Statement by G. M. Gatilov, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, at the Plenary Meeting of the 56th Session of the UN General Assembly on Agenda Item 48 (Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in the African Continent),
December 4, 2001
The Russian Federation regards the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa as an integral part of the work to shape a balanced and predictable world order and to create a coherent and stable international security system based on the United Nations Charter.
Despite the important positive changes achieved over the past year, we are still concerned by the lingering tension in Africa and the continuation in a number of countries of armed conflicts which often assume a transfrontier character and destabilize the situation in whole regions.
Sharing the UN Secretary General's conclusion about the major link that exists between peace and development, Russia stands for the formation of an integrated and all-embracing approach to conflict settlement and prevention, the eradication of poverty, the promotion of development and strengthening of democracy in the African continent. We are convinced that by not breaking the "vicious circle": insufficient development - social and interethnic problems - political and military instability - conflicts - disruption of development programs, it is just impossible to ensure the real embarking of the countries of Africa on the main road of sustainable and dynamic development, and their full integration into the world economy.
We note with satisfaction the intensification of the efforts by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the sub-regional organizations of Africa to prevent and resolve conflict situations that attests to the willingness and resolve of Africans to play the key role belonging to them in accomplishing this task. We appreciate the efforts of the OAU in ensuring the sustainable development and advancement of the states of the African continent along the path of economic and political reforms and the strengthening of regional and sub-regional integration. The OAU summit in Lusaka marked an important stage in the promotion of integration processes in Africa, and the decision on the commencement of the formation of structures of the African Union imparts new dynamics to many-sided regional cooperation. We regard the summit-endorsed New African Initiative as a strategic program for the advancement of Africa along the path of progress and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Russia shares many of the approaches set forth in this document, in particular, with regard to potential risks of globalization and the adverse impact of conflicts on the realization of development programs. We support also the thesis that global partnership should be based on mutual interests, and that African states themselves bear the main responsibility for the settlement of conflicts and the continent's development. At the last Group of Eight summit Russia gave support to the Genoa Plan for Africa, aimed at developing specific proposals to help realize the key provisions of the New African Initiative.
At the same time, African countries' efforts in this direction should be backed by the authority and resources of the United Nations. We note with satisfaction the step-up of cooperation by the UN with the OAU with such sub-regional organizations as ECOWAS, SADC and IGAD. This cooperation makes it possible to focus international efforts on dealing with the most urgent tasks and to coordinate peace initiatives, which in a number of cases has already contributed to conflict settlement in an important positive way. Russia supports the efforts being made by the Organization to increase the peacekeeping potential of Africa within the framework of personnel training, exchanges of information, joint training exercises, mine action programs, and also in the framework of the UN System of Reserve Agreements and the fostering of effective partner-like cooperation in the areas of peacekeeping.
Promoting development is an important component of international efforts to ensure peace and to prevent conflicts in the African continent. It is precisely in this sphere that the preventive potential of the socioeconomic and humanitarian sector of the UN lies. The operational programs and funds of the UN can play an important role in the area of monitoring and analysis of the structural factors of a risk of conflicts in Africa. Their agenda should include such tasks as a more equitable distribution of resources, the liquidation of discrimination and inequality in the status of different groups and more effective administration of justice. It is necessary to achieve the effective realization in Africa of comprehensive UN programs combining, on the one hand, demining, measures for the collection of arms, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, and on the other - the strengthening of democratic institutions, support of economic and social reforms, the consolidation of national government institutions and the ensuring of the primacy of law. At the stage of post-conflict reconstruction in African countries it is crucial to focus on the prevention of relapses of crises, above all by effectively linking emergency assistance with subsequent arrangements for the support of long-term sustainable development and the social integration of the most vulnerable population groups. It is also necessary to work out and implement special measures for the eradication of poverty, including through the realization of initiatives aimed at reducing external debts, improving access to markets, increasing the volume of official assistance for the purposes of development, building up foreign direct investment and transferring technologies. An important task is to intensify the struggle against HIV/AIDS and other dangerous infectious diseases, both on the national and on the international level. To achieve maximum effectiveness in these approaches it is necessary to seek greater coordination among all of their participants, including the UN system, national agencies, Bretton Woods institutions, bilateral donors, and regional and non-governmental organizations. We support the proposal for the establishment of a special consultative group on conflict-affected countries and are ready to examine the appropriate proposals of the Secretary General with the utmost attention.
The Russian Federation treats with respect its traditional friendly ties with Africa and has been taking consistent steps to intensify the African thrust in its foreign policy.
Apart from actions within the UN, we are working on different schemes for expanding our practical participation in strengthening the peacekeeping potential of Africa, above all in such areas as transport and technical support of humanitarian actions, and the training of rescuers and personnel for peacekeeping operations. Understanding the concern of many African states at the problem of not removed mines, we are ready to render expert deminining services. In addition, we proceed from the advisability of developing and expanding the positive experience that we have in multilateral cooperation in the African continent and are open for proposals for joint projects in which the technical and intellectual potential of Russia could be tapped.
We are striving to render African countries as much assistance as we can in solving the most urgent problems in the field of development: easing debt burden, training national personnel, improving access for African goods to world markets.
We are convinced that the way toward stabilizing the situation in Africa, toward the settlement of continuing and prevention of future conflicts, and toward the strengthening of democracy in African countries lies through the integration of this continent into the world economy. We intend to take an active part in this work.