MIRPUR (AJK)-AJK President Sardar Masood Khan Monday emphasised the need to establish lasting peace in South Asia by resolving all the outstanding issues, especially the Kashmir dispute through dialogues within the framework of the United Nations.

The AJK president made these remarks while addressing the inaugural session of the International Peace Studies Conference 2018 organised by the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) held at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria.

The president while speaking to the audience said that though the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been deployed in the region to help monitor the situation along the Line of Control, there is a dire need to make it more functional and effective.

Underlining the need to resolve the issue of Kashmir - the core conflict in South Asia - the president said that the dispute must be resolved through engagements and dialogues between the two neighbouring countries while giving unqualified prominence to the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and safeguarding their human rights. “The use of force and violence is not a solution to this dispute,” he said.

He said that chronic conflicts must never be dispatched to the back burner of history but instead due to their sensitivity and volatility they must figure prominently on the UN Security Council’s horizon.

The president urged that the UN’s primary role in maintaining peace cannot be ignored especially in the areas with long-standing conflicts and for this, he proposed that the Security Council should proactively encourage and guide parties to the dispute to engage in negotiations, mediations and arbitrations as well as other legal means, as provided in Article 33 of the UN Charter. However, if the parties fail to settle the dispute by such means, they should refer it to the Security Council in accordance with Article 37, he added.

He further said the Council should uphold international law, especially international humanitarian law and human rights law to maintain international peace and security. It should proceed, unhampered by selectivity and realpolitik, against instances of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; and in this regard constitute commissions of enquiry and fact-finding missions.

Likewise, a method should be devised to ensure implementation of and compliance with the Security Council resolutions. Members should be obligated not to act unilaterally and violate or erode the Council’s solemn pledges and resolutions, he suggested.

He highlighted the importance of multilateral organisations like the UN, and said that peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building are part of a continuum of preventive diplomacy.

The UN, he said, had made considerable success in many strife-torn zones and regions, like Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Kosovo and Haiti despite the fact, that there is no guarantee of success due to the challenging and volatile environments in which peacekeeping missions operate.

The president explained that despite these successes the UN has not succeeded in bringing stability and security to many regions and countries like Somalia, Rwanda, Libya, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic and chronic conflicts like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine and Kashmir, have not yielded any solution.

The pressing need, said the president, was to approach issues of global impact with absolute impartiality. He said reformation in the UN strengthening it through democratizing decision-making processes in the UNSC is needed. He added that the permanent five should distance itself from monopolizing and dominating the action on long-standing persistent issues like Kashmir, Palestine, Korean Peninsula, Syria, Ukraine which have graver and wider implication on global peace and security.

The session was also addressed by Michael Spindelegger, the former deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Austria; Emil Brix, Director of Vienna School of International Studies; Kishore Mandhyan, the director for Peacekeeping, UN; Mike Hardy, the director of Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations; Walter Feichtinger from the Austrian National Defence Academy; Farid Zarif, the former UN under-secretary general and coordinator of UN Operation Liberia-UNMIL; M Nizamuddin, the chairperson of Punjab Higher Education Commission; and Lucia Mokra, dean Social and Economic Sciences Comenius University of Bratislava.