Secretary-General candidate responses to question 3

Rahul Kumar

India – Green Dreamers

How would you anticipate and what measures would you take to maintain International Peace by solving international conflicts even before they start and become a crisis? Next UNSG must anticipate and analyse problems before it turns into a crisis like in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. It truly hurts.


Ms. Helen Clark’s answer

As Secretary-General I would make it a priority to strengthen the UN’s mediation and conflict prevention capacity.  I would work closely with regional organisations, who are often the first to pick up signs of future instability.  I would also use proactively the “good offices” role of the Secretary-General, to bring people together and to promote dialogue and where possible to avoid conflict.


Mr. Miroslav Lajčák’s answer

Early warning is an essential first step for conflict prevention, yet it has been difficult and infrequent. The Secretary-General must work closely with the UN Security Council to seek better response mechanisms to detect early the emergence of conflicts to prevent them from erupting in the first place. There must be a strong collaboration between the Secretary-General and the UNSC to ensure that the UN can effectively use all available tools of peaceful settlement of disputes.

I believe we need renewed focus on the field: enhance assessment and monitoring capabilities of UN field offices and, where appropriate, create regional offices of preventive diplomacy. e.g.: the Centre for preventive diplomacy in Central Asia proved very useful and successful in evading conflict. I want to concentrate on enhancing the pool of local negotiators to respect need for local ownership and utilize unique insight and experience of local mediators.

This can be done with none or relatively modest investment. It only requires reprioritizing: eliminate obsolete mandates, free up resources for priorities.

Last but not least: always have the overarching principle of prevention in mind: ensure human rights, development, fight against corruption, illicit arms trafficking – „Destroying yesterday’s weapons prevents them from being used in tomorrow’s wars“.


Dr. Igor Lukšić’s answer

Prevention stands at the core of the UN. The current fragile and deteriorating international peace and security situation and all associated negative effects demonstrate a pressing need to take substantive strides in shifting from the culture of “reaction” to the culture of “prevention”. The Security Council has the key role in prevention. Small investment in prevention, albeit it is hard to measure its effectiveness, can have disproportionate effect and go a long way in alleviating those grave consequences and costs of armed conflicts. But the UN capacities for prevention and mediation continue to be under-resourced and under-funded as the DPA relies heavily on extra budgetary funding to carry out these activities. Only 1.5% of the UN’s budget is allocated for prevention and peacemaking. Therefore, capacities and tools for early warning and early action, including analytics, have to be strengthened. In addition, mediation, as a cost-effective tool, merits greater attention and resources from the international community, including the UN, so that it can truly be established as a core function of the UN. There is no substitute for political solutions and peaceful means for solving differences, rectifying tensions and achieving sustained peace and stability.

There has to be a strong commitment to a regular dialogue and to building trust. Constructive engagement of concerned states and other stakeholders (regional organizations etc.) is crucial, from the immediate neighborhood and region beyond as well as global players, those that can use their leverage on the developments on the ground to help carve the best possible solution. More efficiency and effectiveness can be brought about by setting up the UN Peace Operations Group, as I proposed, closely supervised by SG and DSG within the Chief Executives Coordination Board which also has to be strengthened. This Peace Operations Group (POG) should reflect the spirit of the peace sustaining resolutions so that peace and security and sustaining peace is everybody’s job description. Additionally DSG should be in charge of coordinating prevention, mediation efforts as well as of the communication with the regional arrangements.


Dr. Danilo Türk’s answer

The key is early mobilization of political will to prevent armed conflict. The analytical capacity exists and in almost every case of an armed conflict there are signs which represent an early warning. The role of the Secretary – General is to work preventively, to identify the situation as threatening peace and to initiate appropriate international cooperation. Securing peace in Bakassi peninsula, where the then Secretary-General Kofi Annan played the critically important role is a good example.