Statement by HMFA on Africa Peace and Security at UNGA April 2013
BY AMBASSADOR OLUGBENGA A. ASHIRU, MFR
HONOURABLE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA,
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
THEMATIC DEBATE ON PEACEFUL
RESOLUTION OF CONFLICTS IN AFRICA
NEW YORK, THURSDAY 25 APRIL, 2013
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me express delight and appreciation for the invitation by the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), H.E. Vuk Jeremic to participate at this important debate on “Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Africa.” Let me also recognize the presence of His Excellency, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea as well as former President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi and to thank them for their insightful Statements at this high-level Session.
2. I also thank the Secretary General, His Excellency Ban KI-moon for his untiring efforts and commitment to putting Africa on top of the UN agenda. His statement today, clearly demonstrated this commitment and desire to see the restoration of peace, security and sustainable development in Africa.
3. The timing of the debate is auspicious as it presents a unique opportunity for the advancement of ideas to redress Africa's multi-dimensional problems. We appreciate the collaborative search for peaceful resolution to Africa's peace and security challenges by the UN and the African Union and its sub-regional bodies such as ECOWAS.
4. Fifty years after the founding of the OAU, Africa is still defined by and associated with conflicts that persist in almost all its sub-regions. The situations in the Sahel, the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa account for more than sixty per cent of the Agenda of the UN Security Council. Most of these conflicts are exacerbated by a lack of profound understanding of their causes and the introduction of other elements such as the proliferation of small and light weapons, illegal exploitation of natural resources, including oil theft are among the many factors that fuel and fan the embers of wars and conflicts in Africa. Yet, the general economic and political climate in Africa is favourable as substantial gains have been recorded in the path to democracy, good governance and economic development on the continent, and this was attested to today by no less a person than the Secretary General in his statement earlier today.
5. The United Nations Security Council, which has the primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security, must continue to play a vital role in Africa's quest for peace and security. Accordingly and consistent with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, the UNSC has extended support and cooperation to Africa in varying degrees to manage and resolve conflicts in Africa. Today, over 70% of UN peacekeeping and peacekeepers are in Africa. This commitment underscores the importance that the organization attaches to its partnership with the African Union, as well as the Regional Economic Communities, which have subsidiary responsibility in peace, security and developmental issues on the continent.
6. In this regard, Nigeria welcomes the adoption by the UN Security Council earlier today, Resolution 2100 (2013) on Mali. It is a clear demonstration of the synergy between the UN and regional mechanisms aimed at resolving the conflict in Mali. But efforts must be deployed to ensure its timely and effective implementation in order to sustain the gains that have been made in the search for lasting peace, state sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order in Mali.
7. Much as peace keeping is necessary and indispensable, it must be supported by other mechanisms. In this regard, the work of the Peace Building Commission (PBC) is of great importance. The PBC configuration on Central African Republic, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Burundi and its other initiatives in the region must be adequately supported to ensure that there is no relapse into conflict situations in these countries.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
8. The United Nations and regional initiatives aimed at peace-keeping and peace-building should ultimately address the critical issues of human security. In this regard, the provisions of the AU Constitute Act on responsibility to protect and similar complementary initiatives of the United Nations serve as the bedrock of international response to African conflicts. But this has to be done in a transparent and non-selective manner that tackles the real challenges in the overall interest of the African people.
9. Unfortunately, more often than not, the intervention of the UNSC comes too late to prevent conflicts and protect civilians from harm, as was witnessed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda in the 1990s and recently in Mali. The role of the UNSC and the spontaneity of its actions, need to improve in order to give peaceful resolution of conflicts greater vigour and effectiveness. The crises in West Africa, the Sahel, the Great Lakes Regions and the Horn of Africa had exposed the inability of the international community to respond in timely and decisive manner to threats to peace and security as well as actual break down of law and order, which put civilians and state structures in jeopardy. This is a huge challenge that must be addressed by the high level meeting, especially during the interactive segments. We must emphasize the imperative of unity of purpose, effective cooperation and coordination between the UN, AU and regional mechanisms in such situations in future.
10. In advocating the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa which is the main focus of this meeting, we must also underscore the relevance, and indeed, the imperative need for mediation in peaceful settlement of disputes. In this context, my country has repeatedly and particularly, during its presidency of the Security Council in 2010, underscored the relevance of conflict prevention in the pursuit of international peace and security.
11. In his address to the General Assembly in 2011 and 2012 respectively, His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had advocated the merits of mediation of peaceful settlement of disputes. Indeed, he proposed the establishment, under the Secretary General's office, of a Conflict Mediation Commission, to be charged among others, with the collation of information on conflict situations across the world, identify the dramatis personae and develop appropriate strategies for initiating resolution of such conflicts. The discussion today presents the opportunity to take up this proposal and ensure its adoption and implementation,
12. It is gratifying to inform this high-level meeting that Africa has set in motion the process of re-tooling its collective mechanism for conflict prevention and crisis resolution. A few days ago, from 12 – 13 April, 2013, under the auspices of AU Panel of the Wise, Africa elaborated the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise) and a “Plan of Action (2013-2014), to strengthen, coordinate and harmonize regional and international positions on conflict prevention and peace-making initiatives. Indeed, the successful establishment of the PanWise will represent a significant contribution to the Golden Jubilee of OAU/AU and serve as a reinforcement of the ideals of the founding fathers of the OAU.
13. Nigeria will continue to stand firmly and play critical role in the course of peace and security of Africa as we have done in the past. Indeed, out of the 59 UN initiatives since the commencement of Peace Support Operations in 1948, Nigeria actively participated in 40 of such missions in different theatres of the world. In Africa, Nigeria participated in Congo – ONUC (1960-1964); Tanzania (1964); Chad – Harmony I (1981-1982); Chad – Harmony II (1982-1983); Liberia – ECOMOG (1990); Angola – UNAVEM (1991-1992); Sierra-Leone – NATAG (1991); Angola-UNAVEM III (1992-1995); Namibia – UNTAG (1989-90); Somalia – UNOSOM (1992-1994); Mozambique – UNOSOM (1992); Rwanda – UNAMIR (1993); Gambia (1993); Sierra Leone – UNAMSIL; Liberia – UNMIL; Darfur – UNAMID; and Cote d'Ivoire. Most recently, Nigeria's unwavering commitment to protect lives and human dignity was further demonstrated in Mali, as we are making enormous sacrifices for the sake of humanity.
14. We would remain steadfast in the fight against extremism, terrorism and all forms of violence, including the scourge of unconstitutional change of Government. In this regard, we call for greater support and collaboration in our struggle against terrorism. We shall remain undeterred and unflinching in our resolve to support democracy and uphold democratic values, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Africa. These are necessary imperatives to collectively defend in order to achieve peace, stability and development and that no effort should be spared in that direction.
15. Finally, let me stress that a viable and functional African Peace and Security Architecture is critical to effectively address the peace and security issues of the continent. I call on partners and the international community to lend full support to African efforts. In particular, there is urgent need for sustained attention for the operationalisation of the Rapid Deployment Capability of the African Standby Force. We need such a mechanism in place to deal with breaches and setbacks in Africa.
16. Africa's resolve for peace, security, development and its quest for attaining the vision of an integrated, prosperous future are firm and unequivocal. The international community has a vital role to play to support and strengthen this commitment. We therefore call on the UN to continue to work in concert with the regional and sub-regional organizations, to ensure durable solutions to Africa's problems. As rightly enunciated by the President of the UN General Assembly in his opening Statement earlier today, Africa must take the lead in designing and implementing all initiatives aimed at peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa, in line with the UN Charter and the provisions of the AU Constitutive Act. This is why I will like to reiterate Nigeria's call for Africa's representation on an expanded UN Security Council in the Permanent category.
17. I thank you.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tafawa Balewa House
26th April, 2013