SECURITY COUNCIL, WITH WIDE-RANGING PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, AIMS TO IMPROVE COOPERATION IN PEACEKEEPING, CONFLICT PREVENTION IN AFRICA
NEW YORK, 31 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this afternoon, responding promptly to its high-level session this week on Africa that spanned two days and heard 48 speakers, issued a wide-ranging text containing a broad spectrum of proposals aimed at improving cooperation in peacekeeping and conflict prevention on that continent.
By the statement read out by its President, Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), the Council, recognizing the need for adequate measures to prevent and resolve conflicts in Africa, would consider setting up an ad hoc working group to monitor the recommendations contained in the text and to enhance coordination with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), whose participation at the public meeting had been welcome.
The Council underscored the importance of partnership and enhanced coordination and cooperation between the United Nations, the Organization for African Unity (OAU), and subregional organizations in Africa. It called on the United Nations to intensify its cooperation, including assistance within existing resources, to the OAU and subregional organizations in Africa in the field of capacity-building, particularly in early warning conflict prevention and peacekeeping.
Also according to the statement, the Council expressed its strong support for the decisions of the OAU government leaders to deny recognition to governments that came to power through unconstitutional means. It reaffirmed that conflict resolution required, above all, the political will and courage of the parties, themselves, to seek peace.
The Council underlined that economic rehabilitation and reconstruction were important elements in the long-term development of post-conflict societies and the maintenance of lasting peace, and called for greater international assistance in that regard. In that connection, it stressed that early resumption of international cooperation and development aid to countries where a peace process was being implemented was of critical importance for its success. It also stressed the importance of the role of the donor community and international financial institutions in that regard.
Bearing in mind the linkages between conflicts in Africa and poverty and development, the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and social exclusion as a source of intra-State conflicts, the Council reaffirmed its continued commitment in addressing those problems.
Noting the lack of adequate resources for the effective reintegration of former combatants, it urged the international community to support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, including through the implementation of quick-impact projects.
During the high-level session, chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius, the OAU Secretary-General, Amara Essy, assured participants that Africa was a mature continent, aware of its problems; it just needed the means to solve them. Indeed, finding a solution to Africa's problems was finding a solution to the problems of the world today, he said.
Wrapping up the two-day meeting yesterday, the Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Political Affairs, Ibrahima Fall, offered a comprehensive summary highlighting specific political, institutional and operational proposals made for Council action in the continent. In matters of peace and security, speakers had urged the Council to be more resolute and act in a timely manner, without selectivity, and based upon practical mandates, similar to the action it took elsewhere.
The meeting began at 3:24 p.m. and adjourned at 3:36 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/2002/2, reads as follows:
"The Security Council expresses its appreciation to H.E. Mr. Amara Essy, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), as well as the Ministers who participated in the Public Meeting on the "Situation in Africa" on 29 January 2002 for their invaluable contributions to the debate on the "Situation in Africa".
"The Security Council reaffirms the principles of political independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of all States and their obligation to settle their dispute by peaceful means.
"The Security Council, recalling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as the provisions of Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, underscores the importance of partnership and enhanced coordination and cooperation, based on complementarity and comparative advantage, between the United Nations, the OAU and subregional organizations in Africa in the promotion of regional peace and stability. It welcomes the decision of the OAU Summit held in Lusaka in July 2001 to undertake a review of the structures, procedures and working methods of the Central Organ of the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPMR). It emphasizes the importance of enhanced cooperation and of ensuring better coordination between the United Nations and the OAU with the view to achieving a lasting solution to conflicts. In this regard, it requests the Secretary-General to encourage the United Nations Liaison Office to the OAU in Addis Ababa to interact more closely with the OAU Mechanism for CPMR on the conflicts in Africa. The Security Council expresses its readiness to deepen its cooperation with the OAU and subregional organizations and invite them to inform it at the earliest possible stage over their decisions and initiatives that could have implications relating to its responsibilities under the Charter.
"The Security Council calls on the United Nations system to intensify its cooperation, including assistance within existing resources, to the OAU and subregional organizations in Africa in the field of capacity-building, particularly in early warning conflict prevention and peacekeeping. It also stresses the importance of effective interaction between the United Nations system and the OAU and subregional organizations through the exchange of information and analysis at the conflict prevention stage; coordination and clear understanding of respective roles in forwarding peace processes and; coordinated support to national and regional peace-building efforts. In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the establishment of the United Nations Office in West Africa and requests the Secretary-General to take all necessary measures for that Office to be fully operational.
"The Security Council notes with satisfaction that good offices missions carried out by prominent political leaders of Africa facilitated significant progress in the political settlement of certain conflicts; it encourages the OAU and subregional organizations, taking into account the specific situation of conflicts, to seek appointment of such figures as Special Envoys, as well as to employ where appropriate the traditional methods of conflict resolution, including the establishment of Councils of Elders; the Security Council stresses the importance of the preventive character of such efforts and emphasizes the need for their proper coordination. The Security Council stresses the specific needs of women and children in peace processes and encourages the strengthening of the role of women and youth in the search for solutions to conflicts in Africa.
"The Security Council encourages the ongoing efforts undertaken by the international community in addressing the root causes of conflicts in Africa as indicated in the Report of the Secretary-General on the Causes of Conflicts and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa (A/52/871-S/1998/318). The Security Council, bearing in mind the linkages between conflicts in Africa and, inter alia, poverty and development, the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and, social exclusion as a source of intra-State conflicts, reaffirms its continued commitment in addressing these problems and encourages the OAU, as well as subregional organizations and international financial institutions, to do likewise. The Security Council stresses that the early resumption of international cooperation and development aid to countries where a peace process is being implemented is of critical importance for the success of this peace process, and further stresses the importance of the role of the donor community and international financial institutions in this regard.
"The Security Council stresses that good governance, democracy, rule of law, and the respect of human rights and the fight against poverty are essential for peace, stability and sustainable development in Africa. It also stresses the importance of national reconciliation through dialogue in respective countries. It expresses its strong support to the decisions of the OAU Heads of State and Government at the Algiers Summit held in 1999 denying recognition to Governments that come to power through unconstitutional means, and notes with satisfaction that this decision is being implemented. It reaffirms that resolution of conflicts in Africa requires, above all, the political will and courage of the parties themselves to seek peace.
"The Security Council expresses concern over the effects of conflicts on civilian population, including violations of human rights, in particular those affecting the most vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women and children. It emphasizes the responsibility of States concerned to put an end to impunity and prosecute those responsible for such acts.
"The Security Council underlines the need to address the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons which, in addition to humanitarian consequences, constitute a burden on the affected countries and which may become a source of conflict. It notes the shortfall in funding for refugee and internally displaced persons programmes in Africa and reiterates its call upon the international community to provide such programmes with the necessary financial resources, taking into account the substantial needs in Africa.
"The Security Council, recalling its resolution 1308 of 17 July 2000, inter alia, recognizing that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is also exacerbated by the conditions of violence and instability and constitutes a potential risk to stability and security, reiterates that the pandemic, if unchecked, may pose a risk to stability and security. The Council urges the international community and donors to coordinate their efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
"The Security Council reiterates the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in the process of conflict resolution and post-conflict peace-building, and notes the lack of adequate resources for effective reintegration programmes. In this regard, it urges the international community to support such programmes, including through the implementation of quick-impact projects.
"The Security Council notes that African States can contribute to peace and security in the continent by implementing transparency and confidence-building measures. In this regard, the Security Council reiterates its call on all States to implement the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
"The Security Council welcomes the participation of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to its Public Meeting on the Situation in Africa on 29 January 2002. It reaffirms the importance of strengthening its cooperation, through greater interaction, with the ECOSOC, in accordance with Article LXV of the Charter of the United Nations, in the area of the prevention of armed conflicts, including in addressing the economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems. The Security Council, taking note of the time it devotes to discussing African conflicts and the specificity of the problems of Africa, underlines that economic rehabilitation and reconstruction constitute important elements in the long-term development of post-conflict societies and the maintenance of lasting peace and calls for greater international assistance in this regard. The Security Council expresses its resolve to seek to establish the political conditions for non-recurrence of a particular conflict before withdrawing any peacekeeping operation.
"The Security Council commends and supports the efforts of African countries within the framework of the fight against international terrorism.
"The Security Council welcomes the ongoing transformation of the OAU into the African Union and encourages and supports the principles of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) to create the conditions for development and to enhance economic integration in Africa. It recognizes that sound economic policies will further enhance peace and stability in the region. It calls upon the donor countries and the Bretton Woods institutions to continue assisting Africa in implementing the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiatives and to work with African governments, through the NEPAD, to create necessary conditions to attract and mobilize public and private sector resources in support of economic growth and poverty reduction.
"The Security Council notes the usefulness of its meeting with the Secretary General of OAU and stresses the importance of holding such consultations on a regular basis, at least once a year, in the future.
"The Security Council recognizes the need for adequate measures to prevent and resolve conflicts in Africa, and will consider the setting up of an ad hoc Working Group to monitor the above recommendations and to enhance coordination with ECOSOC."
When the Council convened today, it had before it a letter dated 10 January from the Council President for the month, Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), attaching an orientation paper for the meeting (document S/2002/46), which sought to refocus attention on Africa and take stock of developments and shortcomings through a series of questions. The paper also guided the debate on 29 and 30 January.
According to the President's letter, the Council has been dealing with almost all of the conflict situations in Africa, but it has not been achieving the desired overall results. It will revisit these issues in the presence of the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), who is expected to provide an African perspective. Participation by the OAU should "lay down" the basis for future dialogue between the two organizations.
The paper notes that both the Council and the OAU, through its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, devote much of their time to addressing conflict situations in Africa. Since both organizations seek to find solutions to conflicts, it is of vital importance that their actions complement one another. In this context, close cooperation is key.
The document suggests numerous areas for discussion: conflict situations; cooperation with the OAU; mediation efforts; role of subregional organizations; sanctions/embargoes; small arms and light weapons and the illegal exploitation of natural resources; humanitarian issues; and the African Union and its New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
On conflict situations, the paper raises a number of pertinent questions, such as why the responses of the international community, including the Council, to conflicts in Africa have been "so slow". It also asks a number of questions, among them: Did the Council's present level of engagement with African issues match their complexity? What has been the response of the international community to intra-State instability and other conflicts in Africa? And, what actions have been taken to prevent such outbreaks?
With respect to cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU, it asks, among other things, whether they have a different perception and assessment on the conflicts in Africa. Also, how could the United Nations and the OAU cooperate in their peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts for improved results? And, how could the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution and the Council coordinate their efforts for better results in Africa?
On sanctions and embargoes, the paper asks about the effectiveness of the course of action outlined in the Secretary-General's report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. That report highlights the importance of sanctions as
Concerning small arms and light weapons, the paper asks what is needed for a successful and irreversible disarmament, demoblization, repatriation and resettlement programme in African conflicts, and how to stop the illegal exploitation of resources. On humanitarian issues, it asks whether those issues had been given the required attention, especially with respect to recovery and reconstruction. One question it raises is how could the United Nations assist the OAU in addressing the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons.
The long-term conflicts in Africa and the worsening humanitarian situation there occupied much of the Council's attention in the last decade and remained a focus of its work in 2001. In several actions, members stressed the complete implementation of hard-won ceasefire agreements, control of the illicit trade in resources and arms, and development for peace-building.
Currently in Africa, there are United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Western Sahara. Others have been completed in Angola, Central African Republic, Chad/Libya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda/Uganda and Somalia, although the United Nations and the Security Council remain engaged there.
The OAU, which was established in 1963 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, seeks to: promote the unity and solidarity of the African States; defend their sovereignty; eradicate colonialism; promote international cooperation having due regard for the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and harmonize Member States’ economic, diplomatic, educational, health, welfare, scientific and defence policies.
Presently, the OAU is composed of 53 African States: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Kenya.
Also, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principle, Seychelles, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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