General Assembly adopts landmark resolution on preventing armed conflict

3 July 2003

After three years of preparation and five months of intensive negotiation, the United Nations General Assembly today adopted by consensus a resolution on the prevention of armed conflict, hailed as a landmark in efforts to move the world body from a culture of reacting to crises to one of preventing them from reaching critical mass.

Welcoming the adoption, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette recalled that Secretary-General Kofi Annan had made conflict prevention one of his major priorities.

“As the Secretary-General reminded us in his report, we have an obligation to the victims of violence around the world to take seriously the challenge of prevention and to move from rhetoric to reality,” she told the Assembly. She added that the Secretariat was committed to strengthening the UN’s capacity to carry out more effectively its responsibilities for the prevention of armed conflict.

The resolution calls on Member States to support poverty eradication measures and enhancing the capacity of developing countries, to comply with treaties on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, and to strengthen their international verification instruments and eradicate illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

It further urges them to make the most effective use of existing and new methods for peacefully settling disputes, including arbitration, mediation, other treaty-based arrangements and the International Criminal Court (ICC), thus promoting the role of international law in international relations.

Regarding the role of the Security Council, it recommends that the 15-nation body continue to mandate peacekeeping operations that include peace-building elements. The Council should give prompt consideration to early warning or prevention cases brought to its attention by the Secretary-General. The text calls on states that have not done so, to consider becoming parties to arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament treaties.

It further urges strengthening cooperation between the UN and regional organizations to prevent armed conflict, particularly in capacity-building and coordinating their respective activities, and it requests the Secretary-General to present concrete proposals for enhancing Secretariat support of such activities.

Introducing the text, Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, said its adoption would give a strong political signal to the world and confirm the strong will of all Member States to enhance the UN’s preventive capacity and to move further from a culture of reaction to one of prevention. It provided a sound base for further strengthening the role of the UN in armed conflict prevention, he added.