Angola + 9 more

Twenty-nine speakers address Security Council in day-long debate on humanitarian aspects of issues before Council

Press Release SC/6818 - 20000309
Secretary-General Says Far Too Many Peace Agreements Collapse from Lack of Post-Conflict Resources to Foster Recovery

Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council this morning that far too many peace agreements collapsed before they were implemented, and far too many States lapsed back into conflict, in part because there were not enough resources to foster post-conflict recovery and stability.

One of 29 speakers to address the Council in its open debate on humanitarian aspects of issues before the Council, the Secretary-General said the Council must find ways to avoid that tragic and wasteful pattern of events. The Council could strengthen its support for humanitarian action by pressing Member States to fully commit to financing humanitarian programmes. It could include provisions for financing early post-conflict reconstruction in peacekeeping mandates, and it could address the gaps between the provision of humanitarian assistance and longer-term reconstruction and development as a consequence of funding gaps.

Mr. Annan added that the humanitarian imperative was sacred but there was also a humanitarian dilemma, whereby the international community was often forced to provide food and clothing not only to victims of conflict but also its architects. That same dilemma often allowed combatants to use humanitarian aid and its recipients as tools in war. However, those factors had made the global humanitarian mission more, not less, important.

The Council President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Alhaj Abdus Samad Azad, said the Council needed to adopt a broad, proactive approach to its Charter responsibilities. The Council was charged with addressing humanitarian issues relating to situations of conflict and of taking appropriate action. Flagrant violations of international law sometimes gave rise to conflict, he explained, and peace was difficult to achieve unless humanitarian issues were also addressed. As the human cost of war increased, the chances of sustaining peace and security receded. Today’s Council debate was an attempt to discuss areas on which the Council should focus its attention, and actions it could take.

The representative of India said the Security Council was not authorized to engage in humanitarian action and its participation would not be supported by the United Nations membership. Council involvement in humanitarian intervention was a recipe for chaos and lawlessness, he said, and when the law was bent it was the weak who suffered. No role was specified for it by humanitarian or human rights treaty law, and Council intervention would indeed be illegal under the current international legal environment. Humanitarian assistance should be neutral and offered only when requested by States. Unless asked, the United Nations should stay the course until a divided society healed itself.

The United States' representative said he was concerned about the uneven and inadequate protection afforded to internally displaced persons. It was unacceptable that legalistic distinctions prevented the delivery of assistance to those who were homeless and in need, regardless of whether or not international borders had been crossed. When examining how the United Nations might coordinate peacekeeping and humanitarian crises, ensuring the security and neutrality of refugee camps must be considered. The Council should explore the use of a multinational civilian police to establish security in refugee camps, in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The representative of the Netherlands called for an integrated approach to the Council’s work in humanitarian assistance. A strategic framework should integrate all relevant actors and contributors. Reconciliation was also key in establishing a lasting peace, and the Council should seek full investigation of war crimes to facilitate national reconciliation. He agreed that civilians experiencing horror, whatever their status, should not be denied relief. The Security Council should address that issue and also consider providing secure conditions for such civilians, when a State could not provide it.

Intervention outside the United Nations framework might amount to opening a "Pandora’s box", Iran's representative said. There would always be a tendency to cloak designs for expansion under the pretext of humanitarianism and the protection of minorities and ethnic groups. Also, he said, the Council had been too slow to respond to some African conflicts, and inadequate in committing the measures and resources it had authorized to address problems. The threat of financial considerations influencing decision-making on threats to international peace and security was a matter of concern. It could weaken the Council’s authority and that of the Secretary-General in planning and implementing peacekeeping operations.

The representatives of Council members Canada, France, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali, Tunisia, Namibia, Russian Federation, China, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Argentina also addressed the open debate, as did non-members Egypt, Belarus, Portugal (for the European Union and associated States), South Africa, Norway, Colombia, Pakistan, Austria (speaking for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- OSCE), Bulgaria and Brazil, and the observer from Switzerland.

Today's open debate began at 11:05 a.m., suspended at 1:35 p.m., resumed at 3:45 p.m. and adjourned at 5:45 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to hold an open debate on "maintaining peace and security: humanitarian aspects of issues before the Council".


ALHAJ ABDUS SAMAD AZAD, Council President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said the United Nations Charter conferred upon the Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. A broad, more proactive approach was needed. There were occasions of flagrant violations of international law, giving rise to a conflict. In many instances, the situation worsened and a humanitarian situation took shape. Peace was difficult to achieve, as there were humanitarian issues to be addressed alongside the factors of conflict.

In today’s world, the rules of war seem to have changed, he said. In the recent past, massive violations of international humanitarian law and human rights complicated conflict scenarios. Civilians and non-combatants -- and particularly women, children and the vulnerable -- were not spared the most atrocious acts. Attacks on humanitarian personnel were becoming commonplace. They were denied access to those in need and their supplies were looted. As the human cost of war increased, the chances of sustaining peace and security receded.

The Council had the responsibility to address humanitarian issues relating to situations of conflict and take appropriate action, he went on. Its consideration of issues lay the groundwork for actions in the areas of peacekeeping and peace-building. Today’s debate was an attempt to discuss the areas on which the Council should focus its attention and what actions it could take. Possible areas for discussion included access for United Nations and associated and humanitarian personnel, humanitarian components in peace agreements and operations, coordination between the different actors, and the question of resources. He was confident that there would be a rich exchange of ideas and that the Council would be able to sharpen its focus on the areas of action required.

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that past experiences showed that humanitarian missions held both greater promise and greater peril than almost any other part of the Organization's work. Today, it was clear that Mozambique presented the most urgent case of need, but that country was only the most urgent of a number of crises. Over the last year, the world had been confronted with humanitarian emergencies that seemed to grow in horror and pain. The need for effective humanitarian assistance had never been greater. In all of those situations, the international community needed to ask whether enough was being done. Were those most in need being helped or just those most immediately in reach? he asked. And was that help perpetuating conflicts rather than ending them?

The United Nations must strengthen its capacity to provide relief to victims, said Mr. Annan. It must also devise more effective strategies to prevent humanitarian emergencies from arising in the first place. In that context, he said that he had recently presented the case for better and more cost-effective prevention strategies for both man-made and natural disasters. Also, within the United Nations, he had launched a major effort to develop a system-wide framework for early warning and prevention. Humanitarian aid did not exist in a vacuum. In some cases, the world was faced with true natural disasters. In others, however, it was confronted with man-made disasters that were clearly rooted in war and tyranny.

He said that while the humanitarian imperative was sacred, there was also a humanitarian dilemma. "That is the dilemma that has often forced us to provide food and clothing not only to victims of conflict, but also its architects", he said. It was also the same dilemma that often allowed combatants to use humanitarian aid and its recipients as tools in war. Those factors, however, had made the global humanitarian mission more and not less important.

There were three major issues facing humanitarian action, he said. First, how could it make a positive contribution to the restoration of peace and security? Second, how could the Organization continue to make progress in integrating humanitarian and the political-military elements of United Nations peace operations? Third, how could it be ensured that the legal and principled basis of humanitarian was respected and strengthened?

Humanitarian action not only served to protect the victims of conflict from further loss and suffering, but could actually contribute to maintaining peace and security, he continued. It was also equally important that humanitarian concerns be given early consideration when comprehensive peace agreements were negotiated, as well as in peacekeeping missions. That helped to ensure that there was sufficient advance planning on the humanitarian side for operations undertaken to implement an agreement. It also helped to ensure that early efforts could be undertaken to mobilize resources for recovery in the immediate aftermath of a conflict, which was essential if there was to be lasting peace.

In addition, continued Mr. Annan, the success of a peace agreement frequently depended, at least in part, on humanitarian work, including: permitting refugees to return; resettling displaced persons; providing assistance to demobilized combatants; restoring the livelihoods of people affected by war; and giving fighters alternative ways to earn their living. "I believe we must also rededicate ourselves to ensuring that the legal and principled basis for humanitarian action is maintained, respected and strengthened", he said. The basic purpose of the intersecting bodies of law that provided the legal framework for humanitarian action was to ensure that civilians were protected from the impact of war. When that did not happen, then the essential needs of all victims should be met and their fundamental rights respected.

The Secretary-General said inadequate support for humanitarian action could have adverse effects. The Council could strengthen its support for such action in at least three ways. It could press Member States to commit themselves fully to provide financial support for humanitarian programmes. It could consider including, in peacekeeping mandates, provisions for financing the early stage of post-conflict reconstruction and the restoration of the rule of law. Finally, the Council should address the fact that post-conflict peace- building activities were routinely hampered by the failure to sustain the flow of resources, which led to gaps between the provision of direct humanitarian assistance and the restoration of longer-term reconstruction and development.

He said the lamentable truth was that far too many peace agreements collapsed before they were implemented, or relapsed into conflict, in part because there were not enough resources to foster post-conflict recovery and stability. The Council must find ways to avoid that tragic and wasteful pattern of events.

ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said since humanitarian action did not respond to the causes of conflict, but to the needs of victims, it was essential that it be matched by corresponding political action to address and resolve conflict. He specifically cited action by the Security Council in that regard. That was particularly important, as the majority of humanitarian action carried out by United Nations personnel and other actors was done in the absence of international peacekeepers, peace support operations or other forms of international involvement. His country believed that the Council must continue to be vigilant and forceful in calling on all parties to ensure full, safe and unhindered access to affected populations.

He said where negotiation by humanitarian actors with parties to a conflict failed, and the civilian population continued to be adversely affected, the Council must be prepared to take further appropriate action, drawing on the variety of tools at its disposal. The main challenge was to define structures of cooperation that promoted effective integrated action and that also took advantage of independence, flexibility and specialization. Missions over the last few years had demonstrated that any confusion among political, military and humanitarian mandates could have a negative impact on the perceived impartiality of humanitarian actors and action. It was incumbent upon the Council to ensure that the components of such complex missions were given clear mandates with sufficient resources to meet their objectives.

He said his Government supported the idea that humanitarian considerations should be included in peace negotiations and agreements. Those included, not only provisions pertaining to prisoners of war, but also: disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; the return of refugees and internally displaced persons; the protection of minorities; and the promotion of human rights. Full and timely support for the transition from relief to development was also critical, if peace was to be sustainable.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the presidential statement which would be issued today reiterated the overall humanitarian issues that the Council had had to deal with in previous debates. Those issues should be borne in mind when the Council was called upon to act. The Council had a responsibility to deal with humanitarian situations in all their aspects. It must also bear in mind that humanitarian crises should be dealt with in a timely manner, or else they would degenerate and solutions would become even more complicated. He cited eastern Zaire in 1996 and 1997, in that respect.

The Council had begun to work on responses to the eastern Zaire crisis and finally agreed on proposals, he continued. But in the final analysis, there was no follow-up, even though the proposals had been agreed to in the fall of 1996. The result was that a planned humanitarian force to assist refugees had not been deployed. Today, the consequences of that inaction could be seen. Ensuing developments in the region now forced the Organization to work in conditions that were much more difficult.

He said humanitarian action was not a substitute for political action and addressing the causes of crises. While relieving the suffering of civilians was the task of United Nations agencies, it was not enough and should not absolve the Council of its responsibilities to deal with crises. The use of force was sometimes required to put an end to large-scale violations that threatened international peace and security. That had been the case in Kosovo. The Council could only exercise the responsibility assigned to it by the Charter.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said the presidential statement to be issued later today illustrated the Council’s engagement in one of the most tragic, intractable situation in the world today. Worldwide, the United Nations faced twin challenges of keeping the peace and helping to provide humanitarian assistance. The two were mutually reinforcing. The first priority must always be to prevent conflict before it began, but it was imperative that humanitarian needs were addressed, as needed. The needs and tasks of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers must be defined. Peacekeepers must be familiar with humanitarian and human rights law, and sensitized to the need for preventing communicable diseases.

The United States was deeply concerned about the uneven and inadequate protection afforded to internally displaced persons, he said. It was unacceptable that legalistic distinctions prevented assistance because persons were classified as internally displaced persons instead of refugees. They were homeless and in need, regardless of whether they had crossed international borders.

Humanitarian organizations must improve how they defined and coordinated their needs for access and security, he went on. Both peacekeepers and humanitarian workers must be sensitive to each other’s operational culture. In considering the ways in which the United Nations might coordinate peacekeeping with the response to humanitarian crises, the issue of ensuring the security and neutrality of refugee camps must be considered. The Council should explore the use, in certain cases, by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of multinational civilian police to establish basic security within refugee camps or sites, and training programmes for host country police and refugees themselves, to promote community policing. The Council must now act on what it had started, he said. That meant concerted follow-up to improve planning and coordination, both within the United Nations and throughout the wider humanitarian community. It meant assuring that peacekeepers and humanitarian workers were trained and educated to be mutually reinforcing, and it meant pressing governments and the private sector for the necessary resources.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflicts was unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms. The effectiveness of humanitarian action by the Council hinged on several factors. Those included: complete neutrality and impartiality of peacekeeping operations; proper training of humanitarian staff and peacekeeping personnel; protection of humanitarian personnel; continued provision of assistance to populations in need; and relevant peace negotiations that included specific humanitarian elements, which took into account the needs and special circumstances of civilian populations.

Humanitarian action must not be seen as a substitute for action to resolve conflicts at the political level, she continued. If it was not complemented by diplomatic or political solutions, its effectiveness could be undermined and the situation made even worse. The elimination of humanitarian crises and the need for related action required enhanced efforts by the Council to address the root causes of conflicts, which gave rise to the complex emergencies in the first place. Greater attention to the role of preventive diplomacy was essential, and the Council must increase its efforts to deploy a preventive peacekeeping presence where appropriate.

The link between the socio-economic and development aspect of conflicts was also crucial, she said. The Council must develop a clear idea of its limitations in addressing issues in the humanitarian area. Its coordination with other United Nations bodies and the Bretton Woods institutions for continued post-conflict reconstruction, rehabilitation and peace-building efforts for sustainable peace was, therefore, essential for ongoing reconciliation and humanitarian protection.

She said the Council must also bear in mind that, while sanctions could be an effective tool to punish those who violated international law, they could also severely impact civilians. The application of "smart sanctions" which punished those they were intended to punish, while not resulting in serious humanitarian consequences for the innocent, was, therefore, important to the debate.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the defenselessness and vulnerability of unarmed civilians in many conflict situations demanded the serious attention of the Security Council. It was imperative in such situations that the international community, and the Council in particular, took immediate and appropriate action to ameliorate their tragic situations. As the body charged with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, it must make every effort to ensure the protection and delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the return of displaced people at the end of a conflict. There should be close monitoring of conflict situations and early recognition of manifestations of human tragedy, he said. Perpetrators of violations of human rights -- the cause of so much humanitarian tragedy -- should be identified and appropriately punished whenever possible. Setting up national or international tribunals was a concrete deterrent to curb the culture of impunity so prevalent in conflict situations. Would-be violators should know they could not hope to escape the law. It was equally important for the Council to ensure safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance and the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and other humanitarian workers. Such people were at least as important as peacekeepers and deserved the Council's support and admiration -- which would be best demonstrated by the Council ensuring their personal safety. Peacekeepers should also be trained and familiarized with humanitarian tasks and laws.

The draft statement being considered reaffirmed the Council's Charter responsibilities, he said, and delineated the procedural and practical measures that it could take in fulfilling those responsibilities, either acting alone or with humanitarian organizations or non-governmental organizations. He hoped that highlighting those issues would further sensitize the Council and the international community as a whole to the seriousness of the problems faced by civilians in armed conflicts. It was imperative for the Council to be well informed, well coordinated and fully responsive.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said today most conflicts were internal and characterized by massive violations of human rights. It often became impossible to distinguish between combatants and civilians. Because the security of humanitarian assistance was of the greatest importance in conflicts, the Council must see that United Nations and humanitarian staff carried out their duties in the best possible environment. The Council must reaffirm that hindrances to such access violated international law and those responsible must be answerable for their acts. He also stressed the need for adequate resources to ensure effective operations.

He drew attention to the issue of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and the devastating impact of anti-personnel mines. While it was true that the primary responsibility for controlling the import, export and production of arms lay with States, the Council also had a role to play, particularly regarding arms embargoes. His delegation welcomed the Secretary- General’s recommendations, contained in his report on the protection of civilians, regarding the imposition of arms embargoes in certain cases. Those who were acting in various circles to help with humanitarian aid should be united in a single framework. He supported efforts to strengthen United Nations bodies and close cooperation outside the United Nations, with non-State groups, including civil society bodies. He also supported the presidential statement to be adopted at the end of the meeting.

SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said humanitarian activities were necessary in armed conflicts. That was a duty borne by the international community that could not be shirked. The Council must shoulder its responsibility in that field, as well. Humanitarian action must be an integral part of efforts to address the crucial aspects of crises and to put an end to them. Substantial action was needed to tackle all aspects related to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including such issues as personnel and resources.

Humanitarian assistance activities must comply strictly with the principles of State sovereignty, territorial integrity and non- interference. Those cardinal principles still defined the nature of international humanitarian assistance. In addition, when providing humanitarian assistance, the consent of the parties concerned, including governments, must also be secured. That was important because it would ensure greater success for the delivery of services to victims and the safety of persons delivering those services.

He said the work of the United Nations system in the humanitarian field would be enhanced if such work were carried out in close cooperation with regional organizations. He wanted the General Assembly to design a policy for that particular field, so that humanitarian activities could be part of a comprehensive and integrated approach that would benefit civilians. In the area of financing, a sustained effort by donors was needed.

SELMA NDEYAPO ASHIPALA-MUSAVYI (Namibia) said she was compelled to address a humanitarian issue that was not under the Council’s direct realm, because of the sheer magnitude of the problem and the fact that the country was in the process of post-conflict reconstruction. The people of Mozambique were going through extreme difficulties as a result of the devastating cyclone. She noted with appreciation that the Council had pronounced solidarity in seeking support from the international community to enable the people of that country to overcome the devastating effects of the flood. She welcomed the decision of Portugal and the United Kingdom to write off all Mozambican debt, and appealed to other States to do the same.

Humanitarian assistance to war-affected populations had become an integral part of United Nations operations, she said. The Council’s tardy authorization of the deployment of peacekeeping missions with appropriate mandates and the lack of adequate financial resources continued to constrain effective peacekeeping, leading to the continued suffering of innocent civilians. The case of Sierra Leone was classic in many respects. While consideration of humanitarian elements in peace negotiations was essential, in cases where peace agreements had been secured, the Council must act swiftly to assist in consolidating peace by facilitating implementation of those agreements. By doing that, it could avert humanitarian catastrophe.

Natural disasters were difficult to prevent, but that was not the case with man-made disasters, she went on. Early warning was the best way to avert tragedies, and the Council must continue to work to preserve peace at all times irrespective of the fragility of the peace or the geographical location. To prevent conflict, a sound understanding of the underlying factors was necessary. In Africa, for example, the accumulation of illicit trafficking in small arms, among other things, must be prevented. Another critical area was the strengthening of coordination mechanisms to ensure correct approaches and complementary programming. She agreed with the notion of ensuring access of humanitarian agencies to war-affected populations. But in the spirit of transparency and respect for States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, humanitarian agencies must work in close cooperation with the host government, whose primary responsibility was the provision of humanitarian assistance and security and the protection of all civilians in a conflict situation. That was a confidence-building measure, and would also assist in improving the coordination and management of resources.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the humanizing of international relations was key to a more human world, and a central goal of his Government. Without equating the role of the Council with that of humanitarian organizations, it was true that, in current circumstances, the Council must lend active political support to the work of humanitarian entities. The Russian Federation supported the inclusion of language to ensure the safety of humanitarian staff, the observance of international humanitarian law and unimpeded access to all those in need.

Humanitarian assistance should not be used as an instrument for exerting political influence, he said. It must be used in accordance with the principles of neutrality and neither violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of host States, nor interfere with political processes.

The Russian Federation supported consultations between the Council and humanitarian organizations -- first and foremost, the UNHCR -- at the planning and preparation stage of peacekeeping operations with humanitarian components, he said. Experience showed that the settlement of humanitarian crises affected regional stability, but humanitarian law could not be enforced in actions that contradicted international law. The Russian Federation was open to work on criteria and legal frameworks, including binding ones and enforcement activities in cases of extreme humanitarian situations. But, such work should be done and agreed upon collectively. He supported the adoption of the statement today.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said there were conflicts in many regions of the world, undermining political stability, economic development and people's livelihoods, and often causing serious humanitarian problems. His country was deeply concerned about that and wished to show its appreciation of efforts by United Nations institutions and others in alleviating the problems faced by civilians in armed conflicts. He urged the parties concerned to strictly abide by international humanitarian law and to provide the necessary guarantees and ensure unhindered access to humanitarian organizations, so they could work effectively. At the same time, he was supportive of incorporating, as appropriate, humanitarian aspects in peacekeeping activities authorized by the Council. The Security Council should pay attention to humanitarian issues and take humanitarian considerations into account when fulfilling its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.

The purpose of humanitarian assistance from the international community should be to eliminate or alleviate crises, he said, and the unique realities or difficulties of the country concerned should be given full consideration to avoid complicating or aggravating the situation that caused the problem. All humanitarian organizations needed to fully heed the views of the country they were in, and adopt an unbiased position towards all recipients and parties. The non-political nature of the work must be upheld. The sovereignty of recipient countries should not be threatened. No one should interfere with the internal affairs of a sovereign State in the name of humanitarian assistance, nor should humanitarian responses be used as a pretext to use force against a State.

The lack of financial resources has put a great strain on humanitarian activities in recent years, he said. He called on the international community to make further efforts in that regard, and to put equal emphasis to meeting and assisting in humanitarian crises wherever they eventuated. Humanitarian issues should be addressed by treating both symptoms and root causes. Poverty and economic backwardness, territorial and border disputes inherited from the past, and ethnic and religious differences caused conflict in many regions. Helping countries to eradicate poverty, develop their economies and create favourable external environments would help reduce tension and conflict.

ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said an integrated approach to various aspects of the Council’s work in humanitarian assistance was needed. A strategic framework should be used to provide for integration of all the relevant actors and contributors.

Reconciliation was a key element in establishing a lasting peace, he continued. In that context, the Council should always stress the full investigation of war crimes, both at inter- and intra-State levels, to facilitate national reconciliation.

He agreed with the United States' position on internally displaced persons. It was unacceptable that people should be denied relief or protection because of their status. Civilians experiencing horror, whatever their status, should not be denied relief. The Security Council should address that issue and also look into providing secure conditions when a State could not provide security and relief for such persons.

VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said that in today’s wars civilians were not simply collateral victims of atrocities by parties to a conflict; rather, they were direct targets. It was, therefore, encouraging that the Council increasingly focused on the problem, promoting the protection of civilians from the impact of war and contributing to conflict resolution. Ukraine was one of the original co-sponsors of the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and he reiterated support for the elaboration of an additional protocol to the Convention to provide legal protection to the currently uncovered humanitarian personnel of international organizations.

It was also important to ensure that humanitarian concerns were fully taken into account in the negotiation of peace agreements, and that the relevant humanitarian components were incorporated into those agreements, he continued. It would be useful to take stock of experience gained in the past decade and review existing peace agreements and practices of negotiation, in order to formulate general approaches in preparing and negotiating future peace arrangements. The growing number of brutal armed conflicts was, to a large extent, the result of poverty and decreasing resources. Sustainable economic development and strengthening the fabric society could play a key role in eliminating the causes of conflict. As for the Council’s role, its elaboration of a long-term preventive strategy on the potential sources of conflicts could be one practical step towards the transition from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that the link between humanitarian crisis and conflict was an indubitable one, which had been highlighted recently in many aspects of the Council's work beginning with the debate on human security last year. The Council should carefully consider the humanitarian aspects of its work. Only then would it be able to effectively factor that key element into its efforts to prevent and stop conflicts. While it was a truism that humanitarian crises could frequently become the genesis of conflicts, it was an invariable fact that humanitarian crises arose from conflict. If the Council was to take full account of all the causes and consequences of conflict, in all its work, including conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building, then it must take full account of the humanitarian aspect.

The presidential statement to be delivered at the end of the debate would set out a number of practical humanitarian issues that the Council should consider, he added. Issues ranging from the safe provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected by conflict, to the incorporation of humanitarian issues in peace agreements, needed to be emphasized. Those issues were essential components of a comprehensive strategy in the Council to deal with the causes and consequences of conflict.

Finally, he expressed his country's sympathy for the people of Mozambique and encouraged Member States and the humanitarian agencies to continue their efforts to deliver assistance and support.

ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) said the complexity and magnitude of today’s conflicts were issues that could not be pushed aside in the Council’s consideration of questions related to maintaining international peace and security. The scale and destructive impact of conflicts demanded an integrated approach in tackling situations, encompassing both peace and security, humanitarian assistance and subsequent rehabilitation. The Council bore the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security. Violence directed against United Nations personnel, particularly humanitarian personnel, was one of the more atrocious acts committed in conflicts.

Of the many ideas outlined in the Council’s debate last month, he said he would mention two today: the importance of formulating clear-cut mandates for peacekeeping operations; and the need to give particular attention to the provision outlined in S/PRST/2000/4 that all appropriate measures within its scope should be considered to ensure the safety of personnel. His country was gravely concerned about attacks against civilians. Where populations without direct involvement in conflict were suffering, there was a need to incorporate the humanitarian component of the peacekeeping mission. There was also a need to coordinate without distorting the functions of each United Nations entity. New options should be explored and the working group responsible for studying the recommendations the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict might be useful in that regard. Handling the humanitarian consequences of conflict was the most pressing moral challenge faced by the United Nations today.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the title of this morning's meeting was very loose and thus made it very difficult for Member States to either address it accurately or speak about it in specific terms. The term "humanitarian activities" involved too many concepts and matters. He also wished to emphasize the importance of maintaining the delicate balance established in the Charter between the responsibilities of the various delicate organs of the United Nations. The debate this morning should not be interpreted as the Council becoming the executive arm of the United Nations in all areas of operations.

He reconfirmed the Non-Aligned Movement's commitment to the need to differentiate between peacekeeping and humanitarian activities. Both operations were premised on neutrality, he said. If the nature of the relationship of those two activities changed, they would be stripped of their neutral character. There were also persistent efforts both within and outside the United Nations to inject vague and non-agreed concepts under the title of peacekeeping, whose very definition had become too loose. Those ideas strayed far from the accepted concept of peacekeeping. There was thus a potential risk of erosion or the relative disappearance of traditional peacekeeping in favour of new practices.

He said humanitarian activities should be carried out with full respect for the operational rules of both the relief system and the host country. Children were the most affected and vulnerable groups in an armed conflict. The damage caused to them did not end with the termination of hostilities. The adverse impact on them spilled over into the following generation. Paying attention to their needs in post-conflict phases was, thus, critical. That particular phase also fell well within the purview of the General Assembly. Only that body, along with the relevant organs, could revitalize a society torn apart by conflict.

ULADZIMIR VANTSEVICH (Belarus) said the human factor was central to establishing peace and security. Every fourth inhabitant of Belarus had been killed during the Second World War, so his country knew the value of humanism. Wars and conflicts that brought suffering to millions were tragic realities today. Belarus welcomed resolution 1291 (2000) by which the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was authorized to undertake the necessary action, within the framework of deploying infantry battalions, to ensure the safety of United Nations personnel and property and the protection of civilians who might be threatened with physical violence. With the tools available to the Council - first and foremost, effective arms embargoes - progress could be made in ensuring the safety of humanitarian personnel. Those responsible for violations of the rules of access must bear responsibility for the consequences. The timing of assistance often determined the ability to save lives and the Council could not tolerate impunity.

Sanctions remained a substantial tool for maintaining peace and security, he said. Their effectiveness could be seen in Angola, for example. But sometimes they had an opposite effect, as was the case in Iraq. The situation should be the subject of a detailed discussion by the Council in the near future, so it could be corrected.

He said that in the past year, the attention of the world community had been drawn to the emergence of a concept called humanitarian intervention. But, the approach was illogical at its core. War could not be stopped with illegal measures. In today's circumstances, where the nature of conflict was changed, humankind must find a compromise and balance between sovereignty of States and of individuals.

The meeting suspended at 1:35 p.m.

When the meeting reconvened at 3:45 p.m., ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal) spoke for the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Stressing the importance of addressing the root causes of conflicts, he said the promotion of economic and social development, the establishment and consolidation of democracy, good governance and the rule of law, as well as implementation of human rights and humanitarian law, were key in preventing conflict. The Council, through early response, had a duty and irreplaceable role to play in preventing conflict. In the case of massive and ongoing abuses, enforcement action might be necessary.

Non-compliance with binding obligations had become the norm in today’s conflict, he said. The Union deplored the persistent violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law. The situation was compounded by the lack of law-enforcement mechanisms to which the international community could resort when violations occurred. In the fight against impunity, the importance of the early enactment of the International Criminal Court should be stressed. All those who had not signed the Rome Statute should do so, and ratify it as soon as possible.

The Secretary-General should resort more often to the prerogative given him by Article 99 of the Charter, in which he was invited to bring to the Council’s attention any matter that he believed might threaten the maintenance of international peace and security, he said. For that purpose, the Council must consider ways in which it might regularly monitor potential conflicts or massive violations of international law, either through existing mechanisms or by other means.

The Union encouraged the Council to further consider the ways in which combatants could be separated from civilians in camps designated for internally displaced persons or refugees, he went on. The Secretary-General should continue to ensure that the rights of children were given high priority in peace negotiations and throughout the process of consolidating peace in the aftermath of conflict. He should also further develop the means for implementing his recommendation regarding the establishment of safe corridors or security zones for the protection of civilians and delivery of assistance in situations characterized by the threat of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The strategic coordination of humanitarian actors at the field level should be improved. The consolidated appeal process was an important strategic planning tool that facilitated the transition from relief to development.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said the Council had often witnessed how a breakdown in peace and security led to humanitarian crises, which, in turn, could fuel further instability. South Africa viewed the Council’s role in humanitarian activities as having two aspects. The first, which it currently performed, was to focus attention on humanitarian issues resulting from conflict situations. In that regard, the humanitarian dimension should also be incorporated, at the earliest stage, in the formulation of peacekeeping mandates. Care should be taken to keep a clear distinction between peacekeeping and humanitarian activities. The Council’s second role, which could be strengthened, was to address the safety and security of humanitarian personnel. Clearly, with the increase in intra-State conflicts, there was greater pressure than ever on the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance.

South Africa participated in the Council’s debate on the issue in February, and believed stronger action was needed, as criminal activities against humanitarian personnel had not yet stopped. South Africa, therefore, supported three specific recommendations. First, there should be more concerted efforts to obtain commitments on unhindered access to civilian populations in conflict situations. Second, there should be a system of monitoring such access, as well as criminal activities directed at humanitarian personnel. In that context, the Council should invite United Nations bodies to report on a quarterly basis, in an open session, on humanitarian issues. The third recommendation was to develop stricter measures and credible mechanisms to enforce penalties on parties who persistently and with impunity committed crimes against humanitarian personnel. In addition, by focusing attention on humanitarian crises resulting from conflict situations, the Council could inspire the international community to provide much-needed resources.

LEIV LUNDE, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the renewed emphasis on preventive measures would prevent violence against civilians and humanitarian personnel. What the Secretary-General called a "culture of prevention" must be instilled. The Council should carefully and consistently consider such measures as preventive deployment or other United Nations presence on the ground. He urged the Secretary-General to make full use of Article 99 of the Charter, whereby he could bring to the attention of the Council any matter he deemed a threat to international peace and security. That required the establishment of mechanisms for early warning to provide time and opportunity for effective preventive diplomacy and pre-emptive conflict mediation. A regional perspective should constitute an integral part of such efforts.

He said building formats of governance that promoted tolerance and assured negotiation and compromise were the best tools to prevent violence from reoccurring in fragile societies that were in transition from civil strife to peace. While meeting humanitarian needs, the aim must also be to deal with the underlying causes of poverty and inequity. The threat or use of force in international relations must have a legal basis in the Charter. A difficult humanitarian situation might be part of the Council’s assessment of whether a situation was a threat to international peace and security. It was, however, not a sufficient or legal basis for the threat or use of force. "We must ensure that war crimes and crimes against humanity were prosecuted", he said. Efforts must, therefore, focus on seeking speedy entry into force and implementation of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

He said the uncontrolled, illicit spread of deadly tools of war, such as small arms and anti-personnel mines, fuelled the horror of conflict. The Council should consider appropriate ways to curb the illicit spread of such weapons. International sanctions were highly complex and riddled with dilemmas. The Council should continue its search for more effective sanctions through improved targeting on a case-by-case basis, while seeking to minimize the humanitarian impact of such measures. Targeted sanctions should also be applied as a component of an overall comprehensive strategy for conflict resolution.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the current debate allowed the Council to acquaint itself with the views of a large number of United Nations Member States. Humanitarian emergencies were a challenge to human solidarity and cried out for humane responses. The Council, however, could not properly fulfil its mission of maintaining international peace and security by going outside the Charter and undertaking to direct the response of the entire United Nations system.

He said the humanitarian approach must also encompass actions aimed at economic and social development, matters that were the purview of other United Nations organs and bodies, including General Assembly. Assembly.resolution A/46/182 clearly reflected the ideals of neutrality, humanity and impartiality in the provision of humanitarian assistance. It also needed to be underscored that actions in the humanitarian field required both the consent and cooperation of the State affected.

He asked how the international community could bear a special responsibility when it remained indifferent to emergency situations and when even the consent of States did exist. In order to bolster existing mechanisms of response to current emergencies, the current debate needed to be conducted in an arena where all Members of the United Nations could participate. In that context, the debate should be taken up in the General Assembly, where all Member States could work together to give the humanitarian issue the guidance it warranted.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said it was imperative that the international community, and the Council in particular, address the root causes of conflicts and disputes and not merely attempt to treat the symptoms. Only then could preventive action yield results. Any study of wars and conflicts showed clearly that poverty and underdevelopment accentuated conflicts. It was a commonly held view that the best way to promote adherence to universally agreed humanitarian law in today’s conflicts was through the implementation of the right to development and through poverty eradication.

The Secretary-General advocated international preventive action in all humanitarian emergencies as a consequence of wars and conflicts, he said. Such an enterprise must be clear in purpose, scope and legitimacy. The prospect of preventive action must be studied within certain parameters. The principle of State sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States must be respected. But, that could not be extended to situations where people under colonial rule, foreign occupation or alien domination were struggling for their inalienable right to self-determination. Also for humanitarian action to find general acceptance, it must have legitimacy under international law, conform to the Charter and be undertaken only with the Council’s authority. Distinction must be maintained between humanitarian crises as a result of wars or disputes, which constituted threats to international peace and security, and other human rights issues. The latter fell within the purview of the United Nations human rights system and not the Council. Further, the central role of the General Assembly as the only body with universal representation in the United Nations must be strengthened. The Council should not encroach on the role of other United Nations bodies, but operate strictly within its mandate.

International humanitarian action as a preventive measure was credible only if applied without discrimination, he went on. The Council had not always acted on the basis of objective requirements. For example, it had failed to address in a timely and effective manner certain long-standing conflicts that had resulted in massive human suffering and systematic violations of international humanitarian law. That was true in the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Rwanda, Jammu and Kashmir and others. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, which concerned the destiny of 12 million people, India continued to use brutal force to suppress the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination, as promised under Council resolutions. Indian repression and State-sponsored terrorism against innocent Kashmiri people found few parallels in recent history. All Council resolutions must receive equal importance, and be implemented without discrimination. The Council’s resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir had not been implemented in half a century. Progress in East Timor must serve as a model for resolving the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, and in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) played an important role in early warning, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. Its comprehensive strategy addressed the root causes of humanitarian crises and developed creative, forward-looking solutions. Austria, as chair of the OSCE, had emphasized key issues, such as the proliferation of small arms, the impact of armed conflict on children and internal displacement.

He said a very important initiative to bridge the gap between early warning and early action was the OSCE’s Rapid Expert Assistance and Cooperation Teams (REACT) programme. The REACT was a mechanism to identify, select and quickly deploy civilian experts to assist States in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. A task force had been set up to make the programme operational by the end of this year.

He said the OSCE was increasingly involved in facilitating delivery of humanitarian aid by international organizations and non governmental organizations to people in need of assistance and protection, and in providing assistance for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes. The OSCE welcomed the important role played by non-governmental organizations as essential partners for governments and the international community in the humanitarian field. Recent examples had also shown that close cooperation between international organizations could be beneficial and enhance the impact of initiatives.

JENO C.A. STAEHELIN, Permanent Observer of Switzerland, said sometimes armed intervention by the United Nations was the only solution to quell deliberate violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The Council must assume the responsibilities vested in it by the Charter. International operations involved humanitarian components, but those must not be substitutes for political mandates. Humanitarian action could not replace political action. Without the political basis for stability, humanitarian action might only provide provisional answers, instead of achieving its potential for stabilization and reconstruction. All actors, during and after a conflict, should be prepared to manage to the transition from an emergency phase to a period of reconstruction and rehabilitation, which was a delicate stage. The humanitarian dimension should be integrated from the start of planning of international peacekeeping operations.

Better coordination was needed regarding humanitarian actors, he said. Moreover, the attention and resources of the international community should be mobilized not only in crisis situations and the period of transition. The consolidated appeals mechanism was an important tool. New ways must be found to exert greater pressure to prevent parties from violating laws and to prevent impunity for perpetrators. States parties to the Geneva Conventions should fully assume their obligations and cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. All parties to a conflict must authorize unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. The extensive dissemination of international law would make a substantial and positive contribution to the creation of a culture of peace.

SATYABRATA PAL (India) said that disputes about the title of the meeting showed how controversial the concept of humanitarian action was. Humanitarian action had become, for the Council, the "love that dare not speak its name". The concept was not defined. It could mean actions undertaken for humanitarian reasons with disastrous consequences, or self-serving acts that had humanitarian by-products. Nowhere in the United Nations Charter was the Security Council authorized to engage in humanitarian action or aspects, and its participation would not have the support of the wider United Nations membership.

There was no role specified for the Council in humanitarian law or human rights treaty law, he said. Indeed, humanitarian intervention would be illegal under the international legal environment of today, as it violated, for example, the Declaration on Friendly Relations, which prohibited intervention in the domestic jurisdiction of a State for any reason. For the Council to decide to instigate such an intervention would undermine international law, leaving other Member States powerless to undo the damage. In addition, the Council was not a representative body, and other States might hold well-founded fears that it could act for less lofty reasons. Finally, if the Council really had a right to act to save lives and relieve suffering, it would have a corresponding duty to use the binding provisions of Charter Chapter VII to force developed countries to give 0.7 per cent of the gross national product (GNP) to developing countries, allow a famine State to invade a neighbour to secure food, and determine that intellectual property treaties did not apply to medicines to address HIV/AIDS.

For the Council to involve itself in humanitarian intervention was a recipe for chaos and lawlessness, he said, and when the law was bent it was the weak who suffered. In addition, such interventions rarely worked, as seen in Kosovo, where a "humanitarian" action had, according to a United Nations special rapporteur, just resulted in the rights of a different set of minorities being violated. Suspicion that humanitarian assistance had political motives resulted in the targeting of humanitarian workers. Humanitarian assistance should be neutral and offered when requested by States. It should not be media-driven, as the media was selective in its focus. When the matter had been debated previously, the Non-Aligned Movement foreign ministers firmly stated that there was no right to humanitarian intervention. The longer-term consequences of such interventions would imply that the United Nations should stay the course until a divided society healed itself.

VLADIMIR SOTIROV (Bulgaria) said that humanitarian activities had been among the primary responsibilities of the United Nations from its inception. Humanitarian effort were one of the Organization’s major reasons for being. However, from a historical point of view, the progress achieved so far in the development of international humanitarian, refugee and human rights law, as well as the normative basis for the protection of the humanitarian and associated personnel, seemed insufficient in the face of the challenges posed by the increasing and complex humanitarian crises. The guidelines adopted in that regard by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as the ongoing process for the adoption of additional legal instruments, could significantly contribute to filling the existing gap.

As the United Nations organ bearing primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Council should evaluate the humanitarian crisis dimensions and related implications for regional stability, while discussing and providing for an effective response to conflicts, he said. Humanitarian assistance should be an integral part of peace settlements and considered not only as a means for alleviating human suffering, but also as a prerequisite for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. Otherwise, humanitarian situations could reopen conflicts. A case in point was to be found in recent developments in Kosovo, and the deterioration of Mitrovica, which demonstrated that the international community must be persistently engaged in strengthening the transition from a humanitarian situation into one of rehabilitation and reconstruction. The Council must send a strong political message to the parties involved to respect the rights of all persons, including minorities and other vulnerable groups.

The past decades had illustrated a number of problems, including ineffective coordination, selectivity in response, excessive caution, donor fatigue, and the phenomenon of forgotten emergencies, he said. Given that, stronger coordination was needed between the Council and the rest of the United Nations system, regional organizations and international and national non- governmental organizations.

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) asked, how could the United Nations as a whole improve the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance? What was the role of the Security Council in that context? What were the limits and constraints on the Council to act in that field? Any response to the first question should begin by recognizing that any complex emergency was a multifaceted phenomenon. The overlapping of a vast array of problems demanded that efforts undertaken by the United Nations be coordinated. Conflict resolution efforts must be coupled with short-term relief assistance, rehabilitation and long-term development programmes. Clarity of goals and effective coordination were the prerequisites for fruitful cooperation among all organs and agencies involved in humanitarian affairs.

He said the interrelation of humanitarian affairs and security issues should not entail the automatic involvement of the Council. The Council was responsible for addressing the political side of conflicts. While doing so, it should bear in mind the humanitarian aspects related to conflicts. The role of the Council was to contribute to the work of the General Assembly and other United Nations and humanitarian organs and bodies, without trying to replace them. The Council must take action only on issues that posed real threats to international peace and security. It should also be aware that while its decisions could contribute to improving the environment for humanitarian assistance, the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council had the primary responsibility for providing the policy efforts of the system.

If the Council was to preserve credibility while dealing with humanitarian issues, it must avoid selectivity, he went on to say. The focus of its attention must not be determined by the level of media exposure, but by the real humanitarian and security situations on the ground. The Council’s decisions should take into account the need to preserve the neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian assistance. Many organizations were concerned that the use of the military for humanitarian activities, particularly in the context of the Chapter VII operations, affected their ability to assist victims on all sides of a conflict.

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said that any international action, especially use of force, must emanate from the Council, which must act strictly in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Charter. Only action in accordance with the Charter could stop violations of international humanitarian law. Lawlessness could be suppressed only by lawful methods. If intervention outside the United Nations framework was accepted, it might amount to opening a "Pandora’s box", for there would always be a tendency to use the pretext of humanitarianism and the protection of minorities and ethnic groups to cloak designs for expansion. The legal basis of what was known as the State should not be destroyed in the process of furthering humanitarian causes. Vigilance was needed against a growing trend to undermine the principle of national sovereignty, one of the principles on which the United Nations was founded. As a last resort, the international community might employ coercive measures, including military force, but that must be done in strict conformity with the Charter and pursuant to a decision by the Council, he said. Enforcement action without authorization by the Council and in contempt of the Charter undermined the international security system. The experience in Kosovo, where the Council failed to agree on a course of action and watched unsanctioned action by a regional organization, was detrimental to the basic principles of international relations.

The international community must give equal attention to all conflict situations that led to a loss of life, or humanitarian catastrophes wherever they took place, he said. It was disturbing that the Council had been sometimes too slow in responding to the conflicts in Africa and some other areas, and inadequate in committing itself in terms of the measures and resources it had authorized to address the problems. The threat of allowing financial considerations to influence decision-making on whether and how to respond to clear threats to international peace and security was a matter of grave concern. It could weaken the Council’s authority and that of the Secretary-General in the planning and implementation of peacekeeping operations.

There was a general perception that a uniform standard was lacking in responding to the outbreak of conflicts throughout the world, he said. The Council should be more transparent, democratic and accountable to the broader membership. The situation should not be allowed to continue whereby developing countries did not have appropriate representation on the body charged by Member States with maintaining peace and security. More efforts were needed to streamline the Council’s decision-making processes, to avoid paralysis that often resulted from differences among permanent members.