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Wednesday 16 April 2008

Speech to the UN Security Council on Africa (16 April 2008)

16 April 2008

The Prime Minister has delivered a speech at the United Nations in New York. He said that the United Kingdom is working to ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is upheld following the recent elections.

Read the speech

I want to start by thanking President Mbeki for convening this event; and for his important and pivotal role in the creation of the African Union and of NEPAD - both essential to ensuring African solutions to the challenges that Africa faces.

Six decades ago the United Nations declared its ambition to ’save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’, and recognised that peace and prosperity are indivisible.

And today’s discussion is an opportunity to forge a new consensus on the support that is now needed to prevent conflict, to resolve conflict, and to rebuild from conflict afterwards.

Work by the African Union, which I applaud, has laid the foundations for a political solution in Kenya in recent weeks; and has helped create the conditions for recovery in Sierra Leone, in Liberia, in the DRC, and in other areas of the continent.

But we recognise that the au needs more support. And this must be part, as President Mbeki said, of a wider endeavour.

Today there is still a gaping hole in our ability to address the illegitimate threats and use of force against innocent peoples.

It is to our shame that the international community did not act in Rwanda.

Darfur shows the urgent needs that yet have to be met.

Today there are 28,000 African peacekeepers.

But if we are to honour our responsibility to protect behind borders where there are atrocities, we need to ensure more systematic support for peacekeepers, and we need to build the capacity of vulnerable nations to prevent conflict.

So in addition to training 12,000 African peacekeepers, Britain will step up its contribution to the joint EU-AU training exercises, in support of the AU’s peace and security directorate.

But I believe we also need agreement to more predictable and sustainable sources of funding as has already been raised round this table.

I welcome the Secretary General’s proposal for a senior panel, which should, among other things, examine the creation of an international trust fund, with UN oversight.

History tells us that fragile and conflict states need not only humanitarian aid and peacekeeping, they need to combine that with help for stabilisation and reconstruction.

And for countries where breakdowns occur, it is now right to agree major changes in the way the international order responds, so that we can systematically combine humanitarian aid and peacekeeping with help for reconstruction and development.

So during our presidency of the Security Council next month in may, Britain will propose:

  • when security council resolutions authorise peacekeeping missions, the whole un system also is able to authorise action on stabilisation and reconstruction;
  • a single envoy is given authority for coordinating international efforts on peacekeeping and recovery in post-conflict zones;
  • and a un fund is created to provide immediate support for reconstruction, to which Britain will contribute.

And in the same way that we have military forces ready to respond to conflicts, we should agree to have civilian experts ready on stand-by to deploy quickly to help rebuild countries emerging from instability.

And for this purpose Britain will lead the way by making available a 1,000-strong UK standby civilian force, including police, emergency services professionals, judges and trainers.

Mr president, I have raised the work done in Kenya, in Darfur, in the DRC and in other parts of Africa, and three weeks ago the people of Zimbabwe sent a strong message of their commitment to democracy.

In line with President Kikwete’s comments today, Britain supports those in the African Union and SADC who are working to ensure that the will of the Zimbabwean people be upheld. We will do everything to encourage these efforts, and I am pleased that SADC is to meet again this weekend.

We should also respond to the secretary-general’s offer that the un, in support of the AU and SADC, can do a great deal to help, and I welcome the Secretary General’s statements today.

No one thinks, having seen the results at polling stations, that President Mugabe has won this election. A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all. As the secretary-general has said, the credibility of the democratic process depends on there being a legitimate government. So let a single clear message go out from here in New York that we are - and will be - vigilant for democratic rights; that we stand solidly behind democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe; and that we stand ready to support Zimbabweans build a better future.

Thank you.

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