Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the World Bank Group Forum on Fragility, Conflict and Violence, in Washington, D.C., today:
I thank you for inviting me to address this important forum on a crucial subject in today’s troubled and turbulent world: Leaving no one behind in fragile States.
Last year, the United Nations marked its seventieth anniversary. During 2015, the world took landmark steps for sustainable development, beginning with the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and culminating in the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. Linking them all is the equally historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This overarching Agenda, agreed by Governments last September in New York, can be summarized in five words: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. With 17 universal, integrated and mutually reinforcing Goals, this new Agenda is a promise by leaders to translate this Agenda into national planning and realities, all over the world.
But these Goals will not be achieved unless we heed the call of the United Nations Charter to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. At the same time, peace will only be sustainable if we make progress on development. Let us remember the fundamental formula from the 2005 United Nations Summit: There is no peace without development, no development without peace and neither peace nor development without respect for human rights.
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 for international humanitarian law. Several factors feed conflict: political rivalries, international interference (“proxy wars”), economic volatility and inequalities, weak governance, human rights violations and a growth in violent extremism. Uncoordinated action and the pursuit of short-sighted national interests will only perpetuate instability. The peaceful solutions are in today’s world both in the national and international interest.
In response to these conflicts, the United Nations and its Member States launched major reviews in 2015 on the tools to respond to conflict, including on peace operations, peacebuilding and the World Humanitarian Summit. I would like to highlight three key messages from these reports.
First, we must give priority to preventing conflict. In view of the difficulties to end and contain wars, we have to develop the will and policies to prevent and address these conflicts early and collectively. 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. This means that we must reduce risk, build resilience and bridge the humanitarian-development divide. There should be a dynamic, organic relationship between humanitarian action and development.
Also, for protracted crises, we need multi-year financing rather than short-term responses. Here the World Bank can offer ideas and solutions. The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May is critical to addressing systemic funding challenges and agreeing on concrete steps to better prepare for and respond to crises. The panel led by Kristalina Georgieva has offered several good proposals and ideas for the Summit to consider.
This brings me to my second point. We must reduce humanitarian needs. The demands simply overwhelm the supply. 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. Last year, the United Nations launched its largest ever annual humanitarian appeal — $16.4 billion. The shortfall is profound, and affecting our ability to save lives. More than 80 per cent of this appeal is for people in conflict.
My third point is that we must work together to sustain peace by achieving the Sustainable Development Goals — this is 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.
Peace and development to a large degree rely on national ownership, national revenues and national capacities. But national leadership needs to be supported by consistent international political, technical and financial assistance. This will make possible the long-term, multidimensional transitions which will consolidate the gains of peace.
We need deeper awareness and deeper understanding of the relationship between economic factors and conflict. There again, the cooperation between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions will be valuable. We also need more predictable responses, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and effective complementarity and division of labour between all actors.
The United Nations offers its global political reach and legitimacy. The World Bank Group has programmatic expertise and financial muscle. I hope that discussions between the United Nations and the World Bank will continue on how to collaborate more effectively on conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
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. A sense of shared humanity and responsibility must shape our politics and drive our choices and decisions. The international community has a duty to end the fragmentation of efforts which can be both costly and liable to reduce impact on the ground.
The United Nations is working to unify the three interdependent pillars of its mandate — peace and security, development and human rights. None can be achieved without the other. This is also central to the “Human Rights Up Front” initiative that the Secretary-General and I launched to transform how the United Nations engages in prevention. It requires the United Nations system entities to assess situations from the perspective of all three pillars. It also aims to identify problems and act on them early on instead of waiting for atrocities and conflicts to emerge.
We see the World Bank Group as an important partner in all of the areas I have outlined this morning. That is why Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President [Jim Yong] Kim have organized a series of joint regional tours in different parts of the world. Together, we partner with Governments and peoples in their efforts to prevent crisis, recover from conflict and fight poverty and despair. Now, at a time of great opportunity but also of mounting risks for peace and sustainable development, we must deepen our collaboration.
There are no quick and easy “fixes” to address the grievances and disillusionment shared by billions of people worldwide. The answer very much lies in vigorously pursuing the Agenda agreed by world leaders last year at the Sustainable Development Summit.
We have an opportunity to leave an enduring legacy — especially for those living today in situations of conflict, disaster, vulnerability and risk.
Let us work together for a world of security, opportunity and dignity for all.