Praising Socioeconomic Gains Leading to ‘Rise of New Africa’, General Assembly President Urges Resolute Commitment to Help Continent End Conflicts

25 April 2013
GA/11364

Praising Socioeconomic Gains Leading to ‘Rise of New Africa’, General Assembly President Urges Resolute Commitment to Help Continent End Conflicts

25 April 2013
General Assembly
GA/11364
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Thematic Debate

AM & PM Meetings

Praising Socioeconomic Gains Leading to ‘Rise of New Africa’, General Assembly

 

President Urges Resolute Commitment to Help Continent End Conflicts

African Union, United Nations Must Work Together on Durable,

Inclusive Solutions, Secretary-General Tells High-level Thematic Debate

With the quest to unite the African continent and transform it into a region of economic prosperity and social justice never closer to fulfilment, senior United Nations officials today hailed the “rise of a new Africa”, but also called on the international community to engage much more resolutely to help bring to an end the conflicts that continued to tragically claim the lives of so many Africans.

“We gather today to celebrate the progress that a proud continent has made since breaking the chains of colonial subjugation,” General Assembly President Vuk Jeremićsaid as he opened the world body’s high-level thematic debate on the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa.  While the 50 years since the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) — predecessor of today’s African Union — had seen the continent make remarkable strides, much remained to be done towards its prosperous future completely free of conflict and poverty, he said.

“I hope that today’s debate will provide us with an opportunity to address one of the most strategic challenges of our era of global transformation and empowerment, that is, how to establish an everlasting peace across the Continent,” he said.  The day-long meeting, which featured statements from the President of Equatorial Guinea and 10 African Foreign Affairs Ministers, also included two panel discussions on, respectively, fostering cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, and addressing the complexity of African conflicts.

Providing an overview, Mr. Jeremić said that growth rates in many parts of Africa had been resilient, even though a number of countries had been among the hardest hit by the global economic crisis.  Despite that troubling reality, trade and investment had expanded, and the continent-wide internal market had been built up over several years.  By any measure, that progress had been “unprecedented”.  Yet, he said, much more needed to be done before the gap between the promise of Africa and the reality on the ground was fully bridged.

Taking the floor next, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Africa was a top priority of the Organization.  From development to preventive diplomacy, from peacekeeping to capacity-building and much else, the United Nations worked “day in and day out” alongside its African counterparts towards long-term peace, prosperity and human rights.  Steady gains were also being made in consolidating peace and security.

Insecurity in the Central African Republic, Mali, the broader Sahel region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the unconstitutional transfer of power in Guinea-Bissau, could not disguise the fact that the number of conflicts in Africa continued to decline.  In that regard, the African Union peace and security architecture, the Continental Early Warning System and the African Standby Force were increasingly effective, all pointing to the fact that the Union and subregional organizations were taking the lead in conflict resolution.

Yet, he stressed that resolution of conflicts in Africa, or anywhere else, could not just be a matter for elites to decide.  “Communities must feel they have ownership of these initiatives and processes,” he said, adding that the African Union and the United Nations could and must work to find inclusive and durable solutions and strengthen the capacity of all actors to engage in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, especially women.

In his keynote speech, Jean-Pierre Buyoya, High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, stressed the need for the development of appropriate strategies.  The cold war had affected many African countries, and led to many nationalist movements.  In bringing forward issues regarding borders inherited by colonialism, the African Union had made a commitment to the liberation of countries under the colonial yoke.  Africa relied on the United Nations Charter, which was also grounded in the peaceful resolution of conflict.

The African Union and United Nations partnership had been dynamic.  He said the case of Mali was a great personal concern and offered an eloquent illustration of that partnership, as could be seen in the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).  Collaborative efforts included the work dating to the end of 2011.  The Security Council resolution currently being discussed would authorize the transformation of AFISMA into a stabilization mission.  He was sure the partnership between the United Nations and African Union would continue to blossom.

Africa wished to be a continent free of conflict and instability and one that was, instead, making solid progress towards sustained economic growth and development, he said, describing the meaning of the “African renaissance”.  To do this, Africa would need partners, he said.  “Long live the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations,” he concluded.

During the ensuing high-level debate, speakers highlighted Africa’s economic potential, and stressed the importance of cooperation among the United Nations, the African Union, regional players, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and other stakeholders.  They also lamented the negative consequences of “interventionism”, and called for a fair representation of Africa in the Security Council.  Other speakers hailed the African Peer Review Mechanism, and underscored the need for the establishment of a fair trading system to achieve the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

In his address, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea, said that “ Africa has never been bellicose”, noting that the continent had been forced into conflict by colonial Powers.  Africa, by its origin, was a continent of unity and solidarity, not division.  African countries must reject those offering “help with a hidden agenda” because they often planted “explosives” that sparked in-country divisions.  Moreover, armed interventions led to the destruction of the spirit of the Charter.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, pointed out that 7 or 10 of the world’s fastest growing economies were in Africa.  Yet, challenges remained, including addressing the root causes of conflicts, reinforcing good governance and promoting sustained economic development. Africans also needed to refine instruments to deal with unconstitutional changes of Government and dissuade the emerging pattern of illegitimate rebellions.

Also participating in the high-level debate were the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Ethiopia, Namibia, Egypt, Ghana, Gabon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Nigeria and Angola.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 26 April, to take action on the political declaration on the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa, and conclude its thematic debate.

Background

The General Assembly met today for a thematic debate on “Peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa”, which was expected to begin with statements by senior United Nations officials and Member States, and conclude with two high-level panel discussions on, respectively, “Fostering African Union-United Nations cooperation around the nexus of peace, security and development”, and “Complexity of conflict in Africa (Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo) and efforts to address these challenges”.

Opening Remarks

VUK JEREMIĆ, President of the General Assembly, said that 50 years ago, the precursor to today’s African Union — the Organization of the African Unity (OAU) — had been established in Addis Ababa.  Today’s gathering was to celebrate the progress that a proud continent had made since breaking the chains of colonial subjugation.  Together, with the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade two years earlier, the founding of the OAU in 1963 had proclaimed the coming down of a new era.

At that time, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana had stated in the General Assembly that the “cardinal fact of our [age] is the momentous impact of African’s awakening upon the modern world”, urging Member States to “look at the blazing African sun now travelling across the sky of Africa’s redemption”.  Five decades later, “we can assert with confidence that it has never shoe as brightly”, Mr. Jeremić said, declaring that:  “Today, a new Africa is rising.”  The quest to unite the Continent, and transform it into a region of economic prosperity and social justice, had never been closer to fulfilment.

Indeed, growth rates in many parts of Africa had been resilient, even though a number of countries on the continent had been among the hardest-hit victims of the global economic crisis.  Despite that troubling reality, trade and investment had expanded, and the continent-wide internal market had been built up over several years.  By any measure, that progress had been “remarkable and unprecedented”.  Yet, he said, much more needed to be done before the gap between the promise of Africa and the reality on the ground was fully bridged.

The world must engage much more resolutely to help bring an end to the conflicts that continued to tragically claim the lives of so many Africans.  Stressing the need to support African-led solutions to all African challenges, he said the General Assembly should seek the continent’s guidance, and he urged the participants from Africa in today’s debate to provide direction on how best the wider international community could join in their efforts.

He then encouraged Member States to adopt the Political Declaration on the Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Africa that would be put before the plenary tomorrow.  The draft text had been composed and submitted by the 54 delegations of the Africa Group.  That progressive, forward-looking vision laid out Africa’s own priorities.

When the African leaders of tomorrow gathered in 2063 at the centenary of the establishment of their Union, let them look back on the five decades that would start a month from now as a golden age, in which the continent was able to freely choose its own destiny — a time when poverty was completely eradicated, schools and hospitals in every country became a source of pride, and African universities began to lead the world in learning and technological innovation.  Let them also see a fully empowered Union in which peace and justice reigned unopposed, he continued, and a period of economic plenty was sustained by a robust single market, de-carbonized energy system, across-the-board agricultural security and state-of-the-art infrastructure.  Finally, he said, let them speak of the promise of Africa fulfilled in every hamlet and village — in every city and metropolis — and express appreciation for the successful consolidation of the rule of law, good governance and human rights throughout the continent.

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, said Africa was one of the Organization’s top priorities.  As the African Union prepared to celebrate its anniversary, it was a time of reflection and pride for making great strides.  “The path from colonization to emancipation has been rocky, but that has not stopped the people of Africa from resolutely marching forward,” he said, stressing that the facts spoke for themselves as more Africans lived under democratic systems than ever before.  Steady gains were also being made in consolidating peace and security.

Yet, insecurity in Central African Republic, Mali and the broader Sahel region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the unconstitutional transfer of power in Guinea-Bissau could not disguise the fact that the number of conflicts in Africa continues to decline.  Also, the African Union peace and security architecture, the Continental Early Warning System and the African Standby Force are increasingly effective, all pointing to the fact that the Union and subregional organizations were taking the lead in conflict resolution.

The United Nations, for its part, was committed to supporting the peaceful prevention and resolution of conflict in Africa, he said, outlining regional developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Great Lakes region, Burundi, Kenya and other efforts, including South Sudan and Sudan, Somalia and Mali.  The Security Council was now deliberating the creation of a stabilization mission in Mali, he added.

Turning to the crisis of Central African Republic, which had sparked a “grave” humanitarian and human rights situation, including “appalling violence”, such as the targeting of civilians and United Nations personnel, he said that crisis highlighted the perils of leaving grievances unaddressed.  As a result, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund were addressing those and other issues of utmost importance.

He said that the resolution of conflicts in Africa, or anywhere else, could not just be a matter for elites to decide.  “Communities must feel they have ownership of these initiatives and processes,” and the African Union and the United Nations could and must work to find inclusive and durable solutions and strengthen the capacity of all actors to engage in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, especially women.  He said the United Nations would continue to work with the African Union and partners to build on all those achievements and to move forward.

JEAN-PIERRE BUYOYA, High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, said political instability and socioeconomic underdevelopment were among the major challenges facing the continent.  Armed conflict, rebellions and secessionist movements had placed a great burden on Africa, as demonstrated by the crises in Central African Republic, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and others.  Abject poverty afflicted some countries despite their economic potential, and often, the causes were explained as poor political and economic governance, which emphasized the tangible link between conflicts, political instability and socioeconomic development in Africa.

Appropriate strategies needed to be developed, he said.  The cold war had affected many African countries, and led to many nationalist movements.  He said that the role and strategy of the African Union in managing conflicts focused on resolving them peacefully, no matter the cause.  In bringing forward issues regarding borders inherited by colonialism, the African Union had made a commitment to the liberation of countries under the colonial yoke.

In that effort, Africa relied on the United Nations Charter, which was also grounded in the peaceful resolution of conflict.  A liberation committee was put in place to coordinate support for liberation movements in countries under colonization, and was considered one of the most effective arms of the then OAU.  In 1994, a conflict management centre and peace fund were established.  Conflict prevention was considered to be an important strategy, he said, highlighting the establishment of a protocol to create the African Union Peace and Security Council in 2002 and further relevant architecture in 2004, which included the Council, a regional group, the African standby force and the early warning system.

The African Union and United Nations partnership had been dynamic.  He said the case of Mali was a great personal concern and offered an eloquent illustration of that partnership, as could be seen in the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).  Collaborative efforts included the work dating to the end of 2011.  The Security Council resolution currently being discussed would authorize the transformation of AFISMA into a stabilization mission.  He was sure the partnership between the United Nations and African Union would continue to blossom.

Africa wished to be a continent free of conflict and instability and one that was, instead, making solid progress towards sustained economic growth and development, he said, describing the meaning of the “African renaissance”.  To do this, Africa would need partners, he said.  “Long live the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations,” he concluded.

Statements

OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea, recognized the General Assembly President’s commitment to the issue of peaceful resolutions of conflicts in Africa.  The world was “dangerously departing from the course” envisioned by the United Nations Charter and the Organization’s very purpose, to maintain international peace and security, protect the rights of peoples and nations, contribute to the development of countries and uphold the sovereignty, dignity and equality of States, among others.

He reminded the participants that the Chapter 1, Article 2 of the Charter clearly stated that international disputes between Member States would be settled though peaceful means and the same Article promoted non-use of force against a sovereign State.  To protect and defend such principles, the Security Council had been created.  Use of force was a last resort after peaceful means were exhausted, or when United Nations recommendations were not followed.

A close examination of the history of the African continent showed that “Africa has never been bellicose”, he said, noting that Africa had been forced into conflict by colonial Powers.  Even after gaining independence, African nations had struggled to define their relations with the countries that had colonized them.  African did not manufacture weapons or traffic in persons.  Africa, by its origin, was a continent of unity and solidarity, not division.

“Who is causing the division in Africa?”, he asked, and while he did not like to discuss colonial Powers, he would stress that adequate respect had not been paid to Africa in the manner the United Nations Charter guaranteed.  Intervention by those Powers could be justified as humanitarian assistance, but should not aggravate the situation.  African nations must reject those offering “help with a hidden agenda” because they often planted “explosives” leading the divisions within a country.  Moreover, armed interventions led to the destruction of the spirit of the Charter.

In that regard, he called for reform of the Security Council towards a more equitable and transparent body, stating that unfortunately, the United Nations decision-making bodies, especially the 15-member Security Council, had become tools for certain Powers to push their political interests to the detriment of the Charter.  He contended that Africa should be given proper place in the Council, with veto power.  Lastly, he asked the international community to provide solidarity and cooperation towards an Africa free of any interventionism.

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, delivering a statement on behalf of the African Union, said pan-Africanism, which began as a people’s movement, was indeed the root of the history of the OAU.  Africa had been a continent on which so much injustice had been inflicted, during colonialism and through to the cold war.  The political independence of Africa, and the final dismantlement of apartheid, was not achieved without sacrifice, bitter struggle and blood, he said.

However, the OAU had not been as proactive in contributing to sustainable peace in Africa and to ensuring the industrialization and the development of the continent as it was with respect to liberating Africa from colonialism and apartheid.  Indeed, it was only in 1993 that the OAU attempted to make a difference in the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa.  Soon after independence, conflict became the core of the dominant narrative describing Africa’s situation and reality.

The continent could have done more in a more systematic manner and with a conviction that the peace, security and stability was primarily Africa’s responsibility, he said, adding that the feebleness of Africa was demonstrated in the Rwandan genocide.  Since then, however, Africa had changed, and so should the narrative about the continent, he said, stressing that Africa was now playing a key role in conflict resolution.

Africa had become far more ready than ever to shoulder its responsibility for the peaceful conflict resolution and it was no longer the marginalized continent of the 1980s and 1990s.  “Africa is rising,” he said, adding:  “ Africa is far more prepared today than ever before to play its proper role for peace and stability.”  Yet, it was entirely unrealistic to hope for sustainable peace without sustainable development, or to see the realization of development in the absence of peace.  For that reason, he said it was critical to ensure international cooperation for the development of Africa, as had been affirmed in the Millennium Declaration.

Africa had indeed changed and its prospects were brighter than ever before, but that did not mean international support was not critical to ensuring sustainable peace and stability, including for addressing the root causes of conflict.  Despite enormous progress by African nations in taking the lead, overcoming resource constraints continued to require international cooperation, as demonstrated by the situation in Mali.  It was also important that the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council continue to work in tandem.  In closing, he said good governance was indispensable for sustainable peace.

MAITE NKOANA-MASHABANE, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, declared:  “We speak of an Africa that is rising.”  She pointed out that 7 or 10 of the world’s fastest growing economies were in Africa, where the number of conflicts was dropping.  Yet, challenges remained, including addressing the root causes of conflicts, reinforcing good governance and promoting sustained economic development.  Africans also needed to refine instruments to deal with unconstitutional changes of Government and dissuade the emerging pattern of illegitimate rebellions. 

Reform was also needed at the Security Council, as 70 per cent of that body’s work concerned Africa, which should have two seats on the body.  With respect to the issue, the General Assembly must “do the right thing”, she said, calling for text-based negotiations on Security Council reform during the sixty-seventh session.

Turning to development, she said any debate on the post-2015 United Nations development agenda should consider measures to honour previous agreements on addressing social and economic development, as well as environmental protection in a balanced manner.  Concluding, she recalled that former South African President Nelson Mandela had said, in his first address to the OAU in 1994, that “when the history of our struggle is written, it will tell a glorious tale of African solidarity, of Africans’ adherence to principles.  It will tell a moving story of the sacrifices that the peoples of our continent made.”

NETUMBO NANDI-NDAITWAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Namibia, said while today, Africa was free of foreign domination — except for Western Sahara, which was being occupied by another African country — the continent still was not yet free from want and conflict.  Conflicts continued to negatively impact on social, economic and political development in Africa, hence, there is an urgent need to create an environment conducive to peace and development.  Highlighting the importance of cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in the area of conflict resolution, he said lasting resolution to conflicts must be found and their root causes must be identified, with Africans at the centre of the response.

She went on to say that in addressing threats to peace and security in Africa, the international community must reinforce regional efforts.  “It is our shared responsibility to promote peace and security as a prerequisite for the implementation of Africa’s development and integration agenda,” she said, adding that it was also the international community’s shared responsibility to ensure that Africa’s resources were prudently managed in order to take the continent’s population out of abject poverty.  Finally, she said that both the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council had a cooperation agreement, and it was of utmost important to enhance and strengthen that accord.

MOHAMED KAMEL AMR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said military solutions had proven largely to be inadequate, exacerbating conflict situations rather than resolving them.  Africa should feel proud of its achievements in peace and security, with only four countries engaged in armed conflict in the last decade, down from 14 in the 1990s.  Settling armed conflicts had led to Africa making great strides in promoting good governance, efforts that had been bolstered by the establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism.  Achieving the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) required establishing a fair trading system, he said.

Challenges, such as cross-border crime and security threats, terrorism and pressure on the environment and natural resources, required strengthening the strategic partnership between the African Union, the United Nations and the international community at large.  Mutual cooperation in conflict prevention and resolution must be strengthened between the United Nations and the African Union, he said.  African membership should also be accurately represented in the Security Council, since 70 per of the body’s work concerned the continent.

HANNA SERWAA TETTEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, said peace and stability were the fundamental prerequisites for socioeconomic development in Africa, and the continent was considered to be the next economic frontier, as several countries were recording impressive growth rates and millions had been lifted out of poverty.  However, conflicts remained, and cross-border issues were growing concerns.  The root causes of social disorders often led to violence and conflict and socioeconomic discontent must be addressed, as did the management and conduct of elections.  She said that global partnerships were needed to tackle the nexus of peace, security and development.

The African Union must move in a timely manner to deal with conflicts and the global community must show solidarity to countries emerging from conflict and assist them in consolidating peace.  Ghana, she continued, had pledged $3 million along with military contingents to AFISMA to support and restore peace and security in Mali.  She urged the United Nations to strengthen its assistance to the African Union to create conditions necessary for the peaceful resolution on conflicts in Africa and appealed to States in conflict regions to desist from acts that might exacerbate conflict situations.

EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said that Africa was viewed through two prisms.  One image was a negative one, portraying a continent plagued with conflict and poverty, while the other was more optimistic, portraying a region rich in resources and experiencing transformative trends.  Although African nations had made efforts towards sustainable development, conflict had upset those gains.  The situation had been aggravated by natural disasters and economic crises.  He said there could be no development without peace and no national reconstruction without peace.

Prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts had always been at the heart of the priorities of African States.   Gabon had contributed to the search for durable solutions to the various crises in such countries as Angola and Chad, among others, and more recently in the Central African Republic.  Peaceful resolution should be the preferred as the first and best remedy, as was the case in Gabon’s facilitation of agreements in Central African Republic.  He called on the United Nations and the international community to lend their support to the subregional mechanism responsible for the implementation of those agreements and ensuring the transition under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

He recalled that the founding fathers of the OAU had the vision of a peaceful approach to conflict resolution, leading them to adopt measures regarding the inviolability of borders and the establishment of the Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration.  He went on to welcome the strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union since September 2006, as well as regular meetings between the Security Council of the United Nations and the African Union Peace and Security and Security Council.  He also called for the resolution of conflicts through judicial mechanisms, including the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.  He also hoped that the peaceful resolution of conflicts could rely on improved governance, democracy and human rights.

AUGUSTINE KPEHE NGAFUAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liberia, said that conflicts had been a permanent fixture in human existence from the very beginning of mankind, and “[they] may continue to dog us into the foreseeable future”.  As long as the earth was peopled by individuals from different races, cultures, countries, ethnicities, religions, political ideologies, tastes and idiosyncrasies, there was bound to be conflict.  Therefore, the key question was not whether conflict existed, but how conflicts were managed and resolved.

His country, as Africa’s oldest Republic, witnessed a dramatic upsurge in the number of countries that had unshackled themselves from the excruciating chains of colonialism.  The African liberation struggle had been “a mixed bag” of peaceful and non-peaceful strategies and tactics.  In 1980, a coup d’état killed then-Liberian President William Tolbert, who had also been Chairman of the OAU.  The negative consequences of the coup were massive and the country had fallen into civil war in 1989.

Thanks to the persistence and unwavering support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union and the United Nations, as well as major bilateral partners, he continued, the civil conflict had come to an end when all the political and military parties to the conflict had finally signed a comprehensive peace accord in 2003.  That deal had led to the deployment of more than 15,000 United Nations peacekeepers in Liberia, and provided for an all-inclusive transitional Government that had overseen peaceful, free, fair and democratic elections.  The first female President on the continent had been among the officials elected.  This year was significant to Liberia and its friends as it marked a decade of uninterrupted peace.

At the continental level, he took comfort in the positive developments under way.  “Today, unlike in the past, military coups, civil wars, political associations, autocratic rule […] are now the exception rather than the rule,” he said.  However, there were still worrying challenges and problem spots, such as Mali, Guinea Bissau and the Central African Republic, which had all witnessed the overthrow of Governments through unconstitutional means.  He stressed the need to consolidate the culture of democracy and good governance in all African States.

ALI AHMED KARTI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, said the need to resolve disputes by peaceful means was a critical issue for the continent.  In the search for durable solutions, it was necessary to listen to the voices in Africa and ensure that African countries participated in all bodies of the United Nations, he said, emphasizing especially the need to increase African membership in the permanent and non-permanent Security Council membership.  In addition, local African traditions could help to solve local disputes and conflicts, he said, adding that solutions brought about by foreign societies would not contribute to solving African problems.

The Sudanese Government had ended the continent’s longest conflict through the adoption of peaceful means that had led to taking solid steps towards normalizing relations with South Sudan.  United Nations peace missions must undertake a bigger role in development, he said, adding that NEPAD was the way forward for Africa, and commitments must be honoured and debt burdens cut.  In resolving conflicts, Africa must first diagnose the root causes of its problems.  He raised a number of cases of concern, including the situation in Darfur, which was the focus of media coverage that followed a hidden agenda aimed at polarizing Africans.  Imposing foreign values on the continent would ultimately lead to a paralysis of African decisions, he concluded.

EFFRON CHAKUPA LUNGU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zambia, said conflict resolution had prevailed in countries throughout the continent.  Promoting and safeguarding peace in the region was a precondition for social and economic development.  Successful and effective conflict resolution should focus on addressing the root causes of conflicts, which could provide a basis to build strategies for peaceful resolutions, including mediation and creating effective communication channels among warring parties.

Opening political dialogue among leaders of nations, factions and militia would also help, he continued.  In addition, such conflict resolution mechanisms should be used at local, regional and international levels.  In that respect, he welcomed the recent signing of the peace and security agreement between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, its neighbours and regional groups.  Zambia, which was a core member of the International Conference on the Great Lakes and signatory to the 2006 pact on security, stability and development, was keen to see peace and security return in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, calling for greater African Union and United Nations cooperation in conflict resolution.

OLUGBENGA ASHIRU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, noted that 50 years after the founding of the OAU, Africa was still defined by and associated with conflicts that persisted in almost all its subregions.  Situations in the Sahel, Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa accounted for more than 60 per cent of the United Nations Security Council’s agenda.  Most of those conflicts were exacerbated by a lack of profound understanding of their causes and by the introduction of other elements, such as the proliferation of small and light weapons and illegal exploitation of natural resources.  Today, more than 70 per cent of United Nations peacekeepers were in Africa.  That commitment underscored the importance that the Organization attached to its partnership with the African Union, as well as the regional economic communities.

In advocating the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa, he said, it was vital to underscore the relevance of and the imperative need for mediation in peaceful settlement of disputes.  In that connection, Nigeria had repeatedly, during its presidency of the Security Council in 2010, highlighted the relevance of conflict prevention in the pursuit of international peace and security. It was gratifying to inform the high-level meeting that Africa had set in motion the process of retooling its collective mechanism for conflict prevention and crisis resolution.

He said that on 12 and 13 April, under the auspices of the African Union’s Panel of the Wise, Africa had elaborated the instruments — the Pan-African Network of the Wise and a Plan of Action for 2013-2014, to strengthen, coordinate and harmonize regional and international positions on conflict prevention and peacemaking initiatives.  Lastly, he stressed that a viable and functional African peace and security architecture was critical to effectively address those issues on the continent.  To that end, there was an urgent need for sustained attention for getting the rapid deployment capacity of the African Standby Force up and running.

MANUEL AUGUSTO, Secretary of State for External Relations of Angola, said the transformation of the OAU into the African Union had expanded the body’s operational capacity to ensure peace, security and development.  Of particular note were the Council for Peace and Security, the Peer Review Mechanism, the Early-Warning Mechanism and NEPAD, all of which he supported in their efforts to enable Africa to lead when addressing issues facing the continent.  His support for peaceful solutions to conflicts in Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic and in the Great Lakes Region were informed by his country’s own experiences with war and peace, and he promoted open and inclusive dialogue in pursuit of that.  He condemned the coup in Central African Republic and appealed for implementation of the Libreville Peace Agreement.

Angola played an active role in attaining peace and stability in the Great Lakes Region, he said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s initiative that had led to the February 2013 Addis Ababa Agreement on the Mechanism for Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.  In March, Heads of State of Angola, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo met for a tripartite summit in Luanda aiming to strengthen and make effective the mechanisms that would be established to ensure implementation of that agreement in a sustainable manner.  He shared the vision of strengthening the strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations, especially with the Security Council.

Panel Discussion I

The first of two panels was on “Fostering African Union-United Nations cooperation around the nexus of peace, security and development”, and was moderated by Colin Keating, Founding Executive Director of the Security Council Report.  Panellists were Mahmood Mamdani, Professor, Columbia University; Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, Harvard University History Professor; Abdul Karim Bangura, Professor, Howard University; and Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal.

Mr. MAMDANI introduced the theme by highlighting two major events that had taken place in 1994 — the Rwandan genocide and the end of apartheid in South Africa.  He noted that, just a decade later, it would be difficult to imagine that either had occurred.  Still, lessons learned from those events had been applied in several places, with varying success, including in Mozambique, where the Mozambique Resistance Movement had unleashed terror against women and children, reminiscent of the kind of violence the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had rained on Uganda.  The difference was that while the LRA was on the run, the leadership of the Resistance Movement had sat in Mozambique’s Parliament.

The United Nations was set up to ensure peace between States and had redefined its mission to ensure peace within States.  If the Organization was evolving into a global governance institution, then it was important to keep the structure of the Security Council in mind, he said, noting that the body had five permanent members — the “P-5” — with veto power and that there was no enforcement of Charter principles against a permanent member or members they protected.  The rule for the “P-5” was unanimity, creating two types of members.

Continuing, he said that worrying trends included that the 1267 Committee (Al-Qaida Sanctions) had become reminiscent of the McCarthy era’s House Un-American Activities Committee in the United States Congress, as well as the fact that there was no judicial review of Security Council resolutions.  The United Nations was turning into a hybrid organization.  No Member State of the African Union was part of the “P-5” and none should be.  However, this cleared the way for the African Union to lead the General Assembly in a vigorous endeavour to democratize the Security Council and to subject its decisions to a formal review process.

Mr. AKYEAMPONG also began on a historical note, painting a picture of 1989, with the Berlin Wall falling and the Tiananmen Square popular protests leading to civil society agreeing at international, national and local levels that good governances was interlinked with growth and development.  That same year, the World Bank made political reform part of its aid programming, he said.  In the post-1989 era, China had turned increasingly to Africa and developing countries, while the end of the cold war had affected Angola and Mozambique.  Key lessons included the success of the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Early Warning System to identify conflict-prone situations, along with preparedness within the African Union to address conflict-related issues.

Flexible working structures were now needed to respond to crises, he continued.  Sierra Leone, for instance, had seen the presence of the British, who had played an important role in ending the conflict there in the early 2000s.  France had also played an instrumental role in the situation in Mali.  The United Nations and the African Union needed to work together on rapid response.  Another area of cooperation was working towards increasing economic development.  There was a need for a paradigm shift in the development of analytical tools to be able to understand what was happening in Africa now, he said.  Several United Nations bodies generated important information, but the OAU and the United Nations could play a role in how to manage progress.

Taking the floor next, Mr. BANGURA said that the recent intervention in Libya by some Western nations represented “a most sombre case of disrespect” shown to the African Union.  Unfortunately, the United States, United Kingdom and France had used the United Nations as an instrument to disrespect the Union.  Former African Union Chairperson Jean Ping had painfully recounted in his December 15 2011 Pambazuka News article titled “African Union Role in the Libyan Crisis”, that those three permanent members of the Security Council had used the Organization and other forums to control events and push a hostile agenda in Libya by marginalizing and misrepresenting the African Union’s intervention in that country.

According to Mr. Ping, he continued, the African Union Commission had been baffled by the erroneous reports from the West stating that the African Union’s actions in Libya had been motivated to protect Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and that, after his downfall, the Union had been delaying recognition of the new Libyan authorities as a way to force the inclusion of Qaddafi’s supporters into the new regime.  Mr. Ping had stated that the assertions were false.  The reason the Western Powers had disrespected the African Union was that they perceived the body as merely a “talk shop” — “as if dialogue is a bad thing”.

Mr. Bangura also said that the “responsibility to protect” doctrine and the push for speedy Western-style democratization was problematic.  That doctrine and its antecedent, “humanitarian intervention”, were a cover for Western imperialism.  The Western demonization of Africa as a hotbed of conflicts justified the placement of drone bases, extended Western military “adventurism” and expanded Western supremacy.

Next, Mr. GADIO said the current crisis in Mali had revealed the extreme vulnerability of African States.  Accusations against Mali were unfair because the crisis could have happened anywhere in Africa.  Mali faced “agenda shock”, he said, with the agendas of a diverse number of groups, States, organizations and individuals competing on many fronts.  For example, he said that jihadists, thrown out of Libya and chased through Algeria and possibly Morocco, were now operating in Mali, as was a “criminal economy”, led by individuals or groups involved in drugs, weapons and people trafficking, as well as hostage taking.

In addition, several other agendas were at work, including those of regional groups like ECOWAS, which he believed had not handled the crisis well.  The Mali crisis was not just a West African crisis, but was a crisis of the continent as a whole.  Southern African countries had intervened, like Angola, with Ethiopia also making a vital contribution, but largely, the international community had stood passively by.

He went on to say that ECOWAS had held 42 meetings on Mali and the wider Sahel before France had finally intervened to stop the southward march of rebel groups.  In joining with French forces, Chad had shown that it was the only State in an advanced enough stage of preparation to be able to respond to such threats.  They had “saved face for Africa”, he said.  However, ECOWAS was revealed to “not really [be] one at all”, and that needed addressing.  Indeed, it was underequipped, lacked logistical support, and was unable mobilize.

With prevention mechanisms having failed to work, a review was needed, with a particular focus on boosting the standby force.  As for the future, he called for establishment of a rapid intervention force that was assembled and constantly ready to deal with threats to the continent, including criminal elements and jihadist forces.  An “African renaissance” was not possible under the current circumstances and security needed to be established properly in order for development to proceed.  That required unity because it was a problem that States individually could not tackle.

Following those presentations, the representative of Egypt referred to comments made by Mr. Bangura on the Arab Spring, saying any fair assessment of the those popular uprisings and their outcome must see the events as a culmination of a long process of protests that had started almost a decade earlier.  It had not been imposed from outside, and many Western States were actually unwilling to back the protests at the outset.  He believed the uprisings were genuine and had been fed by the grass roots.

Panel Discussion II

The second panel discussion, “Complexity of conflicts in Africa ( Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo) and efforts to address these challenges”, was moderated by Maged Abdelaziz, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General.  Panellists were:  Molefi Kete Asante, Professor, Temple University; Vasu Gounden, Founder and Executive Director of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes; Boubacar N’Diaye, Associate Professor, Wooster College; and Colin Keating, Founding Executive Director of the Security Council Report.

Introducing the panellists, Mr. ABDELAZIZ said the high-level participation in today’s events demonstrated strong commitment to the issue of conflict in Africa, and highlighted the close links between peace and development.

Mr. ASANTE said conflict required either diplomatic or military intervention.  Africa was plagued by four types of conflict.  A “fact conflict” could be seen in Sudan, where 2.5 million had been killed, and relations between South Sudan and Sudan were marred with oil disputes over Abyei.  “Interest conflicts” occurred when two groups competed over material interests, as witnessed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where years of fighting had claimed some 3 million lives.

“Value conflicts” were related to religious or traditional beliefs, while “structural conflicts” were based on location, with interests overlapping with other regional areas, for instance, Ethiopia’s current situation regarding the waters of the Nile.  Creative engagement, negotiation, a shared sense of trust and affirmative positioning were four options for reaching peaceful solutions, he continued.  Sustainable peace came from mutual respect, but unfortunately, the modern State had not yet made its peace with traditional society.

Speaking next, Mr. GOUNDEN said many of the root causes of conflict could be found in Africa, where there was a continuous shift from liberation movements to political parties.  More inclusive political arrangements were being sought, as a lack of them drove parties into conflict.  The fact that skills were scarcely transferred in agricultural and other sectors was also a concern, he said, also pointing out that Nigeria, for example, was oil-rich, but its population paid unreasonably high prices for that commodity.  Other concerns included large cities that lacked adequate sanitation and water resources, as well as the growing religious intolerance and rising crime, which were all creating a “cocktail” for conflict, he said, adding that a proliferation of arms only exacerbated the situation.

He went on to say that conflicts stretched across the continent and the reality was that fighting would be seen in Africa for the next two decades, as there were no immediate solutions.  In this period of transition, solutions could include short-term mitigation and long-term transformation.  Over the last 20 years, gains had been made in resolving some conflicts.  However, societies had not been transformed even though conflicts had been mitigated.  The current economic developments in Africa were not sustainable, and were grounded on a weak base, he said.  To remedy the current situation, early-warning must be matched with early-action through mediation.  Investment in infrastructure was sorely needed, as were commitments to health and education.  Corruption needed to be addressed, as well, including multi-national companies operating on the continent, he concluded.

Mr. KEATING reflected on his time representing New Zealand in the Security Council and on the conflicts that occurred during his tenure.  He pointed to failures of the United Nations and the OAU with regard to Rwanda, but also noted countries like Ghana, as well as Nigeria and Djibouti, whose troops remained in the peacekeeping mission and saved lives.  He pointed to the complex relationship between crises, saying the failure in Somalia had led to the failure in Rwanda, which, in turn, had led to the failure in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  No single country or organization was to blame, however.  Rather, they were collective failures.

With recent Security Council work on Somalia and Mali continuing to frustrate African Union members, he asked what could be learned from past failures, stating that, although the Council had developed good tools for coercive action under Chapter VII, it needed to improve its abilities to take peaceful action under Chapter VI.  Conflict prevention and resolution required sustained effort and consistency was vital.  He stressed the lower costs — both fiscally and in terms of lives — associated with Chapter VI action as an incentive for States to invest more in it and said such action would be most effective if it included Governments, as well as regional and sub-regional bodies.  Local ownership was crucial because local stakeholders were more familiar with local problems.

He went on to stress the importance of collective responsibility and said the United Nations’ unique competitive advantage was its ability to raise financial resources for peace operations.  No other body had the same capability.  Stressing the need for a more inclusive culture in the Security Council, he said that body could not preach inclusive politics to conflict countries and then not practise inclusive politics itself.

In the brief interactive dialogue that followed, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo spoke of the conflict going on there, describing several initiatives undertaken to try and respond to the rebellion sparked by the armed group 23 March Movement, and to re-establish peace and security.  He welcomed recent efforts to bring about a viable, lasting solution in the region.

The representative of Sudan said he was disappointed by the “hollow and empty” argument put forward by ProfessorAsante.  He said he was guilty of disseminating “fake and erroneous” information and that he had never been to Africa.  Mr. ASANTE responded to Sudan’s delegate saying he had visited Africa on at least 85 occasions and had lived in both Nigeria and Zimbabwe.  While he did not feel it necessary to outline his credentials, he was “the descendant of a Nubian and a Yoruban”, as well as one of the few people who had read the history of Africa.

Cape Verde’s representative said there was no need to wait for 20 years for peace, as an African vision should involve industrializations and the development of the continent’s rich resources.  The sooner that was done, the earlier peace would be achieved, along with the promotion of human rights, he said.

Wrapping up the debate, Mr. ABDELAZIZ said that he had been asked to close the discussion, he could not do so, because “[it] should not be concluded, it should continue”.  He added that preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping, along with the respect for human rights, were topics that must continue to be discussed and that efforts towards Security Council reform must also continue.  Further, the United Nations and the African Union must see “eye to eye” and the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council must remain close to achieve better results, he said.

After hearing Mr. Keating’s horrible memories, Mr. Abdelaziz said that this debate had contributed to opening up rich discussions and that he was suggesting that the General Assembly President convene another discussion as a way to support Africa.

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