FROM RHETORIC TO ACTION: ASSEMBLY URGES ALL
NEW YORK, 1 August (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this morning, acting without a vote, adopted a resolution on the prevention of armed conflict, thereby drawing the attention of all relevant actors –- States, regional bodies, civil society – to the recent report of the Secretary-General on the subject.
The report, dated 7 June, was first considered by the Assembly on 12 and 13 July. It reviews progress achieved towards developing the conflict prevention capacity of the United Nations. It also presents recommendations on how that capacity could be further enhanced, namely through the cooperation and involvement of Member States, who bear the primary responsibility in that regard.
Under the terms of the text adopted today, the Assembly called on governments and regional and subregional organizations to consider the report and its recommendations.
The Assembly also called upon all relevant United Nations bodies to consider the recommendations addressed to them and to inform it, preferably during its next session, of their views in that regard.
In a related provision, relevant civil society actors were invited to consider the report and the recommendations addressed to them. The Assembly decided to continue its consideration of the matter based on any views and comments received in that connection.
[For details of the General Assembly's two-day consideration of the report (document A/55/985 and Corr.1) see Press Releases GA/9890 and GA/9893].
The report was requested by the Security Council in its Presidential statement of 20 July 2000. The statement noted that conflict prevention is one of the primary obligations of Member States as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, with civil society playing an important role.
The main role of the United Nations, according to the report, is to support such national efforts and assist in building national capacity in conflict prevention, through its mandate to maintain international peace and security.
As for the role of the principal organs of the United Nations in this effort, the Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly consider a more active use of its powers, while enhancing its interaction with the Security Council, particularly in developing long-term conflict prevention and peace-building strategies.
He further encourages the Security Council to consider innovative mechanisms, such as a subsidiary organ or an ad hoc informal working group, to discuss prevention cases on a continuing basis, particularly with regard to periodic regional or subregional reports that the Secretary-General intends to submit to the Council.
Long-term strategies to address the root causes of conflict, the Secretary-General recommends, should be developed by the Economic and Social Council, with a future high-level segment of its annual substantive session devoted to the question. The role of the International Court of Justice, as an indispensable element of the system of peaceful settlement of disputes, is also crucial.
Also in the report, the Secretary-General urges Member States to resort to that Court earlier, accept its general jurisdiction and take advantage of its treaty-dispute and advisory capacities.
As for his own role, the Secretary-General intends to enhance it in this area through increased missions to volatile regions, the development of regional prevention strategies, the establishment of an informal network of eminent persons, and the improvement of the Secretariat's capacity for preventive action.
The report also finds that preventive action should be initiated at the earliest possible stage of a conflict cycle. One of its principal aims should be to address the deep-rooted socio-economic, cultural, environmental, institutional and other structural causes that often underlie the immediate symptoms of conflicts. An effective preventive strategy requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses both short-term and long-term political and institutional measures, along with other measures taken by the international community, in combination with national and regional actors.
Conflict prevention and sustainable -- and equitable -- development, according to the report, are mutually reinforcing activities, and a successful preventive strategy depends on the cooperation of many United Nations actors. They include the major organs mentioned above plus all agencies, offices, funds and programmes, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions.
The report says that the Organization, however, is not the only possible actor in this area and may often not be the one best suited to take the lead. Member States, international, regional and subregional organizations, as well as the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other civil society actors also have very important roles to play.
The Secretary-General recommends a range of mechanisms to build capacity within, and capacity among, all these actors.
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