Experience in conflict prevention has shown that the African Union is better positioned in terms of knowledge, proximity and the capability to mobilize and respond quickly, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN has said.
Valentine Rugwabiza said this on Tuesday during the UN Security Council Debate on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace, during which the new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also made a case for new efforts to build and sustain peace.
“More so, such ability often surpasses the bureaucratic and procedural processes of UN interventions…we therefore believe that the UN–AU partnership could be a collaboration framework through which conflict prevention in Africa can be discussed and practical measure taken.”
Rugwabiza recalled that in their solemn declaration adopted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May 2013, African leaders expressed determination to achieve the goal of a conflict free Africa, and pledged in the declaration not to bequeath the burdens of conflicts to the next generation of Africans.
“They also undertook to end all wars in Africa by 2020. Conflict prevention is therefore a priority for the African Union. It is through this roadmap that the UN Security Council could collaborate closely with Africa to address scourges to peace and security through practical steps.”
Possible priorities for cooperation
Highlighting key possible priorities for cooperation, Rugwabiza first noted that the International Community should engage in strategic dialogue with Africa, including the UN system, on global policies and practices that negatively impact on Africa and its people.
Holding regular dialogue between the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council on conflict prevention, management and resolution at all levels and on other strategic issues is of prime importance, she said.
“We believe that increased cooperation between these bodies will enhance complementarity and lead to effective coordination, while at the same time minimize the duplication of efforts.”
Second, she said, shifting attention in addressing underlying causes of conflicts while at the same time increasing the capacity to streamline efforts to intervene when civilians are endangered, including the ability to recognize and disseminate the signs of impending or potential conflict, would increase “our collective preventive capabilities” and makes the UN live its full purpose.
Early warning and response capability is a critical requirement for effective early prevention, Rugwabiza stressed.
Linked to this, she added, is the implementation of outstanding components of the African Peace and Security Architecture including the full operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF), a force composed of multidimensional capabilities and based on standby arrangements with Africa’s five sub-regions.
Fourth, Rugwabiza said, there is need to aim at addressing illicit inflow of arms and weapons into Africa, with a focus on stopping suppliers and recipients of these weapons from promoting and sustaining illicit business in arms and weapons.
“Last but not least, we need to ensure that our post conflict reconstruction and peace building capabilities are properly deployed to ensure institutional capacity that would help prevent the relapse into conflict.”
“Rwanda would be a different story today, if the post-genocide Government did not invest much in forging a new Rwanda, successful in ensuring inclusivity and equal opportunities of all its citizens, overcoming ethnic divisions, engaging reconciliation and restorative justice as well as recover trust in state institutions.”
New approach needed
Meanwhile, delivering his first formal briefing to the Security Council, Guterres underlined the need for new, strengthened efforts to build and sustain peace ranging from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peace building and sustainable development.
“We spend far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. People are paying too high a price. We need a whole new approach,” Guterres stressed.
According to Guterres, changes needed to be made to rebalance the approach to peace and security.
“For decades, this has been dominated by responding to conflict. For the future, we need to do far more to prevent war and sustain peace,” he said.
Guterres informed the Council members on reform initiatives within the UN Secretariat, in particular with regard to the decision-making process and strengthening the capacity to integrate all pillars of the UN – peace and security; human rights and development – and called on the Security Council as well as the 193-member General Assembly for their support.