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Statement by Ambassador Shen Guofang, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to UN at the Security Council on the Topic of "Peace-Building: towards a Comprehensive Approach"

2001-02-05 00:00

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to thank you for proposing and convening this open debate on the topic of "Peace-building: towards a comprehensive approach". I also wish to express my gratitude to you and the Delegation of Tunisia for having prepared a very informative and comprehensive working paper for this meeting. At present, a number of United Nations peacekeeping operations have included, to varying degrees, tasks of post-conflict peace-building. Therefore, a review of this question by the Security Council is both necessary and timely. I hope, this meeting will help the United Nations to give equal attention to and properly handle both peace-keeping and the promotion of development.

Mr. President,

At the Security Council open debate on the topic of " No exit without strategy", which was held last November, you said, "Peace and development are intimately linked. Thus, a more sustained commitment of the international community to reducing poverty throughout the world and to promoting sustainable development is both a step towards conflict prevention and a contribution to peace-building. " I fully agree with your views. Peace and development are the two themes of our times. On the one hand, peace-building would be impossible without achievements on the development front. On the other hand, development in itself is part of any peace-building effort. Development is a global issue with universal relevance.

At present, armed conflicts most often occur in poor and backward developing countries, notably the least-developed countries. From what is seen in these countries, the root causes of the armed conflicts are diversified, but the most fundamental one lies in extreme poverty. Poverty leads to social instability, which will in turn be a threat to peace and security at the national and even regional levels. Therefore, it should be a core issue of concern on our agenda as to how to prevent armed conflicts and ensure durable peace fundamentally. The Secretary-General has indicated in his past reports that prevention is better than mere reaction. In our view, preventive measures such as pre-conflict mediation and good offices are essential and sometimes can play an important role. However, in order to uproot the causes of conflicts, we must help developing countries, especially the least-developed countries, to seek economic development, eradicate poverty, curb diseases, improve the environment and fight against social injustices. This is a more active way of preventive peace-building, which, as compared with post-conflict peace-building, will be able to save a lot of effort and accomplish still more.

A focused effort of post-conflict peace-building helps to prevent the recurrence of conflicts and pave the way for durable peace. The realization of cease-fire or peace in a country or region through United Nations peacekeeping operations does not necessarily mean that the root causes of the conflict will die out immediately thereafter. Also, due to the different actual conditions on the ground, peace-building efforts in different places should also vary in form. At the same time, it takes a long process to address and eliminate the root causes such as poverty, backwardness, social injustices and ethnical disputes. The international community should have the patience and the resolve to help the conflict-afflicted countries and regions to tackle these problems. The early realization of the disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of ex-combatants and the promotion of the repatriation, resettlement and the economic recovery of refugees and displaced persons constitute the short-term objectives of peace-building. The long-term objectives, however, are the eradication of poverty, development of economy as well as a peaceful and rewarding life for people in the post-conflict countries and regions. The above-mentioned objectives cannot be realized without the generous support of the international community. Here we would like to call on the international community, especially the capable countries, to make their due contributions.

Mr. President,

An important question arising from our debate today is what kind of role the Security Council should have to play in peace-building. Mr. President, you have provided some very good and enlightening views concerning this question in the background document. We believe, peace-building involves many aspects and calls for the active participation of various UN bodies and the international community as a whole. Efforts of all sides should be well coordinated as well as clearly and reasonably defined and their cooperation should be sustained. As the primary body for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council should provide political guidance and coordination in this regard. Under certain circumstances,the Security Council should undertake to tailor tasks for peace-building. However, during the planning, setting up and implementing processes of a peacekeeping operation, the Council should consider how to transform peacekeeping into peace-building, and the Council deliberation should help facilitate a smooth development of the peace-building effort and aim at create favorable conditions for such activity. Issues such as economic and social reconstruction in the peace-building process should mainly be the tasks of the special agencies of the UN development system, the international financial bodies or relevant regional organizations.

Mr. President,

The work of peace-building involves the country concerned, the United Nations and the international community and other relevant player. However, there is no doubt that the country concerned should be at the core of all peace-building efforts. Either during the preventive peace-building process before the conflict or in post-conflict peace-building period, the United Nations and the international community at large are always external contributing factors. Their roles lie in helping and supporting the government and people of the post-conflict countries in their reconstruction efforts. The internal matters of a country should ultimately be handled by the people of the country on their own. Therefore, while participating in peace-building efforts, the international community should focus on helping the people realize their independence and self-reliance so that their dependence on external assistance will gradually decrease. And the people in the country concerned should be encouraged to play a leading role during the peace-building process. The United Nations and the international community should refrain from stealing the show of the main actor.

The Chinese Delegation holds that all peace-building and peace-consolidating measures should conform with the purposes and the principles of the United Nations Charter and have due respect for the political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries concerned as well as for the wills of their governments and people. To some extent, peace-building is even more complex than peace-keeping. For example, sometimes there is a need to help a country concerned to carry out political and economic restructuring; some of our work may go deep into various aspects of the social life of this country; under certain circumstances, the United Nations needs to carry out in a country certain administrative functions on behalf of its government. In such a case particularly, the United Nations and the international community should fully respect the views of the country concerned and its laws, religious beliefs as well as customs and traditions. Their activities should conform to the wishes and choices of the people and their actual needs.
In recent years, the United Nations has undertaken peace-building activities in some regions, and some of the United Nations peacekeeping operations have also included peace-building tasks to different degrees. However, due to the different conditions on the ground as well as different focus of mission of peacekeeping operations, it has not been possible so far, to find a generally applicable model for peace-building. Therefore, the United Nations still needs to learn carefully from practices and experiences so as to find a way to better carry out its peace-building efforts.

Mr. President,

The United Nations has had very good cooperation with a number of regional organizations in the field of ante-conflict and post-conflict peace-building. This kind of cooperation should be carried forward. The Fourth United Nations/Regional Organizations High-level Meeting, which is to open tomorrow, will have "Face the challenge of long-term peace-building" as its theme. The Chinese Delegation welcomes this and looks forward to the Secretariat's briefing on this meeting.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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