27/01/2004

Unilateral military action undermines global peace efforts: UN

Unilateral military action, akin to that employed by Britain and the US against Iraq, undermines the efforts of the community of nations pursuing global peace, according to the UN Deputy Secretary General.

Speaking at the Sixth Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses Asian Security Conference in India yesterday, Louise Fréchette criticised certain countries which perceive they have the right to "unilaterally use pre-emptive force" without agreement by the Security Council.

The Deputy Secretary General said: "This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for nearly six decades, and could easily lead to a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification."

The "current security paradigm" - the 'Post 9-11 context' - raised a number of questions which must be resolved in order to strengthen the system of collective security, she said.

However, Ms Frechette stressed that the UN Charter was not "a suicide pact" – adding that States would not adhere to it unless they had confidence that threats would be dealt with "through collective action".

Elsewhere in her hard-hitting speech, Ms Frechette warned that UN member states – particularly European – must provide greater assistance for future peacekeeping operations as current levels of support were "insufficient" to meet rising demands.

There had been a "marked shift in the composition of… peacekeeping forces", away from richer OECD countries to the developing nations. The Deputy Secretary General also pointed to the "manifest imbalance" between the 30,000 NATO peacekeepers deployed in "tiny" Kosovo and the 10,000 UN peacekeepers deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The latter is a nation the size of Western Europe, and where some 3.5 million people may have died as a result of fighting since 1998, she said.

(gmcg)

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