OPINION EMERGING FOR MORE ACTIVE UNITED NATIONS ROLE IN ANGOLA PEACE PROCESS, SAYS UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL, DURING BRIEFING OF SECURITY COUNCIL
NEW YORK, 21 December (UN Headquarters) -- A convergence of opinion was emerging for the first time that the United Nations should play a more proactive role in the Angolan peace process, Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor of the Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Africa told the Security Council this morning.
Briefing Council members on his recent mission to Angola, he said the Angolan Government would not object to a church role in facilitating contacts with the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) through the United Nations. Issues on which the Government wished to begin immediate cooperation included management of the Fund for Peace and Reconciliation; pilot projects for demobilized soldiers and resettled internally displaced persons; and assistance in the electoral process.
Among the issues that the Government felt required further consideration, he said, were modalities for disarming UNITA combatants and weapons collection; direct contacts with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi; and the possibility of establishing humanitarian corridors. While ruling out any attempts to resolve the Angolan conflict outside the Lusaka Protocol framework or to renegotiate the Protocol, the Government recognized the need for some adjustments to take account of the changed realities on the ground.
He said the position of UNITA parliamentarians was that the Lusaka Protocol should be implemented with adjustments indicated in the 12-point peace plan that UNITA had communicated to the United Nations. While reiterating their commitment to dialogue within the Lusaka Protocol, they cautioned that the Protocol should not be used simply as a platform to obtain Mr. Savimbi's surrender. Although the parliamentary group could largely convey UNITA's position, the final decision lay with Mr. Savimbi.
Following Mr. Gambari’s briefing, Council members expressed widespread support for the idea of the United Nations becoming more proactive in Angola. Many saw the Government's willingness to engage the Organization as an opportunity to be seized and one that would definitely enhance the peace process. Speakers also urged the Angolan church and civil society organizations to continue efforts aimed at national reconciliation and called on Mr. Savimbi and UNITA to return to the negotiating table and dialogue.
The representative of United Kingdom agreed with the view that it was time to take the peace process off the streets. If Mr. Gambari had found that feeling among those he had spoken with in Luanda, then there was an opportunity to move the process forward.
France's representative told the Council this morning that on 12 December, the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament had been awarded to Monsignor Zacarias Kamwenho, the Archbishop of Lubango and the President of the Inter-Church Committee for Peace in Angola.
Singapore's representative said great emphasis had been placed on the role of civil society and churches in Angola's peace process. But, until France’s statement this morning, informing members of the recipient of the Sakharov Prize, the members of the Angolan church and civil society had been largely faceless and nameless. Maybe it would be helpful to have some of them come to the Council and speak, in perhaps an Arias formula setting. That would enhance their capacity to play a more constructive role.
Also this morning the Council observed a minute of silence in tribute to Leopold Senghor, the first President of Senegal, who passed away yesterday.
Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of Bangladesh, Jamaica, Norway, Ukraine, China, France, Ireland, Singapore, Colombia, Russian Federation, Tunisia, Mauritius, United States and Mali.
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on Angola by Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Africa.
On 13 December, in a letter to the President of the Council, the Secretary-General said that, due to the many issues in Angola that still remained to be addressed, he had decided to extend the appointment of his special adviser for Africa through February 2003. Mr. Annan stated that the efforts of Mr. Gambari had resulted in a positive impact on relations between the Angolan Government and the United Nations system in opening new channels of cooperation. The issues which still needed to be addressed, however, included: getting the parties to agree to negotiate under the Lusaka Protocol; support for civil society; assisting the Government in developing pilot projects for resettlement; creating conditions for the holding of credible elections; and management of the peace and reconciliation fund.
On 11 December, Mr. Gambari visited Angola, where he spent a week in a series of meetings with Government leaders, politicians and representatives of civil society to determine how the United Nations could best help the country re-energize the peace process.
The Council last met on Angola on 15 November, when in a presidential statement it reaffirmed its intention to keep under close and ongoing monitoring the sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), with a view to improving their effectiveness until the conditions in the relevant Council resolutions were met.
The Council stated its support for the Angolan Government’s efforts to implement the Lusaka Protocol through the Fund for Peace and National Reconciliation, and for the Government’s intention to hold free and fair elections. It encouraged Angolan authorities to continue, in consultation with all the political parties and the full participation of civil society, their efforts for peace, stability and national reconciliation. The statement also expressed support for the Government’s intention to hold free and fair elections when appropriate conditions are in place.
On 19 October, in resolution 1374 (2001), the Council extended the mandate of the monitoring mechanism on sanctions against UNITA for six months, ending on 19 April 2002. It called on the Sanctions Committee established by resolution 864 (1993) to examine the recommendations of, and offer guidance to, the monitoring mechanism. The Council requested the monitoring mechanism to provide the Committee, within 60 days, a detailed action plan for its future work, in particular sanctions on UNITA diamonds, violations of arms sanctions, and on UNITA finances. The resolution also asked the Secretary-General to appoint four experts to serve on the monitoring mechanism and to make financial arrangements to support its work.
Statement by Under-Secretary-General
IBRAHIM GAMBARI, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for Special Assignment in Africa, said that the issues on which the Angolan Government wished to begin immediate engagement and cooperation with the United Nations included: the management of the Fund for Peace and Reconciliation; the design and implementation of pilot projects for demobilized soldiers and resettled internally displaced persons; and assistance in the electoral process.
e said that among the issues that the Government felt required further consideration were modalities for disarming UNITA combatants and weapons collection; direct contacts with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi; and the possibility of establishing humanitarian corridors. The Government ruled out any attempts to resolve the Angolan conflict outside the Lusaka Protocol framework or to renegotiate the Protocol. However, it recognized that some adjustments to the Protocol may be necessary to take account of the changed realities on the ground.
The discussions had reaffirmed the United Nations policy on the conflict, he said, including that: there could be no military solution; sanctions should be an important instrument to press UNITA to abandon war and return to the political process; support for civil society was an important aspect of the peace process; and the Government should be encouraged to implement programmes of political and economic reforms, as additional contributions to the peace process.
He said the humanitarian situation was worsening, with the number of internally displaced persons and refugees having reached 4.1 million. That rapid and large increase was attributed to the current offensive and to the Government’s strategy of moving people from their areas of origin, to deny UNITA food and recruits. Nevertheless, the Government had allocated additional funds to tackle the influx of internally displaced persons into urban areas. It had also improved access and food delivery to areas that had previously been inaccessible by road.
The challenge now facing the authorities, he said, was the consolidation of humanitarian aid to places that were now accessible by road as a first step, and gradually to expand access to the entire country. While the Government believed there was now no need to establish humanitarian corridors in classical terms, because UNITA did not control any known territory, it was willing to consider the idea of "safe areas".
He said that, for the first time, there was convergence of opinion among the people consulted that the United Nations should play a more proactive role in the peace process and the Government would not object to a role for churches in facilitating contacts with UNITA through the Organization. Meanwhile, the Government believed that UNITA's military capacity had been almost totally destroyed, but recognized that it was still capable of mounting terror attacks.
UNITA parliamentarians reiterated their commitment to peace through dialogue within the framework of the Lusaka Protocol, he said. However, they cautioned that the Protocol should not be used simply as a platform to obtain Mr. Savimbi's surrender. It should be implemented with the necessary adjustments, as indicated in the 12-point peace plan that UNITA had communicated to the United Nations. The parliamentary group had emphasized that, while it could largely convey UNITA's position, the final decision lay with Mr. Savimbi.
On a related matter, he said, the Government had indicated that the United Nations should assume responsibility for the collection and destruction of weapons in the event that the peace process accelerated. Accepting such a task, however, would entail adjustments to the mandate and capability of the United Nations Office in Angola (UNOA). Nevertheless, it was anticipated that the pilot programmes would have a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration component. It was important to consider a mechanism to facilitate the collection and destruction of weapons, because a number of UNITA combatants were defecting to Government areas with their weapons, according to the Government.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the role of the United Nations in conflict situations -- increasing throughout the years -- had been heightened through the use of sanctions, and in Angola those regimes continued to have a positive impact by curtailing the activities of UNITA. While Mr. Gambari's own efforts in recent months had been exceedingly helpful to efforts to resolve what appeared to be intractable problems in the country, there were three issues that deserved specific attention, including: the humanitarian situation; the relationship between the United Nations and the Government of Angola; and the status of the overall peace process.
Given the context of the protracted conflict, he said, it was important to look closely at Angola's humanitarian situation, particularly ways to allow access to the war-affected population. Safety of humanitarian aid workers was the priority concern and he noted with appreciation the efforts of the Government to facilitate such access in areas under its control. Much remained to be done, however, to provide assistance to the wider population.
On the relationship between the Angolan Government and the United Nations, he was heartened to note those relations had strengthened recently, particularly due to the good work accomplished on the ground by the UNOA. He added that it was probably time to consider expanding the scope of the Office's work into new areas, such as a pilot project for war-affected and demobilized combatants. Providing an alternative livelihood to displaced persons, as well as those that had renounced violence, was extremely important in driving home the overall message of peace.
He went on to say, however, it was clear those initiatives alone would not achieve the ultimate objective of sustainable peace in Angola. The complexity of the situation demanded what the Secretary-General had described as "creative" measures that went beyond military actions. The peace process could not go forward without real dialogue between the parties. At the same time, it was difficult to envisage constructive dialogue in the absence of a ceasefire. If the concerned parties were serious about achieving peace, dialogue was possible within the framework of the Lusaka Protocol. Given the achievements in monitoring the sanctions against UNITA, the Council should send a strong signal with regard to adhering to the Lusaka process, so the entire region could move closer to peace.
MIGNONETTE PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said at the beginning of the year there had been small signs of hope and the emergence of the possibility of dialogue in Angola. The seeds of peace were also being sown in the country by the church and by humanitarian, as well as civil society organizations. Also of note was the invitation to the United Nations to become more fully involved in the peace process. That was good news, because the Organization could set the stage for peace and dialogue with UNITA. Sustainable peace, she stressed, was only possible though negotiation. The primary responsibility for the conflict lay with Mr. Savimbi and UNITA, while any viable solutions to the conflict lay with the relevant and applicable Council resolutions.
UNITA must play a more constructive role in Angolan society if it wanted to be a part of the country, she continued. In that light, she wanted to know what indications that organization had given of wanting to hold discussions with the Angolan Government. Recent reports indicated that various organizations had been active in Angola in demanding an immediate ceasefire and had also pledged to work towards peace. She noted, however, that the election timetable might be delayed. In that regard, the assistance of the United Nations through technical teams, which would visit the country in January 2002, was extremely important in laying the groundwork for the elections. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme needed to be looked at more closely with the United Nations becoming more involved in it, possibly through the regular budget.
She said reports stated that 2001 saw no significant improvement in the humanitarian situation. The 2001 Consolidated Fund needed $140 million to provide food security to the 25 per cent of population that had been displaced by war. As Jamaica left the Council, she encouraged the parties in Angola to keep hope alive as they searched for peace.
WEGGER CHRISTIAN STRØMMEM (Norway) said his delegation strongly urged the parties to the conflict in Angola, especially UNITA, to show the necessary will to depart from the road of war and advance down one of peace. The Security Council had repeatedly underlined the essential role that the Angolan church and civil society groups could play in the peace process and he commended the Government for reaching out to those groups.
He also commended the Government for increasing efforts to help those who were in need. Norway appealed to Mr. Savimbi and UNITA to refrain from acts of violence. That organization was still the key player in the war, even though Mr. Savimbi had been silent recently and despite predictions by others that his days were numbered. Norway would continue to be a part of efforts to help the country.
VALERY P. KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said it was important for the Council to remain engaged with Angola. Mr. Gambari’s presentation today bred optimism and his effort to address the ravaged country was commendable. The outreach by the Angolan Government to the church, civil society and UNITA was an important element in the attempts to resume a dialogue. That dialogue was the only prospect that would prevent another decade of civil war -- it must aim to implement the terms of the Lusaka Protocol and not renegotiate it. He urged UNITA to pursue that option. Mr. Savimbi must show his intention for peace and give up his policies of terror.
He said the increasing role of civil society in the political life of Angola was most satisfying, while the steps taken by the Government to promote democracy, the rule of law and the strengthening of human rights were important advances. Real success in Angola would be difficult to achieve without any improvement in the relationship between the Government, UNITA and the United Nations or any strengthening of the atmosphere of trust. What would the next steps be in the resumed dialogue between the Government and UNITA? Was there also a new role for the United Nations, if that dialogue was resumed and successfully moved forward?
CHEN XU (China) said that since the beginning the year the Angolan Government had repeatedly reiterated the validity of the Lusaka Protocol. It was regrettable that the armed faction led by Mr. Savimbi continued to engage in terrorist activities that were causing high civilian casualties.
Mr. Savimbi must be held responsible for the deadlock in the peace process, he reiterated. China demanded that he renounce violence and return to the peace process. China commended the Government’s granting of full play to several groups within the country and hoped the United Nations would play a bigger role in the realization of the peace process.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), noting that restarting the peace process deserved the utmost priority, agreed with Mr. Gambari that it was time to take it off the streets. If Mr. Gambari had found that feeling among those he had spoken with in Luanda, then there was an opportunity to move the process forward.
How did Mr. Gambari see the re-establishment of contacts between both sides evolving? he asked. What would be the potential role of the United Nations and of the churches? How might the current sanctions regime affect that? Did Mr. Gambari have anything further to say about the role of civil society, and could the Security Council support that process?
Regarding the humanitarian situation, he said that while the Government’s measures were good news overall, the 4.1 million displaced persons were cause for deep concern. Was forced displacement increasing or decreasing and what could the international community do to help? It had been more than a year since the last briefing on the humanitarian situation in Angola. Another one, especially one with input from the Government, would help sensitize the donor community.
EMANUELLE D’ACHON (France) said Mr. Savimbi and UNITA bore the main responsibility for the Angolan tragedy, having failed to implement the requirements of the Lusaka Protocol and subsequently rearming. Sanctions against UNITA were necessary to force that organization to abide by its obligations –- those punitive measures must be enforced, she stressed. Clearly there was no military solution to the crisis and the only hope was for the dialogue to resume. Addressing the role played by the church in the pursuit of peace, she told the Council that on 12 December, the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament had been awarded to Monsignor Zacarias Kamwenho, the Archbishop of Lubango and the President of the Inter-Church Committee for Peace in Angola.
She said the policy of openness by the Angolan Government was an encouraging sign, as was its invitation to Mr. Savimbi to participate in dialogue, end hostilities and openly renounce war. The United Nations should facilitate the dialogue between the two parties to the conflict. The international community should also give a powerful and rapid commitment to both accompany Angola in its quest for peace and help it confront its grave humanitarian situation. Access to populations in distress was still difficult, as many obstacles stood in the way of intervention. She underscored that UNITA must absolutely stop threatening humanitarian convoys.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said he was encouraged that the Angolan Government was amenable to exploration of possibilities for contacts with Mr. Savimbi. The Lusaka Protocol remained the proper framework to include all parties with a stake in the peace process. If UNITA took the steps expected of it, the group could rightly expect to be accommodated in such a dialogue.
He expressed regret that the humanitarian situation in Angola remained so bleak. It was clear that the positive solutions hoped for since the last briefing on the humanitarian situation had so far failed to materialize. He strongly encouraged the United Nations to work with the Government on ways to address the horrific situation. The sanctions imposed on UNITA were having the desired effect. They appeared to be playing a part in improving relations between Angola and those States that might previously have supported UNITA. During the Council’s last discussion of the situation in Angola, UNITA’s responsibility to cease violence had been clearly spelled out.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said Mr. Gambari had given the Council a glimmer of hope vis-a-vis the Angolan crisis. Once again there was a window of opportunity in the 26-year old conflict. There were, however, other windows of opportunity in the past and the issue now was keeping this particular one open. He, therefore, asked Mr. Gambari to reflect on the factors that had created the new opportunities. Was it just the military defeats of UNITA and the willingness of the Angolan Government to involve the United Nations, or were there other factors at work? For instance, did Angola’s neigbours have a role to play?
He said the figure of 33 per cent of the population for Angola’s internally displaced persons made it the highest in the world. He wanted Mr. Gambari to confirm that. He reminded the Council that the current military campaign against UNITA had also led to further increases in the number of internally displaced persons and refugees. That situation needed to be clarified even more.
Great emphasis had been placed on the role of civil society and churches in Angola, he said. But, until France’s statement this morning, informing Council members of the recipient of the Sakharov Prize, the members of the Angolan church and civil society had been largely faceless and nameless. Maybe it would be helpful to have some of them come to the Council and speak, in perhaps an Arias formula setting. That would enhance their capacity to play a more constructive role.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the 15 November Council meeting on Angola had generated great expectations as to a possible United Nations role, especially in light of Mr. Gambari's impending visit to the country. The United Nations Office in Angola could contribute to a much broader role only if the political conditions existed in the country to make that possible. The disarmament and weapons collection programme could broaden in a future United Nations presence.
He said today’s briefing confirmed the seriousness of the humanitarian situation affecting the Angolan population. Mr. Gambari should suggest ways of involving the civilian population in Security Council action, perhaps under the Arias formula. The Council must insist on the involvement of the Angolan people. Regarding the sanctions imposed on UNITA, he said they must continue to be applied with the certainty that they would improve the possibility of dialogue taking place between the Government and UNITA.
ANDREY E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said his country’s approach to Angola had been set forth in a recent statement to the Council on behalf of the "Troika" (Russian Federation, United States and Portugal) and it remained unchanged.
Mr. Savimbi’s attitude had demonstrated a lack of political will and showed with each passing day that UNITA’s actions were nothing more than a campaign of terror against its own people. The Russian Federation, therefore, intended to adhere to the policies aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of sanctions against Mr. Savimbi and UNITA.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that despite the gradual improvement in the military situation, Tunisia remained concerned about the alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation. UNITA, which refused to comply with its commitments under the Lusaka Protocol and continued to defy the international community and flout Security Council resolutions, bore full responsibility for that situation. Tunisia condemned UNITA’s targeting of the civilian population as unacceptable.
Welcoming the Government’s commitment to the Lusaka Protocol, he said he was gratified by the initiatives adopted by civil society groups and churches to promote peace and national reconciliation. Tunisia supported their appeal for a ceasefire on an urgent basis. The Government had fulfilled its obligations and it was now up to UNITA to renounce the military option and renew its commitment to the Lusaka Protocol
There could be no military solution, he said. While awaiting a dialogue between the parties to the conflict, Tunisia called for the strictest application of the sanctions imposed on UNITA, which was the only sure way of cutting off the supply route for its weapons, fuel and other war materiel.
KHEMRAJ JINGREE (Mauritius) said his country firmly believed that the Angolan Government, civil society and the church must be encouraged in their efforts to bring about national reconciliation. The Lusaka Protocol provided the basis for the resolution of the conflict and it was unfortunate that UNITA refused to abide by its provisions. The Council must take the appropriate measures to address that situation.
He said there seemed to be a convergence of opinion that the United Nations must play a proactive role in Angola. That opportunity must be seized if the peace process was to be enhanced. He called for the international community to help improve the humanitarian situation in Angola with special assistance for internally displaced persons. His delegation also expressed support for the United Nations technical electoral mission that would soon be going to Angola.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that today’s briefing indicated that UNITA still lacked the will to engage in serious dialogue. The Council and international community therefore needed to keep up the pressure and enforce the sanctions regime. It was also clear that there was a need to insist to both sides that a military solution to the Angolan problem was not viable. He praised the recent positive progress between the Government of Angola and the United Nations and stressed that the Organization’s assistance would be invaluable to the country.
He also welcomed the intention of the United Nations to begin work on the design of a transition project -– perhaps one of the most important projects in Angola. Mr. Gambari should also encourage efforts aimed at establishing confidence-building measures. His delegation supported the idea of ceasefire vaccination days, so that children could be immunized against such diseases as polio. He hoped the United Nations would be able to help facilitate the political dialogue, adding that his Government was ready to assist.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali), speaking in his national capacity, noted that the Angolan conflict had persisted for 26 years, despite all peace efforts. Mali welcomed the positive gestures by the Angolan Government and urged it to continue giving full play to civil society and other groups.
The sanctions imposed on UNITA were appropriate because they contributed to reducing the rebel group's war-making capacity, he said. Council members must continue to pay great attention to the humanitarian situation and commit themselves to ensuring the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance. He associated his delegation with the international community in promoting the role of civil society in helping to resolve the Angolan conflict. Mali would continue to follow very closely the Angolan situation, even after leaving the Council presidency.
Responding to the statements, Mr. GAMBARI confirmed figures obtained in Luanda that there were indeed 4.1 million internally displaced persons in Angola. While the situation was bad, Government action constituted good news. However, it was necessary to encourage it, to widen the cycles of opportunity and increase the number of areas where humanitarian assistance could be safely delivered. It was up to the Council to decide on the need for a briefing specifically on the humanitarian situation.
Regarding the next steps for getting dialogue off the ground, he said the United Nations must accept a mediating role without ruling out the role of civil society, as well as other governments, playing a facilitating role.
As for moving the peace process off the streets, he said the challenge was how to establish credible regular contacts between the Angolan Government and UNITA and to make them productive. The role of the churches in such a dialogue should be one of facilitation, rather than mediation. The Secretary-General had directed him to build support and to promote the possibility of talks, even if they were only talks about talks.
The two-pronged United Nations strategy for the Angolan conflict –- improving relations between the parties while maintaining sanctions on UNITA -– appeared to be bearing fruit, he said. The Government must undertake any talks with UNITA from a position of strength. Regarding the role of civil society, it continued to put pressure on both sides to seek an end to the war, simply because the Angolan people had suffered for too long. It remained to be seen whether Mr. Savimbi was serious about a dialogue.
He said the proposed Arias formula meeting was in the hands of members. However, he advised great caution, because it was extremely important to protect the relationship so painstakingly built between the United Nations and the Angolan Government.
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