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|Security Council Debate Said to Help in Creating 'Ethos of
Conflict Prevention', Support for Intervention
Two-Day Discussion Ends; Some Speakers Urge More Decisive Action, Others Caution on Need to Respect National Sovereignty
NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this afternoon concluded its open debate on its role in preventing armed conflict in which, over the course of two days, 38 speakers expressed a diverse array of views ranging from the need to address the roots of conflict, such as poverty, to the relationship between the principles of maintaining international peace and security and that of States' sovereignty.
The Council President, Danilo Turk of Slovenia, speaking as representative of his country, said the discussion had been an important device for the gradual creation of such an international ethos of conflict prevention, and generally reaffirmed support for a proactive, prevention-oriented Council. The Council's powers were most often used in situations of imminent armed conflicts, which meant at times of particular sensitivity and risk, where States and others involved could be reluctant to accept the Council's intervention, he noted. The argument of preservation of sovereignty could be used irrationally, even to the extent of actually endangering sovereignty in a potential armed conflict, which could be prevented by timely action by the Council. Limitations on preventive action must be avoided as they would harm both the United Nations and sovereign Member States.
Egypt's representative said the Council must respect territorial integrity and the non-intervention in the internal affairs of States. It must obtain the approval of States that would be affected by its decisions before adopting such measures. The Council's actions with regard to the culture of prevention called for close scrutiny. Intervention must not impact the territorial integrity or sovereignty of a sovereign state under any circumstances. The Council was often impeded from playing its role in preventing conflict because of its own obstacles, such as the veto and the lack of transparency.
Zambia's representative said the Council should give equal treatment to all conflicts. By authorizing of 6,000 military personnel for Sierra Leone but 9,100 for East Timor it created the impression that a double standard was being employed. The Council's support would be imperative for the successful implementation of the ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it was not moving quickly enough to authorize the second stage of deployment of military observers. The conflict was complex and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo had the largest land mass on the continent, so the force mandated should be several times larger than that authorized for East Timor.. The representative of Bangladesh said there was considerable international public opinion behind the demand that the Council play an "avant garde role" in matters of international peace and security. The Charter had not envisaged today's complex inter-State conflicts. The preventive measures prescribed in Chapter VI were subject to consent of the parties involved, but what happened when the parties remained determined to fight? he asked. Perhaps it was time to rethink the way the question of peace and security were addressed.
The Security Council should build closer ties with the Economic and Social Council, perhaps through regular joint briefings and occasional joint meetings, said the representative of Croatia. The two organs played complementary roles in building a culture of prevention. The Economic and Social Council, with its agenda concerning poverty eradication and social development, was best equipped to identify the root causes of potential conflicts to and act preemptively. He also noted that while international relations were traditionally based on the sovereignty of States, today's interdependence might make reducing such sovereignty a rational choice -- but only if based on the principle of equality of States.
Norway's representative stressed the need for continued efforts to counter the culture of impunity for serious violations of humanitarian law. He urged all states to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The existence of a permanent global institution of that nature would enhance deterrence against heinous crimes.
Iraq's representative said that because of United States influence in the Council, the Council's credibility had seriously deteriorated over the last 10 years. The Council must work for all Member States, and be reformed to include an expanded membership. The Assembly should have the right to hold the Council responsible for resolutions that violated the Charter. The Council had done nothing to respond to the most recent United States aggression against Iraq. He stressed the need to address the root causes of conflict, such as poverty and underdevelopment. Even in the United States, there were many homeless people and millions lacked health care. Funds spent on acts of intervention would be better used for development.
During the debate, many speakers expressed dissatisfaction with the Council's working methods. In particular, they noted that the presidential statement, to be read out after the debate concluded, had already been approved by Council members -- even before the views of non-Council members had been heard.
The representatives of Liechtenstein, Nigeria, New Zealand, Senegal, Iran, Pakistan and Ukraine also spoke.
Council Work Programme
The Council met this morning to continue its debate on the role of the Security Council in the prevention of armed conflict.
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