For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No:   UNIS/SC/1192
Release Date:   10 March 2000
 Twenty-nine Speakers Address Security Council in Day-long Debate
On Humanitarian Aspects of Issues before Council

Secretary-General Says Far Too Many Peace Agreements
Collapse from Lack of Post-Conflict Resources to Foster Recovery

 NEW YORK, 9 March (UN Headquarters) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council this morning that far too many peace agreements collapsed before they were implemented, and far too many States lapsed back into conflict, in part because there were not enough resources to foster post-conflict recovery and stability.

 One of 29 speakers to address the Council in its open debate on humanitarian aspects of issues before the Council, the Secretary-General said the Council must find ways to avoid that tragic and wasteful pattern of events.  The Council could strengthen its support for humanitarian action by pressing Member States to fully commit to financing humanitarian programmes.  It could include provisions for financing early post-conflict reconstruction in peacekeeping mandates, and it could address the gaps between the provision of humanitarian assistance and longer-term reconstruction and development as a consequence of funding gaps.

 Mr. Annan added that the humanitarian imperative was sacred but there was also a humanitarian dilemma, whereby the international community was often forced to provide food and clothing not only to victims of conflict but also its architects.  That same dilemma often allowed combatants to use humanitarian aid and its recipients as tools in war.  However, those factors had made the global humanitarian mission more, not less, important.

 The Council President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Alhaj Abdus Samad Azad, said the Council needed to adopt a broad, proactive approach to its Charter responsibilities.  The Council was charged with addressing humanitarian issues relating to situations of conflict and of taking appropriate action.  Flagrant violations of international law sometimes gave rise to conflict, he explained, and peace was difficult to achieve unless humanitarian issues were also addressed.  As the human cost of war increased, the chances of sustaining peace and security receded.  Today’s Council debate was an attempt to discuss areas on which the Council should focus its attention, and actions it could take.

 The representative of India said the Security Council was not authorized to engage in humanitarian action and its participation would not be supported by the United Nations membership.  Council involvement in humanitarian intervention was a recipe for chaos and lawlessness, he said, and when the law was bent it was the weak who suffered.  No role was specified for it by humanitarian or human rights treaty law, and Council intervention would indeed be illegal under the current international legal environment.  Humanitarian assistance should be neutral and offered only when requested by States.  Unless asked, the United Nations should stay the course until a divided society healed itself.

 The United States' representative said he was concerned about the uneven and inadequate protection afforded to internally displaced persons.  It was unacceptable that legalistic distinctions prevented the delivery of assistance to those who were homeless and in need, regardless of whether or not international borders had been crossed.  When examining how the United Nations might coordinate peacekeeping and humanitarian crises, ensuring the security and neutrality of refugee camps must be considered.  The Council should explore the use of a multinational civilian police to establish security in refugee camps, in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

 The representative of the Netherlands called for an integrated approach to the Council’s work in humanitarian assistance.  A strategic framework should integrate all relevant actors and contributors.  Reconciliation was also key in establishing a lasting peace, and the Council should seek full investigation of war crimes to facilitate national reconciliation.  He agreed that civilians experiencing horror, whatever their status, should not be denied relief.  The Security Council should address that issue and also consider providing secure conditions for such civilians, when a State could not provide it.

 Intervention outside the United Nations framework might amount to opening a “Pandora’s box”, Iran's representative said.  There would always be a tendency to cloak designs for expansion under the pretext of humanitarianism and the protection of minorities and ethnic groups.  Also, he said, the Council had been too slow to respond to some African conflicts, and inadequate in committing the measures and resources it had authorized to address problems.  The threat of financial considerations influencing decision-making on threats to international peace and security was a matter of concern.  It could weaken the Council’s authority and that of the Secretary-General in planning and implementing peacekeeping operations.

 The representatives of Council members Canada, France, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali, Tunisia, Namibia, Russian Federation, China, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Argentina also addressed the open debate, as did non-members Egypt, Belarus, Portugal (for the European Union and associated States), South Africa, Norway, Colombia, Pakistan, Austria (speaking for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- OSCE), Bulgaria and Brazil, and the observer from Switzerland.

 Today's open debate began at 11:05 a.m., suspended at 1:35 p.m., resumed at 3:45 p.m. and adjourned at 5:45 p.m.

 Council Work Programme

 The Security Council met this morning to hold an open debate on “maintaining peace and security:  humanitarian aspects of issues before the Council”.

 NOTE: Summarized statements are available upon specific request. Please contact 260 60 - 3336

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