Council Concludes Month Dedicated to African Issues; Deputy Secretary General, President of Zambia Also Speak
One of the goals of “the month of Africa” in the Security Council in January was to highlight pertinent issues and refute the position that Africa did not matter -- that its problems were secondary to those in other parts of the world, Richard Holbrooke, the representative of the United States, told the Council this morning.
Mr. Holbrooke, who was the Council's President for January, added that it was necessary to widen the paradigm of security and to include such fundamental problems as those of AIDS and refugees among the issues threatening international peace. He also addressed the revitalization of the American role in the United Nations, stating that his country was beginning the century with a renewed belief in the United Nations.
During January -- the "month of Africa" -- the Security Council held separate meetings on HIV/AIDS in Africa, the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the conflicts in Angola, Burundi and a day-long meeting on 24 January on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during which seven African Presidents spoke.
Addressing the Council today, the President of Zambia, Frederick J.T. Chiluba, said that among the major achievements of the month were the recommitment by the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their pledge to guarantee the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel. He appealed to the Council to meet the parties half-way, by speeding the deployment of the recommended military personnel and the subsequent peacekeeping mission, to build on the momentum. A permanent and comprehensive solution required consideration of the root causes of the problem, and that would entail addressing issues of both peace and security and those of democracy and development in the countries in the region.
South Africa's Minister for Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stressed to the Council the importance of recognizing that there was an Africa distinct from the killing fields. Africans had become torch-bearers of a silent democratic revolution, as the majority now lived under systems of democratic governance, and many States had recently held successful elections. In the dawn of an “African Century”, Africans wished to accomplish much. However, as they were gathering strength and energy, the scourge of AIDS/HIV had been unleashed with terrifying consequences on the continent and the entire world. The international community must stand shoulder to shoulder with Africa in the grim struggle against the disease. The time had come to strengthen the relationship between Africa and the developed world, to build upon the positive trends that were being seen in the continent.
The solutions to Africa's problems could only be found in the continent itself, not in the Council Chamber, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said. The international community's commitment was worth nothing unless it matched deeds to words, and unless it was strong and sustained. No amount of international support could help Africa unless its leaders showed statesmanship and real political will.
Also speaking this morning were the Foreign Minister of Namibia, and the representatives of Algeria, China, France, Argentina, Mali, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Canada, Tunisia, Netherlands, Ukraine, Russian Federation, Bangladesh and Jamaica. The President of Zambia and the Foreign Ministers of Namibia and South Africa also responded to comments from Council members.
The meeting started at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 1:42 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Africa.
Deputy Secretary-General LOUISE FRÉCHETTE said that seldom, if ever, had the Security Council Chamber been so graced with the presence of so many heads of States of government in the space of one month, or so many distinguished representatives of the host country.
The Council President had brought both the executive and legislative branches of his Government here, and she believed it might be true that the United States and the United Nations now understood each other better than they had in the past.
No part of the world was in greater need of the United Nations’ help than Africa, she said. According to the Economist, sub-Saharan Africa was likely to be the world’s fastest growing region, in economic terms, this year, led by Mozambique –- a country that was only a few years ago in the grip of a seemingly intractable civil war. Mozambique was a country where the United Nations’ efforts had made a difference. Let no one say, therefore, that the Council was wasting its time with Africa. If momentum could be sustained, a tangible difference could be made.
In the last month, encouraging signs of understanding, interest, determination and commitment had been heard, she said. By devoting its first session of the millennium to AIDS, the Council recognized the epidemic as a security threat to Africa. A new impetus had been given to the fight against it. Discussions on Burundi also yielded clear signs of a stronger intent to overcome the stalemate, and once again President Mandela’s wisdom and faith had proven invaluable. Similarly, the presence of seven African heads of State gave new hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The resolution that the Council had been working hard to finalize would demonstrate beyond doubt the seriousness of the international community’s response to Africa.
In Sierra Leone, discussions this month had moved the United Nations closer to the mandate and resources it needed to carry out its responsibility. In Angola, the conflict was now in clearer focus. The important work of the sanctions committee must be carried forward. On the problems of refugees and displaced persons, she hoped the spotlight the Council had focused would result in more generous funding and support for them. In addition, the Council President had drawn attention to discrimination against the internally displaced.
The solutions could, she said, only be found in the Africa continent itself, so the real issue was where the United Nations went from here. The commitment was worth nothing unless it matched deeds to words, and unless it was strong and sustained. No amount of international support, as the African leaders had explained in the Council, could help Africa unless its leaders showed statesmanship and real political will. She pledged the Secretariat would do everything possible to sustain the momentum.
FREDERICK J.T. CHILUBA, President of Zambia, said that each of the issues discussed in the Council in the past month had its impact on peace and security in Africa. For example, African countries had adopted serious measures to address the AIDS pandemic. That could be seen from the results of the eleventh International Conference on AIDS in Africa, held in Lusaka, Zambia, last September. However, AIDS transcended borders, and it was too big for Africa to confront on her own. Therefore, he welcomed the interest manifested by the United States and the United Nations on the plight of Africa, and he hoped that the interest would soon translate into practical measures.
He went on to say that the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa had not only been a humanitarian disaster in itself, but also continued to pose a real threat to peace and stability in the countries where conflict had occurred. Here again, Africa welcomed the support of the international community in the search for comprehensive solutions.
The situation in Burundi called for the concerted efforts on the United Nations and the international community at large, he continued. The only hope for finding a durable and peaceful settlement to the Burundi conflict lay in the ongoing Arusha peace process under the facilitation of Nelson Mandela. With regard to the situation in Angola, Jonas Savimbi bore the primary responsibility for the continuation of the war in that country. However, Angola’s daily humanitarian tragedy was also perpetuated by an international cartel of illegal suppliers of arms and ammunition. The international community could speak with one voice and assume the responsibility of exposing the arms traffickers that sustained conflicts all over Africa.
The peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been the main focus of his visit to New York, he said. The reaffirmation of commitment to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and the parties’ pledge to guarantee the safety, security and the freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel were some of the major achievements of this month’s special session. His appeal to the Council was to meet the parties half-way, by expediting the process of deployment of the recommended military personnel and a peacekeeping mission in order to build on the already gathered momentum.
The importance of the programme of disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration could not be overemphasized, he continued. He hoped that the subsequent meetings of the Political Committee and the Joint Military Commission would finalize plans for the second phase of the programme under the Lusaka Agreement. However, he also wanted to emphasize that the deployment of a peacekeeping mission was not an end in itself. It was intended to facilitate the charting of a new, long-term internal political dispensation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To that end, the international community should commit sufficient resources to the inter-Congolese political negotiations.
The issues arising from the conflict situations which had been addressed this month were not unique either to the countries where they occurred, or to the regions covered. One of the most important messages of the special session on the Democratic Republic of the Congo was that of the need to adhere to the international law principle of Pacta Sunt Servanda, meaning that “agreement and stipulations of the parties to a contract or treaty must be observed or respected”. More lessons had to be drawn from the month of Africa, especially in relation to the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The problem of the Democratic Republic of the Congo went far beyond the territorial boundaries, he said. Therefore, a permanent and comprehensive solution required the consideration of the root causes of the problem. That would entail addressing issues of both peace and security and those of democracy and development in the countries in the region. He appealed to the international community to show greater understanding as the Democratic Republic of the Congo embarked on its democratization programme. He hoped that once peace was consolidated there, the international community could provide direct investment to that country. He also hoped that international financial institutions and governments could consider cancelling the debt of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in order to allow it to start its economic reconstruction on a fresh note.
THEO-BEN GURIRAB, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Namibia, said that a Kenyan flight had crashed en route from Abidjan to Nairobi. At present, the nationalities of those who perished was not known. He was shocked by the disaster and extended his condolences to all concerned.
He thanked the United States Council presidency and President Chiluba of Zambia, and expressed his pleasure with the presence of the other dignitaries. In the special meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for the first time heads of State of parties to the conflict addressed the Council. They reiterated their commitment to the Lusaka Agreement, and that should encourage all Member States to shoulder their responsibilities for a full and speedy implementation of the Agreement. He repeated his appeal to the international community to provide the required material assistance and political support to the Joint Military Commission. The pledges of support made by Member States strengthened his expectation that that would happen.
The African leaders had done their part, he said. They had signed the Ceasefire Agreement, continued to uphold it, and had travelled to New York to reaffirm their commitment. The Security Council must not delay the authorization or the speedy deployment of military observers, to be followed by a full-fledged peacekeeping operation. That force must have a Chapter VII mandate and the requisite resources.
The international community should also assist the Congolese people in building and consolidating, he said. While they were working towards democracy, it was important that other countries in the region likewise democratized. As for the Great Lakes region, France’s proposal for an international conference was overdue and critical.
In Africa, a homeless person was considered rootless, disoriented and alienated, he said. Homelessness was a personal disgrace and a trauma. He asked for generous and sustained assistance to mitigate the conditions of the homeless. Also, the provision of arms to rebel movements and other armed groups must end.
As Mr. Mandela said, the situation in Burundi hit at the heart of a common human obligation, he said. Peace was the burning wish of the majority of suffering Burundi people, and another disaster there must be avoided.
As for Angola, the humanitarian situation was at the top of the list of priorities he said. With the extension of State administration throughout the territory, normalcy should be re-established. The donor community must contribute generously. With the repeated commitment of the Angolan Government to the Lusaka Protocol, the task of the United Nations and other players was easier. Once again, he demanded that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) abide by the agreement. He applauded the work of the sanctions committee for Angola, and called on all Member States to support the sanctions.
NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, thanked the United States for the month of Africa. Lasting solutions might not have been found, but some progress had been made, and it had been Africa’s privilege to have several of its heads of State appear before the Council. Understandably, much of the attention had been focused on the few conflict areas in Africa where lives were threatened. Some steady progress had been made, and she now looked to the belligerents, as well as the international community, to bring about lasting peace.
It was important to recognize there was an Africa distinct from the killing fields, she said. The majority of Africans now lived under systems of democratic governance. A large number of African States had conducted successful elections in recent times. The people of Africa had become the torch-bearers of a silent democratic revolution, and had cast their vote for peace and democracy.
It was the dawn of an "African Century" in which Africans wished to accomplish much, she said. However, as Africa was gathering strength and energy, the scourge of AIDS/HIV had been unleashed with terrifying consequences on the continent and the entire world. The international community must stand shoulder to shoulder with Africa in the grim struggle against the disease.
The time had come to strengthen the relationship between Africa and the developed world, she said, to build upon the positive trends that were being seen in the continent. Sustainable development was needed in Africa, so everyone could enjoy a decent standard of living. By carrying out its mandate, the Council could play a critical role in guaranteeing those conditions which would allow development to take hold. That was an enormous challenge. She was convinced that the United Nations and its agencies could play a greater role, and the month of Africa in the Security Council was a significant contribution.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said that a recent summit of the OAU in Algeria had declared the year 2000 the year of peace, security and solidarity in Africa. This month the Council had done a good deed by devoting itself to the African cause. It had addressed the causes and the consequences of the conflicts in Africa, as well as other problems facing the continent. Now it appeared right to draw the conclusions of what had been said in the past and turn the commitments into reality. New components of African relations with the United Nations should also be addressed.
The discussions in the Council had demonstrated an immense political will on the part of the African countries to resolve the conflict situations on the continent, he continued. Africa was determined to live in peace and keep the commitments it had entered into. Now it was up to the Council to provide its support and assistance, particularly as far as the deployment of peacekeeping forces was concerned.
Turning to the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that the Lusaka process could not be properly implemented without assistance from the United Nations. The parties had reiterated their commitment to the Lusaka Agreement, which called for close coordination between the OAU and the United Nations. The peace process must be reinforced in a climate of confidence and security. Sending a peacekeeping force would mean that the United Nations had understood the needs of Africa and that it was giving its full support to the OAU peacekeeping efforts.
African organizations needed technical, logistical and financial assistance from the international community, he continued. The activities undertaken by the Security Council towards combating HIV/AIDS must be followed up. More joint endeavours and coordination were needed between the OAU and the United Nations in resolving the problems of Africa. More regular consultations may need to be instituted, and joint meetings may be useful and appropriate. The measures to be undertaken by the United Nations could include the training of personnel and establishing logistical partnerships.
Turning to the African debt burden, he said that it was one of the causes of underdevelopment. Poverty, ignorance and intolerance lay at the heart of conflicts. Those problems needed to be addressed. Once the conflicts were resolved, the United Nations should get involved in the process of peace consolidation on the continent. Full attention should be paid to Africa in the future.
QIN HUASUN (China) said that it had always been a major task for the Security Council to resolve the conflicts in Africa in a timely and effective manner. In the past few years, he had sat through many meetings on African issues. There had been successes, as well as failures, and encouraging progress, as well as setbacks. It was heartening that the situation in the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and many other places was moving towards stability. At the same time, he noted with concern that the proposed referendum in Western Sahara was still elusive, fighting was still raging in Somalia, and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had not been solved.
It was fair to say that, in the past, the Council had made some efforts towards resolving African issues, he continued. However, what the Council had done was far from enough. There was still “more talk than deed”, and after the crises in Kosovo and East Timor, the Council had been under increasing criticism from African countries and the international community as far as “double standards” were concerned.
It was gratifying that the Council was making efforts to rectify the situation, he said. In the first month of the new millennium, the Council had discussed such African issues as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Burundi, African refugees and HIV/AIDS. He sincerely hoped that the momentum would be maintained and concrete results would be achieved at an early date.
Continuing, he reminded the Council that on 29 September last year he had made some observations on how the international community should deal with the African issues. Although he did not want to repeat them today, he emphasized that the Council should: give priority to African issues; heed the views of African countries; demonstrate due political will and provide adequate resources to Africa; and work closely with regional organizations. By doing so, it would contribute even more to conflict prevention and resolution on the African continent and play an even more active role in the maintenance of international peace and security. For its part, his Government was ready to join the rest of the world in resolving the African issues.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the debate on Africa was timely and had allowed general thinking to take place, alongside consideration of specific situations, in the hope that specific results and actions would be achieved.
On the general level, the debate made it possible to assess the importance of the need for the international community to stand beside Africa, he said. A great deal had been said about globalization and free trade as a means to help developing countries, but in reality the continuation of development assistance was still necessary. The problem of poverty still existed.
The High Commissioner for Refugees had shown that she clearly knew how to render assistance to displaced persons, he said. It was quite clear that, faced with the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, the means must be found to assist displaced people, as well as refugees. In addition, preventive measures and treatment of the sick must play equal parts in assistance against the scourge of AIDS, and the countries of the South must have access to medicines.
There were a few examples of where the international community had intervened in Africa with positive results, he said, such as Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. However, those successes were outside the view of television cameras. They showed the United Nations could, at little cost, do something useful for Africa.
The participation of the heads of State involved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lusaka Agreement was useful, he said. Now, the Council must act. One element of any action might be to secure the borders of the Democratic Republic and neighbouring countries. The question of illicit exploitation of resources must also have attention.
The international conference of the Great Lakes, supported by many Member States, was originally an idea of the OAU, he said. It must be organized directly by the United Nations and must also be under the aegis of the OAU. That project now needed life.
Things had changed in Burundi, thanks to President Mandela, and he should receive the Council’s gratitude, he said. However, the situation in Burundi was not good, and its problems should not be compounded by its precarious economic situation, which would only fuel extremists. International assistance to benefit Burundi must be forthcoming.
For Angola, the Lusaka Protocol must be supported, as must be the sanctions against UNITA, he said. In Sierra Leone, the draft resolution expanding the mandate of the mission must be passed, as a matter of priority. Regardless of the sensitivities in the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, that conflict could not be ignored, and the Council should be ready to contribute to a settlement. Similarly, in Somalia, the Council must bring its full weight to bear in support of recent peace initiatives.
ARNOLDO MANUEL LISTRE (Argentina) said the month had been meaningful for Africa and for the Council. The Great Lakes region had received particular attention, which was necessary. Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the momentum reached in recent days must not be lost. The United Nations had an historic responsibility. Argentina was committed to working towards a resolution authorizing the 500 military observers, as proposed in the Secretary-General’s report. However, there would be no lasting solution without security guarantees for all regional States.
He trusted Mr. Mandela would contribute to reconciliation in Burundi, he said. Argentina supported the Arusha process and an all-inclusive dialogue. On Angola, he thanked the representative of Canada for his excellent report on sanctions. The sanctions regime there was now becoming effective. However, he was concerned about the continued conflict and the humanitarian situation. There would be no solution unless open political dialogue was assured. A multi- dimensional United Nations presence must be maintained. In Sierra Leone, the size of the mission would be increased, he said, by the passing of a resolution next week.
In the month, there had also been two open meetings on Africa, he said. Both led to the conclusion that there must be a broader concept of peace and security. Other Africa issues were not taken up this month, but required the Council's attention, he said. He promised, under Argentina’s presidency of the Council in February, to do his utmost to ensure continuation of peace in Africa.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said that the deliberations during the “month of Africa” had proven to be very useful. They had allowed the international community to take stock of the challenges facing Africa and displayed an urgent need to respond to those challenges. A global view of African problems had been taken, and specific measures had been identified to resolve them. The primary responsibility for resolving those problems lay with the Africans themselves. It must be understood that national reconciliation and peace and security in the countries in conflict could be achieved only through negotiations and dialogue. However, the international community should step up its response to African problems, as well.
He said that high priority should be devoted to the follow-up to the deliberations in the Council. There must be an international partnership on the questions of AIDS in Africa, the problem of refugees, the conflicts in Angola and Burundi, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was also pivotal to provide sufficient financing to Africa, taking into account its significant needs.
High priority measures should be taken to establish the United Nations presence in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he continued. It was also necessary to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict in Burundi and to formalize the status of the mission agreement for the United Nations presence in that country. To establish peace and stability in Africa, it was necessary to seriously address the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and convene an international conference on the Great Lakes region. In conclusion, he said that the deliberations in the Council had demonstrated the seriousness of African problems. They had also made it clear that Africa needed United Nations participation.
AGAM HASMY (Malaysia) said that the Council should be commended for its focus on Africa. During the month, the Council had dealt with many important issues. However, some problems, including the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as the situation in Somalia, had been omitted. They were no less important, and he wished the Council would turn to them in the future. The current month’s focus on Africa had dispelled with the notion of bias. Now, a follow-up was needed.
Continuing, he expressed hope that a resolution on the issue of the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be adopted soon, for time was of the essence. The ability of the Council to act on the Democratic Republic of the Congo would reflect the success of the United States presidency of the Council. The Council must go beyond words and follow up with concrete actions.
The Council PRESIDENT then asked the President of Zambia, who was scheduled to depart, to respond to matters raised thus far.
Mr. CHILUBA, the President of Zambia, said that clearly the Council’s spirit was very much alive, and all the contributions showed a real willingness and goodwill to help resolve problems in the troubled areas of Africa. The key message for all was less rhetoric, more action. He would take home the message that the Council was more willing than before to take action in support of Africa.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the month was a calculated risk. In its previous efforts on Africa, the Council had not achieved the results that either it or Africa wanted. However the month was worth doing, if only to bring into public relief the problems of Africa.
The month had created expectations, he said. The presence of African leaders suggested they wanted to check on the continuing commitment of the Council. The Angola sanctions meeting had resulted in renewed commitments. The Democratic Republic of the Congo debate had made the rapid commitment of a force more likely. The AIDS debate had led to the Council requesting the Assembly to pay attention to the matter, but would also mean the Council would follow the matter.
A great deal of time had been spent in the Council trying to help Africans to get Africa right, he said. The answers to problems were not always known. The message of the High Commissioner for Refugees on displaced people was important, for example, but he did not think the Council knew how to follow up.
However, the Council’s efforts on Africa were improving, he said. There was now a substantial mission in Sierra Leone. The sanctions efforts for Angola had squeezed UNITA. There had been excellent, albeit quiet, liaison between the OAU and the United Nations on discreet efforts for a solution to the problems between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
His Government hoped that work would begin immediately on a draft resolution on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that a resolution could be passed this week, he said. The parties had clearly said the longer they had to wait for the United Nations presence, the less likely it was that the peace would hold. High- profile, big-impact diplomacy, such as had been seen in the Council this month, was clearly important, he said. But the Council must also not lose sight of lower-level diplomacy.
In December, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister had drawn some conclusions from the meeting he had chaired on Africa, he said. Those included: the need for cooperation between the Council and regional bodies, including joint envoys and missions; more regular meetings between the United Nations, the OAU, and subregional organizations; and increasing Africa’s capacity for peacekeeping.
Of particular importance was more regular dialogue with the OAU, he said. With that in mind, he proposed the establishment of a Council expert group on Africa to regularly examine whether the Council was using all the tools at its disposal to work for peace and security in Africa. The group might have regular sessions with an OAU chair. Others may have other suggestions, he said. However, he wanted to ensure that the energy generated in the month was not lost.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said that this month’s initiative had demonstrated the importance of the problems of Africa and the will of the international community to deal with them. He welcomed the debate in the thematic meetings, as international public opinion must be heard on those topics. The “month of Africa” had been an important stage in the deepening cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU. He was eagerly awaiting the adoption of the resolution on the peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone, which would demonstrate the Council’s will to act firmly. It would be the first mission to demonstrate that the Council could draw lessons from the past, for it had an important role to play when there was a need for quick action.
When dealing with African conflicts, the United Nations should facilitate the return of refugees and provide humanitarian assistance, he continued. He was deeply concerned by attacks against the United Nations and associated personnel in several African countries. Urgent action was required to prevent such attacks in the future. Perpetrators of such actions and those responsible for breaches of international humanitarian law should be brought to justice.
The information provided during the open briefings held in January would allow the Security Council to formulate its future actions, he said. He supported a negotiated international solution to the conflict in Angola and Burundi. Refugee camps in Burundi should be dismantled, and the rights of the refugees and internally displaced persons should be respected.
The United Nations involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was very important, he continued. He hoped the necessary resources would be available to work in that country. The responsibility for implementing the Lusaka Agreement lay primarily with the parties that signed it. However, the United Nations should determine its presence there. Any mission should have significant human and financial resources, and support for the Joint Military Commission was essential.
SAID BEN MUSTAFA (Tunisia) said that coordination between the United Nations and the OAU was extremely important. Everybody agreed that the questions addressed by the Council in January should be resolved, including the crises in Angola and Burundi. Also this month, the link of the AIDS problem with the questions of peace and security had been stressed in the Council, as was the need to follow up on that issue. Sincere political will should be translated into action.
Regarding the HIV/AIDS pandemic, he said that its danger should not be underestimated. The commitments stemming from the United Nations discussion of that topic were the best incentive to continued efforts to curb the disease. The Council also emphasized the need to provide all the necessary assistance to refugees. African States should be supported in their efforts to find political solutions. In that regard, he appreciated the declaration of the Government of Angola that it was taking the Lusaka Protocol seriously. He called on UNITA to fulfil its obligations.
As far as the conflict in Burundi was concerned, the Council had emphasized the importance of the Arusha process, he said. It had also reaffirmed the importance to regional security of peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council must call for a halt to all military hostilities and withdrawal of all foreign forces from the territory of the Democratic Republic. It was necessary to accelerate the dispatch of military observers.
All parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should cooperate with the United Nations mission, he said. The inter-Congolese dialogue should be supported, and necessary resources should be provided to that end. An international conference on the situation in the Great Lakes region would be very useful. There was no alternative to dialogue, and it was necessary to work quickly to overcome the problems discussed.
ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said the month of Africa was a high-profile approach to the Council's work. Considerable dead wood had been cut out of the Council's methods, and for that alone he was grateful. The public spotlight was important, but, at the same time, that approach required caution. The public appetite for Security Council debates was limited, and time must be reserved for the actions the Council must also undertake.
The debate had confirmed that there was no alternative to the Lusaka Agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, but implementing it would be a bumpy ride. Most encouraging was the discovery that contacts between protagonists were possible. There was also a renewed sense of urgency on the part of the international community to make Lusaka work. However, he reminded the Council that it had said in December that it was willing to be seriously involved, but it must be confident that the parties themselves were determined to respect the ceasefire. That condition still applied to Council involvement.
Stopping the illegal flows of arms and the illicit exploitation of resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo would serve as a marker of the Council's success in Africa, he said. Practical approaches to those problems had been outlined. Equally crucial was the treatment of groups like the Interhamwe. Perhaps combined legal and financial inducements for soldiers to return home could be usefully employed. The Netherlands had given $250,000 to support the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and would support the work of the facilitator.
Many important issues about Africa had inevitably not come up in the month, he said, and the Council must not drag its feet on them. The key thing arising from the month was the need for follow-up. Perhaps benchmarks for measuring follow-up could be proposed by the Council President.
VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said his country was resolved to act in support of peace in Africa. He was highly satisfied that the first month of Ukraine's membership of the Security Council was focused on Africa issues. There was no magic wand to solve the problems on that continent, but it would be hard to deny this was not an extraordinary month for the Council and for Africa. It set a precedent by turning the Council's attention to aspects of peace and security often overlooked in its day-to-day work, such as HIV/AIDS.
Special Council missions and preventive deployment might put refugee protection on a practical track, he added.
Special prominence had been given to Angola, he noted. The representative of Canada had provided evidence that the Council could contribute to peace there. For Burundi, the Council was privileged to have Mr. Mandela as facilitator of the Arusha agreements, and he hoped the Council’s support would help him in his work.
Finally, the Council had heard assurances of the parties' recommitment to the Lusaka Agreement as a solution to the problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. There was also an undertaking by the United Nations to support that agreement. The meeting at which the Democratic Republic of the Congo was discussed was perhaps the first meeting of the Council for several decades that conformed to the requirements of Article 32 of the United Nations Charter, under which the Council is obliged to invite parties to a dispute to take part in its discussions. Ms. DLAMINI-ZUMA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, said that generally, she was encouraged by the remarks made in the Council. All the speakers had reaffirmed that words needed to be followed with action, and that was encouraging. Support for the facilitation of President Mandela in Burundi was significant. The representative of France had emphasized the importance of economic relief there, and she agreed with him. The problem of AIDS wa
s very serious in Africa, and she hoped that the meeting on that topic would be followed with practical assistance. Measures to implement the sanctions against UNITA were also very important.
There should be openness in search of political solutions, for no military solution could be long lasting, she continued. Sending more observers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be necessary, and preparation for the next phase of the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement should begin. It was necessary to create conditions for the disarmament of the armed groups and an environment for the repatriation of the combatants to their native countries. The support for the inter-Congolese dialogue was important, for it was not going to be an easy process.
In conclusion, she said that several speakers had raised the issue of holding an international conference on the Great Lakes region. However, she wanted to caution that the timing of such a conference would be extremely important. She also stressed that a “real follow-up” was needed.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that since his delegation had already given its position on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African problems, he wanted to make several general comments. The work of the Council this month reflected international concern over the situation in Africa. If African States continued to find themselves in an “earthquake zone”, little progress could be achieved in international relations in the future.
Recent developments demonstrated the genuine commitment of African leaders to breaking a vicious circle of instability and underdevelopment, he continued. The task of the Security Council was to see that those efforts were fully reinforced by international action. Coordination between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in prevention and settlement of conflicts was needed. The Russian Federation approached the question of cooperation from the position of an equal partnership. In the future, his country intended to continue providing assistance to the African continent.
ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that during January the Council had frequently reaffirmed its commitment to Africa. As had been mentioned, the issues not covered specifically during the January meetings must be acted upon. Bangladesh wished to place special emphasis on the need to follow up on the AIDS meeting, including on the request for a special session of the General Assembly. That was also an issue where a joint meeting of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council could be useful.
He supported the President's appeal for at least a symbolic contribution from all Council members for the Democratic Republic of the Congo Joint Military Commission, and suggested the President might wish to write to Council member States on the matter. Time-bound specific follow-ups to the Africa month should be established, he said. In addition, Africa should be on the programme every month, so that January would come to be seen as the initiator of many months of Africa.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the statements by distinguished guests had provided the framework for the Council's discussion. She commended the United States for the initiative. The month had sensitized people to the varying needs of Africa, and the Council was now forewarned and, therefore, forearmed. Conflicts had been discussed at length, particularly those in the Great Lakes region. A transformation from sympathy to action must now occur, and the lofty pledges made must be fulfilled. In particular, the two facilitators of the Arusha and Lusaka processes must be able to count on the moral and financial support of the international community, she said.
There had been a common thread in the debate on Africa, she said. The most compelling message was the link between peace, sustainable growth and sustainable development. The root causes of conflict were socio-economic, and the Council must determine how it could prevent conflicts. The international community must stop the flow of arms to conflicts, as a first step, and stop the illegal plundering of resources to pay for them. Without buyers there could be no sellers.
Another thread was the plight of civilians, including children, she said. A generation could be lost in Africa. A generation of children had been exposed to untold suffering and had been robbed of their childhoods. In future, children must have an environment suitable to their development.
The Council must work closely with the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, she said. Only by a holistic address would lasting solutions to problems be achieved. Various actions had been proposed. The implementation of those recommendations would require further commitment of resources. The ad hoc working group was an excellent suggestion. The Council's actions, in the future, would signal its seriousness, she concluded.
Mr. GURIRAB, Foreign Minister of Namibia and President of the General Assembly, called for the Council to take follow-up actions and to act swiftly. The deployment of military observers into the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be followed by the commitment of peacekeepers. A clear and categorical definition of the relationship between the United Nations mission and the Joint Military Commission would be needed.
Sanctions busting must be stopped by all necessary means, he said. He was looking forward to receiving the Council's proposal for a special session of the Assembly on AIDS. On the expert group proposed, he welcomed it, but he reminded the Council that the Assembly had already set up a working group to follow up proposals of the Secretary-General. He called for greater cooperation between the principal organs, as the issues they dealt with were interrelated.
Speaking in his national capacity, President of the Council RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said that he was profoundly moved by the outstanding support from the Security Council members during the month of January. He hoped the next Presidents of the Council would continue the efforts already under way.
He said that his recent visit to Africa had revealed to him the urgent needs of that continent. Based on that visit, he had decided to use his month of the Council presidency to focus on Africa. He wanted to highlight the issues and to refute the position that Africa did not matter, and that its problems were secondary to those in other parts of the world. It was also necessary to widen the paradigm of security and to include such fundamental problems as AIDS and refugees, among the issues threatening peace and security.
If left unchecked, AIDS would kill more people than all the conflicts combined, he continued, and he welcomed the progress achieved during the discussion on that issue. Now it was necessary to match words with deeds, and his country had announced a large contribution to fight AIDS. Contributions from other States would be welcome, as well. It was also necessary to deal with the fact that there were enormous numbers of internally displaced persons in Africa, particularly in Angola. That category of innocent victims should not ”fall through the cracks” of a bureaucratic argument about what international agency was supposed to deal with them. Action was needed in that respect.
Africa needed peace, he said. All that the international community hoped for would not be possible if the numerous conflicts were allowed to continue. The Council had accomplished a lot, although not all the African conflicts had been addressed during the month of January. The briefing on Angola had provided evidence regarding United Nations sanctions against UNITA. In the Burundi meeting, the Council had taken an important step in support of President Mandela’s facilitation efforts. The international community had also reaffirmed its commitment to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Peace in the Democratic Republic required a steadfast commitment on the part of the international community. The coming days would clarify the questions regarding follow-up.
In conclusion, he addressed the revitalization of the United States role in the United Nations. In the past years, that role had been seriously questioned. Many Americans had lost faith in the Organization, and the need for the United Nations had been questioned. During his unprecedented visit to the United Nations, United States Senator Jesse Helms had given his frank assessment of the situation. Gracious remarks by the members of the Council in response to his statement had been appreciated.
Continuing, he pointed out that the Senator had just expressed “one man’s view”. The very fact that Senators had spent several days at the United Nations and that Vice-President Gore and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had addressed the Council in January should speak volumes about the United States’ commitment to the Organization. What the United Nations was doing demonstrated that the Organization was truly indispensable, despite its flaws. Those flaws should be addressed, but within context of the United Nations role in the world. The United States was beginning the century with a renewed belief in the United Nations.