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Statement by Ambassador Wang Yingfan, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, at the Plenary Meeting of the UN GA on the Review of the Report of the Secretary-General on Armed Conflict Prevention
(12 July 2001)

2001/07/12

Mr. President,

The Chinese Delegation wishes to thank you for presiding over this meeting to review the Report of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Armed Conflict. The prevention of armed conflict involves political, economic, social, disarmament and other factors, and therefore, it is both very timely and necessary for the General Assembly, as the most representative body of the United Nations, to review this matter. At the same time, the Chinese Delegation endorses your proposal that the report be sent to other relevant bodies of the United Nations system for review so as to pool wisdom and resources from all sides.

Mr. President,

The prevention of armed conflict is no new concept. In some sense, the UN itself has been a product of the prevention of armed conflict. In the past half century, thanks to the unremitting efforts of all Member States, the UN has played a great role in preventing the outbreak and escalation of armed conflicts in certain regions. Since the end of World War II, the international community has effectively prevented the outbreak of new world wars. The UN's contribution in this regard should be recognized. Since early 1990s, the issue has occupied an increasingly importance position on the agenda of the United Nations. As an important effort in this field, Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted in 1998 a report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa and thereafter the General Assembly established a working group on the basis of the report. The present report of the Secretary General focuses on the important role of the United Nations in the prevention of armed conflict and represents a vigorous effort to strengthen the UN's leading role in maintaining international peace and security.

Of course, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that in today's world, partial armed conflict continues to happen in quick sequence in different regions or countries; the world is by no means peaceful; and Member States and the United Nations still have a long way to go towards the successful prevention of armed conflict. The Secretary-General has asked a very sharp question towards the end of the report: "Why is conflict prevention still so seldom practiced, and why do we so often fail when there is a clear potential for a preventive strategy to succeed?" That is a question that Member States should really continue to think about in greater depth.

Mr. President,

At the Security Council's recent review of the report of the Secretary-General on the prevention of armed conflict, the Chinese Delegation, in its analysis of the causes of armed conflict, made clear its views on ethnic conflicts and religious disputes in some countries and regions and emphasized the importance of promoting the democratization of state-to-state relations and strictly following the basic norms guiding such relations. Today, I wish to make three points:

First, the Secretary-General has indicated in his report that "equitable and sustainable development plays an important role in averting armed conflict" and that "some of the poorest societies are either on the precipice or embroiled in armed conflict". We cannot neglect the fact that most of the current conflicts have occurred in economically underdeveloped countries or regions. The restraint by severe poverty on economic development and social progress in some developing countries, combined with other factors such as ethnic and territorial disputes, has caused disturbances and even armed conflicts in these countries. In an increasingly globalized economy, the gap between the rich and the poor in the whole world has become ever wider and many developing countries have been marginalized in the tide of globalization. Therefore, the long-term goal of armed conflict prevention cannot be achieved without a real solution to the question of economic development of developing countries. The realization of the grand development objectives laid down in the Millennium Declaration will undoubtedly be a strong guarantee for the success of conflict prevention. The Chinese Delegation supports the call made by the Secretary-General to the international community, developed countries in particular, to fulfill their pledge to provide development aids to developing countries and help them out of poverty, so as to make more substantial contributions to the realization of the objectives set forth by the Millennium Declaration. The United Nations should play a bigger role in promoting the establishment of an open, transparent and non-discriminatory international financial and trade system and in ensuring that developing countries will be able to benefit from the system and participate in the decision-making process on an equal footing as others.

Second, the Secretary-General has also talked about the relationship between disarmament and conflict prevention in his report. The UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects being held this week marks an important event in the field of international arms control. Facts have shown that the illicit trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons has exacerbated armed conflicts in some regions and complicated the post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building processes in some countries. The Chinese Delegation maintains that stronger practical disarmament measures should be taken and the illicit trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons should be curbed, so as to prevent regional armed conflict and support post-conflict peace-building. We hope that a program of action will be passed by the General Assembly to provide guidance for specific activities in this field.

Now, we all know that small arms and light weapons have a lot to do with conflict prevention. But then, what about big arms and heavy weapons? And weapons of mass destruction? Obviously, these are questions that the international community must take seriously. Thanks to the long and unremitting efforts of the international community, relevant agreements or conventions have been reached in the field of arms control and disarmament, which have made important contributions to the maintenance of global strategic balance and stability. The international community should now make a concerted effort to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and a new round of arms race caused by unilateralism, so as to safeguard the hard-won global strategic balance and stability.

Third, the diversity of the world predetermines the diversity of the causes of armed conflict. Therefore, it is impossible to find a one-fits-all pattern of prevention. Now, after the financial crises in some countries and regions, the international community has come to understand that different prescriptions must be made for financial crises in different countries because of their different situations. Similarly, the causes for the failure or unsatisfactory results of conflict prevention operations may also be found in their wrong prescriptions. More explorations should be made in this direction.

The prevention of armed conflict is a comprehensive and important issue. The proposals and views put forward by the Secretary-General in his report need to be considered, discussed, examined and reviewed in depth by Member States, different bodies within the UN system and all sides concerned. It is essential for the UN to draw lessons and accumulate experiences from its practice of conflict prevention, so as to work out effective strategies, ways and measures for the prevention of armed conflict and continue to deepen the efforts by the UN in this field.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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