33. Multilateral preventive diplomacy

4 Jun

Multilateral preventive diplomacy

1. One of the great challenges of international organisations and states themselves is to effectively prevent through peaceful means of conflict and disputes that may threaten international peace and security.

2. In the relentless search for effective ways to consolidate peace and security, reinforced by the enactment of the Charter of San Francisco (1945), the international community gradually began structuring what has become known as preventive diplomacy.

3. At present, the role of preventive diplomacy, as its name suggests, is essentially to prevent the dangers of confrontation, ruptures, and the abuse of dominance. This type of diplomacy is committed to becoming a tool designed to eradicate the deep roots and iron out the complex issues that characterise the conflict. A prominent part of the strategy of this diplomacy is aimed at creating the awareness to avoid hasty and aggressive actions.

4. Conflict resolution involves more than implementing effective diplomatic action.  In conflict prevention, aspects to be considered particularly in the developing nations include reinforcing the pillars that support peace, such as the promotion and development of democracy, respect for human rights, promoting equity in distribution of resources, consistently raising the educational, economic and social development of the population, and the creation and strengthening of national institutions. Further, international organisations and NGOs should help in increasing the role of “civil society.” Implementing such actions often contribute to preventing conflict or, at least, reducing its intensity.

5. This is a long-term process, which is applied in three areas: the structural causes of conflict; institutional capacity to address the tensions; and specific solutions in the context of specific countries. Thus, the main issue is to strengthen peace and security.

6. To achieve the goal of preventive diplomacy, that is, in essence to avoid a crisis, it is necessary to take into account specific measures to try to establish a climate of mutual trust between the disputing parties (potential, current or past). These measures entail improving research systems and strengthening early warning mechanisms responsible for determining the existence of a threat to peace. If the situation in a specific country requires it, the international community can authorise the preventive deployment of United Nations forces (as authorised by the UN Charter) to prevent cross-border attacks and prevent hostilities, even within the country itself.

7. The term “preventive diplomacy” was coined by Dag Hammarskjöld, when he was UN Secretary General, when in 1960 he introduced the term in the Security Council Report on South Africa. However, the inclusion of the concept of preventive diplomacy effectively developed relatively recently, when through the “Peace Programme” then UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1992 proposed that the concept should be applied globally.

8. Two issues are related to preventive diplomacy. These are the so-called “preventive action” and the “right to intervene.” This latter action is applied in cases of breach of peace and security, human rights violations and attacks on democracy.

© by Odeen Ishmael         



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