Central Africa: Holbrooke Speech, 12/14/99

Central Africa: Holbrooke Speech, 12/14/99

Central Africa: Holbrooke Speech
Date distributed (ymd): 991214
Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains a slightly abridged version of the speech in Pretoria by U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Richard C. Holbrooke, in which he promises to use the U.S. chairmanship of the Security Council in January to focus attention on Africa, and particularly the resolution of conflicts in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The full speech can be found at:

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Holbrooke Says Africa Will Be UN Priority in January

U.S. Department of State (Washington)

December 7, 1999

New York - "Conflict in Africa and the Search for Peace in Congo": Remarks by U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Richard C. Holbrooke

Pretoria, South Africa December 6, 1999

... When the United States assumes the Presidency of the Security Council next month, in January 2000 -- the first month of the first year of the new millennium -- I wish to announce today that we intend to make Africa the priority of the month. ... We will hold at least four public meetings of the Security Council to focus the UN and, we hope, the world -- or at least that part of the world that listens -- to the problems and the importance of this continent. One session will definitely be on Angola, one will be on the Congo and we will announce the subjects of the others in the near future after consulting with other members of the United Nations.

I wish to draw your attention to the fact that in the United States, as most of you know, foreign policy and our budget are determined in close consultation with the independent Legislative Branch, the Congress; for this reason I am particularly delighted that I am accompanied on this trip by Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who is the senior United States Democratic Senator on African affairs. Senator Feingold is deeply concerned with African affairs. He has visited the area before. His presence on this trip and the support of the chairman of his subcommittee, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, a Republican -- also a heart surgeon, who performed the first heart/lung transplant in the United States and who has spent many of his vacations performing surgery in the refugee camps in southern Sudan and who has a deep interest in Africa -- shows that the region is not going to be ignored by its most enlightened members. But clearly the Administration's aspirations for Africa will continue to run ahead of the resources that are allocated to this continent's problems. That is unavoidable and the nature of our system.

Given the fact that there will always be a gap between resources and rhetoric, we in the United States face a choice: we can scale back our objectives, or we can continue to aspire to the larger goals even when they appear to exceed the resources that have been allocated to them. I for one -- and I know this view is shared by President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and Secretary of State Albright, and my other colleagues -- will continue to seek the larger goals, even when the resources do not always match our rhetoric. Why do I say that? It is very simple. I believe firmly that if we scale back our rhetoric, the resources will simply shrink more. It's better to dream the larger dream and try to lead people towards it. ...

No nation exemplifies this hope more than South Africa. I am honored to be able to give the only speech of our ten-nation trip here in Pretoria, here in South Africa, because your nation is an inspiration to people not only on this continent, but throughout the world, including the United States. ...

But South Africa, like many nations around the world who have only recently replaced one repressive system of government with another of democracy and freedom in individual rights, still faces many challenges -- whether assuring that South Africa's full economic potential reaches every citizen, or fighting crime and corruption, or healing the legacy of racial divisions and oppression. I am particularly concerned, let me say -- and I know that Senator Feingold shares this view and has introduced legislation to deal with it in the Senate -- with the issue of AIDS, all around the world, but especially in Africa, given the statistics which we have been hearing in every stop of this trip. It threatens development and progress everywhere, including most definitely in this great nation. ... Let me say that it is clear to add that on the basis of what we have been told here and by experts in New York and Washington, that this is not just a health problem, it is an economic problem that can sap the economic development and potential future of countries that are making very significant economic progress -- I think of Namibia and, I regret to say, the threat that it poses to this country. ...

Perhaps the most urgent objective of our trip is to search for ways to assist the resolution of conflicts that threaten the future of this region. This is, to my mind, the United Nations' most vital responsibility throughout the world. ...

Today, the UN, and the concept of collective security is challenged as never before. ... Each crisis has its own individual characteristics and each, therefore, must be handled on its own merits and according to its particular circumstances. But there are common threads.

In every crisis, every warring partner always argues the uniqueness of its historical grievances. ... As I travel the world -- and in the last three months I have been to four main arenas of UN responsibility: Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and now Africa -- I'm struck by characteristics that are common to all these problems: the breakdown of states, ethnic hatred, greed on the part of leaders, violent nationalism, oppression of minorities and refugees.

President Mandela yesterday addressed this issue with our delegation. He told us of his great dream that the leaders of the conflicts -- and we spoke of the Middle East, Indonesia and Africa -- would look to the future rather than to the past; to seek common ground rather than accentuate or exacerbate past differences. ...

As President Mandela told us, the wars of Africa, like those of Europe and Asia, are not inevitable. They are caused by leaders who yield to the narrowest definition of self-interest and sacrifice their own citizens to their greed, their ambition, their weakness. ... statesmen, stateswomen, and all officials have a responsibility to go beyond dealing with the consequences of these problems. We must address the underlying causes.

As a start on this continent, the United States seeks to empower Africans to handle crisis. Through President Clinton's 1996 African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI), we are enhancing Africa's own peacekeeping capability. The United States has also contributed nearly $8 million to the Organization of African Unity and through the work of special envoys like Ambassador Howard Wolpe -- who is part of our delegation and is with us here today at the head table -- we are attempting to assist regional leaders in their efforts to resolve conflicts.

South Africa has been a leader in addressing and mediating conflict on the continent. As Howard Wolpe, Senator Feingold and I told President Mandela yesterday, we enthusiastically support his recent decision to put his skills and influence and vast authority to bear as a special facilitator for the Burundi crisis, as we hope that it can avoid falling into a new catastrophic round of bloodshed.

As we set out to create the structures for peace to prevent future conflicts, we must do all we can to solve current crises like those in Burundi, Angola, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Sierra Leone, the West African states have courageously worked through ECOWAS to secure a lasting peace. We joined other Security Council members to establish a peacekeeping force for Sierra Leone. Last week the United States delivered an additional $6 million to ECOMOG.

In Angola, a country that our delegation visited only three days ago, the United States and the United Nations have been engaged for years in an effort to end its civil war, one of the deadliest and longest-running conflicts on earth. Tragically, and primarily because of the actions of UNITA, we have seen the peace unravel yet again in recent months. We saw first-hand on our trip the terrible results of this war -- the personal trauma, the amputees, the refugees, the disintegration of the entire infrastructure of Angola, the malnourished children and the victims of landmines. We will, as I said a moment ago, therefore, hold a special Security Council meeting on Angola in January, and we will immediately begin to seek ways to tighten the sanctions regime. But I want to say that this does not mean a blank check for oppression by either party in this tragic struggle. Those responsible for this endless war, now in its thirty-fifth year, deserve the contempt and opprobrium of the world.

Let me turn now to what is perhaps the biggest challenge we may face in Africa in the coming year. I speak of course of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Last week, the United States joined the other members of the Security Council in approving a resolution that authorizes the UN to begin preparations for deployment of 500 military observers. Preparing for a peace-keeping mission in the Congo, getting it right, is our main focus for the remainder of the trip. The task is truly daunting, as President Mbeki warned us yesterday. But, as he also said, we -- the U.S., the United Nations, the international community -- must not turn away from this responsibility.

As it happens, there is a ready and excellent path to peace that has been laid out for Congo. It has been signed by all the parties, after a negotiation superbly led by President Chiluba of Zambia. It is called the Lusaka Agreement. The United States supports the Lusaka Agreement fully.

Allow me at this point a brief personal digression. I have worked on issues of conflict resolution and in arenas of conflict and war for my entire career in this government, stretching over the last thirty-seven years, from Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960's and 1970's to Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor most recently. I believe deeply in peacekeeping efforts -- and in the need for the United Nations to play an important role in assisting in conflict resolution. I have lived with failures, and I have participated in successes. I need hardly tell you which is more satisfying.

But peacekeeping requires far more than words, more than paper agreements. The parties to the Lusaka Agreement must respect their commitments if peace is to return to the troubled Congo. The international community cannot simply impose peace in the Congo.

What most stands in the way of international efforts to assist the Congo right now is -- and I say this with great regret -- the actions of some of the parties themselves. ... The renewed fighting in the Congo -- which is a direct violation of the Lusaka Agreement -- threatens to leave this important agreement negotiated by President Chiluba in tatters. If the parties in Congo truly want the international community's involvement and support, such violations of these commitments are simply unacceptable.

The United States, through the United Nations and through our special envoy here with us today, has worked tirelessly to support the Lusaka process. This includes supporting the recently established Joint Military Commission (JMC), which needs significant international support. Accordingly, I am pleased to announce that the United States will deliver $1 million to the Joint Military Commission within the next few days. We hope this action will invigorate the Joint Military Commission. We urge other countries that have made commitments to follow through and deliver the money that they have promised.

The Joint Military Commission has a vital, but difficult task to carry out. So, too, however, do the parties. We cannot expect that alone, outside peacekeepers will deliver a peace that is lasting and just. The people of the region, the government of the Congo, the rebel groups, the neighboring countries must commit themselves to the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement, to stop all the fighting, to bring in an outside facilitator into the process, to withdraw the outside forces and to replace them with a peacekeeping force.

At the same time, the government in Kinshasa must enable UN liaison officers and the UN assessment teams to do their jobs. Kinshasa must assure them the necessary access, freedom of movement, and security. All sides must disavow provocative action; publicly disavow statements showing intent to abrogate Lusaka; prevent attacks on civilians; and bring to justice to those who commit such atrocities. And we urge them, we call on them, to take the most immediate next step in the Lusaka Agreement: to choose a facilitator for the political process. However, to the evident frustration of nearly everyone, this simplest, but essential step has not been made. ... Without even this basic requirement fulfilled, the United States will be unable to support moving to the next stage of peacekeeping.

We can only move forward together to bring peace to Congo if the parties act in good faith and support the Lusaka process -- the very process that they created. In the end, if the Lusaka process fails because the parties can't agree on something as simple as choosing a facilitator, they will face tragic consequences, while the world -- including those of us, like the United States, like this delegation, who wish to help -- will be stymied and frustrated. ...

But if the parties find the will to maintain and bolster peace in Congo, it is the United Nations' mission to help. It is the United States' goal to assist. Where meaningful peace agreements are in place and observed -- agreements like Lusaka -- the UN and the United States should support their implementation. Where an international presence is required to achieve a meaningful peace agreement, or to provide the last element to an already meaningful agreement, the UN has a vital role to play. And it is critical that, when required, UN peacekeeping is effective -- we cannot afford to repeat the failed peacekeeping efforts from earlier this decade, the catastrophes that almost took the United Nations down that I mentioned earlier. The UN's sad performance in Bosnia and Somalia, and its -- let me be frank -- our inaction in Rwanda.

When regional actors cooperate, when they observe a cease-fire, when they ensure total access and security for international observers or peacekeepers, when they choose a political facilitator to move the process forward, then the UN and the international community can make a real difference. We will be prepared to help central Africa to become stable and democratic, just as we were there to help the transition of the new democracies of Southern Africa - - Namibia, Mozambique and your country.

South Africa, of course, stands out as a shining example of what is possible. ... And next door in Namibia, which was the previous stop on our trip, the UN played an even more vital role in helping Namibia peacefully navigate the path to independence. Just last week, Namibia celebrated its third round of free national elections. What the UN once contributed to the Namibians, free Namibia now gives back through its magnificent participation in the Security Council and through the leadership of Ambassador Martin Andjaba, who led the UN's mission to East Timor, and through the Presidency of the General Assembly of Foreign Minister Gurirab.

Or look to your other neighbor, Mozambique, where the UN oversaw a cease- fire and transition process that also led to democracy. The people of Mozambique are making history as we speak, with their second multi-party elections. South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique, all in their different way, show how valuable the United Nations can be. It is imperative that our ultimate objective be the same outcome for Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola and other conflicts.

In conclusion, let me say that it is with these key goals in mind that our delegation leaves now for the second half of our trip, where we will be joined by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice. We will go to the five nations that are most deeply involved in the Congo tragedy -- Zimbabwe, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo itself. We set out with no illusions as to the complexities of the situation, but we hope and we pray that the leaders of the region will work productively with the United Nations, United States and all those many people who pray and dream and work for the African Renaissance, to help bring peace to the Congo.

Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 07:43:05 -0500 Subject: Central Africa: Holbrooke Speech

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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