14 February 1996

Press Release


19960214 ADVANCE TEXT Following is the text of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's statement at the opening of the second meeting between the United Nations and regional organizations on Thursday, 15 February:

Welcome to this second meeting between the United Nations and regional organizations cooperating in the fields of peacemaking and peace-keeping. I am delighted that all of you were able to accept my invitation to meet again, following our first meeting some 18 months ago. We are today in addition joined by three organizations not present at the first meeting: the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The desire of the organizations gathered here to continue our dialogue and strengthen our cooperation is very gratifying.

The growing number of organizations attending this meeting is just one reflection of the growing importance of regionalism as a force in international affairs. Globalization is bringing to the fore a host of new actors on the international scene, regional organizations among them. The collective impact of non-governmental organizations, international business, academic institutions and regional arrangements of various kinds is now considerable. As Secretary-General, I want to increase common understanding of the role of these new actors. The international system must take advantage of the contribution that each of these actors can make.

At our previous meeting, I stated that the United Nations cannot possibly, by itself, deal with all of the threats to international peace and security. Vast responsibilities have been placed upon the United Nations. But we have not been given the political, military, material and financial resources required to accomplish the objectives that have been established.

The United Nations has, throughout its history, been assisted by other actors, including regional organizations, in the maintenance of peace and security. This was clearly foreseen in Articles 51, 52, 53 and 54 of the Charter. Our previous meeting recognized the need to decentralize the task of maintaining international peace and security. Recent developments have underlined the importance of further exploring the potential of these Articles of the Charter.

Eighteen months ago, the United Nations was under some financial pressure. Today, the Organization is facing a financial crisis, the most severe in its history. I cannot predict how this crisis will be resolved. But it is clear that the United Nations will be very constrained in undertaking new tasks. Indeed, some activities and missions may have to be phased out because of lack of resources. A division of labour between the United Nations and regional organizations -- or delegation from the United Nations to regional organizations -- has thus become more urgent. The international community must find ways of using the experience, capacities and resources of both the universal and regional organizations in as effective and cost-efficient manner as possible. Member States of the United Nations, in both the General Assembly and the Security Council, have repeatedly made this point. We are honoured to have the Presidents of both of these principal Organs of the United Nations with us today. I look forward to their statements.

The background note prepared for this meeting by the Secretariat highlights the issue of resources. At our previous meeting, organizations pointed to the lack of resources as the most difficult obstacle to regional efforts to promote and maintain peace. There is at present an imbalance in the resources put at the disposal of the United Nations and different regional organizations. One solution would be to pursue greater inter-organizational cooperation. The United Nations has formulated certain ideas for assisting the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in selected areas. I notice that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in its background paper submitted to this meeting, makes suggestions for sharing its knowledge and expertise with other organizations.

There also appears to be an imbalance in the manner in which tasks are assigned to the United Nations and regional organizations. In Bosnia, a small and lightly armed United Nations force was sent as peace-keepers into a continuing war. Now, paradoxically, as a result of the Dayton Agreement, a massive and well armed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) combat force is being sent to monitor the peace. The concepts are upside down.

In assigning tasks and allocating resources, the international community must proceed with care and judgement. The potential or actual conflict must be ripe for international treatment and respond well to it. The most appropriate methods must be chosen: good offices, mediation, arbitration, peace-keeping, sanctions, military enforcement, etc. And the comparative advantages and disadvantages of the organizations which would be asked to become involved should be carefully weighed. Is this a case for the United Nations, or would a regional organization be more acceptable to the parties? Would the parties question the impartiality of the regional organization because of its members' own national interests in the region? Does the answer lie in a combined effort by the United Nations and one or more regional organizations? These are questions which need to be addressed.

- 3 - Press Release SG/SM/5895 14 February 1996

At our previous meeting, we agreed that it was not feasible to try to construct a universal model for cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. A pragmatic and flexible approach, taking into account the types of cooperation and organizations involved, would have a greater chance of success. I believe that this approach continues to offer the best prospect for improving and enhancing our cooperation.

As I indicated in my letter of invitation, I hope that we can move beyond the discussion of general principles and overall guidelines, on which there was previously wide agreement, to consider the more immediate and practical aspects of cooperation between us. Our discussion can be fruitful if it is carried out in a forthright and candid manner.

We have an agenda for the meeting before us, along with a timetable. The agenda is based on some of the ideas I put forward in the supplement to An Agenda for Peace. These are evolving patterns of cooperation, and principles for improving cooperation. I would propose to a make a short introduction to each agenda item and then proceed to an open discussion.

While most of our attention will be devoted to cooperation in peacemaking and peace-keeping, an item on peace-building has been included in the agenda. Peace-building, in both preventive and post-conflict contexts, is likely to emerge as an important area of cooperation. In Bosnia, the United Nations will be cooperating very closely with several regional organizations, including NATO, the European Union and the OSCE, in joint efforts to implement the Dayton Agreement. In view of the relevance of peace-building, I believe a preliminary discussion of some of the issues involved in cooperation in this area would be instructive.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.