New Zealand congratulates Argentina on the priority it has given to this very important issue. We recognize and applaud the strength and relevance of the Latin American regional organizations that are represented here today. In the Pacific, we are also very well served by our own regional organizations, which have restored security when violence has threatened lives and stability. Just last month, in Honiara on Solomon Islands, regional leaders celebrated the success of the 10-year-long Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.
We therefore share the sentiments expressed today about the importance of strong and effective regional institutions and their competitive advantage through proximity, in-depth knowledge, commitment and local accountability. We would say that proper use of Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations can be a critical contributor to international peace and security, as expounded this morning by the Secretary-General and others. But we also share the realism expressed today about the need, in difficult cases, for regional efforts to be backed up or supplemented by the United Nations and the Security Council in particular. We also share the African Union’s optimism, as expressed on its behalf by the representative of Ethiopia, that its African Peace and Security Architecture can address regional challenges. But we also share African concerns, as just voiced by the representative of Egypt, that the Security Council is simply not doing enough to respond to the hopes and expectations of the African Union (AU) and African regional and subregional organizations.
There seem to us to be two distinct elements to the problem. First is the concern that, sometimes, the Security Council can overshadow and effectively marginalize the AU and other regional institutions and, conversely, in other cases, the Council is often too passive or is not responsive in a timely manner.
It is not enough for the Security Council to adopt statements of good intention. What is needed is a new, practical willingness to extend the Council’s capacity to interact in a collective way that builds real partnerships with the regions. To achieve this, the Council must be perceptive and flexible in responding to particular situations.
Sometimes, effective cooperation and partnership will require urgent Council political action of a preventive kind. Sometimes it will mean the consideration of strong deterrent measures. Other times it will require the use of the Council’s unique capacity to provide financial, logistical and even military support to assist regional efforts. Sometimes it will require decisions to deploy a full-scale United Nations operation.
Right now, the model developed for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur is causing dissatisfaction on all sides, and that is hardly surprising, given its history. Instead, New Zealand would like to see a focus, by the Council and by regional organizations, on building practical partnerships at a much earlier stage of an emerging problem. The Security Council and regional organizations should be working together in conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution. We therefore echo Ethiopia’s call on behalf of the AU for more effective, results-focused consultations with the Council and regional organizations. Regional actors can, as the representative of Egypt has just emphasized, contribute in-depth knowledge and longstanding relationships with key local stakeholders, with whom they often share linguistic, cultural and historical ties. Such ties can be crucial for generating the trust and engagement required for successful mediation, and they can prove useful in supporting civil society constituencies for building and sustaining peace.
At the global level, only the United Nations has the power to levy assessed contributions from all Member States, but this Council can also bring into play other assets, such as institutional weight and impact and the capacities of Member States with wide experience of similar issues in other parts of the world, and it can provide neutral perspectives. A real partnership along those lines, including the hybrid missions advocated by Egypt, could also be very useful in reducing the incoherence that sometimes bedevils conflict prevention, with overlap between the United Nations, bilateral and regional organizations and actors.
To make progress on this important agenda item, we believe that the Council must take a step that would involve cultural change. Formats like the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa could be a very useful entry point for forging the kind of partnership we are suggesting. But, for that to be meaningful, working methods must be adapted to allow regional and subregional organisations and their members to be meaningfully engaged. We are convinced that only through active conflict prevention under Chapter VI and effective engagement with regional and subregional organizations under Chapter VIII can we hope to reduce the demand for hugely expensive peacekeeping operations; and, above all, we must address the enormous human, social, environmental and financial costs of armed conflict. In Chapters VI and VIII we have the tools, and New Zealand urges that, by working together, the Council and regional and subregional organizations should put them to very good use.