Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Olivier Nduhungirehe, at the UN Security Council debate on conflict prevention

Mr. President,

I thank you and your delegation for organizing this important debate on conflict prevention, and for the comprehensive concept note you circulated among UN member states. Let me first acknowledge the dedication of the United Kingdom for conflict prevention in this Council; I recall that during UK’s previous presidency in June 2013, the President had convened a meeting on conflict prevention, focused on effective management of natural resources. I take this opportunity to reiterate our support to the adopted resolution 2171, which was introduced by the United Kingdom and cosponsored by a large majority of Council members, including Rwanda.

I thank the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, for his briefing. His presence here today once again highlights his commitment to conflict prevention, as a core of the work of his office. I also thank High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay for her last briefing in this Council, under that capacity, and wish her well in her future endeavours.

Mr. President,

The concept note provided by the Presidency for this open debate pertinently highlighted the need for the Security Council to shift from a culture of reaction to that of prevention. Indeed, with the numerous tragic and pressing conflicts that persist in the world today, it is inevitable for the Security Council to improve its record in fully understanding early warning signs of conflict and responding through early action, if the Council has to remain relevant. Although conflict prevention has become the centerpiece in the work of the United Nations, in the wake of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, increasing intrastate conflicts, mainly on the African continent and in the Middle East, are a demonstration that the concept of “conflict prevention” has become more a theoretical concept than a practical reality. And that the activities of the Security Council in the past years have shown interest for crisis management than conflict prevention, as the latter is only considered as a thematic debate, once of twice a year.

This is not to suggest however that the UN has remained idle in efforts to prevent emergence of and relapse into conflict. Indeed, there has been a huge increase in the level of international preventive diplomacy, diplomatic peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, for the most part by the United Nations, and more recently in partnership with regional organizations. I here wish to pay tribute to the Secretary-General, for his tireless efforts in conflict prevention, including by preparing important framework documents and exercising his good offices around the world. But as the Secretary-General stated, “good news is no news”, as most of his efforts are fruitful.

Mr. President,

The United Nations should be equipped to fully understand the different situations, be flexible, as circumstances change, and apply a range of possible measures, both long-term structural and short-term operational, that can be deployed to deal with indications of early warning signs that might lead to conflict. We believe that the primacy of prevention resides in understanding the root causes of conflicts, including the political, economic and cultural dimensions of each particular conflict, and take effective measures to address them. Early warning and response capability is a critical requirement for effective early prevention. And this is a conversation that Rwanda brought to the Security Council, when we organized, during our first presidency in April 2013, a briefing on prevention of conflicts in Africa by addressing its root causes, during which a presidential statement was adopted.

As you might be aware, one of the biggest challenges in the UN system has been the Secretariat capacity in conflict prevention, as pointed out by the recommendations of the 2000 Brahimi Panel on Peace Operations. The adoption of the 2005 World Summit, which embraced the concept of the responsibility to protect and called for the international community to support the United Nations to establish an early warning capability, was a positive step forward. Nonetheless, mechanisms of Early Warning are rarely used to respond to recurring crisis, let alone in preventing them. We therefore call upon the Security Council, especially its permanent members, to increasingly use and support the work of the Office of the Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide, and that of the Special Advisor for the Responsibility to Protect.

The Secretary General’s Rights Up Front Initiative should be supported and implemented, in order for this organization to respond effectively and correctively curb the escalation of crises. Indeed, protecting human rights is one of the most effective conflict prevention tools. Success in promoting and protecting rights, and in ensuring accountability for their violation, offer effective means to de-escalate conflict and to forestall the human and financial cost of humanitarian crises. That is why the international community, including the UN, should support member states in strengthening the rule of law and capacity building for accountability mechanisms, including judiciary institutions.

Mr. President,

The evolving role of regional and sub-regional organizations in conflict prevention should not be underestimated. We recognize the important role of the African Union and its sub-regional organizations in preventing and mitigating conflicts on our continent. We equally recognize the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and its configurations in addressing the recurring relapse into conflict. It is also important to acknowledge the role of other organizations in supporting and complementing the United Nations in peacekeeping, mediation, facilitation of humanitarian assistance’s delivery or in joint efforts in post-conflict reconstruction.

To conclude, I would appeal to this Council to explore ways to address conflict prevention, not as an annual thematic debate, which has little impact on the ground, but as country-specific debates. And we believe that a more frequent use of article 99 of the UN Charter, a more focused use of the “horizon scanning” sessions and country-specific meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Prevention and Resolution of Conflict in Africa, can help us achieving this goal.

I thank you.