NEW YORK, 7 APRIL 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL (ON PEACE-BUILDING ON A PEACE-KEEPING CONTEXT)
As proposed in an aide-memoire which was made available to all Council members, Portugal believes that it would be useful for the Security Council to hold an open debate on short-term peace-building activities which are part of peace-keeping operations.
In increasingly multidisciplinary UN peace-keeping operations, particularly those involved in addressing intra-state conflicts, a number of peace-building activities have been needed during peace-keeping operations as well as after these have concluded.
In co-ordination with the implementation of the mandate of a peace-keeping operation, these peace-building activities are geared directly towards the same single goal of the peace-keeping operation: that is the consolidation of peace.
These peace-building activities, which include:
- the demobilization and disarmament of 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,
- supporting political and legal institutions geared towards national reconciliation,
- the holding of elections,
have shown themselves to be crucial in certain cases to prevent the recurrence of conflict. They act towards removing 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 application of such activities in UN operations in Cambodia, in Haiti, in Angola, in Mozambique, in El Salvador, in Guatemala and elsewhere.
Peace-building activities are in fact tools and techniques, which also form part of development activities. But in the cases mentioned, they were needed earlier, long before development activities could begin properly, because there was a danger of slipping back into conflict.
They were needed at a time when the peace-keeping operation was still on the ground and its success far from certain.
While peace-keeping operations do focus primarily on the military aspects of a peace agreement, the fact is that peace-building activities are increasingly important to ensure the timely and full implementation of the terms of peace agreements and the fulfilment of peace-keeping mandates.
Within the mandate authorized by the Security Council, it is the Secretary-General and his representatives who seek to implement the peace-keeping mandate and consolidate the peace process.
Sometimes, other important actors of the international community are also called upon to contribute specifically to ensuring the successful completion of crucial tasks related to the peace process.
Through the authorization given to him by the Security Council, the Secretary-General gives operational translation to the mandate for a peace-keeping operation by its planning, co-ordination and implementation.
And it is on the ground, and in this context, that the Secretary-General must prioritize, adjust and gear all the UNs activities, including peace-building activities, towards the goal of consolidating peace.
Furthermore, peace-building activities within peace-keeping also relate directly to the important issue of exit strategies for peace-keeping operations.
Peace-building activities are geared towards consolidating peace so that the peace-keeping operation can be terminated; so that the involvement of the international community can make the transition from short-term "peace-helping" to longer-term social and economic development.
Since these peace-building activities are also a crucial part of the post-conflict strategies of the international community in the longer term efforts towards building peace within war-torn societies, they must be well co-ordinated with peace-keeping operations in order to ensure that the exit of the operation does not create a time and engagement gap which might allow conflict to come creeping back.
Peace-building activities in a peace-keeping context seem to be sensible, sound insurance policies to secure the investments of the international community in bringing peace to conflict situations.
It seems important, therefore, that the Security Council, being principally charged with the maintenance of peace and security, being the body directly involved in the authorization of peace-keeping mandates, involve itself directly with the issue of peace-building activities in a peace-keeping context.
These peace-building activities may or not be the direct responsibility of the Security Council; in fact, some of them fall under the auspices of the General Assembly and the regular budget.
But, if those peace-building activities are needed in the context of peace-keeping, and if they are needed by the Secretary-General to implement better the mandate given to him by the Security Council, it makes infinite sense for the Security Council to discuss these issues and to receive input on them from other Member States.
This way the Security Council can have a clear picture of the planning, operational co-ordination and implementation of peace-building activities within a peace-keeping context.