|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/SC/1246|
|Release Date: 21 July 2000|
Conflict Prevention Must Be “Cornerstone of Collective Security in 21st Century”, Secretary-General Tells Members,
As Council Discusses Armed Conflict
Speakers Urge New Culture of Prevention, Peace, Balanced Development
NEW YORK, 20 July (UN Headquarters) -- Conflict prevention must be made the cornerstone of collective security in the twenty-first century, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council this morning as it debated the prevention of armed conflicts.
That would not be achieved by grand gestures or by short-term thinking, but required a change of deeply ingrained attitudes, the Secretary-General said. Leaders must recognize the need for preventive action, sometimes even before signs of crisis were evident. They would also have to acknowledge that the international community could play a constructive role in internal situation, which could strengthen sovereignty rather than weaken it. States would, in turn, have to give the institutions that existed for prevention the backing they so urgently needed.
In the day-long debate, in which 30 statements were heard, speakers urged a new culture of prevention and of peace. Attention must be paid to healthy and balanced economic and social development.
The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union and its associated States, said the best way to prevent conflicts was to deal with their fundamental causes. Responsibility in that area lay with States themselves, but international institutions and donors had a considerable role to play. The rule of law, respect for human rights and the democratic foundation and functioning of political systems should be ensured. There should be room for political, ethnic and religious minorities so that the alternative for them did not fall between their absence from political life or recourse to armed violence, he said.
Speaking as Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the representative of Austria said the United Nations, regional organizations and individual States could and must invest more effort, time and money in conflict prevention. Considering the costs of conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction, in terms of human suffering, as well as financial and operational costs, the investment in conflict prevention might be the most economic and rational investment possible, he said.
The principles that should guide Council action in conflict prevention should be based on the norms of collective security as defined in the Charter, said the representative of Pakistan. The Council must act on the basis of objective assessment of a particular situation instead of responding selectively, and the Secretary-General must play a more active and impartial role, particularly in situations where massive violations of human rights against people under colonial rule or foreign occupation occurred.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said his country had witnessed innocent civilians, mostly women and children, running for their lives from their own countrymen. His country had been overwhelmed by the social and economic dislocation associated with such massive invasions. The security dimension was no less serious. The Council must, therefore, strive to prevent potential conflict from degenerating into instances of armed conflict.
The representative of Rwanda said the tragedies of his country and Srebrenica could have been prevented on the basis of information available. The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could have been avoided before the outbreak of war. "We prevent on the basis of what we know", he said. "The knowledge we have becomes the source of inspiration for us to use, imaginatively and from all angles." Failure to use imaginative mechanisms and collectively to take corrective action could hamper prevention of future conflicts, he added.
Statements were also made by the representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Argentina, Russian Federation, Netherlands, China, Tunisia, Malaysia, Mali, Namibia, Canada, Ukraine, Jamaica, Japan, Colombia, Norway, Brazil, Senegal, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Uganda and Kenya. The representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.
The President of the Council announced that a statement before Council members on the subject of the debate would be issued as document S/PRST/2000/25.
The meeting, which began at 10.20 a.m. was suspended at 1:25 p.m. It resumed at 3:54 p.m. and adjourned at 5:50 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to consider its role in the prevention of armed conflict. The debate was initiated by the Council President for the month of July, Jamaica.
The Council first considered the subject in a two-day debate on 29 and 30 November 1999.
A statement on the subject is expected to be read out by the President of the Council at the end of the debate.
KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said that it was with good reason that interest in the subject of conflict prevention was on the rise -- in the last decade alone, more than 5 million people had lost their lives in wars. Although those wars had been mainly internal, great suffering had been inflicted on countless civilians. While the international community struggled to resolve those conflicts, it was now generally agreed that it would be far better to prevent them.
"We can do better", he continued. "Indeed, the Charter requires us to do better." One of the primary purposes of the Organization was "to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace". It is high time to give prevention the primacy in all the work of the United Nations.
The question then was how, he said. There was by now a consensus that prevention strategies must address the root causes of conflicts, not simply their violent symptoms. And it was also widely understood that, since no two wars were alike, no single prevention strategy would be effective everywhere.
"There is no panacea", he said. Prevention was multidimensional. It was not just a matter of putting in place mechanisms such as early warning, diplomacy, disarmament or sanctions. While all those tactics might be necessary at one time or another, effective prevention should address the structural faults that predisposed a society to conflict.
He said that a recent United Nations University study suggested that simple inequality between rich and poor was not enough to cause violent conflict. What was highly explosive, however, was what the authors called horizontal inequality: when power and resources were unequally distributed between groups that were also differentiated in other ways -– for instance, by race, religion, or language. So-called ethnic conflicts occurred when one group felt it was being discriminated against, or another group enjoyed privileges it feared losing.
Increasingly, then, he said, democracy, human rights, good governance, justice and the rule of law were not rewards to be claimed at the end of the development process, but essential ingredients of development itself. And while poverty alone was not seen as a sufficient cause of conflict, social despair provided fertile soil for conflict, especially when irrigated with undemocratic governance and violations of human rights.
So the best form of long-term conflict prevention was healthy and balanced economic development, he said. And, since peace and development were the two great responsibilities of the United Nations, the Organization, therefore, had a very special role to play.
In that regard, The Secretary-General said that, during his time in office, he had attempted various ways to adapt the work of the United Nations to a special role. Some of his projects included establishing a framework for coordination to improve interdepartmental and inter-agency links and designating the Department of Political Affairs as the focal point for conflict prevention within the United Nations system. That Department had set up a prevention team which met regularly to identify situations where United Nations preventive action could help. "I intend to continue to strengthen the information gathering and analysis capacity of the Secretariat", he continued, "and I look forward to a systematic exchange with members of this Council on ways to do this."
In that regard, he was pleased to note that the Secretariat was not alone in taking prevention more seriously and that the Security Council was now playing its part. A "striking" example of this had been the Council's decision to ban all direct or indirect imports of unlicensed diamonds from Sierra Leone. That had followed a similar ban imposed on diamonds from Angola. "Greed may be one of the driving forces behind some of today's armed conflicts", he said, "but we are not helpless in confronting it." The Council's request that he establish an expert panel on the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was also important.
In his statement at the Council's previous open meeting on prevention, he had suggested a number of steps that could be taken, which included making greater use of fact-finding missions; encouraging States to bring potential conflicts to the attention of the Council, and setting up an informal working group to study early warning and prevention. To those, he would today add a few more suggestions in light of recent experience which suggested that perhaps some of the Charter's provisions relating to prevention had been under-utilized.
First, he suggested that the Council hold periodic meetings at the foreign minister level, as provided for in Article 28, to discuss thematic or actual prevention issues. It could also work more closely with the other principal organs of the United Nations. For instance, prevention issues could be put on the agenda of the monthly meeting between the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly. The Council might also obtain useful information and other assistance from the Economic and Social Council, as envisaged in Article 65.
He went on to suggest that under Article 96, the Council could request an advisory opinion, on any legal question, from the International Court of Justice. Could the Council not make greater use of the Court's capacity to move conflicts from potential battlefields to peaceful arbitration rooms? he asked. In the same spirit, the Council could examine ways of interacting more closely with non-State actors with expertise in prevention. The time had come to review those and other proposals, agree on the most practical ideas, and then act, he said.
But while there was no shortage of ideas for avoiding the sort of human suffering and wanton destruction that had so disfigured the twentieth century, he said, there remained a worrying lack of political will among governments either to show leadership when it was needed or to commit the necessary resources. To that end, he thanked those governments that had contributed generously to the Trust Fund for Preventive Action. Unfortunately, however, there were only seven of them -- for a total of $7.4 million in three years.
"Yes, prevention costs money", he continued, "but intervention, relief, and rebuilding broken societies and lives cost far more." Therefore, it was critical to move from declarations of intent to real leadership at the political level. Leaders must recognize the need for preventive action, sometimes even before any signs of crisis were evident. They would have to sell prevention policies to their publics, even if the costs must be borne today and benefits did not arrive for months or even years.
He said that leaders would also have to acknowledge that the international community could play a constructive role in internal situations, and that this could strengthen sovereignty rather than weaken it. States would, in turn, have to give the institutions that existed for prevention the backing they so urgently needed.
"We must make conflict prevention the cornerstone of collective security in the twenty-first century", he said. That would not be achieved by grand gestures, or by short-term thinking. It required a change of deeply ingrained attitudes.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said he welcomed the Council’s decision to make the prevention of conflict a priority. He stressed the need to address the underlying causes of conflict in hopes of preventing it. To that end, he said, today’s open debate was an important step in that direction.
In the eight months since the Council had last discussed conflict-prevention strategies in detail, the United States had been dismayed by the almost daily reports of burgeoning crises, he said. Developments in Sierra Leone, Angola and the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea recalled similar tragic events in the Balkans and East Timor. All those situations were reminders of the fragility of peace and the shared obligation to use all of the resources available to prevent and defuse conflict and to promote international peace and security. Another example was that this year marked the five-year anniversary of Srebrenica. Early and effective action to prevent the development of armed conflict was essential.
The Council must bring energy, intelligence and imagination to developing the means to mitigate the tensions that bred conflict, he said. Council members must commit themselves wholeheartedly to early, preventive action. They must not only address the consequences of such tragedies, but more importantly, focus on the conditions that gave rise to it. Furthermore, the Council needed a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention, one that encompassed the promotion of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and equal economic opportunity -- all elements of a sure path to long-term global stability and development.
He said the scale and complexity of recent United Nations missions such as those in East Timor and Kosovo, and crises worldwide underlined the importance of close cooperation and coordination among United Nations organs. The United Nations could not act alone. To maximize effectiveness, the Council must augment its use of the existing and capable resources available, in particular, the regional and subregional groups in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America, which had successfully addressed local crises and helped to prevent the escalation of violence.
The Council must enhance further the cooperation between the United Nations and regional groups, he said. The United States encouraged the heightened international attention on the need to take steps to prevent conflict, in particular, the determination of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in pursuing a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the recently announced commitment of the Group of Eight countries to promote a "culture of prevention”. The United States implored all nations to actively support such initiatives.
Another means of improving the United Nations ability to prevent the outbreak of conflict was through the enhancement of its early warning system to allow the Council and the Secretary-General to identify situations before they deteriorated into armed violence. A possible means of streamlining the United Nations conflict prevention and early warning capacity might be to consider reinforcement of the roles of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, in particular, their abilities to identify hotspots and to intervene early. He reiterated United States concern about illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and the threat that their uncontrolled proliferation continued to pose to international peace and security.
He highlighted the role women could play in conflict prevention and peace-building activities. He encouraged the United Nations to make better use of the contributions of women in peace negotiations and operations, particularly by naming more women as special representatives of the Secretary-General and special envoys. International efforts to address mounting political, economic and humanitarian crises could be substantially strengthened by integrating women fully into all phases of the process of conflict resolution, mitigation and prevention, thus, enhancing opportunities for building just and equitable societies.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the Council needed to continue to show real progress in the area of conflict prevention in order to produce practical results. That meant converting words into action.
So far, he continued, the Council’s success had only been partial. Too often, the Council’s intervention had come too late to prevent widespread conflict and destruction. The consequences of such failures were only too obvious: too many belligerent groups targeted the innocent and the defenceless, and gross and systematic violations of human rights were perpetrated. The primary responsibility of the Council -- to maintain international peace and security -- required that body to do better.
He said that the presidential statement that the Council would adopt today would have value only if it was the catalyst for a more systematic and professional approach to the prevention of conflicts. He highlighted three of the ways to achieve this that were highlighted in the statement. The first was early warning. In that regard, the Secretary-General needed to be given the resources to make the early warning capacity of the Secretariat effective in real life. The Secretariat needed to be able to create clear-sighted analysis, comprehensive and integrated planning and well-resourced implementation. There also needed to be a better marshalling of the Secretary-General’s resources.
Second, he said that the Council had its own responsibilities. Its first objective should be to contain threats to the peace. But the Council appeared to be hamstrung in undertaking actual preventive measures well in advance of the outbreak of violence. While there were sensitivities to sovereignty issues, the Council needed to make the psychological leap to addressing conflict at its roots -– economic, social, structural and political. Having achieved that, the Council next needed to find more innovative ways to use the tools at its disposal. A presidential statement would not always do the trick, as all too often the Council’s well-drafted words went ignored. The Council must think imaginatively to come up with new mechanisms that made a difference.
Third, he said, it was now time to make a real effort to improve coordination and information flow within the United Nations system. There needed to be an improved system-wide approach that would consolidate the expertise of all relevant bodies without stifling the capacity of any one of them to do what it did best. In that regard, the Secretary-General should be able to assert his authority throughout the United Nations system so that coordination became a reality.
Finally, he said that the Council needed to pay close attention to the ideas on conflict prevention being discussed this week at the Group of Eight conference in Japan. That Group’s focus on key issues was worthy of note and careful examination. “The United Nations cannot afford to fall behind the game”, he said. The heart of all conflict-prevention strategies should be careful consideration of the needs of ordinary people. Civilians, so often the tragic victims of conflict, were individuals whose rights needed particular protection. For their sake, above all, the international legal framework needed to be upheld, and the Rome Statute and the Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel mines must be signed and ratified by all.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that conflict prevention was not an abstract concept -- prevention of armed conflicts within sovereign States required a comprehensive set of actions addressing the root causes of those conflicts. Under the Charter, the Council had the primary responsibility in the area of peace and security. The Council must assume that responsibility on time and in all situations.
Since last November, there had been at least one case of large-scale inter-State war – that between Ethiopia and Eritrea. While no one would deny the right of legitimate self-defence, he was not convinced that peaceful settlement had been impossible and that all means under Chapter VI of the Charter had been exhausted. The outbreak of such wars, given the magnitude of death, destruction and sufferings, defeated the collective pledge to save succeeding generations from the scourges of war. That imposed grave moral and economic burdens on the countries and peoples concerned and on the international community as a whole.
In most cases of internal armed conflicts, there was a colonial or cold-war legacy, he noted. It went without saying that the Powers concerned had a special role and responsibility. The United Nations actions in those situations might be strengthened by their initiatives and interventions in times of crises, as well as in addressing the long-term causes of conflict.
An effective conflict prevention strategy would require improving the United Nations’ early warning and analysis capabilities, coordination among departments, funds and agencies and closer cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. Durable peace could be achieved only by effectively addressing the root causes or sources of conflicts. The success of conflict prevention would depend largely upon effective coordination among all actors. Democracy, rule of law, good governance, respect for humanitarian law and human rights, and sustainable development constituted the basic foundation of international peace and security.
In preparation for the Summit meeting this weekend, the Group of Eight industrial countries had adopted a historical document directly related to the work of the Council, he said. That document -- the Miyazaki Initiative for Conflict Prevention -- deserved the Council's support. Bangladesh supported consideration of conflict prevention in development assistance strategies. It was also important to recognize the need to ensure a smooth transition from emergency humanitarian assistance to development in post-conflict peace-building.
In the context of long-term strategies, the peoples of the United Nations were the ultimate actors in matters of peace and security. The importance of building and sustaining peace by inculcating a culture of peace must be underlined. Apart from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, an area of major concern was the excessive accumulation and uncontrolled circulation of small arms and light weapons. Given the destabilizing impact of the proliferation and illicit trade in those arms, it was incumbent upon the international community to act seriously on curbing the arms bazaar.
In the specific context some of the ongoing conflicts in Africa, it was critically important to break the nexus between diamonds and arms that sustained wars. Given the enormous importance of conflict prevention, Bangladesh strongly supported the holding of the ministerial meeting in September 2001. He asked the Secretary-General to submit a report containing his recommendations on conflict prevention for consideration by the proposed meeting.
The Council must, as a matter of priority, instil a culture of prevention, he said. Appropriate strategies should be designed in cooperation with regional organizations. Preventive measures could include an early warning system, preventive disarmament and post-conflict peace-building, dispatch of fact-finding missions, development of confidence-building measures and use of civilian police.
For the culture of prevention to be successful, he said, there must be resources, such as the Trust Fund for Preventive Activities. As indicated in the preamble of the Charter, the United Nations had a moral and legal obligation to prevent conflict.
GENNADI M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that it was important and timely to consider the broad range of issues dealing with the prevention of armed conflict. It was important that the tenets of the Charter be adhered to, specifically regarding the role of the Council when dealing with this issue.
He said that an important role in preventive diplomacy belonged to the United Nations, which had at its disposal key tools with which to effect change. However, only clearly expressed consent on the part of States for preventive action could serve as the legal basis for the use of such tools. Any actions taken by the United Nations must be conducted within strict accordance with the Charter, which would help reach conclusions whose legitimacy would be beyond doubt. In that regard, recent adherence to the principles of the Charter in East Timor had made it possible to avoid escalation of the conflict there.
His delegation attached paramount importance to the necessity of early warning systems, he said, as well as to programmes of demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life. The role of civilian police in the prevention of conflict was also important. This and other concrete actions that could be taken by the Council should become part and parcel of a comprehensive prevention policy. It was important to note that such a policy should take into account the opinions and experiences of Member States.
JOOP W. SCHEFFERS (Netherlands) said that tenets of the United Nations Charter that elaborated on the issue of conflict prevention, drafted more than 50 years ago, spoke mainly to the issue of conflicts between States. However, the majority of present-day conflicts on the Security Council's agenda were of an internal, domestic nature, while still threatening international peace and security. Such conflicts would, therefore, require the Council to subscribe to a more flexible interpretation of the Charter. In that regard, the Council's three pillars of conflict prevention should be early warning, early attention and early action.
The creation of a culture of prevention required a broad and integrated approach based on the analysis of root causes of armed conflicts, he continued. When a State was in economic, political or cultural decline, governments were often unable to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence and repression. Indeed, repression was the easiest answer of a weak State to the demands of groups within a society that already felt discriminated against. Such repression usually took the shape of human rights violations. Sadly, a spiral of violence ensued when those groups reacted to abrogation of their rights.
He went on to say that the Council should be especially alert for such signs of deterioration, as they constituted clear early warning signs. In his view, international peace and security in their widest sense were best served by democracy, the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and sustainable development. If those conditions deteriorated within a country, the chances for violent conflict to erupt increased dramatically. In that regard, his delegation was in favour of convening expert panels as early warning instruments. The Netherlands was also in favour of enlarging the financial resources at the Secretary-General's disposal for preventive diplomacy.
Finally, he said that the foundations for post-conflict peace-building should be already laid during peace negotiations. It should involve all segments of society in order to create broad support for the peace process. Negotiations held at high political levels only resulted in paper agreements that were likely to be unsupported by civil society. Therefore, cooperation with non-governmental organizations was of vital importance for the peace process to take root and succeed.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said that as there were diversified manifestations and causes of conflicts in the world, a range of measures should be used to prevent them. However, all measures should be in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The international community should focus on finding peaceful solutions to conflicts and avoid exacerbating them or causing new ones.
He said all measures should respect independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, as well as the will of the peoples of the countries concerned. Non-interference should be a guiding principle. The consent and cooperation of all involved for any measures taken, including early warning and fact-finding measures, was essential.
He said that regional organizations could play a leading role in conflict- prevention efforts, but this applied only to those organization that respected the principles of the United Nations Charter. In addition, he stressed the importance of economic and social development in the prevention of armed conflict. To guarantee the success of United Nations conflict prevention activities, it was critical that experience be built up continuously on the basis of practice.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said prevention was better than cure, according to the old saying. The rise in the human cost of conflict had been witness, and today, more than ever, conflict prevention should be promoted into a world strategy. The international community had the means to pursue this, and there must be the determination to do so. The Security Council had the power to pursue preventive policies, which it should resort to whenever necessary, and with the permission and cooperation of the affected State.
He said preventive disarmament could be a useful tool in conflict prevention. Equally decisive was combating illegal trafficking in small arms. The Council must ensure that its various arms embargoes were respected. Regional organizations also had a role to play in conflict prevention, as provided for in the Charter. Strategies for cooperation, such as early warning systems and information exchange, should be strengthened.
The OAU’s Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution must be strengthened, he said. The Mechanism, established several years ago, had demonstrated Africa’s determination to reduce the impact of conflicts -– a determination requiring the political and financial support of the international community.
A healthy and viable long-term conflict-prevention strategy must take account of the underlying causes of conflicts and of the violence that fed and flowed from them. Planning for long-term economic and social development would substantially eliminate the causes of conflicts. Increased coordination between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Bretton Woods institutions was necessary in that effort.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) stressed the importance, in conflict prevention, of early and in-depth analysis of potential conflict situations. He asked that the Council devote a part of its monthly work programme to that effort.
For this purpose, he said, the Council would benefit from timely and in-depth briefings by the Secretariat. The Secretariat also needed to enhance its early-warning capability to be better able to serve the Secretary-General and the Council in the area of conflict prevention. The Department of Political Affairs would have to be further strengthened and resources should be made available to it to make a real contribution to this aspect of the work of the Council.
He advocated, in addition, more frequent fact-finding missions, preferably before the eruption of violence. Such missions would lie within the realm of preventive diplomacy rather than preventive action, and might best be handled by the Secretary-General or his emissaries, or by individual States prepared to undertake such sensitive diplomacy. His delegation associated itself fully with the draft presidential statement, he added.
CHEICKNA KEITA (Mali) said the Security Council must support regional efforts at conflict prevention, such as the mechanism for conflict prevention of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and that of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)–the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG). He stressed the need for Council support for those bodies.
The Council must also support the curbing of the proliferation of small arms. The West African countries, on the initiative of his country, had established a moratorium on small arms trade. The full respect of legal arms trade should be enforced, particularly in the West Africa region. The international community must make tangible efforts to control the trade in diamonds. Those measures would help ensure that conflicts did not break out.
He also urged the inclusion of disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation programmes in peace agreements. He welcomed the involvement of financial institutions in such programmes, including the private sector. The economic component of those programmes was also important. Civil society must also be involved. The success of conflict prevention also depended on respect for sovereignty.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the root causes of conflict in Africa remained poverty and underdevelopment. He stressed the need to address underlying causes such as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, particularly diamonds.
The primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security lay with the Security Council, he said. However, the effective prevention of conflict and its re-emergence required concerted efforts from a number of actors, including Member States, the Secretary-General, regional organizations and international agencies. He noted that regional organizations and arrangements were playing an increasingly important role in the maintenance of peace and security and conflict prevention. In that regard, his delegation welcome the expanding relationship between the United Nations and the OAU, especially in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peacemaking and conflict resolution.
He stressed that early warning was one of the best ways to avert tragedies going on in different parts of the world. The United Nations should, thus, not only strengthen and improve its own early warning mechanisms, but should also contribute further, together with the international community, to the establishment and functioning of similar systems with regional organizations and arrangements.
ROBERT R. FOWLER (Canada) said conflict-prevention strategies must include efforts to end the culture of impunity. As his delegation had stressed repeatedly, the establishment of the International Criminal Court would serve as a more powerful deterrent to human rights abuse by giving the world a standing capacity to prosecute the most serious crimes known to humankind, rather than relying on an ad hoc approach.
More effective sanctions and peace operations could also contribute to conflict prevention. Preventive peace deployments obviously had an even more direct deterrent effect. The event of May in Sierra Leone had brought home the pitfalls of under-resourcing peace operations. In addition to fielding missions that were not always equal to the demands on the ground, the capacity to plan and deploy them rapidly was still seriously lacking.
Unfortunately, he said, the Council’s decision-making on peacekeeping mandates continued to be unduly driven by outside political and financial considerations rather than operational imperatives. Canada was encouraged that today’s presidential statement would stress the need to fully take into account military requirements and factors on the ground in the design phase of peacekeeping mandates.
Canada strongly welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a high-level panel to review all aspects of United Nations peace operations, and looked forward to a candid report addressing not only the shortcomings of the United Nations Organization, but the role of Member States and the changes needed to improve United Nations peacekeeping. He hoped there would be focus on enhancing the conflict prevention capacity of peace operations.
He noted the progress in adapting the Council’s working methods to the requirements of conflict prevention. There was still too much scope for excluding pressing security issues from the agenda and for ignoring voices that should be heard. The Council, for example, should be more responsive to the early warning signals of conflict provided by information on human rights abuse from the Commission on Human Rights and other credible sources. Regular briefings of the Council by human rights rapporteurs would be useful. Enhanced cooperation and coordination with regional organizations was also important.
The international community should take decisive action to end and resolve conflicts, specifically those marked by a humanitarian imperative or gross violations of human rights. Such robust action, including humanitarian intervention, could serve as a deterrent against future conflicts or violations of international law. Canada supported the Secretary-General’s call in his Millennium Report for further debate on humanitarian intervention and would do its part to move that issue forward. Internal issues, including good governance, respect for human rights, the allocation of scarce resources and the value of human life, were key to the prevention of conflict and must be addressed by all concerned.
VALERI KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said the modern world was still characterized by armed conflicts, which continued to cause human losses, mass violations of human rights, as well as economic, social and cultural devastation. In fact, during the past decade, internal armed conflicts were on the rise. The roots of such conflicts were complex, but it was also generally considered that they originated from political, cultural and economic differences.
Despite those general assessments about the prevalence and causes of conflict, there was no corresponding unanimity within the United Nations system about approaches to eliminate root causes and to ensure that potential crises did not break out or re-emerge. There was, however, a widely growing consensus that it was high time to make the transition from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.
In that regard, he continued, the role of the Security Council in the area of conflict prevention needed to be maintained and strengthened. Prevention, containment and elimination of armed conflicts constituted a major task of the Council in view of its primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security. At the same time, the task of eliminating root causes of armed conflicts, in particular, those causes of economic, social or humanitarian nature, fell largely under the mandate of other United Nations organs or specialized agencies. This pointed to the need for increased coordination and a clear division of labour between the Security Council and the rest of the United Nations system.
It was his strong belief that any preventive measures taken by the Council should be based on the Charter, as well as the principles and norms of international law. The Council should also more actively employ its past experiences in this area, and with the consent of a host country, conduct missions to areas of likely conflicts. The Secretary-General should also bring to the Council's attention any matter which might threaten international peace and security. Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations was also necessary in this area.
He said the Council could act more successfully in discharging its conflict prevention duties if it could rely on the enhanced United Nations rapid reaction capability. In that regard, his delegation supported further development of the United Nations Standby Arrangements System, as well as the earliest possible completion of the Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters.
PAUL ROBERTSON (Jamaica), Council President, in his national capacity, said that his delegation had called for the current discussion on the prevention of armed conflict out of a deep conviction that, unless strong emphasis was placed on this important international issue, the new century could well become more deadly than the last. In that instance, the United Nations and other international bodies could be caught in an endless struggle to restore peace among warring groups.
As many nations grew weary of the burdens of peacemaking and peacekeeping, the challenge to find new paths and stability through avoiding conflict had become more critical, he continued. The tragedies witnessed in Rwanda and the Balkans had stirred a global community stung by the horror of these conflicts to say “never again”. The means by which that sentiment might be translated into reality were not altogether clear, however. The mere knowledge of those and other international tragedies would not be enough to correct the problem. “The simple fact is that the prevention of conflict is infinitely better than heroic measures to secure victory or restore peace”, he said.
The international community must work to find a means of defusing prevalent circumstances of ethnic hatred, bigotry and religious intolerance and misplaced nationalistic tendencies that often spiralled out of control and sparked conflicts. The international community must also specifically examine the often-overlooked economic underpinnings of conflict, which often provided fertile ground for the emergence of tensions. It was a sad irony that many societies faced with unresolved tensions were also confronted with economic hardships. Those tensions often defined the parties in a struggle for scarce resources and increased the potential for armed conflict.
It was also true, he continued, that the international community must convert the fruits of dialogue on conflict prevention into a road made for peace. Radical initiatives, such as the Council's own move to boldly challenge the sinister relationship between diamond trading and bloody conflict in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in Africa, pointed to a new day in the international community's pursuit of peace. Still, an all-out effort must be made to stem the illicit trafficking of small arms. Those weapons were the insidious tools of the trade that precipitated and sustained most armed conflicts and fuelled increasing levels of violent crime.
He said that it was important for the international community not to adopt a scale of priorities, which gave greater importance to some regions over others. It must base its decisions on the objective merits of each situation; especially the severity of the conflict and capacity for death and destruction that each brought. It was important to note that the cost of war vastly outstripped the resources required for the institutions that promoted conflict prevention and resolution. "We must commit to providing the United Nations and relevant regional bodies with resources necessary to enable timely and effective action to avert or quickly resolve conflicts", he said.
Starving those entities of scarce resources was a recipe for disaster, he continued. At the same time, however, there must also be a renewed commitment to providing the means for economically empowering war-torn or unstable societies. A proper mix of support and fostering the principles of fairness justice and good governance in the policies of key institutions could only help efforts to reduce the tensions that led to deadly conflict.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta, said the issue of conflict prevention had often been overlooked in peacekeeping and the maintenance of international peace and security, even though the Charter provided for it. He underlined the importance of prevention and the difficulties it raised. Conflict prevention was not risk-free, and must be accepted, since by not doing so States left themselves open to even greater difficulties. The difficulty with conflict prevention was also due to the problem of its compatibility with the principle of the sovereignty of States.
Most of the current conflicts were internal, resulting from economic and/or political problems: seizure of power and wealth by a political or ethnic group; failure to comply with the rights of minority groups; secessionism. He pointed out that local forces had main responsibility for conflict prevention. For several years the Security Council had shown that cases it dealt with had international repercussions. The Council could adapt to developments in the very nature of conflicts, including from the point of view of prevention. Such adaptation should be welcomed and encouraged.
The European Union considered that the best way to prevent conflicts was to deal with their fundamental causes, he said. Responsibility in that area lay with States themselves, but international institutions and donors had a not inconsiderable role to play. The first aspect was economic and social development -- an essential factor in the prevention of conflicts. The industrialized countries could and must help the developing countries by placing at their disposal technological, financial and human resources, and by maintaining a proper level of aid, including government aid, for development.
The rule of law, respect for human rights and the democratic foundation and functioning of political systems should be ensured. Political life should not be based on an "all or nothing" approach. There should be room for political, ethnic and religious minorities and for different religions so that the alternative for them did not fall between their absence from political life or recourse to armed violence.
The importance of good governance could not be overemphasized, he said. It covered several aspects, including the exploitation of resources for the benefit of all and not the enrichment of a small group; the sound management of public finances so as to provide basic services for the entire population; anti-corruption measures; administration in the general interest of all and not solely for the interest of those in government; and accountability of those in government.
In addition to dealing with causes, he said, it was also necessary to remove the sources that were funding and fuelling conflicts. The diamond market must be regulated through boosting cooperating between States, marketing centres, industrialists and regional organizations. The efforts of producer States in tightening up their regulations and their ways of stopping trafficking must be supported. The certifying of rough diamonds must be looked into and codes of conduct for industrialists defined. An international agency must be established to promote transparency and responsibility. Action must be also be taken against destabilizing stockpiling of and trafficking in light and small calibre weapons.
He said that regional organizations also had a role to play. The European Union was a successful model for conflict prevention. It rejoiced in the similar path chosen by regional organizations such as ECOWAS and ASEAN.
On the role of the Council, he said its main responsibility in peace and security also extended to the prevention of armed conflict. It fell to it to investigate any dispute or situation to determine whether it could degenerate into armed conflict, and to take appropriate measures. The Council must assume that responsibility in full, taking into account the change in the nature of conflicts -- now 90 per cent. Its effectiveness would also improve through greater account being taken of that dimension.
The Council had at its disposal a range of resources of which it must avail itself as necessary, he said. They included Security Council's missions; preventive disarmament and arms embargoes for preventive purposes; the fight against illegal trafficking in mineral raw materials and embargoes on diamonds; the establishment of demilitarized zones; and preventive deployment, including in the field of civilian police.
YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said his Government believed that the international community should address the situation of potential conflict by taking a comprehensive approach that combined political, economic, social and humanitarian measures, depending on the specific requirements of the situation. The root causes of conflicts must be eliminated through measures to alleviate poverty.
Post-conflict peace-building efforts to prevent the recurrence of conflicts were also important. Assistance must also be provided for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers on top of deployment of peacekeeping personnel.
A meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Group of Eight, which Japan had chaired on 12 and 13 July, had emphasized the importance of the nourishment of a culture of prevention. As described in the document “Miyazaki Initiatives for Conflict Prevention”, which was adopted at that meeting in Japan, the Group of Eight Foreign Ministers had focused on a range of issues. They included the question of small arms and light weapons, the relationship between conflict and development, the need to restrict illicit trade in diamonds, protection of children in armed conflict and the role of civilian police in conflict prevention.
The Security Council could play a more active role in conflict prevention, particularly in detecting potential conflict situations, he said, adding that the Secretary-General could also bring potentially violent situations to the attention of the Council. Various other actors, including the parties involved in conflict and interested States, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and regional organizations such as the OAU and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), had an essential part to play in the prevention of conflicts.
Japan had, for its part, taken a number of initiatives to foster the culture of prevention. It hosted a series of international conferences on such subjects as the role of non-governmental organizations in conflict prevention and the implications of conflict for African development. It had also contributed, to date, $1.2 million to the OAU Peace Fund at the United Nations, to help develop a regional mechanism for conflict prevention. Approximately $200,000 of the amount had been earmarked to support OAU’s efforts to develop an early warning system in Africa.
Japan had also contributed $2 million to the United Nations Trust Fund for preventing the illegal transfer of weapons and reducing the number of small arms in post-conflict zones. It had also recently organized a preparatory workshop in Tokyo in connection with the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons to be held next year.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria), speaking as Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the organization had been created as a means of conflict prevention during the cold war, and also as a standing conference to de-escalate the bipolar political tension in Europe. It was this year commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signature of the Helsinki Final Act, the basic document in post-war Europe that had set the parameters for a dialogue across the iron curtain. The dialogue that ensued had contributed significantly to the reduction of mistrust and facilitated the political developments in and after 1989, including the peaceful changes of international borders.
The OSCE had not been able to prevent the outbreak of armed conflict in some cases, most notably in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, he said. It had, however, learned its lessons and adopted a multifaceted approach to conflict prevention. To address the root causes of conflict, it had established a Centre for Conflict Prevention in Vienna, as well as an Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw and instituted a High Commissioner for Minorities, as well as a Representative for the Freedom of the Media. In addition to this institutional framework, the OSCE had deployed field missions, such as, currently, in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania, Georgia, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, Republic of Moldova and Tajikistan.
He said that in addressing the OSCE’s role in conflict prevention at the ceremony commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act yesterday, the Foreign Minister of Austria, the Chairperson in Office of the Organization, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, had elaborated general principles that could also be of relevance to the United Nations and, in particular, the Security Council. Those elements were the indivisibility and universality of security, the need for a culture of dialogue, the importance of respect for human rights, flexibility of the organization, international cooperation and effectiveness of the measures.
The United Nations, regional organizations and individual States could and must invest more effort, time and money in conflict prevention. Considering the costs of conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction, in terms of human suffering, as well as financial and operational means, the investment in conflict prevention might be the most economic and rational investment possible, he said.
The meeting was suspended at 1:25 p.m.
When the meeting resumed at 3:54 p.m., ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the Council had previously spoken of the need to initiate a culture of prevention, and it was important to note that now the international community had taken hold of the idea. It was, however, the duty of the Council not only to address preventive measures, but also to examine the root causes of conflict. The Council’s duty also extended to international education for peace.
He said that the public diplomacy of the Council could be an effective source of prevention. The Council’s efforts could be better executed and more effective only if they were in keeping with the principles of the Charter. Particularly, the Council should use the tenets of the Charter to heighten vigilance to peace agreements and post-conflict agreements.
Poverty, he continued, imperilled peace because it made countries more vulnerable to war. The search for international peace and security required an immediate solution to the poverty issue. It was recognized, however, that the cost of extended peace operations might at times prove prohibitive. The economic dimensions of conflict must be examined more closely, particularly in light of the fact that protracted intra-State conflicts seemed to be on the rise. The Council must find innovative measures to confront these situations.
He went on to say that disarmament was also important to promoting a culture of peace. The relationship between conflict and illegal trafficking in arms was very close, and the Council must take specific measures into account to address that issue. The expertise of the International Criminal Court could be helpful -- the Rome Statute must be ratified by all.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) expressed concern that the Council's presidential statement to be issued after the debate failed to mention political disputes as one of the causes of conflicts. The overwhelming number of issues currently on the Council's agenda constituted political disputes. In addressing the issue, particular attention should be paid to resolving outstanding disputes, which posed a serious threat to international peace and security. A case in point was the illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and the denial to the people of that territory of their right to determine their own future. The mechanism for conflict prevention was rooted in the United Nations Charter, which empowered the Security Council to call on parties to settle disputes or situations that might lead to breach of peace by "peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law".
He said the Council should not shirk its responsibility by determining that concerned parties should resolve bilateral disputes, because several of those, particularly with implications for global peace and security, could be considered international. The principles that should guide action on conflict prevention should be based on the norms of collective security as defined in the Charter. Also, the principles of State sovereignty must be respected and an effective early warning system should be evolved to be able to identify prospective conflict areas without discrimination.
Furthermore, he added, the Security Council must act on the basis of objective assessment of a particular situation, instead of responding selectively, and the Secretary-General must play a more active and impartial role, particularly in situations where massive violations of human rights against people under colonial rule or foreign occupation occurred.
More effective peacemaking efforts should be pursued wherever peacekeeping operations were based, and the tendency to bypass the Organization must be avoided, he said. While preventive deployment could be considered as a measure of conflict prevention, "preventive disarmament" as a concept needed further discussion, because it militated against the inherent right to self-defence as sanctified in the Charter. Also, the Council should hold open debates before finalizing its response to any conflict situation.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said Member States must support the analytical and early warning capacity of the United Nations and mobilize the political will in the Council to enable early reaction to situations before disputes grew into open and violent conflicts. Preventive diplomacy was among the important instruments that could be used currently, and the conflict prevention capacity of the Secretary-General must be strengthened through, among other things, contributions to the Trust Fund for Preventive Action. Efforts to facilitate peaceful mediation and dialogue must be encouraged, and consistent political and material support must be given to peacekeeping operations.
He said that unless the root causes of conflict could be identified, lasting peace, stability and democracy would be elusive. By promoting economic and social development, and environmental protection, conflicts caused by poverty, inequality and inadequate access to resources could be prevented. Integration processes were crucial, both to avoid war and violence, and to re-establish peace after armed conflicts. It was obvious that marginalization and disintegrated groups and individuals could create breeding grounds for violent conflicts. Therefore, the international community must focus on comprehensive peace-building.
The peace and security activities of the Council could not take place in isolation from the humanitarian and development activities of the Economic and Social Council, he noted. More cooperation within the framework of the respective mandates was needed. In that light, ensuring sustainable social and economic development was probably the most challenging aspect of conflict prevention and peace-building. Donor countries must fulfil their moral and political commitments to provide the United Nations with a solid financial base to implement its mandates for peace and development. The members of the Security Council had a particular responsibility to contribute to the ability and willingness of the international community in its engagement of long-term and comprehensive peace-building efforts.
LUIZ TUPY CALDES DE MOURA (Brazil) said that the issue of conflict prevention had generated in-depth research, the publication of numerous studies and renewed interest of Member States. Since the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization last year, prevention had become a buzzword in the United Nations. Such developments reinforced the common understanding that prevention was always a better strategy than mending damages or healing wounds after the outbreak of conflicts. There was no single cause of conflict. The root causes might incorporate cultural, economic, developmental and institutional dimensions, as well as societal and international levels. There was also no single formula for conflict prevention.
Preventive action should be taken after an assessment of the specifics of each situation, he said. He hoped that the conditions for a strong, concrete basis for a comprehensive, long-term conflict-prevention strategy would be created when the eradication of poverty was no longer a vague ideal. The respect for human rights must also become a universal concern in daily life in all countries of the world. Lack of development should never be used to justify the horrors seen in recent conflicts.
Any comprehensive strategy or prevention should take into account the need for promoting and protecting human rights, fostering development and eradicating poverty, he said. The draft presidential statement pointed in the right direction and recognized that one of the most powerful and less controversial tools at the disposal of the Council was diplomacy. The Council was in a unique position to promote, through negotiation and persuasion, the ascendancy of reason where intolerance and misunderstanding normally prevailed. Preventive deployment and disarmament were equally useful means of prevention.
Examples of frustrated peace accords had become all too frequent, he said. The efforts in the areas of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration must be coupled with a clear commitment of the international community to reconstruction, rehabilitation and long-term development. Conflict prevention could not be considered an exotic theme. It was now an integral part of the international agenda and was no longer an uncharted field.
IBRA DEGUÈNE KA (Senegal) said that the subject of the prevention of conflict -- an important link in the chain of international security -- remained at the heart of discussions within the international community. The untiring search to give thought to an effective policy that addressed this issue could not be attempted, however, without first tackling the other issues linked to it -- post-conflict peace-building, and political, economic and social development were necessary elements of a proper discussion on the issue. It was also important to note that the poverty, illness, hunger and depression that were raging throughout the world were all fuel for the fires of conflict. Those numerous problems, which were both the cause and the result of conflict, deserved constant vigilance by the Council.
He said that the Council could play a high priority role in curtailing the dissemination of light arms. It was unquestionable that the mass flows of arms were fuelling insecurity. The concern now was not only to restrict distribution, but to stop trade and eradicate the sources. The Council should support countries such as the combined nations of ECOWAS, which had taken bold and decisive action in this regard.
There was also a need for the Council to establish a special fund to support strategies for preventive measures, he said. Thus, it would no longer be necessary for the United Nations to sink enormous sums into protracted post-conflict situations. In that regard, the OAU had decided to establish a fund for the promotion of a culture of peace in order to strengthen African capacity for post-conflict peace-building. Such unprecedented determination and efforts at peace prevention should be supported by the international community.
Finally, he emphasized that one of the major challenges for the United Nations over the next few years would be to establish an international early warning mechanism, thus, replacing the culture of response with one of prevention. Moreover, the role of the Security Council in conflict prevention could be strengthened in several ways, including sending good offices missions to potential areas of conflict and establishing cooperation within the United Nations community and regional agencies to set up regional early warning mechanisms. Further, resources provided by the Secretary-General should be put to better use.
MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said his delegation shared the widely held view that preventive strategies were preferable to reactive ones. They were also highly cost-effective. The sums they required paled in comparison to the huge costs involved in the unconscionable loss of human life and material devastation resulting from conflicts. Hence, the Security Council should go farther not only in dealing with conflicts, but also in deterring the emergence of new tragedies.
He said that it was pertinent to note, however, that as all conflict situations were different, initiatives must be undertaken on a case-by-case basis and with the consent of the States concerned to take into account their legitimate interests and to be consistent with the principles of the Charter. Failure to recognize those immutable principles might prove to be counter-productive.
He went on to say that in the task of preventing disputes from arising between States, the Council should first address all the underlying causes through confidence-building measures encompassing both military and non-military aspects, such as political and socio-economic matters. The Council should also reconcile the divergent security interests of those States, paving the way for openness and transparency in military matters, and encourage regional organizations to play an active role in implementing preventive measures appropriate for the region.
He said that while the Council's record in containing conflicts was noteworthy, it was clear that machinery for pre-empting conflicts and disasters was not as effective as it should be. This called for a reassessment of the existing approaches, as well as the exploration of new modalities. First, the important role of the General Assembly as a "universal forum" should be recognized. Second, the Council's periodic review of situations that were prone to conflict had proved invaluable and should be continued. Third, Member States should support the efforts of the United Nations system with regard to preventive activities.
Further, he said that projections by the Economic and Social Council of problems that might lead to the breakdown of political systems attendant to crisis would make a significant contribution. Finally, he said the Secretary-General also had a role to play in consulting regularly with Member States and in monitoring potentially dangerous situations. The Secretary-General should also bring potential powder kegs to the attention of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Those and other measures would ensure that conflict prevention would remain at the top of the international community's agenda, as well as improve and strengthen the capacity of the United Nations in this field.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said while many peacekeeping efforts had proven successful, others had raised important questions about mandates and resources. Effective conflict prevention was a complex endeavour, which entailed substantive measures, including political dialogue, arms control, the rule of law, respect for human rights, economic and social development, and good governance. The issue of sovereignty was often linked to conflict prevention. Although conflict prevention was obviously more cost-effective than post-conflict management, it was often difficult to assess the optimum level of engagement when exercising preventive measures. The true cost of inaction could only be felt after the disaster had occurred.
He suggested that the Security Council, in close collaboration with the Secretary-General, must upgrade its capabilities to assess the likelihood of armed conflict in volatile situations and devise strategies for identifying suitable measures at each step of evolving crises. Emphasis must be placed on an effective early warning mechanism, on better use of preventive monitoring and on preventive peacekeeping missions. To that end, the successes of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) could be applied in other unstable situations. In developing a longer-term strategy, the United Nations should continue its efforts to identify root causes of conflicts, and the Security Council should take a more comprehensive and integrated approach to conflict prevention through stronger cooperation with other bodies and agencies in the Organization.
The Council should also work closely with major regional organizations and governments as it had done in East Timor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kosovo, he said. In addition, the international legal framework should be strengthened and the International Criminal Court could play a future role in eradicating the current "culture of impunity". Legal instruments such as the ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda set important precedents for deterring would-be violators of genocide and war crimes. Also, concerned parties must pursue dialogue and reconciliation on their own initiative and, in that light, the recently held inter-Korean summit constituted a major milestone in the pursuit of peace.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said his country, being one of those in the Great Lakes region of Africa, was painfully aware of the ravages of armed conflict -– not only in terms of its economic cost, but, more importantly, the humanitarian tragedy it unravelled. His country was host to thousands of refugees. It had witnessed innocent civilians, mostly women and children, running for their lives from their own countrymen. It had been overwhelmed by the social and economic dislocation associated with such massive invasions. The security dimension was no less serious. The subject of the Council’s attention had a very special bearing on the real concerns of Tanzanians.
The role of the Security Council in preventing armed conflict could be best examined, he said, in the light of the recent experiences. With a few exceptions, the most frequent type of armed conflicts having the highest toll on the civilian population was the intra-State armed conflict. In Rwanda and Kosovo, the Council had failed. In Angola, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia/Eritrea, it had tried to redeem its failures and should be commended for its genuine efforts.
His country was concerned and distressed that in the face of armed conflict or obvious atrocities, the Council could fail to act in unison and in time. This had tragic consequences for its legitimacy. The Council must, therefore, strive to prevent potential conflict from degenerating into instances of armed conflict.
The Council must continue to support the Secretary-General’s initiatives, he said. It must commit itself to extending its sustained support, including provision of adequate resources, to processes instituted to resolve conflicts either through the auspices of the United Nations or regional arrangements.
The United Nations and particularly the Security Council must prepare contingency arrangements for the outcome of peace processes, he said. Countries in conflict would require the help of the Council and the international community to reconstruct and to build democratic institutions for lasting peace. The Council must also strengthen cooperation with regional arrangements. A deliberate strategy must be pursued to enhance their capacities and effectiveness for preventive action at the regional level.
SEMAKULA KIWANUKA (Uganda) said the Security Council, the United Nations and the international community must adopt a more aggressive approach to conflict prevention and give it high priority. That could be done through the adoption of rapid response mechanisms, including the promotion of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and gender equality. Poverty eradication and preventive development were a must in tackling the root causes of conflict. The Security Council must assist all efforts to build durable democratic structures and institutions, the bedrock of which was the protection of human rights, respect and guarantee of the rule of law, a free press and freedom of expression.
He said political and economic exclusion were the major causes of conflicts within States. Policies that put emphasis on inclusiveness and access for all to political power and economic resources were major building blocks for durable peace.
Conflict prevention demanded leadership from the Security Council, especially from the industrialized rich nations who should see the persistence of armed conflicts as a threat to their own security and economic well-being, he said. The Security Council of the twenty-first century should see poverty as a threat to security, and democracy and sustainable economic development as the most effective mechanism against armed conflict.
MARX G.N. KAHENDE (Kenya) said that an end to conflict in Africa was a prerequisite for social and economic progress. The OAU’s central organ for conflict resolution had gone a long way in dealing with explosive situations through negotiations. A lot, however, remained to be done, and the Security Council must boost those efforts.
Current efforts to deal with the issue of the proliferation of small arms should be given the urgency they deserved. The Council must bring its weight to bear in areas where conflicts were taking place. Africa should be given the same weight as other regions in terms of speedy deployment of peacekeeping forces and their strength. The United Nations must continue to work closely with the OAU, regional organizations and strategic and peace institutions to tackle the threat of conflicts. Conflicts in Africa would be difficult to prevent as long as the region continued to wallow in poverty and despair, he said.
JOSEPH MUTABOBA (Rwanda) said that despite numerous efforts, the Security Council had, for the most part, failed to prevent armed conflicts that disrupted peace and security in the world. However, the Council's poor record in this regard should not encourage it to shy away from addressing this issue. Indeed, it should encourage the Council to increase and improve its efforts.
He felt that the imbalance in the success of the Council's initiatives was mainly due to its conservative methods. It was as if the world had not evolved since the creation of the United Nations. However, resistance to change was unfortunate and should not be taken lightly if the Council wanted to change in its endeavours towards prevention of armed conflict.
He went on to say that when the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of today's debate about having taken "effective collective measures for the prevention of conflict", those measures had created division among the Council's members. And where identifiable measures had actually been taken, they were bogged down in the form of mere resolutions, not actions. Further, he said that where blatant threats to peace and security had been brought to light, no timely action had been taken. This was the grim reality that had been creating a precedent within the international community. It should be kept in the Organization’s daily "checks and balances” rather than ignored.
Finally, he said that maintaining peace and security in the world was nothing but keeping momentum. Billions of tons of information were generated for policy-makers to consider, but what counted was not the volume of information, but rather what was done with it. The tragedies of Rwanda and Srebrenica could have been prevented on the basis of information available. The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could have been avoided before the outbreak of war. "We prevent on the basis of what we know", he said, "the knowledge we have becomes the source of inspiration for us to use, imaginatively and from all angles." Failure to use imaginative mechanisms and collectively take corrective action could hamper prevention of future conflicts.
MOKHTAR LAMANI, Permanent Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that peace-building had generally become more complex; therefore, conflict prevention should be one of the main focuses of the United Nations. It was generally felt that a culture of prevention was preferable to a culture of reaction.
It was important to note, however, that conflict prevention mechanisms would differ from one region to the next because causes of conflict differed. That was what made the coordination of activities within the United Nations system so important. In that regard, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiatives to meet with and coordinate the activities of regional bodies.
Text of Presidential Statement
The Council President’s statement reads, as follows:
“The Security Council recalls the statement of its President of 30 November 1999 (S/PRST/1999/34), 16 September 1998 (S/PRST/1998/28), 24 September 1998 (S/PRST/1998/29), 30 November 1998 (S/PRST/1998/35), 23 March 2000 (S/PRST/2000/10), and further recalls Security Council resolutions 1196(1998) of 16 September 1998, 1197(1198) of 18 September 1998, 1208(1998) of 19 November 1998, 1209(1998) of 19 November 1998. Bearing in mind its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security, it reaffirms its role in taking appropriate steps aimed at the prevention of armed conflicts. It affirms its commitment to the principles of the political independence, sovereign equality and territorial integrity of all States. The Council also affirms the need for respect for human rights and the rule of law.
“The Security Council stresses the need for the maintenance of regional and international peace and stability and friendly relations among all States, and underlines the overriding humanitarian and moral imperative, as well as the economic advantages of preventing the outbreak and escalation of conflicts. It highlights, in this regard, the need to create a culture of prevention. The Council reaffirms its belief that early warning, preventive diplomacy, preventive deployment, preventive disarmament, and post-conflict peace building are interdependent and complementary components of a comprehensive conflict-prevention strategy. The Council emphasizes its continuing commitment to addressing the prevention of armed conflicts in all regions of the world.
“The Security Council recognizes that peace is not only the absence of conflict, but requires a positive, dynamic, participatory process where dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation. Bearing in mind that causes of conflict are often nurtured in the minds of human beings, the Council calls on Member States, relevant bodies of the United Nations system and other relevant organizations to promote a culture of peace. It recognizes the importance of appropriate implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 1999 (A/RES/53/243), for preventing violence and conflicts, as well as strengthening efforts aimed at the creation of conditions of peace and its consolidation through post-conflict peace building.
“The Security Council recalls its important role in the peaceful settlement of disputes under Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations. It reaffirms the importance of its consideration of all situations which might deteriorate into armed conflicts and to consider follow-up action, as appropriate. In this regard, it expresses continued willingness to consider the use of Council missions, with the consent of host countries, in order to determine whether any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, and to make recommendations for action by the Security Council, as appropriate.
“The Security Council highlights the importance of the full support of all States for the efforts of the Security Council and other relevant United Nations organs and agencies in developing and implementing appropriate strategies for the prevention of armed conflicts in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. The Council underlines the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes and recalls the obligation of the parties to disputes to seek actively a peaceful solution in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations. The Council also recalls the obligation of all Member States to accept and carry out its decisions, including those for the prevention of armed conflict.
“The Security Council also stresses the importance of a coordinated international response to economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems, which are often the root causes of armed conflicts.
“The Security Council recalls the essential role of the Secretary-General in the prevention of armed conflicts, in accordance with Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations, and expresses its willingness to take appropriate preventive action in response to matters brought to its attention by States or the Secretary-General and which it deems likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council encourages the ongoing efforts within the United Nations system to enhance its early warning capacity and notes, in this regard, the importance of drawing on information from a variety of sources, given the multiple factors that contribute to conflict. It invites the Secretary-General to make recommendations to the Council, taking into account the views of Member States, and in light of past experiences, on the most effective and appropriate early warning strategies, bearing in mind the need to link early warning with early response. The Council invites the Secretary-General to present to the Council reports on such disputes, including, as appropriate, early warning and proposals for preventive measures.
“The Security Council recognizes the important role regional organizations and arrangements play in the prevention of armed conflicts, including through the development of confidence- and security-building measures, and re-emphasizes the need for effective and sustained cooperation and coordination between the United Nations and these regional organizations and arrangements in the prevention of armed conflict, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations. It expresses it willingness, within its responsibilities, to support the efforts of the Secretary-General in collaborating with the leadership of regional organizations and arrangements in order to develop strategies and programmes to be employed at the regional level. In this regard, it encourages the strengthening of modalities of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations and arrangements, including in early warning and the mutual exchange of information. It recognizes the need to enhance the capacity of the Organization of African Unity and, in particular, its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution.
“The Security Council recognizes the importance of effective post-conflict peace-building strategies in preventing the re-emergence of conflicts. In this context, it also recognizes the need for close cooperation among bodies of the United Nations system and with other organizations and arrangements in the area of post-conflict peace-building, and expresses its willingness to consider ways to improve such cooperation. It also stresses that the design of peacekeeping mandates which fully take into account operational military requirements and other relevant situations on the ground could help prevent the re-emergence of conflicts. It highlights the importance of strengthening its cooperation with the Economic and Social Council, in accordance with Article 65 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 which are often the root causes of conflicts. It 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 stresses the importance of international assistance in this regard.
“The Security Council highlights the importance of preventive deployment in armed conflicts and reiterates its willingness to consider the deployment, with the consent of the host country, of preventive missions in appropriate circumstances.
“The Security Council recalls the emphasis it placed in its statement of 23 March 2000 on the process of disarmament, demobilization, and re-integration, which can be vital in stabilizing post-conflict situations, reducing the likelihood of renewed violence and facilitating the transition from conflict to normalcy and development. The Council will also take appropriate measures, with the consent of the State concerned, aimed at preventing the recurrence of armed conflicts, through, inter alia, developing adequate programmes for the disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of ex-combatants, including child soldiers.
“The Security Council recognizes the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building. It stresses the importance of their increased participation in all aspects of the conflict prevention and resolution process.
“The Security Council recognizes the fact that the illegal exploitation of and trade in natural resources, particularly diamonds, can contribute to the escalation of conflicts. The Council is particularly concerned that the proceeds from the illegal exploitation of and trade in high value commodities such as diamonds are providing funds for arms purchases, thus aggravating conflicts and humanitarian crises, in particular, in Africa. It, therefore, expresses its willingness to seek the cooperation of Member States and the business community in curbing the illegal exploitation of and trade in of these resources, particularly diamonds, and in effectively implementing the measures imposed by its relevant resolutions aimed at curbing illicit diamond flows.
“The Security Council, while fully conscious of the responsibilities of other United Nations organs, emphasizes the crucial importance of disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery for the maintenance of international peace and security.
“The Security Council also highlights, in particular, the importance of preventive disarmament in averting armed conflicts, and expresses concern that the proliferation, excessive and destabilizing accumulation and circulation of small arms and light weapons in many parts of the world have contributed to the intensity and duration of armed conflicts and pose a threat to peace and security. It calls upon States, international organizations and the business community to increase their efforts for prevention of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.
“The Security Council also emphasizes the importance of a continued coordinated regional and international action with regard to small arms and welcomes initiatives such as the Organization of American States Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials, the European Union/Southern African Development Community Action Programme for Tackling Arms Trafficking in Southern Africa and the Economic Community of West African States Moratorium on Light Weapons. It welcomes and encourages efforts to prevent and combat the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of and the illicit trafficking in small arms.
“The Security Council underlines the vital importance of effective national regulations and controls on small arms transfers. The Council also encourages Governments to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in these transactions. It also calls for complementary supply- and demand-side measures, including those against illegal diversion and re-export. It also underlines the obligation of all States to enforce existing arms interdiction measures. The Council emphasizes that the prevention of illicit trafficking is of immediate concern in the global search for ways and means to curb the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of small arms, especially in regions of conflict.
“The Security Council recognizes the importance of adequate, stable and predictable resources for preventive action. The Council also recognizes the importance of consistent funding for long-term preventive activities. The Council encourages the consideration of conflict prevention in development assistance strategies and recognition of the need to ensure a smooth transition from emergency humanitarian assistance to development in the post-conflict stage.
“The Security Council acknowledges the important activities supported by the Trust Fund for Preventive Action and encourages Member States to contribute to this Trust Fund.
“The Security Council recognizes the increasing demand for civilian police as a critical element in peacekeeping operations as part of the general approach to conflict prevention. It calls upon Member States to explore ways to meet this demand in a timely and effective way. The Council invites the Secretary-General to include his recommendations in this respect in the report on conflict prevention requested below.
“The Security Council underlines the need for continued in-depth consideration of this issue and, in this regard, invites the Secretary-General to submit to the Council, by May 2001, a report containing an analysis and recommendations on initiatives within the United Nations, taking into account previous experience and the views and considerations expressed by Member States, on the prevention of armed conflict.
“The Security Council affirms that a reformed, strengthened and effective United Nations remains central to the maintenance of peace and security of which prevention is a key component and underlines the importance of enhancing the capacity of the Organization in preventive action, peacekeeping, and peace- building.
“The Security Council recalls the statement of its President of 30 November 1999 and reaffirms its willingness to consider the possibility of a meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers on the issue of the prevention of armed conflicts during the Millennium Assembly.
“The Security Council will remain seized of the matter.”
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