“THE AFRICAN DIMENSION IN THE WORK OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL" 

Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
 Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
 Security Council, New York, 30 March 2005

 

  I will speak now in my national capacity.

 

I would like to thank all delegations that have taken part in this wrap-up session on the work of the Security Council for the month of March 2005.  My delegation believes that exercises of this nature, which seek to enhance interaction and promote constructive debate between Members and non-Members of the Council, should be encouraged and embraced as a regular practice.

 

On the one hand, the Council highly benefits from this exchange of views. On the other, the wide membership is exposed to a variety of opinions, concepts and stances that influence and shape the decisions of the Security Council.  It is therefore an exercise of exchange of views, transparency and accountability.

 

The reason why the delegation of Brazil has chosen this subject, ‘The African Dimension in the work of the Security Council’, is quite clear.  African issues currently add up to more than 60% of the agenda of the Council. While until 1997 most UN operations were deployed in Europe and the Middle East, we have been witnessing since 1998 a steady increase of peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts in Africa. 

 

The work of the Council during the month of March, highly concentrated on African issues, is not an exception to this trend.  In no other matter, can the work of the Council as a whole be better assessed or evaluated.

 

In second place, we chose this subject for our historical and cultural ties with the nations of the African continent, which make us particularly sensitive to their aspirations and concerns about living in peace, prosperity and security.  Brazil has the second largest population of African descendants in the world and the largest outside Africa. 

 

All told –  both consultations and formal meetings – the Council held some 25 sessions on African issues during the month of March – twenty-five meetings in 24 working days. These figures give us an idea of the time, attention and resources the Council devotes to Africa and reflect the fundamental interest of the United Nations, as a universal Organization, in tackling conflict situations in that continent.  However, this strong trend may also be interpreted as the plain result of the Council not being effective enough in early identification of crises and in conflict avoidance.  It has been argued that the Council has to evolve from a logic of resolution to one of prevention of conflicts.

 

The mixed picture offered by the results of the Security Council engagement in Africa should lead us to further reflection. Side by side, there are some success stories and there are textbook cases of re-emergence of conflict. While the Council can benefit from past experience, it must accept that the international order is in a state of flux.  As a principal organ of the United Nations, the Council must also be ready for a permanent process of evolution. We must never cease to question and to improve our methods of work, our political perceptions, our cost-benefit analyses, and our structure.  The Council must look forward to major improvements in all these and in many other fronts.

 

Statements delivered today covered a wide-range of important issues. To mention just a few: a number of delegations have pointed out to the importance of strengthening interaction with the African Union and subregional organizations, based on more intensive cooperation and coordination as regards conflict prevention and management.

 

Some delegations have underlined root causes of African conflicts, and the need that peace and security efforts be combined with long-term development strategies. Many references to institutional dialogue among the principal bodies of the United Nations, in particular the Security Council and the ECOSOC, were raised.

 

Some delegations have acknowledged also the need for other concerted efforts that include fair trade and development assistance, as well as the greater involvement of international financial institutions, programs and agencies to that end. Delegations also referred to the recent Secretary-General’s recommendations contained in the “In Larger Freedom” report, especially with regard to the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission. Some delegations made concrete proposal in this regard.

 

Many other aspects were also covered in this rich debate, including the idea that exercises such as this wrap-up meeting on the African dimension in the work of the Council should be undertaken in a regular basis. It is the intention of my delegation to provide, at a later stage, a summary of the ideas discussed, which will be circulated to all Member States of the United Nations.

 

I wish now to make some comments related specifically to the Brazilian national views on these matters. 

 

First, addressing deep-rooted social and economic causes of conflict in Africa, either as a way to prevent their outbreak or their resurgence seems to be   a vanguard task to be tackled by the United Nations as a whole.  We welcome the greater involvement of the ECOSOC in this task, in particular by means of the creation of Ad Hoc Working Groups such as those established for Burundi and Guinea Bissau, and the reactivated Group on Haiti.

 

Nevertheless, we believe that these joint efforts – placing the Security Council and ECOSOC on the same board – still lack the formal institutional frameworks or adequate channels in order to maximize the quality of their responses. 

 

My delegation has consistently advocated, throughout the years, the adoption of rules and procedures to put Article 65 of the Charter fully into force, in order to explore its many potential benefits.  We are also eager to discuss proposals – in the context of the reform of the Organization – on the establishment of a Peace-building Commission that would help bring together the objectives of peace and security, on one hand, and sustained development, on the other. 

 

After working in the Council for 15 months now and accompanying it from this chair for one month, I dare say that this august Chamber needs a new perspective. A new dimension should be added to our approach and that is, of course, that of sustainability. The Council is responsible for peace and security – not for a year, not for two years, not for the short while when there’s a peacekeeping operation deployed to distant countries and provinces. No – the Council is consistently responsible for a peace that can be sustained in time. 

 

Military action is needed and is crucial to provide security and ensure that fragile peace processes can flourish. However, in parallel to that, we need concrete action to lead people out of the vicious circle of hopelessness and immediate gains, providing for a sustainable peace.

 

The alternatives, the international community – meaning all of us - has   to help provide. We have to cooperate for stable and democratic institutions to be built, and primary humanitarian needs to be attended to. We have to alleviate   poverty and provide education through direct assistance, and ensure development and employment through fair trade. It is only when the peace dividends are palpable for the people in countries in conflict that the probability of recurrence of conflict will subside.

 

Secondly, the decision-making process within the Security Council would be substantially improved by making use of first-hand information regarding  conflicts in Africa. For instance, only two days ago, the Council was briefed by the African Union mediators on the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, who provided us with  a vivid testimony of the challenges before the  Council, as it seeks  to achieve  the goals of promoting peace and security in that country.

 

Certainly, members of the Council benefit from high-quality information provided by the Secretariat, which is very useful, as well as from individual Members of the Council; yet the views of those directly linked to conflicts under review, their particular assessment of constraints and possibilities for the action of the United Nations must be duly taken into consideration. Nor should the increased cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations, such as the African Union, ECOWAS, and SADC, in the case of Africa should be at all disregarded.

 

In that context of amassing tools for decision-making, the delegation of Brazil is also highly supportive of regular Security Council missions to countries in conflict.  Missions of the Security Council provide a unique opportunity for Council members to engage in the realities of the conflicts it is seized with. The Council has been carrying out regular missions to Africa and we believe that this practice should be maintained and even incremented. 

 

Also, resorting to alternative means of dialogue with non-governmental institutions, whether international NGOs or local representatives of civil society, should be stimulated.

 

The closer cooperation between peacekeeping operations and political missions deployed in the same region, as well as coordination among UN offices and agencies in different countries is yet another recent and very positive development of peacekeeping that must be further supported and advanced. The various UN presences in West Africa and in the Great Lakes region are demonstrating how much gain can be obtained through their coordinated efforts and joint activities.

 

Another fact to be stressed is that peace processes currently undertaken in Africa rely on growing regional and sub-regional African diplomatic efforts, as military components, thus proving strong and increasingly effective commitment of African states to intra-Africa solutions. We should not, nevertheless, expect the region to provide all the resources it needs to keep and build peace.  The larger international community must do its share. 

 

In this regard, we also believe that African interests and general views would have their consideration greatly reinforced if the Council were to count on the permanent membership of African countries.  Brazil supports the proposal that two new permanent seats be conferred to the African Regional Group and welcomes prospects to that effect.

 

Thirdly, on the highly important issue of combating impunity, my delegation believes that primary responsibility for bringing perpetrators to justice belongs to local courts and tribunals. 

 

However, in some cases local institutions do not have the capacity to investigate and prosecute and in other cases the fight against impunity may be hampered by reluctant authorities. In these cases, we believe that the Council should look up to the International Criminal Court – for its international status, permanent structure and mandate.

 

With two investigation processes started already, and another in consideration, the ICC is proving to be an effective tool of deterrence and as such will greatly contribute to international security. Ultimately, the full credibility of the Court is directly proportional to its universality. We therefore encourage States who have not done so to accede to the Rome Statute.

 

In closing, I would like to thank all delegations that participated in this debate. Their insightful comments and suggestions and their constructive contributions have greatly added on to the liveliness of this debate. I certainly hope that the many rich and articulated ideas contained in these statements will give food for thought for all of us Members of this Organization.

 

The United Nations finds itself on the verge of a major reform – it should draw on the opinion of the majority of its members to make itself more capable of dealing with the ever-changing challenges and threats in the international scene.

 

I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.