Press Releases

     

    SC/7774

       2 June 2003

     

       

    SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS PEACE, SECURITY ISSUES AFFECTING AFRICA IN ADVANCE OF UPCOMING MISSIONS
    TO CONTINENT

     

    More Than 30 Speakers Participate in Day-long Meeting Held

    After Council Decision Authorizes Emergency Force for Democratic Republic of Congo

     

     

    NEW YORK, 30 May (UN Headquarters) -- In a matter of days, two Security Council missions would be departing for Central and West Africa with a powerful message that the Council remained actively engaged on all issues plaguing the subregions, that body heard today as it met to review the United Nations’ involvement in Africa.

     

    More than 30 speakers hailed today’s meeting as helping to forge the right context for peace.  The discussion ended a month in which the dire situation in the interior region of the continent had commanded much of the Council’s attention.  It had taken several actions, including earlier today, when it authorized the establishment of an Interim Emergency Multinational Force in the town of Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, to quell the fierce inter-ethnic fighting there.

     

    Convening the discussion was Munir Akram (Pakistan), whose delegation holds the Council presidency for the month of May.  In addition to shaping the work of the forthcoming missions, he cited as another key objective of today’s debate an analysis of the conflicts and complex crises that plagued Africa, with a view to discussing possible mechanisms within the United Nations system to promote durable solutions.  With participation open to all Member States, he anticipated a rich debate and a productive outcome.

     

    Spelling out several specific recommendations for the missions, the Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, Ibrahim Gambari, suggested that the Council should consider using multidisciplinary United Nations expert support prior to, and after, dispatching its missions to potential or conflict areas, in order to promote a more efficient use of time and facilitate effective follow-up actions.  The recognition that the international community had not yet been particularly successful in post-conflict peace-building in Africa and, perhaps, elsewhere, indicated the need for more concerted efforts. 

     

    Heading the Council mission to Central Africa and taking the lead in managing the newly authorized multinational force to Bunia, France’s speaker said that the significant efforts by the international community to establish a peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been frustrated.  The conflict had spun into a regional one and into a complex crisis.  The mission would call on the parties to end hostilities immediately, and stress that it was their peace process.  Specific steps were still needed to neutralize the engines of conflict, such as the plundering of mineral wealth, he said.

     

    Leading the mission to West Africa, the representative of the United Kingdom, recalling that the practice of Council missions on the ground had been restarted in 1999 with that dramatic visit to Jakarta and East Timor, said that such missions enhanced the perception of the Council as an operational, and not only a legislative, body.  The missions added an extra dimension to the Council’s work on peace-building and conflict resolution.  They also demonstrated, in a graphic way, the importance the Council attached to conflict situations, and spotlighted crisis situations in a way that governments concerned could not ignore.

     

    Expressing gratitude for the unanimous adoption this morning of the resolution authorizing the deployment of a multinational force to his country, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that would release the Ituri district from the “misdeeds of the forces of evil”, which, once again, had been orchestrated by two neighbouring countries.  The events in Bunia were strikingly similar to those that had occurred in Kisangani, where regular armies of those two countries had clashed, claiming thousands of victims.  The plethora of warlords in the Ituri disrict had led people to refer to the situation as the “Somaliaization” of that part of his country.

     

    Urging the deployment of that force as quickly as possible, the representative of Uruguay expressed his greatest concern for the delicate situation facing more than 700 Uruguayan peacekeepers in Bunia.  Uruguayans had been part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in that country since the beginning, with a contingent of more than 16,000 men; then it had agreed to transfer part of its troops to Bunia.  It was a moral duty to assist Africa.  The world would not be at peace with itself if he failed to do so, he said.

     

    Among the many African speakers who took the floor, the representative of Cameroon said that, with the Council devoting some 60 per cent of its time to Africa, governments had put forward fresh and innovative strategies.  What was needed now was the political will to implement them.  The approach of Council missions to conflict areas was innovative, as they allowed members to appraise the situation on the ground and consolidate dialogue with the parties.  The missions were also extremely useful tools for preventive diplomatic action.  Relationships with regional organizations should also be strengthened.

     

    If words were deeds, then Africa would be sailing through a conflict-free environment, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania suggested, referring to all the resolutions and action plans.  The question was how much had been achieved, and the answer underlined the significance of today’s debate.  She commended the Council for helping to restore peace in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia/Eritrea.  Yet, conflicts on the continent still raged unabated, causing millions of deaths, displacing countless civilians, and devastating entire economies.

     

    The representative of Burundi, warning that the threat of genocide still existed in the Central African subregion, urged the mission to promote lasting solutions, which embraced all underlying factors of the conflicts there, beginning with its colonial history and culminating in the sale of “arms and death across  borders”.  He urged the Council to be prepared to adapt the mandates to the sometimes rapidly changing situations, in both Central and West Africa.

     

    In closing remarks, Mr. Akram (Pakistan) suggested the consideration of two new mechanisms.  The first was the creation by the Council of inquiry bodies to establish the facts of certain crises.  The second was the establishment of “composite committees”, with membership drawn from the Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  That approach would reduce the burden on the Council and promote greater participation and greater transparency.  The role of the Council would remain that of an executive branch. 

     

    Mr. Gambari, taking the floor again at the end of the meeting, said he would reflect on the proposals made today and hoped the missions would take them on board.  He noted that most delegates had expressed the idea that the primary responsibility for solving the conflicts rested with the Africans themselves.  Nevertheless, it was becoming evident that the Africans were serious about ending the conflicts on their continent and, therefore, the United Nations had a responsibility under the Charter to support those efforts.

     

    Statements were also made by the representatives of Mauritius, South Africa, Angola, Mexico, Egypt, United States, Brazil, Congo (on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States), Chile, Bulgaria, Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Spain, Greece (on behalf of the European Union), Guinea, Syria, Philippines, China, Russian Federation, Rwanda and Tunisia.

     

    The meeting, which began at 10:36 a.m., was suspended at 1:16 p.m.  It resumed at 3:27 p.m. and adjourned at 6:02 p.m.

     

    Background

     

    The Security Council met this morning in a public meeting to consider “Conflicts in Africa:  Security Council Missions and United Nations mechanisms to promote peace and security”.

     

    According to a “non-paper” from the Council’s President, Munir Akram (Pakistan), inter-State and intra-State conflicts and complex crises continue to plague parts of the Africa, crises which are compounded by poverty, food insecurity and disease.  There is also a worrisome indication that some of the internal conflicts are increasingly becoming regional.

     

    Council’s actions regarding the conflicts in Africa have included authorizing peacekeeping missions, imposing sanctions, managing conflicts and supporting efforts for conflict resolution by regional and subregional organizations.  The Council’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa is an important forum to help keep an institutional focus on African issues.

     

    Council missions to Africa have emerged as an important means to directly engage with regional and subregional organizations, governmental, opposition and civil society actors and to facilitate the process of conflict management and resolution.  In June 2003, two separate Council missions will be visiting Central Africa and West Africa.

     

    Statements

     

    MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), Council President, said that in a matter of days Security Council missions would be departing for Central and West Africa.  They would take a powerful message that the Council remained focused on the issues in the subregions and remained actively engaged.  Today, he would convene a full discussion on how those missions could promote the Council’s primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

     

    He said that another major object of today’s debate was to analyse the conflicts and complex crises that plagued Africa, with a view to discussing ways and means and possible mechanisms within the United Nations system to promote durable solutions to peace and security in the continent.  With the participation of Council and non-Council members, he anticipated a rich debate and a productive outcome.

     

    IBRAHIM A. GAMBARI, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, said that, as the Council embarked on its forthcoming missions to Central and West Africa, there was a need to apply the lessons learned and to explore further linkages between peace and security, on the one hand, and social and economic development, on the other.  The Council should consider using multidisciplinary United Nations expert support prior to, and after, dispatching its fact-finding missions to potential or conflict areas, in order to promote a more efficient use of time and facilitate effective follow-up actions.

     

    He also advocated the need to design and implement preventive measures that had the prospect of success.  In general, conflicts in Africa could not be resolved without taking their regional and global dimensions fully into account.  The recognition that the international community had not yet been particularly successful in post-conflict peace-building in Africa and, perhaps, elsewhere, indicated that more concerted efforts were needed.

     

    The failure of the international community to engage in serious efforts to consolidate peace in the Central African Republic, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau after the end of earlier peacekeeping operations in those countries could largely be attributed to the relapse of conflict there, he said.  Hence, greater and more creative efforts by the international community were essential for successful peace-building and should involve not only the United Nations, but also the Bretton Woods institutions and donor countries.

     

    Highlighting some pressing issues demanding urgent attention, he urged the Council in Central Africa to evaluate the current mandate and resources of the various United Nations peace operations for much-needed adjustment, especially the missions in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Also, he urged members to revisit the possibility of holding an international conference on the Great Lakes region to discuss the region’s future.

     

    The mission to West Africa provided a unique opportunity for the Council to, among other things, assess the capacity of the regional organization to participate in regional operations and to seek ways to implement Security Council resolution 1366 (2001), he said.  That resolution had called for the enhancement of the capacity for conflict prevention of regional organizations through the extension of international assistance.  He also urged the mission to evaluate progress made in accomplishing the benchmarks, which should guide the pace of the drawdown of United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) personnel.

     

    He recommended that the Council, upon return to Headquarters, might wish to consider several topics for thematic discussions, in order to promote greater coherence of action by the system as a whole.  Those included:  rule of law and the promotion of internal security and human rights; minimum conditions for holding credible elections; security sector reform; measures to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of State wealth; strengthening State authority through the civil service and legislatures; and enhancing the capacity of regional organizations to undertake peace operations.

     

    While visiting actual or potential conflict areas, the Council should develop sustainable contacts with major stakeholders, he continued.  When the missions returned, the Council might also wish to consider measures to foster a greater coordination and coherence in the United Nations’ response at the intergovernmental level to the interrelated issue of peace, security and development in Africa.  To advance that process, the Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) might wish to consider holding joint meetings periodically, as a means of mobilizing international support for Africa in areas of conflict prevention and resolution.

     

    JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), who would lead the Council mission to Central Africa, said that mission would take place from 9 to 16 June and address the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo had been in conflict for a number of years, resulting in 3 million deaths and involving nearly all countries of central and southern Africa.  The Council had worked with the signatories of the 1999 Lusaka Agreement establishing a peace process.  Council efforts had been complemented by the Bretton Woods institutions.  However, efforts of the international community to restore peace had been frustrated.

     

    The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been transformed into a regional conflict and turned into an even more complex crisis that included other dimensions, such as anarchy, local conflicts and the economic situation.  The peace process, however, had begun to bear fruit.  Foreign forces had withdrawn to a great extent, and foreign armed groups were beginning to be disarmed.  The repeated offences of rebels in the east had undermined those attempts, however. Massacres continued.  Still, there was a need to build on the progress.

     

    The mission would indicate to the parties in the region that it was their peace process, he continued.  No one else could make peace.  The Lusaka, Pretoria and other agreements must be fully implemented.  The Council must also take more specific measures to help parties implement their commitments.  Specific measures were necessary to neutralize the engines of the conflict, such as the plundering of mineral wealth.  There was also a need for strengthening the framework of the peace process.  That was the specific goal of the Council mission.  The mission would call on the parties to end hostilities immediately.  The disarmament and repatriation process for foreign armed groups must be launched.  The mission could propose confidence-building measures.

     

    Regarding Burundi, he said the Council was concerned by the situation, where for two years the Arusha agreement was under way.  The transition process needed to be supported.  There was a paradoxical situation, as there was a lack of a ceasefire.  The economic situation was also extremely difficult.  Burundi must be helped in consolidating the peace process.  The mission would meet all political players and try to establish contact with the remaining rebels.

     

    JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) recalled that the practice of Council missions on the ground had been restarted in 1999 with that dramatic visit to Jakarta and East Timor.  Regular travels since then had enhanced the perception of the Council as an operational, and not only a legislative, body.  Those missions added an extra dimension to the Council’s work on peace-building and conflict resolution, and demonstrated, in a graphic way, the importance the Council attached to conflict situations.  They also spotlighted crisis situations in a way that governments concerned could not ignore.  They gave Council members the chance to explain the Council’s objectives more fully to heads of State and to secure personal commitments from the key players, vital to finding lasting solutions to conflict.

     

    He said that the missions also brought home to Council members the stark realities of what conflict brought to the people involved.  It brought members face to face with more than political or military leaders, but also with civil society groups and individuals.  It was difficult for him to forget a side trip to Kananga in the dead centre of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  As he drove into that wholly trashed city, out of the damaged buildings came all the children of the town crying out in French for help, thinking that the visit to the town would bring peace to their country.  As he left, those same children stood silently at the side of the road wondering why the missions was leaving before it had restored normalcy to their lives.

     

    Meetings with people on the ground had been extremely useful in broadening the Council’s understanding of the impact of conflict, he said.  They helped the Council connect the big political and military events with the people affected.  All conflicts produced a pool of displaced young persons who would fight anywhere, as long as they were paid.  It was now clear that lasting stability in West Africa depended on sustainable peace in every country of the region.  Highlighting the various challenges that lay ahead, he said that, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the challenge required an unremitting effort over a long period to persuade the players to leave war behind and put national reconstruction ahead of personal and political ambition.

     

    JAGDISH DHARAMCHAND KOONJUL (Mauritius), current Chairman of the Regional Group of African States, speaking in his national capacity, said the mission to the Great Lakes region would be the fourth.  However, each mission should build on the former one, which was something that he had not seen.  In Burundi, a peace process was in place and there had been a peaceful transition.  That country, therefore, deserved more attention from ECOSOC.  A joint mission of ECOSOC and  the Security Council might have been appropriate.  He said coordination and consultation with the African Union had been lacking in preparing for missions to Africa.  Joint missions of the Council and the African Union should be considered.

     

    The missions to the Great Lakes and western Africa should also consider the desirability of setting up a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme for the whole continent, he continued.  Such DDR must be comprehensive and enable former combatants to be reintegrated in normal day-to-day life.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many DDR camps had been built, but hardly any former combatants had come.  The Council must address the problem of moving from an attitude of voluntary disarmament to a more aggressive disarmament of the combatants.

     

    The African Group regretted that the mission to West Africa had been abruptly postponed because of other urgent matters, he said.  Urgency and importance were matters of perception.  It was important that the full team of the mission would visit Guinea-Bissau.  Anything less would send the wrong signal, as the country was now at both a post-conflict and pre-conflict state.

     

    DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said that the forthcoming fact-finding trips would add to the practical experience of the Council as it continued to grapple with complex conflicts in West and Central Africa.  The African Union was intensely aware of those problems and had actively involved itself in the area of conflict prevention and resolution.  The missions would encounter conflict situations that had a common denominator, namely, underdevelopment and the scramble for natural resources.  There was also the difficult issue of armed groups from neighbouring countries, which crossed the border to foment violence and defied appeals to return to their countries of origin.

     

    He said that the Council’s role in those complex challenges remained important, because Article 39 of the United Nations Charter conferred on the Council the responsibility to decide whether a particular breach of the peace, or an act of aggression, was a threat to international peace and security, and to take appropriate steps to maintain or restore peace.  Recent events had added to the perception that the Council might be distracted from conflicts in places such as Ituri, which was located in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

     

    The Council must remain central to the universal search for peace, he said.  It must remain focused on taking effective collective measures to prevent or remove threats to peace.  In that context, it should be asked whether the Council’s mechanisms were adequate to deal with such complex conflict situations.  To the people of Africa, it was not how the Council remained actively seized of their plight, but how effective it was in bringing about peace.  The United Nations was the beacon of Africa’s belief in fundamental human rights.  If not the Council, to whom should Africa turn in its hour of need? he asked.

     

    ISAMEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), speaking on behalf of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Solution in Africa, said ad hoc working groups, if properly used, could be important tools in promoting peace and addressing the crises that afflicted the international community.  The work of those groups must be enhanced by rendering their recommendations more pertinent to the work of the Council.  Working groups should find mechanisms for cooperation and coordination with sanctions committees.  As the experience in Angola had shown, imposition of sanctions was often an important tool in guaranteeing compliance with internationally accepted norms and resolving conflicts.

     

    The working groups, however, needed to make their recommendations more “action-friendly” for the United Nations system, he continued.  Working group effectiveness would depend on their capacity to focus on concrete situations and mobilize the international community’s attention, as well as provide proper advice and support for a timely response. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution had made recommendations regarding cooperation with the African Union.  A better coordination and consultation with the Union and regional organizations was needed.

     

    He welcomed efforts by the Secretary-General to establish a bureau within the Secretariat to deal especially with African issues.  He also welcomed United Nations’ readiness to assist in implementation of the African Union Protocol creating the African Council of Peace and Security.  Peace and development were the two main challenges in Africa.  That demanded a comprehensive and multi-sectorial engagement by the entire international community, he said.

     

    ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said that the missions had become a crucial instrument in the Council’s decision-making process.  Today’s discussion was part of its commitment to transparency.  The decision-making process specifically related to conflicts in Africa must be as comprehensive as possible, as those conflicts were motivated and perpetuated by a series of factors, including historical roots, alliances, power struggles, the exploitation of natural resources, as well as old forms of domination.  It was also urgent to integrate the following elements when seeking solutions to disputes:  the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons; the use of mercenaries; and the use of child soldiers.

     

    He said that any analysis of the conflicts in Africa should also take into account the regional dimension.  That should be done through dialogue with the relevant regional organizations, the political leaders, and members of civil society -- all must be part of the solution.  The Council must also consider the problems of Africa in a creative process of cooperation, which engaged all parts of the United Nations system.  Efforts being made by the international community in the area of education would provide the best results in the long term, leading to achieving conditions of peace, stability, understanding and harmony in that continent.

     

    The recent series of Council missions had yielded very positive results, he said.  Through them, the Council had the opportunity to support the work of the United Nations and to clearly send the message of peace.  Past missions to Africa had had, as their fundamental objective, the establishment of dialogue between the Council and the main players in a region.  Exchanges of opinions with government representatives and members of the various political factions had given the Council the opportunity to assess, in a more realistic and direct way, the impact of its own decisions.  The decision taken this morning to send a multinational force in support of the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a correct and necessary one.

     

    AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi had demonstrated excessive use of violence against civilians.  The conflicts also threatened to take on a regional dimension.  United Nations efforts in Africa had had both success and failures.  Experience had demonstrated that political will was a necessary factor in supporting peaceful settlement.  The key condition for building peace was to ensure a political commitment at all levels in an integrated manner.  He wondered whether the United Nations role should be restricted to managing conflicts and providing humanitarian assistance, or if the United Nations and international agencies should act to prevent conflicts before they emerged.  An early warning system of the United Nations, in coordination with the African Union and regional organizations, was of crucial importance.

     

    The international community must manage conflicts holistically to encompass all political, economical and social aspects of the crises, he continued.  In that regard, he noted the lack of donor commitment in peace-building in post-conflict countries, particularly in programmes for demining and DDR. Effective coordination between the United Nations and the African Union, as well as the regional players, required ongoing financial assistance, so that those institutions could meet their peacekeeping tasks.

     

    It was indeed appropriate that the Council responded to conflicts in Africa in a regional fashion, he said.  The Council missions should enable the Council to reaffirm the international community’s commitments towards peace in the region; to explore the reality of the situation on the ground and the scope of suffering of the peoples afflicted; to identify the need for an effective presence on the ground; and assess the effectiveness of policies and conflicts of the Council.  He hoped the two missions would return with a clear and holistic vision of a way in which the Organization should deal with conflicts in Africa.

     

    MARC NTETURUYE (Burundi) said that Africa always seemed to be in conflict.  Integrated solutions were the way forward for that continent and especially for the Central African subregion, as the conflicts there were closely interrelated.  The situations were arduous, and, thus, he was pleased that the United Nations was sending a multidisciplinary mission of United Nations agencies to Central Africa, as well as the Council mission.  All such activities reflected the true commitment of the United Nations system to stabilizing Central Africa. He greatly appreciated the four consecutive years of visiting missions to Central Africa, which had contributed to peace, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

     

    On the eve of the Council’s fourth visit, he had some recommendations, including that the mission should strengthen the new leadership of the second phase of transition in Burundi, which was a crucial transition, aimed at drawing up an 18-month programme.  Above all, it should call for respect for existing peace and ceasefire agreements, as well as for subsidiary agreements.  The signatories should be reminded that they must respect their commitments, as questioning them had threatened to undermine or even to nullify them.  With respect to the agreements for Burundi, measures could be taken against those who refused a negotiated peace.  He was specifically referring to the Lusaka and Arusha agreements.  Both were closely intertwined, and there would be no peace in Burundi if there was no peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and vice versa.

     

    A further recommendation for the mission to Central Africa was to promote lasting solutions, since that subregion still lived under the threat of a new genocide.  The deep-rooted tensions linked to its colonial history and the leadership of its first years of independence were at the heart of the violence in the subregion, which had culminated in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and in the genocidal massacres in Burundi a few months earlier.  That violence had culminated now in a humanitarian catastrophe in the eastern and northern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Promoters of genocide sold arms and death across the borders, and must be stopped.  The goal of revisiting the past was not to reopen the wounds, but to make it possible for harmony to prevail among the culprits and the victims.

     

    He also urged the mission to deliver a clear message to the protagonists to the conflicts.  The Council should also be prepared to adapt the mandates of its interventions to the specific conflict situations, which were sometimes rapidly evolving, including in both Central and West Africa.  The change in situations had sometimes derailed United Nations peacekeeping missions or other observer missions, such as in Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Regional organizations must also sometimes change their mandates and increase their personnel.

     

    MARTIN CHUNGONG AYAFOR (Cameroon) said at a time when the attention of the international community was focused on other conflicts, he welcomed the debate on conflicts in Africa.  Although it seemed the subject had lost some attention, the Council was devoting 62 per cent of its time to Africa.  The members of the Council and the Member States of the United Nations had put forward fresh and innovative strategies.  What was needed now was political will of the parties involved to implement them.

     

    The approach of Council missions to areas of conflict was an innovative one, as they allowed Council members to appraise the situation on the ground and consolidate dialogue with the parties, he said.  Over the last few years, of 19 Council missions, 13 had been conducted in Africa.  He suggested that Council missions could also be an extremely useful tool for preventive diplomatic action.  Those missions could make a significant contribution to diffusing tensions before conflicts occurred.  Council missions should become an integral part of the decision-making process within the Council.

     

    He said on 11 April the Council had devoted a debate to its relationship with regional organizations.  The missions of the Council provided valuable opportunities for improving working relations with African regional and subregional organizations.  The Council had, in a consistent fashion, developed outstanding relationships with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), such as recently in Côte d'Ivoire.  However, the Council had sometimes shown itself to be selective on some regional decisions regarding conflicts.  The Council must, therefore, strengthen its relationships with regional and subregional organization and maintain them during Council missions.  He hoped the Council would soon work in a harmonious manner with regional organizations, regardless of the perception some members might have of them.

     

    JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that many speakers had already addressed the important role of the United Nations and the Security Council in Africa, and had put forth some important ideas of how that impact could be improved.  The Council tended to focus on the crises and the many problems.  The missions helped the Council to do that better and in a more focused way.  Africa had come a long way in recent years.  A decade ago, dictatorships and single party elections had been the norm.  According to a recent United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report, many governments in Africa were making great strides, including in the area of human rights.

     

    Also, he noted, some long-term conflicts had ended.  Last October, he celebrated the signing of the peace accords in Mozambique, and Sierra Leone and Angola were now on their way to post-conflict reconstruction and economic revitalization.  Yet, many parts of the continent had remained “stuck” in conflict, and there was much work to be done by the United Nations, the Security Council, and all Member States.  The dire situation in the interior region had commanded much of the Council’s attention in recent weeks.  Today, it adopted a resolution to address that situation, and France had taken the lead on a multinational force.  The upcoming mission should enable the Council to contribute in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a long-term strategy to end that terrible conflict.

     

    A look at many of the trouble spots in Africa should lead not only to sustained commitment from the Council and the United Nations, but, very importantly, from Africans themselves, he said.  He supported the effort of neighbouring and regional States to help resolve the conflicts.  The United States has provided money and training assistance to several of those operations and would continue to seek ways to create the right context for peace.  The fragile peace process in Burundi continued to need sustained assistance.  In West Africa, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire was precarious and also required international attention.  Everyone should work to ensure sufficient funding for the operations of ECOWAS there, which was key to success of the peace efforts. 

     

    He said he strongly supported sanctions regimes on those parties intent on perpetuating cycles of violence and instability.  His goal was not to punish, but to use sanctions to change the policies of regimes that threatened their neighbours, adding, “we all know who they are”.  With respect to Liberia, strong sanctions had been adopted.  The people there was facing a grave crisis, which had been repeatedly exported across its borders.  In the long-term, support for conflict resolution and prevention was well served by respect for international human rights and humanitarian norms, as well as a commitment to good governance.  Solutions, however, must come from the parties themselves, and should not be imposed by the Security Council.

     

    RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that today’s meeting provided an additional opportunity to focus attention on the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The dramatic situation unfolding there could deteriorate and endanger an important region of Africa, with serious humanitarian consequences.  Despite its limitations, Brazil would contribute to the United Nations rapid deployment force authorized today by the Council.  His Government supported the Secretary-General’s recent call for a peacekeeping force with a mandate stronger than the one given to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in order to tackle the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Brazil was engaged in reinvigorating its bilateral relations with African countries.  Brazil’s Minister of External Relations had just completed visits to seven African countries, thus, paving the way for President Lula da Silva’s visit to the continent next August.

     

    The United Nations continued to be a source of hope for Africa, he said.  When peace was challenged, the international community expected the Security Council to make use of the entire range of its diplomatic resources.  Security Council missions –- like those scheduled for Central and West Africa next month -– were valuable, as they enabled direct interaction with local actors, asserted a legitimate international presence and reaffirmed the commitment to peace and stability.

     

    Continuing, he stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict in Africa.  Conflict prevention involved not only the prudent use of measures at the disposal of the Council, but also promotion of development strategies and poverty-eradication measures.  Shared responsibility of all players -- Member States, international financial institutions, regional and subregional organizations, the donor community and civil society -- was an important ingredient for a successful strategy in Africa.  Closer coordination between the Security Council and ECOSOC could be an indispensable conflict resolution tool.  The forthcoming mission of the Security Council and members of ECOSOC’s Advisory Group to Guinea-Bissau was a positive example of coordination among the Organization’s principal organs.

     

    He added that African countries held the responsibility for their own development.  Since its inception, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) had been a reason for optimism concerning Africa’s destiny.  Resources to support NEPAD could be usefully channelled through multilateral institutions to foster triangular and South-South cooperation.  Since 1996, Brazil had adopted a debt-alleviation policy that contributed to the success of such initiatives as NEPAD.  In recent years, it had written off more than $1 billion in debts in the hope of fostering development of Africa.  The problems that affected many African countries were very complex.  Their resolution depended on political will, solidarity and coherent and effective strategies.  In that efforts, all the countries had a role to play.  Brazil was striving to do its part.

     

    BASILE IKOUEBE (Congo), speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), said for 11 years the Advisory Standing Committee on Security in Central Africa had assisted the subregion in matters of preventive diplomacy.  That body had held its nineteenth ministerial meeting in Brazzaville, Congo, from 14 to 17 May.  The meeting had noted progress made in most States of the subregion regarding peace and security.  Regarding progress made in Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the meeting had stressed that that progress had to be consolidated.

     

    He said an urgent appeal had, therefore, been sent to the international community to provide assistance in order to stabilize the situation, in particular, assistance in implementation of peace agreements, as well as for DDR programmes and for refugees and internally displaced persons.  After all, peace-building hinged on improvement of the living conditions of the population and economic reconstruction.  The ministerial meeting, concerned about the tragedy occurring in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, had also requested the Council to amend the mandate of MONUC.  He welcomed, in that regard, the imminent deployment of a multinational force in Bunia.

     

    The ministers also welcomed the Council mission to the Central African subregion, as well as an inter-agency assessment mission, he continued.  He hoped that as a result, there would be a recommendation for the establishment of a United Nations subregional office to support peacekeeping missions and the efforts of the Secretary-General’s special representatives in the region.  The ministers had also welcomed preparations for the convening of an international conference for peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region.

     

    As the Council meeting resumed this afternoon, GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said he endorsed the statement that would be made by the European Union later in the meeting.  He then welcomed the Council’s attention to the situation in Africa, the continent experiencing the greatest human suffering.  He expected a fresh impetus for future Council action in Africa with the launching of the two new missions. Stressing the importance of regional approaches to solving crises, he welcomed initiatives taken by organizations such as the African Union and individual countries like South Africa.  Strong regional leadership and action were essential for peace.

     

    Stating that the affected countries themselves, although deserving international assistance, were responsible for solving their own problems, he highlighted three problems that frequently prolonged instability:  the plundering of natural resources; the flow of weapons; and refugees.  On natural resources, he said that dialogue with and international pressure on governments, companies and individuals was helpful.

     

    Concerning weapons, he urged neighbouring States to help stem the flow of arms to militants and called for greater implementation of Security Council resolutions.  Addressing refugees, he said the Council must work harder to develop a comprehensive strategy for stability.

     

    STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that a number of Mr. Gambari’s recommendations should be considered carefully.  It was natural that much of the Council’s time was devoted to Africa, given the intensity and duration of the conflicts on that continent.  It was important, therefore, for the Council and the United Nations system to continue to be very active in Africa.  He stressed the problem of small arms, which was linked to the problem of the illegal exploitation of natural resources.  The names of the same national arms traders came up repeatedly and were a source of corruption for many administrations.  Relative to the fight against organized crime, he could not remain silent on the harmful role of those arms brokers.

     

    He stressed the critical partnership between the Council and regional and subregional organizations.  In the Great Lakes region, for example, it was important that regional and subregional cooperation not be confined merely to successive peace plans.  Those organizations would benefit from further international support.  Also, the experience of some continents, including Europe, in such areas as border control, could be a model for African countries. His experience in both the Council and its missions had highlighted the extremely valuable work of non-governmental organizations.  Efforts in Africa would not go very far without taking into account the global context, particularly the globalization process.

     

    KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that conflict resolution in Africa required an enhanced, comprehensive strategy.  Welcoming the efforts of the Council to devise one, he expressed hope that the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would lead to first-hand knowledge and recommendations as to how or whether to expand peacekeeping operations in the future.

     

    It was disheartening that conflicts tended to spill over national borders in Africa, he said.  Recognizing the links between conflict situations and underdevelopment and concerned that Africa was falling behind, his Government was financially supporting the ongoing DDR process in Sierra Leone, as well as efforts by ECOWAS to facilitate dialogue.

     

    Stressing that the resolution ultimately depended on the commitment of the conflicting parties themselves, he maintained that international cooperation was essential.  In that regard, his Government had launched the “Initiative for Cooperation in Africa”, which would support, among other things, the reintegration of ex-combatants into civil society, demining, and refugee assistance.

     

    RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said lack of funding, and adequate and well trained and equipped personnel jeopardized the effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping missions, and the situation unfolding in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a clear example.  To correct that situation, the United Nations, through the Security Council, had to make every effort to engage Member States, particularly troop-contributing countries, at the planning stage and subsequent phases of any particular operation.

     

    Dispatching peacekeeping missions at less than their required strength and with inadequate equipment resulted in tragic consequences, as had been experienced in some previous and current operations, he said.  Beyond the deployment of peacekeeping missions in existing conflict situations, the Council and the United Nations as a whole needed to develop effective strategies for the prevention of armed conflict and for post-conflict peace-building, including efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate ex-combatants and other concrete measures to consolidate and sustain the peace.

     

    Like all other United Nations programmes and activities, the problem of adequate funding to effectively implement programmes had to be addressed.  He said the generous support of the international community was critical, especially from those who had the financial means and the technical expertise.  Malaysia also believed it was necessary for the Council and the United Nations, in general, to address seriously and systematically the root causes of conflict in ways that minimized the potential for further and more protracted conflict and instability in Africa.  He underscored the important role of regional organizations in the promotion of peace and security, as well as economic and social development.

     

    GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) reviewed the situation in several African countries, which, he said, were teetering on the precipice of violence.  Everyone had witnessed the situations, without really knowing what to do.  Macabre vicious cycles had been the hallmark of internal and external wars, where authority had been dissolved and the economic and social fabric of nations destroyed.  Human rights violations abounded, and there had been an increase in HIV/AIDS, as well as in the indiscriminate traffic of small arms and light weapons.  Everywhere, there were hunger and suffering, and entire States were collapsing.

     

    He said he was fearful at the lack of solutions.  Hopefully, the dialogue of the missions with political leaders in Central and Western Africa would result in progress and effective commitments.  Experience had shown, however, that such exercises were insufficient if they were not accompanied by real and determined political will to turn those exchanges into decisions, and then implement stable and long-term policies.  Today, the Council was obligated to intervene in conflicts requiring the urgent response of the international community.  The most obvious examples were Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

     

    While he welcomed the very positive contribution of France and others to the small Uruguayan peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations mechanisms to move from conflict management to conflict prevention still must be reviewed.  The role of regional and subregional organizations should also be examined, with a view to assisting them financially.  It was also crucial to maintain and further strengthen the demobilization and reintegration processes.

     

    He said the African Union and initiatives such as NEPAD awaited Council support for their common vision of a stable and prosperous Africa.  All of that required political will and that meant opening the doors to the exports of developing countries, reducing subsidies presently in force in the markets of the rich countries, and forgiving Africa’s external debt.  It also meant multiplying initiatives, such as the one being undertaken by the United States, to decisively combat HIV/AIDS.

     

    ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) said her delegation supported the sentiments that would be expressed shortly by the Greek delegation.  She then highlighted four points she felt were necessary for the Council to consider.  First, subregional initiatives were necessary to prevent conflicts in Africa and, therefore, needed to be supported by the international community.  In that regard, she noted the role played by ECOWAS in Côte d’Ivoire, and expressed satisfaction with the African Union’s commitment to conflict resolution on the continent.

     

    Second, humanitarian issues were important to address when resolving conflicts.  In that context, she declared it unacceptable that, in many cases, warring factions did not allow humanitarian organizations access to civilians. Third, human rights needed to be addressed in order to achieve reconciliation. Finally, the Council needed to focus on the fragile post-conflict phase. Frequently, African States emerging from conflict continued to be plagued by such destabilizing factors as the maintenance of refugees, the availability of weapons, and the presence of mercenaries.  Political and financial support was, thus, needed to consolidate the complete resolution of conflicts.

     

    Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, MICHAEL D. DARATZIKIS (Greece) said that management of conflicts in Africa and assistance to countries emerging from conflict situations should be among the highest priorities of the United Nations system.  The Union strongly supported the action taken by the Organization, in particular, the Security Council, in the fields of preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building.  Among the useful mechanisms in this respect, he mentioned the establishment of advisory groups on conflict prevention and resolution and post-conflict African countries by the Security Council and ECOSOC.  There was an interactive relationship between security and development, as both of them were indispensable for the achievement of peace and sustainable development.  The European Union welcomed the continued involvement of international financial institutions in that process.

     

    It was also important to identify and address the multidimensional root causes of conflicts in Africa, he continued.  Those included such issues as socio-economic inequities, ethnic discrimination, denial of human rights, disputes over political participation, the plight of refugees and illegal exploitation of natural resources.  Good governance and rule of law, as well as respect for human rights and removal of fundamental inequities, were of great importance for the early prevention of conflicts and the achievement of a durable peace on the continent.  A comprehensive approach to the root causes of conflicts in Africa would also benefit from enhanced cooperation between the Security Council and other United Nations bodies.

     

    The two upcoming Security Council missions to the region would serve as a pointed reminder of the acute interest and engagement of the international community in Africa, he said.  They would also contribute to the Council’s understanding of the complex situations at hand and offer a valuable opportunity for interaction with various players on the ground.  The European Union had been consistent in its support for regional and subregional cooperation and had been actively engaged in various initiatives aimed at enhancing Africa’s peacekeeping capacities.  It encouraged a close relationship between the United Nations and the African Union and subregional organizations, including ECOWAS.  He also welcomed the Secretariat’s efforts to work closely with all relevant actors in Africa.

     

    The establishment of the African Union was an important development for the continent, he continued.  The European Union strongly welcomed its firm commitment to peace and security, notably, its decision to establish an African Peace and Security Council and an African standby force for conducting peace-support operations.  For its part, the European Union stood ready to continue its support towards strengthening African conflict prevention and resolution capabilities, in particular, at continental and regional levels.  In an emerging new age of political and economic development in Africa, the European Union would continue contributing to it in every possible way.

     

    FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said the serious problems affecting Africa were problems for all regions of the world and must receive the attention of all governments.  Concerted and energetic action must be taken to assist “our brothers” in Africa to overcome the enormous obstacles, which were paralysing their efforts to achieve democratization and economic development.  It was a moral duty to assist Africa; the world would not be at peace with itself if it failed to do so.  Uruguay had proven its solidarity by participating for several years in various peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Western Sahara, Democratic Republic of the Congo and others.

     

    In recent days, he had read the headlines about the tragic events taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Uruguayans had been part of the United Nations peacekeeping force there since the beginning, with a contingent of more than 16,000 men.  In addition, a naval unit from his country had opened the water traffic and navigation in the Congo River Basin, which had been interrupted for more than three years.  He expressed his greatest concern at the delicate situation facing more than 700 of his compatriots in Bunia, where Uruguay had agreed to transfer part of its troops.

     

    Uruguay had no economic interests in the area; its involvement had been derived from principle and solidarity, he said.  The situation in Bunia was on the verge of a humanitarian tragedy.  The people there would likely become victims of the unbridled violence at any moment.  The lives of those attempting to protect the inhabitants had become a nightmare.  The Council had just adopted a desperately awaited resolution, authorizing the deployment to Bunia of an emergency multinational force, for which he was grateful.  He was grateful to those countries that had expressed their readiness to participate in the force, which should be deployed as quickly as possible.

     

    BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the task ahead would not be easy.  Nevertheless, he welcomed the Council’s decision to send new missions to Africa.  He was certain the victims of the conflicts would benefit.  Turning to the role of regional and subregional bodies, he stressed that the Council would have to act in conjunction with them in order to increase its own effectiveness.  After all, those bodies had a wealth of experience on the continent and could contribute to the establishment of peace.

     

    Addressing small arms and light weapons, he said their proliferation and distribution fed conflicts, and it was, therefore, important to keep them in mind. He also urged the Council to send a clear message to mercenaries, demanding the cessation of their warlike activities.  Before concluding, he reiterated the importance of peacekeeping missions and said they must be given enough support to accomplish their goals and stressed that supporting the peace process necessarily required the strengthening of peacekeeping missions.

     

    FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said he was truly sorry to see so many African States plagued by conflict, with devastating humanitarian and economic repercussions.  It was high time for that continent to enjoy peace and security and to stop paying the price of its rich endowment of natural resources and racial and ethnic diversity.  The efforts made thus far had not always achieved the desired results.  The continent deserved further attention by the international community and intensified efforts to rehabilitate what had been destroyed over decades.  In recent years, the Council had spared no effort to tackle the crises that had engulfed certain African countries, including the establishment of 12 peacekeeping missions.

     

    Today’s authorization to deploy a multinational force to the Ituri region was further evidence of the active follow-up of the Council in that regard.  Other bodies had also been active, most notably the General Assembly and ECOSOC.  Despite their interventions, however, the international endeavour required further impetus.  Council missions to the regions had yielded positive results.  Hopefully, the two forthcoming missions would be able to discharge their mandates and achieve the desired results.  He welcomed the establishment of the African Union and the commencement of the work of its subsidiary bodies.  Also welcome had been the efforts of the regional and subregional organizations, especially ECOWAS.

     

    LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said the establishment of the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI) and today’s adoption of resolution 1484 authorizing the deployment of a temporary Interim Emergency Multinational Force in Bunia spoke loudly and clearly of the Council’s determination to directly address conflicts in Africa.  He believed the Council’s partnership with regional groups in Africa should be fully harnessed, notably with ECOWAS and the African Union.  In particular, the newly established African Union Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Mediation and Resolution offered rich resources to complement the efforts of the Council in conflict resolution.  Also, Council missions to conflict areas had contributed to a better understanding of the issues, and had been useful in facilitating peace processes.  They should be carried out with increased collaboration with relevant regional groups on the ground.

     

    In addition, he continued, an integrated approach that would bring all relevant United Nations actors involved in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction should be consistently adopted in dealing with conflict situations in Africa.  Noting the success of the Advisory Group in Guinea-Bissau, he said that other mechanisms such as the Council’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Africa, the Group of Friends and the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General could also contribute to that integrated approach.  He believed that Africans themselves had the capacity to play the key role in promoting peace and security in their region, and the international community should support them in those efforts.

     

    ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) thanked the Council sincerely for keeping his country high on its list of priorities.  He was also grateful for the unanimous adoption this morning of the resolution to deploy a multinational force to Bunia, in order to release that district from the “misdeeds of the forces of evil”, which, once again, had been orchestrated by two neighbouring countries.  The Bunia events were strikingly similar to those in Kisangani, where regular armies of those two countries had clashed, claiming thousands of victims.  The plethora of callous warlords in the Ituri district was of such great concern that people were referring to it as the “Somaliaization” of that part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

     

    He said the atrocities occurring in Ituri could also be compared to those carried out some 10 years ago in Rwanda.  The massacres taking place compounded a long list of human rights violations, perpetrated since the outbreak of the war of aggression in August 1998.  Hundreds of deaths had occurred in Ituri, and thousands of people had been displaced and were living in and around the United Nations compound under awful conditions.  Members of the international community had also paid a heavy price.  Two representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and two staff members of MONUC, all committed to a cause far from home, had been savagely mutilated and assassinated.

     

    In the face of those atrocities, he said, it was important that the message of the international community not suffer from any ambiguity.  The Security Council must send out a strong signal to those who committed those atrocities.  At a time when the Council was resolutely committed to the stability of Ituri and of the entire country and the Great Lakes region, Ituri would certainly be an important test of national and international determination.  Missions to the region had brought significant progress to the peace process.  He trusted the same would apply to the forthcoming mission.  The challenges were immense, but they were not insurmountable.

     

    He called for special emphasis on the transition and culmination of the peace process and for the effective cessation of hostilities throughout the territory, especially in the east, to allow the transitional Government to establish its authority there.  Reforms planned by the transitional constitution should certainly be supported, and the rapid formation of a republican army should be accelerated.  Millions of Congolese men and women should not be denied the justice they sought.  To understand the violence, everyone should recall that natural resources were a curse for those nations that possessed them.

     

    WANG YINGFAN (China) said he hoped the Council missions would play an effective role in promoting peace since the situation in Africa was of special concern to his Government.  Acknowledging that Africa was endowed with rich natural resources, he said that was one reason it was so difficult to end conflicts and build peace there.  Because economic concerns played such a major role in African conflicts, cooperation between the United Nations and international financial institutions, as well as between the Security Council and ECOSOC, was a positive development.

     

    Citing the success enjoyed by ECOWAS in Sierra Leone, he, nevertheless, confirmed that the body was strapped for cash.  Additionally, African programmes dedicated to the reintegration of ex-combatants into civil society were being stalled by the lack of international funding.  Financial support was, thus, necessary to build peace and tackle problems that could potentially create future conflicts.

     

    ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said today’s exchange of views would help the missions plan their work.  Recognizing the link between peace and development, he said the affected countries themselves should take responsibility and use political and diplomatic methods, as much as they could, to solve current conflicts and prevent future ones.  For its part, his Government would continue to send peacekeepers to Africa and would encourage the Council to treat Africa as it would any other region.  Double standards were unacceptable.

     

    He warned the missions that they would have to evaluate a new threatening phenomenon in Africa, that of the spread of illegal armed bands.  Because those groups shook constitutional foundations, threatened the existence of viable States, and destroyed the lives of thousands of Africans in their quest for power, they should be considered terrorists.  The bands placed governments in a difficult position:  on the one hand, it was important to establish dialogue and compromise with the armed groups; on the other, governments understandably did not wish to legitimize the groups’ violent acts.

     

    Turning to border security, he said African borders had always been porous to maintain tribal links.  Now, however, open borders were allowing for conflict spill-over, smuggling, arms trafficking, transnational crime, the illegal export of natural resources, and migration of armed groups.  That issue needed to be addressed.  Citing the importance of regional and subregional bodies, he also expressed concern that African requests for support were not always heard by the Council.  Regarding those who violated peace agreements, sanctions were a possible response, but they should not be used unless it was clear who would be suffering as a result.

     

    STANISLAS KAMANZI (Rwanda) said the magnitude of the events occurring in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had required that the international community provide unconditional support to all Congolese parties towards attaining a durable peace.  In that regard, he commended the Council’s decision to deploy a neutral multinational force, whose main mission was to bring relief to the populations of Ituri and to prevent further humanitarian catastrophe in the region.  He also welcomed the forthcoming mission to Central Africa.  That crucial step would give impetus to the peace process, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

     

    He said the mission should seek to help the Congolese protagonists to identify ways and means for overcoming the enormous impediments to putting in place national and integrative transitional structures.  Regarding Burundi, his Government would like to see the Council mission contribute to strengthening the mechanisms for the implementation of the Arusha peace accords, so as to achieve a speedy restoration of peace throughout the territory.  It should also seek to consolidate efficiency on the ground for the utmost security and good of the people of Burundi.

     

    ALI HACHAMI (Tunisia) said Council involvement was benefiting Africans and that greater contact between the Council and subregional bodies would be a positive development.  In that context, he noted with satisfaction the machinery for cooperation that had been established between the United Nations and the African Union.  He added that parameters for peace operations should be set by African States themselves, and that it was necessary to explore new and innovative methods to stem conflicts.  His Government, which recognized the links between development, peace, and security, would continue to participate in peacekeeping missions.

     

    LIBERATA MULAMULA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that in the recent past, Africa had been taking up no less than 60 per cent of the Council’s agenda.  That was a demonstration of the Council’s commitment to resolving what seemed to be endless conflicts on the continent.  She commended the Council for having succeeded in restoring peace in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia/Eritrea.  That achievement notwithstanding, conflicts in Africa raged unabated causing millions of deaths, displacing civilians, separating families and devastating economies, not to mention the destruction of property and infrastructure.

     

    It was not her intention to revisit the root causes of conflicts in Africa, she said, but it was important to always bear in mind that without addressing them, it would not be easy to resolve conflicts afflicting the continent.  The Council should attach the greatest importance to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the Monterrey Agreement and the conclusions of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held last year in Johannesburg.  Poverty eradication remained an overarching priority.  If words were deeds, then Africa could be sailing through a conflict-free environment, since so many statements, proposals, resolutions and action plans had been put forward in the Council Chamber.  The question, therefore, was how much had been achieved from the numerous meetings and debates and the resulting statements and resolutions.  The answer to that question underlined the significance of today’s debate.

     

    Turning to the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said it was wanting, despite achievements on the political front.  The Council must act, and act swiftly, in order to avoid a genocidal catastrophe in the eastern part of the country -- the troubled region of Ituri.  She welcomed the authorization of a multinational force in Bunia, but noted that was an interim measure.  It was her hope that the Secretary-General would be enabled to deploy a more robust and effective force to effectively deal with the situation on the ground to ensure restoration of lasting peace and stability in the whole of the country.  The killings in Bunia were sad testimony of the inept mandate of MONUC.  Any future mandate given to MONUC short of Chapter VII as envisaged in the Lusaka Agreement would be failing the Congolese people who had sealed their signatures to the peace agreements.

     

    Her Government was encouraged by the decision of the Council to send a mission to the region with a visit to Tanzania, which would allow the Council members to assess the situation on the ground and get first-hand information from the parties.  She concluded that, hopefully, the mission would convince the Council to take concrete action in advancing the peace process and to seriously address lasting solutions to end the raging conflicts in the region.

     

    MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, expressed gratitude to Mr. Gambari for his enlightening statement, and the Ambassadors of France and the United Kingdom for their interventions, as well as their agreements to lead the two forthcoming Security Council missions to Africa.  Remarks made by the representatives of Africa had enhanced understanding of the situation on the continent.  Clearly, Africa faced imposing challenges of hunger, disease, and poverty, as well as the conflicts.  The latter continued in different parts of the continent, with grave consequences, in terms of human suffering, instability and pervasive underdevelopment.

     

    The causes of the conflicts were complex and included ethnic and national rivalries, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, foreign intervention, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the use of mercenaries and child soldiers, human rights violations, refugee movements, and internal displacements, as well as the spread of communicable disease, such as HIV/AIDS.  He said, above all, the root cause of many of the conflicts was pervasive poverty and hunger.  Control of resource rich areas appeared to be a major military objective of most of the warring groups, rebel movements and governments alike.  There had been conflict diamonds in the case of West Africa, and conflict timber now in the case of Liberia.  Next, there might be conflict gold or conflict plutonium.

     

    The Council must adopt an approach designed to create peace in Africa that was comprehensive and aimed at durable solutions, he said.  Clearly, such durable solutions needed to encompass several aspects.  They must:  generate ownership of the solutions by the parties concerned; be accompanied by political will at all levels; and be accompanied by the provision of adequate resources and financial assistance.  In the long term, the best solutions for conflicts would be the integration of those nations and regions into the world system of trade and finance on an equitable and sustainable basis.  Such solutions must also encompass humanitarian action and respect for humanitarian law.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should also accompany any solutions, and regional approaches should also be considered, since many of the conflicts were interdependent.

     

    He said the Council’s sanctions could be targeted and made more effective.  The Council could also consider enhancing the effectiveness of its mechanisms to resolve conflicts.  The mechanism of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General had proved to be valuable, and those must receive full support from the Council.  Its missions, such as the two departing soon, were also increasingly useful in bringing home to the Council the realities of the conflicts and bringing home to the parties concerned the attention of the Council.

     

    Peacekeeping operations in Africa and elsewhere must be accompanied by a robust mandate and adequate resources, he continued.  Pakistan, which had participated actively in the peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, supported the strengthening of the mandate and size of MONUC to enable it to achieve its objectives.  He welcomed the adoption of the resolution this morning and said Pakistan would positively consider contributing a robust contingent to achieve the objectives for which the force was being established.

     

    He suggested the consideration of two new possible mechanisms.  The first was the creation of inquiry bodies by the Council to establish the facts of certain crises.  Since the security, political, economic and social dimensions of conflicts were interlinked, it was crucial for the United Nations to enhance coordination and complementarity in the work of its three principal organs.  He proposed the establishment, on an ad hoc basis, of composite committees, with membership drawn from the Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

     

    That approach would reduce the burden on the Council, which was increasingly preoccupied with internal political and developmental issues in various conflict situations, he said.  Further, the involvement of a larger number of Member States in the composite committee would also promote greater participation and greater transparency in the work involved in the prevention of conflicts, their management and their solution.  The role of the Council would remain that of an executive branch in promoting proactive approaches.

     

    IBRAHIM GAMBARI, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, said he would reflect on the views and proposals made in the Council today and hoped the missions would take them on board.  Emphasizing that the missions were not solutions in themselves, he said they demonstrated international solidarity and 

    allowed governments to learn from the observations of those who served on them.  Thus, they offered a new insight into African conflicts.

     

    He noted that most delegates had expressed the idea that primary responsibility for solving the conflicts rested with the Africans themselves.  Nevertheless, it was becoming evident that the Africans were serious about ending the conflicts on their continent and, therefore, the United Nations had a responsibility under the Charter to support their efforts.

     

    Stressing the importance of poverty reduction and other factors that fuelled conflicts, he said it was also necessary to help Africans build their own peacekeeping operations.  After all, they had the manpower and the community traditions.  Emphasizing the importance of regional and subregional actors, he said it was also necessary to establish lines of communication with groups on the ground in Africa.  Many resolutions could be adopted, but unless they were coupled with concrete actions and respected on the ground, they would be meaningless.

     

     

     

     

     

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