In Pursuit of Peace SC Resolution 2171

I recently returned from a conference celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the International Peace Research Association titled “Uniting for Peace: Building Sustainable Peace Through Universal Values”. This was held in the beautiful, cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, Turkey, where East and West literally meet and one can imagine the potential for harmony among different peoples. The Conference included papers on: Transnationalism, Sustainable Peace and Human Security, Disarmament and Strategic Non-Violent Action, Internal Conflicts, Forced Migration, Development, Negotiation and Mediation, Political Economy of War, Conflict, and Peace, Ecology and Peace, Religion and Peace, Gender and Peace, Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights, History, Peace Journalism, and other topics.

Several papers indicated concern for increased militarization in the world (with the exception of Europe) and decimation of institutions supporting diplomatic, development, and rule of Law/Democracy/transparency initiatives. There was presentation of the wide-scale of hunger in the world and the absolute lack of political will within the world community to make the structural changes need to solve the perennial crisis, because that would meaning sacrificing the comfortable, consumer-oriented way of life we have become accustomed to. The irony of attending lectures on peace in the morning and then watching televised news reports on beheadings by IS, abductions by Boku Haram in Nigeria, violence in Gaza and the Ukraine, refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, and police violence in the US proved to be overwhelming. I despaired that it would be very challenging to lead lectures in Public International Law this semester. On one of flights returning from the conference, I sat next to a nuclear physicist from Kenya who advised me to teach Public International Law as a theory. On the second flight, I sat next to a Palestinian singer headed towards a music festival in Oslo, she disagreed and counseled me to tell the students the truth, that they should understand the reality challenging the international normative system.

I concluded that we are facing situations which appear reminiscent of the Middle Ages, hence I decided to consult Wilhelm G. Grew’s book, The Epochs of International Law. I was interested by the fact that in the Middle Ages “emperors and popes, princes, etc. maintained relations (including trade) with the infidels, concluded treaties with them and treated them as legitimate adversaries in armed conflict, iusti hostes. The idea of maintaining a minimum standard of international legal relations with the infidels on the basis of natural law, which was generally recognised as binding for all peoples, corresponded broadly to the practical needs of commercial intercourse in the Mediterranean world.” Perhaps we need to pursue more dialogue instead of excluding those we are in conflict with.

On a positive note, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2171 (2014) seeking to improve concrete preventive action:

The full text of resolution 2171 (2014) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous resolutions and statements of its President on prevention of armed conflict, preventive diplomacy, mediation and peaceful settlement of disputes, in particular resolutions 1366 (2001) and 1625 (2005), and the statements of its President of 22 February 1995 (S/PRST/1995/9), 30 November 1999 (S/PRST/1999/34), 20 July 2000 (S/PRST/2000/25), 13 May 2003 (S/PRST/2003/5), 20 September 2005 (S/PRST/2005/42), 21 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/8), 22 September 2011 (S/PRST/2011/18), 15 April 2013 (S/PRST/2013/4),

“Recalling the determination of the peoples of the United Nations, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,

“Recalling all Purposes and Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations,

“Recalling the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security and acting in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

“Reaffirming the Security Council’s continuing commitment to addressing the prevention of armed conflicts in all regions of the world,

“Expressing its determination to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations in preventing and ending armed conflicts, their escalation, spread when they occur, and their resurgence once they end,

“Recalling that the prevention of conflict remains a primary responsibility of States, and further recalling their primary responsibility to protect civilians and to respect and ensure the human rights of all individuals within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction, as provided for by relevant international law, and further, reaffirming the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity,

“Acknowledging the role that civil society can play in contributing to conflict prevention,

“Reiterating the need for a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and sustainable peace, which comprises operational and structural measures for the prevention of armed conflict and addresses its root causes, including through strengthening the rule of law at international and national levels and promoting sustained economic growth, poverty eradication, social development, sustainable development, national reconciliation, good governance, democracy, gender equality and respect for, and protection of, human rights,

“Calling attention to the importance of early awareness and consideration of situations which may deteriorate into armed conflicts, and emphasizing that the United Nations, including the Security Council, should heed early warning indications of potential conflict and ensure prompt and effective action to prevent, contain or end conflicts, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,

“Underlining the overriding moral, political and humanitarian imperatives, as well as the economic advantages of preventing the outbreak, continuation, escalation or relapse into conflict,

“Deeply concerned by the high human cost and suffering caused by armed conflicts, as well as the material and economic costs to the countries directly affected, the wider region and international community, including through the inclusive rebuilding of states and societies in the aftermath of armed conflict, and recognizing that peace, security and development are mutually reinforcing, including in the prevention of armed conflict,

“Affirming that a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy should include, inter alia, early warning, preventive diplomacy, mediation, preventive deployment, peacekeeping, practical disarmament and other measures to contribute to combating the proliferation and illicit trade of arms, accountability measures, as well as inclusive post-conflict peacebuilding, and recognizing that these components are interdependent, complementary and non-sequential,

“Emphasizing the critical role of peacebuilding and the Peacebuilding Commission in support of countries emerging from conflict, in particular through the mobilization of sustained international support to critical national capacity needs,

“Stressing the essential role of the Secretary-General in the prevention of armed conflict, including through early warning,

“Stressing also the importance of the Secretary-General’s efforts to enhance his role, in accordance with Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations,

“Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General on “Preventive Diplomacy: Delivering Results” (S/2011/552) and the recommendations contained therein on steps to maximize the prospects of success in United Nations preventive diplomacy efforts,

“Noting also that terrorism is an important element in an increasing number of conflict situations and that countering incitement to terrorism, motivated by extremism and intolerance, and addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, can complement conflict prevention efforts,

“Stressing the importance of accountability in preventing future conflicts, avoiding the recurrence of serious violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, and enabling sustainable peace, justice, truth and reconciliation, and emphasizing in this context the responsibility of States to comply with their relevant obligations to end impunity and, to that end, to thoroughly investigate and prosecute persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or other serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law,

“Stressing that the fight against impunity and to ensure accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes has been strengthened through the work on and prosecution of these crimes in the international criminal justice system, ad hoc and mixed tribunals, as well as specialized chambers in national tribunals; and recognising in this regard the contribution of the International Criminal Court, in accordance with the principle of complementarity to national criminal jurisdictions as set out in the Rome Statute, towards holding accountable those responsible for such crimes; and reiterating its call on the importance of State cooperation with these courts and tribunals in accordance with the States’ respective obligations,

“Reaffirming the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding, and reiterating its call to increase the equal, full and meaningful, participation, representation and involvement of women in conflict prevention and mediation efforts in a mutually reinforcing manner in line with resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013) and 2122 (2013),

“1. Expresses its determination to pursue the objective of prevention of armed conflict as an integral part of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security;

“2. Calls upon all States to intensify efforts to secure a world free of the scourge of war and conflict;

“3. Stresses that the prevention of conflicts remains a primary responsibility of States and actions undertaken within the framework of conflict prevention by the United Nations should support and complement, as appropriate, the conflict prevention roles of national Governments;

“4. Reaffirms the duty of all States to settle their international disputes by peaceful means, inter alia through negotiation, enquiry, good offices, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement, or other peaceful means of their own choice;

“5. Recalls Chapter VI, in particular Articles 33 and 34 of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirms its commitment to the settlement of disputes by peaceful means and the promotion of necessary preventive action in response to disputes or situations, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security;

“6. Recognizes that some of the tools in Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations, which can be used for conflict prevention, have not been fully utilized, including negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement and resort to regional and subregional organizations and arrangements, as well as the good offices of the Secretary-General, and stresses its determination to make and call for the greater and more effective use of such tools;

“7. Acknowledges the important role the following can play in contributing to the prevention of the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict;

– United Nations regional offices;

– Special Political Missions;

– peacekeeping operations;

– the Peacebuilding Commission

“as well as regional and subregional organizations and arrangements;

“8. Acknowledges also that sanctions imposed under relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations are an important tool in the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security and can contribute to create conditions conducive to the peaceful resolution of situations that threaten or breach international peace and security, and support conflict prevention;

“9. Encourages the Secretary-General to continue enhancing the use of his good offices, dispatching Representatives, Special Envoys and mediators, to help to facilitate durable, inclusive and comprehensive settlements and further encourages the Secretary-General to continue his early engagement in the prevention of potential conflicts;

“10. Encourages field-based Special Political Missions and Peacekeeping Operations to enhance their assessment and analysis capabilities to prevent relapse into conflict within their existing mandates;

“11. Recognizes that mediation is an important means for the pacific settlement of disputes, including wherever possible preventively and before disputes evolve into violence and appreciates the efforts of the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen United Nations mediation support capacities, including the Mediation Support Unit as a provider of mediation support to the United Nations system, in accordance with agreed mandates;

“12. Expresses its willingness to give prompt consideration to early warning cases brought to its attention by the Secretary-General, including to the dispatch, in appropriate circumstances, of preventive political missions and encourages the Secretary-General to bring to its attention any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations;

“13. Acknowledges that serious abuses and violations of international human rights or humanitarian law, including sexual and gender-based violence, can be an early indication of a descent into conflict or escalation of conflict, as well as a consequence thereof; and calls on States which have not already done so to consider ratifying the instruments of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, and to take appropriate steps to implement these instruments domestically, which could contribute to timely prevention of conflicts;

“14. Encourages the Secretary-General to continue to refer to the Council information and analyses which he believes could contribute to the prevention of armed conflict, including on cases of serious violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, and on potential conflict situations arising, inter alia, from ethnic, religious and territorial disputes, poverty and lack of development;

“15. Expresses its commitment to take early and effective action to prevent armed conflict and to that end to employ all appropriate means at its disposal, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations;

“16. Recalls the important role of the Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, whose functions include acting as an early warning mechanism to prevent potential situations that could result in genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing, as well as the important role the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict can play in contributing to conflict prevention; calls upon States to recommit to prevent and fight against genocide, and other serious crimes under international law, and reaffirms paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit outcome document (A/60/L.1) on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity;

“17. Recognizes the important role the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide can play in conflict prevention, and also recognizes the role their briefings on human rights violations and hate speech play in contributing to early awareness of potential conflict;

“18. Emphasizes the important role that women and civil society, including women’s organizations and formal and informal community leaders, can play in exerting influence over parties to armed conflict; reiterates the continuing need to increase success in preventing conflict by increasing the participation of women at all stages of mediation and post-conflict resolution and by increasing the consideration of gender-related issues in all discussions pertinent to conflict prevention;

“19. Reiterates its request to the Secretary-General and his Special Envoys and Special Representatives to United Nations missions, as part of their regular briefings, to update the Council on progress in inviting women to participate, including through consultations with civil society, including women’s organizations, in discussions pertinent to the prevention and resolution of conflict, the maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peacebuilding;

“20. Expresses its commitment to consider and use the tools of the United Nations system to ensure that early warning of potential conflicts translates into early, concrete preventive action, including towards the goal of protecting civilians, by or in coordination with the most appropriate United Nations or regional actor; in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

“21. Encourages the peaceful settlement of local disputes through regional arrangements in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter, acknowledges the efforts undertaken to strengthen operational and institutional cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations aimed at conflict prevention, and in this regard, reiterates the need to continue strengthening strategic dialogue, partnerships, and more regular exchanges of views and information at the working level, with the aim of building national and regional capacities in relation to preventive diplomacy;

“22. Calls for enhanced cooperation and capacity building with regional and subregional organizations and arrangements to help to prevent armed conflicts, their spread and impact, including through cooperation in early warning mechanisms, as well as to help facilitate preventive action; consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations;

“23. Reiterates its support for the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and expresses its continued willingness to make use of the advisory, advocacy and resource mobilization roles of the Peacebuilding Commission in peacebuilding activities;

“24. Reaffirms its willingness to strengthen its relationship with civil society, including, as appropriate, through, inter alia, meetings in an informal and flexible manner with civil society, to exchange analyses and perspectives on the issue of the prevention of armed conflict;

“25. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Council on actions taken by him to promote and strengthen conflict prevention tools within the United Nations system, including through co-operation with regional and subregional organizations, by 31 August 2015;

“26. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”


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