Council meets to review implementation of recommendations in Secretary-General's 1998 report on Africa

from UN Security Council
Published on 29 Sep 1999

Meeting to Resume Tomorrow

"Africa fatigue" was an affront to the very idea of a responsible international community, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council as it convened an open meeting this morning on the situation in Africa.

The meeting, which will resume tomorrow, was held to review the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's April 1998 report on the causes of conflict and promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

Africans yearned for peace, stability and development, and were willing to work for them, the Secretary-General continued. States making good-faith efforts and adopting enlightened policies deserved greater support. But in all cases -- whether discussing peace and security, social development, environmental protection, human rights or human resources -- it was essential to think in terms of partnerships with Africa, with the Organization of African Unity (OAU), regional and subregional organizations, civil society and individuals. There was no excuse for not doing what was reasonable and doable.

The Secretary-General of the OAU, Salim Ahmed Salim, said that while Africans recognized that some of the problems were part of colonial legacies and injustices, they knew that many were of their own making. Noting that Africans themselves were taking the lead to find solutions to their problems, he stressed the importance of speedy international support for their efforts to achieve peace and economic stability. In the past, time and opportunities for peace were lost because of lack of timely Council action.

The representative of Algeria, speaking on behalf of the current Chairman of the OAU, said the United Nations should be as committed to conflict prevention and refugee assistance in Africa as it was in other areas of the world. He called for rules to prevent humanitarian assistance from being used for political purposes, for violating the sovereignty of States or as a substitute for development assistance.

Council President Wim Kok, speaking in his capacity as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, called for a common strategy to encourage positive developments in Africa. A creative look at new ways of strengthening assistance to boost preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping in Africa was needed. Linking debt relief with African participation in peacekeeping operations was one option; enhanced assistance to an African State that engaged in a regional peacekeeping effort would be another.

Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Brown J. Mpinganjira, said those with the capacity to help Africa change for the better were often reluctant to take action, claiming their national interests did not permit them to do so. As long as such interests directed involvement in international affairs, the chances for meaningful change were slim. The Security Council must advance the interests of the international community as a whole, not its individual members, he stressed.

Statements were also made by the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Gabon, Gambia, Ukraine, Yemen and Australia. The Minister of International Development and Human Rights of Norway also spoke.

The Council also heard statements by the representatives of the United States, Argentina, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Namibia, Slovenia, Bahrain, Malaysia, Brazil, France and China.

The meeting, which began at 11:20 a.m., was suspended at 1:20 p.m. and resumed at 3:34 p.m. It was again suspended at 6:20 p.m. to be resumed tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Programme of Work

The Security Council scheduled an open meeting this morning to consider the question of Africa. It was expected to hear a statement by the Secretary-General and some 50 other speakers. The Council had before it the report of the Secretary- General (document S/1999/1008) on the implementation of the recommendations contained in his April 1998 report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of a durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (S/1998/318).

"Africa today, on the eve of the new millenium, reveals a remarkable combination of accomplishments and unresolved problems, of opportunities seized and chances missed", the Secretary-General observes. There are many places in Africa where the widely held view of Africa as a region in perpetual crisis is not just an image, but a grim and painful reality. Yet, there are also places where there have been dramatic changes for the better. Democratic elections are gradually becoming the norm, and not the exception, in Africa. Good governance, accountability, transparency and the rule of law are slowly gaining ground in each region of Africa. Much of what the outside world has been calling for is now happening, the Secretary-General writes.

Many African nations are liberalizing trade and exchange controls, privatizing moribund State industries, building up communications infrastructures and reforming their legal and regulatory frameworks, the Secretary-General continues. A recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study shows that investment in Africa brings a higher return to United States and Japanese companies than any other region of the world. Financial reform and incentives for production are now widespread, while serious efforts are under way to streamline bloated, inefficient bureaucracies in many African States. A majority of Africans now live under pluralistic systems, and at this year's Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit in Algiers, Africa's leaders insisted that leaders who assumed power by violence could no longer expect to be received as equals in an assembly of elected heads of State.

The Secretary-General goes on to say that important breakthroughs have been made in the search for negotiated solutions in some of the protracted conflicts -- for example, the Lomé Agreement for Sierra Leone and the Lusaka accords for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A beginning has been made in the strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations and African regional organizations and for the enhancement of African peacekeeping capacity. However, the necessary resources have not yet been made available. The Secretariat's efforts are severely constrained -- and in some cases even jeopardized -- by the absence of resources. Accordingly, the Secretary-General appeals to Member States to be generous, bilaterally, multilaterally and to the United Nations and OAU trust funds.

Although Africa could do more to put an end to its conflicts, the continuing tragedies in some States should not obscure the African efforts that merit the international community's strong support, the Secretary-General says. While it falls first to Africans to help themselves, those nations making good- faith efforts and adopting enlightened politics deserve much greater support than they are now receiving. "There is no excuse for not doing what is reasonable and doable", the Secretary-General states.

The Secretary-General says more decisive action on debt is an urgent requirement. It is reasonable, for example, to increase contributions for humanitarian assistance. As of 31 August, the United Nations had received only half of the $800 million it had requested to meet humanitarian needs in Africa in 1999. In some of the most acute emergencies, less than a quarter of what is needed has been provided.

Continuing, he says that what is "reasonable and doable" is far from being a question of money alone. Training, technology, political engagement -- there are many paths for partnership to follow. With will and wherewithal on the part of both Africa and the international community, peace and development in Africa can be given decisive new momentum. The right kind of assistance now, carefully directed to those best able to use it, could boost Africa's own courageous efforts, and help Africans turn a corner and set the stage for a brighter future.

The body of the report reviews most of the follow-up actions to the Secretary-General's recommendations that have been initiated or completed with regard to situations of conflict: peacemaking; peacekeeping; humanitarian assistance; and post-conflict peace-building. The report also reports on progress in building a durable peace and promoting economic growth focusing on good governance and sustainable development.

Today's meeting is the latest review held subsequent to the Secretary- General's first report in April 1998. In May 1998, the Council established an ad hoc working group to study the Secretary-General's recommendations and submit proposals. On 16 September, acting on the working group's proposals, the Council encouraged Member States to consider adopting legislation making the violations of arms embargoes established by the Council a criminal offence (resolution 1196 (1998)). By a presidential statement from the same meeting, the Council also encouraged increased cooperation in the field of peacekeeping among Member States, the United Nations, the OAU and subregional organizations in Africa.

Two days later the Council urged the Secretary-General to assist in establishing an early-warning system in the OAU and strengthening that body's conflict management centre (1197 (1998)). It also urged him to help establish a "Council of Elders" within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mechanism for the Prevention, Management of Conflict, Peacekeeping and Security to facilitate mediations efforts. In resolution 1209 (1998), the Council encouraged African States to enact legislation on the domestic use of arms, to implement such laws and to implement import and export controls.

Statement by Secretary-General

KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, recalled that nearly one and a half years ago, he had submitted his report to the Council on how to achieve durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. He had been encouraged by the lively response to the report, both within and outside the Organization. But then, a shortage of ideas had never been the problem. Rather, the need was for real results.

While Africa today continued to have areas of perpetual crisis, there were also places where one could witness dramatic change for the better, he said. Many nations were liberalizing trade and reforming legal frameworks. Africa's land and labour resources were attractive to foreign investors. Africans were taking charge of their political fortunes, and were willing to acknowledge their mistakes. The majority of Africans now lived under democratic systems.

At this year's summit of the OAU, the continent's leaders had insisted on the principle that governments which came to power through unconstitutional means could no longer expect to be received as equals in an assembly of heads of State, he said. The day would come when the General Assembly would follow Africa's lead, and apply similarly stringent standards to all its members.

But, until Africa got a handle on its conflicts, such progress would remain tenuous, even in nations far from the fighting, he continued. Few African countries could match Angola's natural wealth or the poverty of its war-weary people. Yet, the parties there persisted in fighting long past the time when either should be placing their faith in a military solution. There was need to ensure access for humanitarian relief to the victims of crises, but that was not a substitute for the political and military engagement needed to bring stability and address the root causes of those upheavals.

Sierra Leone provided an important example of Africans taking the lead in conflict resolution, he said. The ECOWAS had sent peacekeepers there and brokered the Lomé Agreement, ending the conflict there. While that agreement was far from perfect, it provided a new lease on life after some of the most brutal human rights violations. Another successful -- albeit fragile -- African-led mediation effort had resulted in the signing of the Lusaka peace agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The parties to both those agreements must live up to their commitments. Last week, he had proposed to the Council the deployment of up to 6,000 for a peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone. With the initial deployment of liaison officers to that country, he was now studying further steps to encourage peace there.

Regarding the situation in Somalia, he said that its lack of a central government made it unique. There were areas where the absence of law and order had attracted criminals and subversives, but there were also areas where ordinary Somalis, tired of warlords and their violence, were seeking reconciliation. Regions of relative stability were emerging in the north-west and north-east.

Many Africans, remembering the failure to intervene effectively in Rwanda to stop the genocide, at times regarded the Security Council as indifferent to their plight, he said. They were closely watching the Council's deliberations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. Having recently witnessed the Council approve a far-reaching operation for Kosovo and respond to the violence in East Timor, they had listened while world leaders had welcomed an evolving understanding of sovereignty that allows the international community to intervene more readily to halt massive and systematic violations of human rights.

He said he hoped the Council would keep the broadest possible picture in view as it took its decisions. Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo needed more than humanitarian palliative. Each crisis was different, and must be addressed on its own. But for the United Nations and the Security Council to retain their credibility and the support of the world's peoples, the commitment to peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and other such action must be applied fairly and consistently, irrespective of region or nature.

Whether discussing peace and security, social development, environmental protection, human rights or human resources, it was essential to think in terms of partnerships with Africa, with the OAU, regional and subregional organizations, civil society and individuals. Those nations making good-faith efforts and adopting enlightened policies deserved much greater support than they were now receiving. There was no excuse for not doing what was reasonable and doable. It was reasonable to act more decisively on debt, for example.

"Afro-pessimism" was a dead end, he said. Africa fatigue was an affront to the very idea of a responsible international community. Africans had provided many signs of yearning for peace, stability and development, as well as the willingness to work for those. The right kind of support now, carefully directed to those who could best use it, could help Africa move to a brighter future. The moment should be seized.


SALIM AHMED SALIM, Secretary-General of the OAU, said the issues of democratization, good governance, accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law continued to preoccupy the African governments and peoples. The healthy and frank discussions in Algiers, in particular the decision not to accept in the OAU those who usurp power through the overthrow of constitutionally-elected governments, bore testimony to Africa's resolve and seriousness on those issues.

Since the last ministerial session on the situation in Africa, there had been significant developments in the continued and collective efforts for the peaceful resolution of conflicts, he continued. The signing of a ceasefire agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Lomé Agreement on the peace process in Sierra Leone were especially noteworthy. He welcomed the Secretary-General's proposal for the deployment of a 6,000-strong United Nations force for Sierra Leone. He emphasized the need to provide Sierra Leone with humanitarian assistance, as well as assistance for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

He remained concerned with a number of conflicts -- Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Comoros, Republic of the Congo and Burundi -- but in almost all of those conflicts, it had been mainly Africans themselves who had been in the forefront of finding solutions. He reviewed African efforts to restore peace and security in those areas and stressed that the United Nations had been the OAU's main partner for peace.

He stressed the importance of timely action and support by the international community and particularly by the United Nations and the Security Council in support of the peace agreements promoted by the OAU or the regional economic communities in cooperation with the OAU. He recalled past experiences when critical time and opportunities for peace were lost because of a lack of timely action by the Council. He called attention to difficulties faced by the OAU and regional economic communities in the implementation of agreements for Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and said the OAU lacked the resources to ensure the successful implementation of those agreements.

He urged the Council to take speedy action regarding the implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement through the deployment of a peacekeeping force. He appealed for financial and logistical assistance to implement the agreement. He was confident that the Council would take into account the realities and the efforts of African countries in dealing with their problems, as well as the events that impinged on the continent from outside.

He said the cancellation of debt with respect to African countries had become all the more important. African countries had already embarked on the required economic reforms and were not shying away from their responsibilities. While they recognized that some of the problems were part of colonial legacies and injustices, they were mindful that many were of their own making. The serious and imaginative efforts employed by Africans to confront those problems deserved international concern and solidarity.

He pointed out that Africa had 7 million refugees and more that double that number of internally displaced persons. African countries had provided shelter and support, but to be able to effectively assist their brethren who had been forced to vote with their feet, international support and solidarity, which had been diminishing, was vital. He said that, in dealing with African refugees, as compared to refugees in other parts of the world, the element of proportionality was not there.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the current Chairman of OAU, recalled that two years ago the Council had met at the ministerial level to consider international action to promote peace and security in Africa. For the first time, it had addressed the scope of the challenges facing Africa and showed its readiness to fight for peace on the continent, which had rid itself of colonialism without ridding itself of many of its sad legacies. Since then, the Secretary-General had endeavoured to make Africa the focal point of the United Nations. But, it was from Africa itself that the most powerful message of hope came. Africa had undertaken to recover, acting with unexpected vigour and vitality, but for its efforts to succeed it required the help of the United Nations.

The OAU had defied the challenges of internal and external interference in its affairs, he said. It had transcended the East-West confrontation, and emphasized the North-South gap. With the victory of Africa and the United Nations over colonialism and apartheid, the focus was now on economic and social rebuilding, and on establishing democratic systems. Today, in the midst of swift and uncontrolled changes throughout the world, resulting in fragmentation, Africa suffered from deteriorating terms of trade, external debt burdens, pandemics and the effects of human acts and those of nature.

Despite the difficulties hindering its capacity to manage its development, Africa had undertaken the costly and demanding challenge of renewal, he said. This year, the heads of State and government of the OAU, who met in Algiers, had made their thirty-fifth annual summit an outstanding event in terms of the promotion of social justice, free economic enterprise and the protection of rights for all peoples. The summit demonstrated that all of Africa was committed, with a sense of realism, to peace and recovery. The Algiers Declaration from that summit was based on the call for a sound and ambitious concept of universal partnership.

Africa had made its priority the strengthening of its capacity to prevent, manage and eliminate conflict, he continued. Inspired by the conviction that loss of life and resources could never be justified by false values, it had endeavoured to eliminate tensions and rid itself of conflict. Breakthroughs had been achieved in finding peaceful solutions to conflict. The OAU, in cooperation with the United Nations, was continuing in that vein and would intensify its efforts with the involvement of protagonists whose participation was essential for a positive outcome.

Africa had taken hold of itself, he said. It was determined to end conflicts that had weakened it, so that it could apply itself to development. There should be no doubt about its capacity to rise up and take its rightful place in the emerging new world order. Peace was another name for development. As long as there was poverty and misery, the work of peace would remain fragile. In meeting the aspirations of its peoples, and especially their desire to live in democracy and under the rule of law, the causes for torment and instability would be eliminated.

The Algiers summit was to be a new point of departure, he continued. The Abuja Treaty, based on which the African Economic Community was taking shape, according to regional and subregional groupings, would help unify the continent. When finally freed from the burden of conflicts, States would be able to devote their efforts to rebuilding economies and contributing to the continent's overall recovery.

Africa knew how to be self-reliant, but it must also count on the international community, he said. It expected to be accepted as a credible participant in the conduct of international affairs and the restructuring of the world order. Africa must be a decision-maker in major international issues, be they of peace and security or cooperation and development.

The OAU wanted to establish with the United Nations a sound and ambitious partnership in all areas of common interest, he said. Together, the two organizations should determine areas in which close cooperation was desirable, and build partnership. One essential area was peacekeeping. With its knowledge and experience, the OAU could help manage conflicts, in cooperation with the United Nations, which could provide political, logistic, financial and other types of support.

The United Nations should commit itself to Africa to the same degree as in other areas of the world, regarding conflict prevention and providing assistance to refugees, he continued. Stressing that cooperation was essential in the humanitarian sphere, he called for establishing rules for managing humanitarian issues, so that such assistance was not used for political purposes, or as a pretext to violate the sovereignty of States or substitute for development assistance. The "right" or "duty" to interfere, which some wished to make an international norm, was a source of major concern, he said. It threatened the sovereignty of peoples and States, on the pretext of addressing painful situations or absolving past actions.

The United Nations could play an important role in development, which should be the focal point of its efforts, he said. In actions such as alleviating the debt burden or opening markets to exports, it was important to reformulate relations and create genuine partnership with Africa. To be successful, that partnership should take into account investment, external indebtedness, trade and the negative effects inherent in structural adjustment and all United Nations bodies should be involved in a concerted effort. Africa must not be left on the sidelines in today's interdependent world.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States), said that, given that Africa was no longer the victim of colonialism or great power competition, the people of Africa now had an historic opportunity to see that in the coming century, their lives could be freer, safer and more secure than ever before. It was imperative that the United Nations do whatever was possible to support and foster their ambitions. He recommended a four-part agenda: help Africa resolve and prevent armed conflicts; help it to deal with such transnational threats as AIDS and terrorism; support Africa’s ongoing political transformation toward open societies and markets and assist Africa’s economic development and address its humanitarian concerns.

"In Africa, we have to work much, much harder to solve the conflicts that threaten the continent’s future and imperil its people", he continued. Concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said the United States would consider the recommendations of United Nations military liaison in regional capitals on how the United Nations could further the peace process. He added that the United Nations needed a strong, experienced special representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as soon as possible to galvanize peace implementation. On Sierra Leone, he said the United Nations needed to deploy the full complement of authorized observers as soon as possible and be ready to introduce a full peacekeeping operation in December, when the Nigerians planned to leave. Referring to Ethiopia and Eritrea, he said that although both sides had committed themselves to the OAU peace settlement, much work remained to be done to forge agreement on the framework’s implementation.

The economic structuresthat fuel the illicit arms trade - "the grey and black markets in diamonds, precious metals and narcotics - must also be attacked", he said. Next week, experts in his government will convene a conference to look specifically at the economies of war in Angola, Congo and Sierra Leone and what can be done to temper them. "But our responsibilities must not obscure a fundamental reality: The African people and their leaders must provide the basis for peace", he said.

On the issue of AIDS, he said that President William Clinton was currently seeking from Congress an additional $100 million to fight global AIDS. Concerning the threat from terrorism, the United States had been providing anti-terrorism training to law enforcement officials in eight African States. Stating that African democracy had made major strides, he said that the United States would continue to be a strong supporter of democratic forces across the continent. In the area of economic and humanitarian problems, he said there was clearly an enormous amount of work. President Clinton had committed to work with Congress to restore United States official development assistance to Africa to its historic high levels. "Statism and corruption - legacies of the colonial and immediate post-colonial periods - are hard habits to break, but Africans are working to break them. It is incumbent upon all of us to play a role in this process", he said.

LLOYD AXWORTHY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said that across the continent, Africans were seizing opportunities to build vibrant, stable communities. Democracy was resurgent, prospects for growth were promising and the "African renaissance" was under way. Economic and social development were central to that, and Canada had a long-standing commitment to assist in it. Canada allocated one third of its development assistance to Africa and had forgiven all Official Development Assistance (ODA) debt of the poorest countries.

Long-term prosperity depended on continued support for sustainable development, but freedom from want was closely linked to freedom from fear, he said. The ECOWAS had imposed a moratorium on arms flows, Africans led the campaign to ban landmines and Africans had categorically rejected the assumption of power by force. Clearly Africans themselves had made security of people an imperative, and the rest of the world should listen and support them.

He said international support could also bolster African capacities to resolve conflict, as Canada was doing by supporting Commonwealth efforts in Sierra Leone, by supporting the OAU and through training African peacekeepers. Building on Mali’s efforts on small arms, Canada and Ghana would host a conference next year to map out an integrated approach to West African peace and security concerns.

Where conflict had ended, the movement from cultures of war to societies at peace required assistance from governments, civil society and business, he continued. Controlling the marketplace of conflict was also vital to preventing further suffering, and encouraging more responsible business and government behaviour was the key. If business wanted to harness Africa’s economic potential, it could join the effort to remove landmines, thereby opening up access to resources.

The Council had a responsibility to protect Africa, he said. Contrary to what some suggested, it had both the authority and the mandate to take action against those who profited from misery, to help establish peace and to intervene in the face of massive suffering. More resolute action to cut off the ways and means for waging conflict was vital and that was Canada’s objective in proposing tougher sanctions on the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) activities.

Where there was a peace to keep, there was no substitute for collective action, he said, and the risks and costs of those operations must be assumed by all. Declaring problems a local responsibility, or simply passing around a hat to see what might be dropped in, was shameful and inadequate. The Council should send a United Nations managed and funded mission to Sierra Leone.

The humanitarian imperative had been applied elsewhere -- Kosovo and East Timor -- but not in Africa, he said. Such intervention was the responsibility of the Council and no other body. Common criteria, applied consistently, to trigger Council humanitarian action must be established. Much of the Council’s time was already absorbed by African issues, but more focus was needed on the quality and effectiveness of that attention.

FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said that in the last two years there had been a series of initiatives by the United Nations, the OAU, subregional organization and African leaders to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflicts reflected in the report. The responsibility of the Council in the maintenance of international peace and security was indisputable and its authority should be strengthened. In that context, the concept of human security was essential.

He said close cooperation between the Council and African regional and subregional organization was indispensable. He stressed the need for the creation of conditions to develop means to overcome the causes of conflict. He encouraged the efforts undertaken by the majority of African countries to find solutions to their problems and said the OAU summit in Algiers was indicative of this positive trend. He reviewed the activities of United Nations missions in Africa and said that all the steps on the path towards peace should be supported by the Council.

He said that Argentina had increased trade and technological cooperation and strengthened political and cultural relations with Africa resulting in mutual benefit. For example, there was the multilateral promotion of a nuclear-weapon- free zone in the South Atlantic. In October 1998, Argentina had hosted the fifth ministerial meeting of the members of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic, with three Latin American countries and 21 African countries. The objective of its members was to: peacefully solve controversies; promote democracy and human rights; combat drug trafficking; cooperate in development; provide humanitarian assistance; and protect natural resources. His country had and would continue to be present in Africa in the context of peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance and would do so in keeping with its capabilities.

JEAN PING, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said the Council should implement the series of proposals contained in the Secretary-General's report, including: creating an international mechanism to assist governments in maintaining the security and neutrality in refugee camps; making sanctions regimes more effective; resolving the problem of illicit arms; and reinforcing Council surveillance of activities the Council had authorized, but which were carried by States or State coalitions.

Africa had resolved to arm itself with the right equipment for the prevention and regulation of conflicts, he continued. In Central Africa, an early warning system had been adopted and a supreme council of peace had been established, In Gabon, peacekeeping operation exercises had been simulated.

He said the favourable echo that the Secretary-General's report had elicited led one to think that the international community would join in the activities undertaken by Africa to resolve conflict, institute democracy and promote economic and social development. However, the Council was delaying action in Africa, whereas elsewhere in the world it had acted speedily to help humanity. He hoped support for the Sierra Leone and the Lusaka agreement would be forthcoming without further delay. For Africa to succeed in its struggle to ensure the well being of its people, the help of the international community was indispensable.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the problems of Africa were the focus of the Security Council's constant attention, reflecting the international community's interest in the region. In the year since the Council's last meeting on the security situation in Africa, developments in the situation continued to be multidimensional and deserving of serious analysis. Thanks to the peaceful initiatives of States, the efforts of United Nations and regional diplomacy, there had been advances for peace in Sierra Leone and other countries. On the other hand, despite intensive negotiations, prospects were uncertain regarding the Ethiopian/Eritrean conflict, and conflict had re-erupted in Angola due to UNITA.

It was important to have the active implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Charter that encouraged regional organizations, he said. Implementation by regional structures of peacekeeping operations was admissible only in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter, and that applied also to coalition forces formed on an ad hoc basis.

The OAU rightfully had a key role to play in strengthening peace and security on the continent, he said. Its efforts in preventing and settling conflict and ensuring sustainable development were extremely valuable. Its role must be highlighted in solving humanitarian problems, as well as progress towards regional unity.

There should be an effective pan-African system to settle conflicts and deal with the tasks of post-conflict recovery, he continued. The OAU had great potential in that area, as did the regional bodies such as ECOWAS, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD). The United Nations and other organizations should complement and assist efforts to establish Pan-African peacekeeping machinery.

PETER HAIN, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that progress achieved over the past 18 months seemed to point the way towards solutions to Africa's problems. Africa had suffered long periods of colonial and neo-colonial exploitation, and continued to labour under the consequences of that situation. Today, after serving for years as the arena for cold war struggles, the continent was sidelined. The question now was how to situate Africa's problems on the international agenda and how to assist it.

The United Kingdom believed the international community must work with the Africans themselves to find solutions to the problems and disasters affecting them, he continued. It believed that the vision of an African renaissance, recently evoked by South African President Mbeki, was the right one. The United Kingdom stood ready to support all real efforts in the direction of democratization and real economic development on the African continent. It was not ready to support corruption and violence.

If wars were to be stopped before they could begin, Africa's socioeconomic conditions must be improved, he said. In that regard, the United Kingdom would throw its weight behind efforts to establish transparency and a healthy civil climate. It would support regional peacekeeping efforts. On the economic front, it favoured a genuine solution to the debt problem. That problem remained a heavy burden for African States, whose governments must be encouraged to persevere in their efforts to create structures that encouraged investment and promoted growth. Good governance must remain an utmost priority.

The meeting, which was suspended at 1:20 p.m., was continued at 3:34 p.m.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that despite the recommendations in the Secretary-General's report of April 1998 on the situation in Africa, conflicts continued to plague the continent. Today, massive resources continued to be diverted to procuring arms and munitions. The cost to the international community due to major wars in the 1990s, excluding Kosovo, was $199 billion. Africa received less than $5 billion in foreign direct investment in 1998. If half the resources lost to wars had been channelled into development programmes, then millions of Africans who were victims of armed conflict would have been saved and Africa's development and prosperity would have been enhanced.

Namibia supported the measures to tighten sanctions against UNITA and would approach the Secretariat for assistance in preparing its own national legislation in that regard, he said. The UNITA must not be permitted to continue defying the will of the international community. The Council continued to exercise a double standard in the application of sanctions and that undermined the effectiveness of sanctions imposed against UNITA. Political will was of utmost importance in rendering the sanctions more effective.

A United Nations peacekeeping operation -- of adequate size, with an appropriate mandate and necessary resources -- should be deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo without further delay to implement the ceasefire, he continued. It was time for the Council to take immediate action. Council resolution 1234 (1999), which called for the immediate signing of the ceasefire agreement, was being flouted in the eastern part of the country. The pace of the deployment of the military liaison personnel, the dispatch of the technical assessment team, and the eventual deployment of the peacekeeping force should be increased. Any further delay would prolong the country’s agony and suffering.

He said that while the primary responsibility for bringing an end to the use of child soldiers lay with the relevant governments and other parties to the armed conflicts, the international community had a major role to play. Namibia supported the earliest deployment of the proposed peacekeeping force for Sierra Leone, he went on. The international community must not be selective when dealing with various humanitarian situations, but pay equal attention to all conflicts. It should spare no effort in addressing the root causes of conflicts and provide the necessary development assistance.

"Never before has a region been a subject of so many reports in the United Nations, yet, the situation seems to remain the same", he said. What was needed was the political will to assist Africans to make peace and security in Africa a reality.

MOHAMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said that Kosovo and East Timor, notwithstanding, many were still sceptical about the commitment of the United Nations to intervene in conflict situations in Africa. Only last week, the President of Zambia had appealed to the Security Council to be more forthcoming in its support for African peace efforts. Much of the Council's hesitation on that score was due to the failed intervention in Somalia and non-intervention in Rwanda in the early 1990s. During its current deliberations, in which the Secretary- General correctly pointed out that the Council could not remain indifferent to grave humanitarian situations, the Assembly had heard arguments both for and against humanitarian interventions in conflict areas. Whatever the merits of those arguments, Malaysia held unequivocally that Council authorization was a prerequisite for any use of force against Member States.

As the Council attempted to focus more effectively on the resolution of conflicts in Africa, a sustained political commitment was required to prevent the fragile truce in many parts of the continent from re-igniting into bloodier fighting, he said. The Council must assert its moral authority and deploy its entire gamut of diplomatic resources to promote peace and security. The United Nations was the only global mechanism for effective collaboration in circumstances where States were reluctant or ill-placed to act alone. The Organization, however, must be equipped with better tools and resources. The current conflicts required enhanced coordination between the United Nations and the OAU. Regional and subregional organizations could play an important role, but their efforts did not absolve the Council of its peacekeeping responsibility. In other words, the Council could not "sub-contract" its Charter-mandated responsibility.

Since joining the Council at the beginning of the year, he said, his delegation had raised the need for support to Nigeria -- the largest troop contributor to Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) -- to enable it to maintain its peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone. Such forces were acting on the Organization's behalf and were sacrificing their lives for peace in the region. It was only proper that the means be provided to allow such troop-contributing countries to continue their presence in conflict areas. In Sierra Leone, as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, what was needed most was prompt and decisive action from the Council in order to build on the momentum generated by the signing of the respective Lomé and Lusaka Agreements.

Of particular concern, he noted, was the proliferation of small arms in Africa, which had contributed to the intensity and duration of the conflicts on the continent. Overall, the settlement of crises in Africa required a collective commitment. Africa's well-being was in the interest of the international community. The world had seen recently just how swift and decisive the Council had been in its action on the situation in East Timor. The Council should do no less on African conflicts, lest it be seen as selective and applying double standards to its work.

JASSIM BUALLAY (Bahrain) said matters involving Africa had always taken up a large share of the Council's agenda. Political and material support was needed for African regional organizations so that they could continue their efforts. Many efforts had been made to implement the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report. The Secretariat had held special meetings on how to help African countries before conflict broke out. One step to ameliorate conflicts had been the imposition of sanctions on the involved parties.

The problem of trafficking in small arms and light weapons also caused problems in Africa, he said. He supported publicizing the impact of transferring and soliciting arms. Further, he supported the recruitment and training of civilian police. Careful consideration must be given to the issue. The United Nations assistance in post-conflict confidence-building was very important, but success was dependent on larger financial assistance than had so far been available. The tragic situation of refugees and displaced persons indicated the need for humanitarian assistance channelled through United Nations offices. The easing of the debt burden was essential, he stressed.

There had been many positive changes in the African countries, he said. Economic and social growth must continue if further conflict was to be averted. He welcomed the strengthening of African capacity in peacekeeping.

DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said it was indicative of the tragedy of Africa that the majority of sanctions imposed by the Council had been directed against Member States or specific groups in Africa. Greater use should be made of targeted sanctions and more attention paid to their unintended adverse effects. However, there was also a need to ensure more serious enforcement of the existing sanctions regimes by the international community. Slovenia especially supported efforts to improve the implementation of arms embargoes and stemming illicit arms flows to and within Africa. Illicit flows of arms and other conventional weapons represented one of the major obstacles to peace. That was being witnessed in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While the availability of arms was not the main reason for fighting, it did help and encourage the latent problems to erupt.

Effective peacekeeping operations on the African continent required military contingents that were skilled in specialties, such as tracking, anti-mine warfare, low-intensity conflict and law enforcement, he said. It was recognized that the military potentials in Africa were very well suited to those tasks. However, as pointed out in the Secretary-General’s report, the enhancement of African capacity for peacekeeping was contingent on the provision of logistic support. For at least some time in the future, Africa would, therefore, need help in constructing the foundations of regional security systems and in dealing with conflicts that occurred along the way. It was imperative that the United Nations and the international community provide the necessary assistance. Ultimately, however, Africans must assume the lead in transforming their security environment.

He said that it was important to bear in mind Africa's special constraints when discussing issues of major significance to Africans, such as access to foreign markets and, most importantly, unsustainable debt overhang. The recent Cologne debt initiative represented a welcome effort to provide faster relief through major changes to the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) framework. Nevertheless, more needed to be done. Adherence to International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment programmes was still a prerequisite for receiving debt relief. Serious thought should be given to calls for debt cancellation and the rethinking of the IMF’s role in Africa. The current arrangements did not seem to be solving Africa’s basic problems and tended to divert attention from fundamental challenges of disease control, development of human resources and environmental management.

GELSON FONSECA, JR. (Brazil) said his country had strong ties with Africa and, in large part, owed its national identity to Africans. Brazil had bilateral and multilateral forms of cooperation with African countries. The important successes achieved in the building of peace and democracy in Africa were a source of satisfaction. At the same time, the international community bore collective responsibility to support Africa's efforts to overcome poverty.

The Security Council had been dealing with situations in Africa as they arrived, but its actions were timid, he said. It seemed that the international community felt compelled to act jointly only after problems worsened to the level where they were extremely difficult to resolve. Angola was an example of a conflict that had not received the priority it deserved from the international community.

The most important thing was what happened in Africa through the actions and decisions of the Africans themselves, he said. The establishment of democracy was a stabilizing force; it created the conditions for economic recovery. He drew attention to the African culture of tolerance, which was evident even in adverse conditions. The process of independence and construction of democracy in Namibia and the national reconciliation in Mozambique were eloquent examples of the African capacity to construct peace through dialogue and participation. He hoped that similar processes would take place in countries such as Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When strengthened, democracy was a factor for harmonizing differences, be they intra-State or international.

The international community must respond in a clear and positive way to those trends, but the roots to the solution of African problems were in Africa, he stressed. Without the African struggle of the 1960s for self-determination, the movement would not be as advanced as it was now. The entire international community needed a strong, united Africa, one that was confident in its mission of peace and prosperity.

MOMODOU LAMIN SEDAT JOBE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, said that Africa was changing - this time, for the better. No longer was it the norm to have a military dictator as head of State. Democratic elections as a means of gaining power were taking root.

On the economic front, as well, African States were not doing badly. But while some good news was coming from many countries in Africa, the overall situation was still overshadowed by conflict, civil strife, economic stagnation, refugee problems, poverty and deadly diseases. Nevertheless, the Secretary- General’s report showed the successes recently made in several theatres of conflict, including Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"The reluctance of the Security Council to deploy peacekeepers in Africa is unacceptable -- and threatens its credibility and legitimacy", Mr. Jobe said. Africa would now be watching what the United Nations did in the cases of Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia and Eritrea when they came up for consideration by the Council. He went on to say that the Security Council could not sub-contract its responsibility for the maintenance of internal peace and security to regional bodies.

On the question of illicit arms flows in Africa, he said he looked forward to the recommendations of the United Nations Secretariat on the feasibility of tougher sanctions against dealers. The Gambia also supported the various efforts of the Secretariat to improve the situation of civilians in conflict zones -- especially children.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the Council had demonstrated its interest in the future of the African continent by asking the Secretary-General for a report. Since that time, however, the Council had been criticized regarding its response to crises. There had been comments on the different levels of commitment depending on what region was involved to which the Council must listen carefully. Today's meeting would try to provide a response to that justified criticism and point to the Council's resolve to be objective and impartial.

He said the picture had been less bleak since the Secretary-General had issued his first report, and the most recent report identified encouraging and positive developments. It also outlined the areas where much remained to be done. There must be a sustained effort in the field of ODA.

He was encouraged to see how vitally alive the regional and subregional organizations were. He reviewed their peacemaking efforts and accomplishments in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Western Sahara, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Somalia. The efforts of those regional organizations, however, did not release the United Nations from its obligations. The speed and scope of the deployment of peacekeeping officers was often critical to the maintenance of peace.

He described a number of United Nations contributions and noted that the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) had been able to preserve peace and security in the Central African Republic. He went on to say that once an agreement was reached between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the United Nations would be asked to provide an observer unit. The role of the Special Representative in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau needed to be increased, he observed.

Continuing, he said an African multinational force was only viable if one State was capable and agreeable to being the leader, and if national and outside support was available. If a multinational regional force could not be established, the Council must be willing to send a United Nations force to the place where it was needed. Any effort to stop arms trafficking must be supported.

It was not a question of speech-making, but of making contributions.

QIN HUASUN (China) said the international community had far to go in helping tackle the deep-rooted conflicts in Africa, which were caused by both internal and external factors. The international community could help first by paying attention to Africa from a strategic angle. There were over 50 countries on the African continent, comprising nearly one third of the United Nations membership. The continent was brimming with vitality and had abundant natural resources. It was a huge market with unlimited economic potential and an integral part of world economic development.

For those and many other reasons, he said, the international community should create a favourable external environment enabling Africa to enjoy stability and sustained development. A just and reasonable new international political and economic order was called for, wherein a small number of big and rich countries no longer dominated world affairs, nor called all the shots in the international political and economic order. Further, the international community should respect the choices made by African countries themselves. Different national conditions and issues required tailor-made -- rather than uniform -- solutions. The African people themselves best knew their conditions and needs. Imposing one set model and attaching political conditions to assistance did not help African countries out of their predicaments.

In addition, he said, the international community should vigorously support the efforts of regional organizations in Africa. They were becoming more and more active and had scored stunning achievements recently. Finally, concrete and meaningful actions to help African countries in their development efforts were needed. Countries around the world had to make good their commitment of official development aid, their reduction of African countries’ debt burdens and their withdrawing of trade barriers.

China had friendly relations and close cooperation with the majority of African countries, he added. China was heartened to see the positive developments of recent years, but disturbed by the continuing chaos and conflicts. It called on parties in conflict to put the fundamental interest of their country and people above everything and to settle conflicts through negotiations and other political means. In turn, China would strengthen its economic and trade relations with African countries. It would offer assistance without conditions attached.

WIM KOK, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, said many problems that face Africa today tended to make the headlines, while the continent's promises were often overlooked. African countries were grappling with war, instability and lack of development. Those issues would affect not only the lives and future of millions of Africans, but also the credibility of the United Nations, for many years to come. Africa was one of the top priority areas of the Netherlands' foreign policy, including its development policy. He said, the Netherlands would propose a common strategy of encouraging and supporting positive developments in Africa in a coherent manner, placing the emphasis where a difference could be made and addressing the underlying causes of instability and underdevelopment. That would mean assisting African efforts at conflict prevention and enhancing peacekeeping capacities, strengthening ties with African countries that are a force for stability on the continent, and concentrating bilateral aid relationships on countries with sound economic and social policies and good governance.

At least 50 per cent of the Netherlands’ development aid was targeted at Africa, and debt relief for African countries was at the top of its agenda, he said. The Netherlands would continue to provide substantial emergency aid to victims of conflict. He pledged that its efforts to rebuild the Balkans would not be at the expense of its support for Africa.

Peacekeeping should be undertaken by United Nations troops financed from the United Nations peacekeeping budget. Unfortunately, too often regional peacekeeping efforts floundered because of a lack of funds. Linking the extent of debt relief with African participation in peacekeeping operations on the continent was one option to support African efforts at conflict prevention and peacekeeping. Enhanced assistance to an African State that undertook to engage in a regional peacekeeping effort would be another option. A creative look should be taken at new ways of strengthening the assistance provided to boost preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping on the African continent, he added.

BORYS TARASYUK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said the Council's response to the needs of Africa should be invigorated and pursued with consistency. It was a common responsibility to bring peace, prosperity and sustainable development to the region. The international community should contribute to the efforts of African nations to respond to their challenges by promoting the region's economic development, both bilaterally and through international efforts.

Noting that many of Africa's conflicts were caused by militant separatism, inter-ethnic tensions or intolerance, or rebel groups, he said that, upholding the principle of territorial integrity of nations within their recognized borders, Ukraine resolutely condemned any violent actions of rebels against populations and legitimate governments.

Particular emphasis must be placed on closer cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU and African subregional organizations, he said. Many conflicts in Africa were aggravated by illicit arms sales and mercenary activity. Accordingly, the Council's increased attention to the need to strengthen arms embargoes and combat illicit arms flows was commendable. Ukraine was ready to cooperate fully in those endeavours. Its policy was to sell arms and military equipment only to legitimate governments or the companies authorized by those. Ukraine had an effective export control regime for arms sales, and intended to tighten it further.

At the same time, it was clear that a sovereign State's strong export control measures could not guarantee against violations by third parties, he continued. Therefore, a meeting of international experts from major arms producing countries should be convened without delay. The purpose would be to elaborate effective measures to close gaps in relevant international instruments. Competent authorities of Ukraine possessed information on illegal arms trafficking in some countries, and would be ready to share it with the Council and with governments concerned, he said. Concluding, he stressed that Africa was not only a land of troubles, but one of hope and happiness too. Ukraine would work with Africa to address its challenges and become revived and prosperous in the future. ABDULKADER BAJAMMAL, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Yemen, said his country had been making concerted efforts to find solutions for the deteriorating situations in the Horn of Africa and in east and central Africa. Yemen received thousands of people fleeing the wars and anarchy in these areas. The weak Yemeni economy would not be able to sustain the ever-increasing burden, he said.

Referring to the complications arising from blatant external intervention, he said the countries were experiencing political and social fragmentation, the collapse of institutions, economic and environmental hardships and a loss of human rights. Furthermore, relations among States and peoples were being poisoned.

He called for support for the efforts of the OAU and to find solutions that safeguarded the sovereignty of States and respected the unity and social cohesion of peoples. Yemen was fully prepared to participate with international and regional bodies for the establishment of peace in the Horn of Africa and east Africa. At the same time, though, it called upon the international community to assist Yemen in coping with the burdens placed on its economy and its available resources.

He stressed that the situation imperiled the maintenance of peace and the safety of international and regional shipping, and led to environmental pollution. "Leaving the situation in these regions as it is will result in the creation of a global catastrophe that is more extensive and far-reaching", he said.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said that although Australia's foreign policy priorities lay in its own Asia-Pacific region, it had global horizons and recognized that its relationship with Africa was one of real potential. Australia's relations with the countries of Africa had always reflected its commitment to the principles of decolonization, self-determination and democracy. Australian soldiers had been involved in peacekeeping operations in Africa, and were helping rid the continent of the scourge of landmines. Australia would continue to support and encourage regional efforts, just as it was demonstrating its readiness to contribute to regional solutions in its own Asia- Pacific region.

Turning then to the issue of debt relief, he said that Australia supported the principle of providing faster and broader relief to heavily indebted poor countries linked to the goals of poverty reduction, sustainable development and good governance. But Australia did not support unconditional debt relief that might provide governments with an excuse not to pursue policies promoting sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation. Unconditional debt relief could also encourage the further accumulation of unsustainable debt, or discourage creditors from providing future assistance. It was important to work for a durable and sustainable solution to the problem. To be effective, debt relief must be part of a process of sound economic management.

In recent years, Australia's interests in Africa had taken on a new dimension, as Africa had emerged as a significant market for Australian exports, he said. In the past five years, Australian exports had increased by almost 140 per cent -- to $A 2.2 billion -- which was more than its exports to Latin America and Eastern Europe combined. In roughly the same period, imports from Africa to Australia had also doubled, albeit from a lower base.

Australia was ready to help the nations of Africa meet the challenges of the next century, just as it had lent a hand in the past, he said. But the most important work would be done by the peoples of Africa themselves. While the problems still to be overcome were formidable, cause for optimism could be found in the achievements of the past decade, when the stain of apartheid had been ended. Great strides had been made for environmental protection, and more countries had committed themselves to good governance. The peoples of Africa would face hardships on the road of change and reform, but they could count on support from the people of Australia.

BROWN J. MPINGANJIRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Malawi, said that there was no doubt that the messages coming out of Africa were significant. Declarations of renewed African commitments, signs of resolve and promise, to act for peace and prosperity have been seen. The question was what the international community could do to respond to Africa’s call. Most of those that had the capacity to help Africa and enable Africa to change for the better were reluctant to take any action, claiming that their national interests did not permit them to do so.

As long as such interests continued to inform and direct involvement in international affairs, the chances for meaningful change appeared slim. "National interest" needed to be redefined. It must give way where international consensus to act existed, he said. It must not block such consensus. While that task was not easy, it would not be difficult for the Security Council. Under the Charter of the United Nations, the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rested with the Security Council. The Council must, therefore, act to advance the interests of the international community as a whole and not of its individual members or those of the General Assembly.

The Security Council had the capacity to act resolutely and expeditiously in response to crises in Africa. Malawi was keen to be more involved in peacekeeping operations and had expressed interest in entering into the Standby Arrangements. The United Nations and the OAU trust funds established to improve preparedness for conflict-prevention and peacekeeping in Africa must be properly resourced. The Security Council could also play an important role in preventive diplomacy. A clear and unequivocal message and, indeed, action early on in a dispute or crisis could make a difference.

He said the democracies that were spawning in Africa would remain fragile if the international community did not assist them in overcoming their economic and financial problems. The biggest challenge for the international community would be to help build a durable peace and promote economic growth in Africa. Such a challenge could only be met by moving beyond one’s own "national or vital interests". He hoped that when all the principal organs had concretized their responses to the Secretary-General’s report, that would lead to Africa and its people enjoying enduring peace and prosperity.

HILDE F. JOHNSON, Minister for International Development and Human Rights of Norway, said conflicts were re-erupting and new ones breaking out in more than a dozen African countries. In that respect, the situation was degenerating. On the other hand, however, the democratization process was continuing and macroeconomic development proceeding in many countries. The international community and African nations themselves must mobilize political will. Initiatives to stop the unlawful use and excessive accumulation of small arms were crucial elements to establishing peace and stability in Africa. Efforts to collect and destroy small arms after conflicts merited support.

Norms, rules and institutions must be developed for dealing with conflicts of interest without resorting to weapons, she continued. It was essential to strengthen systems of governance that were participatory, transparent and accountable in countries subject to conflict. Internal wars typically evolved from wide or growing disparities in political participation and the distribution of economic assets. Therefore, building structures that promoted tolerance, negotiation and compromise could be the best tool for preventing resurgence of violence in fragile societies that were in transition from civil strife to peace. That should be part of every post-conflict and development effort.

Poverty reduction was an urgent challenge in Africa, she said. It was crucial in terms of economic development, political stability and regional and global security. The international trend of reduced disbursements of development assistance must be reversed. Also, more resources must be channelled to the social sector, particularly education and health. Third, focus should be on the poorer segments of the population. Norway had been well above the target for ODA for the past two decades and intended to increase its development assistance further, up to 1 per cent of gross domestic product.