Ban calls for fourpronged approach to preventive diplomacy in Africa

16 July 2010Highlighting the crucial role of preventive diplomacy in stemming conflict, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged a four-prong approach to defuse tensions and resolve disputes in Africa. Since the term was first coined by his predecessor Dag Hammarskjöld, preventive diplomacy has “helped in the peaceful resolution of inter-State wars, civil conflicts, electoral disputes, border disputes, questions of autonomy and independence and a range of other problems,” Mr. Ban said in an address to the Security Council, delivered by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.The world is facing increasingly transnational challenges, he noted, including complex civil wars, organized crime and drug trafficking.In the past year alone, the Secretary-General said, the United Nations has supported, often in concert with others, over 20 peace processes and responded to many more disputes that did not reach that level.The world body has bolstered its response capacity both at Headquarters and in the field, and has also boosted its cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.Further, the UN is working with national authorities to build their capacity for dispute resolution and support development programmes addressing some of the root causes of conflict, Mr. Ban said at today’s open debate, which heard from more than 20 speakers.“All of this holds promise for our preventive diplomacy efforts in Africa,” he said, calling for efforts to be stepped up in four key areas.Firstly, it is vital for the UN to continue strengthening its partnerships with organizations such as the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).“Successful peace processes require the contributions of a range of actors at both the regional and international levels,” he stressed, adding that recent experiences in Guinea, Niger, the Comoros and Kenya have demonstrated what partnerships can achieve.Secondly, Mr. Ban emphasized the importance of the will of parties to conflicts in effectively preventing conflict. “The better we understand motives, calculations and incentives to use violence, the better we can target our response.”He also underlined the importance of sustained investment in prevention, highlighting how “highly cost-effective” successful diplomatic approaches and responses can be.Lastly, the Secretary-General urged greater support and encouragement for the role of women in prevention.“Time and again, women in Africa and elsewhere have demonstrated a strong commitment to working to achieve sustainable peace,” he pointed out.“Yet women are still underrepresented in the formal stages of conflict prevention,” he added. “We can and must do better.”With recent studies estimating that 15 years’ worth of development aid to Africa has effectively been wiped out by the cost of war on the continent, “the case for preventive diplomacy is compelling, on moral, political and financial grounds,” the Secretary-General stated.At the start of today’s meeting, the Council issued a presidential statement spotlighting the crucial role of preventive diplomacy.“The Council notes the importance of creating and maintaining peace through inclusive dialogue, reconciliation and re-integration,” according to the statement read out by Foreign Minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia of Nigeria, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for July.It also recognized the importance of a comprehensive strategy to prevent armed conflict, calling for measures to be taken to “address the root causes of conflicts in order to ensure sustainable peace.” read more