Photo: UN Photo/ Paulo Filgueiras .Photo: UN Photo/ Paulo Filgueiras

SC: Maintenance of international peace and security: war, its lessons, and the search for a permanent peace

Last updated: 1/29/2014 // This statement was held by Minister Counsellor Mr. Knut Langeland in the Security Council on January 29th.

We are marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First Wold War. Clearly, preventive policies prior to this horrific war failed. There was no form for global governance such as a UN Security Council or regional organization to contain events as they spiralled out of control.  As members of the United Nations, we all have a responsibility to contribute to preventing and resolving conflicts. For many years, peace and conflict resolution has been a Norwegian foreign policy priority. Each conflict has its own dynamic, and there is no magic formula on preventing and/or resolving them.  Yet, based on experience, there are certain common lessons to be derived:

Conflicts do not come out of the blue. In most cases there are clear signs when a country is spiralling downwards in a dangerous pattern. Serious or massive violations of human rights are often such precursors. We do not lack early warning, but early action. For this reason Norway has fully supported the Rights up Front plan of action of the Secretary General. Norway has also consistently advocated that the Security Council should make more use of the provisions laid out in UN Chapter VI pertaining to pacific settlement of disputes.

Parties must be ready to talk. Resolving conflicts will be futile, where the parties cling to the logic of war. Dialogue is crucial to foster confidence, or gain insight into the other party’s positions and thinking. Parties must be accompanied in changing their perception. It is hard, but do-able. Somalia has been plagued by more than 20 years of devastating war, but may now have set the course for a better future. Today the challenge is to change the mind-set in the Syrian conflict. We are pleased that Geneva II was convened, but prospects of ending the civil war in Syria soon remain bleak. Syria is a test case today for this organisation.

Understanding the context. A fundamental challenge for a peace mediator is to motivate the warring parties to meet at the negotiating table.  Extensive knowledge of the root-causes to conflict and impartiality, are absolute requirements. Women must be involved in all phases and levels of negotiating processes. Norway appreciates that the UN Secretariat has developed guidelines for effective mediation.

We have the tool box. In addition to mediation, there are a wide range og other tools in the UN-toolbox for prevention of conflicts that can be more frequently used such as the good offices of the Secretary General, Special Envoys, commissions of inquiry, truth and reconciliation commissions, arbitration, judicial settlements, resort to regional agencies/arrangements.

When a cease-fire or a peace agreement has been signed, the real job begins. Too often we have witnessed that a fragile peace could not be sustained. This may be due to lack of real commitments of the parties to honour their pledges, or the country in concern falling off the international radar screen. In 2005 we established the Peacebuilding Commission to overcome these challenges. Yet room for improvement remains in the peacebuilding architecture. The 2015-review will be important in this regard. Furthermore, we are convinced that peace, security, stability are essential for long-term sustainable development and should be included in the Post 2015-agenda.

Peace cannot last unless it is just. A durable peace requires that all stake-holders are engaged, which is essential for ensuring a broad-based ownership. National reconciliation is a fundamental requirement. In achieving truth, justice and reconciliation there can be no impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This underlines the vital importance of mechanisms such as international tribunals, the International Criminal Court, commissions of inquiry and truth- and reconciliation commissions.

Mr. President,

We should always seek to further enhance the ability of the international community, and in particular the UN, to prevent and resolve armed conflicts. We must be ready to learn from history.  Research, documentation of results and systemization of the experiences gained is crucial. As we work together to understand the trends of today in order to enable our institutions to adapt appropriately, we must keep in mind that the international order is not fixed once and for all. It is in the making. If the UN is to be an organisation for the 21st century, capable of ensuring lasting international peace, security and development, we, its member states, need to adapt to this reality.


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