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Cooperation with civil society to prevent conflict

Security Council debates cooperation with civil society to prevent conflict

The Security Council held an open debate today on the role of civil society in conflict prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressing the need for the world body to tap into the experience and expertise offered by such front-line groups.

"My message to you today is simple: civil society's role in conflict prevention needs to be fully recognized," Mr. Annan said in a statement read by the Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh. "Both the United Nations and regional organizations have to do more to tap into civil society's comparative advantages, namely strong local presence and experience.

"Local ownership and participation are essential for the success of peace processes, be it conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding. And dialogue, transparency and accountability must remain a priority," he added.

Today's meeting followed the Global Conference on the Role of Civil Society in the Prevention of Armed Conflict and Peacebuilding which brought together some 600 civic leaders at UN Headquarters in New York in July.

"Civil society is often far out in front of us in identifying new threats and concerns," Mr. Annan said. "This is certainly one of its most important roles… At times, they can reach parties on the ground that governments or the United Nations cannot reach."

Civil society organizations can also complement the UN's work by offering valuable analysis originating from the field, by forging partnerships to implement UN decisions, by increasing the sustainability of UN operations and by creating networks to advocate for peacebuilding, he added.

"For all these reasons, civil society organizations would have an important role to play in the deliberations of the Peacebuilding Commission," he declared, referring to last week's decision by the UN World Summit to establish such a body to prevent the recurrence of armed conflict.

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