SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL
NEW YORK, 22 October (UN Headquarters) -- Speakers in the Security Council today urged international support for regional initiatives to cement recent progress towards peace in Central Africa, as the Council met in morning and afternoon sessions to consider strengthening cooperation between the United Nations system and that subregion, in the maintenance of peace and security.
The objective of the meeting, according to a letter from the President of the Council, Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon, was to raise the partnership between the United Nations system, States in the region, and subregional organizations, to at least the level of cooperation in other regions of Africa and the world.
"Central Africa", in today’s meeting, was defined in a broad sense, to include Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe.
The United Nations was already working closely with Central African States, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, said. But critical cross-cutting issues, such as ethnic tension, cross-border trafficking of arms, absence of national dialogue, and inadequate economic resources needed to be addressed in earnest.
He said restoration of lasting peace in the countries remained the primary responsibilities of the governments and peoples concerned. The international community could only offer assistance. He hoped today’s meeting would reaffirm the commitment of Central African countries to policies promoting democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law. He called on the international community to continue to support the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to promote sustainable peace and development and to curb the spread of weapons and mercenaries.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that the subregion had been shaken by violent conflicts for far too long. The international community was doing much to try and end the suffering, through both diplomacy and a wide range of peace-building action. Most institutions created in those efforts, however, had not been fully established and a wide range of cross-border security problems still existed, along with the continuing conflicts and poverty.
Strategies to be adopted, he said, must be multiform in nature, dealing with all the factors that fuelled conflicts. Confidence-building measures were essential, along with assistance for regional initiatives for settling conflicts. Regional priorities also included the establishment of an early-warning mechanism, the building of regional peacekeeping capacity and logistical and financial support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes along the lines of the World Bank programmes.
The representative of the World Bank said its programme for the Greater Great Lakes Region aimed to complement national and regional peace initiatives by bringing together States affected by the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as more than 30 partners from regional organizations, donor countries, United Nations agencies and international financial institutions. He urged that all other efforts in the region be formulated to complement each other and further a regional approach.
Other speakers elaborated the numerous regional initiatives that had been undertaken in the past decade, which they felt could play a strong role in peace-building if they received adequate support from the international community. In that regard, the most frequently cited regional security agreement was the Protocol establishing the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX), comprising the Central African Early Warning System, the Defence and Security Commission, and the Central African Multinational Force.
Egypt's representative urged the Council to throw its weight behind the limited peacekeeping operations the region was able to undertake. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he said, could play an effective role in training military units in the subregion.
Ivan Simonovic (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that because of the myriad of cross-cutting and cross-border challenges facing the subregion, he continued to advocate for the creation of a subregional United Nations coordinating capability.
Problems and potentials of nations in Central Africa were clearly interlinked, said the representative of the United Kingdom. But the expansion of regional mechanisms would not help the situation without a common purpose underpinning such structures. What the Central African region needed, first and foremost, was a vision of the mutual benefit that could come from peace and cooperation, and of the potential impact of just strategies for developing the region’s vast natural resources. That must form the "glue" of cooperation, before looking at how the international community could provide assistance.
Also speaking today were the Foreign Ministers of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Representatives of the following Council members spoke: United States, Mauritius, Norway, China, Syria, Ireland, Guinea, Singapore, Russian Federation, Colombia, Mexico, Bulgaria and France.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Denmark (on behalf of the European Union), Japan, Burundi and Chad.
The Permanent Observer for the African Union and the Assistant Secretary-General of ECCAS addressed the Council.
A representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:25 a.m. and was suspended at 1:05 p.m. Resuming at 3:15 p.m., it adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
The Security Council met today to consider strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations system and Central Africa in the maintenance of peace and security. It had before it a letter from the Permanent Representative of Cameroon, the Council’s President, the annex of which contained a background note from the President (document S/2002/1179).
According to that document, Central Africa in the broad sense (Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe) had been slow in embarking on its economic and social development, and projects to the world the least positive image of all subregions of Africa, despite enormous potential mineral, water and agricultural resources. Five peacekeeping, peace-building or peacemaking missions out of 12 under way on the continent had been established in the subregion. That discouraging picture confirmed the urgency of States of the region and the international community focusing on the evils afflicting that key region of Africa.
Regional cooperation is based on a tripod comprising: the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), comprising Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo; the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), comprising Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda; and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), comprising Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe.
Important decisions on collective security had been taken, including the conclusion of the Protocol establishing the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX), comprising a Non-Aggression Pact and a Mutual Assistance Pact. The COPAX, whose objective is to prevent, manage and settle conflicts in Central Africa, is based on the Central African Early Warning System, the Defence and Security Commission, and the Central African Multinational Force. The region appears to be gradually emerging from the conflicts that have been affecting it for more than 20 years, which poses the problem of building peace, requiring for the mobilization of major resources to support the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration operations.
According to the document, the public meeting of the Council is aimed at promoting and strengthening the partnership between the United Nations system and Central Africa in relation to the maintenance of peace and security, in order to raise it at least to the level of what is being done between the United Nations and other regions of Africa and the world. It is also aimed at strengthening capacities in the subregion, improving effectiveness, coordination and cohesion of the subregional organizations, and mobilizing the resources required to build peace in the subregion.
The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, TULIAMENI KALOMOH, said the United Nations had long been committed to assisting African States in promoting sustainable peace and development. United Nations system agencies were working closely with Central African States. The current political and humanitarian situation was a source for serious concern. Seven member States of the subregion had been afflicted by conflict, internally and cross-border, resulting, among other things, in death and refugees. The consequences of that had undermined efforts to sustain development and maintain peace. Violations of human rights had also been reported in the subregion.
Critical cross-cutting issues, such as ethnic tension, cross-border trafficking of arms, absence of national dialogue, and inadequate economic resources were common to the region. Those issues needed to be addressed in earnest. Those cross-border threats, including the spread of HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases, represented additional destabilizing factors. Efforts had been made at the international, regional and subregional levels to help the subregion stabilize the situations. The United Nations had responded in many ways to peace and security challenges and had thought to promote capabilities for early warning. The Secretary-General had also dispatched special envoys to the subregion, and the Council had authorized the development of peacekeeping and peace-building operations.
The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) was in the process of implementing a programme of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and repatriation of armed groups, also affecting other countries. Success depended primarily on the political will of the countries and on the international community as a whole to provide the necessary funds. Unless adequate resources were available, ex-combatants were unlikely to be reintegrated. The United Nations contribution to peace and security concerns also included the creation of the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Matters in Central Africa. Despite those efforts, Central Africa continued to encounter tremendous pressures in the political, economic, social and security areas.
He believed that restoration of lasting peace in the countries remained the primary responsibilities of governments and peoples concerned. The international community could only offer assistance. He hoped the meeting would reaffirm the commitment of Central Africa countries to policies promoting democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law. He called on the international community to continue support of ECCAS countries to promote sustainable peace and development and to curb the spread of weapons and mercenaries in the subregion. That region was endowed with enormous resources. A climate of sustainable peace would help direct those resources to improve conditions for the subregion's people.
EMMANUEL MBI, Country Director of the World Band for South Central Africa and the Great Lakes, said consolidation of recent progress towards peace in Central Africa was of the utmost importance. Deep political and economic development failures were among the key causes of conflict. Often, in Central Africa as elsewhere, there was a failure to develop political institutions to accommodate the diversity of society, in a context of rapid demographic growth, large rural/urban migrations and extreme poverty. Conflicts also wiped out decades of development efforts in the nations involved, as well as in neighbouring countries.
It was in that context, he said, that the World Bank had been called to play an increasing role in a number of Central African countries. Overall, its portfolio in conflict-affected nations now totalled some 80 projects and $5 billion. Recent rules in funding would soon make it possible to provide a relatively large part of new support in the form of grants. The programmes consisted not only of loans, but also technical assistance and capacity-building, as part of a broader, holistic strategy, aimed at ensuring a comprehensive and coordinated treatment of all key dimensions of recovery. The Security Council could provide the leadership needed to create the necessary environment for those efforts.
He called attention to a programme developed over the past year to complement United Nations efforts: the multi-country demobilization and reintegration programme for the Greater Great Lakes Region. It aimed to complement national and regional peace initiatives by providing support for the social and economic reintegration of ex-combatants, bringing together nine countries involved in or affected by the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as more than 30 partners from regional organizations, donor countries, United Nations agencies and international financial institutions. He urged that all other efforts in the region be formulated to complement each other and further a regional approach.
JULIA TAFT, Assistant Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said impoverishment could be a cause and a consequence of conflict. That interdependence had determined UNDP’s entry point to conflict prevention and peace building. Development programmes must contribute to the political purpose of consolidating peace, as well as serve the normal purpose of improving conditions of life. Hence, new and effective strategies, tools and partnerships were being developed and sustained to meet that challenge.
The situation in the Central African subregion had been one of the areas most affected by ongoing or recurrent conflict. The extent and impact of those conflicts underscored the urgent need to assist the governments in the region. The parameters of the strategic framework for the UNDP were conflict prevention, recovery, peace-building and capacity-building of regional and subregional organizations. Conflict prevention efforts focused on capacity-building of national institutions and actors for conflict analysis. In peace-building, the UNDP supported disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, the removal of small arms from communities, the rebuilding of social capital and the launching of reconciliation processes.
To address the consequences of illicit small arms availability and use, the UNDP had undertaken a range of activities in the Great lakes region to assist States and communities where the transition from armed conflict to economic recovery was currently impeded by continuing insecurity and violence. The organization would also be launching a cross-border project in November that aimed at reducing armed violence through community recovery activities, voluntary disarmament, strengthening capacities of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and facilitating repatriation of ex-combatants and refugees from the Democratic Republic. In close collaboration with Interpol and the World Customs Organization, she said, the UNDP was developing a multi-country programme to improve the capacities of States in the region to control the illicit proliferation of small arms.
The UNDP also carried out a number of programmes contributing to the maintenance of peace and security at the country level, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Angola, Central African Republic, Chad and Cameroon. She said there was a need to do more; the UNDP remained committed to ensuring priority support for programmes that contributed to peace and security in Central Africa, now and in the years to come.
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said ECOSOC’s mandate included functions that could help with the root causes of violence, and with humanitarian assistance and economic and social reconstruction, as well as with development and human rights processes that were at the heart of peace-building. The Central African region was confronted with a myriad of cross-cutting and cross-border challenges arising out of the conflicts which had ravaged it. For those reasons, he would continue to advocate for the creation of a subregional United Nations coordinating capability.
The ECOSOC also believed that countries of the subregion must own and lead their own reconstruction, and it deplored illegal exploitation of the region’s vast resources. Welcoming recent positive developments in regional conflicts, he said that success stories such as that of Mozambique were needed elsewhere in Africa.
He then described a resolution, adopted by ECOSOC last July, which would create an ad hoc advisory group at the ambassadorial level to prepare recommendations for the long-term support for a given country, integrating relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development in a comprehensive approach, with inter-agency support. The proposed ad hoc advisory group on Guinea-Bissau would closely cooperate with the Security Council’s ad hoc working group on conflict prevention and resolution in Africa.
RODOLPHE ADADA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Congo, on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), outlined some of the history and recent activities of the Permanent Consultative Committee of the United Nations on the question of security in Central Africa. There was developing peace in the region that must be consolidated. Upon the cessation of hostilities, it was necessary to both formulate and fund reintegration programmes, so that ex-soldiers did not return to arms. He recalled the experience of his country at the end of its civil war in 1999. A programme put in place with the UNDP was ongoing, because there were still some 25,000 ex-militia that could benefit from it who had not yet been included.
The United Nations mission recently established in Angola had an appropriate mission, and he hoped that further actions to build peace there would be fully designed and funded. Regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo, he hoped that MONUC and other initiatives would be provided with sufficient resources. He also described progress in Burundi, as well as between Chad and the Central African Republic, along with international support that could aid the national efforts to remedy those situations.
He further described subregional efforts in support of disarmament and monitoring of weapons traffic and requested international support for them. He strongly supported the initiative of the President of the World Bank to study the specific manner of addressing the post-conflict development of African countries. In other areas, the Consultative Committee should be continued, but with greater international assistance, which was necessary for the implementation of all concrete initiatives that aimed to consolidate peace and stability in a region that was destined to play a major role on the international scene due to its immense potential.
AGBA OTIKPO MEZODE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, said his country had benefited from the support of the United Nations system, as it had experienced a couple of crises. The first stemmed from recurring mutinies in 1996-1997, and the second from two attempted coups d’état in 2001. The impact of the last crisis had almost created a conflict in the entire region. In the 1997 crisis, the support from the international community had been decisive, including United Nations missions. The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) had worked effectively in the process of peacekeeping and organization of legislative and presidential elections. A report to the Council had requested support in the area of restructuring of defence and security forces and financing of economic development, including arms trafficking issues. The needs of the time were calculated to $47 million in two stages. The Council then appealed to support the Government’s plan of action.
The coup d’état of 28 May 2001 had been condemned widely, he said. Libya had sent resources to loyalist forces and a contingent to protect the President. That action had been welcomed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and many States. Summit meetings were held by regional and subregional organizations. All those meetings underlined the need for the creation of mechanisms for prevention and settlement of conflicts. However, those mechanisms needed to work in synergy to be more effective.
As the Central African Republic was a post-conflict State, the destruction following the calamities and the loss in human life could not be overstated. Those factors were not always taken into account. Only the Central Africans, in partnership with the international community, could bring about a turnabout. Peace, democracy and stability must be based on a peaceful social environment, but the Central African Republic did not have the capability to alleviate the situation. The Permanent Consultative Committee of the Council had met recently in August, and he hoped positive results would be achieved through its recommendations and resolution.
JEAN PING, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie of Gabon, said the current meeting was an opportunity to examine progress made together in maintenance of peace and security and to strengthen that cooperation in the subregion that had been clouded by the persistence of many crises. Central Africa had vast natural resources such as oil, cobalt and rich forests. The Congo basin was characterized by rich biodiversity, a real lung for the planet. That side of life contrasted with crisis, armed conflict, poverty and HIV/AIDS. In such a context, the assets could be jeopardized if nothing was done to support efforts by the States to address peace and security in the subregion. It was urgent that the international community focused all action on the subregion to help restore peace and security.
With assistance of the Council’s Permanent Consultative Committee, several mechanisms had been established, such as the Council on Peace and Security, the multilateral force for Central Africa and the early warning system. Multifaceted actions had been taken concerning human rights, democracy, legal and security instruments, strengthening of regional cooperation and the creation of demilitarized zones and zones of peace. The Committee’s budget should not be confined to contributions from States in the region. Financing of its programmes should be placed within the regular United Nations budget: that would allow for more effective cooperation between the United Nations and the States of Central Africa.
In recent years, mediation efforts of the countries of the subregion itself had increased, as well as the process of subregional integration. Integration policies had led to several intergovernmental organizations, including the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). The CEMAC had decided to send a contingent of troops to monitor the border between the Central African Republic and Chad, and he hoped for a rapid response to requests for logistical assistance from the international community. He welcomed the positive developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Angola, but noted that those efforts would remain a dead letter if they were not to receive consistent support from the international community and the United Nations. Financing of reconstruction of countries in post-conflict situations must be emphasized, and the international financial institutions had a role to play.
He welcomed the presence of the World Bank, whose participation was evidence of the fact that problems related to peace and security were linked with development. Global responses to the question of security in Central Africa had to be found. To demand that a country such as the Central African Republic resolve its debt before support programmes could be started was hypocrisy. Peace and development of the continent must be propelled jointly by the States of Central Africa and the United Nations -- decisions had to be taken together and coordinated.
LEONARD SHE OKITUNDU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that for too long the subregion had been shaken by violent conflicts. The international community was doing much to try and end the suffering, through both diplomacy and a wide range of peace-building action. Describing a range of causes that created an unlimited cycle of such violence, he said that the States of ECCAS had requested help from the United Nations for peace and progress in the region, through trust, security and development. The conference in Lomé, Togo, in 1998 was convened to pursue those objectives. He strongly supported the work of other such conferences, along with related pacts and organizations.
Most institutions created in those efforts, however, had not been fully established, he said, and a range of cross-border security problems still existed, as did continuing poverty. Strategies to be adopted must be multiform in nature; deal with all problems, both internal and external; and make the incipient peace processes durable. Confidence-building levels should include those that encouraged democracy, transparency and regional cooperation, and assist regional initiatives for settling conflicts. Priorities should be the establishment of a rapid alert mechanism, as well as a regional peacekeeping capacity, along with humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced persons, logistical and financial support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes along the lines of the World Bank programmes.
He requested the Security Council to focus on completing the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on providing effective post-conflict assistance. Strengthening MONUC, after the start of foreign troop withdrawals, and the beginning of inclusive dialogue towards national reconciliation were important near-term steps to be taken in that regard.
SANTIAGO NSOBEYA EFUMAN NCHAMA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Equatorial Guinea, said the meeting was taking place at a particularly complex time in the world and the subregion. It could not endure permanent instability, so the work of the Permanent Consultative Committee was appreciated. His country had involved itself fully in that dynamic, to make its modest contribution, and welcomed the results of subregional conferences on democracy and peace.
Fully aware of the challenges remaining, he said his country had spared no effort in the past three years to establish mechanisms for the maintenance of peace of security. He listed some of those mechanisms, and reiterated his wish for further cooperation between the United Nations and regional mechanisms. Peace, security and stability were prerequisites for democracy and the dignity of the human person, and development. For peace, he insisted on the use of dialogue and negotiation. His country’s aim was to further stability within itself and the region, and presidential clemency had been granted to prisoners on 12 October.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, said the subregional organizations in Central Africa could be important building blocks for regional political and economic integration and could contribute in securing peace and prosperity. However, an important prerequisite for consolidating regional peace, democracy and economic stability was genuine political will among the Central African States to cooperate. The recent establishment of the African Union and the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) were positive steps towards building Africa’s capacity to prevent and manage all aspects of conflicts through the strengthening of existing regional and subregional initiatives.
She said that in the Cotonou Agreement, the European Union had established long-term contractual partnerships with the countries in the Central African region. Supporting regional integration and cooperation was one of the priorities of the Agreement. The Union had, among other things, entered into negotiations for regional economic partnership agreements which would strengthen the relations between the Union and the Central African States in full conformity with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and would foster regional integration.
Apart from the Cotonou Agreement, the European Union had launched or contributed to a number of other initiatives in the area of conflict prevention and management in Africa. European Union countries had contributed to peacekeeping in Africa, both financially and through participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations. The Union followed closely the developments in the Great Lakes region and was studying the possibility of organizing an international conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the region.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the primary one, because it overshadowed any attempt for peace in the Great Lakes region. Efforts should, therefore, be focused on finding a lasting solution for that conflict in a matter that would pave the way for development for the whole region. He urged the Council to expand MONUC to
8,700 troops as recommended by the Secretary-General. He invited the international community to throw its political weight behind the agreement reached between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, as well as behind other agreements. Other conflicts, such as in the Central African Republic and Burundi must be addressed at the same time, and he invited the United Nations to support the peace processes in those countries, including regional initiatives.
There were many existing frameworks for regional cooperation aimed at maintaining peace and security in the subregion, and the United Nations, in particular the Council, could do more to support them. The COPAX, including a non-aggression and mutual assistance pact, required political and technical support. The United Nations should also pay more attention to the scourge of the illegal flow of small arms and light weapons in the subregion. He supported the Secretary-General's proposal to give a prominent role to a regional centre for peace and disarmament in Central Africa.
He urged the Council to throw its weight behind the limited peacekeeping operations the region was able to undertake, such as in the Central African Republic. The Department of Peackeeping Operations could play an effective role in training military units in the subregion in the area of peacekeeping operations. Confronting the root causes of armed conflict in the subregion would require mobilization of large amounts of financial assistance for a long time to come. Such assistance should lead to consolidating the foundation for peace and prosperity in the region.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said in addressing the root causes of conflict, his country had consistently advocated the importance of Africa’s own initiatives and self-help efforts or ownership, as well as partnerships between Africa and the international community. But because those efforts could not bear fruit unless there was peace and stability, it was imperative that all parties concerned turn away from conflict and devote their energies to nation-building and development. Initiatives on the subregional level were indispensable.
He said his country attached great importance to such subregional organizations as COPAX and CEMAC. It was incumbent upon the international community to support initiatives by those organizations. The recommendation on strengthening the relationship between the Council and African regional and subregional organizations, put forward by the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Council on Conflict Prevention and Resolution should be a starting point. Japan encourages all countries in Central Africa to continue to fully cooperate with the United Nations offices and organs located in the subregion. Their cooperation was essential in consolidating the recent, still fragile, progress that had been made in the peace process in countries such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said there would be not stability and prosperity in the world unless the problems of Africa were solved. Japan had designated the period leading up to the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III), to be held next October, as the "Year for Soaring Cooperation with Africa". He hoped that other Member States would join in making that aspiration a reality.
As the meeting resumed in the afternoon, MARC NTETURUYE (Burundi) said it was clear that Central Africa needed peace and security, as the Council regularly took up the conflicts of the subregion. The United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, established in 1992, aimed at promoting peace, security and development in Central Africa through confidence-building measures and limiting weapons. For the countries in the subregion, that Committee had been invaluable, not only in issues of peace and security, but also regarding human rights, democratization and good governance. The Committee had, among other things, been instrumental in establishing the non-aggression pact between countries of ECCAS, the Central African Early Warning System, COPAX, the subregional centre for human rights, and a subregional parliament.
He said the fight against small arms and light weapons had been discussed during two subregional seminars. The Standing Committee’s work programme for 2002-2006 included a seminar on implementing the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade of Arms. Because of the presence of defeated armies and uncontrolled armed groups, weapons circulating in the region fuelled conflicts and exposed civilians to acts of terrorism and economic and social destabilization of rural areas. Anti-personnel mines were also of concern.
Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants were important components for all peace initiatives in the subregion. He welcomed the fact that the multinational demobilization and reintegration programme existed, which the World Bank and the European Union would fund to the amount of $500 million. The countries of Central Africa had modernized themselves through their distrust of each other, he said. Leaders were slow to realize that they had to respect their people. However, a process of normalization now under way should result in peace on the borders, return of refugees and internally displaced persons and the use of the enormous natural resources for the well-being of the people.
He said it was time to start consultations on holding an international conference on peace, stability and development of the Great Lakes region. He called on the international community to support a system of preventive diplomacy and early warning system. A regional observatory against genocide in Central Africa could also be considered. In order better to understand the true atmosphere in the region, Council missions, such as to the Great Lakes region, should be encouraged.
KOUMTOUG LAOTEGGUELNODJI (Chad) read a message from Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Minister for Foreign Affairs and African Integration, who said the situation between the Central African Republic and Chad was developing in the right direction. That was an outcome of the recent Summit of Heads of State of ECCAS in Libreville, Gabon, on 2 October. The Government of Chad had started to implement the commitments undertaken at that Summit. It had also contacted friendly countries to seek a solution to the exile of Mr. Bozize, who had taken refuge in Chad.
He paid tribute to Gabon for its tireless work towards peace between the two States. He also thanked the countries of the subregion who had established a monitoring force. Peace would be complete only if all recommendations and decisions of the Summit were implemented, and he called on the Council and the international community to provide necessary support for such implementation.
AMADOU KEBE, Permanent Observer for the African Union, said that shared responsibility was crucial to cooperation in peacekeeping operations. When there were regional peacekeeping efforts in Africa, the Security Council must take over such operations from regional organizations, once they have reached the limit of their resources.
To support subregional efforts in Central Africa, he said, the African Union proposed the rapid, effective implementation of resolutions related to the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It had also called for a coherent and coordinated policy of the United Nations regarding post-conflict situations, including reinforced relations between all organizations in the subregion, reinforcement of the early-warning capacity of COPAX, and a regional solution to the problem of refugees and displaced persons.
NELSON COSME, Assistant Secretary-General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), said the convening of today’s meeting showed the resolve of the international community to assist the States of Central Africa in breaking out of the cycle of conflict. The peace and security of the subregion was central to that of the whole continent. He described the history of regional peace initiatives, along with the coordinated United Nations activities.
The COPAX was an essential instrument in that regard, and the assistance of the United Nations was required to operationalize many of its functions, including measures to set up a Central African multinational force. That force needed training and support -- assistance from the World Bank and the European Union was essential. Such assistance was also essential for continued set-up of the early warning system of COPAX.
Describing other regional initiatives, he said that in order to strengthen coordination between the United Nations system and ECCAS, that organization had been granted observer status with the United Nations. In that regard, it welcomed recent developments in Angola. He hoped that current negotiations related to Burundi would resolve that conflict once and for all, and that confidence would be established between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. The ECCAS was concerned, however, over continuing violence in Chad and urged the United Nations to assist programmes for reconciliation and justice there. In all those areas, he called for specialized assistance from the agencies, as well as support from the international community as a whole, and further meetings that focused on the region.
RICHARD WILLIAMSON (United States) stressed that regional stability in Central Africa could only be built on the foundation of thriving nation States. While historic steps had been taken to bring formerly warring factions and neighbours to peace, one of the remaining challenges was the reintegration of former combatants. Although neigbouring Central African States were moving towards peace, subregional conflicts like that in Uvira, Democratic Republic of the Congo, could cause renewed fighting.
Central Africa was undergoing considerable change. Recently, foreign troops had been withdrawn from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Angola was coming out of its decades-long internal war. The recent CEMAC summit in Libreville, addressing the situation between Chad and the Central African Republic, was an example of what regional organizations could contribute to conflict resolution. He urged continuation of such efforts, and his country would consider ways to assist them. However, conflict between Central African States remained a threat, and several States remained hobbled by a lack of good governance, the absence of the rule of law, and a fundamental disregard for human rights.
Robust regional cooperation among Central African States could only come about when all nations in the region reached a threshold of domestic stability and integrity and when each nation provided security for its entire citizenry. Ultimately, effective bilateral or multilateral assistance could not be provided unless and until each nation functioned and thrived. He encouraged those countries faced with the reintegration of former combatants to work with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relevant agencies to monitor the security and safety of returning combatants. There was a need for third-party verification of the safety of former combatants in order for there to be full reintegration.
Noting that there were six separate special representatives or envoys of the Secretary-General in the region, he asked to look at the mandates of those offices to ensure that United Nations activities in the region were coherent and effective. He asked the Secretary-General to brief the Council on the goals of those offices and on the benchmarks for achieving those goals. If the momentum for peace could be maintained, then the fragile nature of the Central African region could be improved. The regional actors must look to the hard work of creating the constant conditions for peace. That was the hard work of developing functioning States that ensured the security of all citizens. That included the necessary task of welcoming back those displaced by war.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) outlined the history and activities of ECCAS, as well as the early warning mechanism adopted by COPAX. The role played by United Nations missions in Central Africa, in managing and preventing large-scale conflicts, was highly valued. It might also be beneficial if subregional organizations, including ECCAS, could work closely with the United Nations in advocacy, preventive actions and peacemaking.
In addition, he said subregional institutions could advise the United Nations whether any given situation required the Organization to play a lead role or that of a simple coordinator, and then help further define those roles. There was an urgent need for financial assistance, appropriate training and logistic support to make the early warning system of COPAX fully operational. The success of that system also required political will from national leaders in the region.
Peacekeeping capacity-building of subregional organizations must also be fully supported by the international community, he said. With proper support, ECCAS could play an important role in combating the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and terrorism. A regional approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and displaced persons should also be defined. With proper planning and understanding, the subregional organizations could become the operational arm of the United Nations.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said there were numerous countries in the Central African region whose peace and stability had always been among the Council’s concerns. The United Nations had made progress in its peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and the Central African Republic. However, conflicts, poverty and disease were still ravaging the region. In recent years, African countries had played an increasing role in preventing conflicts and cooperation in development. The African Union was a reflection of the strong desire of the African people to seek solutions based on self-reliance. Corresponding mechanisms for peace and security had also been established.
The conflict in Angola had basically come to an end, and the conflict of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was moving in the right direction, he said. The Central African regional organizations had decided to send a monitoring force to the Central African Republic. The Council should, therefore, strengthen cooperation with the African Union and other organizations.
The realization of peace and security was linked with the issue of development, and poverty was one of the root causes of conflicts, he said. The international community should acknowledge that globalization had created a negative impact on African countries. But increasing development aid to African countries could lay a solid base for a comprehensive settlement of conflicts. He supported the establishment of NEPAD and welcomed the fact that the General Assembly had taken up the question of conflict and peace in Africa, as well as development there, together. His Government had always given support to Africa and had signed debt agreements with numerous countries there. It had decided to participate more in MONUC and would strengthen its cooperation with Central African countries.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the Council had set up five missions in the Central African region out of 12 missions existing in Africa -- that proved the particular attention given to the region. The Central African region deserved the attention paid to it by the United Nations system. He welcomed the establishment of the African Union and was confident the Union would pursue the efforts of the Organization of African Unity to find sustainable solutions to the continent’s problems.
He said efforts at the subregional level had often suffered from the lack of resources. Strengthening and enhancing the capabilities of the bodies recently established was necessary so they could address the crises in the subregion. The establishment of COPAX was proof of the urgent need for cooperation with the United Nations to deal with conflict situations and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Experience had shown that conflicts in Central Africa had to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner, taking into account the close connections of neighbouring countries.
He welcomed agreements recently signed between several States of the region, such as the one concerning the Great Lakes region. He further welcomed the CEMAC summit in Gabon, which had examined the situation between the Central African Republic and Chad, the results of which had been welcomed by the Council. The efforts of Libya in that conflict should also be mentioned.
He believed the international community should provide the African States with the possibility of deploying African forces in the region and to encourage African initiatives to settle disputes. One must go beyond the narrow solutions to comprehensive solutions, in cooperation with other United Nations bodies such as the Economic and Social Council. The role of donor organizations and the Bretton Woods institutions should also be acknowledged in that regard. Putting an end to commercial operations by criminal elements should pave the way for legal exploitation of national resources. Supporting African organizations in controlling conflict situations should diminish the role of more hegemonistic organizations or countries.
GERARD CORR (Ireland), fully associating his views with those of Denmark on behalf of the European Union, said the world had an unfinished agenda of duty and debt to Central Africa. The current moment of opportunity must be seized. The three regional organizations in the subregion needed to be strongly supported and encouraged, as they would have a major role to play in the period ahead in consolidating and anchoring the peace, for which regional cooperation was a critical dimension. An early convening of an international conference on the Great Lakes region was one step that could be taken by the international community to address the root causes of conflict in the area.
Regional support by the international community, he said, must also involve the support of structural conflict-prevention policies, the promotion of regional joint actions and the deployment of necessary resources. Support to regional and national peace-building by the United Nations must be more coherent, including common country assessments in the development programmes. Full funding of programmes was part of that coherence.
The World Bank’s conflict analysis framework was welcomed, he said, but there was a need for relaxing the conditionalities in post-conflict funding; for early release of funds promised by donors; and for promoting, as a matter of greatest urgency, administrative capacity, investment in human resources and reduction of debt burdens. The international community must also support regional economic cooperation in every way possible, as the European Union was actively doing in the Cotonou Agreement.
MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said it was now clear that greed for mineral resources and debt were among the basic causes of the continuing conflicts in Central Africa. He welcomed the successes achieved on the regional level in the Great Lakes area. That, lamentably, contrasted with the situation on the ground in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unconditional compliance with agreements must be ensured from the parties, and MONUC must be strengthened to play its part. The peace agreement in Angola was an example of wisdom, and the lifting of sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) was also welcome.
He also supported initiatives to restore the stability of the Central African Republic and others. Funding of all such initiatives, as well as all those of the United Nations system, must be assured. He suggested setting up a United Nations regional office in Central Africa, along the lines of the one in West Africa. There was also a vital need to set up an international conference to evaluate the implementation of bilateral agreements, and plan further stages of the various peace processes.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) asked how today’s debate could make a difference to the situation in Central Africa. Answering that question, he said the debate had generated a lot of awareness of the problem. There had been valuable information about a multiplicity of initiatives in the region. The debate could also be helpful if it had developed a desire to have a conceptual coherence in the work done by the United Nations system and by others in the region. He suggested that somebody in the United Nations system see if those different initiatives fitted together. Today’s debate could give synergy to those initiatives.
He said there should also be a focus on concrete follow-up actions to be taken after the debate. One of the Council’s structural weaknesses had been the lack of mechanisms to see whether resolutions or presidential statements had been implemented. He suggested auditing decisions and their degree of implementation.
Making everyone aware of their respective responsibilities in development of the region could be another result of the meeting, he said. Donor countries had sent a balanced message, stating what they expected for aid. A better understanding between donors and recipients could make a difference in the region. He regretted that participation from outside the region had been lacking.
VITALIY A. LEPLINSKIY (Russian Federation) said today’s meeting was confirmation of the serious concern of the Council at the situation in Africa, as well as the desire to work out an effective strategy for peacekeeping and development. Crises such as those in Central Africa had a destabilizing effect on entire regions. Multi-track efforts were required by the friends of Africa and Africans themselves in order to break the vicious cycle of underdevelopment, conflicts and the collapse of development programmes.
However, there had been positive developments. Significant success had been achieved in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Active mediation was under way in the Central African Republic and Chad, and the relationship among States of the Great Lakes region had been normalized, thanks to regional and subregional organizations. Regional and subregional organizations could become centres for development and early warning systems for conflict. Peacekeeping operations by those organizations, however, should only be possible with a clear consent from the Council. He concluded by stating that his country would continue to provide whatever assistance it could to African countries.
ALFONSO VALDIVIEZO (Colombia) expressed gratification for confidence-building measures being promoted by the United Nations in the Central African region, such as the standing advisory committee for security questions. There had been no lack of regional efforts to strengthen collective security. However, the resolute support of participating States was a necessity for their effectiveness.
It was also necessary, he said, to better define the region, and regional actors needed to find the appropriate outside actors with whom they could cooperate. The interests of all such actors could not clash with that of a lasting settlement of conflicts in a region. Recent agreements, such as that in Angola, had paved the way for more such progress in the future.
MARIA ANGELICA ARCE DE JEANNET (Mexico) said that proper interaction between the United Nations and regional organizations provided better information on the ground. Urgent action was required of all actors to build peace in Central Africa. Strategic partnership was needed there for peacemaking, the promotion of economic development and institution-building, and conflict-prevention. Moreover, there could be no successful peace initiatives without political will.
She said the members of ECCAS should strengthen the effectiveness of that organization, and there should be a peace-building mechanism within NEPAD, to deal with the many factors that fuelled conflicts. In that regard, economic integration and erasure of the status of the region as high-risk areas for investment were important.
She said that input from the countries in the subregion should be incorporated into any strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations system and regional organizations. No one other than Africans themselves could better design measures that took their interests into account. She reaffirmed Mexico’s support for the recent steps taken by Central African States to advance the consolidation of peace.
STEPHAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said he fully supported the initiatives of regional institutions regarding conflict-prevention and solutions in Africa, as they were the right instruments for guaranteeing peace in the area. He welcomed the CEMAC initiative adopted during its summit in Libreville, Gabon, to deploy an international observation force in the Central African Republic -– that had the Council’s support. He called on Member States to support those countries participating in that force. The United Nations system should also reflect on means to support it.
There was a need to discuss the question of means to bring about regional cooperation, he said. Strengthening such cooperation would help to fully integrate the region’s countries in the world economy. The potential of natural resources was enormous, and in order to profit from that, countries of the region should show the will to cooperate with regional organizations.
The nations of Central Africa would never be viable unless they totally respected human rights, and unless the rule of law was established, as well as a pluralistic and democratic system. The United Nations needed to give heightened attention to the region, and the links between the United Nations and ECCAS should be strengthened. The possibility of an inter-agency mission to the region should be explored, but greater cooperation between the United Nations and the regional organizations would not be possible unless there was progress in the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He welcomed the goodwill demonstrated by countries concerned in recent months, as well as efforts by South Africa and Angola to promote peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the total strength of MONUC should be increased to 8,700 troops.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said that links between subregional, regional and international efforts must be considered in addressing conflict and development. For example, efforts at the subregional level could give substance and shape to the NEPAD initiative, and effective subregional organizations would be building blocks for an effective African Union. The NEPAD and the African Union could provide a context for subregional and national efforts, as well as a framework for international support.
He said he welcomed efforts to revive cooperation in the Central African region, since the problems and potential of nations in the region were clearly interlinked. But expanding regional mechanisms or broadening their remit could not help without a common purpose underpinning such mechanisms. In too much of the region, neighbourly relations were still seen as a "zero-sum game", in that one neighbour’s economic or security gain must be the other’s loss.
What the Central African needed, first and foremost, was a vision of the mutual benefit that could come from peace and cooperation, and of the potential impact of just and far-sighted strategies for developing the region’s vast natural resources. That must form the "glue" of cooperation, before looking at how the international community could best assist. His country supported the proposal for an international conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region, which could help provide a framework for regional peace-building.
GEIR SJOBERG (Norway) said the responsibility for peace-building rested with the countries themselves, but the international community could assist in the process. Peace-building required the deliberate and coordinated use of a broad spectrum of instruments to promote a stable and lasting peace within and between States. He supported a comprehensive approach which included activities to help promote reconciliation, good governance, democracy and respect for human rights. An essential element was disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. Other security-related issues were humanitarian mine action, getting small arms under control, and security-sector reforms.
A further dimension of peace-building was social and economic development, including finding lasting solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons. Infrastructure and key public functions must be rehabilitated or constructed. He said peace-building also encompassed support for education, health and productive sector development. He emphasized the importance of mainstreaming the gender issues in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building. Equal participation of women at all levels of decision-making and implementation was essential for success.
He strongly encouraged close cooperation between the United Nations and the international financial institutions. His country would consider supporting multilateral debt initiatives to facilitate the full engagement in the reconstruction and development efforts of the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Notwithstanding the strides made towards peace in the Great Lakes region, the deplorable security situations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Burundi were a cause of concern and could have negative repercussions on the security and stability of other countries. Poverty and violent conflict had far-reaching repercussions, and all, directly or indirectly, were affected by their destabilizing consequences.
MICHEL DU CLOS (France) said he supported the statement of Denmark on behalf of the European Union. Cooperation with the States in Central Africa, on matters of peace and security, seemed more and more necessary. Trust established between the Council and those States allowed direct contact with the reality on the ground and a way to communicate messages and, on occasion, warnings.
Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all States in the region needed to put pressure on the factions with which they had influence. All foreign forces needed to be withdrawn, and the parties must comply in full with Security
Council resolutions. In addition, MONUC should be deployed in the east of the country. The plundering of the Congo’s resources must be stopped -- it was aided and abetted on all sides and it was not acceptable. In Burundi, the recalcitrant rebel movements must cease their activity and negotiate in good faith, he said. Also, the people of Angola must seize the opportunity to seal the long-awaited peace in their country.
The Central African Republic provided a good example of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organization, as United Nations support followed a regional initiative. As it was an observer force, the primary responsibility for peace lay with the parties themselves. Individuals in the way of good neighbourly relationships should be removed. The experience in the Central African Republic showed that security was not the only consideration in arriving at a peace settlement. Financial support was also essential. He was glad to observe the growing level of involvement of international financial institutions in peace-building processes. The time had come to arrange the modalities for an international conference in the region to cement further such coordination.
Speaking in his national capacity, the Council’s President, MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon), said Central Africa was a region afflicted by conflicts, but also a region that was organizing itself to develop in peace and stability. The region was a strategic nexus with enormous natural resources, which created a lot of envy. Central Africa gave the impression of not knowing how to live from its wealth and appeared to be a zone where development was thwarted because of conflicts.
Central Africa wanted to live off its resources in peace and stability – hence, the revitalization of ECCAS and the establishment of other institutions such as the Central African Early Warning system, the Central African Multinational Force, and the Defence and Security Commission. He said Central Africa could meet the requirements of articles in the Charter that promoted the settlement of conflict through regional action.
The subregion professed its faith in cooperation with the United Nations and appealed for true cooperation with the entire system. The task of development and peace required enormous resources, and there was an inevitable need for cooperation between the Council and regional organizations on peace and security. It was natural to expect African States to play a lead role in the region -- was not natural to expect Africans to carry out those tasks without assistance -- he said, underlining the relevance of the Millennium Declaration in that regard.
Today, it was time to act, he continued. A first area of cooperation was capacity building in the subregion through training of troops, logistic partnerships and cooperation with other African subregional bodies. The Council’s support for an international observation force for the Central African Republic and Chad was showing the way for the future. Another area for cooperation could be support for peace agreements in the region. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as reconstruction, had become very important. All that required a visible, physical presence of the United Nations in Central Africa. The United Nations should design its strategy on a survey on the ground – hence, the urgency to dispatch an inter-agency mission to the territory.
In his capacity as President of the Council, Mr. Belinga-Eboutou announced that a presidential statement would be issued, the draft of which would be circulated among participants in the debate for comments. He then summarized the meeting, welcoming the enthusiasm and great level of participation in the debate.
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