UN General Assembly under Czech presidency adopts landmark resolution on preventing armed conflict

Jan Kavan

Before former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan assumed the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly last September, as the first Czech ever to hold such a post, he outlined the priorities of the Czech presidency in an exclusive interview for Radio Prague, underlying the importance of conflict prevention. The efforts of the Czech presidency materialised on Thursday in the form of a resolution on preventing armed conflict, adopted by the UN General Assembly. But this is not the only Czech initiative in the area of preventing and settling disputes around the world.

In his interview for Radio Prague Jan Kavan said last year he saw the role of the General Assembly in the prevention of conflicts, adding that Secretary-General Kofi Annan had done a lot of work on the prevention of conflicts and Mr Kavan himself wanted to continue along the same lines, that is to make efforts to prevent the emergence of situations which could lead to armed conflicts and international terrorism. Now, after three years of preparation and five months of intensive negotiation, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution on the prevention of armed conflict, hailed as a landmark in efforts to move the world body from a culture of reacting to crises to one of preventing them from reaching critical mass.

The resolution which, according to observers is so far the greatest success of the Czech presidency of the UN General Assembly, calls on UN member states to fight poverty and support developing countries, to comply with treaties on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, and to stamp out illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The President of the UN General Assembly, Jan Kavan, told Czech Radio about the concrete outcomes of the resolution.

"It will depend on the particular conflict but the resolution gives certain guidelines, a certain description of basic mechanisms which the member states and all UN bodies have to implement to try and prevent the growth of such a conflict or to try and solve it before it turns into an armed conflict."

The resolution also urges UN member states to make the most effective use of existing and new methods for peacefully settling disputes, including arbitration, mediation, other treaty-based arrangements and the International Criminal Court, thus promoting the role of international law in international relations.

South Korean Prime Minister Goh Kun an czech President Vaclav Klaus,  photo: CTK
The activities of Mr Kavan in the United Nations are not the only Czech contribution to worldwide efforts to solve or respond to armed conflicts. Since the fall of the communist regime the Czech Republic has taken part in a number of humanitarian and peace-keeping missions under a UN mandate, such as those in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and most recently Kuwait and Iraq. The former Czech president Vaclav Havel on several occasions presented his views of reforms of the United Nations and its Security Council. For example, he suggested that the future United Nations should have its own permanent military and police force.

And, in most recent development, the South Korean Prime Minister Goh Kun asked the Czech Republic this week to play an active role in seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict on the Korean Peninsula through mediation between South and North Korea.