NEW YORK, 9 APRIL 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3870th MEETING (the situation in Rwanda)
My delegation concurs with the statement just made by the European Union Presidency.
Portugal fully supports the draft resolution before this Council and, in particular, its objectives. The Commission of Inquiry on arms flows in Rwanda stated in its latest report that the problems of the Great Lakes region must be approached from a regional perspective. In addition, it also recognized that the problems of one country in that region cannot be dealt with in isolation. Indeed, long-term stability in the region will prove impossible if the only action taken by the international community is a policy of containment.
We believe that these are fundamental facts. But the question remains, what is to be done next?
An important first step is to reactivate the mandate of the Commission as adopted by resolution 1013 (1995). As a matter of fact, Rwanda continues to face a wide range of problems, from an unstable security situation to the reintegration of a large number of refugees and overcrowded prisons. The ugly scars of genocide are still visible in Rwanda. Portugal believes that the ongoing but fragile process of national reconciliation requires the unequivocal support of the international community.
Another step to be taken would have broader implications in regulating the flow of small arms in the Great Lakes region. Of course, this is feasible only within a more comprehensive and global framework, not necessarily limited to that region in particular. In this context, let me welcome the recent African initiative on the control of light weapons. I am referring to the proposals and actions of President Alpha Oumar Konaré of Mali. The Oslo Conference, convened by both the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers and by the United Nations Development Programme, has also proven to be a significant contribution to the solution of this problem. My delegation firmly believes that this process should be deepened and enlarged.
The Portuguese delegation considers that this draft resolution, while seeking a formal reactivation of the International Commission, also constitutes an important signal of the interest and concern on the part of the United Nations towards the region. The pernicious flow of arms in the region may require from us all a careful analysis of the root causes of the current situation if we wish to find real solutions to those problems. In this regard, we also see the reactivation of the Commission as designed to impress on those forces intent on undermining peace in the region that their actions will not be tolerated.
Finally, let me also underline the importance Portugal attaches to the call upon all States in the Great Lakes region to ensure that their territory is not used as a base for armed groups to launch attacks against any other State, in violation of the relevant provisions of international law. We believe that regional instability cannot be solved through military solutions. There is no alternative to genuine processes of national reconciliation.