UNITED NATIONS Hoping to improve peace and security around the world, Argentine President Cristina Fernández led a day-long Security Council meeting Tuesday where she and other leaders said regions in turmoil could learn from how Latin American and the Caribbean have settled internal conflicts.
“The lessons that we have learned, in terms of our regional and sub-regional organizations, (suggest) collaborating with the Security Council, with the United Nations, is a very useful way of finding solutions,” said Fernández, citing a number of resolved conflicts in South America, including the trade dispute between neighbors Colombia and Venezuela.
Fernandez chaired the meeting as the representative of Argentina, which has taken over the rotating chairmanship of the Security Council for August.
Representatives from regional organizations — the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Mercosur trading bloc, and the Organization of American States — boasted of benefits to working within the U.N. system.
“South America is a region in which we can say there is no risk of interstate conflicts involving threats to peace and security and extreme violence,” said Eda Rivas, Peru’s foreign minister. “However, UNASUR member states recognize that peace and security must be preserved permanently and all South Americans are convinced that the best way to do this is to strive for an integration based on respect for the fundamental principles of international law.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised CELAC and UNASUR and said he was pleased with last month’s U.N.-Caribbean Community meeting, which included discussions of how to tackle transnational organized crime and security.
But the U.N. chief stressed how cooperation with regional organizations could improve, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, where conflicts in Syria and Sudan continue to strain U.N. peacekeeping and mediation efforts.
“There is always room for improvement,” Ban said. “We are better at sharing information and analysis on brewing crises, but we have to work harder on swift response and long-term prevention” of regional conflict.
Several Latin American ministers pointed to participation in the U.N. stabilization mission in Haiti as an examples of their commitment to cooperation.
Haitian Foreign Minister Pierre Richard Casimir lauded the U.N. peacekeeping activities in his country.
“Haiti will continue to work with all those who believe the involvement of regional organizations are essential to continuing to grow the future,” Casimir said. “I trust this debate will give us food for thought in the U.N. and in regional organizations.”
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, who attended her first Security Council meeting since her confirmation last week, said the Obama administration was pleased with the coalition in Haiti.
“The United States applauds states around the region, including many represented in this room, for the essential support they give to Haiti through contributing troops to MINUSTAH, providing development assistance and helping build Haitian capacity,” she said.