UN meeting on civil society’s role in conflict prevention discusses regional issues

20 July 2005

The first-ever civil society conference aimed at implementing a global agenda to prevent conflict continued at United Nations Headquarters in New York today with the 600 participants splitting up into panel discussions on regional issues such as the future of Africa and conflict prevention in the Arab world.

The three-day meeting – From Reaction to Prevention: Civil Society Forging Partnerships to Prevent Conflict and Build Peace – answers Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s call in his 2001 Report on the Prevention of Armed Conflict “to organize an international conference of local, national and international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on their role in conflict prevention and future interaction with the United Nations.”

The Africa panel focused on three key related issues: poverty and conflict in Africa; practical ways of engaging civil society in conflict prevention; and coordinating conflict prevention and peace-building initiatives.

The panel on the Arab world dealt with the opportunities for forward movement on partnerships for conflict prevention. The panel on the Americas addressed the issues of roles and partnerships for the UN, the Organization of American States (OAS) and Civil Society.

Other groups discussed such thematic issues as Structural Prevention: Micro-credit, Prevention of Armed Conflict and Peacebuilding.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland are expected to address the conference tomorrow.

In a message to yesterday’s opening session, Mr. Annan called for a “new security consensus,” built from the grassroots up, to respond to threats whenever and wherever they appear on the horizon.

“I look to civil society to act as our partners in helping to defuse potential conflicts… you have a vital role to play… by coordinating with bilateral and intergovernmental actors – and with one another,” he said.


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