PRESS RELEASE: High Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security


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UN must become “more relevant, more credible, more legitimate and more capable,” UN President tells High Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security


UNITED NATIONS, 10 May 2016 — To respond to current and future threats to world peace and security, the United Nations must become more relevant, more credible, more legitimate and more capable, the President of the UN General Assembly said today.


Speaking at the opening of the UN’s High Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft challenged UN member states to identify specific steps, including for the next UN Secretary-General, to make that happen.


Recognising the violence and instability across much of the Middle East and North Africa, impunity for violations of international humanitarian law, terrorism that is wreaking havoc in many countries and the women and children who continue to suffer sexual violence in conflict, the President said, it is clear that the UN today remains insufficiently equipped to meet its overriding 1945 objective:  To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.


“Today, 70 years later, we reflect on the times the UN has succeeded and failed in meeting that objective and we look to determine how it can do better. On this 70th anniversary year, however, following the recent reviews on peacebuilding, peace operations and women, peace and security, we have an opportunity to fundamentally change this reality “ Mr Lykketoft said. “And thankfully we are in a good moment for multilateralism.


The 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement provide member states with a framework to advance a more peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and sustainable world, he said. And the Iranian Nuclear deal and Security Council action on Syria last December, provide proof that, however belatedly, the UN can still help global and regional powers to resolve their differences.


“When it comes to maintaining international peace and security, the UN has to be relevant for major, regional and small powers alike” the President stressed. “We must build on this momentum and respond to the overarching challenges identified by the reviews,” Mr Lykketoft said, urging the next Secretary General and member states to focus on four specific areas that emerge from the reviews:


  • Prevention is better than cure. The need for political solutions to inform every aspect of the UN’s approach to sustaining peace and preventing violent extremism.
  • A gender equality perspective is needed and women must be more involved in both preventing and resolving conflicts.
  • Partnership is vital. The UN must give greater attention to securing partnerships with regional organizations and actors like the World Bank and to find ways to provide opportunities for greater involvement to those member states who wish to help.
  • UN needs to be better organized and equipped to deal with new and emerging threats such as terrorism, cybercrime, climate change and epidemics including through its missions.


Quoting Albert Einstein’s comment that ‘Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding”, the UN President said he hoped the two-day High Level Thematic Debate and the preparatory work conducted by academics, think tanks and civil society will help advance a common understanding that enables the UN, now and into the future, to deliver on its mission.



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