Statement by Sergey Lavrov, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council Meeting on the Question: "Postconflict National Reconciliation - the UN's Role", January 26, 2004
The theme suggested for discussion today is very relevant in the context of Security Council activities. Achieving national reconciliation in a country emerging from a crisis is the key end task in conflict settlement.
The Council devotes much attention to national reconciliation problems in the context of examining the concrete situations on its agenda. In January alone resolution 1522 was adopted to aid efforts to create integrated national armed forces in the DRC; the postconflict reconstruction situation in Sierra Leone considered; the fulfillment of the recommendations of the Council's mission to West Africa discussed; and intense work is under way on preparations for the deployment of a large-scale multifunctional UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire. All these measures are directly linked to national reconciliation assistance.
Undoubtedly, the main role in determining ways to lead to national reconciliation, with due regard for local specifics, traditions and customs, belongs to the parties involved themselves. The range may be very broad here: from the establishment of national commissions for truth and reconciliation to the organization of nationwide dialogues to the creation of transitional governments of national unity and the declaration of general amnesties to the setting up of special tribunals to bring to justice all those implicated in the crimes during a conflict, including in mass violations of human rights and the rules of international, in particular humanitarian law. We have stated more than once - there can be no peace and harmony without justice. But the establishment of justice should not be an obstacle to peace either.
In this complicated and painful process a special role belongs to the international community, above all the United Nations. Their key task is to help create conditions necessary for the development of processes of national reconciliation. In the first place the issue is about creating a necessary secure environment that would exclude attempts at solving political problems by the force of arms.
The experience of UN peacekeeping operations has proved in practice that the restoration of a durable peace and the achievement a genuine national reconciliation in the countries that have gone through a crisis is only possible by way of a comprehensive approach to settlement. This involves assistance in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants; the provision of international guarantees; assistance to the construction of civil society and the restoration of state institutions, including the conduct of democratic elections; postconflict economic rehabilitation; assistance to reforms in the fields of security and the judicial and law enforcement systems, to overcoming the problems of women, child soldiers and so on.
We have an object example of the special responsibility which the parties in conflict bear in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro. Unfortunately, the positive shifts that have been achieved in Kosovo settlement have been secured mostly thanks to the international presences in that province; for the Provisional Institutions of Self-government quite often impede those efforts, abuse their powers and even try to undermine the fundamental Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).
One more conclusion in relation to Kosovo is the importance of a comprehensive approach, of using the resources of a "division of labor" between the UN and regional organizations. There closely cooperate in the province not only the various components of the United Nations system, but also regional organizations, such as NATO, the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, which are making an important contribution to the common cause.
The UN peacekeeping operations in Angola and Sierra Leone have strikingly demonstrated the ability of the Security Council to tackle the most complex tasks in resolving the crises and assisting national reconciliation in the hot spots of Africa.
A vivid example of the importance of the central role of the UN in the promotion of national reconciliation is Afghanistan. The recent briefing in the Council by the now-former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Lakhdar Brahimi, has clearly attested to the fact that in an unusually short time from the historical point of view very significant results have been achieved in that country. We will especially note the adoption of the new constitution of the country opening the way to a democratic transformation of Afghan society. It is obvious that much remains to be done, and the Security Council should continue to devote priority attention to the problems of Afghanistan. The accomplishment of our common task in support for Afghan settlement is only possible on the condition of the preservation of the unity in approaches of the whole international community, especially Afghanistan's neighbors. The next important step in this direction appears to be the convocation of a representative international conference on Afghanistan.
Rich in lessons of national reconciliation is the successful experience of settlement in Tajikistan. This experience is also useful because an effective scheme of interplay of various international factors was demonstrated there. The activities of the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan, the Contact Group and the guarantor countries and donor countries played an irreplaceable role at the various stages of inter-Tajik settlement, culminating in the implementation of the Moscow General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord.
All of these lessons need to be considered in the current work of the Security Council on the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, the postconflict rehabilitation of Liberia, Guinea Bissau, the CAR and in other spots. We count on close cooperation in this work with all the members of the Security Council and the other structures of the extensive United Nations family.