2 July 2001


Maputo Conference Is Told Wars Between Countries Are No Longer
Main Preoccupation; Focus on Economic and Social Development Is Stressed

NEW YORK, 29 June (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan (read on his behalf by Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary-General’s Adviser for Special Assignments in Africa) to the Conference on Conflict Prevention and Peace-building, held in Maputo, Mozambique, on 28-29 June:

I would like to congratulate Denmark on its initiative in organizing this Conference on Conflict Management and Peace-building, and to thank the Government of Mozambique for generously hosting it here in Maputo.

Mozambique is an outstanding example of a country that successfully ended 16 years of civil war through dialogue and has embarked upon the path of building lasting peace. This is an experience worthy of emulation in Africa and elsewhere.

The old adage that prevention is better than cure must also apply to conflict situations. Prevention is cost-effective, whereas non-prevention invariably carries enormous material, human and moral costs. Our challenge is to translate these understandings into practical actions.

For the United Nations, there is no higher goal, no deeper commitment and no greater ambition than preventing armed conflict. Indeed, the United Nations Charter provides the Security Council with a clear and unambiguous mandate to prevent conflicts that threaten international peace and security.

Yet the challenges are daunting. Prevention and peace-building are multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral in nature, and therefore require concerted political, developmental, social and humanitarian efforts. Existing wars tend to take precedence over potential conflicts.

With that in mind, I have submitted, earlier this month, to both the Security Council and the General Assembly, a new report on the prevention of armed conflict. Drawing on the lessons we have learned over the last few years, I propose a series of recommendations on how the efforts of the United Nations system in conflict prevention could be further enhanced.

One of these is to look at United Nations development programmes and activities from a conflict prevention perspective, since it is obvious that conflict prevention and sustainable development reinforce each other. I suggest that the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council should play a more active role and enhance their interaction with the Security Council in this field. And I stress the need to help reinforce national and regional capacities for conflict prevention. I encourage you to read this report and study the many recommendations it contains for making preventive action more effective.

In the past, wars between States were our main preoccupation. But since the end of the Cold War, conflicts have been mainly internal, requiring a strategic shift towards greater focus on social and economic development, good governance, democratization and respect for human rights as building blocks for sustainable peace.

Prevention and peace-building are not exclusive activities of any one organization or country. The responsibility belongs to everyone. Indeed, the likelihood of success arises from cooperation between countries, the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations, civil societies, and even the private sector. My colleagues and I in the Secretariat will continue to develop appropriate strategies and deepen collaboration with other stakeholders in order to improve prevention and peace-building, and move from the prevailing culture of reaction to one of prevention.

In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.

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