Foreign Minister of Pakistan, on the role of the Security Council in the Pacific Settlement of Disputes

By H.E. Mr. Khurshid M. Kasuri, May 13th 2003.

Mr. President,

            At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to the distinguished Secretary-General, and to the eminent experts invited to this meeting – Sir Brian Urquhart, Ambassador Jamsheed Marker and Judge Nabil El-Araby for their important t statements.

2.         The United Nations’ Charter begins with the words: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…” The central purpose of the UN is, therefore, to promote and preserve peace. Yet peace, as the Charter recognizes, is to be based on justice.

3.         The Charter charged the Security Council with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In this regard, Chapter VI of the Charter defines the Council’s role in the pacific settlement of disputes. We have heard, this morning, thoughtful statements from eminent experts and Council members on the successes and failures of the Security Council and the United Nations in maintaining and promoting peace and security and the extent to which provisions of Chapter VI have been fully implemented. 

4.         This meeting was designed to discuss how the Security Council could do more to promote peaceful solutions in accordance with its Charter obligations. We have a long and abiding association with the Security Council in this regard. Our involvement with the Council came very early in the history of the United Nations. It was intensified when the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir was referred to the Security Council.

5.         The Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India have recently taken initiative to reduce tension in South Asia and reverse the negative trends of the recent past. Today, therefore, I do not wish to say anything that would vitiate the atmosphere for the resumption of bilateral talks with our neighbour, India. However, it is a historical fact that one of the earliest applications of Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter was on the Kashmir dispute. Following negotiations and agreements among the parties, the Security Council adopted resolution 47(1948) of 21 April 1948 which promised a free and fair plebiscite under UN auspices to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or India. Before and after this resolution, the Security Council instituted a series of mechanisms – including the establishment of UN Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP), the deployment of a military observer mission (UNMOGIP) and the appointment of eminent Special Representatives of the United Nations who consulted the two parties and submitted extensive reports on how to resolve the dispute in accordance with provisions of the Security Council resolutions.

6.         The process ran aground due to the Cold War, when the Security Council could no longer act to persuade the parties to implement its resolutions. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration support solutions through bilateral discussions. At the Agra Summit in July 2001, Pakistan and India almost succeeded in launching a framework for revived talks.

7.         Today, despite the discouraging record, Pakistan is hopeful that we can revive the process of dialogue for which we have been pressing, consistently, before and after the Agra Summit. A peaceful solution of Jammu and Kashmir is possible if both sides display flexibility, goodwill and wisdom. It is, however, obvious that there can be no durable solution unless the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir are taken into consideration. We are confident that the international community, especially the United Nations Security Council and the UN Secretary-General, will extend their full support to Pakistan and India in their fresh endeavours for peace.

8.         Palestine is another historical issue which remains outstanding on the Council’s agenda. On this issue, the Council has acted under both Chapter VI and Chapter VII of the Charter. In recent years, efforts for peace in the Middle East have proceeded, mostly outside the Council. These endeavours, including the mechanism of the Quartet, reflect the spirit and substance of Chapter VI of the Charter. The Quartet has proposed a road map for steps towards durable peace, based on Resolutions 242, 338, and 1397 of the Security Council, and aimed at the creation of two States – Palestine and Israel, living side by side within secure and recognized borders. What is now required are determined measures to implement the road map. The Security Council can support and strengthen the process of implementation.

9.         Some commentators have proclaimed that the Security Council has “failed” when it could not agree to a resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq. On the contrary, the outcome emphasized that the Security Council sets a very high bar for the authorization of enforcement action in accordance with Article 42, Chapter VII of the Charter. Efforts for conflict resolution must go through the stages of pacific settlement encouraged in Chapter VI, and thereafter to the more coercive measures outlined in Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, under Chapter VII, before any final recourse to Article 42-type enforcement action. The Security Council’s demurral against authorizing force against Iraq, notwithstanding, the previous regime’s flagrant violations highlights the need to do everything possible to succeed in resolving conflicts through the processes set out in Chapter VI of the Charter.

10.       In this debate, we have heard many different suggestions on how the Security Council can more efficiently utilize and support such Chapter VI instrumentalities for peace. These include: calling on parties to negotiate agreements for dispute settlement; authorizing the Secretary-General to increasingly utilize all the modalities at his disposal for the peaceful resolution of disputes; the appointment of Commissions of Inquiry and Conciliation; and more frequent requests to the International Court of Justice for Advisory Opinions. 

11.       The Security Council could also utilize its mandatory enforcement authority – under Chapter-VII – to persuade parties to disputes to engage in the processes for the peaceful settlement of disputes envisaged under Chapter-VI of the UN Chapter. The Council could, moreover, through a decision adopted under Chapter-VII, refer a dispute to the ICJ whose determination would thereafter be binding on the parties, irrespective of whether or not they have accepted the jurisdiction of the ICJ. 

12.       The United Nations remains an indispensable forum in spite of the enormous asymmetry of power among its Member States. It is in the interest of all Member States, including those which have the capacity for unilateral action, to address issues through the Security Council and the United Nations. This is the only institution which offers international legitimacy, credibility and acceptability for the actions and policies of individual Member States or groups of states. These assets of legitimacy, credibility and acceptability must be more vigorously utilized by the Security Council to prevent armed conflicts and to settle disputes peacefully. In this age of nuclear weapons and advanced conventional means of destruction, the Security Council must give life to the central obligation of Member states under the Charter to refrain from the threat or use of force, to avoid war, and to seek and build peace, if necessary slowly and peacefully, through the vast spectrum of modalities envisaged in Chapter VI and other provisions of the Charter.