Preventive diplomacy is not an option but a necessity, given the gravity of so many situations worldwide, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, launching the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.
In a message delivered on his behalf by B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Ban said the new Centre – located in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan – “holds tremendous promise” for reducing the potential threat from conflicts and other cross-border challenges, such as drug trafficking, terrorism and environmental degradation.
“As we all know too well, dealing with the aftermath of violent conflict is costly,” the message said. “Lives are needlessly lost. Economies are destroyed. Hopes for development are dashed. Resolving conflicts before violence occurs is one of the smartest investments we can make.”
Known by its acronym UNRCCA, the Centre is tasked with assisting the Governments of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan “in building capacities to peacefully prevent conflict, in facilitating dialogue, and in catalyzing international support behind projects and initiatives,” according to the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA), which has set it up.
The Centre will be headed by a senior representative of Mr. Ban and has been awarded an initial budget of $2.3 million and a small international staff contingent.
UNRCCA is expected to work closely with existing UN agencies and programmes operating in Central Asia, and also regional groups such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Mr. Ban noted in his message that “the countries of Central Asia have made great strides in building their independent statehoods and frameworks for mutual dialogue and cooperation,” adding that the best way to deal with the region’s shared challenges is to pursue collective solutions.
In his own remarks to the two-day Conference on International Cooperation for Preventive Diplomacy, which also opened today in Ashgabat, Mr. Pascoe stressed the benefits of preventive diplomacy.
“There is recognition that if a fraction of the resources that are spent on peacekeeping was spent on prevention, the world would have become a much safer place. Prevention is an investment in peace,” he said.
General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, in his own message to mark the Centre’s inauguration, said that too often in the past the international community had only paid “lip service” to the concept of preventive diplomacy.
“In Central Asia we are taking a concrete step now… All this together may serve as a further boost and example for other Member States to take collective action on a regional as well as global level in preventive diplomacy.”