COMPLEX CRISES AND THE UN RESPONSE
Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN

Security Council, Public Meeting, New York, 28 May 2004

 

Mr. President,

I wish to express our appreciation to you for convening this public meeting on a fundamental issue such as complex crises, which call for UN response.  We are also pleased to have among us USG Jan Egeland, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and Ambassador Marjatta Rasi, President of ECOSOC.

 

We believe that our response to crises throughout the world has not been entirely appropriate – the military approach to security has been superseding the human approach, and as stated in your non-paper of May 18, we consider that “the intrinsic link between peace and development must remain at the core of UN response” to complex crises.

 

Mr. President,

You have laid down a series of questions that this debate on complex crises should attempt to address with clarity and objectivity. My comments shall focus on two of those topics: preventive diplomatic action and post-conflict peace-building.

 

On preventive diplomatic action – or what we could call conflict avoidance –  we believe that a much more energetic, and consistent role must be played by the whole collective security mechanism provided by the United Nations Charter.

 

This actually means a rededication of our Organization and all its Members to the resolve of “the peoples of the United Nations” made clear in the Charter’s Preamble. It means also a renewed commitment to the lofty aims of the Purposes and Principles contained in the Charter.

 

The Sixtieth Anniversary in 2005 represents a golden opportunity that must not be missed. It should be the culmination of the many efforts now being carried out.

 

International realities are changing at an alarming pace, thus requiring UN institutional change, including a reform of the Security Council, as its composition and procedures became clearly inadequate for the present needs relating to its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

 

A revitalization of the General Assembly is also required. Alongside with the updating of its methods of work, it must make full use of the potentialities envisaged in Articles 10, 11 and 13 of the Charter.

 

In this connection, a larger role should be played by the GA in considering the general principles of co-operation in the maintenance of international peace and security, and in drawing the attention of the Council to situations that are likely to endanger peace and security. The General Assembly should also significantly increase its role in promoting co-operation in the political field, thus enhancing its contribution to the strengthening of international peace and security. Appropriate recommendations should be made to that effect.

 

The instrumentalities relating to the pacific settlement disputes, actions with respect to the threats to peace, breaches of peace and acts of aggression, as well as regional arrangements should be urgently revisited. I refer to Chapters VI, VII and VIII of the UN Charter.

 

Mr. President,

Regional organizations have an increasingly important role to play in the overall international effort for peace and security, and some weeks ago we have witnessed examples when briefed by the Chairman-in-office of the OSCE.

 

But we see the primary role of these regional organizations as one of a preventive nature. Their particularly important contribution lies in addressing root causes for conflict and violations of human rights before they escalate into major conflicts. Smaller regional organizations are more flexible and are closer to the sources of conflict than the UN. They are in a better position to detect the early symptoms and act promptly, thus preventing intrastate differences to evolve into intolerance, prejudice, hatred and conflict.

 

Moreover, root causes of conflict are often region specific: in Kosovo they might be very different from those in Darfur, which might in turn widely differ from the Haitian question. Preventive diplomacy should be consistently taken up by regional organizations and we believe that partnership between these organizations and the UN ought to be expanded.

 

We welcome the periodic meetings promoted by the UN with regional organizations aimed at optimizing the use of resources and avoiding duplication. In many cases, the international community must provide assistance to enable regional organizations to shoulder their responsibilities.

 

Needless to say, when prevention fails and enforcement actions are needed, military action should remain the prerogative of this Council, which may as well empower regional arrangements to enforce action, as stated in article 53 of the Charter, when such possibility is foreseen in their constitutive act.

 

Mr. President, underdevelopment and undereducation are found at the root of most conflicts in the world.  Economic inequalities and poverty exacerbate differences and intolerance and invariably kindle friction and, ultimately, conflict. From a strictly academic perspective, it is worth noting that the root causes of conflict will recur after any peacekeeping intervention, if sufficient attention is not paid to sustained development, thus creating a very vicious, literally vicious, circle.

 

This brings me to the second topic: peace-building, in the sense of post-conflict efforts that must follow a peacekeeping operation. As we have seen in our recent debate on the issue, from the 15 peacekeeping operations now being deployed by the UN, eight are complex ones.

 

In complex crises, the State and society have eroded. Therefore, the UN cannot limit itself to military security. A much broader concept of security has to be applied to these situations – the population must be protected, humanitarian assistance delivered, reconciliation among factions has to be forged, combatants disarmed and reintegrated, interim authorities put in place, law and order reestablished, elections organized, government institutions reformed, infrastructure and the economy rebuilt.

 

We believe that the element of economic reconstruction has not been underscored enough in our resolutions. We need to apply more time and energy and to spend our resources more effectively in quick-impact economic programs that could transform in a short period of time the daily realities of individuals themselves and small communities. We believe that the only way to sustain peace is enhancing the development components of peacekeeping operations.

 

Since the Council is the primary organ for peace and security in the world, it is therefore our responsibility to ensure that peacekeeping operations are effective. But they can only be effective – and cost-effective – if we incorporate mechanisms of sustained peace into our resolutions. Otherwise countries and populations may easily fall back into conflict. We have to be more creative in our common objective of sustained peace, requesting direct involvement of UN development agencies and the ECOSOC, for instance. Our concept of exit strategies must be linked primarily to realistic benchmarks, rather than observe rigid deadlines.

 

Mr. President,

Successive recent events demonstrate that we are likely to remain mired in a long-term struggle for peace and security. They also lead us to believe that much more must be done by the Security Council, the GA and the ECOSOC, to ensure that the apparent risk of a regional or global systemic failure ceases to exist.

 

Peacekeeping operations are our established response to these events and their record show many success stories. But whenever peacekeeping is needed, conflict prevention has been needed before, and peace-building will be needed afterwards.

 

We might evolve, in the future, to the establishment of conflict-avoiding operations. While we work within the current framework of peacekeeping, however, we should be able to implement institutional change in the UN and to stimulate regional organizations to enhance their reach for root causes of conflict. We should also incorporate ever more elements of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction, in particular development and education capacities, into peacekeeping operations.  

 

Thank you very much.