5225th Meeting (AM)
Secretary-General Says ‘Our Task Should Be to Prevent Such Suffering’; Too Often, Efforts Failed because Threat Not Recognized until Too Late
As it considered the challenges, lessons learned and the way ahead regarding its role in humanitarian crises, the Security Council today stressed the overriding political and moral imperatives to prevent the outbreak and escalation of armed conflicts and humanitarian crises.
In a statement read out by its President, Greek Foreign Minister Petros G. Molyviatis, the Council also reiterated the importance it attaches to the promotion and urgent restoration of justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies and in promoting national reconciliation, democratic development, and human rights.
The Council further recognized the increasing importance of civilian aspects of conflict management in addressing complex crisis situations and in preventing the recurrence of conflict and acknowledged the importance of civilian-military cooperation in crisis management. When approving a United Nations operation, the Council should take into account the essential role of military and civilian police in assisting the stabilization of crises situations and the maintenance of security.
In addition, the Council stressed the need to ensure adequate and timely financing for peacebuilding priorities at all stages of the peace process, and stressed the need for sustained financial investment in peacebuilding over the medium- to longer-term period of recovery. It also took note with interest of the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a Peacebuilding Commission, which could improve United Nations capacity to coordinate with donors and troop contributors and to perform peacebuilding activities.
Opening the discussion, Foreign Minister Molyviatis said that to prevent the re-emergence of humanitarian suffering and the potential recurrence of the conflict, three key fields of post-conflict security had to be adequately addressed: the promotion of the rule of law; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants; and security-sector reform. For the success of any measures adopted, the maximum consent of local societies to the efforts of the international community was of paramount importance, even if it was not always easy to acquire.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that almost the entire Council agenda and almost every crisis it had to deal with had a humanitarian dimension. “Our task should be to prevent such suffering” and all too often efforts failed, because the gravity of the threat was not recognized until it was too late. The most frustrating cases were countries that relapsed into conflict only a few years after having emerged from it. In order to be successful, peacebuilding must be sustained over a number of years and involve building the capacities of State and social institutions.
The proposed Peacebuilding Commission, he added, would help to return the focus of attention to situations that were no longer covered by the international media and it should harmonize activities across the international spectrum. But no matter how effective the Commission, the Council would continue to bear the responsibility for devising the mandates and ensuring that they were both broad and long enough to give countries in crisis the aptitude needed to sustain the rule of law. Only then could they break the cycle of violence.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno pointed out that, however robust the military capabilities of United Nations peacekeeping operations, they alone could not ensure security in the post-conflict environment, absent the right political strategy and the political will of the relevant national and international actors. No amount of international assistance in the areas of rule of law, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration or security-sector reform could substitute for effective national leadership.
He added that the United Nations system must continue to work on rationalizing its approaches, integrating its resources and capacities, and delivering a single and comprehensive United Nations response for the governments and peoples it was called on to assist. That would also enable the United Nations system to maintain the level of political attention that was needed and draw on donor funding in a coordinated manner.
Also during today’s discussion, speakers cautioned against applying “one-size-fits-all” solutions to all conflict situations or humanitarian crises. Every situation contained cultural, political and economic, and sometimes religious diversities. On the other hand, even if there was no standard formula by which any conflict could be solved, stated Denmark’s representative, there was certainly a checklist based on lessons learned that could provide a good start. The three pillars were the rule of law; security-sector reform; and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, which were a vital part of every peacebuilding strategy, as they addressed the fundamental causes of most conflicts.
In addition, many stressed the need for the Council to have credible, reliable and verifiable information to ensure that it made the right decisions and took the correct actions. In that connection, Malaysia’s representative said it was necessary for the Secretariat to enhance its early warning capability. The Secretariat should have adequate means to gather credible, reliable and verifiable information and make appropriate assessments for the benefit of the Council and all MemberStates.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, the representative of the United Kingdom said the United Nations as a whole, and the Council in particular, should be alert to signs of an imminent breakdown in international peace and security, particularly incidents that threatened widespread humanitarian consequences. The Council should be prepared from the earliest stage to make a leading contribution to international efforts to avert a descent into conflict and humanitarian suffering.
While it was not the Council’s role to coordinate or direct humanitarian action, he added, it could do more to galvanize international humanitarian efforts and to lend political weight to them. A major Council responsibility would be to establish United Nations multidimensional peace support operations that ensured that humanitarian considerations and activities were fully taken into account.
Also making statements today were the representatives of Brazil, Algeria, Argentina, Peru, India, Russian Federation, Philippines, Fiji, Norway, China, United Republic of Tanzania, Japan, Venezuela, Romania, United States, Benin, Indonesia, Canada and France.
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 1:35 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/2005/30, reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and bears in mind its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.
“The Security Council remains deeply concerned by the devastating humanitarian, political and economic consequences of armed conflicts; and stresses the overriding political and moral imperatives to prevent the outbreak and escalation of armed conflicts and humanitarian crises, and the benefits therein for peace and development and friendly relations among all States.
“The Security Council acknowledges the importance of helping to prevent future conflicts through addressing their root causes in a legitimate and fair manner.
“The Security Council reiterates the importance it attaches to the promotion and urgent restoration of justice and the rule of law in post conflict societies and in promoting national reconciliation, democratic development, and human rights. The Council recognizes that ending impunity is important in peace agreements, and can contribute to efforts to come to terms with past abuses and to achieve national reconciliation to prevent future conflict. The Security Council recalls that it has repeatedly emphasized the responsibility of States to end impunity and bring to justice those responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law.
“The Security Council further recognizes the increasing importance of civilian aspects of conflict management in addressing complex crisis situations and in preventing the recurrence of conflict and acknowledges the importance of civilian-military cooperation in crisis management. When approving a United Nations operation, the Council should take into account the essential role of military and civilian police in assisting the stabilization of crises situations and the maintenance of security. At the same time, the Council acknowledges that the SRSG assisted by civilian advisers could play a key coordination role in the provision of humanitarian assistance, the re-establishment of public order, the functioning of public institutions, as well as rehabilitation, reconstruction and peace building, which lead to long-term sustainable development.
“The Security Council stresses the need to ensure adequate and timely financing for peacebuilding priorities at all stages of the peace process, and stresses the need for sustained financial investment in peacebuilding over the medium to longer-term period of recovery. It recognizes the importance of rapid initiation of peacebuilding activities to meet immediate needs and encourages the building of capabilities that can be incorporated rapidly.
“The Security Council takes note with interest of the important proposal by the Secretary-General to establish a Peacebuilding Commission and shares the objective of improving United Nations capacity to coordinate with donors and troop contributors and to perform peacebuilding activities, in particular from the start of peacekeeping operations through stabilization, reconstruction and development. The Security Council recognizes the important role that this body could play to bridge the gap between maintenance of international peace and security and the work of humanitarian and economic development assistance.
“The Security Council acknowledges that in post-conflict societies successful peacebuilding rests on the premise that protection of civilians, the promotion of the rule of law and transitional justice, disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation of former combatants, security sector and democratic, economic and social reform are integrated elements and that national ownership plays an important role which should be supported by the international community, including the regional organizations.
“The Security Council emphasizes that security sector reform is an essential element of any stabilization process in post-conflict environments, underlines that it is inextricably linked with promotion of the rule of law, transitional justice, DDR and the protection of civilians, among others, and acknowledges the need for more adequate preparation, including mobilization of necessary planning resources, and more coherent approaches by the United Nations and the international community in addressing these issues.
“The Security Council acknowledges the need to give adequate attention to security sector reform in the future, drawing on best practices that have been developed in this area. The Security Council stresses also the need seriously to consider the promotion of the rule of law and transitional justice, the DDR process and security sector reform, their inter-linkage and the availability of adequate resources, when approving the necessary mandates for United Nations operations.”
The Security Council met this morning to hold a debate on “The role of the Security Council in humanitarian crises: challenges; lessons learned; the way ahead”. Presided over by Greek Foreign Minister Petros G. Molyviatis, the meeting could focus on recent Council efforts to break the conflict cycle in conflict-affected societies and prevent them from relapsing to such crises, according to a letter dated 6 July from the Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/2005/434).
The letter states that the 1990s witnessed a series of violent humanitarian crises that caused death and immense suffering to millions around the world. The United Nations made many efforts to improve its system and respond effectively to those challenges. The Council became the principle organ for organizing international efforts in crises management and peacebuilding. The number of peacekeeping operations increased considerably and they became multifunctional, as they have a broader mandate than ending hostilities.
The letter adds that, in recent years, the Council had recognized that the prevention of a return to conflict often hinges on the extent to which three key pillars of post-conflict security were adequately addressed, namely: the promotion of the rule of law; security-sector reform; and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. Although those pillars were contained in the majority of Council resolutions, their implementation was not always successful. In addition, the mandate and strength of peacekeeping missions, the follow-up of the Council and the full cooperation by the respective governments were important elements for an effective process.
Council President PETROS G. MOLYVIATIS, speaking in his national capacity as Foreign Minister of Greece, said the early prevention of humanitarian crises had become a political and moral imperative for the Council. The United Nations should strengthen its capacity to move from reaction to prevention of crises before they reached a critical mass. The duty and responsibility for the protection of civilians rested primarily with the States concerned. However, in cases of extreme violations and atrocities against human beings, the international community had an obligation to the victims of such violence. The United Nations, and particularly the Security Council, must take effective action to alleviate the suffering of civilians and avert the occurrence of a humanitarian disaster.
He was pleased to see that, in recent years, the Council had tried to meet that challenge, guided by the new concept of human security, he said. Humanitarian crises were far from being identical, each one having its own features. However, their development followed the pattern of crisis emergence, crisis development and post-crisis phase. The handling of them should be global though the operational response should be adapted to the particularities of each phase.
Today’s discussion, he said, would explore the issue of effective prevention of humanitarian crises in the post-conflict phase. To prevent the re-emergence of humanitarian suffering and the potential recurrence of the conflict, three key fields of post-conflict security had to be adequately addressed: the promotion of the rule of law; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants; and security-sector reform. For the success of any measures adopted, the maximum consent of local societies to the efforts of the international community was of paramount importance, even if it was not always easy to acquire.
He stressed that effective post-conflict peacebuilding required the full incorporation and support of humanitarian components in peace agreements and peace operations. The three key areas mentioned were critical for ensuring and enhancing both conflict prevention and conflict resolution, as well as for the implementation of any peace agreements and their sustainability. The prevention of future humanitarian crises required the timely consideration of those issues and the concerted action of the Council and other United Nations agencies and regional bodies, as well as the cooperation of Member States.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said that the topic of today’s debate was particularly timely, given recent anniversary of the dark days of the fall of Srebrenica to attacking Serb forces and the subsequent massacre of Muslims under the protection of United Nations peacekeeping forces. Reflecting on those shameful events, the Council must craft unambiguous mandates to do the job properly, and personnel on the ground must understand fully the expectations that they raised on the ground.
Almost the entire Security Council agenda and almost every crisis it had to deal with had a humanitarian dimension, he said. The task should be to prevent the suffering and all too often its efforts failed, because the gravity of the threat was not recognized until it was too late. Debate tended to focus on extreme cases where force was required to halt the bloodshed. It was important to help prevent future conflict by addressing their root causes. In a few days, a major civil society conference would be held at Headquarters and it was to be hoped that the Council would turn to it in focusing on practical modalities. The most frustrating cases were countries that relapsed into conflict only a few years after having emerged from it. In order to be successful, peacebuilding must be sustained over a number of years and involve building the capacities of State and social institutions.
He said the rule of law could not be imposed from outside and local actors must ensure that courts and other institutions were not based on an imported model, but rooted in local traditions. Different parts of the United Nations system, including the financial institutions, must coordinate with troop contributors. The proposed Peacebuilding Commission would help to return the focus of attention to situations that were no longer covered by the international media and it should harmonize activities across the international spectrum. But no matter how effective the Commission, the Council would continue to bear the responsibility for devising the mandates and ensuring that they were both broad and long enough to give countries in crisis the aptitude needed to sustain the rule of law. Only then could they break the cycle of violence.
JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, noted that the total number of active armed conflicts in the world was on the decline. The 28 or so countries presently affected represented a 30-year low. The Council lay at the heart of that decline. The Council had seized opportunities to broker agreements and to send multidimensional peacekeeping operations to assist with their implementation. The Peacebuilding Commission, proposed by the Secretary-General, could help ensure coordinated and sustained international attention in the post-peacekeeping phase.
He said that, while there were enough examples to show that that was not mission impossible, there should be no illusion about how precarious and difficult the task was. The tragedy of Srebrenica still served as a reminder of how quickly an already dire situation could descend into conscience-shocking acts of savagery in a matter of days and hours. Also, the jobs were getting increasingly more difficult. To be better prepared for the unexpected, the High-Level Panel and the Secretary-General had recommended the creation of a strategic reserve capacity, to be called on short notice to reinforce a mission facing an unforeseen crisis. One of the Department’s highest priorities in the coming year was to work with Member States to define the concept of operations for the strategic reserve.
However robust the military capabilities of United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said, they alone could not ensure security in the post-conflict environment, absent the right political strategy and the political will of the relevant national and international actors. No amount of international assistance in the areas of rule of law, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration or security-sector reform could substitute for effective national leadership. The right political context was often a necessary precondition for a secure environment to be achieved in post-conflict settings. While it might be a necessary condition, it was not a sufficient condition.
Much more work was required in the field of national institution-building, he said. If peace was to be lasting, the short-, medium- and long-term security and justice needs of both the State and its population must be addressed equally. On that front, there were several areas that deserved further study and potential improvements. First, efforts in the security and justice sectors had tended to be driven by peace agreements, which addressed issues in the context of ending conflict. Insufficient attention was accorded to a comprehensive national security review process to identify the threats to State and human security and the development of a security architecture that was responsive to identified threats.
Second, he said, international efforts related to the security and justice sectors were often disjointed. The United Nations, bilateral donors and other actors at times pursued their own objectives, without buying into a single agreed-upon framework. Third, within the United Nations, there was no agreement on a single, system-wide approach on those issues. Fourth, international approaches in support of security-sector reform in post-conflict countries often applied foreign models and standards, which might be politically unpalatable or unsuitable in light of the realities on the ground. Finally, existing approaches tended to be more applicable to developing rather than post-conflict countries, as they involved lengthy processes, which were not tailored to situations where the road map for political and institutional change was often set out in a negotiated and time-limited peace agreement.
In seeking to address those challenges, the international community might reconsider whether it was always realistic to seek to rebuild, reform or restructure a country’s defence, police, courts and penal system, while simultaneously seeking to re-establish security, keep the political process on track, facilitate the return of displaced persons, conduct elections and restore basic services. For the United Nations system, another key to better delivery was to continue to strive to carry out its mandates in as integrated a manner as possible.
He said the United Nations was fortunate that its multidimensional peacekeeping operations generally had solid mandates to support justice and security-related programmes on the ground, even if they often experienced shortfalls in staffing and funding. A greater focus by the Council on the specific disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, rule of law and security-related needs in particular settings would provide even stronger and more precise mandates that would better address the needs of post-conflict countries.
In the meantime, the United Nations system must continue to work on rationalizing its approaches, integrating its resources and capacities, and delivering a single and comprehensive United Nations response for the governments and peoples it was called on to assist. That would also enable the United Nations system to maintain the level of political attention that was needed and draw on donor funding in a coordinated manner. Reform or formation of national security and justice sectors required long-term commitment. A single United Nations approach was surely the best way to ensure the coherence and sustainability of those efforts well after the peacekeepers withdrew.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said it was important to look into lessons learned and identify winning strategies, as well as shortcomings in approach. The first of those was to resist the temptation to apply “one-size-fits-all” policies. Every situation contained cultural, political and economic, and sometimes religious diversities. Information was a key requirement and the Council could certainly benefit from views on different situations, not only from the Secretariat, but also from individual members, especially those from the region affected. A second aspect was to recognize the complexity of the tasks to be undertaken. Recent issues under consideration by the Council demonstrated that, in parallel with security-oriented efforts, growing attention should be given to promoting democratic institutions, dialogue and national reconciliation, as well as addressing the social and economic roots of conflict.
Ultimately peace was contingent not only on political and security factors, but also on economic development with justice and the granting of equality for all, he said. For countries emerging from conflict, significant international assistance for economic and social rehabilitation and reconstruction was indispensable. An effective collective system should be based on a comprehensive vision, sustainable in the long term. The proposed creation of a Peacebuilding Commission, by including the Economic and Social Council and the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as other stakeholders, could help in bridging the institutional gaps in the social and economic fields. Brazil favoured the ongoing debate on issues of transition and on the need to address the funding and strategic planning gap between relief and development, particularly in post-conflict settings.
He said that the rule of law must be absolutely consistent with international human rights norms and standards, and the rights of victims and vulnerable groups must be upheld in fragile post-conflict settings. An independent, impartial, accountable and effective judiciary seemed indispensable for the vital task of breaking the cycle of violence and preventing the recurrence of conflict. Tangible results could only be achieved with the necessary financial resources and highly qualified personnel for a solid investment in justice and the rule of law. Throughout the years the Council had been applying different modalities in promoting justice and addressing abuses in order to achieve reconciliation -- the strengthening of local courts, support for truth commissions, the establishment of international tribunals, support for the establishment of mixed tribunals and referral to the International Criminal Court. Yet the dynamics were different in every experience. Local ownership and local consultations were crucial. True reconciliation might require a delicate balance between justice and peace, however difficult that might be.
Security-sector reform, through the restructuring and training of military and civilian police forces, was also essential, he said. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities and their variations, including resettlement and repatriation, were a matter of outstanding importance for the consideration of longer-term peace and stability. More must be done to improve the coordination among agencies and institutions involved in the various stages of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as such programmes remained continuously under-resourced, especially in the reintegration phase. Reintegration would only be effective if conditions were provided for ex-combatants to live in safe conditions, participate in the political process and pursue an economic activity with social benefit.
ABDELOUAHAB OSMANE (Algeria) said that, over the past 15 years, the world had seen serious conflicts upsetting the lives of millions of individuals. Given that situation, the United Nations and the Security Council had a responsibility to shoulder and a role to play with the agencies competent in the relevant areas. The Council’s taking on the humanitarian dimension in peacekeeping and peacebuilding was welcome. Also welcome was the coordination between the political, humanitarian and security dimensions, which was key to ending conflict and ensuring lasting peace. The crises of the last 15 years had demonstrated how fragile, and sometimes inadequate, the post-conflict phase could be. There were cases where the efforts undertaken had not been fully successful, particularly in the three areas of rule of law; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and security-sector reform.
It was important that holistic strategies guided overall actions with regard to managing post-conflict situations, he said. The Council must play a lead role in that regard. Strategies must give broad support to socio-economic development, reform in the security and justice sectors, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and the protection of civilian populations. Restoring and strengthening the rule of law, good governance, the promotion and protection of human rights, and spreading a culture of peace continued to be basic. He stressed the need to strengthen the nexus between development and peacebuilding, which involved the entire United Nations system. It was necessary to thoroughly consider the root causes of conflict and to work to stem them. He also underscored the key role that could be played by regional and subregional bodies in both conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
The international community, he added, must be vigilant and stand ready to provide support to vulnerable countries. The Council could not try to be everywhere all the time. The Peacebuidling Commission could be the appropriate body for crafting and implementing strategies aimed at dealing with pre- or post-conflict situations, including their humanitarian dimensions.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said current activities of the United Nations on the ground in many peace operations on rule of law; security-sector reform; and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration mirrored the interest of the international community in addressing the roots of conflicts. The strengthening of the institutions of the rule of law was an outstanding way to bring justice to those societies where impunity prevailed. The reform of police institutions and of the structures to maintain order was essential to ensure that the fight against illegality and arbitrariness was conducted within the strict framework of international standards. Further, a comprehensive process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in societies characterized by intolerance created confidence and promoted mechanisms that helped to reconstitute the social fabric.
The Secretariat could summarize best practices to facilitate the future task of the Council, he said. The technical missions to organize the launching of a peace operation could include, in their analyses, early assessments on the condition of the local judiciary, correctional and police systems, so as to provide a more comprehensive picture to troop-contributing countries regarding the issues that required urgent address. The full potential of the regional training centres for blue helmets must also be used, to better promote new notions and concepts on multidimensional operations, as well as to integrate the particular views and knowledge of different cultural and geographical areas. He also believed that the ongoing elaboration of unified standards on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration would be extremely useful.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said the humanitarian crises confronting the Security Council were mainly due to the proliferation of civil conflicts following the end of the cold war. They had caused more than 5 million deaths and left 17 million refugees and displaced people. The Council’s first task was to prevent crisis, the second was to take action before the outbreak of conflict, whether by diplomatic, coercive or military means. The final task was to direct reconstruction of the country, which entailed the building or rebuilding of democracy.
He said conflicts were caused mainly by social exclusion and it was no accident that many crises before the Council involved countries where personal income had not grown. They had an explosive urban population that suffered from technological backwardness. They had become increasingly indebted, in order to buy the progress that they had been unable to produce, and were becoming virtually unviable. The problems that caused humanitarian crises led unviable countries to become failed States and preventive measures were therefore necessary. They required economic and financial intensive care by the international community, focusing above all on debt forgiveness and economic assistance to meet the most pressing needs.
The five permanent members of the Security Council should agree not to use the veto when it was a question of crises involving crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide, he said. But such a gentleman’s agreement would serve no point if the Council’s peacekeeping or peace enforcement was weakened by a shortage of troops and the absence of a rapid deployment capacity. The Council must, therefore, endorse the recommendation of the High-Level Panel asking those countries with greater military capacity to provide brigade-size autonomous reserve forces for those tasks. As for reconstruction, the Council should supervise it and ensure that countries where it was being carried out did not become unviable.
NIRUPAM SEN (India) said that the topic of debate today belonged more to the General Assembly, as it revolved around more than one issue, such as implementation of humanitarian law, rule of law in conflict situations and capacity-building of States in conflict, or those emerging from conflict. India had, on several occasions, expressed its reservation on intrusive monitoring and finger-pointing, while dealing with specific human rights situations in individual countries. He remained convinced in the essential validity of an approach that was based on dialogue, consultation and cooperation leading to genuine improvements in the situation where violations of human rights law and humanitarian law were addressed without any external interference.
India had made it clear that any discussion which was used as a cover for conferring legitimacy on the so-called “right of humanitarian intervention” or making it the ideology of some kind of “military humanism” was unacceptable. In cases of humanitarian crises manifested in the form of genocide and gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law, no amount of sophistry could substitute for the lack of political will among major powers. He was not certain if an investigation of the reasons behind countries relapsing into conflict would serve much useful purpose. The single most effective instrument for assisting countries from relapsing into conflict would be development. It was widely acknowledged that development assistance to post-conflict countries could help in stabilizing the situation and provide the time needed for building national institutions.
He added that the United Nations system as a whole must look at the issues of national capacity-building as a priority in post-conflict situations. Post-conflict countries would also benefit from sharing experience and expertise from other developing countries.
ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said that the peacekeeping operations were becoming increasingly complex and multifunctional. Each situation was unique in its own way and there was no one-size-fits-all solution. Peacekeeping efforts must be structured in accordance with the United Nations Charter, which spelled out the Council’s role. The Council could act on behalf of the international community in taking appropriate measures to prevent genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other such violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The Russian Federation supported the draft statement prepared by the presidency and agreed upon by all Council members.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), associating herself with the European Union, said that in maintaining international peace and security, the Council’s main objective was to save human lives and spare human suffering. That objective had been met in two success stories of United Nations intervention, in Timor-Leste and Bougainville. Unfortunately, other interventions had not yet had the same positive outcome and human suffering continued in places like Haiti, Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire. The Council must aim at improving its efforts to prevent countries from relapsing into conflict. If it was not able to act swiftly in the immediate post-conflict phase, it may lose the window of opportunity and more human lives would be lost.
She said that even if there was no standard formula by which any conflict could be solved, there was certainly a checklist based on lessons learned that could provide a good start. The three pillars were the rule of law; security-sector reform; and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, which were a vital part of every peacebuilding strategy, as they addressed the fundamental causes of most conflicts. To improve its work, the Council must develop individual peacebuilding strategies for every conflict. It must ensure that the main elements of the checklist were included. As a supervisor of its own decisions, the Council must always stand ready to re-examine a conflict situation based on relevant advice and adjust its mandate accordingly.
The proposal to establish a Peacebuilding Commission addressed many of those concerns, she said. By gathering local and regional partners, donors and providers of security the Council could create a unique environment for the development of a strategy and for the setting of priorities in a way that was both implementable and sustainable. For example, while the Council could only appeal to donors to fund certain activities, the Peacebuilding Commission could address specific gaps and hopefully fill them. While the Council would normally condemn trafficking of soldiers across borders, the Commission could discuss useful measures to stop it with the regional partners. And while the Council could encourage “quick win” projects, the Commission could make them part of the priorities.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said there were several lessons learned from past and current peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. First, there were no “quick fixes” and “one-size-fits-all” formulas. Second, response and assistance to conscience-shocking humanitarian crises were more immediate than others. Third, response and assistance to those crises became effective when humanitarian and strategic interests coincided. Fourth, it was best that the mechanisms/processes for response to humanitarian crises came about through an internal process and germinated from the specific experiences of the society concerned. Fifth, he continued, flexible, adequate and timely funding that would allow rapid reaction and sustained support for programmes was necessary to ensure that the early challenges were addressed immediately and that medium- to longer-term concerns were properly covered. Last, local capacity-building must be part and parcel of any response.
The road ahead for the Council in humanitarian crises was fraught with challenges and opportunities. First, an institutional innovation on the handling of crises, which would involve strengthening of coordination of humanitarian agencies in such areas as logistics and communication to ensure predictable, efficient and effective assistance, was necessary. Second, he said, the Council should continue and enhance its support for regional organizations, as they contributed to the strengthening of the three pillars in post-conflict peacebuilding. Third, the Council could embark on targeted assistance for vulnerable groups. Fourth, the Council had an important part to play in ensuring that the rule of law, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security-sector reform were tackled in an integrated manner.
ISIKIA RABICI SAVUA (Fiji) said that to help the Council administer and control operations, it must be supported by accurate, up-to-the-minute information and an intelligence unit and allied network. Good intelligence and a broad-based information database should be able to provide the Council with contingency plans to cover all manner of scenarios; ease the decision-making process; provide a forecast of likely global conflagration points; prepare plans to include estimated budgetary requirements; and prepare an estimate of when the right to protect may be justified.
The training of the military and police of the emerging State should be expedited as a matter of priority, he said, but should not be at the expense of the impoverished by training the very same domineering security personnel who had hounded them originally. Proper selection, combined with a good understanding of the background of the problems, was essential to conducting a good training programme.
He said that, while best practices and lessons learned ought to provide a decent basis to draw up training syllabi, local demands and practices must also be factored in to ensure ownership. The credibility of the United Nations had to be resurrected and troop-contributing countries must deploy highly disciplined and well-trained troops, in order that the recent past practice in that regard was corrected and improved.
Fiji agreed with the notion of national ownership of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he said. Nations must decide on the extent of reconciliation, the time bar for prosecuting crimes and who should be integrated. Where possible, there should be a two-pronged approach running side by side and given equal priority for dealing with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and refugees. Regarding the involvement of regional organizations, Fiji was involved in the United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping operation in Bougainville, which had been successfully concluded, as well as the Regional Assistance Mission in the South Pacific, which continued to operate in the peacebuilding process in the Solomon Islands.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said that there was still reluctance towards integrated missions because of “humanitarian space” concerns and a feeling that “integration” had been too synonymous with “subordination”. That perception was particularly strong in non-United Nations humanitarian organizations, but it was present in United Nations humanitarian bodies as well. While strong integration might increase intra-United Nations cohesion, it risked undermining the position of the United Nations in the wider humanitarian coordination. There seemed to be growing awareness that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs should be located outside the mission structure in situations of high tension or active conflict.
She said that one should not aim for a blueprint model for all missions. The concept of integration gave a sense of direction, but no clear organizational solutions. As each field operation must meet different challenges, mission mandates, planning and design must also be flexible. Key factors for success were continuity and complementarity between different parts of a United Nations operation and relevant external actors. The planning processes of integrated missions should be as inclusive as possible from the start, and the field-level participants should be involved. Moreover, coherent planning required coherent financing. It was logical that all activities included in the mission mandates should be financed by assessed contributions. The urgent need for better financing of humanitarian action was evident.
ZHANG YISHAN (China), noting that humanitarian crisis was a broad concept, said the Council should play the lead role in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. It should attach great importance to the question of how to help countries in conflict to maintain stability, put them back on track towards development and prevent them from relapsing into conflict.
He said the rule of law was a fundamental guarantee for the consolidation of lasting peace. All efforts to restore the rule of law must abide by the United Nations Charter and international law, as well as by the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Second, a majority of humanitarian crises were in less developed areas and were linked with poverty. In such places, the end of conflict did not necessarily mean the arrival of peace. There was a need for timely international resources, as well as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. Intensified efforts were needed to strengthen justice structures, while strictly respecting the local cultural and historical background, as well as local ownership.
Peacebuilding operations should provide guidance rather than issue orders, with the focus on building up local capacity, rather than imposing prefabricated models, he said. Africa was not only the focus of United Nations conflict-prevention activities, it should also be the focus of post-conflict peacebuilding efforts, which, in light of the reality, should strengthen subregional organizations and provide them with logistical and financial capacities to improve their own peacebuilding capacity. China hoped the proposed Peacebuilding Commission would become operational as soon as possible, as it would have a direct impact on post-conflict peacebuilding initiatives. China endorsed the presidential statement.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the major challenge in the prevention of conflicts and reducing the escalation of humanitarian crisis was to deal with the threats to peace and security. The Council should be knowledgeable and concerned by the early signals of multiple root causes in the emergence of humanitarian crises, both man-made and natural disasters. That knowledge would enable the Council to initiate early action for preventing or containing the outbreak of full-scale conflicts. Gross and systematic patterns of violations of human rights were indications of impending humanitarian and political crisis leading to crimes against humanity and genocide. The Council ought to respond in a timely manner to human rights violations and take appropriate action in accordance with its mandate in Chapters VI and VII.
As a State in the Great Lakes region, Tanzania knew too well how humanitarian crises triggered by conflicts in other countries could impact on a country’s development, he said. The immediate post-conflict phase could have destabilizing tendencies, if not properly managed and addressed. The return and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons, the disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants, issues of transitional justice, governance, reconciliation and development should be comprehensively integrated in the transition. The proposed Peacebuilding Commission would have to deal with those issues, which had not been addressed holistically before.
He added that there had to be a seamless transfer of responsibilities from the Council to other actors and stakeholders in shoring up a country emerging from conflict to sustainable peace and development. It was necessary to ensure that there was adequate coordination within United Nations entities, as well as with civil society, national governments, regional organizations and bilateral and multilateral agencies in that partnership.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said that in the continuum from conflict to post-conflict situations, once a crisis was contained and peace achieved, the next response called for was taking the right measures to help consolidate the peace and in doing so, preventing a return to conflict. In nearly 50 per cent of cases there was a fragile peace that could not be sustained, and relapse occurred, due to the failure of political will or inadequate institutional or material support. In those situations, attention to security-sector support often became critical. If the rule of law was quickly re-established in a post-conflict society in the reconstruction phase, the risk of a return to conflict would be much reduced. Therefore, where United Nations peace operations were deployed, it was important to ensure that the rule of law and other security-related perspectives were adequately incorporated into the mission’s mandate.
He said that in establishing the rule of law under United Nations peace operations, security-sector reform encompassing a wide range of State and local public security institutions and organizations became an important task. Those included the military, police, judiciary, penal system and other public administrative bodies in charge of security. The role of the United Nations in security-sector reform should be tailored to a given, specific situation and discussed on a case-by-case basis. For example, the Organization had been reluctant to get involved in the area of military assistance, leaving that aspect to bilateral arrangements. However, the United Nations should play a certain role in military reform, in view of the relation of security-sector reform to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the important role played by national armies in the security sector.
Noting the close relation between the rule of law, security-sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he said that one of the challenges for the latter was to disarm illegal armed groups and eliminate the security threats posed by them. From Japan’s experience in Afghanistan, the critical part lay in convincing military commanders that the peace process was irreversible and that there was no other way than to participate in the political process through elections. At the same time, combatants must be assured that they would be protected by law from unlawful or unfair retribution. In their reintegration into civilian life, former combatants should be legally protected against unfair reintegration. When the proposed Peacebuilding Commission was established, it was expected that those issues would be fully and productively discussed.
RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said that any action that was aimed at humanitarian intervention, per se, could be questioned as having no basis in the Charter and international law. Therefore, it should be clear that while the Council had a role to play, its response should be based on a distinction between crises arising out of conflict situations and those which resulted from other causes, including natural disasters. He recognized that the Council had the responsibility to address humanitarian issues relating to situations of conflict and had taken appropriate action to deal with such situations. The return to conflict often hinged on the extent to which three key issues in post-conflict situations were adequately addressed -- the promotion of the rule of law; security-sector reform; and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.
Malaysia had been supportive of actions taken by the Council in averting humanitarian disasters arising from conflict situations, and in dealing with the culture of impunity so prevalent in conflict situations, he said. It was important for the Council to act in certain instances to ensure safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance, as well as the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and other humanitarian workers. However, the Council must act on credible, reliable and verifiable information to ensure that the right decisions were made and the right action was taken in conformity with the Charter and international law.
He added that it was necessary for the Secretariat to enhance its early warning capability. The Secretariat should have adequate means to gather credible, reliable and verifiable information and make appropriate assessments for the benefit of the Council and all MemberStates.
FERMÍN TORO JIMÉNEZ (Venezuela), invoking the preamble of the United Nations Charter, emphasized that Member States were simply representatives of sovereign peoples. A peacekeeping operation related to the people affected by a conflict and the only task for the United Nations should be to support the process of international cooperation in a process established by the people themselves. But the Council had repeatedly disregarded the self-determination of peoples and the specific powers of the General Assembly regarding international cooperation, besides usurping the Assembly’s powers. Recognition by the General Assembly of the practice of humanitarian intervention was intended to be a cornerstone of the United Nations reform currently under discussion.
Another hypothesis involved countries that were deemed to be guilty of violating human rights, he said. It implied a condemnation of the people as being the cause of their own poverty and degradation, and disregarded the situation that had originally led to such a situation. For example, internal strife in Africa had always been caused by oppression on the part of regimes imposed by outside Powers, whose vested interests were always present. In addition, the Haitian situation could not be viewed without examining the history of that country before 1804, when it had for centuries been the subject of exploitation by France. After that date it had become the property of the United States and was now under a supposed peacekeeping operation of the United Nations. Such imperialist projects were intended to hijack sovereignty and self-determination and were intended to remodel certain countries in accordance with the messianic certainties of the Bush administration.
GHEORGHE DUMITRU (Romania) said the time had come for the Council to approach the rule of law; security-sector reform; and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process not as separate dimensions, but as closely integrated elements. There were several ways in which the Council could contribute to a better reaction and action on the part of the international community in the face of humanitarian crises provoked by conflicts. The Council’s role was decisive and wide in scope. Peace operations mandated by the Council must focus on strengthening the rule of law and fostering democratic practices as key factors in reducing the risk of conflict recurrence and stimulating economic rehabilitation. The humanitarian dimension must be fully taken into account when deciding on the deployment of complex peace support operations and designing the structure and tasks of the missions.
He believed the issue of prevention should be given the highest priority, particularly in situations where there was a threat of a breakdown in peace and security, which could have disastrous consequences for civilians. All conflict situations, irrespective of their type or stage, must be closely monitored by United Nations bodies, particularly the Council, and the system should be maintained at an appropriate level of readiness to act whenever the dispute appeared to escalate and, eventually, generate humanitarian disasters. Before moving to action, there was a need to collect, organize and analyze all necessary information about the potential sources of humanitarian crises. United Nations agencies could, and must, play a crucial role in that respect. The Council must also lend its political weight to make sure that those responsible for humanitarian crises were brought to justice.
REED JACKSON FENDRICK (United States) said that today’s subject involved the United Nations institutional gap identified by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which wanted to help the international community address the spectrum of problems that many States confronted today, from pre-conflict through conflict itself and then into post-conflict or recovery. The international community had often had to play a role across that continuum. For most of the history of the United Nations, conflict almost invariably wound up threatening regional, if not global peace and security, whatever their causes. Whether conflicts began as internal strife or as a localized cross-border affair, the wider international community became engaged. It was, therefore, entirely appropriate that the Security Council consider lessons learned from helping societies that were emerging from conflict. In light of that history, the High-Level Panel’s recommendation that the Council establish a Peacebuilding Commission made eminent sense and the Council should act on it promptly.
He said that a stable society with a successful economy necessarily was rooted in the rule of law and had representative institutions that operated predictably according to law. The economy was also framed and governed by law. As a society headed over the cliff into conflict, the rule of law broke, or was weakened. In recent cases, hostilities had often eroded respect for the most basic norms, including those set forth in international humanitarian law. And afterwards, confidence in the rule of law must be rebuilt, if the society was to avoid slipping backward.
He said that where the United Nations as an institution was concerned, the work on security must be coordinated with all the other efforts being undertaken in connection with a particular society, and all the other efforts must be coordinated with each other. That was a great lesson that the United Nations as an institution should take from its recent experience with complex peacekeeping operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Peacebuilding Commission under discussion could and should make a significant contribution in that area. Better coordination among United Nations family entities and with donors, international financial institutions and regional partners, as well as taking aboard the lessons from the complex United Nations peacekeeping and peace support missions of the last 15 years, could help in making a better job of conflict prevention. In the event that conflict could not be avoided, such coordination and application of lessons learned could improve collective efforts to help States to recover from conflict.
OUSSOU EDOUARD AHO-GLELE (Benin) said he wanted to focus on four points: strengthening the authority of international humanitarian law; ensuring safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for victims and affected populations; the need to deal with humanitarian crises in a timely way; and the need to promote political solutions to crises. Regarding the first point, respect for international humanitarian law was indispensable for the prevention of humanitarian crises. The Council should use its authority to prevent massive violations of international humanitarian law. It was particularly important that such violations not go unpunished. The principle of no amnesty for grave crimes should be an unswerving principle of the Council’s actions.
As for ensuring that victims and affected populations had safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance, he noted it was the duty of the Council to ensure respect for that principle. Humanitarian action must be conducted with strict compliance with the principles of neutrality and impartiality. Concerning the need to deal with humanitarian crises in a timely way, he said differences of opinion in the Council regarding the assessment of a situation and the action to be taken could be exploited by the parties to conflict.
With regard to the need to promote political solutions to crises, he highlighted the need to provide the Council with an early warning mechanism. The Council would, thus, have concrete information to take timely and useful decisions on situations that threatened peace and security. The Council’s cooperation with regional organizations was an instrument that should be used to the utmost. He added that the mobilization of adequate financing also contributed to stemming the recurrence of armed conflict and the disastrous humanitarian situations resulting from them.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia) said that international efforts in security-sector reform, particularly in developing national police forces, must follow the important underlying fact that local or national support for a police service was more capable of upholding law and order, as well as addressing insecurity, and could have a far-reaching impact on economic, social and political developments. In that context, efforts for sustained peace in post-conflict situations should be based on a deep sense of ownership and focus on building the capacity of local actors.
She said that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes may well be placed in the broader context of the development agenda. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons would contribute to sustaining criminal economic networks in post-conflict environments, thereby significantly reducing and undermining the strategies and efforts to sustain peace. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, therefore, should always be a key component of peace processes. In view of the fact that former combatants could not simply be dismissed and asked to return to normal life, a well structured programme based on lessons learned should be put into play, with adjustments for particular situations. In that regard, there was a need for timely, sustained and well targeted resources at each stage of the peace process, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, rule of law and security-sector reform. Although high levels of aid did not guarantee success, if they were inadequate the effort might not be worth it in the first place.
ALLAN ROCK (Canada) noted that it was important to acknowledge that humanitarian crises were not solely the result of armed conflict. He called on the Council to take note of the latest humanitarian crisis being generated in Zimbabwe. After inflicting hunger and economic ruin on its population, the policies of that Government were now creating an army of the homeless. That situation deserved the full attention of the Council.
The necessary tools and powers for the international community to exercise its responsibility to protect did not need to be reinvented -- they were in the Charter, he said. What was needed, however, was a framework to guide that immense responsibility. The responsibility to protect provided such a framework. A firm declaration of support for that emerging norm in September would lay the normative groundwork for more effective responses by the Council. To ensure its effective implementation, the Council should adopt a resolution that included guidelines for the use of force.
The needs and challenges in rebuilding shattered societies in transition from war to peace were numerous and often daunting, he said. Therefore, a coordinated response was essential. The proposed Peacebuilding Commission would be critically important to enhance the capabilities of the United Nations, donor countries and regional organizations to meet the challenges posed by failed or fragile States.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Council should have an important political role in conflict prevention and dealing with the early stages of an emerging humanitarian crisis. The United Nations as a whole, and the Council in particular, should be alert to signs of an imminent breakdown in international peace and security, particularly incidents that threatened widespread humanitarian consequences. The Council should be prepared from the earliest stage to make a leading contribution to international efforts to avert a descent into conflict and humanitarian suffering.
The second key role for the Council was its primary responsibility for taking action where international peace and security had broken down and where full account must be taken of the humanitarian requirements of a crisis. While it was not the Council’s role to coordinate or direct humanitarian action, it could do more to galvanize international humanitarian efforts and to lend political weight to them. A major Council responsibility would be to establish United Nations multidimensional peace support operations that ensured that humanitarian considerations and activities were fully taken into account.
A third key area of the Council’s activity, he said, was building the conditions of lasting peace and stability, to prevent the recurrence of conflict and humanitarian suffering. In that regard, he stressed that strengthening the rule of law and good governance was essential to building societies which protected and improved the lives of all their citizens. Also, the approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration must be improved. It was necessary to draw together past experience, both good and bad, to ensure understanding of what worked and why.
Security-sector reform was another priority, he said. Democratically controlled security services could only be developed in the context of establishing effective governance structures and the rule of law. And disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes could only succeed as part of a broader reform effort to deliver security services that guaranteed safety for -- rather than threatened -- the people they were meant to serve. He added that the Union supported the proposed establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission, the proposal for a peacebuilding support office, and a new peacebuilding fund.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said that that whatever appeared legitimate today had not always been so, noting that Security Council responses to humanitarian crises was relatively new. In 1991, it had addressed the tragedy playing out in Iraqi Kurdistan, and ever since the Council could no longer stay out of humanitarian crises. That development was a mark of progress not only for the Council, but also for the entire Organization. Naturally, much more remained to be done and the avenues that the presidency had identified seemed to be the right ones. A consensus was emerging on the notion of the responsibility to protect, a principle that was before the General Assembly in preparation for discussion at the September Summit. The international community was duty-bound to act in cases of serious human rights abuses, such as ethnic cleansing.
Each crisis situation was unique, although the menu of actions that the international community could take was broad and depended on different circumstances, he said. Some cases involved very specific problems, such as securing access to populations in need of humanitarian assistance. To do so, the Council had necessarily diversified its sources of information, as in last month’s briefing by Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and World Food Programme Executive Director James Morris. Their reports had provided valuable insights, in addition to the statement by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The Council was indeed at the centre of the action in crisis situations, but it was by no means the sole player. Others included the agencies of the United Nations, States, non-governmental organizations and civil society, who all had a role to play, as well.
Mr. FENDRICK (United States) said he regretted the unfortunate and inaccurate comments made by the representative of Venezuela during the discussion, which mischaracterized the actions of the United States Government and detracted from the topic of today’s meeting.