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Poverty key to Africa's conflicts: UNSC

Updated: 2013-04-16 16:22
( Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Security Council on Monday discussed conflicts in Africa and ways to prevent them, calling for more attention to root causes like poverty.

"The Security Council underlines the importance of continually engaging the United Nations' existing conflict-prevention mechanisms in Africa," said a formal presidential statement issued by the council.

It "encourages the promotion of regional approaches to the peaceful settlement of disputes" in accordance with the UN Charter, said the statement, presented by Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, council president for April.

The panel of 15 also urged the international community to address "root causes of conflicts as appropriate" and encouraged "the secretary-general to continue to use mediation in Africa as often as possible to help resolve conflicts peacefully".

It delineated the entire spectrum of measures needed to prevent conflicts, ranging from early warning and response systems to practical disarmament measures.

"Although we are focused today on Africa, there are universal lessons in conflict prevention that apply everywhere around the world," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the council.

"Conflicts breed where there is poor governance, human rights abuses and grievances over the unequal distribution of resources, wealth and power," Ban said.

"Unrest flourishes where people are poor, jobless and without hope. To prevent conflicts, we must strengthen democracy, build stronger, more resilient, accountable state institutions, ensure adequate checks and balances, promote the rule of law and work to establish effective democratic control over the armed forces," Ban said.

"Too often, national pride and the self-interest of political actors and spoilers conspire to undermine prevention efforts," he said. "Issues related to poor governance and the unfulfilled promise of democracy often lead to conflict."

He pointed out that 20 African countries were holding elections this year, citing the recent "relatively peaceful" elections in Kenya as an example of how electoral disagreements can be handled through the legal process without recourse to violence.

However, he warned that in other cases, elections can be a source of instability where parties may use them to continue the competition.

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