Declaration Reaffirms Importance of UN-African Union Partnership,
Capping Two-day Event amid Calls for Africans to Take Charge of Peace Efforts
Recognizing that the “indispensable” partnership between the United Nations and the African Union remained a solid foundation for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa, Governments in the General Assembly today welcomed intensified cooperation between the two organizations in order to stamp out all outstanding disputes on the continent.
African leaders joined Foreign Ministers and other senior officials in the consensus adoption of a political declaration on the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa, wrapping up a two-day thematic debate on the topic that coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor to the African Union.
With the adoption of the text — the centrepiece of the two-day debate — the Assembly paid special tribute to the African Union’s founding fathers and urged the international community, including the United Nations, to effectively address the twin imperatives of security and development in Africa in a comprehensive manner, reaffirming the inextricable link between peace, security, development and human rights.
By other terms, it reiterated the need to strengthen African capacity for preventive diplomacy across the conflict spectrum and as part of broader, nationally driven strategies to promote peace. In that context, it welcomed the Union’s positive contribution towards the peaceful settlement of conflicts, especially through its mediation and peacekeeping initiatives. It pledged to help make the African Peace and Security Architecture fully operational, including the Panel of the Wise and the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Framework.
On the economic front, the Assembly commended Africa’s recent performance, which had sparked “renewed optimism” about the continent’s prospects. But, Africa’s special needs had yet to be effectively addressed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. As such, it reiterated support for the transformation of African economies for the post-2015 agenda, pledging to maintain Africa among its highest priorities. It also promised to support the consolidation of democracy and good governance, reiterating its belief in a prosperous future in which the values of dignity and peace were fully enshrined.
Following the adoption of the declaration, some delegates — while applauding its objectives — expressed concern about the process with which it had been negotiated, saying that they would have liked to have been consulted. The United States’ delegate objected to certain language — or the absence of it — in the areas of accountability, rule of law and transitional justice, which were crucial ingredients for such a declaration. Further, the issue of Security Council reform should have been left in the hands of the intergovernmental negotiation.
Along similar lines, the representative of the European Union said the text did not include the role of women in conflict resolution and prevention, the responsibility to protect, or the role of the International Criminal Court, among others. The absence of that language should not be used as a precedent.
Throughout the day, delegates stressed that peaceful conflict resolution was vital to Africa’s success, agreeing that cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union should grow and diversify. On that point, several representatives used the opportunity to argue for Security Council reform, underscoring that, while most issues on its agenda related to Africa, only one fifth of its members were from the continent. Zimbabwe’s delegate noted a growing call for more cooperation between the Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, explaining that the Security Council’s capacities for achieving peaceful dispute settlement were “grossly underutilized”.
Some speakers, including the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, stressed that conflict resolution required proper diagnoses of the causes. The Peace and Security Council had identified poverty, poor governance and deep-rooted ethnic divisions among them. Prevention efforts needed to encompass elements of sustainable development if they were to be meaningful.
With that in mind, several speakers underlined the close links among peace, security and sustainable development. “There will be no peace without development and there will be no development without peace,” said Burundi’s delegate, voicing the views of many and expressing gratitude for the solidarity that had helped his country emerge from four decades of conflict. Others — especially from Europe — underscored the need for African countries to take the lead in finding solutions, favouring policies that supported “African leadership and African solutions to African problems”.
Taking up that call, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire, on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said West Africa had taken charge of efforts towards peace, security and development, and today, acted both diplomatically and militarily. ECOWAS had a protocol in place for a prevention mechanism, and another for good governance. Africa suffered from a lack of good governance, weak national institutions and social inequality. It was crucial that African States took ownership of the resolution and prevention of conflict.
Italy’s representative pointed out that the African Union had developed a toolbox for conflict management and crisis response, through the Africa Peace and Security Architecture, and enhanced capacity to deploy peace operations. Norway’s delegate added that several African countries were providing assistance for security sector reform, which promoted inter-African collaboration and African perspectives.
The representative of South Sudan, the United Nations’ newest member, reminded that most, if not all, countries experiencing genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing suffered from acute crises of national identity, driven in part by different levels of success enjoyed by different groups. Promoting equality and managing diversity was a major challenge for achieving the “African renaissance”.
Also speaking today in the debate were the representatives of Guyana (on behalf of Caribbean Community), Chile, China, Spain, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, Australia, India, Netherlands, United States, Qatar, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Germany, Cuba, Tunisia, Rwanda, Kenya, Argentina, Malaysia and Benin.
A representative of the European Union also delivered remarks.
Explaining their position after action were the representatives of Liechtenstein and Norway.
In other business today, the Assembly was informed that Peru was appointed a member of the Committee on Conferences for a term of office beginning on 26 April 2013 and ending on 31 December 2015.
The General Assembly met today to take action on the political declaration on the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa (document A/67/L.61), and conclude its thematic debate. The appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences was also on the agenda.
Introduction of Declaration
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo introduced the draft resolution on behalf of the African Group. He stressed the significance of the expected adoption of the text as this year marked the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union.
The text was then adopted without a vote.
In the explanation of position, the delegate of the United States welcomed the adoption and commended the African Union’s positive contributions, but expressed concerns about the process in which the text had been negotiated towards the adoption. He had wanted to be consulted. He also expressed concerns about some languages or the absence of some languages in the areas of accountability, the rule of law and transitional justice, which were important priorities to his delegation and crucial ingredients for such a text. As for elements concerning Security Council reform, further consultation had been needed and the matter should be left with the hands of the intergovernmental negotiation.
The representative of the European Union said the bloc had provided support both in funding and capacity-building for Africa and welcomed the adoption of the text. But, it felt it should have been given an opportunity for consultation and the procedures used were not in line with General Assembly practices. The text did not include the role of women in conflict resolution and prevention, the responsibility to protect and the role of the International Criminal Court, among others. The absence of that language should not be used as a precedent. The European Union supported the greater representation of Africa in the Security Council, but the intergovernmental negotiation had been established to discuss such matters. His delegation’s position on the Security Council reform had been clearly expressed and remained unchanged in that forum.
The representative of Liechtenstein, speaking also for Switzerland, felt it appropriate to adopt the text, but it should have been done in consultation with other members of the General Assembly.
Norway’s speaker said his delegation supported the adoption, but had hoped to contribute to the elaboration of the language, especially the important role of women in resolving conflicts and the need for fighting impunity.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), paid tribute to the founding of the OAU, which was a “milestone achievement” in the pursuit of peace and development in Africa. The organization’s founders had laid strong foundations for the progressive integration and transformation of Africa as a continent at peace with and within itself. Progress was not without perils or setbacks, he said, noting that the genocide in Rwanda was “tragically emblematic of the unspeakable human trauma” that conflict had engendered there. Resolution of conflicts remained vital to Africa’s ultimate success, as so too would building durable peace and sustainable development. The United Nations would remain critically important in support of that, and the international community had an important role to play in supporting development of peace and security architecture, as well security operations when required. Countries emerging from conflict also needed assistance to avert a return to chaos.
CARICOM would support Africa’s endeavours to overcome its challenges, he said, adding that the bonds uniting the two regions had been “forged on the anvil of shared experience and common struggle; against slavery, against apartheid”. CARICOM-African cooperation and exchange assumed multiple dimensions, including in human resource development, energy and agriculture, as well as more informal cooperation. Africa deserved an enhanced and permanent place in a reformed Security Council and a strengthened role in global governance, he added.
TUVAKO NATHANIEL MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) associated himself with the South African Development Community (SADC), paying tribute the Organization of African Unity’s founders who had put the peaceful resolution of conflicts at the core of the body’s vision. That vision remained in the African Union, which had transformed into a bigger force for anticipating, preventing and responding to conflicts. The African Peace and Security Architecture, comprising the Peace and Security Council, the African Standby Force, the Continental Early Warning System and the Panel of the Wise, was contributing to peaceful conflict resolution on the continent, as were sub-regional mechanisms like the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, to which United Republic of Tanzania belonged.
Successful resolution of conflicts required proper diagnoses of their causes, he said, noting that the United Nations Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union had both recently addressed the matter. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union had identified poverty, poor governance and deep-rooted ethnic divisions among the causes, with border disputes reflecting the colonial legacy and the illegal circulation of conventional arms, also important. Outlining several other causes of conflict, he stressed his firm belief in the pacific settlement of disputes and said that conflict prevention efforts needed to encompass elements of sustainable development if they were to be meaningful. The partnership between the United Nations and the African Union needed strengthening, because their partnerships in various engagements around the continent had been “truly invaluable and commendable”. He also called for rededication to upholding the principles enshrined in the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (European Union) said the European Union was at the forefront of international support for the African security agenda, including the African Peace Facility. The European Union provided predictable funding for peace support and capacity-building, and was moving ahead with a strategic approach defined by African ownership, solidarity and partnership. Concrete efforts on conflict resolution included efforts to tackle Al-Shabaab in Somalia and the provision of €412 million between 2008 and 2013. The European Union was also at the forefront of efforts to tackle piracy in the region. It was vital to avoid complacency and a military approach alone would not solve the problem. Development efforts were also needed.
Thanks to France, Chad and others, the haven for terrorists and criminal groups that had existed in Mali and the Sahel had been tackled. The European Union was now involved with a military training mission and was providing assistance to the electoral process, including a possible observation mission. Two-hundred and fifty million euros in development aid would be given and a high-level conference on the subject would take place in mid-May. He looked forward to implementation of the Security Council resolution on Mali and called for an approach going forward that accounted for the whole Sahel region. The European Union was also working with partners on stabilization in Guinea-Bissau and in the wider African region. He saw a unique opportunity to address the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s problems comprehensively and the European Union was putting together a strategy, in partnership with the country, on security sector reform and development. He expressed support for the principle of the responsibility to protect, calling for States to assist those States in need with capacity-building.
YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA (C ôte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said his delegation had fully subscribed to a statement made by the president of the African Union, noting that next month marked the anniversary of the foundation of the Union. Resolving conflict and restoring peace and stability was a top priority for Africa. It was unfortunate that currently, more than 60 per cent of the Security Council agenda was devoted to African disputes. Africa suffered from lack of good governance, weak national institutions, human rights violations, bad management of resources and social inequality, among other things. It also suffered from border issues stemming from colonization and from the spread of small and light weapons and easy access to such arms.
He stressed the importance of the need to act together, saying it was crucial that African States took ownership of the resolution and prevention of conflict. West Africa had taken charge of efforts towards peace and security and development in the subregion, he said, stressing the importance of a subregional mechanism for preventive diplomacy. ECOWAS, today, acted both diplomatically and militarily. It had a protocol in place for a prevention mechanism, as well as a protocol for good governance. Additional protocols had been put in place, including those on the separation of powers between executive and judiciary branches and a ban on an unconstitutional change of regime. ECOWAS also welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty adopted earlier this month.
CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA ( Zimbabwe) aligned himself with the statements made by representatives of the African family. African countries needed to take primary responsibility for what happened on the continent, particularly on challenges such as peace and security, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, climate change and health. He hoped the African Union would contribute to addressing the problems. The United Nations provided plenty of support on peace and security matters and consultation between the two should grow and be diversified. There was a growing call for a strengthening of cooperation between the Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, though he acknowledged that the Security Council remained the primary organ for tackling peace and security. In order to be effective, the Council needed to be judged by the majority of States as representative of all interests and currently its capacities in achieving peaceful settlements of disputes were “grossly underutilized”. Although most Security Council issues related to Africa, only a fifth of its membership came from Africa and reform was needed, with two permanent and two more non-permanent needed for the continent.
HERMÉNÉGILDE NIYONZIMA Burundi said that conflict and war meant different things to different countries. His country had lived for four decades in conflict, with many causalities, massive refugee flows, internally displaced persons and other suffering. It had not been until 2005 that the country had returned to peace and security. His delegation appreciated the solidarity shown to his nation by the international community. Burundi had contributed troops to various conflict zones, including Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti and now Mali. His nation, due to its bitter experiences, had learned lessons and could offer not only troops, but also wisdom. He agreed with a statement made a week ago by the Deputy Secretary-General at a retreat: “There will be no peace without development and there will be no development without peace.”
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said African States had demonstrated their willingness to work towards maintaining a culture based on the peaceful resolution of disputes, especially through the African Union. He said that important steps had been taken since the mid-1990s to encourage and strengthen democracy in Africa. The African Union’s role had been decisive and its democratic Charter was a major step forward, helping to resolve conflicts and to prevent breaches of democracy. The Charter was a powerful dissuasion to anyone wishing to strike down democracy. He recognized the willingness of African States to resolve conflicts through the United Nations system and their use of international courts. The use of legal means was of great importance. He said Chapter VIII cooperation with the United Nations was fundamental and the African Union’s cooperation was laudable. Support to strengthen future efforts was needed. He added that economic progress needed to match developments in peace and security and reiterated his support for Africa to be part of reformed Security Council as both a permanent and non-permanent member. Chile was an active participant in interregional cooperation with Africa and three new embassies would soon be opened on the continent.
LI BAODONG ( China) recognized that Africa was a continent of dynamism and hope, whose economies were fast growing. While welcoming Africa’s own determination to resolve conflict through peaceful means, she said that the situation remained unstable, with traditional and untraditional elements of instability intertwined. It was in the interest of other General Assembly Member States to achieve peace and security and development in Africa, which faced severe threats to stability, such as by transnational organized crime. It was vital to support ongoing efforts to resolve conflicts through dialogue, mediation and other peaceful means. Inclusive political processes were also vital. “Countries can not choose their neighbours, but they can choose how to deal with them,” she said. It was also essential to view the situation in Africa objectively and respect the sovereignty of each State. The international community should have faith in Africa’s intrinsic ability to resolve its problems in its own way. She also called for attention to root causes of conflict, such as ethnic disputes, poverty and underdevelopment, and expressed China’s intention to increase support for Africa, including funding and technical support.
FRANCIS DENG ( South Sudan) said that, although there was much to celebrate in the history of the OAU and the African Union, its promotion of appropriate norms had not met with implementation, particularly on matters like conflict resolution, management and prevention. That was of great concern to South Sudan, because of its own history. In particular, he believed the management — or mismanagement — of diversity needed addressing. The colonial State had helped to entrench ethnic, racial, cultural and linguistic divisions, he said, and those had come to the fore after independence. Diversity had been joined with competition over material resources, because conflict often stemmed from unequal access to power and resources.
He said that most, if not all, countries experiencing genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing suffered from acute crises of national identity driven by the implications of diversity, particularly the different levels of success enjoyed by different groups. Irreconcilable differences between groups over religion, race, ethnicity and language had led to South Sudan breaking away from Sudan. There had been no national framework, which had led to conflict. Promoting equality and managing diversity was a major challenge for managing the “African renaissance”.
FERNANDO ARIAS GONZÁLEZ (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said it was crucial to address conflict in Africa, as events on the continent transcended the strictly regional sphere, and acquired a global dimension. Without security there could be no development, he emphasised, adding that good Government, security and development were more closely linked than ever. Commending the work of the African Union in promoting peace and stability, he expressed hope that the Union and the United Nations would continue to explore avenues for cooperation and promote synergies in the search of solutions to problems afflicting the continent. With regard to the Horn of Africa region, Spain had taken a lead role in the European Union in the area of piracy in the waters off the Somalia coast, conscious that the problems in the sea were a consequence of the lack of necessary security structures on land. He reiterated that peaceful solutions required continued work in the area of prevention and in the strengthening of mechanisms of preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding. Referring to the link between security and development, he said, all too often, violent conflicts were rooted in inequality and social exclusion. He also expressed concern that conflict might reverse successes achieved in reaching the global development goals.
DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia) said that, as a country that had itself traversed its path to democracy and stability, Indonesia could attest that it was essential to, first and foremost, ensure that the “voices of the people” were heard and responded to. It was fundamental that “pro-poor, pro-job, pro-growth and pro-environment” policies were delivered by capable national institutions, and that conflicts were settled peacefully. It was also critical that the African Union and African countries prepared better and were supported adequately in handling natural disasters, disease and people displacement. Further, support should also be increased to strengthen capacities. In that regard, concrete capacity-building projects for countries in Africa, upon their request and in keeping with their needs, under the United Nations civilian capacities initiative, could also offer a useful contribution. He was pleased with the initial discussions on such support undertaken in the Peacebuilding Commission. He also commended the progress on a number of the development goals in Africa and said it was vital to take into account the different needs of African countries when robustly pursuing poverty eradication and human development. Further, it was critical for African countries to have a greater voice and representation in various development frameworks.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes was enshrined in Brazil’s Constitution. She strongly defended the principle, because conflicts could not be solved by military means. Long-lasting peace would come only if the root causes of conflict were addressed. Any preventive diplomacy agenda required the promotion of social and economic development. She was encouraged by the high rates of economic growth in Africa during the last decade, which had led to unprecedented economic and social development. Nonetheless, conflicts in Africa remained almost 70 per cent of the Security Council’s agenda. Regional cooperation was of the utmost importance, particularly in the realm of conflict resolution and prevention. Joint efforts showed the possibilities, but United Nations-African Union cooperation had tended to be crisis driven, and there was a need to move beyond that reactive approach to address the roots of conflict before violence broke out. She recognized the role of the Peacebuilding Commission, which was an “essential tool in bridging the gap between security and development” and to addressing the root causes of conflict. She praised the Arms Trade Treaty as a historic step in preventing the illicit trade, although she wished it had contained a clear prohibition on transfers to unauthorized non-State actors.
MÅRTEN GRUNDITZ ( Sweden), associating himself with the European Union delegation, said that Sweden contributed to peace-support operations in a number of African countries. Sweden was one of the biggest donors of humanitarian aid to Africa, and a major donor to United Nations funds and programmes. It committed to promoting European Union policies that sought to enable and support “African leadership and African solutions to African problems”, while insisting that those solutions be consistent with the rule of law. He emphasized that during times of conflict, national Governments had the ultimate responsibility for protecting civilians, be it from conventional warfare, or other forms of violence. Conflict-related sexual violence could constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity and in the most extreme cases, an act of genocide. Hence, there must be no impunity, he said, recalling that the State had the primary responsibility to ensure accountability. In the same vein, representation was a “tricky” issue in conflict environments, where leaders had not necessarily been elected. He emphasized the importance of the participation of non-State actors and opposition groups. Furthermore, he said, it was essential to increase focus on how to involve women in decision-making.
Y. HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey) said that primary responsibility in preventing conflict lay with the countries themselves, which must take the lead in promoting reconciliation and ensuring good governance. In the same vein, regional and international efforts must play a crucial role in prevention of conflicts by promoting cooperation and integration, by developing and using preventive diplomacy mechanisms and through monitoring the commitments of Governments. The close cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union combined the global expertise of the United Nations with the regional perspective and experience of the African Union. He firmly believed that that cooperation must continue, through deepening, strengthening and enhancing in every direction. The best measure to avoid conflict was ensuring sustainable development and equitable distribution of wealth and resources. Underlining the importance of mediation as an important conflict prevention tool, he said he remained convinced that mediation could save Africa’s precious human and material resources by preventing and resolving conflicts. Finally, he added that Turkey remained a strategic partner of the African Union, and it was with that understanding that Turkey had increased the number of embassies in Africa from 12 to 34 in the last four years.
KAZUYOSHI UMEMOTO ( Japan) said that the relationship between the United Nations and the African Union had evolved most notably in the field of peace operations. From the United Nations taking over regional peace operations in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burundi, to the dispatch of joint missions in Darfur and the United Nations logistical support provided to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), new forms of cooperation had arisen over the last decades. As new crises unfolded in places such as Mali, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the need for the United Nations to forge stronger cooperation with regional and subregional organizations was greater than ever. Japan would co-organize the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yohohama in June. Since its first conference in 1993, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development had evolved into an open, multilateral policy forum where discussions were made not only on economic, but also on social and institutional development, as well as peace and stability. Japan had just announced a contribution of approximately $550 million for peace and stability in Africa at a Conference ministerial preparatory meeting. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the OAU, which coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
PHILLIPA KING ( Australia) said she was confident about Africa’s future. Its States needed to take ownership of efforts to achieve peace and security, but they also needed help from outside. She identified socioeconomic development, buttressed by strong institutions, respect for human rights and security sector reform as important ways to prevent conflict. She welcomed the growth of inclusive and democratic Government on the continent, with 20 African States holding elections. She saw good progress in the management of natural resources and said Australia was providing assistance, including the staging of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which would be attended by many African partners. She stressed the critical role played by women and the importance of supporting women’s participation. Women were agents of change and their abilities needed harnessing. On United Nations-African Union cooperation, she saw that cooperation had been growing, but encouraged a more strategic and institutional relationship going forward.
RAGUTTAHALLI RAVINDRA ( India) addressed the issue of Chapter VIII cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. The two bodies worked together on various projects, including the Early Warning System and the Standby Force. Other subregional organizations also played important and complementary roles in such efforts. He described the impact of such organizations in Somalia, where the African Union mission had put Somalia on a path to recovery, in Sudan, where the African Union was ensuring implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and in Central African Republic, where it was overseeing adherence to the Libreville Agreement. Where goals were shared, cooperation had the best results, he said, calling on the United Nations to expand partnerships, working in unison not just where interests overlapped, but also to tackle areas of difference. The United Nations could achieve that better if its Security Council better reflected modern political realities, he said, calling for reform. He described several initiatives, including the India-Africa Forum Summit, which he said was guided by the visions and priorities of India’s African partners, adding that trade agreements had opened the Indian market up to African countries. In addition, India’s commitment to peace and security in Africa was show by the many Indian peacekeepers that were on missions in Africa.
HERMAN SCHAPER ( Netherlands) stressed the importance of the responsibility to protect, a concept introduced in 2005, and the linkage between that responsibility and the peaceful resolution of conflict under discussion today. For peaceful settlements of disputes, he drew attention to two specific institutions — the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration — and said those instruments should be used more frequently. Settling conflict peacefully was a top priority and Africa should take the initiative through the development of its own peace and security architecture, as it had done in successfully stabilizing Somalia. For its part, the Netherlands provided monetary assistance of €3 million and other contributions to that end, including for the Early Warning System and a Standby Force. It also dispatched troops to peacekeeping operations in Africa. Finally, he stressed the need to address root causes and the nexus between peace and security and development. The post-2015 development framework must reflect that nexus, he said, pointing out that the Millennium Development Goals had not been achieved in fragile States. His delegation welcomed the acknowledgement of that issue in the political declaration adopted today.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI ( Italy) said that security and development were inextricably linked. Building on that, the African Union had been engaged in fostering the collective defence, security and stability of its members, and the improvement of the socioeconomic conditions of the African people. Thanks to the continued support of the international community, the African Union had developed a toolbox for conflict management and crisis response, through the Africa Peace and Security architecture, and enhanced its capacity to deploy peace operations. In the same vein, challenges persisted, including the need for adequate resources, civilian capabilities and expertise, political will to prevent conflicts and disputes, and better coordination of international efforts. Further, he pointed out that the Sahel crisis had shown that the military influence on political life needed to be reduced, so that civilian authorities could assume sole responsibility. Greater focus should be placed on strengthening national institutions, promoting human rights, eradicating poverty, and fostering equitable development. In full respect for the principle of national and African ownership, Italy provided assistance and support to its African partners in the areas of debt cancellation, empowerment of women, the fight against HIV/AIDS, and rural development, among others, he said.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) saw a significant and encouraging decrease in armed conflict in Africa, though he was concerned about the changing nature of crises. He stressed the importance of national ownership of conflict prevention efforts and of capacity-building, noting that he was encouraged by Africa’s institution building. He looked to the United Nations Office to the African Union to continue with its efforts to address conflicts, as it had in Somalia and Mali, and to help promote capacity-building. He called on the United Nations to address “the whole arc of conflict prevention”, focusing on institutional development to engender progress beyond conflict. Tangible progress towards long-term security and development would show people that peace was possible. The Peacebuilding Commission would be vital in that regard and it should be shaped by its work in Africa. He called on the United Nations to work on preventing atrocities through early warning and the development of a range of options for dealing with them when they arose. He praised the ability of transitional justice to heal wounds, as part of a process of reconciliation, and underlined the importance of women in framing peace processes and building future stability. Women’s participation demonstrated to societies that institutions were representative and able to meet the needs of the population.
YOUSEF SULTAN LARAM ( Qatar) highlighted the role undertaken by the African Union and other regional organizations in the peaceful settlement of disputes. He also joined many other delegates in noting the need to strengthen partnerships and the need to address root causes. “Our efforts are guided by the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, as well as this high-level debate,” he said. Having faith in strategic partnerships, Qatar had made contributions at all levels. Particular attention was needed for States that suffered from internal and inter-State conflicts. The General Assembly should consider the role of mediation in the context of the peaceful resolution of conflict. For its part, Qatar had contributed to the so-called Doha negotiation track to resolve disputes between Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement. Qatar had also played a mediating role in border disputes between Eritrea and Djibouti and, as a follow-up, deployed its troops in the border areas.
PETR ILIICHEV (Russian Federation), noting the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the OAU, and its successor, the African Union, and the successes those organizations had had in building politically mature, independent States on democratic paths, said that the continent remained vulnerable to crises. Preventing and regulating conflicts should use all available tools. Equally important was overcoming the chronic political, social and humanitarian problems at the root of conflict. They often led to such cross-border challenges as international terrorism, organized crime, an illegal arms trade and illegal exploitation of natural resources. Success was dependent upon coordinated efforts for sustainable development, for which NEPAD played such an important role. The African Union Peace and Security Council and other continent-wide and regional initiatives played a central role. Support for regional and subregional preventive diplomacy was critical to the process. He expressed satisfaction with the development of the relationship between the United Nations and the African Union.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said that, despite strong and positive economic trend lines, huge problems persisted with new violent flare-ups in Mali, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition to traditional sources of conflict, there was a rise of new threats, such as terrorism, drug and weapons trafficking and piracy. Addressing those issues required greater coherence in international and regional efforts and, in particular, for the United Nations to adopt an active approach designed to create peace in Africa through a coherent strategy. More specifically, he said, the United Nations should focus on institution-building; strengthening the African Union’s capacity for conflict prevention; creating economic opportunities for young people; addressing the challenges of illegal exploitation of natural resources; and ensuring that peace agreements were adhered to. He believed that NEPAD provided an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic cooperation and integration among African countries. Finally, he said that Pakistani peacekeepers had contributed extensively to peacekeeping missions in Africa, and that today, Pakistan had some 8,000-plus troops deployed on the continent.
PETER SILBERBERG ( Germany) noted that Africa’s capacity for peaceful conflict resolution had clearly been enhanced. Germany would remain a strong partner for Africa in its quest for peace and was supporting development of Africa’s peace and security architecture, both politically and as one of the largest bilateral donors. Germany had contributed €90 million in recent years and had financed construction of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa. That project would be completed in 2013 and would enhance the organization’s work. Economic development, social and gender equality, human rights and good governance were essential to peaceful progress, as were other cross-cutting issues, and better coordination was needed in order to ensure continued progress. Such progress included a clear decrease in violence and a growth in democracy. Africa was defining its own solutions to its problems and was taking responsibility for implementing them. Support from the international community needed to continue, however. He fully supported Security Council expansion, including with permanent seats for African States, and would continue pushing for progress on the issue, within the framework of intergovernmental negotiations and beyond.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ ( Cuba) noted how the descendents of African slaves had contributed to the development of his country and said it had always been Cuba’s policy to provide Africa with firm support.. It was an unfortunate fact that decades ago, Africa had more forests and less debts, and the situation was deteriorating. The continent was a forgotten region of the world. Root causes must be addressed, he said, citing poverty, hunger, unemployment and social inequality. With more than 60 per cent of the Security Council agenda focused on African conflicts, the United Nations had not done its job fully, due to some Member States, namely the most powerful nations. Support for Africa had been a centre of Cuba’s foreign policy. More than 40,000 African students had graduated from Cuban institutions. Borrowing the words of Nelson Mandela, he said “we should be the master of our own destiny”.
GEIR PEDERSEN ( Norway) said that, despite hopeful signs, Africa faced fundamental challenges, particularly following the alarming developments in Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. On the continent, fragility and insecurity were nurtured by transnational organized crime, piracy and terrorism, he said. Despite solid economic growth in many parts of Africa, most of the countries were highly vulnerable to external shocks, the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Therefore, the establishment of an effective, professional and accountable security sector was a cornerstone of peace and sustainable development. The bulk of the international community’s assistance in security sector reform took place in, and was directed to, countries in Africa. At the same time, the good news was that a number of African countries were becoming important providers of such assistance, promoting intra-African collaboration and African perspectives. Turning to the gender dimension, he said empowering women through education and political participation was crucial. “ Africa cannot advance without fully empowering its women,” he emphasized. Many African nations were at a crossroads, he said, expressing concern that important achievements could be washed away by a relapse into old conflicts, or the emergence of new ones.
RIADH BEN SLIMAN ( Tunisia) described the “considerable contribution” made by the African Union in guiding and coordinating efforts to ensure peace and development in Africa. The African Union and its subregional organizations were in a good position to provide collective security, because they were based in African realities and knew and grasped best the underlying elements of African conflicts. They were closest to the conflicts and, therefore, best placed to provide the “African solution to African problems”. The African Union began establishing its peace and security architecture in 1993 in Cairo and now had a complete architecture for the full range of problems that the continent would face, including the Early Warning System, the Panel of the Wise and the Standby Force, which operated under the Peace and Security Council. Africa was at the forefront of progress in Somalia, with the African Union and Somali forces tackling Al-Shabaab, and had helped to maintain the peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan. Its mediation efforts were strengthening and had resulted in the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, signed in February. Innovation was responsible for the active, complementary and innovative partnership between the African Union and the United Nations and he hoped for greater consistency and common vision between the two in the future.
JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda) said that Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation recently chaired a Security Council meeting where he identified several causes of conflict, including the legacy of colonial rule, problems of nationality and identity, lack of democracy and rule of law, and exclusion of certain groups based on gender, ethnicity, religion or region, as well as several others. The roots of conflict were also the roots of relapse into conflict and efforts at peaceful resolution had to address those issues. Governance, democracy and human rights became central to the African Union’s agenda when it replaced the OAU, and processes like the African Peer Review Mechanism promoted governance as a conflict prevention tool. The African Union’s Peace and Security Architecture and its associated instruments was another milestone.
Africans across the continent had repeatedly shown their capacity to work together in reducing and preventing conflicts, she said, while acknowledging that more work remained to be done. Nonetheless, the best initiatives for conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction were emerging from Africa and the United Nations “would do well to embrace them.” She pointed to targeted regional approaches that allowed issues like artificial boundaries and the related issue of nationality and identity to be tackled better than they would be on a national level. Collaboration between the United Nations and the African Union and its subregional organizations was of the utmost importance. It was the especially important that the Security Council supported regional peace initiatives, instead of taking decisions that might undermine them. Justice and reconciliation was of great relevance to conflict prevention and resolution in Africa. Rwanda had important experience, having embraced a home-grown system of reconciliatory justice, known as “gacaca”, which had handled about 2 million cases over 10 years. She looked forward to sharing the unique experience and underlined her support for the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
KOKI MULI GRIGNON ( Kenya) said that the United Nations and the African Union relationship called for a critical assessment, if the two organizations were to consolidate their constructive engagement and cooperation. The last few years had seen the resolution of many long-drawn conflicts in the African continent, from the pacification and improving the security situation in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo respectively, to the recent signing of a peace pact between Sudan and South Sudan. Those achievements in which the United Nations and the African Union played a pivotal role, she said, would not have been possible were it not for the enhanced strategic cooperation between the two multilateral organizations. In the same vein, it was worth noting that to achieve sustainable stability in conflict areas, more emphasis should be geared towards drafting of clear and achievable mandates, provision of required human resources, and logistical and financial support to field missions.
Based on Kenya’s experience in peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution, she believed that effective mediation was the cornerstone of sustainable dispute settlement. In that regard, capacity-building and national ownership was cardinal in the effort to strengthen the role of mediation. In order to “stem the recurring tide” of conflict in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region, she said, the role of Member States, regional and subregional organizations must be fully recognized and supported, especially in terms of capacity-building. She went on to emphasize that much more needed to be done to strengthen negotiating capacities of various stakeholders in peace settlements and adapt mediation processes to local cultures and norms, in order to ensure national ownership of the peace and peacebuilding architecture.
MATEO ESTREME ( Argentina) said it was important to recognize that the main responsibility to peacefully resolve conflict fell on States. But, support must be provided by the international community and the United Nations to complement national efforts. Underscoring the need to tackle the root causes, he said that the legacy of colonialism had led to divisions on the continent. Conflict prevention was also vital, and in that regard, the fight against impunity and the important roles of the special tribunal courts and the International Court of Justice must be highlighted. The International Criminal Court was a remarkable achievement of multilateralism. One billion people were going hungry worldwide and Africa was the only region where the number of those in hunger had increased, from 175 million to 229 million, accounting for nearly one fourth of the total. Food production and duty-free trade were essential to address those challenges. Noting that the world was facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, he called on such international organizations as the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to play greater roles and focus seriously on resolving the issue.
SAIFUL AZAM ABDULLAH ( Malaysia) underlined the importance of Africa to Malaysia, because of its importance as a destination for trade and economic activity. In addition, Malaysia had supported United Nations peacekeeping operations on the continent, along with peacebuilding. Overcoming poverty, disease and famine was a daunting task, but many countries also had political turmoil to deal with. Despite nearly 100,000 peacekeepers being deployed, security challenges remained “a tall mountain to climb”. He upheld the Peacebuilding Commission’s importance in that regard, adding that sustained political will was needed in order for any progress to be made. As a country of the global South, Malaysia was engaged in cooperation with Africa as part of South-South cooperation. The focus fell on developing human capital and the private sector had also invested heavily there. Malaysia was the third largest global investor in Africa, investing $19.3 billion in the continent annually to boost jobs, technology transfer and economic development in the region. He also stressed the importance of the Millennium Development Goals, which were an important “milestone of the multilateral system”, and he looked forward to the Special Event in September that would follow up on the progress made so far.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin) noted that many challenges had dogged African nations since their independence, and conflict resolution and prevention would make a positive contribution to their future development. In that context, useful recommendations had been made during the two days of debate, including the use of peaceful means mechanisms set up within the United Nations and within the African Union. He welcomed the recently adopted Arms Trade Treaty, as well as the Programme of Action for Illegal Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons. It was vital to enhance the African Peace and Security Architecture. For a long time, conflict resolution had been based on military solutions, but new approaches, particularly mediation, must be used. Domestically, Benin was moving towards decentralization of power in order to achieve more balanced development. He called for greater involvement of subregional organizations. The African Peer Review was an effective tool to promote good governance. Emphasizing the need to enhance the Early Warning System, he said the mechanism had been tried out by ECOWAS. Also, cooperation between the United Nations Security Council and its counterpart in the African Union must be strengthened.
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