NEW YORK, 15 DECEMBER 1999
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL (Open debate on Africa)
I would like to thank you for having convened this meeting to focus on practical and operational ways to increase our capacity to fulfil the different mandates that are imposed on all of us by virtue of the UN Charter.
May be the first conclusion we should draw from this meeting would be that we should talk less about Africa and work more to utilize a number of instruments already available to us and to implement a number of specific recommendations designed to deal with the different kinds of crises in Africa.
Let me, therefore, direct our attention to specific instances that could benefit from such concerted action:
Undoubtedly, as a first step, the UN should work more closely with regional and sub-regional organisations, sharing information, and particularly analysis, like our colleague from Argentina mentioned, and helping them to create the conditions to carry out both preventive actions and peacekeeping operations. The United Nations cannot abdicate from its duty to maintain international peace and security by delegating that responsibility on African regional or sub-regional organisations. However, when the UN seeks their assistance and participation, an institution that should be encouraged, it has to ensure that they have all means necessary to carry out those functions. And by this I mean political support and logistical and financial backing.
- Preventive diplomacy has not been used enough. Fact-findings missions, missions of the Security Council and other similar instruments, as referred to by the Secretary-General this morning, are instruments that have to be explored with more frequency and a broader scope. Mandates have to be precisely defined and the opportunity-cost sensibly measured. But missions should go. While I must recall the effectiveness of the SC mission to Jakarta last September that greatly facilitated the work of all of us, I cannot forget how difficult it was to establish it. In this context, must pay homage to the late Maître Beye who lost his life while attempting an 11th hour mission to some African capitals in the hope of garnering support to persuade Jonas Savimbi to abide by the Lusaka Protocol.
I would also like to address the idea of preventive deployment. Why has the success of the preventive deployment of UN forces in FYROM not been replicated elsewhere, and in particular in Africa? There is certainly some merit to this concept, not least that of cost effectiveness that should perhaps be seriously addressed.
- Another instrument that we have not used to its fullest benefits is the imposition of targeted sanctions. For years the SC committee entrusted with overseeing the Angola dossier rarely met. We are now witnessing a significant change in that respect and we would like to see the pioneering work being done under the able chairmanship of Ambassador Fowler, for which we express great appreciation, continued, deepened and extended to address other similar situations such as Sierra Leone. We strongly believe that it is the responsibility of this body to address the root causes of conflicts and therefore all the work to be done in the direction of curtailing the ability of rogue armies to pursue war should be encouraged. In this context we welcome initiatives to stop the economic support of these armies as well as the supply of weapons to them. We also hope that it will be possible for member states to fully share in this work by providing intelligence and all information available to the sanctions committee.
- We know, however, that there are no quick fixes to solve African problems. That is precisely why we strongly support the need for urgent and sustained action, as was requested this morning by the Secretary-General, to support the fragile cease-fire in the DRC and create conditions for the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. In this respect, we would very much like to recall the need to convene an International Conference on the Great Lakes region of Central Africa as soon as possible.
- I would just point out that there is an ingredient usually missing when the Security Council deals with conflicts in Africa. I refer to what is broadly termed as post-conflict peace-building; the additional tool the Council and the GA can use to help solve some conflicts and prevent the occurrence of future ones. I believe that the international community could use this approach to good avail in the Central African Republic and Guiné-Bissau if it really wants to support the transition towards democracy in these countries. I want to echo what I have been hearing from representatives of several African countries "elections are not an end in themselves nor the end result of a process of national reconciliation". Assistance for development is an equal part of that process.
One final word to utter the obvious: there should be no competition for allocation of resources between different regions of the globe. If there is a need to increase assistance budgets changes should not be made by diverting resources from Africa to deal with crises elsewhere.
This Council deals with international peace and security at a global scale. Were we to lose this perspective and demagogy would prevail and the problems Africa faces would remain unresolved and, of course, we would soon meet again in this chamber.