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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2014

UN Security Council Maintenance of international peace and security War, its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace.

Statement by Phillip Taula Deputy Permanent Representative, 29 january 2014.

Thank you Mr President.

New Zealand very much appreciates your initiative to propose this debate. 

So often the Council members have to respond to an immediate crisis. There are too few opportunities to step back and view the wider picture. And even rarer is the chance to focus on the historical factors which shape the present security environment. Yet we all know that those who ignore history tend to repeat it.

In that regard, it is timely that this debate occurs in the year when we will reflect not only on the commencement of the First World War, but also the commencement of the genocide in Rwanda.

In 1993, perhaps if the Council members had reflected more on history in Rwanda, they may have been better prepared to recognise and deal with the underlying tensions, and so prevent the crisis and the tragic collective failure to respond which followed in 1994. 

But learning from history should not be limited to absorbing lessons from past decades. There is much to learn also from recent history. Lessons learned from the delayed action over the crisis in Mali should have better informed Council action on the situation in CAR.

Past conflict is tragically an all too common indicator of future conflict.  Many thematic debates in the UNSC in recent years have underlined the importance of the Council’s role in conflict prevention and peaceful resolution. But this thematic narrative is poorly implemented in practice in specific cases.  The Security Council has developed many tools for Chapter VII action, but is much less well adapted for peaceful action under Chapter VI. Adapting the Council’s work to that end is vital.

Mr President, New Zealand urges the Council to employ more flexible working methods so that it can be more nimble in its consideration of situations which present risk of conflict and more inclusive in terms of participation.  Whatever the format, time needs to be made so Council members and those who are affected or who can help are better able to assess where threats to international peace and security are emerging, and what early response might help. Consideration of historical factors is essential. And greater flexibility would allow more routine input by subject experts. All this is an important element of the enhanced focus on early warning which is needed at both the national and international level.

Addressing the historical roots which lead to conflict is not, however, just a way of quickly identifying a potential problem. It is also critical to devising solutions which will be sustainable and bring enduring peace and development. And a key element in enduring peace is the concept of national reconciliation. It is therefore most welcome that you have been brought reconciliation processes into focus today Mr President. 

New Zealand recognises that in the past the Council has affirmed many times the need to adopt a broad strategy which includes promoting national reconciliation. But all too often this aspect is missing in mandates for specific situations.

We therefore warmly welcome the innovative suggestions made by Jordan and are supportive of the Council continuing to follow up this initiative by developing appropriate mechanisms.  

Like all Council tools, these mechanisms must be tailored to national needs and circumstance.   In our own Pacific region, in recent years New Zealand has helped to provide a secure environment in the Solomon Islands to enable the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), established by the Solomon Islands Government in 2008, to investigate the causes of conflict there in order to foster national unity. That process recognised the importance of local ownership.

The Council should make much more use of reconciliation processes. The Peacebuilding Commission and the Council’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa could play a helpful role by cooperating very closely and helping the Council to understand the particular historical risk factors which point to conflict and also to support local development of reconciliation mechanisms to address the historical factors which underpin tensions and division.   

New Zealand also records its concern that in many cases there may be a key role that needs to be played by states that are not on the Council. A more inclusive approach to interaction with the wider membership than occurs presently is therefore required to ensure this can occur readily.

Mr President,

New Zealand looks forward to further follow up work by the Council in understanding what history can contribute to the Council’s work, both in identifying the risk of conflict and to avoiding it in future. 

Thank you.

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Page last updated: Thursday, 13 February 2014 13:15 NZDT