Press Releases

    31 January 2002

    Security Council Urged to Remain Fully Engaged Until Durable Peace Attained, as Debate on Africa Concludes

    Speakers Also Highlight Need for Reform of Domestic Economic Policies, Poverty Alleviation

    NEW YORK, 30 January (UN Headquarters) -- When the Security Council resumed its high-level session on the situation in Africa this afternoon, it was urged by Ghana to remain fully engaged in all aspects of the peace process, especially the post-conflict period, until durable peace was attained.

    During a debate that began yesterday morning, the Council heard 48 statements, including several at the ministerial level from African nations, the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius, whose delegation holds the Council presidency for the month, chaired the meeting.

    The representative of Ghana, the first speaker at the resumed meeting today, noted what he had observed as the Council's increasing desire to "pull out" of conflict areas, especially in Africa, before the situation actually stabilized, thereby endangering the whole peace process. He urged it to stay, especially in the post-conflict period. African countries had recognized that Africa ultimately had to "pull itself up by its bootstraps", and many were gradually putting in place policies to bring about stability and, ultimately, peace and security.

    Following peace, of equal importance was the reform of domestic and economic policies, aimed at helping Africa help itself, asserted the Ugandan representative. At the same time, developed countries must ensure that their domestic economic policies were wholly consistent with their capacity to help Africa export its goods to the developed world. It was not just market access that was needed, but also a relaxing of subsidies for the agricultural production and exports of developed countries. However much Uganda had opened up its economy to the forces of globalization, its poor farmers had no level playing field on which to trade their goods in the global marketplace.

    Bottlenecks and shortcomings defined the situation in many African countries; the only consistent thing about their problems was that they had continued to worsen, the representative of Kenya said. He urged closer working relations between the Council and the Economic and Social Council if headway was to be made in tackling the many problems in Africa. The security and economic aspects of the problems were "two sides of the same coin", he said.

    The Council, including through today's debate, had taken a lead role in advancing the African agenda, the Jamaican representative said. She agreed that it must now move forward with the Economic and Social Council to restore peace and security and promote economic development. The commitment of the developed world to sustainability development and poverty reduction must be a first step in eliminating the causes of conflict. Needs had dramatically increased in the past decade, while resources had been "frozen in time".

    Similarly, the representative of India stressed that poverty alleviation encompassing development and growth must be at the core of any coherent strategy for the renaissance of Africa. Africa's tribulations were of recent origin, but not of its own making. The difficulties could not simply be dismissed as "an African problem". Indeed, the international community could do some honest soul-searching regarding its record in preventing intra-State instability and conflicts in that continent.

    The Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Political Affairs, Ibrahima Fall, offered a comprehensive summary of the two-day session on Africa and highlighted specific political, institutional and operational proposals made by participants for Council action in the continent.

    In closing remarks, the OAU Secretary-General, Amara Essy, reminded delegations that Africa was a mature continent aware of its problems; it just needed the means to solve them. If one found a solution to Africa's problems, one would find a solution to the problems of the world today. African nations had decided to take full charge of their problems. That should make the Council breathe easier. He thanked members for the great significance they had attached to the session.

    The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius, Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, said he had appreciated the ministerial-level participation of the African delegations and thanked all participants for their insightful and meaningful remarks.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of Ukraine, Libya and Malaysia.

    Today's meeting began at 4:35 p.m. and was adjourned at 6:34 p.m.


    The Council met late this afternoon to resume its meeting on the situation in Africa. Yesterday's meeting heard 37 speakers, including Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette and the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The session was convened by the Council president for January, Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), and chaired by that country's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, Anil Kumarsingh Gayan. (For additional details of the meeting, see Press Release SC/7282 of 29 January).


    NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that Africa's vulnerability stemmed primarily from institutional weaknesses in its economic and political systems. That had hindered the ability of many African nations to foresee, forestall or manage tensions or conflicts when they occurred. Nor had the necessary lessons been learned, given the same constraints, to prevent the re-emergence of such conflicts. The situation in Africa, however, was not wholly gloomy. Recently, there had been positive developments in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. African countries had recognized that Africa ultimately had to "pull itself up by its bootstraps", and many were gradually putting in place policies to bring about stability, transparency, accountability and, ultimately, peace and security.

    He said that given the nexus between peace, security and development, many African countries had also painfully implemented market-oriented policies, including the liberalization and privatization of their economies. Ghana had been implementing economic reforms for more than a decade. Recently, successful elections were conducted, resulting in the smooth handover of the reins of government. Strenuous efforts were still under way, under the new Government's policy of the "golden age of business", to ensure full participation of the private sector in national economic management, a must for rapid development.

    Regrettably, however, many intra-State conflicts were still raging, he said, and after years of painful economic reforms, only a few African countries had found in the post-liberalization period the anticipated path towards sustained growth. Consequently, those governments did not have at their disposal sufficient resources to fund critical social programmes, such as health and education, which were fundamental to tackling the pervasive problem of poverty. The problem had been compounded by the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and other endemic diseases like tuberculosis and malaria.

    Development programmes in Africa were also affected by a number of external factors, he said. Those included non-remunerative prices for exports, unfavourable trade terms, the debt overhang, and lack of access to the markets of developed countries in an era of plummeting official development assistance (ODA). Of particular concern had been conflicts fuelled by the easy availability of arms, often procured by non-State actors with the connivance of governments. In spearheading efforts to prevent and settle conflicts, the Council should be guided by the Secretary-General's 1998 report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development.

    Continuing, he said that the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) offered a common platform for the Council's approach to Africa. That platform -- based on a comprehensive treatment of the interlinkages between peace and development, and a recognition of Africa's primary role in its development -- reinforced conditions for coherence and coordination among the United Nations bodies. He urged the Council to work closely with NEPAD and with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to increase the effectiveness of the United Nations supporting role. There seemed to be an increasing desire in the Council to "pull out" of conflict areas, especially in Africa, before the situation actually stabilized, thereby endangering the whole peace process.

    He said there could hardly be a greater demonstration of the Council's commitment than its continued full engagement in all aspects of the process, especially in the post-conflict period, even on a much-reduced scale, until durable peace was attained. Although the international community had long recognized the cardinal importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in conflict resolution and peace-building, when it came to the reintegration of ex-combatants, adequate resources were not forthcoming. That, in turn, could cause another slide into conflict. The Council should explore avenues for resource mobilization, therefore, beyond voluntary pledges, since their discharge often lagged far beyond the needs of DDR programmes.

    While he recognized the need for sanctions, he would like to see a strengthening of arms embargoes. The Council should ensure that innocent civilians and third-party States were not unduly affected. He, therefore, urged the Council to consider the imposition of "smart sanctions" as recommended by its own Committee. Also, he sought more resolve in OAU-United Nations cooperation. Given the historical links between Africa and Europe, perhaps the infant African Union could benefit from the experiences of the European Union. The Council should consider ways of strengthening the capacity of the subregional bodies. In that connection, the decision to establish a United Nations Office for West Africa was welcome.

    M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) called for stronger ties between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The international community must redouble its efforts to address the root causes underlying development constraints. There was an intrinsic link between the proliferation of conflict, the illicit trade in small arms, refugee flows, and other aspects of the post-conflict period. Also, the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions must work with the OAU and its successor, the African Union, in addressing those concerns.

    She said that a partnership should also be built with NEPAD, whose aim was the social and economic development of the continent. There had been significant progress recently towards resolving conflicts in Africa. The Council had also given its full support to the regional initiative in Burundi. On the other hand, it still should determine how to more effectively address other intractable conflicts, including in Angola and Somalia.

    Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, including of child soldiers, was critical to the success of peace processes, she went on. Reconstruction, such as that in Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic, must be given the necessary resources to prevent the re-emergence of conflict. Conflicts in Africa affected the whole continent. Although attention had been focused on resolving them with some success, the international community must recommit itself to targeting adequate resources. There was no lack of agreement on the root causes of conflict, which included economic underdevelopment and abject poverty.

    The Council, including through this debate, had taken a lead role in advancing the African agenda, she said. Now, it must move forward with ECOSOC, which had significant responsibilities in that area. Efforts to address conflict prevention must continue, of course, but the commitment of the developed world to sustainable development and poverty reduction must be a first step in eliminating the causes of conflict. Needs had dramatically increased in the past decade, while resources had been "frozen in time". The international community's reaction to terrorism had been unprecedented; it must commit itself equally to underdevelopment and conflict prevention. Violent conflict in Africa was a threat to global security and fuelled the potential for terrorist activities.

    KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said that the record of the international community in preventing intra-State instability and conflicts in Africa required some honest soul-searching. One failure was bad enough, and in Africa there had been many. In Angola, the conflict would not have begun or continued without the misguided involvement of the international community. In Rwanda, it had clearly been the tragic neglect and dereliction of a required course of determined action, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, engagement had been far short of what was required. In short, peacekeeping in Africa had not received the priority it deserved.

    While a degree of caution was certainly justified, and must infuse the Council's decision-making, the international community must work to dispel misgivings over its neglect of African needs, compared to the promptness with which it could respond to crises in other parts of the world. The reluctance of developed countries to participate in any meaningful manner in operations such as United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) gave further credence to such a view. Kosovo had 40,000 peacekeepers, whereas the Democratic Republic of the Congo, larger than Western Europe in area, had around 2,000, he said.

    Concerning the idea of building an African peacekeeping capacity, he stressed that some caveats would be in order. First, it must not lead to the onus for peacekeeping in Africa being left to Africans, since the maintenance of international peace and security was, first and foremost, the responsibility of the United Nations through the Security Council. Second, building peacekeeping capacity involved building and maintaining military and related logistics capacities at high cost. Furthermore, how could one reconcile that with the signal sent to African countries to reduce their defence expenditure?

    Finally, he said that the important role played by regional and subregional organizations in conflict resolution and peacemaking was widely acknowledged. The role of the OAU in Ethiopia and Eritrea or Burundi was a good example of the pivotal role of regional organizations. However, he was concerned by the tendency of the international community to transfer its responsibility and sub-contract initiatives to regional and subregional organizations, for which they might not necessarily be prepared. That tendency must be arrested. In situations where regional and subregional organizations could play a meaningful role, they must be backed both politically and, more importantly, through an infusion of the resources required.

    VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said there was no doubt that conflicts in Africa represented a major challenge to the continent, and a threat to international peace and stability. Faced with violence, appreciable loss of life and the suffering of civilians, the international community could not afford complacency.

    Over the past few years, the Council had led an international discussion in addressing conflicts in Africa. Several issues had been raised, including the driving forces of conflicts, approaches to address them and various aspects of United Nations peacekeeping and sanctions. Today was another debate in that series, which he hoped would lead to international support for Africa.

    The complex nature of Africa's conflicts called for a concerted international response from the Council and other relevant bodies of the United Nations. International assistance was critical in Africa's effort to eradicate poverty and promote development. Today's debate drew particular attention to better coordination and dialogue with regional and subregional organizations. He particularly praised NEPAD, which would move forward the continent's regeneration.

    ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said it was easy to understand and interpret conflicts in the African continent. African countries with conflicts had gone through civil wars that had gone on for centuries, as well as regional wars and world wars that had not even occurred on their homelands. Historical evolution was a matter of time. Africans were not familiar with the stability that reigned in other countries. From the proper historical angle, African conflicts were a natural consequence of the past. The international community should face that fact and make every effort to help Africa reach peace, stability and development. There had not been enough material support from the Council for Africans to achieve that. Africa expected serious work from the Council to help heal its wounds.

    Libya did not only call on others, but worked daily on African issues doing its share. It had taken an initiative that became an Egyptian/Libyan effort for stability in the Sudan. That initiative had succeeded because it included all of the Sudan, not only parts of it. Libya had visited the Sudan and helped reconcile that country with Uganda. As for Somalia, Libya had invited all factions to meet in Libya last week, and the two countries had agreed on small arms and light weapons. Somalia was now committed to disarming its combatants and Libya would finance that. Libya would also pay the salaries of Somalia's police and military for three months; provide scientific assistance and vehicles for the civilian police, customs and military officers; and assist with a power station in Mogadishu. Libya had also cooperated with Burundi and worked with the countries of the Mano River Basin, as well as other nations that had responded positively to its call.

    Africa could not finance peacekeeping forces in all its different regions. The Council should treat situations there as equally as it had in other continents, supervising all efforts to achieved stability, he concluded. It should support requests by subregional organizations in Africa. The developing world still owed $900 billion in debt. If it continued to pay that off, it would soon be incapable of paying more. All those who had participated in the squandering of African resources should make that up to the continent, at least by cancelling the its debts, so that Africa could get back on the right path.

    HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said he agreed with the analysis on the root causes of conflict in Africa, such as historical legacies of colonialism, inter-ethnic conflict, poverty and others. However, those analyses should not be an academic exercise. It was important that the Council addressed those root causes seriously and systematically in ways that would at least minimize their potential for further conflict and instability. The Council must be at the forefront of international efforts to manage and resolve various conflicts in Africa through its peacekeeping missions. He was concerned about the continuing weakness of the process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly the reintegration of ex-combatants.

    It was heartening to note the ongoing institutional links and cooperation between the OAU and the United Nations. The United Nations should not ignore the substantive contributions that could be made by regional and subregional organizations in managing the resolution of conflicts. He hoped the essential partnership would be further strengthened and strongly supported dispatching Council missions to conflict areas. Yet, he reiterated the need for more frequent informal exchanges of views between Council members and the Secretary-General on sensitive issues away from the glare of publicity. Setting up a Council working group on African issues was a laudable proposal.

    As African States recognized their own responsibilities in dealing with African issues, including conflict management, it was incumbent upon the international community to do all it could to support those efforts, as insecurity and instability in Africa affected the entire global community. Political will to deal with conflict situations should be demonstrated in an even-handed fashion wherever they occurred. Members of the Council, particularly the permanent members, must put aside narrow political interests. That was the real challenge for the Council as it continued to grapple with the problems of Africa.

    BOB F. JALANG'O (Kenya) said he hoped that today's meeting would refocus attention on Africa, leading towards tangible results. Despite some recent successes, such as in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia/Eritrea, many "bottlenecks and shortcomings" persisted in many countries, such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. The Millennium Declaration had given the world the responsibility of paying special attention to Africa, yet solving such pressing problems as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty reduction, the debt burden and the problem of small arms seemed like a dream. Indeed, the only consistent thing about those problems was that they continued to worsen.

    He said he welcomed the proposal of the Mauritius delegation to establish a working group to coordinate relations between the United Nations and the OAU. Equally important were closer working relations between the Security Council and ECOSOC if headway was to be made in tackling the many problems facing Africa. After all, the security and economic aspects of the problems were "two sides of the same coin". Also welcome was the announcement by the United Kingdom that it would use its Council presidency in July to give further impetus to the Africa situation. He updated the Council on the situations in Somalia and the Sudan, and the implementation of the action programme on small arms.

    On the latter, he said that that programme contained recommendations promising far-reaching positive results; if implemented, they would reduce current persistent conflicts in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. As with the Millennium Declaration, however, there had been no serious impetus to implement the programme. The question of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa was at the heart of the continent's future, without which the fate of the Africans looked gloomy. It was time that the programmes of the United Nations and the Security Council were translated into tangible results.

    M. SEMAKULA KIWANUKA (Uganda) said Africa still faced many problems, of which HIV/AIDS and conflicts were the most devastating. He also pointed to education inadequacies, the debt problem, trade imbalances, the persistence of absolute poverty and the digital divide. But the pace for unity in Africa was progressing well. In the Great Lakes region, the partner States of Uganda, Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania had moved with speed. The East African Assembly was recently inaugurated in Kampala, and a Court of Appeals for Eastern Africa had been constituted with judges from three countries. Trade barriers were being eliminated, and there was absolute harmony among the member States.

    In terms of trade issues, he said Africa needed to be absolutely clear about what she wanted. The challenge for Africa was to take a bold step forward and opt for industrialization. Many of the African countries were bigger both in size and population compared to countries in Europe -- but those African countries lived in poverty because they had not industrialized. Among the problems that had hindered progress were conflicts which must be stopped. It was important to emphasize, though, that many countries in Africa were peaceful and that Africa had removed some of the impediments to investment with the creation of NEPAD. Regional unity would eventually overcome the excessive Balkanization of Africa's 53 States.

    What was not generally heard about -- and certainly not so loudly -- were the equally important reforms that were needed in the developed countries to ensure that their domestic economic policies were wholly consistent with their capacity to help Africa help itself by exporting to developed countries' markets. He referred not just to market access but also to subsidies for domestic producers in the developed countries, and particularly to subsidies for agricultural production and agricultural exports. However much Uganda, for example, opened up its economy to the forces of globalization, Uganda's poor agricultural farmers would have no chance to raise themselves from poverty because there was no level playing field in agricultural production and agricultural trade globally.

    IBRAHIMA FALL, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Political Affairs, said the discussion had been extremely informative. There were four sets of statements: general, pertaining to the continent as a whole or to particular regions; on national policies; Council action; and proposals for future action.

    On specific proposals for Council action in Africa, he said that those were political, institutional and operational in nature. Regarding the political dimension, there seemed to be a unanimous call for the quick implementation of the conclusions and recommendations of the Millennium Declaration concerning Africa. In matters of peace and security, the Council should be more resolute and act in a timely manner, without selectivity, and based upon practical mandates, similar to the action it took elsewhere.

    It had also been proposed that the present culture of "reacting" should be replaced by one of conflict prevention, he said. Also the Council should: adopt and put in practice a comprehensive, integrated approach to the attainment of peace, security and development; strengthen the multidisciplinary character of peacekeeping operations; and provide active support to measures aimed at ending the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. A definite majority had emerged requesting support for the implementation of NEPAD, which had been Africa's most recent initiative.

    In the institutional sphere, he noted that a request had been made to strengthen the framework for cooperation between the Council and ECOSOC. A suggestion had also been made to create a framework of consultative cooperation between the Council and the central organ of the OAU entrusted with conflict prevention, management and resolution, and between the Council and subregional organizations. It had further been proposed that a focal point be established for coordinating the multi-sectoral activities of the United Nations system in Africa. Relations between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions should be strengthened, and institutional financial support should be given to the OAU and subregional organizations, particularly the mechanism for conflict management and resolution.

    Concerning recommendations of an operational nature, he said he echoed the sentiment that the time for action had come. Speakers called for the prompt implementation of existing Council declarations and resolutions concerning operational cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU. The following was also proposed: the establishment in the Council of a working group on Africa with a clear action-oriented mandate; more Security Council visits on the ground with respect to peacekeeping operations in Africa; and the establishment of a standing mechanism for following up sanctions, as well as the targeting of sanctions and a review of their collateral effect.

    Also called for was implementation of a structural mechanism of cooperation between the Counter-terrorism Committee and the OAU; better coordination of peace initiatives in Africa; more stable and reliable financing for DDR operations; rendering the Office of the Special Representative in West Africa an operational instrument for the application of a regional approach to security and development; and the creation by ECOSOC of an advisory group on countries emerging from conflict.

    AMARA ESSY, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said today's debate had shown him that all continents better understood African problems. That indeed, was most welcome. He would like the Council to walk away knowing that Africa was aware of its problems, but needed the means to solve them. If one found a solution to the Africa's problems, one would find a solution to the problems of the world today.

    All nations must understand that African heads of State had decided to take full charge of their problems, he continued. Statistics showed that to reduce poverty in Africa by half, the continent would need a growth rate of 7 to 8 per cent, but prospects for that were quite gloomy. The best way to approach Africa was through development issues. The continent saw that it could put together a solution and must not give up. After 40 years, the obstacles were not just those of AIDS, raw materials or leadership. It now had the leadership and plans to put into motion.

    By now, the OAU had had relationships with all continents, who had shown their solidarity with Africa, he said. Africa too would be making an effort to ensure that theirs had not been in vain. The Council was much busier now than it had been in the past, but he hoped it would have fewer problems -- fewer African problems -- a few years from now. Africa had everything it needed to succeed.

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