Statement by H.E. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti

Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations





Security Council 


Maintenance of international peace and security

Optimizing the use of preventive diplomacy tools: Prospects and challenges in Africa


New York, 16 July 2010



"Mr. President,

It is an honour for me to welcome you, Mr. President, to the Security Council today. Your presence testifies to Nigeria's commitment to the maintenance of international peace and security.

I thank DSG Asha-Rose Migiro for her presence and her important remarks. I am grateful to Sarah Cliffe for her very interesting presentation. I particularly appreciated the points that she has just made on the links between peace consolidation and development and how best to support efforts in that area.

The Security Council has on many occasions recognized the importance of the prevention of conflicts, particularly in Africa. The focus of today's debate on optimizing preventive tools allows us to consider concrete and potentially innovative means to strengthen preventive diplomacy.

The Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, whereas the primary responsibility for preventing conflicts lies with Member States. Effectively articulating these dimensions of conflict prevention requires strategies that neither pre-empt the primary duty of Member States to prevent conflicts nor delay action by the Council. In order to achieve such a balance, constant dialogue between the Council and key stakeholders in potential conflicts is of utmost importance.

In this context, and as widely recognized, the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in preventing conflicts cannot be overemphasized, particularly in Africa. By way of example, I wish to refer to ECOWAS and its early warning system, which relies on a network of actors, including civil society organizations, to collect and analyze data on potential conflicts and provide early warnings. Another major tool, the Council of the Wise, is engaged in important preventive diplomacy efforts. In addition, a Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) has guided ECOWAS actions to both avoid that disputes turn into conflict and address the causes of conflict.

These institutional achievements are being translated in results on the ground. It was the case in Niger, where ECOWAS was instrumental in preventing a serious political crisis in 2009 from degenerating into violence. That was also the case in Guinea and other countries. I should also like to mention the efforts of the three organizations, with the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, which play a very important role in Guinea-Bissau. Conflict prevention activities and early warning mechanisms have also been important aspects in the work under way in the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Economic Commission for Africa.

At the regional level, the African Union has made conflict prevention a cornerstone of the African Peace and Security Architecture. Its Panel of the Wise is engaged not only in preventive diplomacy, including through fact-finding missions in areas of potential conflict, but also in examining some of the root causes of conflict, such as electoral crises and impunity. Considerable progress has beeen made in operationalizing the Continental Early Warning System.

These success stories show that enhancing the UN support to the preventive capacity of African regional and sub-regional organizations is fully warranted. The Mediation Support Unit has made an important contribution to the work of the AU Panel of the Wise. More should be done. Improved communication between the regional and sub-regional bodies and the Security Council is also needed. In this regard, we were pleased at the holding of the recent consultations between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council.

Another significant aspect to pursue in conflict prevention strategies and tools is their careful consideration of the usually manifold root causes of conflicts, including in Africa. Efforts to manage disputes and avoid that they degenerate into conflict are necessary. However, they are insufficient if they do not effectively address the deep motives of the parties.

Coordination and coherence are also key elements of successful strategies for conflict prevention. In this context, it is fitting to mention the call made in the 2005 Outcome Document that the Security Council, the General Assembly and the ECOSOC coordinate their activities under their respective Charter mandates, so as to adopt an integrated approach to prevent conflicts. The whole United Nations system should act in tandem to effectively address the root causes of conflicts. In Africa, this means, for example, to redouble efforts to fully implement NEPAD and support the achievement of the MDGs and the prevalence of the rule of law. It also means supporting African Union efforts to address the issue of unconstitutional changes of Government in the continent.

Enhanced prevention activities by the Security Council require a strong capacity in the Secretariat to identify, assess and provide early warning on disputes. The Secretary-General should make full use of article 99 of the Charter and of Resolution 1625 (2005). Further recourse to fact-finding missions and confidence-building measures in the early stages of a dispute may also foster its peaceful settlement. At the same time, prudence and foresight are necessary to avoid involving the Security Council before its consideration of the issue is truly necessary and helpful.

Preventing a conflict from relapsing is also key. Peacebuilding, including its socioeconomic component, and accountability are especially relevant to consolidate stability in post-conflict situations. The Peacebuilding Commission, an important institutional step in that direction, should be further strengthened. Truth and reconciliation commissions and transitional justice mechanisms also play a role. In addition, the ICC has an important deterrent effect.

In conclusion, I wish to stress Brazil's continued commitment to the efforts of the Security Council to prevent the occurrence and recurrence of conflicts. As always, the Council can count on the support of my delegation.

Thank you".