"The Role of Civil Society in Conflict Prevention and Pacific Settlements of Disputes"
Statement by Ambassador Henrique Valle
Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
 Security Council, New York, September 20,  2005

 

 

Mr. President,

 

I am pleased to join previous speakers in welcoming you and congratulating your delegation for convening this meeting on such a highly relevant subject. It is indeed an honor to have you, Excellency, Mr. Alberto Romulo, presiding over our session today. I thank Assistant Secretary-General for Politicas Affairs Kolomo for his statement and welcome the valuable contributions made by Mr. Paul van Tongeren, Dr. Andrea Bartoli, and Mr. Vasu Gounden.

 

Mr. President,

 

 For decades, our concept of security has been associated to military response. This unidimensional perspective, however, is now being redefined to integrate root causes of conflict into the concept of security threat. Conflict prevention is directly dependent on a certain level of quality of life: hunger, poverty, poor health and lack of education – although not necessarily the direct causes – are powerful factors in catalyzing conflict.

 

It is time for the United Nations – and in particular the Security Council – to consider managing the interconnectedness of various political and socioeconomic factors in conflict situations. This approach  makes explicit  the need  for an increasing  role  for civil society in conflict prevention and the pacific settlement of disputes. Recent peacekeeping operations – the so-called complex operations – are already reflecting this comprehensive, integrated approach, as they encompass, for instance, human rights and development components.

 

Mr. President,

 

The role of civil society in this new approach cannot be overemphasized. Citizen-based associations and movements, educational institutions, charities, NGOs and even corporations now show a growing understanding that they should also contribute to common efforts towards avoiding the scourge of conflict or preventing the relapsing into conflict after a peacekeeping operation is deployed. Their participation is more than welcome.

 

 Civil society organizations are close to popular aspirations and may provide for an early warning when the social tissue deteriorates. They have the knowledge and experience required and they embody direct links with their constituencies and the capability to mobilize resources for conflict prevention. True leaderships with ties to the communities can detect tensions, unrest and sources of imbalances even before governments perceive them. Their action should be complementary to the initiatives of governments.

               

The Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations concluded that constructive engagement with civil society must be promoted for the identification of global priorities and the mobilization of resources. According to the Panel, chaired by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the engagement of civil society is not a threat to Governments, but a powerful way to reinvigorate domestic policies for the wellbeing of populations.

Mr. President,

 

When peace processes are being implemented, the contribution of civil society is particularly relevant to promote inclusiveness and local ownership, including through increasing public awareness and turning public opinion in favour of peace initiatives. Their participation is also welcome in promoting reconciliation and education for peace.

 

Their readiness to contribute to reconstruction efforts reinforces our conviction that military and civilian components should be given similar importance in peacekeeping operations and that exit strategies should be conditioned not only by improvement in the security situation, but also by the fulfillment of realistic benchmarks in areas such as institution-building, rule of law and socioeconomic development.

 

A word must be said also for the need to explore synergies and complementarities between civil society, governments, regional organizations and the United Nations – their efforts must be coherent and compatible with this organization’s legitimacy as the main global actor in peace and security.

 

I should stress the need for increased attention to the coordinated planning of our response to crises, with the help of specific mechanisms for that purpose in the UN. Accordingly, we hope the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission will be of much help. Available instruments must be constantly improved and adapted to the changing needs of our response to crises. In particular, a joint reflection on the roles and responsibilities of different actors will allow the UN to devise increasingly efficient ways to mobilize and finance civilian capabilities on a global basis to assist countries threatened with conflict.

  

Mr. President,

 

Meeting the complex challenges of conflict prevention and the settlement of disputes cannot be attained without the mobilization of a wide range of actors and the ability to make full use of the expertise, resourcefulness and comparative advantages of all sectors of society.

 

Before the eruption of conflict, early analysis, early warning and preventive diplomacy are sorely needed. And in the post-conflict phase, structural rebuilding and long-term reconciliation have become as important as military response.

 

In dealing with an ever-changing array of conflicts, increased attention has to be paid to all fundamental political, economic, social and humanitarian dimensions. The complexity and sensitivity of the UN’s role have multiplied our responsibilities. Our contribution to peace has been and must continue to be enriched by the active participation of civil society.

 

Thank you.