face broad challenges in interrelated spheres, including an escalation of armed conflict, international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as the danger such weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists and extremists.

There was now a growing awareness that there was no alternative to consolidating the central role of the Security Council and the United Nations in finding collective solutions to the growing international and regional threats and challenges, he said.  Those included the war in Lebanon, the problems pertaining to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the situation in Darfur.  On all those and other pressing problems, the Council had been able to reach agreement and adopt effective solutions, in the interest of long-term stability.

The Council and the United Nations had been criticized for a lack of effectiveness, but its members should not be pessimistic, he said.  Only now, when the world had rid itself of the cold war and was painfully shedding the illusion about the effectiveness of the unilateral approach, did the United Nations and the Security Council, for the first time, have an opportunity to fully realize their potential.  Working in cooperation with all interested partners, the Russian Federation would work with the Council in preventing and finding solutions to disputes and armed conflicts, including in Africa.  Special attention should be given to strengthening the Organization’s capacity in the area of peacebuilding.

He said that the Security Council remained the “hallmark” of the Organization.  There were presently 19 peace operations in the field, employing more than 80,000 military and police.  His country continued to build on its contributions.  At the same time, not all parts of the United Nations machinery were being fully used.  The international legal basis for peacekeeping should be strengthened in a way that reaffirmed the multilateral approach to crisis settlement.  Combating global terrorism was also key to forming a system of collective security, and that effort should be the subject of constant attention by the Council and its Counter-Terrorism Committee.  More energetic attention should also be paid to preventing deadly weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.  Implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) should be strengthened.  The Council faced major tasks and, thus, it was important to make rational use of existing resources, focusing on threats to international peace and security and observing the different responsibilities of the Organization’s main bodies.  Enhanced transparency and accountability were also key.

Responding to the discussion, Secretary-General BAN first paid tribute to former Secretary-General Annan for his significant contribution to the United Nations work in the past 10 years.  He had listened carefully to members, who had spoken with one voice on the need to view conflict management in a holistic manner.  The United Nations faced an unprecedented demand for peacekeeping, as well as a range of growing demands for preventive diplomacy, good offices, peacebuilding and efforts in conflict management.  The Council, and the Organization as a whole, were going through one of the busiest periods in its history, with a record number of peace operations, resolutions and reports over the past few years.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations had expanded to cover 18 missions with a historic high of 100,000 personnel in the field and climbing.  The total number of peace operations in which the United Nations was engaged, in some form, had risen to near 30.  That globalized presence required ever-closer cooperation between the Council and the Secretariat, including the Secretary-General.

“Some of our most acute and persistent challenges were in Africa,” he said.  One of his top priorities would be to step up efforts to address the crisis in Darfur, where the humanitarian situation was growing worse, despite all the international community’s declarations and proclamations over the past three years.  In the coming days, weeks and months, he could coordinate closely with leaders in Africa and beyond, and would work through his Special Envoy for Darfur to secure the constructive engagement of the Sudan, African Governments and the international community as a whole.

At the same time, the United Nations needed to stay the course in other parts of that continent, he said.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was necessary to ensure that recent positive developments, enabled by the Organization’s largest peacekeeping operation, were consolidated, so that lasting peace and stability took hold in the heart of Africa.  He looked forward to discussing those and other issues at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa at the end of the month.

Equally, he would strive to inject new momentum into the search for peace and stability in the Middle East, he said.  That meant a rededication to the work of the Quartet in resolving differences between Israel and Palestine -– differences that carried such a unique symbolic and emotional charge for people far beyond the conflict’s physical boundaries.  It meant supporting Lebanon in everything from its physical reconstruction to its quest, as yet incomplete, for a peaceful, democratic and fully independent future.  In the wider reaches of the region, it meant continuing efforts to address the political and security challenges of Afghanistan and Iraq.  By the same token, it was necessary to keep working for a conclusion to the uncertainty that still hung over the status of Kosovo, which, if unresolved, threatened to cast a shadow over regional stability in South-Eastern Europe.

He said he was glad to be joining the Council today for the discussion on a range of issues, which no country could resolve on its own.  As the Council President had pointed out, the threats facing the international community in the current century were multifaceted and interconnected.  That was true whether it was considering the threat of terrorism, a faceless enemy that knew no boundaries, or weapons of mass destruction, which presented a unique existential threat to all humanity.  Both demanded urgent, sustained and comprehensive attention.

The same was true of HIV/AIDS and other pandemics that took not only a huge human, social and economic toll on countries that could least afford it, but also posed threats to peace and stability, he said.  The same was true of extreme poverty, which bred a hopelessness that allowed for neither mercy nor dignity, and which was preyed on by zealots and extremists to fulfil their agendas and ambitions.  The same was true also of egregious human rights violations, weakened governance and failure to uphold the rule of law.  Over the past years, the United Nations had sought to strengthen the three pillars of the institution -- security, development and human rights, all underpinned by the rule of law -- in order to build a more peaceful, prosperous and more just world for succeeding generations.

“But we must also do more to invigorate disarmament and non-proliferation efforts,” he said.  That would require strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes themselves, as well as addressing the special challenges posed by the cases of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  While the Council had acted by adopting important resolutions on those issues, a great deal remained to be done.

“I am committed to strengthening and consolidating the work of the United Nations in this direction,” he said, noting that he will try to play the role of harmonizer and bridge-builder, and work to restore trust between Member States and the Secretariat.  He would make it his priority to strengthen the United Nations ability to play its role to the fullest extent in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  “I see all of those as a continuum, and the role of the United Nations as one that must be coordinated, comprehensive and consistent”, he added.

To that end, it was necessary to look at the organizational structures of all departments and offices related to peace and security and find ways to strengthen capacities, he said.  To meet the growing demands of globalized operations, it was necessary to identify ways and means to build a staff that was truly mobile, multifunctional and accountable, and that lived up to the highest ethical and professional standards.  The draft presidential statement called for a strategic approach to the assessment of conflict situations and the planning and management of peacekeeping operations.  That would be a top priority for him over the coming weeks.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.