Press Releases

                21 JULY 2004

    UN Needs Vital Contribution of Regional Organizations in Stabilizing War-Torn Nations, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

    NEW YORK, 20 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the Security Council meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in the processes of stabilization, in New York, 20 July:

    Let me thank you for organizing this important debate in the Security Council. It is also good to welcome you to New York, Mr. Prime Minister.  It isn’t every day that we have a Prime Minister chairing a session.

    In April 2003, when the Council last met to discuss the role of regional organizations in facing new challenges to international peace and security, I argued that we needed to move towards creating a network of effective and mutually reinforcing mechanisms -- regional and global -- that would be both flexible and responsive to the complex reality we live in today.

    On that occasion, many participants suggested measures to enhance cooperation to help build such a network. These included proposals to carry out, on a regular basis, a high-level dialogue between the Council and regional organizations, to improve the exchange of information, and to promote early coordination. This meeting, I believe, is evidence that we are serious about implementing these proposals.

    Today, the United Nations is cooperating with regional organizations in stabilization processes in many countries:

    In Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, ECOWAS played a key role on the ground before handing over to the United Nations. The UN Office for West Africa and the ECOWAS Secretariat have agreed to improve cooperation in efforts to promote peace and stability in West Africa and to develop regional conflict-prevention strategies, as called for by the Security Council.

    In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the EU provided critical support through Opération Artémis.

    In Burundi, the African Union deployed a mission to monitor and help consolidate the December 2003 ceasefire agreement, enhance stability and facilitate the overall implementation of the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation. In May of this year, the Council authorized the United Nations Operation in Burundi and the immediate "rehatting" of the African Mission. 

    In Sudan, we have worked with both the African Union and IGAD to broker a peace agreement and support the deployment of ceasefire monitors by the AU.

    In Haiti, the Security Council has stressed the importance of cooperation between MINUSTAH and the Organization of American States and CARICOM. The UN is working closely with these regional organizations, especially on planning for elections in 2005. 

    In Kosovo, the UN, the EU and the OSCE have continued to work together, cooperating with the international security force led by the NATO.

    In Afghanistan, the UN mission is working with the coalition forces as well as the International Security Assistance Force to support the extension of the Government’s authority throughout the country and further the Bonn Process -- including national elections.

    We have seen that, in many instances, regional organizations can be on the ground much faster than the United Nations.  Indeed, NATO, the EU and the AU have either established or are developing rapid response capabilities for peacekeeping operations. The United Nations welcomes, and indeed contributes to, these efforts. However, not all regional organizations can sustain their deployments over a long period.  And the legitimacy that flows from United Nations operations is often needed for longer-term sustainability. 

    Not all of our cooperative efforts with regional organizations have proceeded without problems. In Kosovo, for instance, after unexpected violence flared up earlier this year, we are looking at how we can do a better job. Clearly, the involvement of many organizations can be both a source of strength and a point of weakness in managing complex situations. Full integration is not always easy due to different mandates, organizational cultures and leadership roles.

    So while our cooperation is being enhanced, we have to consider more thoroughly the comparative strengths of different organizations, be they global, regional or subregional, and move towards the creation of strategic partnerships that meet today’s and tomorrow's challenges. Our cooperation with regional organizations is established across a wide range of activities, but it has often been ad hoc.  I believe that more institutionalized channels of cooperation would help ensure more efficiency and effectiveness, and perhaps even economies of scale.

    To that end, my predecessor and I have engaged the heads of regional organizations in regular exchanges of views on issues of common concern, from conflict prevention to peace-building to international terrorism.  We are also working with a wide range of regional organizations on electoral matters.

    The last two meetings between the UN and regional organizations have established important frameworks for cooperation. The fourth meeting, on peace-building in February 2001, together with the Presidential Statement of the Security Council at that time, established a useful precedent for better interaction and cooperation. 

    At the fifth meeting, in July 2003, participants agreed on a framework for cooperation to confront new challenges to international peace and security, including international terrorism.  We will soon discuss with our regional counterparts cooperation mechanisms for monitoring effective protection of civilians in armed conflict, practical measures to build tolerance and to promote dialogue among civilizations, and lessons learned from field experiences such as military-civilian cooperation, policing, institution building and confidence-building measures.  I will keep the Security Council fully apprised of the progress achieved.

    I am committed to implementing the specific points contained in the frameworks that have been laid down. The next high-level meeting is scheduled for mid-2005, and, of course, the President of the Security Council will participate as in the past. That will be an important opportunity to see how far we have come in implementing the decisions taken in previous meetings.  We are also considering making the high-level meetings more frequent -- perhaps even annual -- so that we can focus on practical cooperation on key issues, and follow up more effectively.  I believe this would help strengthen the cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations -- not to mention between the Secretariat and the Security Council.

    In stabilizing war-torn nations, as in many other areas of peace and security, the United Nations needs the vital contribution of regional organizations. I therefore wish you a fruitful discussion, and I hope that the Council will remain engaged in this crucial subject.

    Thank you very much, Mr. President.

    * *** *