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An "Early Warning System" Needed To Prevent Conflicts

An "Early Warning System" Needed To Prevent Conflicts

Statement by Ambassador James B. Cunningham, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Prevention of Armed Conflicts Security Council, July 20, 2000 on Conflict Prevention. Source: Washington File distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. July 20, 2000. EUR410.

United Nations -- The UN Security Council must develop a comprehensive approach to preventing wars "that encompasses the promotion of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and equal economic opportunity," U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham said July 20.

Addressing the Security Council during a day-long open debate on the prevention of armed conflicts, Cunningham said that the United Nations must also refine its "early warning system" in order to identify situations before they deteriorate into armed violence and work to stem the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and the trade of high value commodities such as diamonds.

At the end of the discussion the Council adopted a seven-page presidential statement stressing the importance of regional organizations, post-conflict peace-building strategies, disarmament and demobilization programs, and effective national controls on small arms transfers. It also encouraged the consideration of conflict prevention in development assistance strategies and recognition of the need to ensure a smooth transition from emergency humanitarian assistance to development after a conflict has ended.

To maximize its effectiveness the UN must "augment our use of existing and capable resources available, in particular the regional and sub-regional groups in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America, that have successfully addressed local crises and help to prevent the escalation of violence," Ambassador Cunningham said.

Following is the US/UN text of the Ambassador's remarks: (begin text)

Statement by Ambassador James B. Cunningham, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Prevention of Armed Conflicts Security Council, July 20, 2000.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General,

Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this public meeting on such a pertinent and vital subject for the Security Council. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his continuing efforts to strengthen the role of the United Nations in preventing armed conflict and its attendant far-reaching consequences for the international community. The United States welcomes the Security Council's decision to make the prevention of conflict a priority and sees it as our responsibility as member states and members of the Council to address the underlying causes of conflict in hopes of preventing them. To this end, today's open debate is an important step in that direction.

In the eight months since we last discussed conflict prevention strategies in detail, we're dismayed by the almost daily reports of burgeoning crises. Developments in Sierra Leone, Angola, and the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea recall similar tragic events in the Balkans and East Timor. All remind us of the fragility of peace and our shared obligation to use all of the resources available to prevent and defuse conflict, and to promote international peace and security. As another example, we are reminded sadly, that this year marks the five-year anniversary of Srebrenica. The United Nations, and in particular we members of the Security Council, must learn from these horrific events and take steps so that future generations do not suffer.

Mr. President,

As we know too well, peacekeeping missions today have grown more and more complex not only in scale, but also in scope and mission. Concomitantly, the resources required for successful missions, as well as their costs, have also increased. This fact alone justifies taking early and effective action to prevent the development of armed conflicts. That said, we must bring energy, intelligence, and imagination to developing the means to mitigate the tensions that breed conflict. And we must commit ourselves, wholeheartedly, to early, preventive action. We must not only address the consequences of such tragedies, but more importantly, focus on the conditions that give rise to conflict. Furthermore, we need a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention, one that encompasses the promotion of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and equal economic opportunity, all elements of a sure path to long-term global stability and development.

The scale and complexity of recent UN missions, such as those in East Timor and Kosovo, and crises worldwide also underline the importance of close cooperation and coordination amongst UN organs. As we have noted before -- and will continue to do -- the United Nations simply cannot act alone. To maximize effectiveness, we must augment our use of the existing and capable resources available, in particular the regional and sub-regional groups in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America, that have successfully addressed local crises and helped to prevent the escalation of violence. We must enhance further the cooperation between the United Nations and regional groups. We encourage the heightened international attention on the need to take steps to prevent conflict, in particular the determination of the Organization of African Unity in pursuing a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the recently announced commitment of the G-8 to promote a "culture of prevention." We implore all nations to actively support such initiatives.

Another means of improving the UN's ability to prevent the outbreak of conflict is through the enhancement of its early warning system in order to allow the Council and the Secretary-General to identify situations before they deteriorate into armed violence. A possible means of strengthening the UN's conflict prevention and early warning capacity may be to consider reinforcement of the roles of the Special Representatives of the Secretary General, in particular their abilities to identify hotspots and to intervene early.

Mr. President,

We note the establishment by the Secretary-General of an expert panel on peacekeeping and welcome its efforts to conduct a comprehensive review in this field as a contribution to efforts to strengthen the quality and speed of UN responses to peacekeeping challenges. Key to increasing the effectiveness of the United Nations in this regard, is strengthening its capacity to recruit, train, and deploy international civilian police or CIVPOL. CIVPOL are a critical element in conflict prevention as they help indigenous civilian police forces develop the capacity to provide public security.

We also reiterate our concerns about the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and the threat their uncontrolled proliferation and destabilizing accumulations continue to pose for international peace and security.

Noting the events in Sierra Leone, we also must press forward on curbing the illicit trade of high value commodities, in particular, the diamonds used to prolong and exacerbate conflict. The United States welcomes the initiatives proposed within the UN framework to assess the impact of the illegal exploitation of such natural resources and also welcomes the G-8 commitment to address this serious problem.

And last, but certainly not least, I would like to highlight the role women can play in conflict prevention and peace-building activities. We encourage the UN to make better use of the contributions of women in peace negotiations and operations, particularly by naming more women as SRSGs (Special Representative to the Secretary General) and Special Envoys. International efforts to address mounting political, economic, and humanitarian crises can be substantially strengthened by integrating women fully into all phases of the process of conflict resolution, mitigation, and prevention, thus enhancing opportunities for building just and equitable societies.

Mr. President,

As the Council continues to develop and refine the methods and means to prevent conflict, our ability to successfully undertake these preventive efforts will undoubtedly improve. Today and in the future, the United States welcomes the opportunity to work with all of you so as to put into practice the ideas and plans we are discussing here today.

Thank you.

(end text)

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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