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      Press Release No: NOTE No. 89
    Release Date: 7 July 2000
     UN Official Highlights Roles of Multilateral Institutions 
     In Addressing Conflicts at Vienna Seminar

      VIENNA, 7 July (UN Information Service) – Following is the opening statement of Danilo Türk, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations at the International Peace Academy (IPA) Seminar in Vienna on Sharing Political Space in Peacemaking: The United Nations and Regional Organizations. The Case of Europe, delivered here this morning:

     It is a great pleasure to offer a few opening remarks at this important seminar. The theme of the seminar is highly pertinent and demanding and it is not difficult to discern some of the main reasons of its importance.

     The end of the cold war has led to a profound change in the international political and security environment. The end of bipolarity unblocked the process of decision making in the multilateral organizations. The scope of potential consensus expanded and, at least for some time, it appeared that the UN and other multilateral mechanisms will be able to act in the manner envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations. Some international conflict situations were addressed with success and the recent literature on international security issues suggests that the actual number of armed conflicts has been decreasing since the mid 1990s. I wish to mention this right at the beginning of my remarks because my subsequent, critical remarks have to be seen in their proper perspective.

     The periods since the end of the cold war also gave rise to new complexities. Let me offer a few examples.

     One of the side effects of the end of the cold war was the fragmentation of the global strategic space. Tensions and armed conflicts are no longer linked to a single, overarching strategic problem and the potential of their effects on global peace and security has diminished. The notion of the indivisibility of international peace and security which had a modicum of credibility in the cold war era is no longer something self-evident. Obviously, the disappearance of the East-West confrontation is a positive development. It should also be borne in mind that the cold war realities did not favour conflict resolutions and peacemaking. In fact, the post cold war world inherited a sea of conflicts which were started in the cold war era and remained unsolved. Dealing with these as well as with new conflicts in the post cold war period one of the problems is to create the awareness of the importance of addressing these conflicts effectively. Therefore the contemporary efforts for the maintenance of international peace and security face a dual challenge: (a) the need to convince the world that international action is necessary and  (b) the need to address the inherent problems of conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

     A large number of contemporary conflicts are intra-state conflicts, which are often not fully understood. Sometimes they are labeled as “ethnic” or in some other manner which adds little to the understanding of the real causes and realistic solutions. These are common but usually misleading labels which keep us away from an effort to recognize the causes of conflict and suggest, albeit implicity, that such conflicts are beyond resolution. Often foreign military participation and other forms of foreign interference take new forms or are not properly recognized.

     The economic aspects of contemporary military conflicts, their economic rationales and their financing, the ways in which arms trafficking coincides with trafficking in drugs and other criminal activities are even less fully understood. This adds to the difficulties in the attempt to address the conflicts effectively. 

     The experience of the past decade has led to some understandings which are generally shared. One among them is that preventing is better than curing. The attention given to the prevention of armed conflicts is growing and one should hope that the political will for conflict prevention will be strengthened further. The Security Council has expressed that will in its presidential statement last November and it will address the issues of prevention later this month once again, this time with a focus on the cooperation between the UN and the regional organizations. It is expected that the forthcoming summit of the G-8 countries in Okinawa will provide an additional boost to conflict prevention.

     Another area of consensus relates to the need to strengthen the cooperation between the UN and regional organizations. Obviously, the scope of such cooperation is largely determined by the nature of the mandates of various regional organizations. In the past decade the UN has undergone a wide and generally positive experience in that regard. In many cases the UN is an indispensable source of legitimacy of action to be taken by a regional organization. Very often the UN is also a necessary instrument of effective international action to secure the implementation of the results of peacemaking undertaken at the regional level. On the other hand, the UN often relies on the expertise, the resources and initiative of regional organizations. Sometimes the initiative of a regional organization to seek a diplomatic solution to an emerging or existing conflict is the only prudent approach to take and the UN has been careful not to engage in such situations without consultation and agreement with the relevant regional organization. Much of the experience gained is discussed at the meetings with the heads of the regional organizations organized on the initiative of the UN Secretary-General.

     Today and tomorrow we are expected to discuss the interaction between the UN and the regional organizations in the sharing of political space in peacemaking. The formulation of the title of this seminar suggests a cooperative approach. Furthermore, the idea of sharing political space is particularly appealing in a world in which territorial determinants are being increasingly superseded by technological innovation. In an era of cyberspace one has to presume that the political space for cooperation will expand and that sharing political space is, generally speaking, infinitely more promising than struggle for territorial domination.

     We are, therefore, probing an optimistic hypothesis befitting an optimistic era. However, in that process we need to address the problems which have been characterizing the cooperation between the UN and the regional organizations so far. I wish, very briefly and only by way of illustrations, to refer to some among them.

     A certain degree of tension is inherent in any relationship between the regional, i.e. territorially defined organizations and the UN which is a global organization with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Seen from the UN perspective the action at the regional level inevitably raises the questions of its compatibility with and subsidiary to the global order. Seen from a regional perspective the choice between regional and global means inevitably raises the question of adequacy of the global instrument and whether the choice of the global instrument in the first instance is the most effective one.

     This tension was reflected in the debates in San Francisco and the resulting formulation of Chapter VIII of the Charter has been aptly described as an “ambivalent compromise between universalism and regionalism”.

     Article 52 of the Charter requires that regional arrangements and agencies are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter and that they deal with such matters which are appropriate for regional action. It does not provide an answer to the questions on who makes the judgement of appropriateness of a particular matter and what needs to be done if there exist parallel and different judgements. The same article gives priority to regional arrangements in the pacific settlement of local disputes but it does not contain criteria by which the decisionmakers could distinguish between local and non-local disputes.

     In the recent case of the dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia the UN organs left the initiative to the regional organization and other actors. However, it is hard to say that the dispute and the ensuing war were local in character. While the war seems to have ended, the question whether the Security Council fulfilled its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security remains open.

     Article 53 of the Charter relates to the enforcement action and postulates that no enforcement action will be taken without the authorization of the Security Council. While the Charter provisions seem clearer in this regard, the actual practice is not. This is particularly the case when enforcement takes the form of economic measures. Regional arrangements and groups of states have resorted to economic sanctions without authorization of the Security Council in such cases as Burundi or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

     It is not always easy to draw the frontiers between economic sanctions such as those envisaged in Article 41 of the Charter and permissible economic measures taken by regional and other organizations and groups of states or individual states which retain a relatively wide freedom of choice in matters of economic and other cooperation. It seems reasonable to expect that the current support for the idea of targeted or “smart” sanctions which the Security Council is trying to articulate will be followed by a similar effort by the regional organizations.

     The most difficult issues, however, arise in situations involving the use of military force. The regional organizations can be instrumental in organizing collective self-defense action, consistent with Article 51 of the Charter or coalitions of the willing with the authorization of the Security Council. On the other hand, the use of force without explicit authorization of the Security Council, in situations other than self-defense, poses serious legal and political problems. The alternative bases for legitimization of the use of force such as the need to prevent a humanitarian disaster may be deemed acceptable in particular circumstances of extreme necessity when the use of unauthorized military force is the only way to avert a greater evil. But they do not constitute an independent basis of legitimacy for the use of force.

     The title of this seminar relates to the sharing of political space in peacemaking and is therefore inherently future oriented. Let me therefore conclude with a few remarks about the potential for the future cooperation between he main regional organizations in Europe and the UN.

     Europe is a region which gives a high priority to human rights. This should be helpful to the UN especially in cases when peacemaking requires a strong human rights component. The UN is following the current experience of the Council of Europe closely and will continue developing appropriate cooperation, in particular through the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.

     Cooperation between the Organization for Securiy and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN is well established and has become especially intensive at the operational level in a number of situations in the Balkans, the Caucasus and in Central Asia. There is, however, ample scope for expansion of cooperation in the future, especially in the area of conflict prevention. More frequent and detailed consultations at the expert level would represent an important and easily achievable contribution to such cooperation.

     An important potential exists in the future of cooperation between NATO and the UN. In a world in which the problems of security are no longer defined by the threat of enemies but rather by a variety of dangers, the traditional concept of collective self-defense necessarily loses its centrality. Self-defense is increasingly replaced by other forms of action, especially by peacemaking and peacekeeping. This change is to some extent reflected in NATO’s strategic concept of April 1999. The recent experience of operational cooperation between NATO and the UN in Bosnia, in Eastern Slavonia, and since June last year in Kosovo, has demonstrated the necessity as well as advantages of such a cooperation. As Jacques Paul Klein explained in a recent paper, examining the experience of NATO-UN cooperation, “The United Nations has a unique legal and moral authority and valuable operational experience in international peacekeeping. It is up to European nations to determine how best to meet their legal obligations and utilize UN assets and advantages.”

     This experience has important implications for policy making at a more general level. The evolution of NATO into a broader transatlantic security community and its closer cooperation with the UN is bound to require new forms of partnership with the UN in the peacekeeping and in other areas, including conflict prevention and peacemaking. NATO and its members have substantial resources in information and could engage more regularly in headquarters meetings, exchanges of staff and workshops and conferences on specific topics. The old idea of establishing a NATO liaison office needs to be revisited. In this manner NATO could assist the UN in peacemaking and could provide a model of cooperation to be followed with other organizations in the future.

     Finally, there is a growing need for engagement of the European Union in the UN activities in peacemaking and other activities in the domain of the maintenance of international peace and security. The recent participation of Mr. Javier Solana, the Secretary-General of the European Council and High Representative of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy in the Security Council’s debate on the peacemaking in the Balkans showed the potential of the EU as an actor in peacemaking and as a partner of the UN. The Balkans are a natural case for development of such a role of the EU. However, it is not the only one, neither are specific crisis situations the only domain for a stronger role of the EU in the UN.
     
     A serious reflection would clearly discover the EU as a potential leading group of member states in a future United Nations. The UN is an inclusive organization which needs active groups of member states, capable and willing to provide leadership. The EU is a group of states with an important potential and with  a need to articulate its role on the multilateral scene. The message of Mr. Solana’s participation in the work of the Security Council was clear but it has to be matched with an adequate and sufficiently broad and ambitious follow-up. The UN is open to a stronger role of the EU. The question now is whether the EU will be ready to assume a leading role which would be, from the UN standpoint, both realistic and legitimate.

     The cooperation of all European organizations with the UN should grow. The emergence of an inclusive European identity based on a body of shared principles and beliefs which are compatible with the UN Charter, constitutes the natural basis for an intensified cooperation in the future.

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