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Secretary-General's statement to Security Council on role of UN peacekeeping in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration

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DR Congo
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UN SC
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Press Release - SG/SM/7337 SC/6831
Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement to the Security Council as it met today at Headquarters to consider the role of United Nations Peacekeeping in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration:

Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. President, and the members of the Security Council, for your decision to convene today's meeting.

As this Council is well aware, peacekeeping today bears little resemblance to its original character. Many of today's peacekeeping operations seek not only to bring stability to areas of conflict, but also to address the root causes of conflict.

This means tackling a wide variety of needs, ranging from the political to the social and the economic. In many conflict situations, the processes of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration are at the heart of these efforts.

That said, let me emphasize at the outset that no efforts of ours can be a substitute for the political will of the parties to commit themselves to peace. Still, the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation has frequently made a crucial contribution, not least by helping to create an environment where this process can succeed.

We are here today because we are united in our will to strengthen the United Nations ability to play an effective role in helping societies address the complex issues of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

I hope that today's discussion can lead to a renewed determination to provide those peacekeeping operations that are supporting these tasks with the mandates and resources they need. I will briefly address some of the larger issues concerning this process, but urge you to review carefully my report which covers the challenges in this area more broadly.

If peacekeeping operations are to support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes efficiently, it is essential that provisions for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration be integrated into any peace agreement that is reached. My report before you suggests that, where feasible, the arrangements for the disposal of arms and ammunition should be decided as part of peace negotiations, so that the question of how to dispose of the collected arms and ammunition does not subsequently become a stumbling block.

In addition, it is clear that an operation aimed at addressing the issue of demobilization may require a considerable deterrent capacity, which should be provided early in its deployment.

It is also often essential that arms issues be considered in a regional context. Prerequisites for a successful regional approach include bilateral decisions to share intelligence and information; cooperation by relevant regional organizations; and continued support from the Security Council.

Responding to arms trafficking may also require a focus on financial flows, including information on where faction leaders are obtaining funds, where they are holding them, and how they are spending them.

While primary responsibility for reintegration falls outside peacekeeping, I believe that peacekeeping operations can nonetheless play a key role in this important element of post-conflict reconstruction.

In particular, peacekeeping operations can help ensure that all factions view the political process as one in which they can reasonably hope to compete, and that it provides a fair and legitimate alternative to violence.

In order to succeed in confronting this key challenge, however, we need to extend the range of tools available to peacekeeping operations. We need, in particular, to continue and strengthen our special focus on the needs of child soldiers.

That means following up on our most recent decisions to include in two United Nations operations -- in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- a Child Protection Adviser who can identify child-related concerns in the planning, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration phases.

We also need to see a more flexible approach by the Security Council to the use of assessed funding for critical elements of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, so that the process can go ahead even while funding through voluntary sources is being mobilized.

These elements include the destruction of weapons; the provision of seed money for "quick impact projects"; and special measures for child soldiers, including girl soldiers.

Finally, we need to improve our ability to locate experienced disarmament experts and trainers for service within peacekeeping operations in the field. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations has worked over the past year to develop training materials in this area for the use of Member States, and will continue these efforts.

Today's peacekeeping operations engage a wide spectrum of partners within the United Nations system in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration activities, including the World Bank. More and more, however, they also need to look beyond the United Nations system. Regional organizations, as well as local and international non-governmental organizations can contribute to disarmament and demobilization, and, as we have seen recently in Kosovo, may assist in rebuilding the social and political infrastructure that permits reintegration.

Allow me to conclude by urging the Council to view disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes as only one part of the multifaceted approach necessary if we are to succeed in peacekeeping in the twenty-first century.

We must also renew our efforts in the political sphere, where we can do more to channel differences peacefully through the rule of law; in the military and security sphere, where we can do more to help armed factions transform themselves into political civilian organizations; in the humanitarian sphere, where we can do more to alleviate the suffering of civilians as the first victims of war and the last beneficiaries of peace; and in the socio-economic sphere, where we can do more to link post-conflict reconstruction with assistance for lasting development.

Only within such a broad framework can the international community make a meaningful contribution to the success of this crucial element of post-conflict peace-building.