DR Congo + 3 more

Secretary-General stresses need for more "effective" UN engagement in Africa

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said that while the United Nations was already devoting very broad attention to Africa, there was a need for more "effective" engagement. Addressing the Security Council this morning as it opened its day-long debate on ways of resolving conflicts and maintaining peace in Africa, Mr. Annan put forward a number of specific proposals which, while not "dramatic," he said, could make "a real and perceptible difference" in the quality of UN's work for peace and security in Africa. In particular, the Secretary-General stressed the need for the Council to show sustained and effective interest in African conflicts or potential conflicts, and to avoid giving the appearance of sporadic or purely rhetorical reactions to crises without any follow-up. "It is vital that, once you have taken an initiative or passed a resolution, you remain fully engaged in following up and supporting its implementation," Mr. Annan said. He suggested that one way of doing this would be to use Contact Groups of interested members who would undertake to follow through on proposed action on specific conflicts. One such mechanism, he suggested, could be various configurations of working groups that would bring together members of the Council, the Secretariat and the relevant regional or sub-regional organizations. The Council could also consider holding meetings perhaps alternately at UN Headquarters in New York and in appropriate places in Africa to establish closer and more regular contact with the Heads and staff of the various regional and sub-regional organizations. Another promising idea, Mr. Annan said, was the dispatch of goal-oriented missions comprising Council members on the model of the mission to Jakarta and East Timor last September. He noted that this and other preventive measures that had emerged from Council's recent debate on conflict prevention, could be particularly useful for Africa. Highlighting some of the broader issues of participation in, and financing of, peacekeeping operations on the continent, the Secretary-General stressed that African regional institutions lacked adequate resources and needed outside help in strengthening their capacity to keep peace. He pointed out that while the disappointing results in the implementation of the Lusaka Accord on the Democratic Republic of Congo were partly due to lack of clear will to implement the Accord among the parties, it was also a question of resources. "That is why, Mr. President, the most immediate and practical decision I am looking for from this Council is to act promptly in the case of the DRC before the fragile ceasefire is further eroded," Mr. Annan said. He also urged the Council to consider how regional operations, such as in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea Bissau, could be more fairly and efficiently financed. "No organization can consistently deliver quality performance if it is obliged to live from hand to mouth," Mr. Annan said, noting that the increasing resort to the practice of financing UN's own operations through voluntary contributions was contrary to the spirit of the Charter and inefficient. "It should be one of the highest priorities of this Council to find better and more efficient ways of funding peacekeeping operations."