The General Assembly concluded its high-level dialogue on sustainable development and sustaining peace today with its President underscoring the need to take the debate beyond the halls of the United Nations while reforming the Organization with the active support of its Member States.
Eighteen delegations and organizations took the floor to emphasize, as speakers did on Monday, the inextricable link between sustaining peace and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They included those from countries that had emerged from conflict, as well as small-island developing States who drew attention to the impact of climate change.
In closing remarks, Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said that throughout the high-level dialogue and its three workshops, speakers had emphasized that there could be no sustainable development without sustaining peace, and no sustainable peace without sustainable development.
“We may take it that henceforth this is an established tenet of the United Nations,” he said, adding that the discussion needed to be taken beyond Headquarters in order to raise awareness, understanding and ownership of sustainable development and sustaining peace, as well as to serve as a point of entry for dialogue between Governments and citizens.
He also emphasized the need for action and reform by the United Nations system under the leadership of the Secretary-General, with the active support and engagement of Member States, and noted that the proceedings of the past two days would contribute to preparations for a high-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace to be convened during the Assembly’s seventy-second session later this year.
Macharia Kamu (Kenya), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, called the Sustainable Development Goals a road map to achieve a more resilient world, and encouraged Member States to grasp the dialogue as a starting point for the Organization to fulfil its promises on the matter. “This meeting will go down in history as a milestone for the work of peace,” he said.
The representative of Cambodia — recalling that his nation knew all too well the cost of conflict — discussed how its national strategic development plan was focused on expanding equal economic opportunities for men and women alike. He stressed the need to fully address inequality within and among countries, and called for improved trade policies, including ones that would grant preferential treatment to developing countries.
Nigeria’s delegate said it was disconcerting that the drivers of violence — some new, others long-standing — had drastic implications for international and regional efforts to support countries in moving beyond conflict. He supported a comprehensive approach, adding that the national responsibility to drive efforts to sustain peace must be broadly shared across the social spectrum and include women and youth.
Speakers from the Maldives and Trinidad and Tobago discussed peace and development in the context of climate change, with the former proposing that vulnerable small island developing States be given a seat on the Security Council to ensure that the issue remained on its agenda “while there is still time to act”.
His counterpart from El Salvador said peace agreements and political reforms had enabled his country to overcome armed conflict. Despite that significant achievement, however, he said El Salvador needed socioeconomic development for all segments of society, and called upon the Secretary-General to provide the requisite support for that to occur.
Also speaking were representatives of Myanmar, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Nepal, Andorra, Honduras, Viet Nam, Serbia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.
A representative of the State of Palestine also spoke, as did representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) said that the mere absence of war and conflict did not mean peace. Good governance, the rule of law, respect for democracy and human rights, and the protection of the planet were the basic pillars of sustainable development. Harmonious societies, social justice and cohesion were a necessary foundation for sustaining peace. Myanmar had endured long decades of internal armed conflict, and the lack of peace and stability had deprived people of their fundamental rights to development and social justice. With strong commitment, however, Myanmar had pursued the national reconciliation and peace process with a view to finding a lasting solution through dialogue and negotiations. Citing an example, he said that Myanmar had successfully organized the first session of the Union Peace Conference in 2016, with the participation of representatives from the Government, the Parliament, armed forces, ethnic armed groups, political parties and civil society organizations. The second session would be convened towards the end of February.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said that, by creating a solid basis for the rule of law, it would be possible to make progress on the other Sustainable Development Goals. Because of the various challenges his country faced in its post-conflict period, it understood the importance of promoting Goal 16. Guatemala’s national development plan was aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, but it needed assistance and cooperation from all parties. He discussed the role of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala as an example of strengthening institutions and encouraging transparency, as well as a more active citizenry. Guatemala knew there would be challenges to be met, but — working with the international community and various stakeholders — it would be able to make significant progress.
RY TUY (Cambodia), recalling that his country knew all too well about the cost of conflict, said building sustainable peace for all was among its top priorities. As education was central to building peace, Cambodia’s National Strategic Development Plan focused on expanding equal economic opportunities for men and women. In addition, it worked to promote civic engagement and involve young people in order to give them a sense of purpose. Stressing that inequality within and among countries must be fully addressed in order to build sustainable peace for all, he said universal social policies and social protections were critical in that regard. Trade policies should be improved and trade facilitation enhanced, including through preferential treatment to developing countries. He also urged respect for the principles of self-determination, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as non-interference in the internal domestic affairs of States.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said that the international community could not foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies without ensuring sustainable development. “This is easier said than done, and what really matters is the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and sustaining peace agenda in a comprehensive and holistic manner,” she said, adding that Ethiopia, for its part, had developed its national development, growth and transformation plan. The Government had already allocated 60 per cent of the national budget for development-related programmes and projects. By conducting national and regional consultations, the Goals were also mainstreamed at subnational and local levels. That would enable Ethiopia to enhance ownership of the Goals and the participation of all segments of society and to increase transparency and accountability.
LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal), emphasizing the need to improve the synergy among peace and security, human rights and development in the United Nations, called upon the Secretariat to achieve greater coherence and efficiency. As a landlocked country emerging from armed conflict, Nepal was determined to pursue a human rights-based development agenda. It aimed to take bold steps to ensure the ownership of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in partnership with the media and business community, as well as civil society organizations and young people.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives) drew attention to the problems faced by small island developing States, emphasizing that small shifts in the global economy could have outsized effects on their economic fortunes and threaten progress on sustainable development. No countries were at greater risk of the potentially disastrous effects of climate change than such States, he said, adding that the degradation of natural resources could lead to conflict situations. Climate change must be put at the centre of efforts to address sustainable development and sustaining peace. He said it would be worthwhile to consider a Security Council seat for small-island developing States to ensure that climate change was given the attention it deserved as a security-related issue “while there is still time to act”. Concluding, he called for a greater understanding of the relationship between climate change, sustainable development and sustaining peace.
ELISENDA VIVES BALMAÑA (Andorra) called sustaining peace a facilitator and an instrument of sustainable development. Inclusion was key, she said, adding that sustainable peace and development would not endure if women were not part of the 2030 Agenda paradigm. Andorra’s commitment to gender equality was unwavering, she said, emphasizing also the importance of quality education, which would enable societies not only to deal with challenges, but to foresee them as well. By knowing how to teach the basic concepts of living together, it would be much easier to achieve inclusive societies and sustainable peace and development.
ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador) said that the signing of peace agreements and enactment of political reforms had enabled his country to overcome armed conflict. While it was a significant achievement, El Salvador needed socioeconomic development for all segments of society, he said, calling upon the Secretary-General to provide the requisite support for that to occur. Sustainable development underpinned sustainable peace, which could only be achieved when all segments of society were empowered and included. A culture of peace was an integral approach to preventing violence, he said, adding: “We have to measure our progress to see whether we’re falling behind.”
MARY ELIZABETH FLORES (Honduras) highlighted the need to reflect and evaluate the global action plan on achieving sustainable development and how best to collaborate on shaping the future. Honduras had set an example aligning its country plan with regional strategies on peace, democracy and development. It had also focused on strengthening institutions through innovative initiatives and remained committed to settling differences through dialogue, negotiation and respect for the legitimate interests of all States involved. Honduras also remained dedicated to providing technical and financial support to safeguard democratic institutions, national reconciliation, sustainable development and peace. She touched on various ways her country was contributing to promoting sustainable development in Central America, including through making investments and cooperating with the United Nations. Women, the cornerstone of the global agenda, must be fully included in achieving universal objectives and creating a more peaceful future.
ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria) said sustainable development, peace and economic growth must be guaranteed and he urged coordinated efforts in that regard. The 2030 Agenda and the quest for sustainable peace were parts of a unified whole. It was disconcerting that the drivers of violence — some new, others long-standing — had drastic implications for international and regional efforts to support countries in moving beyond conflict. He supported a comprehensive approach to sustainable development and sustaining peace, adding that the national responsibility to drive efforts to sustain peace must be broadly shared across the social spectrum and they must include women and youth. Welcoming the United Nations efforts to build synergies between the new Agenda and sustainable peace through partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, he said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had made significant achievements in resolving conflicts.
PENNELOPE BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said that sustainable development was inextricably linked to the safety and security of the people of small island developing States. Climate change was a threat to Trinidad and Tobago’s existence which could not be contained through high-level diplomatic talks and mediation. Addressing that phenomenon required global cooperation. Further, Trinidad and Tobago was situated in a region heavily affected by illicit arms trade, the driver of gang violence and organized crime. Her country, with a view to ending that scourge, fully subscribed to the aims of the Arms Trade Treaty. Among other things, she recognized the significant role that women must play in implementing the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing that the Government had enacted various laws to empower women and girls.
NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam) said it was vital to address the root causes of conflicts, promote national reconciliation, reconstruction and development, and enhance good governance and institutional capacities. It was also imperative to promote sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth and narrow the development gap within and among nations. Developing countries required assistance to strengthen communities to enable them to resist economic volatility and financial shocks, as well as disasters and epidemics. A holistic approach and coherent, well-planned coordination among all three pillars of the Organization was also required. There was a need for closer coordination and cooperation within the United Nations system, particularly among the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the General Assembly. Viet Nam was strongly committed to international peace, as well as fulfilling the 2030 Agenda, and to that end, was focusing on boosting cooperation on transit and trade facilitation with a view to implementing sustainable development.
BORIS HOLOVKA (Serbia) said that saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war could only be attained through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Wars and conflicts could not be prevented as long as poverty, hunger and inequality existed, he said, adding: “The international community cannot move forward in a balanced and stable manner if 1 per cent of the global population has more wealth and income than the remaining 99 per cent.” Pointing to the rising number of civil wars and global humanitarian crises, he emphasized the need to address poverty, lack of inclusiveness and the root causes of conflict. It was unfortunate that the United Nations system was lacking coherence and coordination in moving from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and to development. The fragmented silo approach was still prevalent within the Organization despite repeated calls for “delivering as one”.
EFE CEYLAN (Turkey) said his country highly valued and contributed to the efforts aiming at sustainable development and peaceful settlement of disputes at the regional and international levels. At the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, Turkey had made a pledge to further increase its humanitarian and development assistance, providing $1 million for the Peacebuilding Commission. It also supported the United Nations key recommendations regarding the primacy of politics and the enhanced focus on conflict prevention and mediation. The success of peacekeeping operations and the credibility of the Organization depended heavily on the compliance with principles of the Charter. That included addressing the root causes, bringing an end to long-term grievances and upholding human rights, as well as making security, development and justice available to all.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), noting a presidential decree last year to establish a national coordination council on sustainable development, said unresolved armed conflicts, security concerns and related humanitarian challenges undermined the ability to make progress on sustainable development. Resolving armed conflict was a precondition for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in full. Special attention should be given to resolutions adopted by the principal organs of the United Nations relating to the peaceful settlement of disputes and conflict prevention, including Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 adopted in 1993 that dealt with the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, condemned the use of force against the country and the occupation of its territories, and reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. He said the Council’s principled demands had still not been implemented and unresolved conflict continued to prevent fully fledged regional cooperation.
ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, said the Palestinian situation was a clear example of the dialectical relationship between peace, security and development. The Palestinian economy was subservient to the Israeli one, he said, emphasizing the “very wide gap” between the two. Twenty-three years after the Oslo Accords, Palestinian development successes have been modest because of the Israeli occupation. Preparations must be made for a Palestinian economy that would be independent and viable, as that would serve the interests of both Palestinians and Israel.
ALESSANDRO MOTTER, Inter-Parliamentary Union, said peacebuilding and development were long-term, nationally driven processes requiring inclusive, transparent and effective decision-making institutions and respect for the rule of law. Parliaments were among the most important of those institutions, he added, emphasizing that they were uniquely placed to hold Governments to account for the effective implementation of international commitments. Clearly, not all parliaments were born the same nor were they equally capable of carrying out the functions of ensuring inclusiveness in decision-making. The Inter-Parliamentary Union provided direct assistance to parliaments to help them find effective ways to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals and to address specific priorities such as health, gender equality, climate change and development cooperation. The Union also helped parliaments improve their internal decision-making processes, as well as enact reforms to become more representative.
MASSIMO TOMMASOLI, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, said sustaining peace required democratic institutions. “We have to monitor how they function and undertake necessary reforms,” he said, adding that such steps were critical in restoring trust and achieving service delivery. For its part, the United Nations must improve its capacity to analyse complex political developments and to take necessary actions in line with early warning signals. Among other things, he emphasized that successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda required national ownership with the engagement of all actors, including women and girls, youth, civil society organizations, the private sector and academia.
MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, expressed gratitude to those who had participated in the high-level dialogue. The United Nations was committed to preventing conflicts, he said, recalling the Secretary-General’s call for a surge in diplomacy for peace. The 2030 Agenda, in that regard, was a road map to achieve a more resilient world, and Member States must see today’s dialogue as a starting point for the Organization to fulfil its promises on the matter. “This meeting will go down in history as a milestone for the work of peace,” he concluded.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, thanked participants, emphasizing the quality of discussion, as well as the high level of interest from Member States and others. Throughout the high-level dialogue and its three workshops, speakers emphasized that there could be no sustainable development without sustaining peace, and no sustainable peace without sustainable development. “We may take it that henceforth this is an established tenet of the United Nations,” he said.
Summarizing the discussions, he noted the Secretary-General’s commitment to advancing a surge in diplomacy for peace. Speaker after speaker had emphasized the importance of conflict prevention and drove home the importance of inclusivity, building social cohesion and the role of women and youth. The dialogue also underlined the need for human rights protections, justice and the rule of law, and effective and accountable institutions, while highlighting coherent approaches to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals that would include pursuing coherent partnerships and advancing urgent reforms within the United Nations. Speakers also highlighted the role of Member States’ political support to United Nations reforms efforts, as well as providing adequate and sustainable financing, he said.
He went on to summarize the workshop discussions, which he said focused in greater detail on empowering women and youth, managing natural resources and strengthening transparent, inclusive and accountable institutions. Concluding, he said it was vital to ensure that the ideas discussed during the high-level dialogue become a foundation to take forward implementation of sustaining peace and sustainable development. The conversation needed to be taken outside the halls of the United Nations in order to raise awareness, understanding and ownership of those two concepts and to become an entry point for dialogue between Governments and citizens. There also needed to be action and reform by the United Nations system under the leadership of the Secretary-General with the active support and engagement of Member States.
For his part, he said he would prepare a summary of the dialogue that would contribute to preparations for a high-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace to be convened during the General Assembly’s seventy-second session. He would also engage closely with the Presidents of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General and the new Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission on ways to improve coherence and coordination of the United Nations peace, development and human rights efforts.