SECURITY COUNCIL REITERATES COMMITMENT TO CONFLICT PREVENTION IN AFRICA; PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT FOLLOWS DAY-LONG DEBATE
SECURITY COUNCIL REITERATES COMMITMENT TO CONFLICT PREVENTION IN AFRICA; PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT FOLLOWS DAY-LONG DEBATE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5735th Meeting (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL REITERATES COMMITMENT TO CONFLICT PREVENTION IN AFRICA;
PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT FOLLOWS DAY-LONG DEBATE
Secretary-General Says Greater Investment in Prevention Could Save
United Nations Considerable Pain and Expense –- in Darfur, Somalia, Elsewhere
Acknowledging the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes and promoting necessary preventive actions in response to threats, the Security Council today reaffirmed its commitment to the full and effective implementation of its own 2005 resolution on conflict prevention, particularly in Africa.
In a statement read out by the Council President for the month of August, Pascal Gayama (Congo), the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide it with a report on options for further implementation of resolution 1625 within 60 days.
The Council expressed support for the comprehensive and global approach recommended by the Secretary-General in his report on the prevention of armed conflict (A/60/891), which includes structural prevention to address the root causes of conflict; operational prevention to ensure effective early warning mechanisms, mediation, humanitarian access and response, protection of civilians and targeted sanctions in the face of immediate crises; and systemic prevention to prevent existing conflicts from spilling over into other States. The Council encouraged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to strengthen the Organization’s risk assessment and conflict prevention capacities in Africa and around the world.
In this connection, the Council stressed the crucial role of the Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities and on matters relating to the prevention and resolution of conflict, as well as the contribution, as appropriate, of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. It also welcomed the forthcoming November seminar of the Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution, particularly in Africa, which is expected to contribute to the elaboration of an effective global conflict-prevention strategy.
The Council also encouraged further progress and greater coherence on such issues as security sector reform; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; transitional justice and the rule of law; electoral practices; peacebuilding; democratic governance; development; humanitarian assistance; and return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The Secretary-General was requested to include in his report proposals for how better to coordinate the positions and expertise of relevant organs of the United Nations system in that regard, including through regular interaction with Member States.
Welcoming the regional organizations’ growing contribution, the Council looked forward to the report of the Secretary-General, in consultation with relevant organizations, on specific proposals on the arrangements for further cooperation and coordination with regional organizations in order to contribute to common security challenges and promote the dialogue and cooperation between the Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. Welcoming a recent agreement, which consolidated the basis of the partnership, the Council underlined the need for a stronger and more structured relationship between the two bodies. It also underscored the need for African subregional bodies to enhance their capacities in early warning and conflict prevention to respond more promptly to the emerging threats to security in their areas.
Nearly 35 speakers in the debate that preceded the adoption of the presidential statement considered ways to enhance the Council’s effectiveness in conflict prevention and resolution on the troubled African continent. The President of the Security Council for the month of August, Pascal Gayama (Congo), who initiated today’s meeting said the discussion built on a series of such Council meetings –- including those on threats to international peace and security, energy and natural resources, and climate change –- through which the 15-member body was gradually integrating deeper causes of conflict into its areas of investigation. A multiplicity of risk factors meant that there was a need to take new initiatives to deal with those challenges.
Addressing the Council at the opening of the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, from the time he had assumed office, he had made it clear that resolution of African conflicts was a top priority. At the same time, greater investment in prevention could save the Organization considerable pain and expense -- in Darfur, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Northern Uganda, Western Sahara and elsewhere. More resources should be devoted to conflict prevention. It was also important to increase the capacity of conflict mediation.
Noting the need to seek new approaches to today’s complex conflicts, he said that his forthcoming report on their causes and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa would recommend a comprehensive review of the 1998 recommendations on the matter. The review would cover the commitments made, the actions taken, the progress achieved and the lessons learned. In the next few months, he would also present proposals for strengthening the capabilities of the Department of Political Affairs, with the goal of making more effective use of his good offices. He believed in engagement and dialogue, not confrontation. It was better to respond proactively, before a crisis fully developed.
He also informed the Council about his forthcoming visit to the Sudan next week, saying that the trip was not about breakthroughs, but about consolidating progress and laying the groundwork for forward movement. In Juba, he planned to underscore the United Nations commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South -- the cornerstone of peace in the Sudan. He also wanted to show solidarity with colleagues working in very difficult conditions in the field.
The President of the General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, in a statement delivered by the representative of Haiti, said that prevention of armed conflict -- one of the principal purposes of the United Nations -- had been included as a specific item of the agenda of the Assembly since 2002. “We should strive to provide the necessary tools for the United Nations to play this crucial role, while fully respecting the sovereignty of all Member States,” she said. Operationalizing conflict prevention was an overriding priority, and she hoped that cooperation and coordination among the principal organs of the United Nations would intensify in that vital area.
Leslie Kojo Christian (Ghana), Acting Chair of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, called for increased cooperation between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission and said that the Commission looked forward in the coming year to examining ways to better engage the Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, including in developing the most appropriate mechanisms for providing advice, as necessary, and in accordance with the Commission’s founding resolutions.
Statements were also made today by representatives of Panama, Peru, Slovakia, Italy, United States, United Kingdom, Ghana, South Africa, Qatar, China, Belgium, Russian Federation, Indonesia, France, Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), Sudan, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Namibia, Argentina, Uganda, Guatemala, Viet Nam, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Croatia, Honduras, Algeria, Japan, Benin, United Republic of Tanzania, Libya and Gabon.
The meeting was called to order at 10:12 a.m. and suspended at 1:14 p.m. It resumed at 3:10 p.m. and was adjourned at 5:05 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/2007/31, reads as follows:
“The Security Council, bearing in mind its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, acknowledges the importance of the settlement of disputes by peaceful means and promoting necessary preventive action in response to threats to international peace and security.
“The Security Council recognizes the important role of regional organizations in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations as well as its relevant resolutions and Presidential statements. In this regard it welcomes the increasing cooperation between the United Nations and African Union.
“The Security Council recalls that the prevention of conflict remains a primary responsibility of Member States.
“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the full and effective implementation of resolution 1625 (2005) on conflict prevention, particularly in Africa, requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within sixty days on options for further implementation of its resolution 1625 (2005), and recalls the relevant Presidential statements in particular S/PRST/2006/39, S/PRST/2006/45, S/PRST/2006/57, S/PRST/2007/1, S/PRST/2007/3, S/PRST/2007/7, S/PRST/2007/22 and S/PRST/2007/24.
“The Security Council also stresses the need to carry out efforts to increase women’s participation as contributors and beneficiaries in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. In this regard, it calls for the further implementation of its resolution 1325(2000).
“The Security Council notes the varied nature of conflicts, which involve not only conflicts between States and within States, but also new emerging threats, and thus reiterates its determination to strengthen its role in preventing and resolving conflict in all its forms.
“The Security Council recalls its previous presidential statements concerning the various factors and causes that play a role in inciting, worsening or prolonging conflicts in Africa, and in particular the factors and causes that have been highlighted and addressed by the Council.
“The Security Council supports the comprehensive and global approach recommended by the Secretary-General in his report on the prevention of armed conflict (A/60/891), namely: structural prevention, to address the root causes of conflict; operational prevention, to ensure the effective operation of early warning mechanisms, mediation, humanitarian access and response, the protection of civilians and targeted sanctions in the face of immediate crises; and systemic prevention, to prevent existing conflicts from spilling over into other States.
“In this context, effective coordination between and within United Nations organs, programmes, funds and agencies involved in policy formulation and implementation is vital for ensuring better coherence of the existing mechanisms and the appropriate balance between peacekeeping operations and preventive activities. Such coordination should be undertaken taking into consideration the ongoing debate on how to improve systemic coherence within the United Nations.
“The Security Council welcomes recent developments regarding the long-term prevention of conflict, including best practice and policy work on: Security Sector Reform, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, transitional justice and the rule of law, electoral practices, peacebuilding, democratic governance, development, humanitarian assistance and protection, safe and voluntary return of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. The Council encourages further progress and greater coherence on these issues, and requests the Secretary-General to include in the report requested above proposals for how better to coordinate the positions and expertise of the relevant United Nations organs, programmes, funds and agencies, including through regular interaction with the Member States.
“The Security Council notes the recommendations in the Secretary General’s report on the prevention of armed conflict (A/60/891), welcomes the efforts that have been made to strengthen the risk assessment and conflict prevention capacities of the United Nations, and encourages the Secretary General to continue those efforts in order to improve the United Nations’ early warning, mediation support and other preventive activities in Africa and around the world. In this connection, the Security Council stresses the crucial role of the Secretary General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities and on matters relating to the prevention and resolution of conflict as well as, where appropriate, the contribution of United Nations bodies such as the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council.
“The Security Council welcomes the fact that the Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution, particularly in Africa, has taken the initiative of giving greater thought to these questions and taken a special interest in the problem of the elaboration of an effective global conflict-prevention strategy —- the subject of a seminar to be held in November 2007.
“The Security Council stresses the importance of a regional approach to conflict prevention as applicable, and in this connection welcomes the growing contribution being made by regional organizations in addressing issues of peace and security, and looks forward to the report of the Secretary-General, in consultation with the relevant regional organizations, in particular the African Union, and pursuant to PRST/2007/7, on specific proposals on how the United Nations can better support arrangements for further cooperation and coordination with regional organizations on Chapter VIII arrangements in order to contribute significantly to the common security challenges in the areas of concern and to promote the deepening and broadening of dialogue and cooperation between the Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
“The Security Council underlines the need for a stronger and more structured relationship between the Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union contributing to the achievement of the goals of peace and stability in the context of the arrangements provided for in Chapter VIII of the Charter. The Council thus welcomes the agreement reached between the United Nations and the African Union at Addis Ababa on 16 November 2006 which consolidates the basis of partnership necessary to address the underlying causes of conflict. The Council also re-affirms the joint communiqué agreed with the African Union Peace and Security Council on 16 June 2007 (S/2007/386).
“The Security Council welcomes the work done by the African Union to set up its Panel of the Wise and Continental Early Warning System, which are key components of the African Peace and Security Architecture.
“The Security Council also recognises the important contribution of subregional bodies and underscores the need for African subregional bodies to enhance their capacities in early warning and conflict prevention in order to allow these important actors to respond more promptly to the emerging threats to security in their areas.
“At the same time, the Security Council encourages Member States to make further efforts to ensure adequate consultation between civil society and national institutions, on the one hand, and the United Nations and the international community, on the other hand, so as to be better equipped to address the global character of questions of peace and security.”
The Security Council met this morning to hold an open thematic debate on the role of the Council in conflict prevention and resolution, in particular in Africa.
United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that, from the time he had assumed office, he had made it clear that resolution of African conflicts was a top priority. At the same time, greater investment in prevention could save the Organization considerable pain and expense -- in Darfur, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Northern Uganda, Western Sahara and elsewhere. More resources should be devoted to conflict prevention. It was also important to increase the capacity of conflict mediation. It was only through political settlements that conflicts could be resolved. Conflicts had grown more complex, and sustainable solutions required increasingly complex, multifaceted approaches. The United Nations system already contributed significantly to the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, yet the increasing complexity of the demands placed upon it had stretched the capacity of the Organization. It was necessary to develop new approaches and address the underlying causes of conflicts -- and offer sustainable solutions. Otherwise, the international community would be left with peacekeeping missions without end.
Shortly, he intended to submit to the sixty-second session his report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa, he said. In it, he would recommend a comprehensive review of the 1998 recommendations on the matter. The review would cover the commitments made, the actions taken, the progress achieved and the lessons learned. In the next few months, he would also present proposals for strengthening the capabilities of the Department of Political Affairs, with the goal of making more effective use of his good offices. He believed in engagement and dialogue, not confrontation. It was better to respond proactively, before a crisis fully developed. Already, the Department of Political Affairs had moved to create a standing team of mediation experts and was establishing a comprehensive databank of peace agreements and lessons learned on peacemaking. It was also undertaking proactive mediation efforts in such places as the Sudan and Northern Uganda.
Regional organizations could also contribute, he continued, for example in the Sudan, where the United Nations was working with the African Union. With the Council’s adoption of resolution 1769 (2007) on Darfur, the international community had entered a new era in United Nations-African Union cooperation. The United Nations-African Union hybrid operation was an unprecedented undertaking. The two organizations were also collaborating closely in pushing forward the political process in Darfur. Peacekeeping was only a start. There must be a political solution. But, it had taken too long. “The tragedy of Darfur reminds us of how much more needs to be done before we complete our transformation from a culture of ‘reaction’ to one of effective prevention.”
In that regard, he informed the Council about his forthcoming visit to the Sudan on 3 to 6 September. “I want to go and see for myself the very difficult conditions under which our forces will operate. I also want to know, firsthand, the plight of those they seek to help.” The trip was not about breakthroughs, he said, rather it was about consolidating progress and laying the groundwork for forward movement. In Juba, he planned to underscore the United Nations’ commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South -- the cornerstone of peace in the Sudan. He also wanted to show solidarity with colleagues working in very difficult conditions in the field.
“In today’s world, prevention must go beyond mere diplomacy,” he continued. The most difficult conflicts occurred when a variety of factors came together, for example, when tensions over issues of identity within a community were combined with unequal access to political and economic resources. Africa was particularly affected by those problems, perhaps because of the manner in which its colonial borders had been drawn up. To prevent or resolve such conflicts, it was necessary to promote tolerance of diversity within societies. The solution should be as inclusive and representative as possible. That meant providing advice on constitutional frameworks, promoting human rights and the rule of law, helping to organize elections and building democratic institutions. It also meant training police and pursuing efforts to stop weapons smuggling. The United Nations was assisting in all those areas.
Conflict prevention and sustainable development reinforced each other; thus, it was crucial to make progress in the race to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In that connection, he noted that the international community was on track to realize the Millennium Development Goals in most developing countries, but not in Africa. Why? “We need fresh thinking, new approaches to lifting our poorest nations out of poverty,” he said. “Part of this means dealing with the conflicts and problems of governance that affect so many African countries.”
He added that equally crucial was the need to build peace in countries emerging from conflict -- Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Liberia. In those and other fragile post-conflict countries, peacebuilding was, in fact, prevention. “We are working with the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Commission to support reconciliation and confidence-building, end impunity and consolidate the peace,” he said.
In conclusion, he said there had been a 40 per cent decline in armed conflict around the world since 1990. Recent research credited expanded United Nations peacemaking, peacekeeping and conflict prevention as a major factor behind that decline. That was encouraging, but it was not good enough. Violent conflicts continued to inflict immense suffering on countless people. The international community had the obligation to take the challenge of prevention more seriously. There must be sustained international political will to reinforce preventive action in its broadest sense. And there must be adequate resources invested for the diverse and complex tasks that prevention entailed.
SHEIKHA HAYA RASHED AL KHALIFA, President of the General Assembly, whose statement was delivered by Léo Mérorès (Haiti), said that, during the 2005 World Summit, Heads of State and Government had stressed the importance of the prevention of armed conflict and renewed their commitment to strengthening the capacity of the United Nations in that regard. They had also stressed the need for the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Secretary-General to coordinate their activities within their respective mandates. There was still room for progress to enhance that coordination and cooperation.
Prevention of armed conflict was one of the principal purposes of the United Nations, which lay at the centre of the Organization’s efforts, she continued. The issue had been included as a specific item of the agenda of the Assembly in 2002 and every session since -- an indication of the increasing perception of the concept’s importance. By establishing the Peacebuilding Commission in 2005, the Assembly had taken an important step forward in the field of conflict prevention. The efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission constituted an essential component in solidifying peace and preventing relapse into conflicts. But, that was not enough. It was necessary to reinforce the mediation and good offices’ capabilities of the United Nations system in its entirety. “We should strive to provide the necessary tools for the United Nations to play this crucial role, while fully respecting the sovereignty of all Member States,” she said.
Just as conflict prevention was a multidimensional task involving a set of political, humanitarian, development and other measures tailored to each specific context, a successful preventive strategy was dependent upon the cooperation of many different actors, including Member States; international, regional and subregional organizations; the private sector; non-governmental organizations; and other civil society actors. However, the ultimate responsibility for conflict prevention always rested with each and every Member State. In his 2006 report on conflict prevention, the Secretary-General had noted that, “while a culture of prevention is beginning to take hold at the United Nations, an unacceptable gap remains between rhetoric and reality”. The overriding priority, therefore, had to be to operationalize conflict prevention. She hoped that cooperation and coordination among the principal organs of the United Nations would intensify in that vital area, which remained at the heart of the purposes of the Organization.
LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN ( Ghana), Acting Chair of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that during today’s debate it would be important to recognize that, during the first year of the Commission’s work, it had dealt with the situations in two countries -- Burundi and Sierra Leone. One of the Commission’s key accomplishments had been to maintain international attention on the peacebuilding efforts in those two countries. That had, in turn, instilled a greater sense of accountability and responsibility among the national and local actors on the ground to ensure long-term peace. Furthermore, with the full support of the Governments of the two countries, the Commission had engaged with the relevant United Nations and other actors involved in peacekeeping in the countries to support the Governments’ development of integrated peacebuilding strategies.
He hoped that greater coherence of international efforts and enhanced resources could be mobilized around those strategies. In addition, by virtue of the Commission’s consideration, the Secretary-General had earlier announced that he would allocate funding envelopes of some $35 million from the Peacebuilding Fund to both Burundi and Sierra Leone to boost relevant efforts in those countries. Here, he welcomed the free and transparent manner in which the first round of elections in Sierra Leone had been carried out, and wished the people of the West African nations well as they headed into the second and final ballots.
He went on to say that the Commission had an important role to play in contributing to the development of comprehensive strategic visions for United Nations activities devoted to conflict prevention and resolution, by ensuring that such strategies took into consideration peacebuilding priorities. As such, conflict prevention and resolution efforts could help foresee and forestall the potential for relapse into conflict. According to its mandate, the Commission was working to improve the coordination of all relevant actors, both inside and outside the United Nations system, to focus attention on the reconstruction and institution-building efforts necessary for recovery from conflict, and to bring together relevant actors to marshal resources for peacebuilding.
He called for increased cooperation between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission and said that the Commission looked forward in the coming year to examining ways to better engage the Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, including to develop the most appropriate mechanisms for providing advice, as necessary, and in accordance with the Commission’s founding resolutions.
ALFREDO SUESCUM ( Panama) said that the responsibility for resolving disputes and conflicts rested principally with the States involved. But, ensuring that such peace and stability was sustainable was the responsibility of the various United Nations organs devoted to that end. Indeed, peace was achieved, in large measure, through diplomacy and dialogue. That was where the United Nations and its relevant agencies and funds came into play.
With that in mind, he said that it was unfortunate that the Council tended to examine root causes of conflicts only after fighting had broken out. That had led to the worrying increase of peacekeeping missions. It was time for the Council to step up its activities towards the prevention of conflict. He said that justice and reconciliation were also key aspects of lasting peace. To that end, it was time for national actors, with the help of regional and international organizations, to step up their efforts to help countries emerging from conflict rebuild their justice systems and reignite national dialogue. Specifically for Africa, he stressed that international cooperation to combat and limit the trade in small arms and light weapons was of essential importance.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHÁVEZ ( Peru) said that it was important to study the underlying causes of conflict and tools available to the Council to address them. Among the factors that gave rise to violence and conflicts, he mentioned exclusion and dysfunction of the economy, disputes about resources, and corruption. In Africa, it was important to continue to give attention to the essential needs of the population and development of the economy. In that connection, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals was a priority. The main responsibility, in that regard, lay with the African Governments, but international institutions and the members of the international community also had a responsibility to assist. The structural causes of conflict should be taken into account in peacekeeping operations.
In addition to the means provided for in the Charter, he said the Council had other tools at its disposal, ranging from early warning and preventive diplomacy initiatives to the development of the security sector and efforts to promote good governance and human rights. Attention should also be given to strengthening the capacity of the civil society. On the operational front, it was important to articulate new approaches to cooperation between the United Nations and civil society organizations. Positive lessons could be learned from the African continent. As provided in the Charter, the prevention and resolution of conflicts was very much related to the mechanisms of the Security Council, which also needed to cooperate with regional organizations. He welcomed the lead that the African Union had taken in resolving the conflicts on the continent, including the conflict in Darfur. Conflict resolution and prevention also called for practical measures to counter illegal exploitation of natural resources and trafficking in small arms and light weapons.
DUŠAN MATULAY ( Slovakia) said he supported all efforts to move from the culture of reaction to the culture of prevention within the United Nations system. More attention should be paid to different aspects of conflict prevention, as the Council had done by considering such issues as security sector reform, energy security and climate change, and natural resources and conflict. Furthermore, there would be a follow-up to the Council’s February debate on security sector reform. A regional seminar on security sector reform in Africa would be held in Cape Town in November, organized by South Africa and Slovakia.
“Such thematic debates should become an integral part of the deliberations of other United Nations bodies, as well,” he said. On a more operational basis, further steps should be taken to achieve more cohesion and cooperation between different parts of the United Nations in the field of risk assessment, best practices and policy planning. Cooperation between the United Nations and regional groups should be improved, since they could provide invaluable input in early warning through their expertise and knowledge of the actual situation in the ground. They would also be indispensable in mediation aimed at preventing conflicts. Ultimately, however, it was up to national authorities to take the primary responsibility for identifying risks and asking for assistance when national capacities and abilities were inadequate for facing the extent of possible threats.
ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) said there were many things the Security Council could do to contribute to collective efforts towards conflict prevention. First, it could set appropriate guidelines for action built on the recognition that Member States bore the primary responsibility for conflict prevention. The Council’s action should also stem from a clear partnership with regional and subregional organizations and from an active promotion of the principle of regional ownership based on a balanced development of capacities. For example, the Joint Communiqué signed at the end of the Council mission to Addis Ababa placed the Council into partnership with the African Union Peace and Security Council in a 10-year capacity-building programme that was a comprehensive framework for activities covering a range of areas, from prevention to peacebuilding and reconstruction.
With regard to the Secretariat, he continued, the Council must fully support the Secretary-General in promoting preventive diplomacy. Further, there was a contradiction between the resources available to the Secretariat and the call for strengthening its capacity in mediation and early warning, as Heads of State had done at the 2005 World Summit. The Secretariat’s resources, therefore, should be allocated in line with actual needs, particularly in the Department of Political Affairs. Particular importance should be attached to strengthening political missions in crisis situations to support existing political processes. The latest resolution on Somalia was an excellent example of recognizing that priority. Also, the Council should more widely apply a subregional approach towards the root causes of instability that often extended beyond national borders. It should also make full use of all available instruments in promoting prevention. Those included the Peacebuilding Commission, the United Nations integrated offices and the definitions of the mandates for peacekeeping operations.
ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF ( United States) said that his delegation agreed with the Secretary-General’s view that the Council could and must enhance its capacity to prevent conflict, particularly in Africa. For the United Nations to be more effective in preventing conflict on that troubled continent, the Security Council must work more cooperatively and efficiently with regional and subregional organizations. To that end, the United States joined other members of the Council in welcoming the provisions of the June joint communiqué between the Security Council and its African counterpart, the African Union Peace and Security Council, calling for a stronger relationship between the two bodies.
Noting that the World Bank had estimated that, on average, countries coming out of war faced a 44 per cent chance of relapsing into fighting within the first five years of peace, he highlighted several United States initiatives and bilateral programmes aimed at supporting conflict prevention and resolution in Africa, including the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), which had been announced at the Group of Eight (G-8) meeting of the world’s leading industrialized countries in 2004. That Initiative had been created to address the disparity between the demand for trained peacekeeping forces and their inadequate availability, especially for missions in Africa. In fiscal year 2005, the Initiative had trained and equipped some 27,025 military personnel from 37 countries to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations. That number was expected to increase to 75,000 by the end of this year. For its part, the United States was supporting four of the eleven GPOI Peace Operations Training Centres in Africa -- in Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Nigeria.
Other programmes included logistic support for GPOI, and GPOI’s predecessor, the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance, he said. “So we have important programmes in place,” he added. “What we need now is more effective coordination between our efforts, Security Council efforts and the efforts of African Union and other regional and subregional organizations.”
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said that, in preparing to take up the responsibilities of his country’s Permanent Representative, he had been to the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and the United Republic of Tanzania. He had seen the international effort to help countries in conflict, or deal with conflict on their borders. A huge effort was being made, led by the United Nations, and there were many good stories to tell. Those were concentrated on resolving armed conflicts that had already begun, or dealing with their aftermath. His Government welcomed the commitment of African nations to greater efforts to prevent conflicts breaking out in the first place. The resolution of the long-running dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Bakassi peninsula was often cited as a model. More such successes were needed. Two landmarks that needed to be built upon included the adoption of resolution 1625 in 2005, which called for regular monitoring of regions at risk of conflict and set out the range of factors that needed to be part of a comprehensive approach to prevention, while also stressing a regional approach. The second landmark was the agreement in June this year between the Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, setting out their joint commitment to a stronger and more structured relationship, including on conflict prevention.
“We have the institutional framework and we have declared the political will to improve our efforts on conflict prevention,” he continued. To make progress in preventing conflict, it was necessary to be engaged and active long before problems turned into conflicts. The Council should be prepared to discuss regions and countries struggling with problems and, working in partnership with the Secretary-General, help prevent them from turning into armed conflict, rather than just confronting wars, once they had started, as it tended to do today. That required more capacity in the Secretariat, as called for at the World Summit, for political analysis and conflict assessment, and a more joined-up approach across the system to have early warning of a worsening problem. It also meant more regular briefings to the Council by the Secretariat on the prevention priorities of the day. It was also necessary to strengthen the partnership for prevention between the Council and regional and subregional organizations, particularly in Africa. Among other things, it was important to make good use of the annual meetings between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council and coordinate United Nations and African Union mediation efforts.
In conclusion, he said that for sustained peace, it was also necessary to re-energize the world’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, be more effective in addressing human rights abuses and social exclusion, hold to account those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law, and encourage good governance and fuller political participation. Progress on all those fronts would promote peaceful coexistence and reconciliation, both between countries and within them. His Government was committed to playing its part in that regard.
LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN (Ghana) recapped the numerous measures that had been taken in recent years to enable African States to increasingly take ownership of the peace and conflict issues affecting them, including through capacity-building of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). He said the 2005 adoption of the 10-year capacity-building programme for the African Union was a particularly notable development, along with last year’s adoption of the Declaration on enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. A standby force capable of rapid deployment was being developed. And finally, earlier this year, the United Nations Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council had committed themselves to developing a stronger and more structured relationship in the areas of conflict prevention, conflict management, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. A new dynamism in the overall relations between the two organizations was expected to result.
Yet, all those efforts towards conflict resolution did not always lead to the desired impact for a number of reasons, he noted, including a lack of political will, lack of commitment to addressing the root causes of conflicts and a “one-size-fits-all” approach to implementing development programmes. Further, in relation to the Council’s role in addressing the root causes of conflicts, a question arose with regard to the issues the Council should take into consideration. For example, matters of sustainable development, transparency and accountability in public institutions were central not only to consolidating peace and stability, but also in preventing tension from turning into violence. It was time for the Council to redefine its relationship with the other United Nations organs bearing responsibility for the problems behind the proliferation of conflicts in Africa, and for the Council to exercise prudent discretion when it became necessary to consider looming threats in exceptional circumstances. The Council must also be mindful of emergent challenges, especially in the area of the environment.
DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) said that he believed that the Secretary-General’s upcoming trip to the Sudan was taking place at just the right time to “provide a push” to make sure that the people of Darfur were not forgotten. Today’s debate followed the Council members’ recent mission to Addis Ababa to consult with the African Union on common strategies to address ongoing conflicts in Africa. During the historic working session between the Council and members of the African Union Peace and Security Council, concrete suggestions had been made about developing strategies in the area of conflict prevention and peacekeeping at the institutional and operational levels. As for today’s debate, which could only strengthen the international community’s response to ensuring sustainable peace for Africa, he stressed that conflict prevention could not be addressed in isolation.
He said that former Secretary-General Kofi Annan had called on the United Nations to adopt a prevention strategy, rather than rely on the usual reactive response to conflict, and had argued that such a move called for a focus on development and root causes of conflict, including socio-economic, cultural, environmental, institutional and other structural factors. Yet, after countless reports and studies, Africa remained confronted by conflicts driven by underdevelopment, poverty and hunger, lack of democracy, injustice, religious extremism and ignorance. It would, therefore, seem obvious that a reassessment of how the United Nations contributed to conflict prevention must be undertaken, taking into account the practical experience gained over many years. The active role that the African Union played and continues to play in conflict prevention and resolution in Africa was a huge asset in complementing United Nations efforts.
MUTLAQ MAJED AL-QAHTANI (Qatar) stressed the importance of addressing the Council’s role in conflict prevention and resolution, saying that, today, there were many conflicts around the world where the Council was absent or was not doing much, for example in the Middle East. Three years ago, the Council had adopted resolution 1625 to promote its effectiveness in conflict prevention. In that connection, he emphasized the importance of analyzing the experience of past conflicts. A number of reports in the past year had warned about the danger of new conflicts, and it was necessary to address their causes. Had the warnings not been taken seriously, or was there a lack of resources? Had the international community failed to address their causes, which included corruption, lack of transparency, bad governance, human rights abuses, illegal trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and illegal exploitation of natural resources?
Continuing, he stressed the need to “crystallize” the cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, especially after the adoption of the joint communiqué in Addis Ababa last June. Words should be followed with actions, and he hoped there would be a true partnership between the two organizations. The United Nations should not hesitate to make available its means and resources in support of such regional initiatives as the African Union Mission in Darfur. It was also necessary to strengthen the role of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through its status as a member of the Permanent Advisory Committee on Security in Central Africa. He also called on Great Lakes region countries to implement the security and stability cooperation charter adopted during the summit in Nairobi last December.
He added that, during the last Council mission to Africa in June, some issues had not been looked into in depth. The Council should change its approach and working methods to truly prevent conflicts. It needed a balanced and professional approach, focusing not only on existing resolutions, but also on the means of preventing conflicts. To do that, it must address such issues as cross-border challenges and humanitarian issues, as well as human rights violations and ethnic conflicts. “We need to change our tactics, ensure that there is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries,” he said. Further, an important aspect of any comprehensive prevention strategy was the protection of children, which should involve the improvement of primary education and the creation of jobs.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said that effective implementation of the Council’s noble mandate to maintain international peace and security hinged on the support of all Member States and the willingness of the 15-nation body to examine new and more effective solutions. He said that, over the past five years, the United Nations had spent billions on peacekeeping operations. But, if the Organization had put into practice all the experience gained worldwide on conflict prevention, all that money, and, most importantly, hundreds of thousands of lives, would have been saved. Special attention should be devoted to more innovative approaches to well-known and “surface issues”, as well as to those tensions lurking beneath the surface.
He said that, while it was necessary for the United Nations and the Security Council to reassess their approaches to peacebuilding in Africa, the Organization should also move to strengthen its relationship with the African Union, which had made, and was continuing to make, great strides in the areas of conflict prevention on that troubled continent. Indeed, the African Union had a wealth of experience to share in that area. The Council should also take better advantage of the good offices of the Secretary-General and his special envoys.
JOHAN VERBEKE ( Belgium) supported the position of the European Union on the issue under discussion, particularly on the role played by the International Criminal Court in prevention and use of force and the importance of the role of women in prevention and resolution of conflicts. He welcomed the increased importance given to the prevention dimension by various bodies of the United Nations. It forced each body to reflect on how to reinforce its culture of prevention. He welcomed the continuation of the work that the Council had started through resolution 1625, which emphasized the importance of closer cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations at all stages of crisis management. Cooperation, coordination and capacity were the key concepts that were decisive in the success of joint action between the Council and regional and subregional organizations. Belgium advocated a pragmatic approach, welcoming a recent joint communiqué adopted in Addis Ababa in June. He also highlighted the decision to hold a meeting at least once per year between the Security Council and the Council for Peace and Security of the African Union.
Another dimension of conflict prevention should be the continuation of the discussion initiated in June on natural resources and conflict, he continued. In its presidential statement, the Council had noted the role played by natural resources in armed conflict. What could the Council do in that regard? he asked. Of course, it was not a matter of the Council exercising stewardship in such initiatives as the Kimberly Process, which were not within its purview. But, those mechanisms were part of international peace and security -- the prerogative of the Council. In the management of conflict, the Council should, at an earlier stage, consider whether it was appropriate to deal with the natural resources dimension. Its efforts could be reinforced by the establishment of a standing centre of expertise within the Secretariat.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said today’s debate was important and timely, particularly since it came on the eve of the Secretary-General’s visit to the Sudan. Over the years, the United Nations and the Security Council had devoted much time to resolving conflicts in Africa. At the same time, African States and institutions had also made great strides in addressing many socio-economic and development challenges. Those efforts deserved support from Africa’s friends. At the same time, Africa must continue its own efforts to address the causes of underdevelopment and political instability.
Still, today’s debate was taking place in the wake of many positive activities, including the recent joint communiqué on strengthening cooperation between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. He went on to call for greater attention to early warning systems, including boosting investment in human and technical resources, particularly to ensure a more comprehensive pan-African peace and security architecture. The Russian Federation supported all the efforts of African nations and regional organizations to press ahead with their own conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia) said that the United Nations, together with the African Union and subregional organizations, was deploying new ways of cooperating and collaborating to address recent and persistent conflicts in Africa. The best way to maintain peace and security was to stop conflicts before they started, and to keep them contained once they started. It was important to ensure awareness of the possibility of conflict at an early point. While the concept of an early warning system was not new, its full potential had not been fully realized. However, it was not enough to be simply aware of conflict hot spots. The international community needed resources and means to alter the situation on the ground, and to contribute to the maintenance of peace, as well as predict where conflict might arise.
While it was not quite clear what constituted preventive measures by the international community and what fell within the domestic jurisdiction of States in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter, it was clear that most conflicts in Africa today were, with one exception, inter-State conflicts. Countries had the primary responsibility to prevent and resolve their internal conflicts. The prevention methods called for in the Secretary-General’s last report on the prevention of armed conflict were applicable. In all cases, they included structural, operational and systematic prevention methods. She welcomed the establishment of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone, the first mission specifically mandated to build national capacity for conflict prevention. Conflict prevention was closely related to efforts to address the root causes of conflict.
Once conflicts erupted, there were many advantages to troops being drawn from within the African region, she added. As recently highlighted in Darfur and Somalia, it was necessary to put mechanisms in place so that more troops could be trained and the African standby force could be truly operational. The 10-year capacity-building initiative for Africa was the guide for the future. Larger amounts of funding should be committed to regional peacekeeping activities. The United Nations-African Union hybrid operation in Darfur was a laudable achievement. However, peacekeeping operations were not an option for all situations. The consent of the parties was essential if a mission was to be successful. Another major problem related to the fact that there were not always enough peacekeepers to go around and resources could quickly become overstretched. Indonesia welcomed the Joint Communiqué between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council -- an essential agreement to develop a stronger and more structured relationship on conflict prevention, management and resolution. A multi-pronged approach was required to prevent, resolve and eradicate violent conflict in Africa.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said the Council was stepping up involvement in efforts to prevent conflicts, particularly in Africa, as witnessed by its recent actions regarding the Sudan and its neighbouring countries. In order for the Council to enhance its efforts, France believed that the Council, through the Secretariat, should be informed more quickly about potential crisis situations. That would require strengthening -- and making batter use of -- the tools available to the Secretary-General and his staff, who all played a significant, albeit discreet, role in enhancing national peace efforts.
In addition, there was a need to strengthen the Council’s cooperation with African regional organizations, particularly towards addressing some concerns particularly affecting the African continent, such as the exploitation of natural resources and the rampant spread of small arms and light weapons. He went on to say that protection of civilians was a key aspect of ensuring lasting peace, and noted that the Council was actively working in that area. The fight against impunity was another area were efforts needed to be stepped up, especially since addressing impunity could spark national reconciliation and stave off a relapse into conflict.
Speaking in his national capacity, the President of the Council, PASCAL GAYAMA ( Congo) said that, in order to ensure human security, a culture of prevention was well worth assuming. The adage of the past -- if you want peace prepare for war -- was not fully applicable today. Today’s conflicts were not the same, with many variables involved. Increasingly, disagreements arose not only between, but also within States, and cross-border phenomena, including terrorism, trafficking in arms and illegal use of natural resources, were becoming more prevalent. Proposing the theme of today’s debate, his delegation wanted to emphasize the multidimensional nature of conflict prevention.
Hybrid operations were a valid approach, involving cooperation among international, regional and subregional bodies, he continued. By resolution 1625, the Council had emphasized its determination to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations in preventing armed conflicts and to monitor closely situations of potential armed conflict. Having initiated several thematic debates -- including those on the threats to international peace and security, security sector reform, the role of women, natural resources, energy and climate change -- the Council was gradually integrating the deeper causes of conflict into its areas of investigation. The multiplicity of risk factors meant that there was a need to take new initiatives to deal with those challenges.
Strengthening the role of the Council could take place on three levels, he said. The first of those levels related to the Council’s relations with other institutions within the United Nations system, including the Economic and Social Council, General Assembly, Peacebuilding Commission, Human Rights Council and other human rights bodies. Here, it was important to strengthen coherence in terms of conflict prevention. The second level related to the States and groups of States, which could put in place national mechanisms that should be open to civil society. The third level had to do with cooperation between United Nations and regional organizations. In that connection, the United Nations had recently signed the declaration on strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. In the practical modality, channels for regional cooperation already existed. Among important initiatives in that regard, he mentioned the Pact on Security, Stability, and Development in the Great Lakes Region and the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa, an organ of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
He added that, for the Council to make good use of existing political and legal instruments, the working group he chaired could elaborate the elements of a coherent global strategy on conflict prevention. For that purpose, a seminar, to be held in November, would seek to develop the elements raised in today’s debate and included in the presidential statement to be adopted today.
JOÃO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that his delegation was pleased to note the strengthening of the culture of prevention throughout the United Nations system. Moreover, recent Organizational reform efforts, including the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, were assisting countries on the path to sustainable peace and development, thus helping to prevent the emergence or recurrence of conflicts. At the same time, more cooperation, coordination and coherence were needed in the field, not only among the main bodies of the United Nations, but also between the organization and other international and regional actors, including non-governmental organizations.
He said the European Union also encouraged Member States to focus resources to enhance the United Nations preventive mechanisms and would suggest that regular reporting to the Security Council on prevention and early warning would help the Council better support that aim. The Union underlined the primary responsibility of the Council for the maintenance of international peace and security and appreciated its partnerships with international, regional and subregional organizations in the facilitation of political processes, as well as peacekeeping and post–conflict scenarios. The Union also supported the work of the African Union and would encourage a closer relationship between the United Nations and the African Union.
He went on to say that a joint strategy between Europe and Africa for the next decade was currently under negotiation and should be adopted later this year at the second European Union-Africa Summit in Lisbon. In the area of peace and security, the ongoing establishment of the African peace and security architecture -- including making operational the African standby force and developing the African Peace Support Training Association -- was a key initiative that would benefit from Union support. Sustainable, predictable and flexible funding for African-led peace support operations was another major challenge to be addressed. For its part, the European Union, in 2004, had established the African Peace Facility to provide financial instruments to support African capacities in planning and executing peace operations.
Finally, he stressed that there was no lasting peace without justice and the rule of law, which were at the core of the settlement of disputes and building harmonious coexistence at national and regional levels. The United Nations new Rule of Law Unit would enhance coordination and support for rule of law issues throughout the Organization. At the same time, the Union would recognize the fundamental role of the International Criminal Court and would call on all States to cooperate with that body and, if they had not yet done so, accede to the Rome Statute as soon as possible.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) noted that two years had passed since the adoption of resolution 1625, which stressed the importance of a global strategy to increase the Organization’s capacity in conflict prevention and building national capacity of nations in remedying underlying causes of conflict. In that connection, he stressed the need to establish priorities. Certainly, listing the causes of conflict was a matter of the utmost priority. However, the Security Council had always considered that settlement of conflicts should be dealt with in political terms only during the second stage. Such an approach had prevented it from developing relevant strategies, because peacekeeping operations could not “recreate peace from nothing”. He believed it would be beneficial for the Council to include the question of political settlement among its priorities. Prevention of armed conflict was also based on the premise of the important role of regional and subregional entities, as well as recognition of the root causes of conflict at an early stage. The African Union, of course, was a prime example of regional cooperation in dealing with the situation in Darfur.
The United Nations had a leading role in implementing those priorities, he stressed. Other matters that should be given prime consideration included: the need to strengthen the role of the United Nations in economic and social terms; bolstering various United Nations bodies, including the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and funds and agencies; building the national capacity to achieve the Millennium Development Goals; promoting national reconstruction and recovery; and combating climate change and the deterioration of the environment. It was important to exchange expertise in that regard. Development was a prime factor in preventing conflict, and the United Nations should enhance its economic and social role, rather than address conflicts in a reactive manner. Tackling the root causes of conflict would guarantee lasting peace and prevent a return to war.
JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said that the Security Council’s strong commitment was needed to ensure the wider international community’s coordinated and comprehensive involvement in preventing and resolving conflicts in Africa. Norway supported the role of regional organizations in that regard and noted that the African Union was already shouldering a heavy burden as it undertook increased activities towards ensuring peace and security on the continent. Norway was also encouraged that African nations themselves were beginning to take the lead in the settlement of disputes by peaceful means and in the promotion of preventive action in response to threats to regional peace and security.
He called for greater global support for such regional and national efforts, and urged the United Nations and African Union to work more closely together to boost the participation of women in all levels of decision-making and in national and regional institutions and mechanisms aimed at conflict prevention and resolution. Turning to the situation in the Sudan’s Darfur region, he said that the recently approved United Nations-African Union hybrid mission would face an immediate challenge once it was deployed: negotiation of a peace deal for the strife-torn province. Norway would strongly support the mission’s efforts and was willing to contribute both financially and with human resources to the joint-negotiation secretariat for the peace talks.
ANDREAS BAUM ( Switzerland) said that, over the past decade, significant financial resources had been spent reacting to conflicts, while only modest sums had been devoted to preventing wars and crises. Effective conflict prevention would not only spare thousand of innocent lives, but also vast amounts of money. Prevention, management and resolution of conflict, while often requiring innovative partnerships along the way, started at the local and regional level. Local-level efforts must involve all the parties concerned, including civil society, women, youth and victims of violence. Ceasefire accords and peace agreements must be accepted by all parties, and reconciliation could not rely on creating a new order alone, but must ensure that past injustice and injuries were brought before judicial authorities and rightly compensated.
In that light, the United Nations Secretariat should regularly engage with relevant regional organizations and institutions in order to exchange experiences, as well as identify best practices and innovative approaches. Finally, he stressed that the Department of Political Affairs must be strengthened to fulfil its mandate for conflict prevention. The establishment of a Mediation Support Unit was “a first and important step” forward. Switzerland would continue to back such efforts, but would stress that strengthening of conflict prevention, mediation and good offices could not depend on voluntary contributions. New assessed funds would be required as well. Conflict prevention was not just something “nice to have”, it must be a core activity of the United Nations.
HENRI-PAUL NORMANDIN ( Canada) said that situations like those in Darfur, Northern Uganda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where civilians continued to suffer the effects of war, presented stark evidence that the immediate and long-term human costs of failing to prevent armed conflict -- and delaying response to it -- were immense. It was important, however, not to lose sight of the progress that had been made. Indeed, the recent human security report, partly funded by Canada, had found that, since the 1990s, there had actually been fewer wars -- an 80 per cent decline -- and fewer deaths. That had been attributed to an extraordinary increase in activism by the international community in the areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding. He went on to highlight a few global endeavours, including the creation of the new Peacebuilding Commission and Mediation Support Unit, as well as improved regional cooperation initiatives, of which the new hybrid United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur was the most recent example.
For its part, Canada would continue to contribute to strengthen the peace and security architecture of the African Union. He said that his Government had worked to enhance the African Union Commission’s ability to deploy military and civilian monitors to conflict regions. In that way, it had helped strengthen regional centres of excellence in the provision of trained military and police components to support peace operations and to share expertise in the creation of a future integrated African standby force. But, much more remained to be done, and when the international community worked together much could be accomplished. Security Council cohesion was critical to overcoming conflicts in the Sudan. The Council’s strong support for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and prompt deployment of the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) had helped to end one of Africa’s longest wars. Regarding Darfur, while the Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 1769 had already improved the atmosphere for the peace process, the continued engagement of the wider international community was vital.
FRIEDA N. ITHETE ( Namibia) said that, while Africa had to take a leading role in alleviating the pre-disposing factors causing conflict on the continent, the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security lay with the Security Council. Regional organizations like the African Union could play a complementary and supportive role to the United Nations. She appreciated the efforts to strengthen the relationship among the United Nations, the African Union and its subregional organizations in promoting durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. Those efforts, which should include comprehensive disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement processes, should be of a long-term nature. It was not enough to end the assistance to conflict-engulfed countries immediately after the closure of peacekeeping missions, without taking into consideration underlying factors that could cause the country to relapse into conflict -- a trend that had happened before. Democratically elected Governments deserved to be supported and strengthened in establishing their judiciary systems, reform their security sectors and ensure that their ex-combatants were fully integrated in the mainstream of society.
Durable peace and conflict resolution should be implemented through social and economic development and equitable distribution of resources at all levels, she continued, expressing hope that the Peacebuilding Commission, if given adequate financial support, would fill the gap by exerting and coordinating peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts in countries emerging from conflict. It was also important to adopt regional and subregional approaches to deal with, among other things, illegal cross-border activities, including the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons. The availability of such arms and the failure of Member States to agree in 2005 on a legally binding international instrument to enable States to identify and trace them, in a timely and reliable manner, had not helped the situation.
She also advocated a greater investment in conflict prevention, which was cost-effective in saving lives and financial resources. It was important to strive to establish an early warning system that would enable the international community to detect and arrest situations head-on before the real conflict started. “We all share the responsibility for one another’s security, all nations, not just those in the African Union,” she said.
JORGE ARGÜELLO ( Argentina) said that the prevention of armed conflict was the responsibility of the United Nations and that the Security Council had the central role to act in the area and must act when and where conflicts could not be avoided. At the same time, the Secretary-General’s recent report on the prevention of armed conflicts had called for closer cooperation between the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and relevant regional bodies.
As for preventing conflicts in Africa, the United Nations needed help to elaborate a strategic vision of what could be achieved on the ground, and there the African Union -- which acted on behalf of the United Nations in some cases, with the added value of proximity and understanding of tensions and conflicts -- played a key role. Likewise, ECOSOC, through its mandated analytical activities, provided needed risk assessments and other information. Overall, the Security Council must maintain the best possible relationship with all conflict prevention mechanisms and bodies. In addition, lessons learned from such initiatives as the Council’s establishment of integrated offices in Burundi and Sierra Leone should be transformed into agreements, methods and programmes that could be adapted to other regions and situations.
FRANCIS BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) said some conflicts tended to disappear from the international radar. The international community, and the Council in particular, should give equal attention to all conflicts that might threaten international peace and security wherever they occurred. In addition, while there were many causes of conflict, the Council should look upon poverty as a threat to international peace and security. In that way, the Council should exert the necessary pressure and attention towards alleviating poverty. It should give the necessary support to the policies of Member States aiming to eradicate it.
In addition, he said, democracy was a blessing where it allowed for participation in governance, but it was also a curse in situations where western democracies pushed their models on developing countries without due regard to peculiarities and circumstances. In Africa, with its multiplicity of ethnic groups, for example, predominant tribes could exploit numerical strengths and monopolize power to the exclusion of minorities. The marginalized minorities then resorted to violence to redress the power imbalance. A nation should be built up first, in such cases, by introducing measures transcending tribal affiliations, such as those based on common language. Also, the Council should liberate itself from the traditional approach of not authorizing peacekeeping operations when there was no peace to keep. Sadly, that had been the case in Somalia. The Council should actively promote peacemaking where circumstances demanded. This Government had been urging the Council to expeditiously deploy United Nations peacekeepers in Somalia to replace the African Union force and believed it should be done now, not postponed to a future date. Also, the Council should dwell more on preventive measures and should press for support of countries undertaking peace operations on its behalf.
JOSE ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIERREZ ( Guatemala) said that reducing risks and taking preventive action to avoid threats to peace were the best way of limiting harm from conflicts. Prevention was a shared responsibility, as elaborated in the Charter. It was the responsibility of States, and the international community played a subsidiary support role to national efforts. In that connection, he believed it was important to build national capacity and promote dialogue mechanisms, with the valuable contribution of civil society. Conflict prevention should be dealt with from the angle of the fullest protection of the rule of law. All measures should focus primarily on countering the underlying causes of conflict, including cultural, religious and natural resource considerations. Gender equality and protection of children should also be taken into account.
The progress achieved was encouraging, but much remained to be done, he continued. It was necessary to avoid a resurgence of crises and ensure peace in the countries emerging from conflict. The Peacebuilding Commission should work hand in hand with the Security Council, in that regard. The nature of the underlying conflict, identification of vulnerable groups, consequences of peace agreements for the rule of law and different traditions of a given country all had an impact on the situation. Guatemala had always supported building prevention capacity in the Organization, in conformity with the principles of the Charter.
Turning to the proposal that the Group of Friends on conflict prevention be turned into a formal forum, he said that enough such bodies already existed. Now, it was important to close the gap between discourse and reality. Instead of establishing a new forum, it was important to strengthen coordination and coherence within the system. He also believed that it was premature to discuss the role of the mediation support unit within the Department of Political Affairs, for it had not yet been set up and not all vacancies had been filled. The Department of Political Affairs would be submitting a report on the restructuring of the Department, and he hoped the Secretary-General would further explain his ideas in that connection. Commenting on recent developments, he congratulated Liberia and Sierra Leone on the progress achieved and welcomed the memorandums of understanding signed in Addis Ababa between the United Nations and the African Union. On the acceptance of the hybrid force by the Sudan, he said that the Council should not focus on the situation in Darfur alone, leaving on the sidelines the situation between the north and south of the country. It was necessary to tackle the causes of the conflict to avoid its recurrence.
HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said that, given the alarming devastation caused by modern intra- and inter-State conflicts, there was broad agreement that comprehensive and durable prevention strategies could lead to durable peace at much lower human, material and financial costs. The international community had also begun to attach greater importance to such complementary components of the “culture of prevention” principle as early warning, preventive diplomacy, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-fighters and post-conflict peacebuilding. There was also agreement on the need for greater coordination and cooperation among United Nations organs and Member States, as well as private sector actors, non-governmental organizations and regional and subregional organizations.
He said that for decades Africa had grappled with protracted civil wars, ethnic strife, grinding poverty and humanitarian tragedies. All that, as well as the negative impact of the global economic and financial order, should make it clear that the root causes of conflicts in Africa needed to be comprehensively addressed in order to re-invigorate socio-economic development. Viet Nam supported the efforts of the African Union and other relevant regional and subregional organizations to prevent and resolve conflicts on the continent. Viet Nam also followed closely implementation of NEPAD initiatives, particularly in the area of South-South cooperation. Together with the wider international community, Viet Nam would continue to explore ways to further contribute to the cause of peace, development and integration of the African countries.
ZACHARY MUBURI-MUITA (Kenya) acknowledged the humanitarian work being coordinated by the United Nations in the horn of Africa and noted that peacekeeping was always more expensive than conflict prevention. For that reason, he said resources should be channeled into applying good offices to address potential root causes of conflicts at the earliest stages before full escalation. Measures should focus on increasing economic opportunities and promoting a culture of inclusive politics to avoid the marginalization and alienation that led to conflict.
While welcoming closer cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, he said the Council’s precondition that a country at conflict have a “peace to keep” before United Nations deployment was untenable. There was no peace to keep in most conflict situations and yet the international community looked to the United Nations to deal with the situation. In context, the reason why a country allowed foreign troops on its soil was to create peace and not to keep it. The argument calling for political agreements between warring factions was misplaced. Intra-State conflicts required a neutral party to mediate and serve as a neutral force to protect civilians and facilitate the humanitarian effort. As the current Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the Great Lakes Forum, Kenya was spearheading aggressive regional political initiatives, as it continued to shoulder great responsibilities in its region.
ILEKA ATOKI ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that the persistence of conflicts in Africa had given rise to serious and complex problems, including the increase in the number of internally displaced persons and refugees and deterioration of the environment. The stability and security of Africa was important to all the countries. In terms of conflict prevention in Africa, the coherence of existing mechanisms was needed. A recent ministerial meeting of the Council of Peace and Security of the African Union that had decided to establish a mechanism for regular consultations with the Security Council had been important in that regard. Among the peacebuilding initiatives that should be encouraged, he listed disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, strengthening of local judicial institutions, security sector reform and respect for the rule of law. He also emphasized the importance of such international meetings as a recent conference in Kinshasa on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and stability in Africa, which had provided important recommendations.
Turning to post-conflict societies, he stressed the importance of transitional justice, which established confidence and played a key role in conflict prevention and resolution. It was important to punish the perpetrators of crimes, without diminishing the significance of reparations in favour of the victims. The role of the International Criminal Court should be particularly emphasized in that regard. He also reiterated his country’s plea for the establishment of a tribunal for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where thousands of people had lost their lives. It was important to avoid the situation where war criminals became privileged interlocutors of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, thus, the United Nations.
Continuing, he encouraged modification and prompt adherence to such instruments as the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region. It was also important to integrate civil society into conflict resolution in Africa. Beyond those considerations, in addition to economic and development policies and encouraging good governance, education was the greatest investment in peace in Africa. It was necessary to instil the culture of peace in young people and teach them ethical values. To ensure implementation of follow-up on conflict prevention and resolution, it was important to strengthen the good offices and mediation capacities of the Secretary-General in conformity with the decisions of the World Summit, which had created a mediation unit within the Department of Political Affairs. It was also necessary to strengthen the support office of the Peacebuilding Commission and consider a system to ensure predictable financing for the peacekeeping initiatives of regional organizations, including the African Union.
MIRJANA MLADINEO ( Croatia) said the difficult part of conflict prevention was the absence of a comprehensive approach that would streamline the activities of valuable initiatives, forums and bodies to automatically “take care of business”. The major causes of conflict in Africa, for example, could only be addressed by the competencies of the United Nations system that dealt with poverty, underdevelopment and institution-building. Thus, the inner logic of the United Nations system indicated that “substantive cooperation and effective coordination” were the only ways to succeed in conflict prevention. The ad hoc advisory groups on Africa, the General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission must all be included in the effort, along with regional and subregional organizations that had successfully dealt with local crises.
Characterizing Croatia as a small country with unfortunately rich experience on the conflict matter, she said her country had so far put its knowledge to use mostly by participating in 14 United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world and in the first session of the Peacebuilding Commission. Two lessons merited constant repetition. First, any attempt to build on a “one size fits all” approach led to failure. Second, gaining a deeper understanding of a conflict’s roots was of the utmost importance, because it prevented the tendency to patch up a situation without resolving fundamental antagonisms and it also helped cure open wounds once the conflict was resolved. And finally, experience had shown that conflicts could be better handled at earlier, than late stages. The development of an early warning system was of the utmost importance in any approach.
IVAN ROMERO MARTINEZ ( Honduras) said that, while major advances had been achieved in terms of setting standards and strategies for preventing conflict, an unacceptable divide between word and deed still existed. Indeed, in all parts of the world, the hopes of children were extinguished by the sounds of machine guns and the forced exchange of school books for small arms and light weapons. The abuse of human rights and other acts that degraded the value of human life, deepening poverty, as well as ongoing tensions and conflicts were creating ever-more marginalized populations in many countries and regions. Honduras believed that it was vitally necessary to prevent conflicts and to settle disputes peaceably. It also supported the broad aims of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He added that Honduras hoped one day to see the creation of a global conflict prevention mechanism.
YOUSEF YOUSFI ( Algeria) said that the issue of conflict prevention and resolution and the role of the Security Council in that regard should be considered in all its dimensions. The exponential cost of peacekeeping illustrated the vital need for the international community to come up with a true conflict prevention strategy, to go beyond detection of the symptoms of conflict towards one that encompassed such unresolved conflicts as that in Western Sahara. The Council should reflect on the lessons of Somalia and other crises. He expected the debate to produce the political will to break with a certain reticence that had prevailed in the past and continued to be very costly to the international community. When evaluating the destructive consequences of conflicts, it was important to consider the millions of lives lost and the suffering of the civilian population due to crises that the international community was unable to stop.
In that connection, he reiterated that he did not advocate investing more in the analysis and the elements of the strategy to be designed, despite their importance. Beyond common causes, each conflict had its own dynamic. It was just as true that the United Nations had been analysing the causes and suggesting means for their prevention and resolution for many years. As a result, it had assisted in developing common approaches to conflict prevention. Recent Secretary-General reports contained proposals that needed to be implemented. Some of the Council’s own decisions had not been fully implemented. In particular, it was necessary to implement the objectives and novel ideas contained in resolution 1625, which offered a strategy for conflict prevention and specified the terms for an effective partnership between the United Nations and the African Union and other international and regional partners. Among other things, it was important to provide assistance to the African Union in its early warning and mediation efforts. He advocated the establishment of a periodic review mechanism of that resolution, as had been done with texts on women, children and protection of civilians. Any conflict prevention strategy must be based on coordination of efforts and mobilization of resources, he added.
TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) said that consolidating peace after conflict had ended was often a major challenge. The international community needed a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention that not only addressed the problem from political, economic and social perspectives, but also took into account such elements as the rule of law and humanitarian activities. In addition, given the wide range of actors involved, it was essential to coordinate what they did, in order to ensure that overall activities were coherent. The Security Council had recently been holding thematic debates on different conflict triggers such as climate change, small arms proliferation, food insecurity, and energy and natural resources. Japan welcomed such discussions and believed that it was important to translate the relevant outcomes into concrete action.
In order to arrive at a more effective means of conflict prevention, the Security Council should further develop cooperative relations with organizations within, as well as outside, the United Nations, he continued. To that end, he said that the Council should enhance its relationship with the Peacebuilding Commission, which played an important role in consolidating peace and nation-building. In particular, the Council could refer to the Commission the task of following up on problems relating to the consolidation of peace discussed in relevant thematic debates. More specifically, it might request the Commission to provide an action-oriented advisory opinion on ways to promote coordination among organizations and activities in the area of conflict prevention.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU ( Benin) said that resolution 1625 sought to strengthen the capacity of the Council to take effective measures to prevent fragile States from relapsing into armed conflict. Among the important instruments put in place by the resolution were the regular reports by the Secretary-General on the regions at risk of conflict, which would allow the Council to identify areas where operational measures were required. The mediation support unit within the Department of Political Affairs was, in his view, an embryo of a structure that should be developed to provide the Council with information it required in the area of conflict prevention. Sufficient human resources were needed to achieve the desired performance. Subregional offices, like the one based in Dakar, should be established in all risk zones. Early warning mechanisms were also important.
The Secretary-General had also been invited to assist countries at risk in carrying out a strategic evaluation of risk and implementing relevant measures, he continued. Such instruments created a prime framework for harmonizing the efforts of the main United Nations bodies. In that connection, it was important to carry out an in-depth study of the issue in the context of the seminar that the Council was planning in November. It was in that context that a shared common view could be determined. Therefore, his delegation expressed its great interest in the forum for conflict prevention proposed by the Secretary-General.
Coordination was also essential to enhance the effectiveness of systematic prevention measures to tackle external factors, such as the unlawful weapons trade, money laundering and the illegal use of natural resources, he continued. More active involvement of the International Criminal Court was required, particularly in regard to violations of international humanitarian law. Cooperation with regional conflict prevention bodies should be emphasized. The time had come to allow regional organizations to play a more active role in the security system established by the Charter, in particular through allocation of related resources. Among the important measures, he mentioned: support programmes to build the capacity of the African Union; an annual meeting of the Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council; and joint special representatives in countries of crisis, as had been done in Darfur. The African Union should have the means to exercise its position to ensure harmonious articulation of the operational plan with the Security Council. The issue deserved in-depth study to achieve the desired coordination.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that, while it was commendable that the United Nations had created the Peacebuilding Commission -– a body whose work was necessary given the high odds of post-conflict countries relapsing into war and the spiralling costs associated with the launch and maintenance of peacekeeping missions -– “peacebuilding is prevention in the second instance”. Equal attention should be paid to conflict prevention in the first instance. Moreover, it was probably time for the Security Council and the Secretary-General to consider the launch of a mechanism similar to the Peacebuilding Commission fully dedicated to developing a comprehensive strategy for conflict prevention, in partnership with regional organizations. While there were already various intergovernmental and non-governmental initiatives dealing with conflict prevention, they were fragmented and under-resourced. A comprehensive prevention strategy would complete the three pillars of peace architecture, which also included conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
He went on to say that Tanzania was in a “neighbourhood” with a long history of deadly conflicts. The United Nations had been very helpful to all the countries of the Great Lakes region working to resolve conflicts and had been particularly supportive with the organizing of two international conferences on the Great Lakes region that had taken place in Dar es Salaam in 2004 and in Nairobi in 2006. From those meetings had emerged the regional Pact on Peace, Security and Development. An Executive Secretariat had been established and charged with coordinating region-wide implementation of the Pact, which addressed the three pillars of the global peace architecture, and which had received broad support from regional and subregional organizations.
EMAD BEN SHABAN ( Libya) said that Africa was the theatre of important developments and the Council’s role on the continent should be reviewed and strengthened. It was necessary to help Africa overcome its difficulties. The importance of conflict prevention should be emphasized in that regard, as well as the need to settle conflicts peacefully. There was a link between conflict, reconstruction and sustainable development. Effective prevention strategies required a comprehensive approach, which should include humanitarian, development, poverty-eradication, rule of law and other measures. Given the number of complex crises, the Council must still do a great deal to resolve a large number of complex international issues. The development of regional initiatives in Africa was important in that regard, and the Council should attach more importance to the role of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security, especially in Africa. More effective cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations was needed.
The African Union, since its establishment, had taken on a partnership role vis-à-vis the United Nations, playing an important mediation and resolution role in a number of countries. Therefore, it was necessary to support the African Union’s needs in financing its peacekeeping operations through the United Nations. A 2005 resolution adopted by the Security Council called for an increased contribution by regional organizations. Regarding Libya’s role, he said that his country supported efforts to settle conflicts peacefully. Libya had provided mediation in a number of conflicts in Africa, including those in Chad and the Sudan. He hoped that more energy would be put into conflict prevention, so African countries could focus on development and achievement of well-being for their people.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI ( Gabon) said conflict prevention should be a key function of the United Nations, through the actions of the Security Council. And while the Organization had acted as “fire-fighter” at times, it also had had some success in preventing conflict. Still, there was an essential need to deal with other matters that could lead to conflict, including the proliferation of small arms and deepening poverty in many countries. If the international community failed to address the unequal global marketplace, the plundering of natural resources, the heavy debt burden of many developing countries and the spread of HIV/AIDS, it risked further marginalization of the developing world, and possible destabilization of some countries. In many instances, conflict might surely follow.
To address many of those critical issues, Gabon believed that all relevant international agreements and obligations should be implemented fully by all Member States. Further, there should be greater cooperation between the Security Council and regional organizations. He welcomed the recent joint communiqué on strengthened cooperation between the Security Council and the African Union.
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