Security Council holds day-long debate on conflict prevention, resolution in Africa
4538th Meeting (AM & PM)
Chair of Recently Established Ad Hoc Working Group Briefs Council
More than 45 speakers took the floor to express their views today, as the Security Council held a day-long interactive debate on issues related to the recently established Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa.
At the outset of the meeting, Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), Chairman of the Working Group, briefed the Council on the Group’s programme of work, which would deal with: strengthening cooperation between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); confidence-building in the region of the Mano River Union; the role of the special representatives of the Secretary-General in Africa; observation and assistance to electoral processes; establishment of groups of friends for specific conflict situations; cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and subregional organizations; and enlisting the contribution of non-governmental organizations, universities and academia.
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall -- recently appointed as the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the West Africa Office -- said the Ad Hoc Working Group was a missing link in the work of the Security Council. In the current international environment, there was a tendency to underestimate the work done by the United Nations, particularly the Council, with regard to positive contributions to conflict resolution in Africa. However, over the past five years, the Council had devoted considerable time, effort and resources to gain a closer understanding of African realities. It had also dedicated itself to strengthening its relations with African regional and subregional organizations, such as the OAU.
The President of the Economic and Social Council, Ivan Simonovic (Croatia), noted that, as a central intergovernmental body for coordination in the United Nations system, as well as for undertaking studies and making recommendations to other entities, ECOSOC could help in examinations and actions dealing with root causes of violence, and with humanitarian assistance, economic and social reconstruction, development and human rights processes. There was a gap between the ending of humanitarian assistance and the beginning of systematic development assistance in countries emerging from conflict. That gap could be successfully bridged through a coordinated effort by ECOSOC through its functional commissions, agencies, funds and programmes.
The Permanent Observer for the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Amadou Kéké, said the Working Group should seek to promote and strengthen cooperative mechanisms -- first between the OAU and subregional organizations with a view to harmonizing views and rationalizing efforts in the area of conflict prevention. Regarding strengthening coordination with ECOSOC, he called for help in organizing donor conferences and work to promote the effective inclusion of disarmament, reconstruction and rehabilitation provisions in all peace agreements. The Group should also facilitate meetings between members of the Security Council and representatives of the future African Union, he added.
The representative of Benin, for the African Group, said the Group saw in the creation of the Working Group the sign of a real and durable engagement on the part of the Council aimed at ending the cycle of violence in Africa and giving equal treatment to all humanitarian crises. The nature of the Council’s involvement in Africa was becoming more complex, he noted. The Working Group, because of its flexible, informal nature, could help bring about innovative measures to deal with the new types of problems being faced.
Libya’s representative, speaking for the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, commended the role played by the OAU and others, and noted the effective contribution made by the Community in addressing, among others, the crisis in the Central African Republic, the situation in Somalia and the Sudan, and the deteriorating economic and living conditions in many African countries. Despite the Community’s efforts, however, the continent’s problems were numerous and complex, and the United Nations and the Security Council must take a lead role in supporting the initiatives of regional and subregional organizations.
Djibouti's representative noted that conflict persisted in Africa despite all initiatives and efforts. Where some parties deemed a conflict strategically, politically and economically significant, there was movement towards early action. However, certain conflicts were left to take their own course, leading to incalculable death, destruction and economic stagnation that took years to reverse. Hopefully, discussion, analysis and proposals would soon be replaced by vigorous, comprehensive and meaningful responses to such situations, he said.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Egypt, Algeria, Republic of Korea, France, Bangladesh, Cuba, Australia, Spain (for the European Union), India, Japan, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Tunisia, Ireland, South Africa, Nepal, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Senegal, Ukraine, Morocco, Colombia, United Republic of Tanzania, Bahrain, Mexico, Zambia, Côte d'Ivoire, China, Malawi, Mali, Norway, Mozambique, Somalia, Rwanda, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.
Hans Dahlgren, the Special Representative of the Presidency of the European Union for the Mano River Union, also spoke.
The President of the Council, the Foreign Minister of Singapore, S. Jayakumar, made closing remarks.
The meeting was called to order at 10:15 a.m. and suspended at 1:35 p.m. It was resumed at 4:09 p.m. and adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to discuss the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa. The Council was expected to hear a briefing by the Chair of the Working Group, as well as statements by the President of the Economic and Social Council, the Permanent Observer for the Organization for African Unity (OAU), the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, non-Council and Council members.
S. JAYAKUMAR, Foreign Minister of Singapore and Council President, said the Group had been established at the end of February following an open debate on Africa under the Council presidency of Mauritius. It had since met three times under that country’s chairmanship.
Today’s meeting was envisaged as an "outreach" session, that would, among other things, provide an opportunity for the wider membership of the United Nations to give feedback on the Group’s work, he said. In that regard, while taking all the views into account, emphasis was being placed on ensuring that the concerns and preoccupations of the continent were taken into consideration in the future work of the Group.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius), Chairman of the Group, began by outlining the establishment and the mandate of the Group. He said that, at its first meeting, members of the Group had held a brainstorming session on how best to implement their mandate.
The Group had subsequently agreed on a concise work programme, which would deal with: the Economic and Social Council; confidence building in the region of the Mano River Union; the role of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in Africa; observation and assistance to electoral processes; establishment of groups of friends for specific conflict situations; cooperation with the OAU and subregional organizations; and enlisting the contribution of non-governmental organizations, universities and academia.
Elaborating on that programme, he said the economic rehabilitation and reconstruction of a country emerging from conflict was very important. The Group greatly valued the decision by the Economic and Social Council to set up an advisory group on African countries emerging from conflict. The responsibilities of the Security Council in a conflict situation and those of the Economic and Social Council in the post-conflict scenario should be coordinated in a harmonized manner.
He said the Group would look into ways of encouraging cooperation between countries of the Mano River Union as a means of ensuring peace and stability there. The Group also contemplated working for the enhancement of the role of Special Representatives in Africa and intended to consider the institutional changes that could be enacted to help with that.
The Group, he said, proposed that the United Nations Secretariat examine different ways in which the Organization could provide assistance to electoral processes, from start to finish, at the request of Member States. In addition to elaborating on the Group’s ideas regarding groups of friends, he said there was a general feeling among the Council members that there existed a lack of communication and contact with the OAU, and the Council had envisaged steps to redress that situation.
He said the work programme was quite ambitious, and the views of the non-Council members on how the Group could be operationalized to address, in concrete ways, the situation in Africa would be most welcome. He noted that Mr. Fall, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, would soon be leaving to take up his new assignment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa. The Group would look forward to receiving his valuable contribution from Dakar.
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said the Assembly and the Security Council had recognized the contribution that ECOSOC could make to the effective implementation of conflict prevention and recovery strategies. The Security Council had identified the enhancement of cooperation with ECOSOC as one of the purposes of its newly established Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa. As a central intergovernmental body for coordination in the United Nations system, as well as for undertaking studies and making recommendations to other entities, ECOSOC had Charter-mandated functions that could help in examinations and actions dealing with root causes of violence, and with humanitarian assistance, economic and social reconstruction and development and human rights processes, that were at the heart of peace-building.
He said the Security Council’s oversight role in matters of development cooperation and humanitarian assistance could have particular value in promoting better integration between the relevant policy and operational dimensions, thereby complementing ongoing work that took place in the Assembly and the Security Council. There was a gap between the ending of humanitarian and the beginning of systematic development assistance in countries emerging from conflict. That gap could be successfully bridged by undertaking a coordinated effort by ECOSOC through its functional commissions, agencies, funds and programmes. Enhanced cooperation between ECOSOC and the Bretton Woods institutions was also of utmost importance.
In that regard, he said, of particular importance was the proposal that ECOSOC establish an ad hoc advisory group on African countries emerging from conflict. At the request of ECOSOC, a report of the Secretary-General on the possible mandate, composition and modalities of work of such a group had been prepared. Such a group would review existing arrangements to meet the country’s humanitarian, reconstruction and development needs and would make proposals to ECOSOC on how to ensure that the country received adequate and coordinated assistance to prevent the reoccurrence of conflict and promote long-term development. A draft resolution leading to the establishment of the group would shortly be submitted for consideration by Member States. The ECOSOC was scheduled to take it up in the near future, with the aim of first establishing an advisory group and then putting it into practice on the request of an interested African State.
AMADOU KÉBÉ, Permanent Observer of the OAU, said today’s meeting was a first step in establishing linkage and continuity between all African questions discussed in the Council. He said he had met previously with Mr. Koonjul and had exchanged views with the members of the Working Group, attempting to lay down the basis for cooperation with them and the OAU.
The OAU was at a critical stage of its development -- it would soon give way to the African Union. A review of the structure and methods of functioning of the OAU in the area of conflict prevention was being undertaken as a part of the transition. One proposal was that the central organ for conflict prevention would be called the peace and security council.
He said the Group should seek to promote and strengthen cooperative mechanisms -- first between the OAU and subregional organizations to facilitate the harmonizing of views and rationalizing of efforts in the area of conflict prevention. Regarding strengthening coordination with the Economic and Social Council, he called for help in organizing donors conferences and work to promote the effective inclusion of disarmament, reconstruction and rehabilitation provisions in all peace agreements. Special envoys should be appointed in pre- and post-conflict situations.
The Group should also facilitate meetings between members of the Security Council and representatives of the future African Union, he said. He concluded by praising the work Assistant Secretary-General Fall had done and would continue to do for Africa.
IBRAHIMA FALL, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that the Ad Hoc Working Group was a missing link in the work of the Security Council. In the current international environment, there was a tendency to underestimate the work done by the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, concerning positive contributions to conflict resolution in Africa. Having been directly responsible for African questions in the Secretariat, he knew that that kind of assessment was unjust. Over the past five years, the Council had devoted considerable time, effort and resources to gain a closer understanding of African realities. The Council had also dedicated itself to strengthening its relations with African regional and subregional organizations, such as the OAU.
The programme of work of the Working Group reflected the priorities of the Secretariat regarding cooperation between the Secretariat and African organizations, he noted. The Secretary-General, based on his report on causes of conflict and promotion of peace in Africa, had been dedicated to strengthening cooperation with the OAU. Recently, he had held important discussions with the objective of seeing that the recommendations contained in that report were truly implemented.
Regarding the development of relations with African organizations, he said that had become common practice in the Secretariat. Not only did the Secretary-General have periodic consultations with the Secretary-General of the OAU twice a year, the two secretariats had been developing a framework for cooperation. That programme of work had been evaluated every two years and had follow up within the Secretariat. Also, several subregional organizations had developed relations with the Secretariat.
Regarding subregional consultations, he said that there were already consultations with bodies, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He proposed the rationalization of the system of international exchange between the Security Council and the central body of the OAU for periodic discussion of questions, which on the agendas of the two organizations could have an impact on peace and security in Africa. Such consultations should be broadened to all African subregional organizations, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Those consultations would make it possible to reduce the risks either of divergence or contradiction between the position of the Security Council and that of the subregional bodies in Africa. To be productive in terms of follow-up of the situation in African countries, such consultations should also include Africa’s development partners, including the Bretton Woods institutions.
In connection with sanctions, he said the Council had evolved a great deal, particularly regarding Africa. Africa was undeniably most affected by sanctions imposed by the Council. The time had come for a more critical examination by the Council of the extent to which an exit strategy for sanctions could be better targeted.
He also noted that the Council had devoted a great deal of attention to the issues of small arms, light weapons and the exploitation of natural resources. There was a missing link in those areas. The recommendations and resolutions of the Council were not sufficiently implemented, and there was a lack of coordination between the work of the Council and those of African organizations. The Council could ask the Working Group to examine the feasibility of recommendations issued by various panels regarding arms traffic and mandate the President of the Working Group to be in contact with the permanent representatives of those States affected by the arms trade. The Council could also strengthen its cooperation with agencies doing work in the area of illicit traffic in arms.
JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin), for the African Group, said the Group saw in the creation of the Working Group the sign of a real and durable engagement on the part of the Council aimed at ending the cycle of violence in Africa and giving equal treatment to all humanitarian crises. The Group saw the work programme before the Council as part of a collective effort to deal with the question of conflict prevention in a global context. He supported the idea of strengthening cooperation between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.
The OAU had sought to "redynamize" its mechanism for conflict prevention, he said. The OAU must be joined in implementing the new mechanism by better cooperation with the Council. He very much hoped that the Group would develop close regular dialogue with the Economic and Social Council to make tangible the "peace dividend" for Africans.
The nature of the Council’s involvement in Africa was becoming more complex, he said. The Working Group, because of its flexible, informal nature, could help bring about innovative measures to deal with the new types of problems being faced. Among other steps in efforts to promote conflict prevention, the Group should draw more on early warning mechanisms operating in the OAU and subregional organizations.
Given changes on the ground in Africa, the types of intervention seen in the area of electoral assistance must be redefined, he said. The weak link in the process remained the drawing up of electoral rolls -- therein lay the sources of possible problems with elections. Considerable financial and logistical resources were needed. He concluded by commending the work of Mr. Koonjul and noting his hope that the Council would continue to support the Group.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) stressed the need to consider the points of view advanced by non-members of the Council today -- especially the African countries -- if the Council was to achieve its objectives of monitoring the results of its previous interest in Africa. Also important was enhancing its cooperation with the OAU and subregional organizations on the continent and developing its relationship with the Economic and Social Council on issues relating to Africa.
Referring to a similar open debate held in January last year on enhancing cooperation between the Council and troop-contributing countries, he said it had appeared, regrettably, that many constructive views and suggestions put forward by the latter had not found their way into operational translation and had not been reflected in the consultation mechanism adopted by the Council later. If the Council listened to the views of non-members today, then their positions should be considered and their concerns taken into account.
He emphasized that it was important for the Council to pay due attention, not only to ascertaining the common African positions, but to responding to their requests to the extent possible before taking any decision or action regarding the maintenance of peace and security on the continent. In the past, the Council had taken a path contrary to proposals put forward by ECOWAS with regard to the situation in Liberia and Sierra Leone. More recently, the Council had not responded to initiatives by the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States concerning the situation in the Central African Republic, and some major Council members had even worked to hinder or abort them.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that for a year now Africa was showing a more serene face. Gone were the days when Africa used to blame the Council for not showing enough determination in solving its problems. The relative calm in conflicts was the result of a collective awareness by African countries of the tragic problems facing the continent. At the beginning of the last decade, Africa had realized the threat of its various conflicts to its economic prosperity and the conditions of its people. That had led to the establishment of the OAU’s central organ for conflict prevention and resolution. Africa had adopted an integrated approach in addressing the root causes of conflicts. It was now necessary to see how the international community intended to support that approach.
Turning to the Ad Hoc Working Group, he said that it was natural that the Security Council work closely with the Economic and Social Council to integrate approaches for conflict prevention and resolution. A stronger relationship, including joint meetings, would allow for better coordination and avoid overlap. The ECOSOC had a wealth of information on the root causes of conflicts which could be useful. The Security Council, through its Ad Hoc Working Group, should give assistance to ECOSOC in a number of areas. Also, the Working Group could become actively involved in the Development Group of the Secretariat and help to mobilize more resources for Africa.
On cooperation with the OAU and subregional organizations, he said that the regular meetings of the central organ of the OAU made available a body of information to the Working Group, which would assist it in its work relating to early warning. Preventive diplomacy was desirable to ease tensions before they turned into conflicts. In that regard, the Working Group could take joint action with the Security Council, and the Secretary-General could dispatch special representatives to undertake fact-finding missions. In addition, the establishment of groups of friends for specific conflict situations might be useful for gathering information and coming up with appropriate solutions. At the same time, such measures should accompany action taken by the Council and not be a substitute for them.
LEE HO-JIN (Republic of Korea) said he wanted to focus on the Security Council’s relations with the ECOSOC and its cooperation with African regional organizations. First, regarding relations between the Security Council and the ECOSOC in the context of preventing and resolving conflict in Africa, the consensus was that an inextricable linkage did exist between durable peace and sustainable development, particularly in the African region. The need to tackle the root causes of conflicts had been confirmed by, among other things, Security Council resolution 1366 of August 2001 and the ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration of July 2001. Without reversing the adverse economic and social conditions in African countries, such as the high proportion of people living in extreme poverty and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, efforts for conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building in Africa would be neither effective nor sustainable.
Secondly, he shared some observations on the relations between the Security Council and African regional organizations, particularly the OAU. It should be noted that the responsibility for creating domestic conditions for peace and development rested primarily with the countries themselves. At the same time, the inflow of broader international assistance, such as the placement of United Nations peacekeeping operations and various forms of economic aid, remained indispensable. Strengthened participation by OAU representatives in the Security Council discussions on African issues, where practicable, could lead to a better understanding of the regional situation. Also, building on the achievement of initiating the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) in the social and economic fields, African countries could, in the longer term, consider devising a sort of regional peace mechanism, such as a "PKO Regional Centre", to monitor the regional security situation, issue early warnings and act as a liaison with the United Nations peacekeeping operations.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said today’s meeting was of extraordinary importance. More and more African leaders were themselves taking charge of the search for solutions to African crises. In that regard, he cited Algeria’s role in the search for a solution to the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. He also noted the efforts of ECOWAS and other States. Increasingly the role of the Council was to accompany the African countries themselves in implementing their own decisions.
The Council could not, however, just be a provider of services that would respond to the decisions taken by African leaders -- a true partnership was needed, he stressed. African leaders should involve the Council at the very start of peace negotiations to ensure that what was being asked of the Council was something it could do.
Some speakers had expressed regret that agreement was not always perfect from the start between the Council and regional organizations, he said. He thought it quite normal that views sometimes differed. He noted the productive nature of the discussions held on the subject of Sierra Leone. At the beginning, views had been different, but they had, over time, come together.
On sanctions, he said the Africans were increasingly asking the Council to adopt sanctions against some of their own who were not complying with commitments undertaken. He had seen this recently in the Great Lakes region during a debate with the parties to the Lusaka Agreement, who had called on the Council to adopt sanctions against other signatories. A real partnership must be developed. It was up to the countries of a region to determine the effectiveness of sanctions adopted by the Council.
All agreed that it was better to prevent than correct, he said. Most conflicts in Africa were internal crises, and that touched on the issue of non-interference in the affairs of sovereign States. The OAU and others could point the way in that area. He noted the OAU’s efforts in addressing the internal conflict in Madagascar. The Council should be prepared to work side by side with the OAU as long as the OAU wished it.
Often electoral processes led to crises, he noted. The Council did not have a direct role to play in this area. It would be good for those present to reflect on certain rules of the game that could be accepted by all. He advocated the possible establishment of a partnership between the United Nations and the OAU in that area.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said he was encouraged by the progress made by the Working Group to date. Sadly, Africa remained a conflict-ridden continent. That reality persisted despite numerous resolutions, sanctions and missions by the Security Council. West Africa remained particularly fragile while some progress had been made in areas such as Ethiopia and Eritrea. Each situation required specific responses. The Working Group should not become a back burner of unresolved conflicts.
On the mandate of the Working Group, he said that in monitoring implementation of the Council’s decisions, the Group should not duplicate the work done by the Secretariat and other bodies. It was the responsibility of the Secretariat to ensure implementation of Council resolutions and to follow up on that implementation. With regard to enhancing cooperation with the Economic and Social Council, it was necessary to find out if any lack of cooperation and duplication had been identified.
Turning to cooperation with the OAU, he said that the Secretary-General had established a mechanism for such cooperation that was useful. The Working Group should not duplicate that effort. The Working Group should act to spur on the Council to lead rather than to react. He hoped the Working Group would help focus on action rather than rhetoric and highlight root causes. It should take action to implement the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace in Africa.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) wondered why other groups and subsidiary bodies of the Council were not included in this meeting. There was a great deal of wisdom among the leaders of Africa, who were in the best position to find solutions to African problems. The Working Group should be presided over, whenever possible, by an African representative. The Group should have frequent contacts with African regional and subregional organizations.
He noted that prevention was the best approach to dealing with conflicts. In that regard, he stressed the important role to be played by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. The Council should not assume roles outside its purview and for which it was not prepared. There was sometimes a proliferation of United Nations proposals for Africa, but a global and integrated approach was still lacking. He hoped the Group would contribute to addressing that lack of coordination.
African questions were the subject of over half of the discussions of the Council, he noted. It would be useful for the Group to draw up a list of successful and non-successful initiatives of the Council in Africa.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya), Chair of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, noted positive developments in Sierra Leone, Angola and Ethiopia and Eritrea, but stressed that the Council’s responsibility towards African issues was still considerable. A great deal more must be done to resolve "these most complex issues in the world", in which political, historical and social factors overlapped, as well as the negative legacy left by the colonial Powers.
He said that given the special nature of the conflicts on the continent and the overlapping factors, the establishment of regional and subregional organizations on the continent had contributed most effectively to the prevention of some conflicts and the resolution of others, because of the knowledge those organizations possessed regarding the various aspects of conflicts in the region.
While commending the role played by the OAU and others, he emphasized the effective contribution made by the Community of Sahel-Saharan States in addressing, among others, the crisis in the Central African Republic, reconciliation between that country and Chad, the situation in Somalia, the situation in the Sudan, and the deteriorating economic and living conditions in many African countries.
Despite the Community’s efforts, the continent’s problems were numerous and complex, and the United Nations and the Security Council must take a lead role in supporting the initiatives of regional and subregional efforts. "We, at the level of our organization, shall assist them in fulfilling their roles", he said, though he noted that such an undertaking would require financial resources.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) stressed that the challenge and promise of successful conflict prevention and recovery was to draw upon and integrate political, security, economic and regional perspectives in order to develop comprehensive responses. Focused and well-structured interactions between the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the OAU could be an important part of an integrated international response to conflict, and Australia would encourage that during its term on ECOSOC.
He said appreciation of the economic factors sustaining conflicts had allowed a more effective international response to the scourge of conflict diamonds, including through the Kimberley Process, in which Australia was deeply involved. But, because conflict prevention and recovery remained very inexact sciences, it was important to encourage more local input, local knowledge and local ownership. African-driven initiatives and processes, such as NEPAD, must be supported.
Stressing that conflict prevention and recovery in Africa must be a partnership between the region and the wider international community, he said his country was a willing and engaged partner. This year, Australia would adopt a new policy on peace, conflict and development cooperation. With a modest but targeted development assistance programme for Africa, a major priority would be poverty reduction through capacity-building, governance and the fight against HIV/AIDS, which was an immediate and long-term threat to development and security.
INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain), on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said the Union welcomed the establishment of the Working Group, as it attached great importance to coordination between the main bodies of the United Nations, as well as between the United Nations and regional organizations. In the matter at hand, coordination between the Working Group and the ECOSOC ad hoc group, and between the OAU, ECOWAS and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was particularly welcome, as all could contribute to securing peace and prosperity in Africa.
The Union, he said, was also committed to long-term electoral observation in Africa under the Cotonou framework. It supported NEPAD in its efforts to create conditions for development and to enhance economic integration in Africa. The European Union was ready to work towards a unified framework of action by the United Nations system and the international community, based on the rationalization and concordance of existing initiatives, and welcomed upcoming reviews in that regard.
HANS DAHLGREN, Special Representative of the Presidency of the European Union to the countries of the Mano River Union -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, said that the people of Sierra Leone should be congratulated on that country’s recent elections, which took place in a non-violent environment. The United Nations, and particularly the Security Council, deserved credit, as well. Through the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), many combatants had been demobilized, disarmed and reintegrated. In addition, the peacekeeping forces had provided security for the people of Sierra Leone. While most of the weapons might be gone, the country continued to need the assistance of the international community. Also, peace and security in Sierra Leone would only last if the region remained stable.
To promote conflict prevention and resolution, he offered the following three suggestions. First, it would be useful to build confidence through political dialogue at the highest level. The European Union was ready to see how it could assist the implementation of such confidence-building measures. Secondly, regional solutions to conflicts and tension on issues such as demobilization, disarmament and reintegration, and the illegal flow of small arms and light weapons could be found. He hoped to work closely with new the United Nations Office in Dakar in that regard. Thirdly, it would be useful to work with the population to build a culture of peace in the three countries. That meant involving civil society in the political dialogue on the future of those countries.
On the situation in Liberia, he said there was a clear need to get the warring parties to talk to each other. The recent ECOWAS initiative to offer mediation was a welcome first step. The country needed a national reconciliation process.
ROBLE OLHAYE (Djibouti) said the Secretary-General’s 1998 report entitled "Causes of Conflicts and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa" had, for the first time, clearly spelled out the links between conflict, poverty and development, identified the problems and proposed solutions. The problem had always been to put its recommendations into practice, to promote mechanisms for their implementation and to gather the resources necessary for success.
Conflict persisted in Africa despite all initiatives and efforts, he said. Where the Council intervened after a lapse of time, the mandates and available resources were not consonant with the requirements of the situation. Where the strategic, political and economic importance of a conflict was deemed significant by some parties, there was movement towards early action. However, certain conflicts were left to take their own course, resulting in incalculable loss of life and destruction. The attendant stagnation and decay of economic activities took years to reverse.
While the Council and the General Assembly had thoroughly examined the definitive 1998 report, the implementation of its recommendations had been indecisive and slow, particularly in the light of African expectations. That brought forth the question of whether the Council could be even-handed in addressing all conflicts in the world, particularly African conflicts. Hopefully, the point was approaching where talk, analysis and proposals ended, and vigorous, comprehensive and meaningful responses could be instituted.
A. GOPINATHAN (India) said that while economic and social aspects might have a bearing on peace and security, the interface between those two elements should be coordinated by the General Assembly -- the highest intergovernmental body of the United Nations. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to establish the United Nations Regional Office in West Africa and was confident that, under the able stewardship of Mr. Fall, it would be able to contribute to resolving conflicts there.
He said free and fair elections were crucial for promoting and strengthening democracies. Election observation, where requested by the concerned State, contributed to confidence in the electoral processes particularly in nascent democracies. Establishing groups of friends was a useful modality which could
play a positive role, provided the group was a genuine friend of all the parties to the conflict and enjoyed their confidence as a legitimate interlocutor.
He added that he fully supported the idea of the Group establishing close links with the OAU and subregional organizations. While applauding the work done by the OAU and subregional groups in Africa, he stressed that the maintenance of international peace and security was, first and foremost, the responsibility of the Council, from which there should be no derogation in the name of burden-sharing or division of work. "The Council must not transfer its responsibility or take a back seat", he said.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said that to achieve lasting solutions to conflict in Africa, traditional peacekeeping operations must be integrated with election assistance and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, as well as post-conflict reconstruction and development. That comprehensive approach required good coordination between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. It was important, in that regard, that the Working Group work in a complementary manner with an ad hoc advisory group on emerging conflicts in Africa that ECOSOC is considering creating, avoiding duplication of work.
In the same vein, he looked forward to a constructive dialogue between the Working Group and the OAU/African Union on coordination with NEPAD, initiated by African countries themselves, which stresses integrated conflict prevention as pre-conditions for development.
In addition, he said, the Working Group should be open to input by non-members of the Security Council that have the experience and ability to play a major role in post-conflict activities, briefing them regularly on activities. Despite an international atmosphere focused on terrorism, conflict in Africa must be resolved. For that reason, in 2003, Japan expected to convene the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development and dedicate a "Year for Soaring Cooperation with Africa" preceding it.
ALLIEU I. KANU (Sierra Leone) said that the causes and solution to conflicts in African countries were nearly always linked to a wider regional instability problem. The Council needed to maintain its attention on the overall regional problems.
Sierra Leone had preoccupied the Council over the past few years, he noted. Today, however, thanks to the constant involvement of the United Nations, the people of Sierra Leone had hope once again. The imminent establishment of the Special Court and the peaceful presidential and legislative elections should encourage the Council to further support the peace process. As long as the situation in neighbouring countries, such as Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, remained dire, however, the threat of instability spilling back into Sierra Leone was still very real. Also, the huge number of refugees and internally displaced persons still on the move in a number of West African countries was troubling.
An effective way for the United Nations to assist African countries in the area of peace building was to combine measures in support of peace-building and longer-term development in a comprehensive and coherent response. A critical element of forging national reconciliation and social cohesion was to promote a culture of peace, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had a leading role in that field. He emphasized the importance of also disseminating the culture of peace among parliamentarians
and members of the armed forces and police, particularly when many of them were ex-combatants.
CRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia) said the United Nations perspective on the Mano River question should be broadened to realistically address the problem. Accordingly, not only should the offices of the two special representatives in Monrovia and Freetown be rationalized, but also moves should be made to incorporate the Guinean dimensions of the problem into current programmes. Perhaps the time had come for there to be one representative office for the Mano River Union. An expanded mandate for UNAMSIL along those lines might best meet that need.
He drew attention to the issue of mercenaries in West Africa. He firmly believed that the United Nations, perhaps along with ECOWAS, must take the issue up seriously. It must first begin by finding out who those people were, how many of them there were, where they came from, who recruited them and for what purpose. Then, it should design appropriate interventions to have them effectively demobilized and eventually fully reintegrated into their various communities.
He said the time had come for United Nations peacekeeping to be more proactive, in a bid to prevent conflicts before they flared up. At present, it appeared more equipped to react to conflict situations, much like closing the doors after the horses had left the stables. At present, there were many countries throughout Africa that were displaying all the right elements for a flare-up. The United Nations must strengthen its ability to keep a close watch on those countries and to intervene in order to reduce and eventually diffuse existing tensions. Among the other points he raised was that post-conflict support must be sustained, as necessary, to fit the prevailing needs in each country.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that the activities of the Working Group should be part of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of a durable peace in Africa. The analyses and recommendations in that report were still very relevant four years later. Interaction between the Security Council and ECOSOC had been shown to be beneficial with regard to peace and security and international peacekeeping. He supported the proposed working group within ECOSOC on African countries emerging from conflict.
The special representatives of the Secretary-General played an important role in conflict prevention and peace-building, he said. They already had a number of achievements to their credit, including support to governments to build peace, fostering national reconciliation, and facilitating the mobilization of international support. He supported the adoption of new institutional arrangements, with a view to making the role of those representatives in Africa more effective. Likewise, regional and subregional organizations had an important role to play in conflict resolution and post-conflict peace-building. Regional organizations could be an early warning centre for the United Nations.
The majority of conflicts in Africa were domestic conflicts, he said. Therefore, it was crucial to strengthen the institutional capacity of the OAU, increase its participation in United Nations activities, and promote joint United Nations/OAU initiatives. It was also important to include subregional organizations, such as the SADC and ECOWAS. In that connection, he mentioned the lack of resources in the OAU and subregional organizations when it came to playing their role in conflict prevention, resolution and peace-building.
He said that peace depended on economic and social development. Despite the progress made in the past few years, the situation in Africa remained alarming. The continent had the largest number of least developed countries -- 34 out of 49. That situation was made worse by the burden of external debt, the depreciation of commodity prices and insufficient levels of foreign direct investment. The NEPAD reflected the desire of Africans to take their future into their own hands. The Working Group must begin sensitization on the economic and social causes of conflicts, if it were to tackle conflict prevention and resolution in Africa.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said the meeting was important because it made it possible for a wider group of speakers to engage in a genuine dialogue and exchange of views on wider issues. He thought the Group, which was off to a fine start, could bring both richness and focus to the Council and also expand its relationship with the other actors involved. He underlined the importance of cooperation with ECOSOC.
He noted the critical need for the international community to focus on Africa and the challenges facing it. In that regard, he cited the call made by NEPAD for bold and innovative thinking. The way of approaching conflict prevention should, thereby, be investigated. As many had said, the situation in each country of Africa was distinct and, therefore, regional cooperation was essential. The Group could bring an extra dimension of reflective thinking to each situation.
Regional conflicts should be approached in such a way that the different elements were addressed. One of the weaknesses in the approach of the United Nations in recent years was the failure, at times, in its partnership with the OAU and subregional organizations. With the Group, there was now an opportunity to redress that problem. Looking at ways of strengthening the mediation capacity of the United Nations was another important subject that could be addressed by the Group.
He said sanctions were currently an important issue for the Council. Speakers had stressed the need for sanctions to be targeted and focused to limit their humanitarian impact. Partnership and dialogue on that subject would be of great benefit. The issue of development for conflict prevention was of critical importance, he added, noting the importance of NEPAD in a wide range of areas.
DUMISANI SHADRACK KUMALO (South Africa) said that the root causes of conflicts in Africa included poverty and underdevelopment, two issues which fell outside the mandate of the Security Council. Conflicts in Africa were complicated and could not be resolved by only using the tool of peace and security. Those conflicts had a social and developmental dimension, as well.
The NEPAD had identified the following three elements of achieving comprehensive peace and security in Africa, he said. First, the promotion of long-term conditions for development and security. Second, building the capacity of African institutions for early warning and enhancing Africa’s institutional capacity for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Third, the institutionalization of the commitment to the core values of NEPAD, which were peace, security, democracy, human rights and sound economic management.
If effectively managed, the Working Group had the potential to facilitate the interaction between the Security Council, ECOSOC and the entire United Nations system in assisting Africa to rebuild its capacity to manage all aspects of conflict. In the maintenance of international peace and security, he urged the Council to be open to the views of those countries that had an interest or were affected by the spread of conflicts.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said Africa was in a deep crisis. Most of its people were caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, illiteracy, disease and conflict. The situation was untenable and "we must collectively change it". African leaders would have to take the lead in implementing change. In that regard, he noted the launching of NEPAD as an important step. The problems faced were too complex to be addressed individually, or even regionally. The United Nations and other stakeholders should continue to encourage African countries to initiate regional and subregional cooperation.
The United Nations had already been extensively engaged in Africa in a variety of ways, he said. Its peace missions, barring a few, had helped manage conflict and bring peace to many lands, and its humanitarian programmes had helped millions of Africans. However, Africa required even more United Nations assistance. He called for the mobilization of further resources and greater advocacy to promote peace and development.
More aid, deeper debt relief, more investment and improved access to global markets were essential to help Africa’s developing and least developed countries to escape their situation, he said. He commended the Council for the work it had done in Africa and noted the encouraging beginning of the Working Group. However, the challenges ahead would be considerable, he stressed. Durable peace and security for Africa, as had been said many times, called for a comprehensive approach. Nepal was committed to working for greater cooperation and coordination between the various organs of the United Nations, as well as other actors.
T.O. APATA (Nigeria) said that most conflicts in Africa were solved by African leaders themselves without the prompting of outsiders. The question was how to feed such quiet interventions into the work of the Security Council. The challenge was for the Ad Hoc Working Group to work in collaboration with the Secretary-General and with the particular leaders engaged in some of the conflicts. He supported France’s proposal for joint United Nations/OAU post-election missions.
Turning to NEPAD, he said African leaders had committed themselves to accepting only democratic leaders. They had formed a sort of "peer review" and had been made it clear that African leaders who came to power as a result of a coup or who manipulated the constitutional process to extend their term in office would not be accepted in the initiative.
Special representatives of the Secretary-General throughout the subregion should compare notes periodically because events in one country were related to those in the others, he said. The Special Representative for West Africa should consult regularly with ECOWAS leaders who had influence to act in certain conflicts. Also, the Ad Hoc Working Group could draw useful lessons from the working methods of the Security Council’s Committee on Counter-Terrorism. It would also find it useful to meet with members of the African Group outside the context of the Council.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said a lot of good points had been raised during the debate. The Group was a good idea and Mr. Koonjul was taking it forward in exactly the right way -- but, the proof of it was that it must make a difference. Just as the proof of a better relationship between the Security Council and ECOSOC was that coordination reflected a difference on the ground. He emphasized the importance of having measures in place for transition periods.
Relationships with regional and subregional organizations had rightly come out as an important theme. He was glad the OAU was going to establish a peace and security council, which would facilitate cooperation with the United Nations Security Council. Horizontal and vertical coordination with other stakeholders was essential. The establishment of an ad hoc advisory group to ECOSOC was a positive step.
He continued to be very interested in the whole area of governance. Governance by Africans themselves was key to a new era of progress. He noted, however, that NEPAD recognized all that must be done by Africans, yet also invited non-Africans in as partners to help solve the issues. That spirit of partnership had marked the establishment of the Working Group.
Better coordination leading to results on the ground, learning the lessons of both successes and failures, taking up the cross-cutting issues -- such as AIDS -- and supporting NEPAD were all important issues that must be addressed, he said. As Mr. Fall had said, what mattered now was follow-up.
PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal) said that the United Nations had to reflect, together with Africans, on how to resolve the issues facing the continent. Regional agencies were firmly committed to seeking political solutions to African conflicts. The role of ECOWAS in maintaining peace and stability was well known. The most eloquent case was Sierra Leone, which recently held elections.
On the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group, he appreciated how quickly the Group got down to serious work. That would open up new prospects on how to intelligently manage conflicts in the Council. The Group should look at how to integrate ECOSOC, the new regional office in West Africa and ECOWAS in forming new strategies. It was necessary to have coordination and collaboration between the Group and the proposed ECOSOC working group on African countries emerging from conflict.
Guinea-Bissau, he said, was a typical case of a country where there was chaos in the country, but the international community was waiting for the criteria of transparency and good governance to be met before taking any action. He appeal to the international community to assist Guinea-Bissau, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Madagascar to solve their institutional problems and implement the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. With valuable input from Ibrahima Fall, Guinea-Bissau would soon find its way back to the path of growth and development.
He also drew the Group’s attention to a scourge that was becoming endemic in many African countries, particularly in West Africa, that of the proliferation and trafficking in small arms. He fully endorsed the strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations, the OAU and subregional organizations in resolving conflicts in Africa.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that the Working Group was a useful and proactive mechanism of the Security Council. He endorsed the concept of having the Group assist the Security Council in consideration of the conflict situations in the continent. Turning to specific elements of the terms of reference and programme of work of the Group, he made the following comments. He supported inviting major political, financial and academic viewpoints to address specific conflict situations. It would also be useful if participation could be extended, as appropriate, to the parties to the conflict and troop-contributing countries.
Welcoming in principle the idea of establishing groups of friends for specific conflict situations, he considered that such groups should be open for anyone who did make and could make constructive contributions to the resolution of the conflict. Regarding the setting up of such groups for African conflict situations, he supported a greater involvement of African actors in such endeavours. He also recognized the importance of effective cooperation and coordination between the Working Group and other existing relevant mechanisms within the United Nations, particularly in the Assembly and in ECOSOC.
Now that the Group was focusing on confidence-building in the Mano River Union, he said it was important that closer contacts be established with the United Nations Regional Office in West Africa and ECOWAS to consider ways of strengthening cooperation between the countries of the Union and supporting ongoing subregional peace initiatives. He wished Ibrahima Fall, who would be heading that Office, every success in promoting those objectives.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said the sustained attention now enjoyed by Africa within the United Nations system was all the more reassuring, as it had mobilized the attention of the entire Council. The discussion today took place at a time characterized by encouraging prospects for conflict settlement in Africa, in particular, in Angola, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia and Eritrea. He stressed the importance of avoiding an overlap between the work of the Group and the General Assembly working group devoted to conflict prevention.
For any action undertaken regarding conflict prevention in Africa, the report of the Secretary-General on the subject remained the indispensable point of reference. Any discussion of action to control or prevent conflict in Africa should, therefore, start with that document. Given the relation between peace-building and the socio-economic development of countries in Africa emerging from conflict, the need for coordination between the Council and ECOSOC went without saying. When discussing the cooperation needed in addressing African conflicts, special mention should be made of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The United Nations must adopt concrete measures to ensure respect by parties to a conflict for norms of international humanitarian law, he stressed. Turning to the Mano River region, he said the situation there required the full attention of the international community. A summit had been held in Rabat aimed at addressing the crisis, and a follow-up ministerial meeting, which had produced several important recommendations, had also been held in Morocco. He then stressed the important role to be played by special representatives of the Secretary-General in addressing conflicts in Africa. Another key area that should be promoted was cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that the Council had devoted a considerable amount of its time to Africa. In the statements delivered earlier, he noted an emphasis on the quantitative aspect of that attention. The qualitative dimension remained to be defined and agreed on. Today’s debate and the activities of the Working Group might serve to fill that gap, that deficit in the quality of the attention devoted to the African agenda.
He noted that other major organs of the United Nations were developing linkages between peace initiatives and development in Africa, such as the Assembly’s upcoming final assessment of NADAF. However, despite all that work, it was felt that it had not been easy to draw conclusions that could be applied to the Council’s work. Lack of conceptual coordination among the main organs of the United Nations needed to be addressed. The meetings and contacts in the main and subsidiary organs dealing with Africa should benefit from a streamlined effort.
He said that cooperation between ECOSOC, the OAU and subregional organizations and with the groups of friends working on specific issues should involve both African and non-African members. The United Nations should promote greater regional capacity for electoral observation within the African continent. He supported Ibrahima Fall’s recommendation that the proliferation of and trade in small arms be included in agenda of the Working Group.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) noted that, while three different mechanisms had been used to resolve the conflicts in Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Angola, the Council in each case had worked in close collaboration with regional and local entities. Perhaps, he suggested, the Working Group could go over the elements that had been positive and isolate the negatives in those situations, in order to expedite conflict resolution.
He said trafficking in illegal small arms and light weapons was the worst scourge in African conflicts. Noting that the Council had addressed the issue in the past, he stressed that conflicts in Africa could not be resolved without also dealing with that question. Peace was central to addressing the development equation in Africa. The Council should become an active partner for change.
He suggested that the Working Group take up the pressing issue of refugees as it carried out its work. He also stressed the need for the Group to discuss the relationship between the Council and local actors. In conclusion, he emphasized the importance of the peace dividend in any conflict situation. The African drama had been documented extensively; all analyses emphasized the preponderance of poverty. It was his hope that in working on blueprints for conflict resolution, the question of humanitarian assistance and overall development would be given pride of place. With the goodwill of all, he was sure that peace could prevail in the continent, and African development could become a reality.
MOHAMMED SALEH MOHAMMED SALEH (Bahrain) wanted to highlight three points. First, he noted that there was a clear legal basis for the importance of cooperation and coordination between the Security Council and ECOSOC. Also, the Secretary-General had, in his report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace in Africa, mentioned that a successful strategy for conflict prevention required cooperation between various organs of the United Nations system. Since the mandate of ECOSOC included humanitarian affairs, there was a wide field for cooperation and coordination with the Security Council. Human development could not be realized without peace.
The proposal of ECOSOC to establish a consultative group on African countries emerging from conflict, if adopted, would be an effective contribution to conflict prevention and resolution, he said. He hoped that a specific mechanism for coordination between that group and the Working Group would be established. Cooperation and coordination between the two Councils could be strengthened with meetings between their two Presidents and between the councils. He welcomed the initiative taken by the Security Council to invite the President of ECOSOC to participate in a Security Council discussion.
Second, the special representatives of the Secretary-General played an important role, especially in the hotbeds of conflict. It would be helpful if some of the special representatives in Africa were invited to Security Council meetings on Africa to hear their views on the obstacles faced and the ways and means to overcome them. Third, it was important for the Working Group, and the Security Council, to continue cooperation and coordination with the OAU and other similar organizations.
ADOLFO ZINSER AGUILAR (Mexico) said the Council was responsible for resolving conflicts and preserving international peace and security -- a task that was particularly meaningful in the African context. It implied a capacity to engage in prevention of conflict, conflict resolution and erecting an architecture of peace that would promote development for the peoples of Africa. The creation of the Working Group was of particular importance to the work of the Council. It provided the Council with a means to focus on Africa and channel its efforts. It must continue to be a focal point for the Council and regional and subregional groups.
The Council’s responsibility for Africa was one of its greatest challenges and it strained the Council’s ability to carry out its mandate under the United Nations Charter. He emphasized the concept of peace as a continuous effort that must be upheld by the international community as a whole. Consultations with the African countries and regional organizations must be the starting point in peace efforts for the continent. The guidelines for action should be set out by the Africans themselves. It was important to his country that the African organizations be promoted as the primary entities for peace and security in the area. The Council must support those entities.
The Security Council should closely link its efforts with ECOSOC, he said. The Council must immediately focus its activities on initiatives that could be examined by the Working Group in such areas as, among others, enabling peace through political arrangements guaranteeing sovereignty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The success of the United Nations and the African community in keeping the promises set out in the Lusaka Agreement was the foundation for peace in the region. "We must work with the Africans within the framework of existing agreements", he said, stressing the need to contribute to the success of the inter-Congolese dialogue.
Among the other points he stressed was the need to consolidate the achievements seen in the Mano River region. Another important issue to be considered was the situation in Western Sahara; the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination must be guaranteed. The Council must also continue to work to bring about a satisfactory delimitation of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said that in view of the complex nature of the conflicts in Africa, the Ad Hoc Working Group had a huge responsibility to find innovative ways of addressing their underlying root causes to foster sustainable peace and security on the continent. The holding of today’s meeting was a step towards realizing the aims and objectives of the Working Group.
The meeting, he continued, came at a time when a number of positive developments were taking place in Africa. He congratulated the people of Sierra Leone for the steps they had taken towards peace in their country. The successful holding of peaceful elections demonstrated that the people of Sierra Leone were tired of war and desired peace. He also highlighted recent positive developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The developments taking place in Madagascar, the Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Liberia were, however, discomforting, he said. The situation in those countries demanded concerted action by all concerned, including the international community, to restore peace and to avoid further loss of life and suffering among the people. He hoped that the efforts of the Security Council, the OAU and the various African leaders to bring about peace would soon bear fruit.
DJESSAN PHILIPPE DJANGONE-BI (Côte d’Ivoire) welcomed the attention that the Council was devoting to Africa and the fact that it was consulting with African nations on conflict prevention in that continent. Both remedial and preventive diplomacy were now essential in that effort. Many causes for the disease of conflict had been identified; it was time for concrete deeds with concrete results.
Among positive developments, he saluted the entry into force of the International Criminal Court, which, with the International Court of Justice, would serve as an important tool for both the prevention and resolution of conflicts and the rule of law in the world. He also welcomed the conclusions of the recent Working Group meeting with the Security Council, in which the Group insisted on a pragmatic approach and foresaw an association with the Bretton Woods institutions. So that activities of donors did not add to the difficulties of African countries, debt repayment must be handled carefully, and donors should be integrally involved in election processes, which was a crucial part of the effort towards good governance and stability.
In addition, the Working Group should coordinate with regional and subregional organizations, he said. The Group should also focus on efforts to staunch the illegal trade in small arms. Since overall world stability had an impact on the stability of Africa, he welcomed the recent agreements between the United States and the Russian Federation on arms reductions, after the concern caused by the weakening of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that, thanks to the outstanding leadership of
Mr. Koonjul, the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group was progressing. Today’s meeting was important, since hearing the views of African countries would contribute greatly to the Group’s work. He hoped that the statements, suggestions and recommendations made today would be incorporated into the future work of the Group.
The challenge of conflict resolution was a daunting one requiring the concerted efforts of the entire international community, he said. The international community should continue to help countries, such as Sierra Leone, in post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction, as well as with the reintegration of ex-combatants into society. To better serve conflict resolution, it was necessary to reaffirm that the international community accorded the highest priority to the question of Africa and that, in terms of political will and resources, it had priority. Also, any attempts to solve conflicts should address the root causes. In addition, the efforts of the international community should be combined and take into account the views of the parties themselves and neighbouring States.
In the last century, Africa was besieged by turmoil, conflicts and famine, he said. It was also the continent with the largest number of least developed countries. Such a situation could not be allowed to continue. Building a prosperous and peaceful Africa was not a task solely for Africa, but for the entire international community. Lastly, he wished Ibrahima Fall great success as he assumed his new post.
ISAAC LAMBA (Malawi) said that the Working Group had been created at an opportune time, because, although as turbulence in Africa showed some sign of abating, it would be premature to believe that the end of Africa's hard political road was in sight. Malawi supported the Ad Hoc Working Group’s outlined approach, especially its planned cooperation with ECOSOC and the OAU. Interaction with other regional organizations, such as the SADC, ECOWAS and IGAD, was also imperative.
He said that, besides supporting interaction of the Ad Hoc Working Group with the OAU/African Union, Malawi also endorsed fully interaction with representatives of academia and the non-governmental organization community. Collaboration with the ECOSOC ad hoc advisory group was also welcome, but must avoid duplication of effort, he added.
Support from various United Nations organs would be needed to properly execute the Ad Hoc Working Group’s proposed programme of work, he stressed. In addition, field visits were essential for on-the-spot evaluation of situations and the formulation of realistic strategies. Such activities, as well as election observation, would always involve expenditures, as well as careful formulation of terms of reference, in order to avert a backlash in the host country. Commonwealth and European Union involvement in appraising the democratization process had, thus far, proved useful. The Working Group should lose its ad hoc designation and become a regular feature of the Security Council, he said.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said that the prevention and resolution of conflicts in Africa required a global, integrated approach that took into account the complexity of their underlying causes and their devastating consequences. The Working Group would benefit from the capacities of the complete United Nations systems in studying and remedying the causes of conflict; therefore, the Security Council must be coordinated with ECOSOC on those matters.
In addition, he said, efforts and reports on border problems, the illegal trafficking in small arms, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, refugees, paramilitary soldiers, and child soldiers must be integrated with work on prevention of conflicts in Africa. The United Nations must be coordinated, in addition, with regional and subregional organizations, as well as civil society. It was indispensable, in that vein, to support the institutional capabilities of ECOWAS and the SADC in conflict prevention. Mali was fully behind efforts to create full partnerships with those organizations.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that a number of interesting proposals had been put forward, and it was now up to the Working Group to incorporate them. He agreed with the need for closer cooperation and coordination between the Security Council, the OAU and other subregional organizations. Also, there was a need for closer interaction between the Security Council and ECOSOC. For conflicts in Africa, a comprehensive approach was needed, which dealt with root causes. In addition, it was necessary to work for regional solutions. Finally, there was no doubt that the proliferation of small arms was fuelling those conflicts, and it was necessary to come to grips with that problem.
CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said that today’s meeting was timely and important, to assess the work done by the Working Group so far. Successful conflict resolution required a proactive approach based on prevention, which addressed root causes such as poverty, underdevelopment, ethnic divisions and the proliferation of arms. He supported the statement made by Ibrahima Fall on the issue of the proliferation of arms and his proposals in that regard. It was also necessary to implement the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, adopted by the Assembly last July.
Conflict prevention, he noted, entailed a strong nexus between peace and development. He saw a closer and enhanced cooperation between the Security Council, ECOSOC and other United Nations bodies. The United Nations must also increase its support to African peace initiatives. African countries were becoming more active players in such endeavours. He was pleased to note the decision by ECOSOC to establish an ad hoc working group on African countries emerging from conflicts.
Success in conflict resolution, he said, was the result of a better understanding of the conflicts. Those tasked with mediation should possess the necessary attributes to enjoy the trust of all the parties, and work with the highest level of impartiality and commitment. Also useful was the establishment of groups of friends for the resolution of conflicts. Those groups should be more inclusive and representative. The resolution of conflicts could only be crowned with success with the active involvement of Africans themselves.
AHMED ABDI HASHI (Somalia) said that, for countries where conflicts continue, the creation of the Working Group of the Security Council and the ad hoc advisory group of ECOSOC were welcome developments. Particularly important in their work was the enhancement of early warning systems and the development of a holistic approach to all stages of conflicts. Regional and subregional organizations had been very successful in prevention and resolution of conflicts. Their experience was extremely valuable, and from time to time they should be invited to contribute their expertise to the Working Group.
From his country’s perspective, it was also particularly important to review stalled or faltering peace processes, including that of Somalia. The Working Group needed to help reinvigorate efforts to end the suffering there. The Working Group should also undertake missions to conflict areas, putting a special focus on forgotten conflicts. His country appreciated efforts taken thus far by the international community for its benefit, but also asked for its re-engagement. He looked forward to working with the Working Group in that effort.
ANASTASE GASANA (Rwanda) said that his country had just celebrated the eighth anniversary of the genocide it had suffered. It wanted to offer its experience to the world, so that it could become aware of the dangers inherent in philosophies of exclusion. Africa lost not only its children, but also its natural resources through unceasing pillage. Africa should not have to suffer alone the consequences of the colonial era.
He noted that there were different Africas and different aspects to Africa. Among others, there was the slave’s Africa, the so-called white Africa, black Africa and the Africa of coups d’état. What could be done to haul the Africa being discussed today back from the dark pit of slavery and colonialism into which it had sunk? The conflicts that ravaged Africa had deep causes, usually in colonialism and in the neo-colonialism that followed the independence period of the 1960s.
The planners and authors of the Rwandan genocide, he said, had fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1994 under the guise of "operation turquoise" and had continued to attack his country. Had it not been for the support of the Congolese Government and its genocidal allies, that problem could have been solved by now. Why was the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo still alive? Why was the spirit of genocide still alive and why had it spread into the Congo? He reiterated that Rwandan troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were only stationed there because of his country's security concerns.
MARIA ELENA CHASSOUL (Costa Rica) said her country fully supported United Nations observation of election processes in Africa, where it was crucial for post-conflict peace-building. But, genuine democracy was a long-term process, in which such election assistance was an integral part and required demilitarization and peaceful solutions of societal differences. Assistance should extend to elections throughout the entire period that democracy was being consolidated.
She said it was essential to improve the activities of both the Security Council and ECOSOC, according to their distinct mandates, but in coordination. If the goals of either one was not achieved on the continent, true stability could not be achieved. Efforts should be coordinated from the outset; decisions and strategies should not be taken in isolation. A regular series of seminars and retreats for genuine joint action might be a first step.
The real problem, however, was a lack of resources to combat the causes of conflict. The task was gigantic and required the firm and resolute support of the entire international community, which was also lacking in coordination. Often, international efforts were contradictory or duplicated. Special representatives could be the coordinator of such efforts, but only if all actors recognized the primacy of the United Nations in peace-building initiatives and subordinated their individual interests. It was indispensable to guarantee basic living conditions and basic rights in order to end conflicts in Africa. It was the obligation of the international community to support recent efforts of African leaders to improve the socio-economic situation of their people.
ABDUL MEJID HUSSEIN (Ethiopia) said that many had noted the successful resolution of the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict. However, in retrospect, the conflict could have been avoided. The Council should have been more vigorous in supporting the role of the OAU in that situation. Regarding the coordination efforts by external actors, he noted that, with good coordination and the interest of a big power, a positive outcome could be achieved in a conflict, such as had been the case in Sierra Leone. However, in other cases, such as Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the conflict remained unresolved. It was necessary to avoid too many initiatives by different parties. The Council often kept a distance, unless nudged by a big power.
The Council, he said, often imposed sanctions but did not ensure implementation and follow-up. Also, the Council sometimes did not take action when one party was clearly at fault. The Brahimi report had stated that one of the lessons learned was to "call a spade a spade". Often, the Council did not do that. In cases where there was a clear culprit, such as in the case of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and Angola, it had not done enough. He welcomed the enhanced cooperation of the Security Council with ECOSOC. Stronger coordination was needed with various bodies of the United Nations system. He commended the Security Council for visiting countries and regions in conflict. Not only should that be continued, but the Council should also consider holding some of its sessions outside Headquarters.
FERNAND POUKRE-KONO (Central African Republic) agreed with the need for coordination between the Security Council and ECOSOC in conflict prevention in Africa, as it was tied to such problems as poverty, HIV/AIDS, and famine. African leaders were also concerned about that relationship. His country had been the scene of repeated crises, and African leaders had reacted very sensibly in their interaction with international assistance, for which he expressed thanks.
However, he said, the hasty retreat of the United Nations Mission in the Central African republic (MINURCA) was not welcomed, as much remained to be done in political and social areas. The sick person was still recovering, when the doctor left the room.
An attempted coup was one result of that hasty withdrawal, he added. Stability was returning, but, in considering the tasks of the Working Group, it must be emphasized that the re-establishment of peace was a long and slow process which must be completed. The Working Group would be useful if it could set priorities and establish deadlines, and if it helped coordinate all actors, including regional organizations and non-governmental organizations. His delegation, he said, would work closely with the Working Group in its efforts.
Responding to the comments made, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Working Group, Mr. KOONJUL (Mauritius), said that he was encouraged by the wide support for the Working Group and the programme of work it had submitted. It had been agreed that there needed to be greater coordination and closer contacts between the Security Council and regional and subregional organizations. The proposal made to invite the heads of those organizations to discussions in the Working Group was very much in his mind. As an informal group, the Working Group was in a position to invite anyone who could contribute to its work, including the countries concerned. Also stressed was the need for preventive actions and using subregional organizations as a means to get early warning on conflicts. The Working Group would certainly look into that.
Mr. Fall had mentioned the close contact between the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the OAU and their respective secretariats. That same contact was not found between the OAU and the Security Council, which needed to work harder with the OAU. It was important to have a special channel of communication between the Security Council and the OAU central organ. With regard to election observation, it was felt that often democratic elections were the beginning of a peace process, such as in the case of Sierra Leone. In other cases, elections had been at the origin of the conflict, such as in the case of Madagascar. The intention was not only to observe elections, but to help with the electoral process from the very beginning. The idea would be to assist any member, at their request, in the whole electoral process. There was also the question of coordination between United Nations, OAU and European Union observers.
On the illicit trade in small arms, he said that the Working Group was not going to be duplicating the work of the Security Council or any other body. That matter was being addressed in other bodies. Also mentioned was the importance of having close contact with ECOSOC, and especially the proposed working group on African countries emerging from conflict. He looked forward to working with
Mr. Simonovic (Croatia), President of ECOSOC, on the matter.
S. JAYAKUMAR, Foreign Minister of Singapore, in his concluding remarks, said that among the general points made during the discussion was that a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention in Africa was needed and the Working Group could make a contribution to that effort. It was also stressed that Council members needed to listen closely to all the points made today; a partnership needed to be created between the Council and African States in dealing with African problems. Lessons-learned exercises were called for regarding many situations, including that of Sierra Leone. Also suggested was that the Working Group could be more proactive in its conception and not duplicate the work of the Security Council.
Specifically, he said, it had been suggested that the Working Group could help the Council and ECOSOC liaise with NEPAD, in order to make smoother transitions between peacekeeping and peace-building. It should also listen closely to regional organizations and also help develop joint programmes in areas such as illegal trafficking in small arms. In other areas, the Working Group could help make the work of the Secretary-General’s special representatives more effective. In elections, the Working Group could suggest the framework of assistance partnerships for the full term of election preparations and results. It was emphasized that the Council should remain seized of elections in the long term. The group of friends idea was useful in some areas, but could not replace the Council in its work. In addition, it was suggested that the Working Group could facilitate regular dialogue with the OAU, especially concerning early warning, and it could add the expertise of academics and others to peace-building considerations.