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Statement of Amb. Li Baodong at Security Council Open Debate on Optimizing the Use of Preventive Diplomacy Tools: Prospects and Challenges in Africa

 (Photograph by Shen Hong/Xinhua News Agency)
Mr. President,

At the outset, I thank Nigeria for initiating this open debate and His Excellency Foreign Minister Ajumogobia for hosting the meeting. I also wish to thank Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Migiro and Madam Cliffe, representative of the World Bank, for their statements.

Mr. President,

Peaceful settlement of disputes is one of the fundamental principles of the United Nations, and an important responsibility of the Security Council. Preventive diplomacy is an important means for peaceful settlement of disputes. The Charter of the United Nations provides theoretical guidance and rationale for prevention of crises and conflicts through diplomacy. Over the years, the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organizations, and Member States have been engaged in preventive diplomacy of various forms and contributed significantly to easing tensions, resolving hot-spot issues and restoring regional peace and stability.

In today's world, the nature of conflicts and disputes is undergoing profound changes. The traditional conflicts between states are evolving into ones that feature overlapping of interstate and intrastate conflicts. In Africa, regional conflicts flare up one after another, posing threat to peace and stability in the region and constraining development of the Continent. Faced with the new circumstances and new tasks, we need to keep abreast of the times, increase input and inject new vigor and vitality into preventive diplomacy to ensure that it makes greater contribution to international peace and security.

First, underscore the importance of early prevention. Experience proves repeatedly that emphasizing crisis management while neglecting prevention often gets half the result with twice the effort. If we fail to take reasonable and lawful action and seek peaceful settlement of disputes through means such as mediation at the early stages of a crisis, we may have to spend much more time and energy on remedial measures after the outbreak of crisis. In recent years, the UN peacekeeping operations have grown in size, resulting in a huge mismatch between demand and supply. If we do a good job in conflict prevention, we will not only save peacekeeping resources and improve efficiency, but also keep numerous lives away from the scourge of war. In this sense, it is imperative to place emphasis on prevention and put it into practice.

Second, adopt appropriate and integrated strategies. In the face of disputes and conflicts of different natures and forms, the Security Council needs to reflect on their causes, make timely, objective and accurate judgments, and put forward appropriate recommendations and procedures for their settlement. On top of this, it should strengthen coordination with other relevant UN organs and agencies, and strive to resolve the crisis through the integrated use of good offices, mediation and various other means. With regard to countries in post-conflict situations, it is equally important to emphasize prevention to avoid recurrence of conflict. Crisis management alone is not enough to prevent conflict. It is also imperative to focus on helping the countries concerned grow their economy, eradicate poverty, achieve sustainable development, and root out the economic and social problems that have given rise to the conflict.

Third, respect the views of recipient countries and give play to the role of regional and sub-regional organizations. The key for the success of preventive diplomacy such as good offices and mediation lies in whether the recipient country has sufficient political will. The United Nations should keep in closer contact with the recipient country, strive for its cooperation, and lay a solid foundation for preventive diplomacy. Regional and sub-regional organizations have a unique role to play in prevention and settlement of conflict. In recent years, the African Union and sub-regional organizations in Africa have been committed to good offices and mediation efforts to resolve hot-spot issues in Africa and have achieved good results. The Security Council should establish and deepen its strategic partnership with the African Union, fully tap the initiative of the African Union and other regional and sub-regional organizations to engage in preventive diplomacy, encourage them to play an important role in the forefront of conflicts, and create favorable environment and conditions in this regard. In the meantime, the Security Council should also provide more assistance to these organizations to bolster their capacity building efforts.

Fourth, strengthen coordination and form synergy. Conflict prevention and settlement should be approached from political, security, economic, social and many other perspectives. The Security Council, General Assembly, ECOSOC, and Peacebuilding Commission should strengthen their exchanges and cooperation, make full use of their respective advantages and form synergy. In recent years, the Secretary-General and his representatives have been actively engaged in international good offices endeavors to resolve regional disputes and their efforts have achieved fruitful results. The Security Council should continue to support the Secretary-General in playing a positive role in this area.

Mr. President,

China always stands for peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and negotiations, and supports the United Nations and regional organizations such as the African Union in playing a bigger role in preventive diplomacy. I wish to thank Nigeria for drafting the presidential statement. China supports the efforts of the Security Council to adopt this statement and show to the international community its political will to support preventive diplomacy.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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