Remarks by Christopher Klein, Political Minister Counselor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, at a Security Council Open Debate on Conflict Prevention

Christopher Klein, Political Minister Counselor
New York, NY
August 21, 2014


Thank you very much, Mr. President, for convening this important discussion and thank you Mr. Secretary-General and Madame High Commissioner for your insightful and informative briefings. And also thank you, Madame High Commissioner, for your service to the UN and to the cause of human rights.

The United Nations was established in the wake of two devastating World Wars, with the intent to save future generations from the scourge of such conflict; now, the UN, including the Security Council, remains the focal point for the maintenance of international peace and security. Yet, we look out at a world mired in crisis and conflict.

The complex conflicts of today increasingly involve heavily armed non-state actors, some infused with extremist ideologies. These actors push clashes across borders, they traffic illicit goods, undermine governments, and destabilize entire regions. While the international community did not fully imagine such conflicts at the UN’s inception, the UN system has nonetheless, developed ever more nimble and well-suited tools to respond to early warning signs of conflict and instability.

Today’s session offers us a valuable chance to broaden our focus beyond the crisis of the day and to think strategically about how we can better leverage UN tools now and in the future to prevent conflict.

In this connection, the United States commends efforts by the Department of Political Affairs to monitor and analyze political developments around the world and to alert the Security Council and the international community to brewing crises. For example, last year, Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco warned the Council that heightened frictions around an election dispute in the Maldives could lead to violence. Calls for restraint by high-ranking UN officials, coupled with the ASG’s visit to the Maldives the week before the elections, helped to usher in a peaceful transfer of power. In this vein, we welcome DPA’s continued efforts to deepen their analysis, work with other UN offices, and take measures to identify potential triggers of violence.

DPA has also used active responses to potential conflict scenarios through its regional political missions. In Guinea, for example, the UN – with the savvy diplomacy of Said Djinnit, the UNOWA SRSG at the time – engaged successfully in mediation efforts ahead of the 2013 legislative elections after recognizing key warning signs of potential conflict.

Likewise, we welcome the DPA Standby Team of Mediation Experts. The demand for these experts has increased each year since the team’s inception. Mediators are playing a critical role in peaceful dispute resolution in Africa’s Great Lakes region – as well as in Mali, where mediators have facilitated the difficult reconciliation process between Bamako and northern rebel groups.

At the same time, dozens of UN Special Envoys, political missions, mediators, and good offices of the Secretary-General work tirelessly to bridge political differences. There is a common thread for successful missions: they need sound and credible leadership, strong mandates, and monitoring and reporting capacity on potential drivers and flashpoints of conflict. We now need better mechanisms for recognizing the earliest signs and delivering the right prevention tools at every stage of a conflict to address root causes, end impunity, and save lives.

One key aspect of this is peacebuilding. In each Peacebuilding Commission Country Specific Configuration, the PBC coordinates efforts to build national political, economic, judicial, and civil society institutions. In Burundi, the PBC Chair’s regular engagement with local leaders has helped to highlight potential flashpoints, such as problematic practices by Burundian leadership, which have the potential to exacerbate societal frictions and result in violence in the run up to elections.

This year’s headlines also remind us that serious human rights abuses, including sexual violence, can be an early indication of imminent conflict, as well as a consequence of it. The horrible accounts of abduction, detention, rape, murder, and other acts of violence against women in Iraq at the hands of ISIL militants and in Nigeria by Boko Haram appall and concern us greatly. Supporting the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, as well as the efforts of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, is an essential tool in addressing and preventing such injustices.

Finally, we welcome today’s Security Council resolution on conflict prevention. We share a common responsibility to do everything in our power to pursue sustainable solutions to disputes and to prevent violence and bloodshed. It is indeed the reason this Council was created.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2014/182