Allow me first to say how delighted my delegation is to see you presiding over the work of our Council, and to congratulate you on the choice of the topic which is crucial to the work of the Council, given the challenges it needs to meet.
For several years now we have witnessed efforts that seek to move the United Nations from a culture reacting to conflicts, towards becoming a culture that prevents conflicts. The result is that the multidisciplinary nature of United Nations peacekeeping missions has become an absolute necessity worldwide.
Improved planning and improved execution of the military aspect of peacekeeping operations has required, in particular, that exit strategies be defined. This has shown that stressing the military aspect in order to attain lasting peace is not sufficient. The concept of multidimensional action by the international community in order to achieve lasting peace has gained ground and has gradually given way to a more complex form of peacekeeping and peace-building operations. Although international military operations have proven their effectiveness in stabilizing the situation on the ground, their ability to restore law and order and the normal functioning of institutions based on the rule of law, to rehabilitate basic public and social services, or to initiate the socio-economic recovery of a country, has remained limited in the absence of a dedicated civilian component.
The importance of the civilian aspects of conflict management and peace-building has gradually come to the fore in light of the experience of the international community. This has been graphically demonstrated by the successful transition in Timor-Leste, and — we can say today — in Liberia where, despite the presence of a very strong military component and of satisfactory results obtained in stabilizing the situation, the Security Council surely cannot consider a withdrawal from that country for several years to come. Indeed, the phase following the end of hostilities — which includes the deployment of a civilian component that includes a police force of an appropriate size; a rule of law component dedicated to disseminating the values of democracy, tolerance and human rights; the rehabilitation of the judiciary and penitentiary system; and civilian administration and electoral assistance components — is an essential stage for returning to normalcy before tackling the critical stage of reconciliation, reconstruction and the initial stages of development.
The multitude of civilian and military stakeholders working for various international and regional organizations, in addition to the increasingly significant contributions provided by humanitarian non-governmental organizations, make the existence of a correct exit strategy absolutely essential. Improving interagency coordination within the United Nations system can provide a model for complex international operations. From our standpoint, the same concerns relating to the need for exit strategies for military operations should lead us to define exit strategies for the civilian components of international operations. The success of the civilian aspects should, in fact, be gauged by the strength of the institutional capacities of the country concerned and the links they have established with the stakeholders in reconstruction and development partners in the long term — particularly companies and development institutions which are set to take over after the conflict. The increasing number of crises and the many demands made on the international community have shown how great the needs for conflict resolution are. More than 56,000 blue helmets and about 11,000 civilians are now involved in various international operations at an annual cost equivalent to $3.5 billion.
It is foreseeable that the trend will increase, particularly when it comes to the size of the civilian component of the operations. That means we must think about planning for the human and material resources to meet those needs.
We are seeing a marked tendency in the Organization to have recourse to the possibilities outlined in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, including increasing the involvement of regional and other international organizations in preventing conflicts and managing crises. My delegation supports that approach since it is unanimously acknowledged that the regional organizations have a definite comparative advantage for carrying out the civilian tasks of missions where the cultural dimension is decisive and when it comes to working closely with the local people and facing the sociological realities of a situation. I would like to stress two principles that we deem to be essential to make that international cooperation a success. First, reliance on regional pillars should not be understood as any neglect by the United Nations — or in particular, the Security Council — of any of its obligations to maintain international peace and security or neglect in its cooperation for development. Secondly, we need to take account of the clear disparity that exists between the various regional organizations concerning financial resources, expertise and capacities, with a view to giving them assistance at the appropriate level, but without diverting resources from development. We believe that the support in the area of peace and security that the European Union has provided to the African Union’s new structure through the African Peace Facility fund — which we welcome — meets that concern. That kind of initiative could advance the cherished goal of planning and setting up standby civilian crisis management capacities at the national level that could be mobilized at the regional level if necessary.
Moreover, the civilian dimension of international operations raises institutional issues that should be examined. From that perspective, a greater role should be given to the Economic and Social Council, which is directly concerned by several aspects and has gained some experience in that area through its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on African countries emerging from conflict.
Finally, I should like to emphasize that the increased importance given by the international community to civilian aspects of conflict management and peace-building is fully in keeping with the priorities defined by Africa in the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development —particularly the strengthening of reliable institutions and governance to ensure successful economic development. I should also like to reiterate our conviction that support from the international community in that area before conflict erupts would be far less costly and have greater chances for success.