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09-11 September 1996

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XX Congress of the Socialist International, New York

09-11 September 1996



Peace, freedom, justice and solidarity have always been the central values and objectives of the socialist movement.

The Socialist International takes pride in its tradition of persistent and successful work for peace and security.

Throughout the Cold War the SI, true to its principles, maintained dialogue with major powers, consistently appealing for nuclear disarmament, for radical cuts in nuclear weapons, for non-proliferation, for a test ban, for confidence-building measures, for openness and transparency, for the solution of regional crises, for common security, for preventive diplomacy, for security and cooperation - for peace. Through such policies which also inspired member parties, the SI contributed to the end of the Cold War.

While the Cold War is now over, and the related arms race and the threat of a nuclear war seem to have subsided, the post-Cold-War experiences have not been only positive. While negotiations have brought peaceful solutions to many Cold War regional conflicts, new crises and armed conflicts have emerged elsewhere. While major breakthroughs have been made in disarmament, huge stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons are still there, and the world still wastes its scarce resources in excessive military spending.

Therefore, the sustained powerful action for peace, security and disarmament must continue even in the post-Cold-War world. The Socialist International - and its regional and special committees - will explore new ways and means to play a constructive role in the new situation. We reaffirm our conviction that the end of the Cold War has created conditions for a just and peaceful world order. Such an international order must be built on the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

A peaceful world order also requires the revival of the commitment to the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security "with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources".

Such changes do not come by themselves. Persistent efforts to change the world in accordance with our ideals and objectives are needed both at the global and regional levels. The concepts of common, cooperative and comprehensive security provide basic guidelines and directions for such efforts. The Socialist International reaffirms its appeal to all governments, social movements and individuals to work together for a just and peaceful world order.


Towards cooperative security

A fundamental change has occurred in the course of the last decade. The strictly bipolar international system and the ideological antagonism between the blocs has given way to a more cooperative world order.

The change in the international system is still going on, and its impact is being felt in East and West, North and South. With the predictability of the bipolar system disappeared, the present situation is characterised by uncertainties. The Soviet legacy continues to be a factor affecting security policy in Russia and elsewhere.

The United Nations is and remains the most important forum for security cooperation. The Security Council, responsible for international peace and security, cannot be replaced by anything else in the foreseeable future, but its role can be further strengthened.

Besides being global in membership, the United Nations also deals with all aspects of security, including various new threats to security, such as political upheavals, social distress, poverty, environmental degradation, ethnic unrest, uncontrolled migration, terrorism and drug abuse. Future security policies should take this comprehensive security concept as their foundation.

The global agenda of the United Nations permits it to be utilised in a flexible manner. Development and peace go hand in hand. Concern for the global environment is concern for peace. Social progress is a precondition for welfare, stability and peace. The United Nations conferences on important global issues focus on problems to be resolved by all states together.

The "Agenda for Peace" of the Secretary-General of the United Nations contains important considerations about the changing role of the organisation.

Last year, when the UN turned 50, another important report was published. The Carlsson Commission, stressed a strong commitment to global cooperation in the service of peace and progress and rejected unilateralist approaches to global problems.

If preventive diplomacy fails and traditional peacekeeping is insufficient, then the United Nations may call on other organisations to restore peace. This is perhaps the greatest innovation in recent times in this field, and it is still being tested in Bosnia.

The concept of "overlapping institutions" provides regional organisations and even military alliances a role while keeping the political decision-making role of the United Nations Security Council intact.

Regional organisations, acting on the basis of the UN Charter, play an important complementary role. In Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has changed from a traditional forum for East-West negotiations, to an international organisation concentrating on preventive diplomacy and conflict-management. The OSCE has played a useful role in many post-Cold-War conflicts such as the former Yugoslavia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Chechnya.

Forms of cooperation between such regional organisations as the European Union (EU), the Western European Union (WEU), the Council of Europe, OSCE and NATO are being developed in order to find a meaningful division of labour for them in the emerging European security architecture.


Towards a more effective UN security system

The world has faced more than a hundred severe armed conflicts since 1945. The role of the United Nations in crisis-management has increased dramatically following the end of the Cold War. Between 1988 and 1995, the UN has launched twenty-three peace-keeping operations, as compared to the thirteen established between 1948 and 1988.

The Council of the SI, at its meeting in Tokyo in May 1994, approved the report of the special working group of the SIPSAD on UN reform. On that occasion, while acknowledging the existing limitations in procedures, operational capabilities and resources for the UN to perform its role in maintaining peace, we stressed the need to maintain the notion that the UN is the sole legitimate body where measures to introduce and maintain peace can be adopted on behalf of the international community.

The Socialist International remains committed to these principles and calls for a further extension of the means and resources at the disposal of the UN Secretary-General. We also express our satisfaction at the progress of the Secretary-General's "Agenda for Peace", whose efforts to create a new conceptual framework, in order to respond to new challenges beyond the scope of traditional peacekeeping, will require the support and commitment of the member nations.

Conflict-prevention appears as an area in which the UN should broaden its role, either through preventive diplomacy or through a preventive deployment of UN forces in the early stages of a crisis. This will require reinforcing the authority of the Secretary-General, speeding-up the decision procedures and allowing stand-by forces to be deployed at early call. Conflict-prevention is the most appropriate means to prevent crises spreading, thus avoiding loss of life and saving enormous effort and resources. Successful conflict-prevention and crisis-management also reduce the risks and the amplitude of any prospective use of force.

Regional cooperation in the area of security has increased during the last years. The possibility for regional organisations to act in their areas of responsibility should be encouraged and facilitated. The experiences in Europe and, most recently, in Africa should allow a most efficient action in conflict-prevention and management when the UN Security Council cannot guarantee the availability of the means required.

The UN cannot act today as the world policeman, but this should not be in contradiction with the need to define as clearly as possible the criteria upon which the Security Council, on behalf of the whole international community, makes its decision whether or not to intervene in a conflict.

In the world of today, the role of the UN in maintaining peace cannot be restricted to peace operations. The impact of non-military factors on global and regional security underlines the need for an enhanced UN capability to effectively contribute to assess and solve them. Economic imbalances and poverty, food and water shortages, and cultural divides are at the root of many existing and potential conflicts. Cooperation between agencies and with NGOs as well as interaction with the affected populations are among the requirements for maintaining peace in the future. This cooperation appears also as a prerequisite in those cases where peace has been achieved but must yet be consolidated. These new challenges will require a greater democratisation and transparency in the decisions of the Security Council and increased collaboration with the General Assembly, whose role should be enhanced.


Towards enhanced regional security

A major aspect of present security developments is strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and regional organisations in peace and security issues, under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. While this opportunity has been in the Charter, it is only in this decade that it has come under closer scrutiny and in more frequent use. Cooperation includes diplomatic support, consultation, and division of labour in co-deployment or joint operations. Positive experiences have already been gained in many crisis areas, in Europe, Africa and Central America.

The contributions of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cambodia, the OAS and the Contadora Group in Central America, the European Union, the OSCE, NATO and the WEU in the Former Yugoslavia, have pointed to a tremendous potential.

The linkage between the UN and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was formally established in the beginning of the1990s, but of course the regional approach in Europe has been under way for a quarter of a century. Europe was also centrally in the focus of SI activities for a long time, which was well rounded, because Europe was so deeply divided by the Cold War and because Europe was the primary scene for military confrontation, with the two opposing military alliances confronting each other.

Against that historical background it may be argued that particularly in Europe the end of the Cold War has been felt most dramatically and that there the challenge and need for establishing cooperative security arrangements to overcome the Cold-War divide are most urgent. That need has been recognised by all European governments.

The CSCE history, and now the institutions and procedures of the OSCE, have created the basis for such wide European security arrangements. Fruitful experience in confidence-building and cooperation as well as the mechanisms developed for crisis-prevention, for the promotion of democracy and of minority rights give direction to further efforts.

Yet, today's OSCE is still too weak an organisation to be able to deal with severe political or military crises alone. The necessity to find adequate roles for various international organisations and the best possible forms of cooperation between them is guiding the present efforts in Europe. The European Union, the Western European Union, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), NATO, and the UN are all exploring their potential contribution to European security architecture. The North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), Partnership for Peace as well as the ongoing Implementation Force (IFOR) operation in Bosnia are all examples of such new forms of security cooperation, where old adversaries as well as neutral states are acting together to build a new and safer Europe.

In post-Cold-War conditions, the most probable challenges are related to crisis-management and peace-keeping. Therefore the primary focus of European discussions and negotiations - whether in NATO, EU or WEU - is on these issues. The IFOR operation also sets a potential example in providing a framework for civilian and military elements in new peace-keeping operations. Such a comprehensive peace-keeping approach has been fruitful already in former UN operations, e.g. in Namibia, Central America and Cambodia.

The Socialist International has on various occasions referred to the possibility of exploiting the European experience in other regions of conflict. While it is not feasible to reproduce such experiences elsewhere - because every crisis and conflict has its unique characteristics - some central features of the CSCE approach seem worthwhile, such as the inclusion of all relevant parties in the negotiations, the adoption of a comprehensive security agenda and the beginning of the journey if necessary, even with modest results to make it start.

The validity of such a thesis has been underlined by similar recent experiences in many conflict-ridden regions like Central America, South Africa, Middle East and Asia. The capital created through confidence-building is needed to overcome protracted hostilities and to assure everyone the benefits of peace.


Towards nuclear disarmament

Nuclear non-proliferation

The Socialist International remains committed to achieving the real goal of nuclear non-proliferation: general nuclear disarmament. With the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995 and in view of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the international community should restate its priorities. The Socialist International will continue its work to lessen the role of nuclear weapons with the ultimate aim of a nuclear-free world.

Non-proliferation is more than just setting the agenda for nuclear disarmament or improving the NPT safeguards system. It is necessary to address the political and/or regional security perceptions and motives evoked in order to keep a nuclear arsenal or to develop a new one. It should become clear that there is no credible strategic need or rationale for nuclear weapons in a world with a sharply reduced risk of a global conflict, without antagonistic military blocs. With all the means available we should tackle the tension in certain regions which tempt states to become nuclear, and support consistent initiatives in order to favour the settlement of substantial security confidence-building measures, disarmament agreements, etc, while enhancing our global support for the elimination of the presence and the threat of any kind of weapons of mass destruction.

All states should strictly adhere to the Resolution on Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, passed by the NPT Review and Extension Conference. A number of countries have taken important steps to renounce their aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons. South Africa has dismantled its nuclear-weapon-making capability. Argentina and Chile have joined the NPT, and Argentina, Brazil and Chile have become full parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco. France has engaged in procedures to sign the Treaty of Rarotonga. With Africa's Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, established in 1996, nearly all of the southern hemisphere now constitutes a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

A new era of cooperation among nuclear-weapon states has made it possible to reach agreements on tangible reductions in nuclear stockpiles and on the elimination of entire classes of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have been completely withdrawn from many countries where they had been deployed during the Cold War.

The Socialist International opposes the deployment of nuclear weapons and related delivery systems in new member states in the case of NATO enlargement. This would be against the spirit of the NPT.

The main concerns in the coming years are the huge remaining stockpiles of the nuclear-weapon states, the refusal of some so-called threshold countries to renounce the nuclear option, and the risk that nuclear know-how and material end up in the hands of states or groups which are beyond international control.

Under these conditions, the existence of important nuclear arsenals still presents the risk of their use, with the very serious effects which this would mean for the populations and the environment. The situation created by the disappearance of the USSR has brought about new dangers in the nuclear field which are just as important.

The first is the possible access by new states to nuclear armaments. And the second is the possibility for non-state terrorist or mafia groups to acquire by purchasing, trafficking or theft, nuclear materials capable of producing bombs. This is why action aiming to rid the planet of nuclear risk must be conducted simultaneously in four fields:

1. that of reducing the existing arsenals - the START II Treaty must now be ratified by the Russian Duma, but it is necessary to begin without waiting to negotiate a new step which could take the form of a START III Treaty;

2. that of reinforcing non-proliferation and the test ban - it is essential that the NPT be signed by all the states of the world and that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty be signed soon on the basis of the zero option;

3. that of forbidding the production of nuclear material for military use or the capacity for its possible use for terrorist purposes. The so-called cut-off treaty negotiations must be initiated as soon as possible under conditions which would not legitimise the arsenals of the threshold states;

4. that of the extension of the powers of supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is an important condition for the implementation of the policy of nuclear material control, without which any policy directed against proliferation will fail.

The trade in plutonium and highly enriched uranium for economic, scientific or other reasons should be placed under strict international control. In the same way, the IAEA must be allowed to follow the evolution of radioactivity levels of all the now closed-down nuclear facilities or test sites and to keep track of all the undeclared activities which may lead to the production of nuclear weapons.

A register of nuclear weapons should be established at the United Nations. Registering the existing arsenals of nuclear weapons will enhance the confidence of non-nuclear countries in the readiness of nuclear countries to disarm and will thereby strengthen the will to adhere to the non-proliferation policy.

The Socialist International strongly urges all the governments which take their inspiration from SI principles to simultaneously pursue the legal and political battle along these four guidelines.

Negotiations on a treaty for a nuclear-weapon-free world must start in the Conference on Disarmament immediately.

Nuclear testing

The Socialist International has consistently insisted on a definitive end to nuclear testing as an effective and indispensable means to achieve real progress in nuclear disarmament. These efforts should be continued until the CTBT is signed and ratified by all relevant states.

There is no technical justification for the continuation of nuclear testing. Scientific studies have shown that a very small number of tests is needed to ensure the safety of certain types of nuclear weapons; yet in no case will tests be needed after 1996. France and China - after two more test explosions in 1996 - have finally stopped testing and joined the moratorium by the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom. While it is positive that China has given up the concept of so-called peaceful nuclear explosions, any conditions attached to the decision are out of place.

The Socialist International has consistently supported the conclusion in 1996 of the CTBT. We therefore welcome the resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 September 1996, adopting the text of the CTBT. The immediate goal now is therefore to secure signatures of all states for the CTBT and the early entering into force of the Treaty. When in force, the Treaty will be a cornerstone of nuclear disarmament together with the NPT, the IAEA safeguards system and the agreements among the nuclear-weapon states.

The ultimate objective, however, must remain the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

In this regard the SI welcomes the recommendations of the recently completed Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.


Towards conventional arms control

For fifty years the efforts of the international community in the field of disarmament have been primarily aimed at promoting nuclear disarmament and the prohibition of other means of mass destruction. Such emphasis has been justified, because the future of mankind was long jeopardised especially by these very weapons. That task remains unfinished, and further efforts are needed to enhance nuclear disarmament by all means, the ratification and implementation of the convention prohibiting chemical weapons as well as further measures to effectively abolish biological weapons everywhere.

However, it is becoming more imperative than ever to take measures to cut down the so-called conventional weapons as well. These are the weapons with which most present wars are being waged, they constitute the arsenal of most armies and they assume the greatest share of global military expenditures.

In fact, the concept of conventional weapons has long been misleading, because many weapons of this category can result in destruction comparable to that caused by weapons of mass destruction.

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), as the most far-reaching treaty on major conventional weapons, is an encouraging example in many respects. While it was negotiated in the final phases of the Cold War in Europe, it still shows how favourable political conditions and arms-readiness of all parties to the treaty to adapt its stipulations to the realities of the post-Cold-War world makes it relevant also for today's world. The Socialist International demands the strict implementation of the treaty. We emphasise the necessity of reducing the number of forces and arms also in regions where they seem to have temporarily increased, and encourage all parties to explore ways for further reductions of major conventional weapons. It would seem useful for OSCE to open a revision process where all states concerned could participate.

Another positive development in recent years has been the increased openness and transparency in arms transfers. The UN Register on Conventional Arms is a most valuable instrument in this respect and should be further developed. Openness in issues dealing with arms transfers is a necessary ingredient in confidence-building, which again is a necessity for any peace process.

As a consequence of the end of the Cold War and the solution of many long-standing regional conflicts, the volume of international arms trade has notably decreased. This positive development can be further supported by unilateral restraint, by agreements between major arms suppliers as well as by cooperation of arms importers at regional level.

Recently, more attention - particularly at the regional level, especially in Africa - has been paid to so-called micro-disarmament, i.e. measures taken to destroy small arms piled in certain conflict areas. Such an approach can be of considerable help in the solution of regional conflicts, and should therefore be further developed by the UN in cooperation with regional organisations.

A balanced and effective solution must be found to the indiscriminate use of landmines which cause injuries and loss of human life to the civilian population.

As conventional weapons take the greatest share of global military expenditures, their reduction is a key factor in bringing them down, closer to the goal established in the UN Charter of maintaining peace and international security "with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources". While the transition from the Cold-War expenditure levels towards that legitimate goal implies major conversion at all levels, the Socialist International encourages all states to reaffirm their commitment to that goal. Conversion at global, national and societal levels will release huge resources to constructive purposes both in developing countries and industrialised countries.


The role of the Socialist International in conflict-prevention

As preventive action in the post-Cold-War period is becoming more important, there is an increasing role not only for preventive diplomacy but also for non-governmental organisations.

The Socialist International has a valuable record of dialogue between major powers as well as other conflict partners, and in new - more favourable - conditions, its role in conflict-prevention should be further explored.

From this point of view, it is recommended by the Socialist International that the member parties make a common effort in the fields of conflict-prevention, risk-analysis and mediation.

1. The role of the parties in conflict-prevention

1.1 Security today requires a global approach to the problems; in conflict- prevention the political, economic and social dimensions of the crises must be taken into account. Respect for human rights and democratic rules in a perspective of development facilitate conflict-prevention. SI member parties are called upon to work for an efficient prevention of conflicts.

1.2 The parties have a sensitising and educating role vis-à-vis public opinion. The method of preventive diplomacy requires that the peoples concerned and international public opinion are involved. Today, all armed conflicts touch civilian populations, which are the principal victims of modern wars. Preventive action can only be used in a political climate which is convinced of its necessity and of the promotion of a culture of peace, which must be the main objective of the SI member parties.

1.3 In government or in opposition, our parties have the obligation to join their efforts in international as well as regional organisations. Under their influence, states can prefer a policy of prevention, taking in the long-term action which prevents crises beforehand or prevents them from reappearing.

2. The role of the Socialist International in analysing risks of conflicts

2.1 The International, with its regional and specialised committees, could be used for centralised efforts and the exchange of information.

The SIPSAD and regional committees could deal with these issues more flexibly and faster than international organisations.

2.2 Following the example of the European Parliament conflict-prevention centre, regional expertise in conflict-prevention could be organised. Their main task could be to work out crisis indicators (social tensions, economic hardships, disintegration of state structures) and to analyse their different forms.

2.3 Thus the SI should be prepared to give an early warning and pass it on to competent international organisations.

3. The role of Socialist International member parties in mediation

3.1 SI parties should be able to avoid accusations of interfering in the internal affairs of a state. Support given beforehand can provide the concerned parties more efficient means to act in their own country.

3.2 Diplomacy can advance when disputes are studied and regulated through political dialogue, which channels tensions and helps the parties to find peaceful solutions together.

3.3. Thus, mediation which brings about a rapprochement of the parties to the conflict can become a central task of the Council.

In particular, our parties can help preventive efforts to be successful thanks to their knowledge of the local situations and their capacity to set up a mission of good offices in a relatively short time.

Thanks to this "citizens' diplomacy", discretion and confidentiality - necessary conditions for preventive diplomacy - have a better chance to be fulfilled and a compromise is easier to reach between the parties concerned.


* * *

The originality of the SI Statutes allows it to find its place in preventive diplomacy. Its role must be seen as parallel and complementary to the activities of international organisations.

It provides a forum for political dialogue and an opportunity for informal meetings which are indispensable if a rapprochement is sought.