High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Closing Remarks

– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Closing Remarks

 

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would to start my concluding remarks with a simple message:
Thank you.
Sincerely.
Whether you travelled from abroad. Or, you were already here, in New York.
Whether you participated directly. Or, you worked behind the scenes.

You have all shown your commitment to Sustaining Peace.

And, because of you, this High-Level Meeting was a success.

First, we increased visibility and awareness. Like I said on Tuesday, this meeting has attracted the highest levels of attendance seen at the United Nations this year.

Second, we followed up on our promises. We made sure the 2016 resolutions on Sustaining Peace were not a once-off measure – but the start of a new approach to peace. The resolution we have just adopted, and my Chair’s Summary, will drive this process forward.

And thirdly, we have gained more understanding. More lessons learned. And, more ideas for the future.

Let me go through some of these in more detail.

First, our understanding of peace.
Over these past days, we talked a lot about how we see and understand peace.
We said that peace is more than a ceasefire. It is more than a peace deal. And, it is more than the absence of war.
Which means that once-off operations or activities are not enough, to achieve it.
Instead, we need to tackle conflict at its roots. We need to look to the horizon, to see the warning signs. We need to build a culture of peace; a culture of prevention.
So, Sustaining Peace is not an easy task. I think this was captured by the President of Colombia, who said that making peace is harder than silencing the guns.
But it is not a task we are shying away from. We are, instead, stepping up – to take it on.
A second achievement came through the lessons we learned.

And, I will mention four areas in particular.

First: Prevention.

Our discussions showed that prevention is not an abstract concept. It has happened. It is happening. And it can happen – again.

Many of you shared your experiences with mediation and diplomacy. We heard, for example, how mediation helped Montenegro to remain stable and peaceful, at a time of regional instability.

We also talked about longer-term prevention. This put our focus on Sustainable Development. On economic growth. On institution building. And, on respect for human rights. It is clear that we are beginning to view these areas through a lens of prevention. That is why successful poverty reduction, in Peru, was held up, as a contribution towards Sustaining Peace.

Second: Coherence.
We learned that a more coherent approach is already evident, at both national and international levels.
For example, in The Gambia, where Sustaining Peace is central to the country’s national development plan.
Or, in Malawi, where United Nations development and political actors came together, to support the national peace architecture.
Or, here, in New York – where the Peacebuilding Commission is building bridges across the United Nations’ three pillars.
Third: National ownership

On this, we were all on the same page. We agreed that Sustaining Peace does not stand a chance, unless it is driven by national actors.

Lessons from the Philippines showed us the need to complement – rather than replace – national cultures, sensitivities and policies. And we were reminded that national ownership made Sustaining Peace a reality in Cote d’Ivoire.

And finally: inclusion, inclusion, inclusion!

The message could not have been clearer: When we widen the space – when we pull more chairs up to the table – we see the results.

One example looked at women in Liberia. When women have had a platform, and a voice, they have used it to prevent the country sliding back into war.

Young people in the Balkans are another example. Even years after conflict, they continue to work for reconciliation.

We also heard about religious leaders in Afghanistan, who have used their influence to advocate for peace.

And, we learned that civil society in Sri Lanka helped to design the national reconciliation process.

Sustaining Peace cannot be limited to this hall. We need to open our doors wider. And this includes the private sector. Because, as we heard, in a video message from Sir. Richard Branson, businesses must play a greater role in making our planet more peaceful.

 

Peace is more than a ceasefire. It is more than a peace deal. And, it is more than the absence of war.
Which means that once-off operations or activities are not enough, to achieve it.
Instead, we need to tackle conflict at its roots. We need to look to the horizon, to see the warning signs. We need to build a culture of peace; a culture of prevention.

MIROSLAV LAJČÁK

President of the UN General Assembly

A third major achievement of this Meeting came through our ideas for the future.
We reviewed our toolbox. And we picked out many tools, which we can use more frequently– and more efficiently – going forward.
For example, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Secretary-General called this the “common blueprint for more peaceful, stable, resilient groups of societies”. But, we need to do more, to fully grasp its preventive potential.
Peace operations are another example. And, here, I want to repeat the call made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement: to look closer at how these operations can better support Sustaining Peace.
Or, inclusion. Because this can be both an aim and a tool. We can act on the recommendations of the recent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. And we can pay more attention to the gender aspects of other tools for Sustaining Peace– including conflict analysis.
Also, regional organisations have their own toolboxes. The United Nations must learn from, and support, them.
Finally, when we talk about tools for the future, we cannot ignore finance. Many voices called attention to the proposals outlined in the report of the Secretary-General. And they urged us to consider them – seriously. Others spoke up loudly, in support of the United Nations’ Peacebuilding Fund. And, our interactive discussions also generated some exciting ideas about financing for Sustaining Peace.
This is only a fraction of our wider toolbox. And I hope to capture more, in my Summary.
So, excellencies, dear colleagues, this was a successful High-Level Meeting.

But, we cannot speak only about success.
The realities of peace – for many people on the ground – are too horrific. And the signs that things could get even worse are too clear.
There are challenges – and there are concerns.
And, it is up to all of us, to act, in response.
Not just those of us, who are living with conflict. Not just those of us, who have vested economic or social interest. Not just those of us, who have the time – or the money.
But, every – single – one of us.
Our shared responsibility is clear. In fact, it is the basis of the United Nations’ Charter.
In the words of the President of Ireland, this is “a most profound political and moral responsibility – not only to the citizens of our own nations, but to the peoples of other nations”.
And, we all signed up to it.
That is why Sustaining Peace rests on all our shoulders.
That is why we all have an interest, in achieving it.
And, that is why we all stand to lose, if we decide to go down a more dangerous path, alone.
We must embrace our political and moral responsibility.
We must keep the promises we made, in 2016.
And we must bring Sustaining Peace out of this hall, to people on the ground.

 

I thank you.