Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan At the open debate of the Security Council “Prevention of Conflicts in Africa: Addressing the Root Causes” (15 April 2013)

Madam President,

We welcome you Madam Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, in the Council and your presiding over today’s debate. We also thank Honourable Minister Eliot Ohin of Togo and Ambassador TekedaAlemu for their statements.

We thank the Secretary-General for his briefing and support his efforts and initiatives to prevent and resolve conflicts in Africa.

Madam President,

Let me start with a positive note.

Four things distinguish Africa today. An impressive economic turnaround, Africa’s growing ownership of its destiny, the effective leadership demonstrated by the African Union and sub-regional African organizations, and successes in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire in conflict resolution and management. We also welcome signing of the Framework Agreement for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region.

Despite these good news, the fact is that roughly 62 percent of the items on the Council’s agenda are African issues. Some issues are perennial and protracted. Others have shown recurrent relapse. Still others point to the fragility of peace and stability achieved painstakingly.

What are the divers of conflict in Africa? Without sounding facile, we could say these are perceived to be the legacy of artificial borders, exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, poverty, ethnic and tribal divisions, illicit trafficking of small arms, and now the rise of extremism and terrorism with its national, transnational and global dimensions.

But, Africa has decided to take these challenges head on and it is determined to succeed. Africa is forging ahead. For Africa these are existential, not mere historical issues.

Madam President,

Pakistan has a long-standing and abiding commitment to the stability and progress in Africa. We were steadfast partners in Africa’s struggle to exercise their right to self-determination against colonial rule.

Over the past 53 years, Pakistani peacekeepers have played an instrumental role in peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding in Africa. With the help of other partners, we have also worked towards preventing relapse of conflicts in a number of post conflict situations in Africa. So far, over 132 of our brave peacekeepers have laid down their lives, 119 of them in Africa. Up to now, we have contributed more than 140,000 UN peacekeepers worldwide. Today 8221Pakistani troops are deployed in six peacekeeping missions, out of which 8075 are deployed in Africa.

We believe greater reliance on the tools for preventive diplomacy provided in the Charter’s Chapter VI and for coordination in Chapter VIII will help prevent conflicts and stall their recrudescence.

Structural prevention in Africa can be achieved by strengthening the nexus between security, development and human rights, but without embarking on the more treacherous path of nation building. Nations will be built by their own people, not by the Security Council or African Union, which can legitimately help them prevent conflicts.

Integrated peacekeeping missions ensure that efforts to address the root causes of conflict continue even after the departure of peacekeeping missions and transition towards peacebuilding. These missions assist in SSR, DDR, rule of law, enforcement and monitoring of human rights and national reconciliation.

We laud the role of the United Nations regional offices in providing services to prevent conflicts as well as in helping post-conflict countries with good offices, mediation, dialogue, electoral assistance, and assistance for SSR and DDR.

Similarly the Peace Building Commission’s role is critical in preventing fresh eruptions of conflicts.

Economic development of Africa is the best way to address root causes of conflicts. Over the past several years, Africa has experienced strong economic growth and improvement in social development indicators.

This year African’s GDP will grow by 6 % and the continent is poised to become middle-income by 2030. Since 2005, foreign direct investment flows have increased by 50% and there is a boom in investment conferences in Africa. Emphasis on optimum population growth, urbanization, technology and good governance are redefining the African landscape.

This does not mean that aid flows should dry up. On the contrary, many countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, need massive assistance for their economies and social sector.

Madam President,

Africa has resorted to the wide array of tools available under Chapter VI with a view to preventing disputes and conflicts.

African countries have put in place a solid peace and security architecture, through regional and sub-regional organizations, with built-in mechanisms of conflict-prevention and mediation. Bodies like ‘Peace and Security Council’ and ‘the Panel of the Wise, give strength to this architecture.

The African Union has provided strategic coherence, leadership and on ground management in nearly all conflicts in the continent. Through close partnership, it has added value to the work of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council and the Peace-building Commission.

In recent times there have been new flare-ups in Mali, Central African Republic, the DRC and Sudan and South Sudan.

We are now witnessing the rise of terrorism, drug and weapons trafficking, and piracy. The entire Sahel region is under the threat of destabilization due to rise of organized crime. The conflict in Mali is linked to terrorism and organized crime.

The United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel Region, backed by the necessary financial resources, must be made to work. The United Nations should continue to provide support to strengthen the African Union’s capacity for conflict prevention under the umbrella of the Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme for the African Union. The deployment of AFISMA in Mali underscores the commitment of the continent to address its conflicts. However, this is being hampered by shortage of resources.

Madam President,

Let me now turn to two pressing issues that have been identified as potential sources of conflict by the Secretary General: “youth, education and employment” and “conflict and natural resources”.

One, Some 60 % of Africa’s one billion population are under the age of 25. This youth bulge, if not harnessed properly, can have grave consequences. Therefore, it is important to have a comprehensive and integrated approach to youth development.

Two, The continent is rich in natural resources, but poor in wealth. Fights over natural resources, absence of land rights and land tenure systems, and large-scale acquisition of land by foreigners for industrial agriculture or logging, keep fueling and reigniting conflicts.

The Security Council and the concerned countries should make greater efforts to identify and bring to justice those who are benefiting from this illegal exploitation of natural resources in Africa, both within and outside the concerned countries. The African countries should be given assistance to exploit their resources and get fair share for their trade.

Madam President,

In conclusion, we would like to underscore that conflict prevention works, and it works best when there is synergy amongst all relevant institutions and actors. The United Nations and the international community must, therefore, invest more in conflict prevention mechanisms. It is far better to invest in conflict prevention rather than expending resources in dealing with the aftermath of conflicts. Pakistan stands ready to engage in this effort.

I thank you Madam President.