|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5749th Meeting (PM)
DARFUR, SOMALIA HIGH ON SECURITY COUNCIL AGENDA AS MEMBERS HOLD
HISTORIC SUMMIT ON PEACE, SECURITY IN AFRICA
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and African Union Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare were among the key speakers this afternoon as Heads of State and Government as well as Foreign Ministers of the 15 Security Council Member States met in a historic summit on “Peace and Security in Africa”.
Heads of State addressing the Council during the first-ever event were Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Ivan Gasparovic of Slovakia, George W. Bush of the United States, Martin Torrijos of Panama, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, Nicolas Sarkozy of France, whose country holds the rotating Council presidency, and Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar. The Council also heard from Prime Ministers Romano Prodi of Italy and Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium.
Also speaking were Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde, Foreign Minister of Peru, Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister of China, and Kim Howells, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom.
Opening the discussion, Secretary-General Ban stressed that ensuring peace and security for the people of Africa was at the very core of the United Nations agenda. “Along the continuum from conflict prevention to peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding in Africa, I am committed to ensuring that the United Nations plays its role to the fullest extent possible,” he said.
Noting that the United Nations was strengthening its relationships with regional organizations such as the African Union, in addressing ongoing crises, he said the hybrid operation awaiting deployment in Darfur was a ground-breaking example of that expanded cooperation. However, much more investment was needed in peacekeeping, conflict prevention and peacebulding, and international action must be galvanized in all those areas.
Mr. Konare pointed out, however, that despite the crucial importance of partnership with the international community, and as much as the African Union needed its promised support, it was essential that Africa’s partners not intervene unduly. The era of colonialism was over.
Darfur was a prime focus of the ensuing discussion, with most speakers stressing the importance of a timely deployment of the Council-authorized African Union-United Nations Hybrid Force as well as the need for progress in the political, economic and human rights areas in order to end the enormous suffering in the strife-torn Sudanese region. Regarding Somalia, additional collective efforts must be made to help the emergence of a comprehensive strategy, inspired by the principles of ownership and partnership. In addition, most speakers emphasized that African ownership of its own destiny and stability was essential.
The meeting started at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 4:45 p.m.
The Security Council this afternoon held a summit on “Peace and Security in Africa”, chaired by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France. According to a “concept paper” prepared by France to guide the discussion (document S/2007/552), the meeting, at the level of Heads of State and Government, is aimed at strengthening the mobilization of the international community and at working with African Union representatives to map out concrete and ambitious avenues for action.
The concept paper states that Africa has made substantial progress in many areas. The continent is experiencing strong economic growth, and several crises are currently being resolved, including in Burundi, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The construction of the African Union is proceeding apace and the African regional organizations have become crucial players in conflict prevention and resolution. The United Nations is particularly engaged in Africa, with more than two thirds of all United Nations peacekeeping forces assigned there, including the largest peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
It is crucial that the international community continue its support for efforts being made by Africans, the paper also states. The serious crises such as in Darfur and Somalia have not yet been resolved. To be effective, the action taken by the international community must be part of a comprehensive approach and in close partnership with African organizations, particularly the African Union.
Consolidation of peace in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo requires determined collective action to eliminate the basic factors causing instability. The efforts of the international community to guarantee a lasting settlement to the crisis in Darfur, with its regional ramifications in Chad and the Central African Republic, must be stepped up. Global warming and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, which continues to fuel crises, are severely affecting the African continent. Other factors of instability, such as the struggle against terrorism, arms and drug trafficking, uncontrolled migratory flows and cross-border movement of armed groups, call for an effective and collective response.
In order to meet those challenges, the text calls for more consistent efforts by the international community. When the Security Council must use coercive measures, such as individual sanctions and embargoes, the focus should be on how to make those measures more effective and limit their negative impact. Other questions concern how African crisis management and resolution capabilities can be facilitated and how the need for African peacekeeping training be met. Non-African regional organizations, such as the European Union, also have a role to play in supplementing the efforts of the United Nations and Africa.
In conclusion, the concept paper states that, as Africa takes charge of its destiny and undertakes to make considerable efforts to promote peace, stability and development on the continent, the international community must lend it renewed and determined support, with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that ensuring peace and security for the people of Africa was at the very core of the Organization’s agenda. “Along the continuum from conflict prevention to peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding in Africa, I am committed to ensuring that the United Nations plays its role to the fullest extent possible,” he said of his personal strong interest.
In peace and security challenges, many African countries had made progress on several fronts, he noted. But African peacemakers alone could not tackle the continent’s conflicts and so the United Nations was strengthening its relationships with regional organizations to address the crises, with the hybrid operation for Darfur a groundbreaking example. However, more must be invested in conflict prevention and more must be done to prevent countries from relapsing into violence. The Peacebuilding Commission had helped bring increased attention to Burundi and Sierra Leone in that regard and more referrals were anticipated. Climate change and lagging development were equally pressing issues, and international action must be galvanized in both those areas.
JOHN AGYEKUM KUFUOR, President of Ghana, noting that his country’s tenure in the Security Council coincided with its chairmanship of the African Union, said Ghana was anxious to see a speedy reversal of those negative trends that had made the continent the host of more than two thirds of all United Nations peacekeeping operations. There was a growing and widening interest in the continent’s well-being, where many positive developments were taking place in such countries as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea and Burundi. However, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, drugs as well as human beings trafficking remained challenges.
He said the reconstruction of countries emerging from conflict must attract significant support from the international community in order to prevent them from sliding back into conflict. Terrorism, climate change and the illicit exploitation of natural resources also demanded action. The African Union and its member countries were tackling those problems, which was more reason for the international community to complement their efforts. The sustained presence of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur was proof enough of the regional body’s determination to establish peace and stability on the continent.
Appealing to the Council to show equal attention to the conflict in Somalia as to that in Darfur, he said that, in spite of the African Union’s initiative in that highly volatile country, the promised support from partners and the international community had been “inadequate and slow in coming”. The Council must therefore step in with timely assistance and consider a contingency plan with a peacekeeping force.
THABO MBEKI, President of South Africa, said today’s discussion had come out of African initiatives in Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other areas. An effective partnership between the United Nations and Africa was crucial to supporting the building of the capacity necessary to address other matters.
What was missing from the architecture of Africa’s efforts to gain its own peace and stability was capacity and resources, he said. South Africa called for in-depth discussions on how to increase that capacity in order to be able to achieve a peaceful and prosperous Africa.
SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, President of Indonesia, said peace and security could only be durable if the sources of conflict were eliminated, a task in which interregional engagement, such as between Africa and Asia could be helpful. In the framework of South-South cooperation, Indonesia had delivered training assistance and contributed troops to peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and the Sudan. It would also contribute police personnel to the mission in Darfur. In that regard, Indonesia urged all concerned to implement the agreement that would end the civil war that had torn the Sudan apart for so long.
Stressing that the Sudan must also catch up with Africa’s other economies, he said Article 65 of the United Nations Charter provided that the Economic and Social Council could contribute to the Security Council’s work. While the Security Council bore the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security, Chapter 8 of the Charter provided for cooperation by the Council with regional organizations. Capacity-building and diplomacy must be enhanced.
In the face of conflict, resources must be deployed to alter the situation on the ground, he said. The hybrid operation of the United Nations and the African Union was a fine example of what needed to be done. More African troops must be trained for peacekeeping. African conflicts that had seemed intractable five years ago were now being resolved. That gave hope that other conflicts could be resolved as well.
IVAN GASPAROVIC, President of Slovakia, said African tragedies, due to their complexity, must be considered in the context of the interlinked issues of security, development and human rights, as stated in the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit. Slovakia followed with concern the economic and political situation in some parts of Africa, particularly Zimbabwe. In order to ensure that the continent joined those of the world’s regions which enjoyed stability and economic development, there was a need to emphasize the prevention of conflicts. Equal efforts must be made to address the grievances of the past. In that regard, Slovakia supported fully the fight against impunity and the role of the International Criminal Court. However, it was of key importance that regional and subregional organizations take a larger share of responsibility.
He welcomed the deployment of the hybrid operation in Darfur, as well as the multidimensional presence of the United Nations and the European Union in Chad and the Central African Republic as innovative approaches. However, Slovakia was deeply concerned by recurrent reports of aerial bombardments in Darfur and hoped that both rebels and the Sudanese Government forces would cease hostilities as soon as possible. It was also important to address horizontal problems in the medium and long term, including security sector reform, which was a precondition for long-term stabilization. In that connection, a workshop devoted to security sector reform would be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 7 to 8 November. Slovakia wished to contribute adequately to international efforts to ensure peace and security in Africa, and its current projects focused on the development of infrastructure, education, health care, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
GEORGE BUSH, President of the UNITED STATES, said his country had labelled the crisis in Darfur genocide and, when genocide was found, it was time to do something about it. The United States thanked the Secretary-General for making Darfur a priority of the United Nations and the African Union. Given the genocide, was the free world willing to do more to stop the killing? Fighting between the Government and the rebels continued with the loss of much innocent life, while millions were driven into refugee camps. Today’s resolution, authorizing a security presence in Chad, was a step towards helping those refugees. The United States wanted the words of the Council to mean something, so he called on the Khartoum Government to allow the deployment of the hybrid force in a timely fashion. The Council must send a message that innocent life mattered. There must be more consistent pressure to help the people of Darfur reclaim their lives.
ROMANO PRODI, Prime Minister of Italy, stressed that Africa was now a protagonist and no longer just an object of international relations. Rather than continuing to discuss what to do for the continent, it was important to reflect on what Africa was asking the international community to do for it.
Turning to the challenge of Darfur, he emphasized that the hybrid operation was an important test of African partnership with the international community, to which Italy was highly committed. It was important, in addition to security, to pay due attention to the political, humanitarian and economic aspects of the crisis. In Somalia, additional collective efforts must be made to help a comprehensive strategy emerge, inspired by the principles of ownership and partnership.
He reiterated the importance of prioritizing what Africa was requesting: peace, security, support for poverty alleviation growth and continent-wide cooperation. In peace and security, Italy supported a bilateral African peace facility that would allow the continent to support the efforts of the African Union and leading subregional organizations. In the economic sphere, it was also important to move into an equal partnership with Africa. Italy pledged to make the Millennium Development Goals a central theme of its Council presidency in 2009.
Sheikh HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Emir of Qatar, said Africa was of great interest to his country because 10 Arab countries were located in the region and some of them, like the Sudan, faced daunting challenges. The predecessor of the African Union, the Organization of African Unity, had been launched as an Arab-African initiative.
He recalled that, 50 years ago, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had said “the winds of change are blowing” in Africa. But those winds had turned sometimes into winds of destruction when the States of the continent suffered the difficulties and pains of independence and faced the challenges and ordeals of achieving progress. The causes that hindered its advancement and caused civil wars and armed conflicts must be addressed seriously. One of the world’s richest continents lagged behind all other continents, and that in itself was a real human tragedy.
While donor countries and the United Nations had not hesitated in supporting Africa, that support must be accompanied by good and enlightened governance as well as by international political will, he said. In order to make progress, new mechanisms must be established to provide aid to Africa so that the aid would reach its people.
MARTIN TORRIJOS ESPINO, President of Panama, said Africa was a continent of contrasts, where riches coexisted with abject poverty within borders randomly drawn by colonialism. Such problems could be overcome through Africa’s own efforts. There was cause for concern, however, over the continuing crises in Zimbabwe and Somalia.
He said his country supported the new initiatives that reflected the interest of African countries in healing the wounds of colonization. It would be necessary, however, for them to further prioritize human rights. For the international community it was equally necessary not to intervene in old, non-productive ways. The future of Africa was in the hands of Africans, but the international community had an important role in working with the continent to realize its future hopes.
GUY VERHOFSTADT, Prime Minister of Belgium, welcoming this morning’s resolution on Chad and the Central African Republic, announced that his country would participate in the newly established mission there. Africa needed particular attention, because out of every five children born there, one died of hunger or preventable disease. Some of the four surviving children might have to work as children or were unable to have an education. Their fate must be improved. With $60 billion, many of Africa’s problems could be solved, including the provision of clean drinking water and education. However, war was the major obstacle to the continent’s progress.
He said one of the most outrageous things was that Africa had 300,000 child soldiers, each with a personal horror story and one of whom he had adopted. The 14-year-old girl had been forced to kill her own uncle and had then been given as a present to a commander who had raped her. In escaping, she had had to shoot one of the guards and had been shot herself. In the hospital, it had been discovered that she was pregnant. That story was just one of many, and each was a stain on the soul of humanity. In order to address that problem, an arms embargo must be imposed on all countries with child soldiers, and all aid stopped. The current “naming and shaming” was not enough.
Above all, the offenders themselves must be put on trial, he stressed. In that regard, the leader of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, had been responsible for 70,000 child soldiers. An international warrant had been issued for his arrest and his whereabouts were known. He had spread terror in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Southern Sudan. Belgium urged the Council to arrest him and make him an example to all criminals that the exploitation of children in armed conflicts would not be tolerated.
DENIS SASSOU-NGUESSO, President of Congo, welcomed Africa’s partnership with the United Nations and other actors like the European Union and the League of Arab States. For further progress in such cooperation, the existing partnership between the United Nations and the African Union must be implemented. In the area of peace and security, it was important for peacekeeping operations to remain multifunctional by focussing on key components such as disarmament, demobilization, the repatriation of former combatants and security sector reform. The establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission should ensure that United Nations forces were not withdrawn too soon.
In any case, no situation should be written off as hopeless, he stressed. The African Union mission in Somalia, for example, was expected to have been taken over by a United Nations operation. No one had forgotten that, and today’s debate was especially timely because the United Nations and the African Union were preparing to deploy the largest-ever joint peacekeeping operation in Darfur. It was important to learn from past experiences in order to make that crucial operation work.
SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said his country supported the United Nations, the Security Council and the African Union in their joint work to prevent and settle conflicts in Africa. Special focus should be given to addressing chronic political and socio-economic problems. The Russian Federation also supported the more active and responsible role of African States in advancing the goals of national reconciliation. Disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of illicit armed groups, the strengthening of State governance, security sector reform, the development of democracy as well as the fight against poverty, corruption and the illicit use of natural resources were core elements of the peace process.
He said countries that had emerged from conflict should be provided with meaningful assistance from the Peacebuilding Commission to prevent them from sliding back into crisis. The decision to establish a multidimensional joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping operation in Darfur had been an important step in the peacekeeping efforts on the continent. The Russian Federation was contributing to the coordination of an African conflict resolution strategy, based on the priority of political and diplomatic means. Russian personnel were involved practically in all United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa.
YANG JIECHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity would be impossible without stability and development in Africa. For peace, it was necessary to make comprehensive efforts at the national, regional and global levels. Reconciliation, development and cooperation should be the three major pillars underpinning African peace.
He said his country supported the international community’s efforts to help Africa in terms of capital, technology and governance, but stressed that there should be respect for national conditions in African countries and that development models should not be imposed on them. China also supported the United Nations and the Security Council in its efforts to provide more assistance to regional organizations in institution building, information sharing, personal training and peacekeeping operations.
Acting on the principles of equality, mutual trust and common development, he said, China continued to strengthen its cooperation with Africa and to work with the rest of the international community to promote peace and development. In that light, last November’s Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation had decided to establish a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership.
JOSE ANTONIO GARCIA BELAUNDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru, said the relation between underdevelopment and armed conflict in Africa appeared with singular intensity. States had problems with low levels of development, fragile institutions, weak rule of law and a low level of political and social inclusion regarding ethnic groups. Once violence erupted, it spread to neighbouring States through the cross-border activities of illicit armed groups, while the flight of refugees turned such conflicts into major humanitarian crises.
Peace and security in Africa would be the result of conflict prevention, and cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, addressing humanitarian issues and post-conflict management, he said. Preventing conflict, which was less costly than ending it, should be based on long-term programmes for meeting the basic needs of the population and improving social and economic indicators. Major achievements had been reached through regional cooperation in building a continental and subregional security system in Africa, in line with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, which stipulated that the principle responsibility for resolving regional conflicts be assigned to regional organizations.
Turning to humanitarian issues, he said the priority for peacekeeping operations must be protecting the civilian population. Such efforts must include the fight against impunity and the establishment of mechanisms to bring perpetrators to justice. Post-conflict tasks must include neutralizing hotbeds of violence, capacity-building and dealing with such issues as climate change. The Peacebuilding Commission, created for that purpose, faced the challenge of providing an effective complement to sustain the collective security system.
KIM HOWELLS, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, said Africa was taking responsibility for solving its own problems by developing the African Union’s political and peacekeeping capacity and cooperating with the United Nations. Nowhere would that cooperation be tested more than in Darfur, where quick progress hopefully would be made in order to speed up the deployment of the hybrid force. Political progress there must be made at the upcoming talks, including a speedy ceasefire and the means to monitor it.
The Sudan must lift obstacles to humanitarian access and cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court, he stressed, adding: “There can be no impunity in Darfur.” Given progress, the United Kingdom would support reconstruction and development, but any party that impeded progress should expect a robust response from the international community.
He said the Council resolution adopted today on a security presence in Chad and the Central African Republic paved the way for a European Union force to protect civilians in the midst of a crisis that had spilled over from Darfur. Progress was also needed in Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe. The United Nations had a unique part to play in all those areas as part of its role in Africa, which ranged from ending conflict to delivering the Millennium Development Goals.
NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of the Council and of France, said in his national capacity that he saw no contradiction in mobilizing assistance for Africa and the desire of African States to take their fate into their own hands. It was important to strengthen the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union. What was happening in Darfur was extraordinary. The African Union, the United Nations and the European Union were trying to establish peace, but none of them could succeed alone.
What Africa needed were specific actions, rather than speeches, he stressed, pointing out that Somalia needed military assistance to stop piracy and allow humanitarian assistance to get through. Progress in Darfur had been possible due to the establishment of the United Nations-African Union hybrid force and the newly mandated European Union force in Chad and the Central African Republic.
He said one must be categorical about respecting human rights, the rule of law and the need to bring criminals to justice. In Africa, as elsewhere, murderers would be caught and punished. It was essential to work with Africa for peace, security and development, and not to accept complacency with regard to the rule of law and respect for human rights.
ALPHA OUMAR KONARE, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, underscored the importance of moving beyond promises, of which too many had already been made, and expressed hope that today’s meeting would see an active follow-up too. In Darfur, particularly, commitments must be respected and met, the ceasefire enforced, and all parties convened at the upcoming talks. In Somalia, peacekeepers were needed to allow reconciliation to take place. The African Union had created a solid framework for peacekeeping, but needed support, particularly in terms of predictable, long-term financing, which would allow rapid deployment.
In addition, peace dividends must be assured in countries emerging from conflict, he said. Lessons must continue to be learned by all parties, human rights and good governance prioritized, and all parties made to play by the rules and to keep their commitments.
Despite the crucial importance of the partnership with the international community, however, it was essential that Africa’s partners did not intervene unduly, he said, stressing that the era of colonialism was over. There must be a diminution of foreign military bases in Africa and a growth in the region’s capacity to provide its own security. That capacity should include communications technology and economic development as well as military provisions.
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