Historical archive

From Reaction to Prevention: Challenges for The United Nations in the new Millennium

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 1st Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Minister of Foreign Affairs Thorbjørn Jagland

From Reaction to Prevention: Challenges for The United Nations in the new Millennium

Inaugural Luncheon for the IPA Seminar on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping, New York 8 May 2000

Madam Deputy Secretary-General,
Ambassador Malone,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to begin my remarks by thanking the International Peace Academy for bringing us together here on the occasion of the annual IPA New York Seminar on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping.

The Government of Norway is very pleased to have been able to support this seminar since its inception in 1996. I am pleased to note that so far, these annual seminars have gathered a large group of representatives from many UN member states for useful exchanges of views on conflict management.

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The conflict in Sierra Leone is a tragic demonstration of the challenges facing the United Nations and its peacekeeping efforts in the twenty-first century.

For the sake of the men, women and children of this war-torn country, we cannot allow the UN peace-building operation in Sierra Leone to fail. We, the member countries, have a moral obligation to assume responsibility and show solidarity.

The UN operation in Sierra Leone is a matter of fundamental importance not only for the people directly affected by the conflict. It is a matter of fundamental importance for peace and development in the region, for the African continent at large, and for the future of UN peacekeeping operations.

Norway remains committed to supporting the United Nations and its efforts in Sierra Leone. We will continue to provide every possible assistance we can.

The peace-building process in Sierra Leone is one of the most complex that the UN has embarked upon. It is crucial that we not let the dark forces of violence take the upper hand. We must mobilize political will and financial resources so that peace can prevail.

Many conflicts in Africa demonstrate the truth of the Secretary-General’s words that "development is the best form of conflict prevention". And that "war is the worst enemy of development".

At my meeting with Kofi Annan this morning, I assured him of my Government’s continued full support for his vital efforts, and for his call to put the fight against poverty and underdevelopment at the top of the international agenda. We need to keep a steady focus on the root causes of conflict – poverty, environmental degradation and lack of economic opportunity.

Financial assistance is essential. My Government intends to increase Norway’s development assistance, which is currently at 0.9 per cent of our GDP, to a full one per cent (1%) of GDP.

Norway firmly believes that conflict prevention, humanitarian relief, and long-term development cannot be regarded as separate tasks. We need an integrated approach in which crisis management and peace-building are part of an overall development strategy.

Development assistance can only be one element in such a strategy. But we are convinced that it is an important one. We therefore call on other donor countries to follow the Nordic countries and the Netherlands and fulfil the UN target of allocating at least 0.7 per cent of GDP to development efforts.

This would be a clear sign of a renewed common commitment to poverty alleviation. It would also promote the dialogue between donor and recipient countries on ways to create inclusive structures and the broadest possible national ownership, so that long-term development becomes an ever more effective means of conflict prevention.

The United Nations has been given a unique role in the maintenance of international peace and security. It is the responsibility of member countries, the Security Council and the Secretary-General to equip the organization with the resolve, skills and resources to deal effectively with threats to international peace and security.

This means that we must get better at recognizing potential threats at an early stage. We must improve our capacity for early warning, for identifying potential crises and conflicts. We must also get better at responding quickly to fast-breaking emergencies and crises. I believe no international organization is better placed to do this than the UN.

All member states, as well as agencies of the United Nations must do their share. The Secretary-General must always be in a position to provide the Security Council with thorough advice, and help it make appropriate and timely decisions. He must be given the resources and access to relevant information to conduct effective preventive diplomacy. This will require funds and people with the necessary skills and experience. Our responsibility as member countries is to provide the Secretary General with the resources he needs.

To this end, Norway will continue to support the Trust Fund for Preventive Action, as well as other conflict prevention and peace-building efforts of the UN Secretariat.

Peace operations need highly skilled leadership.and staff. In this connection, Norway and the UN are together organizing a seminar later this month – UNSMAS 2000 – in Oslo and New York. The aim is to train international civilian and military staff for key positions in UN-mandated peace operations.

To succeed in our peace-efforts, we must counter the illicit trade and spread of small arms and light weapons. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes have demonstrated their relevance in Sierra Leone and elsewhere. Post-conflict rehabilitation and peace-building efforts are critical for preventing smoldering conflicts from bursting into open flames.

Norway is strongly committed to assisting the parties to a conflict in facilitating peace efforts. We believe we can play the role of an honest broker and are ready to continue such efforts at the parties' request. In this way, we support the peace and reconciliation efforts in, for example, the Middle East, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Guatemala.

Since 1947, more than 60 000 Norwegians have served in UN peacekeeping operations all over the world. Right now, Norway has about 1400 military and police personnel participating in a majority of the UN mandated operations world-wide. In the Middle East, our troops have taken part in UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon for 20 years and in UNTSO for over 50 years. We are ready to do our share in supporting the recent progress in the Middle East peace process.

International peace and security can only be maintained by international cooperative efforts. National sovereignty must be reconciled with international commitments. Our concept of security must include the individual as well as the state.

We must continue our efforts to ensure that individuals cannot commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with impunity. This will deter conflict. I warmly welcome the statute establishing an International Criminal Court. We must now seek the speedy entry into force and implementation of the statute.

The ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia have proved their usefulness. Now we need an international criminal court that is permanent and effective.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Norway is a major provider of humanitarian aid and emergency relief in areas affected by natural disasters and conflicts. The UN is the largest recipient and channel for our assistance. Today I announced an additional Norwegian contribution of 24 million US dollars to the consolidated appeals of the UN humanitarian office, bringing our total for the year 2000 to 70 million US dollars.

I see this not only as a means of meeting basic humanitarian needs, but also as a means of supporting conflict prevention, democracy, peace and reconciliation efforts and human rights. In this way, we try not only to save lives, but also to help build a culture of prevention and stop the spread of conflict to new areas and new countries.

Humanitarian aid and long term development efforts are key elements in conflict-prevention strategies.

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We can only make a difference in the lives of those suffering persecution and hardship if we remain true to the ideals and values on which the United Nations is founded.

We can only make a difference if we succeed in identifying crises and resolve conflicts before they turn into open violence and war.

Only by working together – nationally as well as internationally – can we foster a "Culture of Prevention". Only then can we hope to avoid the destruction and violence of the previous century.

Thank you.