18 October 2005

Secretary-General's Statement to Security Council on Cooperation Between United Nations, Regional Organizations

NEW YORK, 17 October (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of the statement made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today, at the Security Council meeting on United Nations cooperation with regional organizations in maintaining peace and security:

At last month's World Summit, world leaders supported a stronger relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations, as envisaged in Chapter VIII of the Charter.  We need only look at the reality of contemporary peace operations to see why.

Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic growth in the range of partnerships between regional organizations and the United Nations in support of countries emerging from conflict.  In peacekeeping, these partnerships have taken many different forms:

-- There have been transitions from regional operations to UN operations, as we saw in Liberia with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and from UN operations to regional ones, as we saw in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the European Union.

-- The UN and regional partners have coordinated separate missions side by side, as with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Afghanistan and Kosovo.  In Kosovo, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union were also included as part of UNMIK's structures.

-- Regional organizations have provided support within the context of a UN-led mission, as with the Organization of American States (OAS) engagement in Haiti.

-- Regional operations have provided bridging support until UN peacekeepers received reinforcement, as we saw with the European Union operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003.

-- And finally, as in Darfur recently, the UN has provided support to a regional operation, in this case deployed by the African Union (AU).

The same trends are evident in our peacemaking efforts:

-- On important occasions, the UN has provided critical support to regional processes -- as in Sudan, where the UN assisted the IGAD-led effort that secured the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and is now supporting the AU-led efforts on Darfur.

-- On other occasions, regional organizations have provided vital political and technical support to UN efforts -- as we saw with the wide-ranging European Union support for the recent United Nations peacemaking effort in Cyprus.

In short, Mr. President, we are increasingly drawing on the resources and legitimacy of a network of multilateral mechanisms -- regional and global -- to provide collective responses to the peace and security challenges of today.

That is why the Security Council has stressed the need to increase collaboration between the UN and regional organizations, and has established the practice of meeting with them annually.  To support those efforts, the high-level meetings between the UN Secretariat and regional organizations have now also been made an annual event, and a Standing Committee has been set up to maintain strategic direction and offer broad guidance on action at the working level.  The World Summit gave new backing to these efforts. 

The task now ahead of us is to make sure that our cooperation mechanisms work as well as possible.  They must be effective, efficient, and mutually reinforcing.  They must be flexible and responsive to our rapidly changing and integrating world.  And they must be consistent with the Charter and advance its principles and purposes.  I hope we can make progress in four broad areas.

The first is the need to strengthen capacity.  The demands for peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding are high, and seem likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.  Increased regional activity, within the framework of the Security Council's primary responsibility for international peace and security, will be an important component of improved international responses to conflict.

This is particularly true in Africa.  We in the Secretariat see our partnership with the African Union in peacekeeping as a strategic priority, and I welcome the commitment made at the World Summit to support a 10-year programme to strengthen AU capacity.  We now look forward to an open and productive dialogue with the AU, and other regional partners, on how to implement this programme.

Second, we should exploit our comparative strengths.  Each of us may have particular capacities, in responding swiftly or robustly, or in undertaking activities that are resource-intensive or require long-term engagement.  Let's make sure that we complement each other, rather than compete with each other.

I hope that, through regular dialogue on our specialized competencies, we will gain a clear picture of who can bring what to the table.  We should reflect our understandings in formalized agreements, as envisaged in the Summit outcome document.  Some of these could be signed even at the operational level of our respective organizations, in order to move forward pragmatically and maximize results.

Third, we should deal with conflict in a holistic way.  We must focus not just on peacekeeping and peacebuilding, but also on conflict prevention and resolution.  The United Nations is looking to strengthen its mediation capacities, as envisaged in the Summit outcome.  And the stronger our capacity is, the more we can assist non-UN mediators, particularly partners in regional organizations.

We must also focus on the broader social and economic components of peace, using the new Peacebuilding Commission to draw together the contributions of many actors -- including regional organizations -- in support of common peacebuilding strategies.

Fourth, and most important, we should reinforce a collective approach to security.  The United Nations partnerships with regional organizations must provide the means to meet, rather than to avoid, our responsibilities under the Charter to provide an effective international response to violent conflict, wherever it occurs.

At times, a regional response may be the best way to end conflict or build peace.  But on other occasions, the direct involvement of the United Nations, either alone or with regional partners, may be vital.  When it is, the Organization must be willing and able to act.

In that spirit, I warmly welcome the World Summit's recommendation that regional organizations consider placing their conflict prevention and peacekeeping capacities within the framework of the United Nations Standby Arrangements System.

Likewise, the best-equipped troop contributors should remain ready to deploy where needed around the world, either through, or in support of, regional organizations, or directly through United Nations peacekeeping.  These would be tangible demonstrations of our collective commitment to partnership.

Mr. President, may I conclude by thanking the Government of Romania for the strong interest it has shown on this issue, during its tenure on the Council.  I hope that the torch of leadership will pass to another Council Member, so that we build on the momentum that has been generated in promoting cooperation with regional organizations, in service of the peoples of the United Nations.

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