Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Peacebuilding Fund Pledging Conference “Invest in Sustaining Peace”, in New York today:
I thank the Governments of Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the United Kingdom for co-hosting this pledging conference.
The Peacebuilding Fund faces enormous challenges. Climate change, economic crises and financial shocks, growing inequalities and dangerously high youth unemployment are contributing to conflict and putting people under enormous stress. After a long decline, the number of violent conflicts is rising.
Although there are fewer wars between States, conflicts are taking place within countries, often with international involvement and involving non-State actors. These trends are pushing the United Nations system to its limits.
We are failing to live up to the noble call that opens the United Nations Charter, “To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. The global community has not been able to prevent violent conflict — from South Sudan to Syria and Yemen — and bears the bitter consequences of loss of lives, human suffering, and lost opportunities.
In 2015 alone, the world spent an estimated $34 billion on United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian aid for victims of conflict and refugees. This is unsustainable. That year, 2015, experts estimate that violence and conflict around the world cost some $13.6 trillion. This is more than $1,800 per person on this planet. And yet, we are struggling to raise a tiny fraction of that amount for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
The agreements and reviews of the past year, from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to the reviews of peace operations and the World Humanitarian Summit, show that the United Nations must change its approach and its ways of working. Some of our traditional tools are out of date.
The urgent need to address the root causes of conflict is a thread running through these processes, culminating in the landmark joint resolutions on sustaining peace passed by the General Assembly and the Security Council in April.
The United Nations is working hard to implement the clearly expressed will of Member States. We are breaking down silos and working across departments and agencies, emphasizing joint analysis and planning towards collective outcomes, and working closely with the World Bank.
My Peacebuilding Fund has a vital role to play in this new approach. It helps millions of people around the world by providing resources for projects that are too risky for others to invest in. It can react within days, adjusting its funding according to context.
The Peacebuilding Fund builds coherence by spreading its resources through more than 25 United Nations agencies and other partners and getting them to work together. This fund is inclusive: its projects support women and young people; and it has a diverse donor base of more than 50 countries.
Right now, the Peacebuilding Fund is helping to turn military gains in Somalia into stronger institutions and better governance. It is supporting women peacemakers in Burundi to resolve thousands of local conflicts in a volatile situation.
But despite all this, and despite the Peacebuilding Fund’s excellent track record, this crucial resource is in a perilous financial position. Without at least $100 million per year, the Peacebuilding Fund cannot meet its most basic commitments.
The funding requested today will begin to redress the imbalance between spending on conflict, and on peace. Without the Peacebuilding Fund, we will be forced to stand by as we witness the preventable loss of countless lives and the extinguishing of hope for millions more.
Inaction is also a choice, and its results can be catastrophic. I urge you today to make sure that my successor will be able to make full use of the Peacebuilding Fund to perform its vital work. Thank you for your generous support.