Speakers Call for Addressing Causes of Conflict, Rather Than Investing in ‘Bullets and Tanks’, as General Assembly Continues High-Level Debate on Sustaining Peace
The General Assembly continued its high‑level debate on peacebuilding and sustaining peace today with speakers underscoring the value of the Peacebuilding Fund, a people‑centred approach to human security and the need to tackle poverty and other causes of violence by way of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The meeting was convened by the Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), in line with General Assembly resolution 70/262 and Security Council resolution 2282 (2016), renewing the United Nations commitment to conflict prevention, as embodied in its Charter. (For background, please see Press Release GA/12010.)
Several delegates conveyed their support for a draft resolution that would have the Assembly, alongside the Security Council, invite relevant United Nations bodies to advance, explore and consider the implementation of recommendations and options set out in the latest report of the Secretary‑General on the topic (document A/72/707–S/2018/43).
“We have come a long way [since the twin 2016 resolutions] in the pursuit of a more inclusive and integrated approach to sustaining peace and addressing the root causes of conflict, instead of just responding to crises,” said Mexico’s representative, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace.
In the same vein, Panama’s representative, on behalf of the Human Security Network, said a human security approach — with a strong focus on human rights — could help Governments and the United Nations come up with policies and strategies that addressed the causes of conflict, promoted social integration, fought poverty and built more secure and sustainable environments.
The representative of Liberia, where a United Nations peacekeeping mission successfully completed its mandate in March, said the steep human and monetary cost of war should be enough of an incentive for countries to use their collective ingenuity and resources to invest in prevention, particularly at a time of reduced funding commitments. “Imagine, rather than investing in bullets and tanks, we could have [people] invest in roads and energy, hospitals and schools,” he said, seeing in conflict prevention and sustaining peace a pathway for bending the present trajectory of fear and war.
Echoing that view, Sierra Leone’s delegate recalled a joint United Nations‑World Bank study which stated that additional investment in conflict prevention could save the international community $1.5 billion each year. He credited the Peacebuilding Commission and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) for aiding in a peaceful change of Government.
Lebanon’s delegate said the Organization must go “back to basics” and commit to its core principles. To drown out hatred, oppression and incitement, people must be bold and flood every space available — especially cyberspace — with a message of peace. She emphasized that peacekeeping was not an alternative to peace, and that root causes — notably occupation, inequality and exclusion — must be addressed.
Sri Lanka’s delegate, noting that his country had embarked on a process of peacebuilding after many years of conflict, said international engagement had been essential, with the United Nations playing an important role. Funding from the Peacebuilding Commission had been invaluable, covering a range of programmes, he said, adding that Sri Lanka was an example of the need for sustained and predictable funding for the Peacebuilding Fund.
Japan’s delegate was among several speakers who praised the Peacebuilding Fund, welcoming in particular the priority it attached to women and youth. Financing was a critical factor in implementing and enhancing such activities, he said, highlighting the importance of predictable, flexible and transparent budgets.
The representative of the Dominican Republic said the traditional concept of peace and security was not in line with the multifaceted problems faced by small island developing States, for which climate change was a threat. He urged the international community to address the specific vulnerabilities of those States and come up with coordinated action.
While several speakers from Africa reiterated the call for deeper cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, Singapore’s delegate highlighted the critical role that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could play in fostering peace among the region’s many ethnicities, cultures, religions, languages and histories.
Also speaking today were senior officials and representatives of Denmark, Finland, Libya, Cuba, Jordan, China, Canada, Jamaica, Egypt, Thailand, Myanmar, Senegal, Uruguay, Japan, Yemen, Guatemala, Morocco, Chad, Honduras, Pakistan, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Republic of Korea, Chile, Timor‑Leste, South Africa, Liechtenstein, Burundi, El Salvador, New Zealand, United Republic of Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Malta, Lithuania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Australia, Cyprus, Netherlands, Botswana, Slovakia, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Italy, Cambodia, Mali, Malaysia, Gabon, Ecuador, Argentina, Oman, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 26 April to continue its high‑level meeting and take action on a related draft resolution.
MELITÓN ARROCHA RUÍZ (Panama), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, said human security was at the core of sustaining peace and sustainable development. Noting that conflict‑related human suffering had reached unacceptable levels, he said a human security approach could help support Governments and the United Nations in designing and implementing policies and strategies that addressed root causes, promoted social integration and harmony, combated poverty and inequality, and built more secure and sustainable environments. Emphasis should be placed on inclusion, notably greater recognition and support for women’s participation and harnessing the ideas of youth. He added that a prevention‑oriented approach — including strong promotion and protection of human rights — was fundamental to address the causes of threats. Efforts must also be guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
JONAS BERING LIISBERG, State Secretary for Foreign Policy of Denmark, called on all Member States to invest more in the multilateral framework for peace and security. Denmark had been a long‑standing supporter of United Nations efforts to prevent conflict and sustain peace. A central focus of Denmark’s development and humanitarian strategy was promoting stability and supporting the most vulnerable in fragile situations. Human rights must remain at the core of efforts towards preventing conflict and sustaining peace. He stressed that the international community could not succeed in sustaining peace without a strong focus on human rights and the core values on which the United Nations was built. “An essential cause of violence and extremism is a feeling of being left out and excluded,” he said. The United Nations must ensure that the protection of human rights remained at the heart of its prevention and peacebuilding efforts.
ANNE SIPILÄINEN, Under‑Secretary of State of Finland, aligning herself with the European Union, said that sustaining peace was a core mandate of the United Nations, which must mobilize to accomplish that robust task. Indeed, it flowed through all three pillars of the United Nations and was reinforced by the Organization’s common determination to promote peaceful and inclusive societies. She commended the efforts of the Secretary‑General to ensure the United Nations responded in a more integrated manner to complex conflicts. Already, many parts of the system were trying to better address crises and integrate a more preventative approach. In that connection, she called for more joint efforts in the field. At the same time, the prospects for durable peace were better if it included all of society, including youth, women and civil society. She went on to highlight the role of conflict prevention and mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes and as a cost‑effective and life‑saving tool of the United Nations.
JUAN JOSÉ IGNACIO GÓMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace, said the cross‑regional group of 40 Member States focused on deepening dialogue and the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda as both a goal and a process. Since the 2016 adoption by the Assembly and the Security Council of twin resolutions on that issue, “we have come a long way in the pursuit of a more inclusive and integrated approach to sustaining peace and addressing the root causes of conflict, instead of just responding to crises”. States would continue to pursue those efforts in line with national ownership, priorities and strategies, he said, also calling on the United Nations system to do the same across its three pillars. Welcoming the new procedural resolution on peacebuilding and sustaining peace as a reflection of Member States’ commitment, he concluded: “We look forward to keeping this momentum going.”
LEWIS GARSEEDAH BROWN II (Liberia) said the steep human and monetary cost of war should be enough of an incentive for countries to use their collective ingenuity and resources to meaningfully invest in prevention and eliminate the main drivers of conflict, particularly at a time of declines in commitments to fund such activities. For its part, Liberia, after decades of war, was a post‑conflict society struggling to consolidate its cherished peace with development plans and inclusive policies to leave no one behind, efforts that must be constantly supported to ensure progress. Liberia, like many other countries, had seen the resilience of ordinary people stretched to breaking points, yet the people had endured. “Imagine if we brought such resilience to preventing conflicts,” he said. “Imagine, rather than investing in bullets and tanks, we could have them invest in roads and energy, hospitals and schools. Imagine how we can use science and technology — yes, to spy on each other — but, also to enrich lives. Pursuing the path of preventing conflict and sustaining peace gives us a real chance to lift our humanity and bend the present trajectory of fear and war.”
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said the United Nations must go “back to basics” and commit to the principles of the Organization, which defined its mission as saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war. To save humanity from hell, peacemakers were needed. “The disrupters were so many and so loud, while the peacemakers were few and timid,” she said. To drown out hatred, oppression and incitement, people needed to be bold and flood every space available — especially cyberspace — with a message of peace. She expressed support for conflict prevention and the role of peace operations and peacekeeping towards that end, such as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). However, peacekeeping was not an alternative to peace, she continued, underscoring the need to address the causes of conflict, notably occupation, inequality and exclusion. Investing in education was also crucial, by raising generations better equipped to enter the job market, as was promoting a culture of peace and fostering constructive dialogue.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said mediation was needed so as not to neglect certain issues nor leave anyone behind. He emphasized the importance of national ownership and the link between peace, security and development. At the same time, this was a different era in which the pace of change was swift, and the United Nations needed to keep up through innovative solutions to tackle today’s challenges. Highlighting the difficulty of accountability in conflict‑ridden countries, he said the Organization nevertheless had a wealth of skills at its disposal that must be used optimally. Expressing support for partnerships with regional and international organizations, he cited the African Union’s partnership with the United Nations as a success story that had yielded results in the areas of peace and security. He went on to reiterate support for the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts in building and sustaining peace and expressed hope that future reports would include the role of media and how they could help raise awareness and provide context to situations. That was particularly important when terrorist groups were exploiting social media with their hateful rhetoric, he said.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country echoed calls made by African delegations for more funding to be directed to peacebuilding activities. Member States must decide to ensure adequate, predictable and continued financing. Emphasizing the need for a international climate based on multilateralism, and the principles of the United Nations Charter, she warned that efforts in that regard could be brought to an abrupt halt by the unilateral use of force against States, unilateral coercive measures, intimidation and trade inequalities. Sustaining peace would also require ending the causes of conflict. Priority must be given to the 2030 Agenda, including building the capacities of developing countries through, among other things, development assistance and technological transfers with no strings attached.
SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan), underscoring the link between peacebuilding, sustaining peace and the 2030 Agenda, emphasized the importance of national ownership and sufficient financing, as well as strengthening the Peacebuilding Support Office. In the Middle East, peace and security required ending the Israeli occupation. Removing injustices against Palestinians was an international moral obligation, she said, calling for a two‑State solution and the establishment of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state with pre‑1967 borders and east Jerusalem as its capital. There must also be a political solution to the Syrian crisis. She recalled that Jordan — despite unprecedented economic challenges — hosted more refugees than any other country, and requested more international help in that regard. The international community had a responsibility to uphold international values for peace, justice, human rights and solidarity.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said his country was an example of how the United Nations could work with other countries towards building peaceful and inclusive societies. Underscoring the role of regional organizations in fostering peace and development, he emphasized that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had played a critical role in fostering peace in South‑East Asia. He also noted the region’s immense diversity and its many ethnicities, cultures, religions, languages and histories. He expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s goal to build a better United Nations focused on making a real difference on the ground. Calling on Member States to live up to their United Nations Charter obligations, he said it was essential to examine how the peace continuum could be best supported by the current financial structures.
ZHAOXU MA (China) said that sustainable development and sustaining peace were common global aspirations. Concerning the United Nations work on the latter, he said peacekeeping must respect the honour and will of the country concerned and suit its specific situation. Those activities must focus on building national capacity, while assisting in conflict prevention and reconstruction. United Nations peacekeeping must also place equal weight on development and security, he said, addressing both the symptoms and causes of conflict. He called for the strengthening of peacekeepers’ coordination as well as deepened partnerships with regional organizations, which in turn must play an active role in peacebuilding in their respective regions. He also expressed support for the international system and the norms guiding international relations.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS GRANT (Canada), recalling that “conflicts that no longer make the news every day”, stressed that the Organization should be better structured, equipped and supported to prevent the outbreak, escalation and relapse of conflict. Stressing the central role of women in sustaining peace, he commended the Peacebuilding Fund for exceeding the Secretary‑General’s 15 per cent target for women’s empowerment projects. Long‑term peacebuilding required broad consultations with national stakeholders and access to resources, he said, also noting the key role of donors in addressing the fragmentation of financing.
DIEDRE NICHOLE MILLS (Jamaica) said the focus on peacebuilding and sustaining peace must be couched in the long‑term focus on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. The case for greater policy and operational coherence — within the framework of promoting complementarity among stakeholders — could not be overemphasized. She went on to underscore the value of partnership among different networks and stakeholders, with a simultaneous focus on identifying and addressing the root causes of conflict. Welcoming the emphasis given to youth and women in the context of conflict prevention and peacebuilding, she said her country had long regarded peacekeeping to be a key component of the work of the United Nations, having contributed police officers and civilians to various missions over the years.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said the twin resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council on sustaining peace had begun a new era in the United Nations efforts to build and sustain peace. Concerning implementation of the sustaining peace principles, he stressed the need for a unified framework among all Member States. Such a concept must consider the specificities of each country, as there “was no single solution for all conflicts”. Root causes also must be addressed. At the same time, a vision for a single system of work was needed to support national recovery efforts to rebuild institutions. Indeed, efforts must stem from national ownership to carry out national priorities and economic social development. Noting that a regional approach to sustaining peace was important to ensuring a full recovery, he said partnerships with regional organizations were vital. Despite progress made in the development of international tools to support peacebuilding, the nature and scope of current challenges required renewed political and financial commitment to make them more robust. On that note, he expressed hope that Member States would come together on proposals for reform.
NONTAWAT CHANDRTRI (Thailand), commending the Secretary‑General for taking serious steps towards restructuring the Secretariat and reforming the peace and security pillars, said that financing for peacebuilding remained an outstanding issue. While it was worth exploring innovative proposals, such as attracting funds from the private sector, the most sustainable and predictable source was through increased assessed contributions. Recalling that previous attempts to act in a timely manner to prevent conflicts or mass atrocities had often lost momentum because Member States had different interpretations of “responsibility to protect”, he called on delegates to seize the moment and “concretize a substantive framework to address any interpretative complications”.
HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar) said that for her country, which had endured seven decades of internal armed conflict, reconciliation and peace were national priorities. Ten armed groups had now signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and two Union Peace Conferences had taken place, with a third to follow next month. However, lasting peace must be accompanied by sustainable and equitable development, she said, inviting the international community to help Myanmar find lasting solutions to its long‑standing problems. “We don’t want Myanmar to be a nation divided by religious beliefs, ethnicity or political ideology,” she said, adding that everyone must work together because they belonged to one nation. All conflicts arose from hate or fear, and it was only by removing the sources of those feelings that it would be possible to remove conflict from Myanmar and the world.
SALIOU NIANG DIENG (Senegal) called for strengthened partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, especially the African Union, given their effective contributions to conflict prevention. He drew attention to the successful engagement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Gambia’s post‑electoral crisis, which spoke volumes about the importance of a regional approach. Welcoming this week’s high‑level meeting on Gambia ahead of an international donor conference in Brussels on 22 May, he emphasized the need for adequate, sustained and predictable financing for countries in peacebuilding phases over the long term. Unfortunately, such funding was limited, irregular and unpredictable, he said, calling on donors and Gambia’s partners to make robust commitments at the Brussels conference.
ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay), aligning himself with the Human Rights Caucus, emphasized the importance of conflict prevention and addressing the causes of conflict. He welcomed that the United Nations was moving from conflict prevention to a model of sustaining peace in order to build a shared vision of society. Noting that the 2030 Agenda would be fundamental to implementing sustaining peace, he said achieving those goals, in turn, was a precondition for achieving sustainable peace worldwide. For its part, Uruguay was focused on strengthening institutions as well as human rights in the prevention of conflict. He went on to highlight States’ responsibility to lead the process towards sustaining peace, and providing their people with a life of freedom as laid out in the United Nations Charter.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said promoting human security was essential to building and sustaining peace. The human security approach that was people‑centred, comprehensive and focused on prevention aimed to protect and empower vulnerable individuals. Institution‑building and human resources development were also needed to prevent a relapse into conflict, while respecting national ownership. Furthermore, financing was a critical factor in implementing and enhancing peacebuilding activities and sustaining peace, he said, highlighting the importance of predictable, flexible and transparent budgets. More broadly, sustainable peace could not be achieved without enhancing the role of women and youth, he said, while welcoming the Peacebuilding Fund’s priority on such issues.
FRANCISCO ANTONIO CORTORREAL (Dominican Republic) said it was impossible to seriously discuss the promotion of peace without addressing poverty, inequality and social exclusion. Promoting economic development meant promoting resilience in fragile States. Elaborating, he said the traditional concept of peace and security was not in line with the multifaceted problems faced by small island developing States, for which climate change was a threat. He urged the international community to address the specific vulnerabilities of those States and come up with coordinated action. He added that this week’s Assembly debate marked a significant step towards a change of vision and new peacebuilding structures.
KHALED HUSSEIN MOHAMED ALYEMANY (Yemen), associating himself with Non‑Aligned Movement, said that since his country’s student‑led revolution in 2011, the United Nations had played a critical role in facilitating political transition. Three Special Envoys of the Secretary‑General had been appointed to help conduct peace negotiations between the Government and rebels. However, those negotiations had collapsed due to the intransigent position of the Houthi militia supported by Iran. Still, Yemen would continue to extend a hand for peace, he said, adding that Iranian intervention in Yemen and the region must end. He went on to voice support for the Secretary‑General’s reforms, adding that Yemen hoped to contribute once again to United Nations peacekeeping operations.
JORGE SKINNER-KLEÉ ARENALES (Guatemala) said sustaining peace was integral to the process of prevention, with a focus on societal well‑being. It was a tangible option to ensure that development led to a stable and peaceful coexistence. Guatemala had been affected by the polarization of a political doctrine that had weakened its institutions and prevented the Government from providing services. The United Nations had helped Guatemala strengthen its capacities, particularly in the areas of justice and public services. Guatemala had taken ownership and was now bolstering those institutions. In the 15 April referendum regarding Guatemala’s dispute with Belize, people had opted for a peaceful resolution to that territorial dispute, a sign of their commitment to sustaining peace. He stressed the importance of breaking down silos to more efficiently implement United Nations mandates in the field, underscoring the need to move away from the fragmentation that had prevailed among its three pillars.
AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said the importance of peacebuilding had never before been felt so intensely. Sri Lanka had emerged from a long conflict and embarked on a process of peacebuilding. By addressing the hearts and minds of the Sri Lankan people, the Government had endeavoured towards a peaceful and prosperous country. In its efforts to achieve long‑lasting peace, the engagement of the international community had been essential. In particular, the United Nations had played an important role in his country’s journey. Funding from the Peacebuilding Commission had been invaluable, covering a range of programmes. It was most critical to receive the correct assistance at the correct time. Indeed, Sri Lanka was an example of the need for sustained and predictable funding for the Peacebuilding Fund and a strengthened Peacebuilding Support Office.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), noting that the conditions which led to the founding of the United Nations had changed over the years, said a coherent and coordinated approach must be forged for countries in transition facing a myriad of challenges. Peace was a cross‑cutting issue that was both a process and an objective, as well as the primary responsibility of all States. He reviewed Morocco’s contributions to peace since independence, including the deployment of more than 60,000 personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Describing the Peacebuilding Commission as a credible and adaptable body, he called for predictable funding through voluntary and assessed contributions. Peace was a right, not a privilege. The Secretary‑General’s reform proposals were promising and it was incumbent on Member States and the international community to strike the right balance and show political will to make peace a reality.
ALI ALIFEI MOUSTAPHA (Chad), recalling how his country had been desecrated by unspeakable violence, said Chad was not only striving to rebuild peace, but also to share peace in those places where it was lacking. The Government had undertaken various initiatives to fight cross‑border crime, drug trafficking and trafficking in persons. Domestically, peacebuilding mechanisms had been set up to keep alive the spirit of dialogue and consultation. Chad also appreciated the Peacebuilding Support Fund for helping to meet urgent financing needs in local communities. Noting that Chad had made strengthening national unity a linch‑pin of its 2030 development vision, he welcomed the Secretary‑General’s proposals for repositioning the United Nations development system.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras) said that, given her country’s commitment to peaceful conflict resolution, it supported the concept of sustaining peace. There was a need to reform the United Nations’ peace and security pillar to adapt to new realities. For its part, Honduras endorsed a holistic approach to reform that considered the aspirations of women and young people. To achieve a lasting peace, sources of instability must also be addressed. In addition, cooperation must be strengthened between various stakeholders and synergies between various local, regional, and international actors must be identified. She went on to note the importance of dialogue before thanking the Secretary‑General for his approval of a tri‑national project for resilience and cohesion in Northern Central America. Peace and development were interlinked and the 2030 Agenda could not be achieved in situations of conflict, war or instability, she said, calling on Member States to peacefully resolve conflicts.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that, while Member States agreed on the importance of achieving and sustaining peace, they had not translated that broad agreement into real progress on the ground. Sustained political processes must be at the core of all peace endeavours, covering all phases of conflict, she said. The path towards durable peace began with a clear understanding of the causes and nature of conflict, and could not be achieved until they were addressed. Outlining factors that were vital to the success of sustaining peace efforts, she said greater coherence and synergy across the United Nations system was needed, as were regional strategies that included the full participation of national actors. She also highlighted the importance of supporting the role of women and youth, as well as restructuring and prioritizing funds for peacebuilding activities.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) recalled the concept of re‑establishing peace, published in a 1992 report by the then‑Secretary‑General which envisioned an integrated and global approach to international security. Welcoming the current Secretary-General’s report, he urged the Assembly to adopt the proposed draft resolution on peace and security. Stating that the Peacebuilding Commission had filled a gap in the United Nations between emergency aid and development, he said Kuwait’s own approach was based on preventative diplomacy, reconciliation and mediation which, if used appropriately, could prevent conflicts from erupting. He also emphasized the need to look at the causes of conflict.
NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), calling for a holistic and people‑centred approach to sustaining peace, said that it was critical to carry out comprehensive policies with concrete measures to help conflict‑affected States, especially those vulnerable to crises. Allocation of adequate resources was crucial, and financing should be sustained, predictable and well managed. Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s reports on the comprehensive reforms of the United Nations and his concrete proposals to enhance the coherence and efficiency of peace operations, she also added that Viet Nam had consistently followed a policy of peacefully settling all disputes, including that concerning the East Sea, also known as South China Sea.
CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace and the “MIKTA” Group (also including Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Australia), said that while the United Nations had made progress in building partnerships with international financial institutions and regional organizations, greater efforts were needed in partnering with the private sector and civil society. “The UN, which has a brand like no other, is best poised to convene these different actors,” he said. While most large‑scale armed conflicts had ended in Asia, subnational and low‑intensity conflicts persisted, fuelled by growing economic inequalities, exclusion and aggressive nationalism. He also stressed that peacebuilding strategies must understand the historical and cultural sensitivities of the country they sought to support.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN DOMÍNGUEZ ÁLVAREZ (Chile) said peace was a prerequisite for promoting and protecting fundamental rights. Meanwhile, social inclusion and social development were preconditions for peace. She called for coherent responses to global problems, noting that sustaining peace was almost as difficult as achieving it. Indeed, traditional threats had been replaced by new ones, such as terrorism, trafficking and environmental deterioration. Moving forward, the international community must examine the causes underlying those threats and invest much more in prevention. As the Secretary‑General said, “the price of failing to do so was too high”. She expressed hope that other United Nations reforms under way would contribute to forging an integrated and coherent response to conflict.
ADALJIZA ALBERTINA XAVIER REIS MAGNO, Vice‑Minister for Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste, sharing lessons from her country’s experience in emerging from violent conflict, said reconciliation had called for healing wounds and promoting peace with the country’s immediate neighbour. By looking within and using traditional methods of reconciliation, Timor‑Leste had taken important steps towards sustaining peace. Outlining various new measures, she said the Government was restoring trust in society while paying particular attention to victims, veterans, widows and orphans. To achieve peace and development in conflict‑affected countries, it was essential to build solid national structures. Peace processes did not end when a peace agreement had been signed, she stressed, adding that international cooperation and multilateral partnerships should adjust to challenges so that resources could be maximized.
AZIZ PAHAD (South Africa), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of security sector reform. Peacebuilding was a post‑conflict necessity; it marked the difference between squandering gains made through arduous mediation and peacekeeping, and consolidating those gains. Further, countries locked in conflict missed an opportunity to advance in the fields of climate change mitigation, ecosystem and environmental preservation, and reversing food insecurity. Recalling the great contributions of Winnie Madikizela‑Mandela, he said South Africa had long recognized the important leadership of women in its liberation. Gender mainstreaming helped build inclusive societies that drew on the strengths of all its members, and South Africa had drawn on that principle to overcome a system of institutionalized oppression.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the twin resolutions provided an important conceptual shift in the discussion by offering a more comprehensive approach to building and sustaining peace. Criminal justice was a central element of the discussion — ensuring justice worked to consolidate peace but also to prevent cycles of conflict and to support reconciliation. The International Criminal Court was essential to providing criminal accountability where national judiciaries failed to do so. However, the Court’s founders did not seek to have as many criminal proceedings before it as possible. Rather, the Rome Statute was based on the principle of complementarity, and therefore, it offered a powerful incentive both for States to strengthen their national capacities and for the international community to achieve that goal.
ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi) stressed the importance of coherence, financing, prevention and the role of women and young people in the processes of peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Experience had shown that to prevent conflict, international actors must strengthen their coherence of action for peacebuilding. “There is no doubt that the most decisive support is generally the one provided from Member States in the region,” he said, underscoring the advantage of understanding cultural and historic context. Building lasting peace was not the job of outside actors; external intervention must be based on local knowledge, particularly in identifying priorities. Addressing the causes of conflict required fighting poverty and social exclusion, he said, adding that with “2030 not that far off” the world would soon judge the progress made. Burundi sought to empower women and young people. “Peace must be woven throughout the fabric of a society,” he said.
ADIKALIE FODAY SUMAH (Sierra Leone), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Human Rights and Conflict Prevention Caucus, recalled a joint United Nations‑World Bank study according to which additional investment in conflict prevention could save the international community $1.5 billion each year. Sierra Leone had achieved a milestone in its peaceful transition from one Government to another. “This did not happen overnight,” he stressed, noting successive Government efforts, the support of donors, the Peacebuilding Commission and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), as well as the contributions of interreligious organizations and civil society. Meaningful partnerships were crucial for sustaining peace, he emphasized.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) said peacebuilding was not just a transitional task but a permanent responsibility that extended to building public institutions and educating citizens. Just as a State must involve all its elements in peacebuilding, the United Nations must incorporate the peace component into all its actions. As a constant member of the Peacebuilding Commission, El Salvador welcomed the effort to bring prevention back into the heart of the Organization’s discussions. Highlighting the role of the Commission and the Fund, he called on other parts of the Secretariat and the United Nations system to complement those bodies. El Salvador was not only an active participant in peacekeeping operations; it had experienced armed conflict first‑hand 16 years ago. True, sustained peace could not be achieved without the engagement of women and young people, he added.
CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand) expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s focus on conflict prevention, scaling up of United Nations mediation capabilities and gender parity efforts. He called on the United Nations to address the problem of fragmentation, adding that the Organization must undergo cultural changes. Member States had an obligation to support peacebuilding, rather than wait for a crisis to erupt. Meanwhile, the Security Council could take small steps, for example, to think more broadly about whom the body engaged with and how consultations could be more effective. He also expressed support for wider United Nations reforms proposed by the Secretary‑General, emphasizing that an integrated approach to peacebuilding and sustaining peace was a task that extended well beyond the mandate of any one body.
MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) highlighted the need to reduce the likelihood of conflicts and the relapse of violence in post‑conflict countries. In that regard, addressing issues of inequality, unemployment, poverty, human rights, climate change, governance, law enforcement and transnational crime was essential. While the United Nations had the capabilities and commitment, it was separated by its silos, he said, calling on the Organization to align its work around what was most important for ending and preventing conflicts. Moreover, the lack of inclusion of women and youths in peace processes meant that peace agreements did not recognize the needs of the population as a whole. He urged the international community to explore ways to include women and young people in formal peace processes.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said that without justice there could be no peace, adding that Palestine was a clear example of that. On Yemen, he said Saudi Arabia had led peace operations which had allowed for a peaceful transition of power. In Syria, Saudi Arabia had sought to unite the opposition, as well as implement the Geneva communiqué and relevant Security Council resolutions. In Libya, Iraq, and the wider region, Saudi Arabia had worked to promote a culture of dialogue and tolerance through various centres focused on combating extremism and terrorism. The United Nations could play a greater role in peacebuilding and sustaining peace by working with regional organizations, he said, emphasizing: “We seek to be proactive while respecting the sovereignty of States.”
CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta), aligning himself with the European Union, expressed deep concern about ongoing violence in the immediate neighborhood of his country, noting that those events could have implications on regional and international peace. It was crucial to identify challenges before they turned into conflicts, he said, stressing that Governments should work towards increasing and creating new employment opportunities, and offering their citizens the conditions for success. Also emphasizing rule of law and access to justice, he urged the United Nations to evolve and adapt in order to retain its role as the most important player in the international arena.
AUDRA PLEPYTÈ (Lithuania), aligning herself with the European Union, said that peaceful and sustainable coexistence between countries required collective effort, as well as national commitment. “Peace is not only the absence of violence; there are institutions, structures, communities and attitudes that underpin it,” she said. Touching upon issues of particular importance, she highlighted the need for inclusivity and resourcing for sustaining peace activities. When credible mechanisms for broad public participation existed in peacebuilding efforts, that generated legitimacy and trust in the State and its institutions. While there was growing evidence that women’s participation led to peace and stability, investment in women, peace and security remained woefully low. Indeed, the effectiveness of United Nations efforts towards sustaining peace hinged on appropriate resourcing, she said.
JAN KICKERT (Austria), noting the paradigm shift in how the United Nations addressed conflict, said that had become necessary because traditional approaches had failed. The Organization’s deepened engagement in conflict prevention was an opportunity for Member States to avail themselves of international support, not only before potential outbreaks of conflict but also in phases of transition afterwards. “We cannot look the other way anymore in the case of mass atrocities,” he stressed, also welcoming the Secretary‑General’s system‑wide strategy on gender parity. Highlighting Austria’s support for various peacebuilding initiatives, he added that early warning and response systems were crucial in countering transnational security threats.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s determination to help prevent war and efforts to reform the process with a view to responding early and effectively. The concept of conflict prevention, in its inter‑State dimension, was linked to the principle of peaceful dispute settlement, as enshrined in Article 2 of the United Nations Charter. However, that principle, and the concept of prevention as its non‑legal equivalent, could not be misused to cover up aggression and must not be interpreted as implying continuation of situations created through violations of the Charter. Azerbaijan’s position on that stemmed from its experience of facing armed aggression, foreign military occupation and ethnic cleansing, he stressed.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said Member States expected the entire United Nations system, not just traditional peacebuilding areas, to advance the sustaining peace agenda. Priority must be given to organizational change, with reforms making a difference in the field. Financing, including from the private sector and innovative sources, would be essential. Noting the General Assembly’s new resolution on sustaining peace, she said time must be used well, moving beyond slogans to build an effective United Nations.
KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus), associating himself with the European Union, said the concept of “sustaining peace” represented a shift in practice, as it espoused a system‑wide approach that included peacekeeping, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian activities. The Cyprus question remained an issue of international peace and security. As it had been sheltered by and relied on United Nations peacekeepers, Cyprus could attest to the valuable role of those missions and the need to ensure that their mandates remained indispensable. The United Nations was the only forum through which a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus could be achieved.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said that the preamble to the Organization’s Charter was a clear definition of peacebuilding. Noting that sustaining peace was at the core of his country’s foreign policy, he stressed the importance of national ownership in preventing conflict. Also highlighting the need for inclusive approaches, he said political and social exclusion and the lack of accountable justice systems were key causes of conflict around the world. Marginalized groups, from religious minorities to women, must participate in peacebuilding. Enhanced partnerships were vital to the success of peacekeeping operations, he said, highlighting the success of the global focal point arrangement for police, justice and corrections areas in the rule of law in post-conflict and other crisis situations.
CHARLES T NTWAAGAE (Botswana), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said prevention and sustaining peace were in everyone’s interest and should not be seen as a threat to sovereignty. “The signs are always there,” he said, as conflict stemmed from exclusion, discrimination, and political and economic inequalities. Prevention required addressing the causes of conflict and instability. He noted that Botswana’s “Vision 2036” was closely aligned to the 2030 Agenda, underscoring the importance of investing in people. “Everyone in society must have a strong feeling of belonging to a community in order for peace to prevail,” he added. Civil society had a critical role to play in ringing the alarm when regimes cracked down on fundamental freedoms.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said that that too often public grievances and violence against States were driven by politics of exclusion. A round table on security sector reform, which Slovakia had co‑hosted on 23 April, had helped enhance knowledge and understanding of how to sustain peace. Participants discussed the importance of national policy and governance frameworks, as well as the inclusion of women and civil society. The benefits of sustaining peace were clear and convincing. Moving the United Nations system around the goal of preventing conflicts would be daunting but eventually rewarding. It was the only way to build open and inclusive societies.
SURENDRA THAPA (Nepal) said his country’s experience confirmed that conflict prevention and sustaining peace would only succeed when the causes of conflict were addressed. While Governments had primary responsibility for sustaining peace, the international community should support those efforts. Equally important was engaging all stakeholders in charting a path for development, in line with the 2030 Agenda. Highlighting the revitalization of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, he said Governments should be fully consulted with while analysing conflict risk so as to ensure understanding of local context and culture. Emerging from armed conflict, mega‑earthquakes and other crises, Nepal was determined to implement its human rights‑based Constitution, the culmination of a successful peace process. Local, provincial and federal elections in 2017 were also landmark achievements. Having entered a new era of political stability, Nepal was determined not to let go of an historic opportunity.
ROBERT SISILO (Solomon Islands), recalling the armed conflict in his country in late 1998, said that with assistance from the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, fondly known as “RAMSI”, the country had restored peace in July 2003. The mission was remembered as a positive example of friends coming together in support of a neighbour in crisis, and seeing them through a period of tension towards renewed confidence in national law enforcement institutions. However, like other countries in post‑conflict situations, the Solomon Islands faced challenges, he said, expressing appreciation for the support of the Peacebuilding Commission. Noting that climate change could trigger conflicts, he said Pacific island countries were in immediate danger. An unstable climate and subsequent displacement of people could exacerbate the core drivers of conflict, such as migratory pressure and competition for resources, he cautioned.
ROLANDO CASTRO CÓRDOBA (Costa Rica), aligning himself with the Human Security Network, said respect for human rights was directly linked to respect for law and peaceful governance. There could be no sustainable development without peace and vice versa, which made it essential that the international community support United Nations development activities. Such integral strategies must take into account the empowerment of women and education. Sharing Costa Rica’s experience, he said the abolition of the army in 1948 had enabled the country to divert resources earmarked for military towards education and social welfare. “We must make multilateralism into a shared tool,” he stressed.
MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said sustaining peace was a common task and responsibility for all Government and national stakeholders. She urged all parties to overcome the United Nations present disunity and increase its capacity to support Government efforts to preserve peace, and respond promptly to conflicts and crises. Also critical were efforts to revitalize the Peacebuilding Support Office and strengthen the United Nations partnerships with Governments; international, regional and subregional organizations; international financial institutions; civil society groups; youth and the private sector. All that work should consider national priorities and policies, she said, underscoring the need to address the issue of financing for United Nations peacebuilding.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, said that giving the sustaining peace agenda substance meant looking at the future of the United Nations. Italy would put the Secretary‑General’s recommendations into practice, and for that reason, would increase its contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund and the conflict prevention activities of the Department of Political Affairs. Indeed, a common effort to move “from vision to action” was needed more than ever, he said, noting that challenges facing the Mediterranean, Sahel and Horn of Africa required comprehensive and prompt action from all. At the same time, the capacity of the United Nations must be fully exploited by improving synergy, cooperation and coordination among all actors, both at Headquarters and on the ground. He reiterated full support for the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals.
RY TUY (Cambodia) said the Sustainable Development Goals must serve as building blocks in the attainment of peace. Sustainable peace and development were reinforcing in nature. Investing in education fostered peace globally, increased employment and decreased extremism. Sustaining global peace required focus and coordination. Over the years, Cambodia had contributed thousands of peacekeepers worldwide, he said, underscoring the principles of sovereignty, independence and non‑interference in domestic affairs. Sustainable financing must be available, he said, welcoming “serious discussions” with the private sector.
KANISSON COULIBALY (Mali) said sustaining peace required increased partnerships and stakeholder engagement. Mali was committed to emerging from crisis, he stressed, recalling the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali (the “Bamako Agreement”) emanating from the “Algiers process”. That accord was instrumental to guaranteeing peace throughout the Sahel region. Acknowledging the support of bilateral and multilateral partners, including the Peacebuilding Fund, he said the Secretary‑General’s proposals were relevant to the challenges facing the international community.
KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that sustaining peace initiatives must more coordinated, integrated and inclusive, especially of women and young people. He emphasized the importance of national ownership and the role of regional and subregional organizations as well as civil society, the media and private sector. Poverty eradication, economic revitalization and stabilization must be among the core objectives of peacebuilding and sustaining peace initiatives, which also required predictable, sustained and adequate financing, and political will.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said that a transformation of the United Nations system was necessary given the evolving nature of crises and conflict. Despite greater efforts by the Organization, threats to international peace and security had grown in number and become better planned. While prevention efforts remained an essential tool in achieving comprehensive peace, they had been inadequately financed, which often fostered the resurgence of crisis in transition situations. Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s proposal to support the prevention and peacebuilding mechanisms, he said the participation of women and youth at all levels was fundamental.
DIEGO FERNANDO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador) said that peace was linked to all of the Sustainable Development Goals and urged political commitment from Member States to guarantee financing and technical cooperation. Ecuador also backed “complete and total” disarmament. On the peace process in Colombia, he underscored Ecuador’s relations with its neighbour, emphasizing that it hosted tens of thousands of refugees from Colombia. Currently, at least 200,000 Colombians were requesting to move to Ecuador. More must be done to protect journalists and civilians, particularly on the border with Colombia, where three Ecuadorian journalists had been killed earlier this month. Indeed, Ecuador was focused on contributing to peace in the region, including in Colombia and Peru.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said overcoming fragmentation in the United Nations work would enable a holistic focus on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Peace missions could help host States in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as they were in an excellent position to address the causes of conflict and find solutions based on national responsibility. The Peacebuilding Support Office must be strengthened, while adequate, predictable funding must be provided for peacebuilding activities. Expressing support for the draft resolution, he called on delegates to support the Secretary‑General in advancing his proposed reforms.
KHALIFA ALI ISSA AL HARTHY (Oman) said diplomacy could have prevented many conflicts, thereby sparing money and energy for implementing sustainable development objectives. Since the Sultan had assumed power, Oman had worked hard to prevent conflict, in partnership with the United Nations and peace‑loving nations. Sustaining peace could not be achieved without national consensus, he stressed, cautioning against double standards. The United Nations was not trusted in many parts of the world and it must change that impression. He voiced hope that the current meeting would spark a move in that direction.
AMPARO MELE COLIFA (Equatorial Guinea) pressed the international community to explore ways to restructure the United Nations architecture, welcoming the Organization’s increased effectiveness in peacebuilding and integration of a gender and youth perspective in sustaining peace strategies. Investing in development was the best tool to prevent conflict. Peacebuilding was the responsibility of all Member States, she said, commending the Peacebuilding Commission in that context. More clarity was needed on the repercussions of restructuring the United Nations three pillars. She requested practical examples and tables to help understand those reforms at national and regional levels, particularly in areas that risked becoming “blind spots” for the world’s vision.
SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said his country had seen its fair share of crises. Sustaining peace should not be a guise for infringing upon State sovereignty. He stressed the importance of ensuring adequate, predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding, exploring innovative financing solutions, as well as options for assessed and voluntary funding. Citing Nigeria’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions, he underscored the importance of protecting human rights. National security reform must be linked to good governance and the promotion of law, he said, also describing Nigeria’s focus on empowering women and youth in peacebuilding.
KUMBIRAYI TAREMBA (Zimbabwe), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said more investment was needed in conflict prevention. The twin 2016 resolutions acknowledged that Member States had the primary responsibility in building and sustaining peace. National ownership was the cornerstone for peacebuilding, she said, and the United Nations must provide coherent, comprehensive and coordinated support to Member States. According to a recent United Nations‑World Bank report, more resources were spent on addressing the aftermath of conflicts than preventing them from flaring and escalating. Calling for predictable and sustainable funding, she said Zimbabwe was enjoying “tremendous peace after a peaceful transition ushered in a new political dispensation in November 2017”.