UN deputy chief links importance of sustainable peace with progress on development

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. Photo: UN Global Compact/Michael Dames

1 March 2016 – Speaking today at a forum aimed to end extreme poverty by 2030 and promote shared sustainable prosperity, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson highlighted that peaceful solutions served both national and international interest and would only be lasting if coupled with development.

“Peace will only be sustainable if we make progress on development. Let us remember the fundamental formula from the 2005 UN Summit: There is no peace without development, no development without peace and neither peace nor development without respect of human rights,” Mr. Eliasson told the 2016 Forum on Fragility, Conflict and Violence, convened in Washington, D.C., by the World Bank.

Mr. Eliasson noted that political rivalries, international interference – known as proxy wars – economic volatility and inequalities, weak governance, human rights violations and a growth in violent extremism, feed conflict.

“Between 2007 and 2014, civil wars almost tripled. Wars have recently grown in intensity and scale, becoming more deadly, more protracted, more complex and less amenable to settlement. There is a glaring disrespect and disregard of international humanitarian law,” he stated.

In response to the conflicts, the Deputy Secretary-General noted that the UN launched major reviews in 2015 on the tools to respond to conflict, including on peace operations, peacebuilding, and on the fist-ever World Humanitarian Summit later this year.

Last year, the UN took landmark steps for sustainable development, beginning with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and culminating with the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. Mr. Eliasson pointed out that the historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development linked all those processes.

“This overarching Agenda, agreed by Governments last September in New York, can be summarized in five words: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership,” he said, adding that with 17 universal, integrated and mutually reinforcing Goals, leaders promised “to translate this agenda into national planning and realities, all over the world.”

Mr. Eliasson stressed that the Goals would not be achieved unless everyone heeds the call of the UN Charter to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” while at the same time make progress on development.

Highlighting three key messages from the reports on the major review processes, including prioritizing conflict prevention, he said: “We must get better at stamping out the flames before they pose an existential threat to the social, economic and political fabric which underpins human development.”

Secondly, he emphasized the need to reduce humanitarian needs, noting that the demand has overwhelmed the supplies. “Around the world, more than 125 million people are in grave need of humanitarian assistance. There are more people displaced than at any time since the Second World War – some 60 million people,” he explained.

His third point underlined the necessity of working together to sustain peace through realizing the Sustainable Development Goals – especially important for fragile societies.

“Not only must we leave no-one behind, we must first reach those who are furthest behind. We need more attention and resources devoted to conflict-affected countries, and equally more attention and resources targeting the drivers of conflict,” he stressed.

The UN deputy chief argued the importance of acquiring a deeper understanding of the relationship between economic factors and conflict – indicating the significance of the cooperation between the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions.

“The UN offers its global political reach and legitimacy. The World Bank Group has programmatic expertise and financial muscle,” he said. “In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and safeguard peace and security for all, we must revitalize the multilateral cooperation in the new global landscape,” he said.

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