|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6621st Meeting (PM)
Security Council Pledges Strengthened UN Effectiveness in Preventing Conflict,
Including Through Use of Early Warning, Preventive Deployment, Mediation
Secretary-General Presents Report ‘Preventive Diplomacy: Delivering Results;’
Meeting Addressed by Six Heads of State or Government, Seven Foreign Ministers
In a meeting addressed by the Secretary-General along with Heads of State and Government and other high officials of its members, the Security Council this afternoon expressed its determination to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations in preventing the eruption of armed conflicts, their escalation or spread when they occur and their resurgence once they end.
A statement to that effect was read out by President Michel Suleiman of Lebanon, which holds the September presidency of the 15-member body, following a high-level meeting on preventive diplomacy, which heard from the Presidents of Colombia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Gabon; the Prime Minister of Portugal; and the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Brazil, Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Russian Federation and the United States were represented by their Permanent Representative.
In the statement, the Council said that key components of a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy included early warning, preventive deployment, mediation, peacekeeping, practical disarmament, accountability measures, as well as post-conflict peacebuilding, recognizing that those components were interdependent.
It also recognized that conflict prevention strategies should address the root causes of conflict in a comprehensive manner, promoting sustainable development, poverty eradication, national reconciliation, good governance, democracy, gender equality, an end of impunity, the rule of law, and respect for and protection of human rights, among other principles.
Preventive actions taken by the United Nations should support and complement the roles of national Governments, with which the primary responsibility for preventing conflict lay, the Council affirmed. In that context, it encouraged the Secretary-General to use all the diplomatic tools at his disposal under the Charter, including his good offices, representatives and mediators to help facilitate peaceful settlements most effectively, and to continue to improve the coherence of the United Nations system in those efforts.
Encouraging the role of regional organizations as well, the Council reiterated the need to continue strengthening regular exchanges of views, with the aim of strengthening national and regional capabilities for conflict prevention. It said it intended to also continue to strengthen its partnerships with all other relevant players both at the strategic level and on the ground, including international organizations and civil society, particularly youth and women.
In his first report on the issue, the Secretary-General calls for adequate, predictable and timely financial support for rapid preventive response to emerging crises, as well as further investment in “preventive diplomats” on the ground and an expanded pool of highly skilled envoys and mediators who can be deployed rapidly to situations of concern.
In its statement this afternoon, the Council recognized the importance of enhancing coordination among donors to ensure predictable, coherent and timely financial support to optimize the use of preventive tools, including mediation, throughout the conflict cycle.
“Preventive diplomacy may not be effective in all situations,” Mr. Ban said as he introduced his report to the Council. “Yet I firmly believe that better preventive diplomacy is not an option; it is a necessity,” he declared, announcing that prevention would remain a fundamental priority in his second term. He said he counted on the support of Member States, regional organizations, civil society and other partners in that effort.
He said that during his first term, the United Nations as well as Member States, regional and civil society organizations and other multilateral organizations had developed better capabilities in a wider and more innovative range of tools. As a result, diplomacy had brought about a peaceful referendum in Sudan, a democratic transition in Guinea and an end to the violence in Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. From Afghanistan to the Middle East, from West Africa to Sudan and Somalia, missions were helping every day to sustain complex political, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. However, there was still much to be done.
In the discussion that followed Mr. Ban’s statement, speakers agreed that preventive diplomacy should be the priority in the maintenance of international peace and security, with many pointing out how efficient and effective prevention was compared with reactive responses following the outbreak of widespread violence. Some regretted a previous lack of attention to prevention, with Nigeria’s President saying that far too much emphasis had been placed on the military dimensions of peacekeeping, without addressing the root causes of conflicts.
In that vein, Brazil’s Foreign Minister, speaking about the Council’s response to this year’s turmoil in Arab countries, said that “recent episodes” had shown the limits of military action as a means of promoting stability. Mediation, the good offices of the Secretary-General, regional organizations and other preventive mechanisms should be favoured over “loose interpretations of Security Council mandates”, he said. The President of Colombia concurred: “More prevention and less intervention, this must be our common goal”.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom said, however, that military action may be necessary in some situations, but only as a last resort. He said his country was increasingly placing greater emphasis on conflict prevention and addressing the root causes of conflict, along with scaling up its development cooperation. The representative of the United States agreed with the priority of both preventive diplomacy and peace-building activities, while insisting that other tools should also be available. Both carrots and sticks should be used, she said, including targeted sanctions. “Effective mediation does not mean just listening to all sides, it means acting firmly when needed”, she stressed.
The meeting began at 3:11 p.m. and ended at 5:30 p.m.
The full text of the Presidential Statement contained in document S/PRST/2011/18 reads as follows:
“The Security Council recalls its previous relevant resolutions and presidential statements on preventive diplomacy, prevention of armed conflict, and mediation and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
“The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on “Preventive Diplomacy: delivering results” (S/2011/552), and takes note of the recommendations contained therein.
“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, acting in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The Council further expresses its determination to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations in preventing the eruption of armed conflicts, their escalation or spread when they occur, and their resurgence once they end.
“The Security Council underlines the overriding political, humanitarian and moral imperatives as well as the economic advantages of preventing the outbreak, escalation or relapse into conflicts.
“The Security Council recalls that the prevention of conflict remains a primary responsibility of States, and further recalls their primary responsibility to respect and ensure the human rights of all individuals within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction, as provided for by relevant international law, and also reaffirms the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
“The Security Council reaffirms that actions undertaken within the framework of conflict prevention by the United Nations should support and complement, as appropriate, the conflict prevention roles of national governments.
“The Security Council pays tribute to the efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General in using his good offices, and dispatching Representatives, Special Envoys and mediators, to help facilitate durable and comprehensive settlements. The Council encourages the Secretary-General to increasingly and effectively use all the modalities and diplomatic tools at his disposal under the Charter for the purpose of enhancing mediation and its support activities, and recalls in this regard resolution A/RES/65/283 of 28 July 2011, as well as the report of the Secretary-General of 8 April 2009 (S/2009/189). The Council further encourages concerned parties to act in good faith when engaging with prevention and mediation efforts, including those undertaken by the United Nations.
“The Security Council encourages the Secretary-General to continue improving coherence and consolidation within the United Nations system, with a view to maximizing the impact of swift and timely preventive efforts undertaken by the Organization. The Council underlines the importance of the regular briefings it receives on such efforts and further calls on the Secretary-General to continue this good practice.
“The Security Council recalls that a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy should include, inter alia, early warning, preventive deployment, mediation, peacekeeping, practical disarmament, accountability measures as well as post-conflict peacebuilding, and recognizes that these components are interdependent, complementary, and non-sequential.
“The Security Council recognizes that conflict prevention strategies should address the root causes of armed conflict, and political and social crises in a comprehensive manner, including by promoting sustainable development, poverty eradication, national reconciliation, good governance, democracy, gender equality, end of impunity, rule of law, and respect for and protection of human rights.
“The Security Council encourages the peaceful settlement of local disputes through regional arrangements in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter. The Council acknowledges the efforts undertaken to strengthen operational and institutional cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations for conflict prevention, and in this regard reiterates the need to continue strengthening strategic dialogue, partnerships, and more regular exchange of views and information at the working level, with the aim of building national and regional capacities in relation to the preventive diplomacy tools of, inter alia, mediation, information gathering and analysis, early warning, prevention and peacemaking.
“The Security Council intends to continue to strengthen its partnerships with all other relevant players at both the strategic level and on the ground, in particular the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Peacebuilding Commission, and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank. The Council further intends to continue to strengthen its partnership with the United Nations regional offices.
“The Security Council emphasizes that an effective preventive diplomacy framework requires the active involvement of civil society, especially youth, and other relevant actors, such as academia and media. The Council also reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding, and reiterates its call to increase the equal participation, representation and full involvement of women in preventive diplomacy efforts in line with resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), and the statements of its President S/PRST/2010/20 and S/PRST/2010/22.
“The Security Council recognizes the importance of enhancing efforts, including coordination among relevant bilateral and multilateral donors, to ensure predictable, coherent and timely financial support to optimize the use of preventive diplomacy tools, including mediation, throughout the conflict cycle.
“The Security Council looks forward to further consideration of the report of the Secretary General on “Preventive Diplomacy: delivering results” by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as other actors including international financial institutions, and supports strengthening the capacity of the United Nations and its partners in the field of preventive diplomacy.”
The Security Council had before it Preventive diplomacy: Delivering results — Report of the Secretary-General (document S/2011/552), which is dedicated to the memory of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld , as the United Nations marks the fiftieth anniversary of his death. It states as its purpose examining “the opportunities and the challenges the United Nations and its partners currently face in conducting preventive diplomacy in a changing political and security landscape”. In the report, his first on the subject, the Secretary-General calls on the world community to reinforce preventive diplomacy through a system of early warnings and skilled interventions that can pre-empt conflicts before they erupt, saving both lives and national resources.
“Preventive diplomacy today is delivering concrete results, with relatively modest resources, in many regions of the world, helping to save lives and to protect development gains,” he says, citing recent successes in easing mounting tension between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, post-election violence in Kenya, and the transition from military to civilian rule in Guinea. “It is an approach that may not be effective in all situations and will continue to face the uncertainty, risks and evolving challenges which, in a sense, come with the terrain. Yet I firmly believe that better preventive diplomacy is not optional; it is necessary.”
Adequate financial investment, in particular for rapid response, is crucial and Member States must ensure predictable and timely financial support, he stresses in the report. He adds that further investment in ‘preventive diplomats’, who lead efforts on the ground to avert violent conflict, would be valuable. An expanded pool of highly skilled envoys and mediators who can be deployed rapidly to situations of concern, with a focus on increasing the number of senior female mediators, is needed, he writes.
He notes that preventive diplomacy today is being conducted by a broader array of actors, using a wider range of tools, than ever before, with growing partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations, the opening of more regional United Nations offices, and the creation of new early warning systems, including by the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the African Union.
He recalls that in 2008 the General Assembly made possible the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), aimed at bolstering the United Nations’ preventive capacity. Since then, DPA has enhanced its analytical capacities, technical expertise in key areas such as electoral assistance, partnerships, and its ability to facilitate system-wide responses. As a result, he says, it is becoming better geared toward rapid response and, through its reinforced regional divisions and Mediation Support Unit, can assist good offices and mediation initiatives worldwide, whether undertaken by the Organization or its partners. Its standby team of mediation experts is able to deploy within 72 hours to assist negotiators on peace process design, security arrangements, constitution-making, gender, power-sharing and wealth-sharing.
He stresses that while the biggest return on investment in preventive diplomacy comes in lives saved, it also makes strong economic sense, noting that the World Bank has calculated that the average cost of civil war is equivalent to more than 30 years of gross domestic product (GDP) growth for a medium-size developing country, with the most severe civil wars imposing cumulative costs of tens of billions of dollars. Prevention efforts can be much less costly. The United Nations regional office in West Africa (UNOWA), which has played an important role in prevention efforts in Guinea, Niger and elsewhere in the subregion, has a regular budget of less than $8 million per year.
Among recent successes, the Secretary-General cites his 2008 appointment of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region amid growing regional tensions and a widespread fear that the Democratic Republic of the Congo would again become the theatre of war. A year later the tensions had subsided and Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo met for the first time in many years, with their countries resuming formal diplomatic relations soon after.
In Guinea, he notes that UNOWA, in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and others, facilitated the country’s transition from military to constitutional rule during 2009 and 2010, preventing political tensions from escalating into full-blown conflict, with the potential of destabilizing neighbouring Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau. Other examples include the successful holding this year of the referendum that saw South Sudan secede from Sudan, the easing of tensions between the governing and opposition parties in Sierra Leone in 2009, and the end to inter-ethnic violence and return to constitutional order in Kyrgyzstan in 2010.
The Secretary-General warns, however, that while preventive diplomacy has grown and evolved significantly, it is neither easy, straightforward, or inevitably successful, facing “great obstacles and long odds, with success often hostage to multiple factors”. One of the most critical of these is the will of the parties. If the parties do not want peace, or are unwilling to compromise, it is extraordinarily difficult, especially for outsiders, to persuade them otherwise, he stresses.
In such cases, incentives and disincentives can be critical in convincing key actors, with due respect for their sovereignty, that there is value in choosing dialogue over violence, and, if necessary, to accept external assistance to that end, he writes. Despite the complexity, recent engagements reconfirm that the combination of analysis, early warning, rapid response and partnerships can help defuse tensions in escalating crises and assist parties in resolving disputes peacefully.
MICHEL SLEIMAN, President of Lebanon, whose country holds the Council Presidency for September, said wars and conflicts were not inevitable. Their escalation could be prevented, but that required political will and mobilizing the necessary resources, as well as adopting a clear preventive approach. The particularity of every conflict required carefully selected instruments of diplomacy, such as good offices, mediation and dialogue, among others. Mediation was not just the domain of Governments. Active prevention could also be pursued by civil society bodies. He recalled the Arab Peace Initiative aimed at resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict in a just manner. Peacekeeping operations were significant as they worked to contain conflicts and prevent their spread. Since its formation in 1978, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had helped the Lebanese State extend its sovereignty over all its territories. Lebanon had fully respected resolution 1701 (2006).
The international community, in accordance with the requirements of preventive diplomacy, should compel Israel to withdraw from all Lebanese territories it occupied, he said. The conflict with Israel would not have escalated had the international community compelled Israel at the beginning to comply with resolution 425 (1978), which had called for Israel to unconditionally withdraw all its armed forces from all Lebanese territory. Practical measures were needed to implement Council resolutions. But, the international community must also address the root causes of crises and the roots of terrorism must be considered. He condemned terrorism in all its forms. Conflict prevention required economic and social justice and establishing a more fair international economic and financial order that was less dependent on speculation. “Dialogue, communication and openness to others are the most important weapons against fanaticism, extremism, prejudice and hatred,” he said, adding that “a culture of peace cannot be separated from a culture of justice.”
United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON, introducing his report on preventive diplomacy, said that since he took office, the United Nations had sought to strengthen preventive diplomacy by reinforcing missions, strengthening envoys and their teams, improving expertise, deepening partnerships and reshaping the Department of Political Affairs.
Member States, regional and civil society organizations and other multilateral organizations had also developed better capabilities, using a wider and more innovative range of tools, he said. As a result, diplomacy had brought about a peaceful referendum in Sudan, a democratic transition in Guinea and an end to the violence in Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. From Afghanistan to the Middle East, from West Africa to Sudan and Somalia, missions were carrying out preventive diplomacy every day — helping to sustain complex political, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. However, there was still much to be done.
A critical factor, he said, was political will. If the parties did not want peace, or were unwilling to compromise, it was extraordinarily difficult to persuade or impose it from the outside. But that should not stop efforts to resolve underlying tensions and, when conflict did erupt, to stop its spread and mitigate the damage it could cause.
He noted that his report prioritized early action, which could be facilitated by all actors, including the Security Council. The Council “can do much to address emerging threats whether or not they are on the formal agenda”, he said, adding: “It is incumbent on all of us – Member States, regional organizations and the United Nations — to act early and decisively”.
In addition, while stressing prevention was infinitely cheaper than cure, he said it still needed an adequate investment to deliver results. Strategic partnerships with regional organizations had to be strengthened and coordination among the international community needed to be refined. Finally, national institutions and mechanisms for mediation and dialogue needed support.
“Preventive diplomacy may not be effective in all situations. Uncertainty, risks and evolving challenges come with the terrain” he concluded. “Yet, I firmly believe that better preventive diplomacy is not an option; it is a necessity”, he declared, announcing that prevention would remain a fundamental priority in his second term. He said he counted on the support of Member States, regional organizations, civil society and other partners in that effort.
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, said good offices and mediation were a particularly useful means of peacefully settling disputes. He pointed to the recent successful mediation by Colombia and Venezuela to reinstate Honduras in the Organization of American States and to help resolve Honduras’ 2009 institutional crisis. International organizations should encourage and promote the use of good offices and mediation by leaders of institutions and Governments and by high-profile personalities to achieve peace. He agreed with the assessment in the Secretary-General’s 2009 report that mediation, despite its proven ability to effectively resolve disputes, had attracted little attention and United Nations resources. Therefore, he was pleased with the recent adoption of a General Assembly resolution that strengthened the role of mediation in conflict prevention and resolution, saying the document was “destined to become a road map” for mediation.
Early interventions by the United Nations and regional organizations and even the good offices of certain countries in regional settings were fundamental to prevent and settle conflicts, he said. It would be ideal not to have to resort to Chapter VII. “Because of this we must make every effort to strengthen preventive diplomacy and to make it more efficient and agile,” he said. “Let us remove the dust from the instruments of prevention and settlement of disputes provided for in Chapter VI of the Charter and let us put them into practice,” he said, adding that: “More prevention and less intervention. This must be our common goal”.
JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, said preventive diplomacy was more cost-effective than the deployment of peacekeepers once a conflict had broken out. To be effective and successful, preventive diplomacy required sustained resources. That would enable the United Nations to plan and timely deploy resources in potential conflict situations. Much could be achieved by utilizing the unique capacities and experiences of regional organizations. Since its inception in 2002, the African Union had established a comprehensive peace and security architecture based on a paradigm that recognized preventive diplomacy, post conflict-reconstruction and development as central to eradicating conflicts in Africa. The African Union had made great strides in developing early warning systems to help organizations determine which countries were likely to lapse or relapse into conflict. To be effective, such early warning systems must be followed by effective action.
To be effective, the efforts of the African Union and other subregional organizations must be respected by the United Nations and the international community, he said. In fact, the Council had made several decisions on its intention to build a strong partnership with the African Union, but in the last few months that partnership had faltered, as the African Union’s preventive diplomatic efforts in cases such as Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and Libya were undermined. The African Union initiative to ensure a political rather than military solution in Libya was deliberately undermined, despite adoption of resolution 1973 (2011) to support the African Union road map. Such blatant acts of disregard for regional initiatives potentially undermined the confidence that regional organizations had in the United Nations as an impartial and widely respected mediator in conflicts. There was no one-size-fits-all model to conflict prevention diplomacy. Cultural orientation, local preferences and local expertise to develop strategies must be taken into account.
GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, President of Nigeria, said that when his country convened the open debate on preventive diplomacy in 2010, it was “motivated by a profound concern that the nature of conflict was outpacing our collective ability to respond effectively to it”. Little attention had been accorded to mediation and preventive diplomacy and far too much emphasis had been placed on the military dimensions of peacekeeping, without addressing the root causes of conflicts. The immediate challenge was to redress that imbalance. African regional and subregional organizations, including the African Union and Economic Community of West African States, had made steps to put in place early warning and mediation mechanisms. Those efforts must be supported both financially and technically by the international community and the United Nations.
Agreeing that mechanisms for collaborative arrangements had been improved within the United Nations and that Nigeria had invested in preventive diplomacy, he said it was encouraging to note that the Secretary-General had established a steering committee to consider measures for enhancing cooperation across the network of preventive diplomacy actors. Pointing out that preventive diplomacy was often most effective when conducted behind the scenes, before tensions rose to the boiling point, he suggested that a standard approach for preventive diplomacy could be instituted in political and peacekeeping missions.
ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said his country attached great importance to preventive diplomacy. Reviewing the proliferation of conflicts in the past decades along with the response of the United Nations, he said that greater mobilization of common efforts was needed, including the strengthening of extant partnerships under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, building on traditional mediation methods and involving civil society. In supporting regional mechanisms, he proposed that the United Nations help build the African preventative architecture, including early warning systems.
Mediation, analysis and other areas deserved greater investment as well, he said. In Central Africa, channels of cooperation had been put in place, as well as a subregional early warning mechanism, headquartered in Gabon. Coordination with the United Nations offices would be sought in that effort. He stressed that greater human and financial resources were needed for prevention, and the international financial institutions must be involved, particularly considering the connection between prevention and development. He said that success would be limited if the underlying causes of conflict were not addressed. For that purpose, dialogue with and between national stakeholders must be ongoing.
PEDRO PASSOS COELHO, Prime Minister of Portugal, said preventive diplomacy was a central principle of Portugal’s foreign policy. Portugal had actively supported Council initiatives that sought to promote a better understanding of the causes of conflict and to discuss options to overcome obstacles, such as was the case in the recent tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea. An integrated vision of security, involving the human rights promotion, civilian protection and humanitarian concerns, should be encouraged. Security and development went hand in hand. In that context, he highlighted the work of the Peacebuilding Commission’s preventive role and central role in linking peace and security with socioeconomic development and humanitarian efforts. Towards that end, the Commission’s country specific configurations for West Africa, of which Portugal was a member, were concrete examples.
Peacekeeping operations should be involved in early peacebuilding in the areas of security and justice, and in disarmament, demining and reintegration, he said. Such action reinforced the socioeconomic development efforts of other actors. The positive experiences in the Balkans and Timor-Leste were clear in that regard, and they inspired potential solutions for Libya. It was essential to strengthen the links between the United Nations and regional and other international organizations. For that reason, Portugal continuously defended the participation of the African Union and the Arab League in preventive diplomacy. He underscored the efforts of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries to strengthen prevention. He also wished to highlight the efforts developed in the context of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries.
WILLIAM HAGUE, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, United Kingdom, said this year had shown that the United Nations could take the lead in saving lives and protecting civilians. In Libya, the United Nations used diplomatic and monetary pressure to prevent a war against its people. That move saved the lives of thousands of civilians and allowed the Libyan people to seize the opportunity to determine their future. In Côte d’Ivoire, United Nations peacekeepers protected civilians and showed zero tolerance for attacks. Without international political will and leadership, the United Nations risked failing in its duty to uphold international peace and security. The increasing frequency of international conflicts presented different challenges, but the civilian population must still be protected. All means available must be used to prevent conflict and ensure it did not escalate, while sustainable peace should be encouraged through mediation and dialogue. Military action may be necessary, as had proven to be the case in Libya, but it was a last resort. The United Kingdom was not calling for that in the case of Syria.
He said action to prevent conflicts must have a strong legal basis, and that was the case in Libya. It was also necessary to work in accordance with the societies in which the conflict took place. States must develop, individually and at the United Nations, the capacity to anticipate and prevent conflicts. “We can’t wait for problems to become crises,” he said, citing the need to develop and utilize early warning systems. The United Kingdom would spend 0.7 per cent of its GDP to alleviate poverty abroad and ensure that a larger proportion of that amount went toward conflict prevention. By 2015, 30 per cent of the United Kingdom’s official development assistance (ODA) would go to support conflict prevention in fragile areas. “In Syria, a response from the Council is long overdue. The consequences of inaction would weigh heavily upon us,” he said. In Libya, the Council must support the National Transitional Council’s efforts to rebuild. He welcomed the Council’s decision last week to mandate a United Nations mission for Libya. In Yemen, the Organization should continue to use its good office to mediate a peaceful settlement.
ALAIN JUPPÉ, Minister of State for Foreign and European Affairs of France, said that preventive diplomacy was at the heart of the United Nations Charter, with the Security Council the key actor. In fulfilling its role in prevention, the Council must take action as early as possible. In that light, he said that condemnation of Syria’s attacks on civilians must be forthcoming. Monitoring high risks areas should allow intervention in such conflicts before widespread violence broke out. In addition, he said that the Council must coordinate its efforts with the conflict-preventive efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), regional organizations and other multinational organizations.
Social, cultural and environmental factors must be taken into account, as well as political factors, he said, emphasizing in particular the environmental factors and competition for natural resources. With no adequate international environmental governance in existence, such conflicts would be resolved bilaterally, with less than optimal results. The Rio+20 conference was an opportunity to rectify that lack.
SUSAN RICE ( United States) said that the transformation from a culture of reaction to a culture to prevention in the international machinery for peace and security was incomplete. Stressing the linkages between poverty and conflict, she called for a comprehensive approach to prevention that addressed sustainable development, good governance, gender equality, the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights. Enabling those values was not a quick process and they could not be imposed from outside, but the United Nations could perform an important supporting role.
She said that the United Nation should build, in particular, its capabilities in early warning and analysis, with due attention paid to the particularities of each case and drawing upon its range of partnerships. She supported the robust use of the Secretary-General’s good offices, envoys, representatives, as well as independent mediators. Both carrots and sticks should be used, including targeted sanctions. “Effective mediation does not mean just listening to all sides, it means acting firmly when needed”, she stressed. Prevention should be integrated into peacekeeping, she added, saying that the long-term objective must be enabling countries to prevent conflicts by themselves. For that reason, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund were useful. Most important in all efforts, she said, was the unity and political will of the Council.
YANG JIECHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs, China, said the world was undergoing profound, complex changes. Regional hotspots were emerging; traditional and non-traditional security threats were intertwined. That required a keener appreciation of preventive diplomacy and adding to the United Nations efforts in that regard. He called for increased attention to preventive diplomacy through the increased use of early warning systems, conflict prevention and mediation. That would help save resources, improve efficiency and protect people from the scourge of war. The Secretary-General and regional offices should play a larger role. An integrated approach was also required. He called for more attention to efforts towards development and eliminating the socio-economic causes of conflict, particularly in Africa. In that regard, the Peacebuilding Commission had made positive efforts in recent years.
The United Nations, particularly the Council, should strengthen its partnerships with regional and subregional organizations and fully utilize their unique political, geographic and moral advantages to actively engage in preventive diplomacy, he said. All available United Nations resources — including those of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, the World Bank, UNDP and the World Food Programme (WFP), among others — should be used to form a strong synergy and conduct preventive diplomacy more effectively. He supported the Secretary-General in playing a more active role in coordinating the efforts of all United Nations agencies.
S.M. KRISHNA, Minister of External Affairs, India, said recent developments demonstrated that there was a worrying trend towards increased reliance on the use of force as a mechanism for resolving low-intensity conflicts and those involving non-State actors and drug traffickers. In many places, the use of force had prolonged conflicts — a situation where the “cure turned out to be worse than the disease”. He warned that “the international community must not show undue eagerness for coercive arrangements in its hurry to bring peace”. The tragic events of the past that were sought to justify intervention did not happen because dialogue was ineffective; they took place because of the international community’s lack of will to act. Those failures did not in any way detract from the soundness of the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes or its means, set forth in the Charter.
Preventive diplomacy took time and commitment, he said. It required the ability to discern realistic solutions and the involvement of various stakeholders affected by conflict. As civilian protection was primarily the responsibility of States, conflict prevention by United Nations entities must be designed to support and complement the conflict prevention roles of national Governments. India opposed the use of force as the primary reaction to conflicts. Peacekeepers, who were also early peacebuilders, were being asked to do more with less. That resource gap must be addressed. The international community’s inability to match its mandate with resources ultimately affected the Council’s credibility and its authority in resolving disputes. Coercive measures should be avoided and used only as a last resort and with extreme caution. Decisions to use force should be free of political motives. International law was based on the principle of consent for good reason. Efforts to circumvent that process were not prudent and would not address the drivers of conflict over the long-term.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA, Minister of External Relations of Brazil, said that the principles for peaceful resolution of controversies were written into Brazil’s constitution. Peace, he stated, resulted from collective efforts to build just societies. Peace, security and development were interdependent. The promotion of socio-economic development and the creation of political opportunities to allow every country to fulfil its potential were indispensable elements in any agenda for preventive diplomacy. Domestically, his country was committed to fighting poverty and improving governance. Regionally, the Union of South American Nations — UNASUL — was consolidating itself as a zone of peace, cooperation and democracy.
A functional worldwide, multilateral prevention system presided over by the Security Council was needed, however, he said. “Recent episodes have shown us the limits of military action as a means for promoting stability, as well as the inappropriateness of using force preventively or pre-emptively”. Taking note of United States President Barack Obama’s statement that the “tide of war is receding”, he added that a tide of diplomacy, dialogue and prevention must be ushered in. Mediation, the good offices of the Secretary-General, regional organizations and other preventive mechanisms should be favoured over “loose interpretations of Security Council mandates”, he said, referring to responses to the turmoil in the Arab world. Similarly, he expected the Council to use dialogue and diplomacy to help bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and he commented that updating the composition of the Council to better reflect the realities of today’s world would greatly contribute to strengthening preventive capacity.
GUIDO WESTERWELLE, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that conflict prevention was one of the central tasks of the Security Council and improving its capabilities in that area was both a strategic and humanitarian necessity. The right tools must be chosen at all times, however. Turning to Syria, he said that the repression must stop and the Council should send an urgent message to Damascus for that purpose. He said that early warning was an essential component of prevention, as was a long-term structural perspective that looked ahead to upcoming threats. An attention to climate change was an example of the latter. Respect for human rights and economic development were also important factors in prevention.
The Security Council could not address all this on its own, he said. Regional mechanisms and their expertise were valuable, he stressed, pointing to the role of the Arab League in the events of the last year in North Africa and the Middle East and the activities of the European Union not only in its region, but also in cooperation with the African Union. Direct talks between the actors involved were essential of course, but mediation could be very useful in enabling the success of such talks. In any peace efforts, a wide participation of stakeholders should be encouraged, particularly women. Agreeing with many recommendations of the Secretary-General, he urged that a long-term approach to improving the maintenance of international peace and security be taken.
SVEN ALKALAJ, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Council must optimize the use of its preventive diplomacy tools. Reacting to crises after they started was a less efficient and less cost-effective method for preserving peace and security. There was no universal solution for all crises; each required specific attention. He noted the emerging role of regional and subregional organizations as active partners in preventive diplomacy. That reflected a growing conviction that emerging crises should be addressed in the appropriate international forums. He stressed the importance of developing and improving early warning systems, creating rapid response mechanisms and setting up prevention structures.
He supported strengthening the strategic dialogue between the United Nations and regional organizations, and a more regular exchange of views and information in order to enable adequate decision-making of the Council. He noted the importance of the international community’s conflict prevention efforts, but said the willingness of stakeholders involved in political processes in the field to preserve peace was the most crucial element. Durable peace agreements could only be achieved by helping nations build the foundations for sustainable peace and address the root causes of conflict.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said to avoid further shocks, international efforts must move from merely reacting to conflict to prevention strategies, notably socioeconomic development. He pointed to the growth in cross-border threats and challenges, such as international terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, organized crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In the past few years, the Council, the Secretary-General and many regional and subregional organizations had done good work in preventing conflicts. But, the successful containment of conflict depended on the systematic application of good offices, diplomacy and mediation. It was essential to strengthen the United Nations capacity in that regard. There was no room for double standards dictated by short-term political circumstances, or the preferences of certain States. He pointed to sanctions imposed on incumbent Governments in Yemen, while the opposition was primed for confrontation.
Interference in the political process did not serve the interests of long-term stability, he said. Today’s conflicts could not be resolved by force. He pointed to the growing role of mediators in preventing and settling conflict and saw a continued need for the Secretary-General’s good offices. He noted the importance of civilian protection and humanitarian assistance, but said they did not facilitate political processes. Rather, that was the role of peacekeepers. He fully supported the role of the Peacebuilding Commission in helping post-conflict countries and called for its role to be strengthened. In the past year, regional and subregional organizations had proven their ability to help settle conflicts. The African Union had shown its capability in Sudan and Madagascar and it was ready to do more in Libya. It was very important to continue to actively use Chapter VIII of the Charter. He supported the creation of United Nations regional centres on preventive diplomacy, and lauded the work of the centre in Central Asia. Conflict prevention was less costly than subsequent international efforts to end conflicts after they began.
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