NEW YORK, 16 DECEMBER 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3954thMEETING (Maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peace-building)
It is with keen interest and great satisfaction that Portugal welcomes this thematic consideration by the Security Council of the importance of post-conflict peace-building activities in keeping and consolidating peace and security. We very much congratulate you, Sir, for organizing this debate.
The statement to be made later on by the Austrian Presidency of the European Union fully reflects our thinking on this matter, and I wish merely to add to and elaborate further on a number of points.
It is particularly gratifying for my delegation to participate in this debate today, since it was last year, during the first Portuguese presidency of the Security Council in April 1997, that we raised the issue of peace-building in a peacekeeping context. At that time, we recommended a discussion by the Council in order to identify those short-term activities strictly speaking, post-conflict peace-building activities which were essential to the functioning and, ultimately, the success of peacekeeping operations. Much work had been done by Germany in this respect in helping to define problematic areas, and we felt it was time for the Council itself to address the issue, especially where it had a direct impact on the elaboration of mandates and the very structure of the peacekeeping operations established by the Council. Unfortunately, it was not possible to hold the discussion at that time, but we wholeheartedly welcome its realization here today. This is an important debate which will help the United Nations trace the major lines of current thinking on the interplay between peace-building activities and the immediate task of maintaining or restoring international peace and security.
In the increasingly multidisciplinary United Nations peacekeeping operations, particularly those involved in addressing intra-State conflicts, a number of peace-building activities have already been needed during the operational life of those peacekeeping operations as well as after their conclusion. The fact is that certain long-term tasks must be started early, even immediately following a ceasefire, and these are often foreseen in the elaboration of peace agreements.
These activities include the demobilization and disarmament of fighting forces; the transformation of armed movements into civil political parties; the reintegration of former combatants into society; the restructuring and unification of police and armed forces and ensuring that in their conduct, all forces meet international human rights standards; the return of refugees and displaced persons; demining programmes; support for political and legal institutions geared towards national reconciliation; and the holding of elections.
The successful conclusion of a peace process in situations of intra-State conflict is premised on national reconciliation, which in turn cannot be achieved without safeguarding the rights of individuals. Not only must their humanitarian and human rights be rigorously protected and upheld, but they must also be given a chance to secure their socio-economic well-being.
In today's peacekeeping, these are on many occasions fully mandated tasks and often make up the main work of the peacekeepers. And rightly so, since without them the recurrence of conflict is not only possible but likely. They act to remove immediate focuses of tension and other factors of destabilization that may threaten the peace process and its implementation.
These are the lessons which have been learned by the United Nations in a number of peacekeeping operations and are now being applied in the Central African Republic, in Liberia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and elsewhere.
The strong link between peace-building activities and the immediate goals of establishing and maintaining peace and security was particularly evident in Mozambique, in the work of the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ). The careful deployment and effective coordination of peacekeeping and peace-building components secured the successful consolidation of the peace process in Mozambique, which today continues rightly to be supported by the international community.
While peacekeeping operations still focus primarily on the military aspects of a peace agreement, the fact is that peace-building activities are increasingly important in ensuring the timely and full implementation of the terms of peace agreements and the fulfilment of peacekeeping mandates.
Peace-building is thus essential in the peacekeeping phase. Peace-building may be post-conflict but it is not, nor should it be, post-peacekeeping. It is important to make this point, since the proper use of peace-building activities in good time, before the end of peacekeeping mandates, will help bridge the transitional gap that inevitably appears between the withdrawal of the peacekeepers and the effective functioning of development activities which address the long-term causes of conflict. In this so-called twilight zone, conflict can erupt again very easily unless steps have been taken to disarm and demobilize, to find relevant occupations for ex-fighters and to help the wider process of national reconciliation through a participatory political process, including democratic elections.
Therefore, quite apart from their intrinsic value, peace-building activities in a peacekeeping context also seem to be sensible, sound insurance policies to secure the investments of the international community in bringing peace to conflict situations.
We welcome the increased attention given to this important dynamic by the Secretary-General, as evident in his report on the causes of conflict in Africa. While peace-building tasks are usually predetermined in the peace agreements which bring the fighting to an end and are subsequently integrated into the mandates of peacekeeping operations by the Security Council, it is up to the Secretary-General to ensure the effective coordination on the ground of all the activities of the various components of the operations so that they function in a complementary and coordinated fashion, thereby contributing to the consolidation of the peace process. For this to happen in optimal conditions, there should be a clear leadership and coordination structure on the ground, headed by his Special Representative, whose task is to deploy appropriately all those components at his or her disposal to ensure the stability of the peace process. Such flexibility should also include financial means.
Portugal also agrees with the Secretary-General that curtailing the availability of small arms in a post-conflict situation is a very important activity to reduce tensions and prevent the resumption of hostilities.
In this process of peacekeeping and peace-building, it is also essential to ensure the greatest degree possible of coordination among the efforts of the organs of the United Nations the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council and those of the United Nations programmes and agencies and the international financial and development institutions, as well as bilateral aid efforts. This will not only avoid duplication and overlap but also optimize the material and human investments in peace of the United Nations. An important role in this area is also played by non-governmental organizations.
In the wider realm of the maintenance of international peace and security, we have seen an important and appropriate division of labour with regional organizations, as foreseen in Chapter VIII of the Charter. We welcome this trend and, in this context, it is important also to identify the peace-building activities within peacekeeping that can benefit from an effective cooperation with regional organizations. A case in point, we believe, is Guinea-Bissau, which will require the careful attention of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, and the continued excellent cooperation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) in helping to establish the foundations for a long-lasting peace.
The present and future of United Nations peacekeeping is strongly based on the experiences of the past. Initially, experience indicated a need for larger and more comprehensive operations which sought to address each and every aspect of a conflict. Subsequently, a more realistic and efficient approach has been taken, tailored to each situation but still recognizing the need to expand the definition of peacekeeping tasks to include peace-building activities. This dynamic development of peacekeeping is the most effective use of the resources of the United Nations in the exercise of its responsibilities in the maintenance of international peace and security.