Public debate on Strengthening cooperation between the United Nations system and the Central African region in the maintenance of peace and security
(New York, October 22, 2002)
Statement by Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, Permanent Representative of Colombia
I wish to begin, Sir, by applauding your initiative in organizing this debate, which has been very interesting and, indeed, unique in many ways. It is not the kind of discussion, at least, that we are accustomed to having had in the Council over the last few years. My delegation welcomes the presence of the Ministers of the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, I would like in particular to mention, the Minister of Equatorial Guinea, who is the representative of our Spanish language on the African continent. I also wish to welcome the contribution of the Economic and Social Council, through its President, and the other bodies and agencies that have made a significant contribution here.
During our term on the Council, we have been struck by the contrast between the magnitude of the conflicts that we see in the Central African region, particularly in Angola and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in the subregion's institutional capacity to engage in conflict prevention and resolution, as well as the promotion of regional peace and security. For this reason, we are gratified to note the efforts that the United Nations has been making to promote confidence-building measures among the countries of the Central African region, as provided for in General Assembly resolution 46/37, adopted in 1991. It is thanks to this resolution that we now have a United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa. The joint meeting that this Standing Committee will be holding tomorrow with the members of the Economic Community of Central African States should help to tighten the relationship between the United Nations and the region.
We recognize that there has been no lack of initiatives to strengthen regional security. The Non-Aggression Pact has been mentioned, as well as has the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa, along with the initiative to set up an early warning system.
But if there is one thing that appears clear from all our endeavours to establish collective security mechanisms anywhere in the world, it is the need to have the resolute political support of the States participating in such institutional arrangements. Without this factor, we cannot make the move from the academic to the political level, from theory to practice, or from imagination to reality. This is the most fundamental element if the United Nations or any other agent external to the region is to associate itself with subregional peace and security endeavours.
In this connection, I would like to mention some elements of comparable importance that were presented at a seminar on the regional approach to conflicts in Africa, held in August of last year as a separate event during the Colombia presidency of the Security Council. First and foremost, as was noted there, it is necessary to arrive at a definition of the scope or extent of the region itself, so that its members may identify with it. This will make it possible to build links in many spheres of regional life, including the economic and cultural ones, and ultimately forge a community united for the purposes of security; or, as Anglo-Saxon political scientists call them, "security communities".
Secondly, regional actors need to have a positive perception of the external actors with which they wish to associate themselves in order to establish a regional security order. External actors may be other countries or international bodies that are interested in the region.
Thirdly, there might be a need for a regional actor that could generate and maintain cohesiveness in the region as well as provide the leadership required by circumstances.
Fourthly, it is necessary that the interests of the major and most influential participants in a regional security mechanism not run counter to the development of the regional approach.
Finally, we reaffirm that it is the members of a region themselves that must identify their own needs and the partners with which they wish to work in order to create or strengthen their peace and security mechanisms. In the case of the Central African region, we believe that the United Nations is in a good position to contribute to ensuring peace. Its presence in the Great Lakes region, in Angola and in the Central African Republic, as well as the work of the Standing Advisory Committee for Security Questions in Central Africa, are paving the way for beneficial cooperation in the future.