Emphasizing the inextricable link between sustainable development and sustaining peace — “two agendas that stand or fall together” — speakers at a high-level General Assembly dialogue today urged a holistic response to the world’s many intertwined challenges, from economic inequality to violent extremism and beyond.
Many Government officials and civil society representatives welcomed the United Nations recent shift towards conflict prevention, embodied in the 2016 adoption of parallel “sustaining peace” resolutions in the Assembly and the Security Council. Some stressed that those efforts would require a focus on the underlying drivers of conflict, such as climate change and the illicit trade in natural resources, while others underscored the need to keep development financing flowing.
Secretary-General António Guterres, addressing the Assembly for the first time since taking office on 1 January, declared: “We need a global response that addresses the root causes of conflict and integrates peace, sustainable development and human rights in a holistic way, from conception to execution.” Inequality remained high around the globe, he said, with the world’s eight richest individuals holding the same wealth as its 3.6 billion poorest. People and entire countries felt they had been left behind, with devastating new conflicts erupting and old ones remaining intractable.
“We must focus on the pursuit of collective results,” he stressed, underlining the universal nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the importance of preventing conflicts, two concepts which were closely linked. In that regard, he called for renewed investment in infrastructure, building more effective and accountable institutions, protecting human rights, promoting social cohesion, ensuring the meaningful participation of women and girls and moving towards renewable energy — all of which were ultimately investments in peace.
Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) emphasized that the adoption of the sustaining peace resolutions by the Assembly and the Security Council had signalled a new, cross-sectoral, comprehensive and integrated approach to peace and development. Calling on participants to explore mutually reinforcing ways to sustain peace while delivering on the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he also urged them to make today’s dialogue a “benchmark in truth-telling” on the subject.
Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and President of the Security Council for January, expressed similar optimism about today’s dialogue. “In these times of nationalism, polarization and fear, we can send a message of hope that change is possible,” she said, stressing that Member States must consider their will and capacity to act on reports of potential conflict. The 2030 Agenda required all countries and people to be involved in peacebuilding and prevention.
Frederick Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, was among the many speakers highlighting the links between the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, which together had paved the way for a better, more inclusive and sustainable world. Sustaining peace must be an integral part of an integrated approach that addressed the many drivers of conflict.
Civil society representative Julienne Lusenge, speaking for the Fund for Congolese Women and the Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development, was among several speakers who shared concrete experiences with such conflict drivers, including the illicit exploitation of natural resources and the resulting unequal distribution of wealth in her home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Urging Member States to put in place an effective system to ensure that the earth’s wealth benefited all people, she drew particular attention to the importance of training women to provide clean energy, build practical infrastructure and teach children about peace and respect.
Many speakers — including representatives from a number of conflict-affected and post-conflict nations — expressed support for the United Nations expanded focus on the peace-development nexus. Agio Pereira, Minister for State and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Timor-Leste, shared his country’s experience with a quarter century of war and violence, emphasizing that “development suffers in the absence of peace”. Without a focus on strengthening the foundations of peace, he warned that fragile States would be at risk of being left behind in the new sustainable development agenda.
Rafael Pardo, Colombia’s High Counsellor for Post-Conflict, Human Rights and Security, described the holistic peace accord signed recently between his Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which had ended more than half a century of war. In order to be sustainable, that agreement went beyond the traditional concept of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and included the transformation of rural areas, efforts to generate employment opportunities and recognition of victims’ rights, as well as the concepts of gender equality and environmental sustainability.
Several delegates, agreeing that successful development outcomes could spark more peaceful relations between peoples, made concrete proposals to boost development financing and make it more predictable. In that regard, Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, called on Member States to consider channelling 1 per cent of their defence budgets to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Meanwhile, Sujata Mehta, Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, warned that pushback from international donors — who had been walking back from their development commitments — “can harm us all”.
Throughout the day-long meeting, the Assembly also held an interactive panel discussion on the theme “taking a comprehensive approach to sustainable development and sustaining peace”, as well as a three break-out workshops on the topic, including on empowering women and youth, managing natural resources, and strengthening transparent, inclusive and accountable institutions.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, recalled the adoption by the Assembly and the Security Council in April 2016 of resolutions on sustaining peace. Those texts signalled a new cross-sectoral, comprehensive and integrated approach to the maintenance of international peace and security, and which incorporated the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Taken in tandem, the 2030 Agenda and the sustaining peace resolutions make it clear that Member States regard sustainable development and sustaining peace as two agendas that stand or fall together,” he said, emphasizing the need to generate unstoppable momentum in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and to recognize that sustainable peace was both an enabler and an outcome of sustainable development.
Protracted conflict currently affected 17 countries, he said, adding that 2 billion people lived in countries troubled by fragility, conflict and violence. Ninety-five per cent of refugees and internally displaced persons in developing countries had meanwhile been affected by the same 10 conflicts since 1991. The purpose of today’s dialogue would be to explore mutually reinforcing way to deliver the Goals and create conditions for sustainable peace. He asked participants to share bold and thought-provoking ideas that would complement the example and tone set by the new Secretary-General. “Let today’s high-level dialogue be a benchmark in truth-telling on the subject,” he said.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said recent globalization and technological progress had generated unprecedented progress and facilitated a reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world. However, that progress had been uneven, with inequality high and growing. Recent data indicated that the world’s eight richest individuals held the same wealth as its 3.6 billion poorest. Meanwhile, the movement of people remained severely restricted and the effects of climate change, rapid urban growth and other challenges were adding to tensions and instability. “We are dealing with some serious failures of development,” he said, as some people and entire countries felt they had been left behind. Devastating new conflicts were erupting while old ones remained intractable.
“We need a global response that addresses the root causes of conflict and integrates peace, sustainable development and human rights in a holistic way, from conception to execution,” he said. Preventing conflicts was crucial and the universal nature of the 2030 Agenda, with its pledge to leave no one behind, linked it closely to sustainable peace. While development was an end in itself, he said, implementing the 17 Goals would also make a significant contribution to sustaining peace. Among other things, investing in peace meant investing in infrastructure, building more effective and accountable institutions, protecting human rights, promoting social cohesion to help people feel their identities were valued, ensuring the meaningful participation of women and girls and moving towards renewable energy around the world.
In that vein, he outlined two overarching challenges, namely the need to improve access to quality education and youth unemployment, and stressed that the United Nations itself must be ready to undertake reform in three critical areas. First, its peacekeeping must move to prioritize the prevention of violent conflicts and sustaining peace. The Organization’s development system should also be reformed, with improved coordination and accountability for its actions. “We must focus on the pursuit of collective results,” and reduce competition between agencies, he stressed. In addition, the United Nations remained too hindered by its own rules, which needed to be streamlined and simplified in order to help it support Member States on the ground.
Calling also for a “new generation of partnerships” among the United Nations, Member States and the business community, civil society, academia and others, he said the 2030 Agenda and the sustaining peace agenda represented an enormous investment opportunity for the private sector in particular. Sustainable financing was critical and efforts must go beyond the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Global mechanisms should support countries’ own funding mechanisms, with international financial institutions helping countries access financing and investments and countries at the greatest risk receiving the most support.
MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and President of the Security Council for January, speaking on behalf of the Council, said she recently attended a meeting of the Arctic Council in Norway at which scientists painted a bleak picture of the Arctic environment. One of the scientists, asked how he could sleep at night, replied that he preferred to looked for “hope spots” where solutions could be discussed, she said, adding that today’s dialogue could be such a “hope spot”. “In these times of nationalism, polarization and fear, we can send a message of hope that change is possible,” she said. Noting the Security Council’s open debate earlier this month on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, she said Member States must consider their will and capacity to act on reports of potential conflict, as well as the tools at their disposal.
The 2030 Agenda was a universal tool that required all countries and people to be involved in peacebuilding and prevention, she said, emphasizing the need for strong institutions and good governance as set out in Goal 16. She underscored the importance of risk management, root causes, early warning and early action; for the United Nations to strengthen its cooperation with other organizations, including the World Bank; and the role of women in contributing to early warning and alternative conflict prevention measures. Preventing conflict was also economically the smart thing to do, she said, with more effective conflict prevention resulting in less development spending on humanitarian assistance. Concluding, she said the main responsibility lay with Member States to implement the 2030 Agenda in their countries, with support from the United Nations.
FREDERICK MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Paris Agreement on climate change and the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture had paved the way for a better, more inclusive and sustainable world. Given the links among those commitments and the nature of the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community needed a coordinated, coherent approach at all levels for their effective, integrated implementation.
Sustaining peace must be an integral part of that approach, he continued, noting that progress on the Goals would be most difficult in conflict-affected countries. An integrated approach was also needed to address the drivers of conflict, including economic and social inequalities, lack of economic opportunities, poor natural resource management and other deficits in governance. Strengthening institutions to become more transparent, accountable and effective must also be a priority, he said, while reiterating the need to unlock the full potential of women, young people and other vulnerable groups to make societies more inclusive and prosperous.
At the Economic and Social Council’s Youth Forum next week, the role of youth in implementing the 2030 Agenda would be stressed, he said, emphasizing the importance of using that platform to bring attention to young people’s unique role in poverty eradication and sustainable development. The lack of decent jobs could make young people vulnerable to socially disruptive activities that undermined social cohesion, peace and development. In that regard, diversifying economies, infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization could help create much-needed jobs and help build peaceful societies. He would be convening a special meeting to facilitate an international dialogue among development partners from all regions to accelerate the implementation of Goal 9.
He went on to emphasize that sustaining peace was critical for achieving all the Goals and that the 2030 Agenda provided a unique opportunity to address the root causes of conflicts. The review of the peacebuilding architecture had underlined the importance of enhancing collaboration between the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, and the centrality of development to sustaining peace. It was therefore critical to ensure closer collaboration of all intergovernmental bodies to address the specific challenges and needs of countries emerging from conflict. Citing an example, he said that the close cooperation between the Security Council, General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in conflict prevention and peacebuilding had provided useful advice to Burundi and Guinea-Bissau. However, it was essential to break down the silos in the United Nations work while respecting relevant mandates.
JULIENNE LUSENGE of the Fund for Congolese Women and the Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development declared: “Peace opens the door for development, while development constructs and consolidates peace.” In order to advance the 2030 Agenda, it was crucial to address the root causes of conflict and reduce the illicit trade of natural resources, the unequal distribution of those resources, impunity and poor governance. Underscoring the need to fully implement all treaties and resolutions on the exploitation of mineral ores in particular, she said the resources of her country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, continued to feed their neighbours but not their own people. “How can we continue to close our eyes to these well-known injustices?”, she asked.
Urging Member States to put in place an effective and efficient system to ensure that the Earth’s wealth benefited all people, she called for a global coalition including technology companies to bring about solutions that respected the environment. Wealth from natural resources could enable the building of schools, roads and safe drinking-water sources, while bringing health care to populations around the world, all of which were crucial to achieving sustainable development.
“Let us continue to work together to create a sustainable green economy founded on innovation and inclusivity,” she said. Around the globe, women carried out 90 per cent of agricultural labour, but owned only 2 per cent of the land, an inequality which must be reversed. In addition, women must be trained to provide solar energy in their villages and to harness the power of rivers and wind. Female engineers must be trained to build lasting infrastructure to address the real needs of the population. Besides highways, lighted walking paths were needed to help women and girls move freely without fear of sexual violence. Children must also be taught about peace and respect, she said, concluding that the links between women, girls and conflict prevention were critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda.
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, said that the essential ingredient for sustainable development was establishing effective partnerships. “The success of our collective efforts rests on the shoulders of every single country,” he said, calling upon all to fulfil their commitments. Global interdependence, new security threats, rising extremism and the unprecedented scale of humanitarian crises reminded the international community that development, peace and security, and human rights were interlinked. In that regard, it was critical that humanitarian, peacekeeping and development initiatives worked in harmony. Prevention was the most effective and least expensive way to sustain peace. “We need a political consensus to transform the United Nations into an effective instrument for preventing conflicts,” he said, adding that increased participation of women in peace processes was crucial.
Conflict-prevention strategies must tackle development challenges, include long-term initiatives targeting the root causes of conflict and be adequate funded and resourced, he said. In September, Member States had pledged $152 million to achieve a new sustaining peace vision. Reliable and predictable funding was needed for conflict prevention, mediation, resolution management and long-term resilience. He noted the links between security, development and the rule of law. Security sector reform was an essential element for States recovering from conflict, he said, emphasizing the need for efficient, consistent support to national authorities.
SAMURA M. W. KAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, speaking via video message, said peace and development were inseparable and mutually reinforcing concepts that must be pursued simultaneously. There was no peace without development, and no development without peace. Lessons learned in Sierra Leone, after a 10-year civil war and the Ebola crisis, had emphasized the need for consistent policies, strong leadership and carrying the people with you. Whereas women in Sierra Leone had been disempowered, children ignored and the Government overcentralized, it had come to develop its democratic potential. He emphasized the importance of a high level of inclusiveness and for States to work together, especially at the international level, with a common agenda to reduce poverty and establish sustainable peace in every country.
AGIO PEREIRA, Minister for State and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Timor-Leste, described his country’s experience with building peace, establishing a democratic Government and securing its sovereignty. Timor-Leste had begun its life as a sovereign nation affected by a quarter century of war, violence and imprisonment. Having overcome those challenges, it was now deeply invested in the development of the 2030 Agenda and the goal of leaving no one behind. “Development suffers in the absence of peace,” he said, adding that, without a focus on strengthening the foundations of peace, fragile States would again be at risk of being left behind. Timor-Leste’s Council of Ministers had adopted a resolution recognizing the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, committing to their achievement and establishing a Sustainable Development Goals working group.
Further describing his country’s efforts in those regards, he went on to say that its road map for the implementation of the Goals placed a special focus on nutrition and food security, education and infrastructure, as well as building the capacity of its justice institutions. In addition, Timor-Leste was working to mainstream gender as a major component of its sustainable development strategy, efforts present in all Government Ministries and supported by the country’s Secretary of State for Women’s Economic Empowerment.
RAFAEL PARDO, High Counsellor for Post-Conflict, Human Rights and Security of Colombia, said the goal of building sustainable peace for all was extremely relevant in his country, which had just signed a final peace agreement ending the more than 50-year-long conflict between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). That agreement went beyond the traditional concept of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and included the transformation of rural areas and efforts to generate employment opportunities. Noting that the agreement also included a special chapter recognizing the rights of victims and the concepts of gender equality and environmental sustainability, he said another of its goals was to ensure the reintegration of some 15,000 FARC members in conditions of dignity and productivity.
Building sustainable peace meant changing lives, generating opportunities and involving the private sector in those efforts, he continued. Thanking the international community for its support throughout the development of its peace agreement, and the United Nations for the establishment of a political mission to monitor those efforts, he stressed that Colombia’s peace would be a sustainable one.
JESUS DUREZA, Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process in the Philippines, said his country had suffered great human, economic and social costs as a result of continuing conflict, particularly in the south. The overall cost of conflict had been estimated over a 25-year period at about $10 billion, but the tremendous human cost could not be measured. He described how the President of the Philippines had revived peace negotiations with Muslim Moro rebels in the south, adding that, despite the failure of Congress to pass legislation to implement a peace agreement, the Moro rebels had not walked away from the table and that the situation was decisively being discussed with support from Malaysia and the donor community. The Philippines was chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year and it wanted to use ASEAN as a platform to promote peace and development under the United Nations strategy of peace and security and attaining the 2030 Agenda. He thanked the donor community and others who had helped the Philippines’ efforts in pursuit of peace.
SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan) said a stable Middle East would remain elusive without a just settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-State solution. Any attempt to alter the Muslim, Christian and Arab identity of Jerusalem would be detrimental, she said, adding that a lack of progress on the peace process would be a gift to radicals and extremists. Peace in the region was not only a humanitarian imperative, but also an economic and social one. She emphasized the role of women and youth, interfaith dialogue and religious harmony, and combating discrimination and hatred in the pursuit of peace and security. Jordan was the largest host of refugees in the world. It was approaching the issue as a long-term development challenge. However, it could not keep shouldering such an overwhelming burden. The international community must rise to its responsibility and actively support Jordan.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said practical measures were needed to overcome global alienation in the political and security spheres, recalling that, more than 40 years ago, the Helsinki process had defused tensions between the West and East. Belarus was ready to host meetings for today’s leaders to discuss the causes of that crisis. Further, the conditions must be created for economic and trade cooperation among countries and regional integration entities, with the United Nations harmonizing those efforts. An integrated approach to disarmament and non-proliferation should also be taken and Belarus was ready to facilitate discussions on disarmament and arms control efforts. To ensure integrated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, Belarus had created a national coordinator, he said, stressing that global assistance and the coordinated use of all international resources, mechanisms and processes approved by the 2015 summit were required. He also advocated taking a sober view of the United Nations work methods to prevent countries — and the Organization itself — from becoming hostage to formal rules.
YERZHAN ASHIKBAYEV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, highlighting the importance of the “security-development nexus”, said security challenges around the world were threatening development gains. For its part, Kazakhstan had vowed to concentrate efforts on preventing and putting an end to armed conflict regionally and globally. However, there remained an “unfortunate lack of trust” between nations, he said, urging the United Nations to fast-track its mediation efforts. New avenues had recently opened in that regard, including through the Security Council’s widening thematic obligations and closer cooperation between the United Nations various organs.
Spotlighting the lack of resources as a major development challenge, he called on Member States to consider channelling 1 per cent of their defence budgets to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. “Multifaceted challenges require multipronged responses,” he said, noting that efforts to promote Goal 16 on peaceful, just and inclusive societies were particularly relevant in that regard. At the national level, Kazakhstan was working to integrate the Goals into its strategies on the basis of democratic governance, the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
JEAN-MARIE LE GUEN, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie of France, agreed that investing in all aspects of sustainable development contributed to ensuring sustainable peace. Conversely, ensuring peace and security was an intrinsic element to guarantee development. The United Nations system, including the Security Council and all agencies, funds and programmes, must work in close synergy. “We’re very close to a new approach,” he said in that regard, calling on States to move from theory to practice. It was also critical not to denigrate the United Nations, he stressed, drawing attention to the success of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Climate Agreement and other recent multilateral agreements.
However, he said, those efforts were not enough, as the world was still suffering from a number of horrific wars and other challenges. “We need to go into a higher gear,” he said, calling for more unity in action, more listening and accountability and more relevant information. “There are no miracles or silver bullets,” he said, stressing that the United Nations was still working in silos and that reform was critical. Civil society and the private sector must also work in solidarity, and more predictable financing and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation was needed. Underscoring the need to listen to the actors in the field, including United Nations Resident Coordinators, he said lessons must be drawn from both successes and failures.
PASCALE BAERISWYL, State Secretary of Switzerland, warned that the potential offered by the reference documents, the 2030 Agenda and the resolution on sustaining peace, could remain untapped if the global community did not act. Priority must be placed on investments in existing instruments for preventing conflict, notably strengthening human rights, and civil society’s role. Conflict prevention through a sustainable development approach could work if coupled with conflict-sensitive programme management and a focus on peacebuilding. The promotion and protection of human rights were an effective means of preventing conflict and ensuring peaceful, fair and inclusive development. Human rights violations remained a major cause of instability and continued during conflict escalation.
Switzerland was putting human rights at the heart of conflict prevention, with the aim of strengthening United Nations work in the area of human rights, he continued. That meant boosting exchanges between the Human Rights Council and other parts of the United Nations system, primarily the Security Council. In addition, support provided by Member States to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) must be reaffirmed and strengthened to enable it to carry out its mandate. The inclusive and transparent involvement of civil society was essential to move forward. Non-governmental organizations active in the fields of peace, human rights and sustainable development must be supported. Women must be empowered to play a key role in matters relating to peace and development.
TONE SKOGEN, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the 2030 Agenda and the Sustaining Peace Agenda provided a common platform for putting words into action. Highlighting three issues that were important to do so, she said national ownership was fundamental. Eradicating poverty, combating climate change and delivering basic services depended on political will. However, national ownership should not be understood to just mean Government ownership. Inclusion was also critical, she said, pointing to the peace agreement in Colombia as an example of taking into account the civilian population. The international community had a great responsibility and the United Nations must work harder to improve its ability to work across the pillars of peace and security, development and human rights. Addressing rights violations at an early stage could prevent an escalation of violence and conflict, creating a starting point for peaceful and sustainable development.
She said the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of the United Nations operational activities reaffirmed the links between peace and development. Norway would like to see the United Nations activities in crisis-affected countries move in the direction of “one country-one United Nations framework”, with common objectives, strategic planning and a clear distribution of responsibilities. It was encouraging to note that the new Secretary-General had a clear vision and had already taken concrete steps to make the United Nations more coherent. “With the 2030 Agenda and Sustaining Peace Agenda,” she said, “we have indeed come a long way. Now it is time for action.”
PAUL TEESALU, Deputy Foreign Minister of Estonia, associating himself with the European Union, highlighted the need to invest in democratic institutions and the rule of law. Strong national institutions must be based on the rule of law and creating those institutions must be a central part of the transformation needed to enable countries prone to or emerging from conflict. Rule of law was indeed essential in preventing and dealing with violence and conflicts and the consequences derived from them. The protection of human rights and respecting fundamental freedoms were the basis for peace and sustainable development. “By protecting those segments of our global community who are the most vulnerable, we invest into equal, equitable and progressive societies,” he said, emphasizing the need to focus on empowering women especially in peace processes and peacebuilding.
Investing in effective and equitable natural resource management at the local, national and regional levels was indispensable for achieving peace and securing sustainable development, he continued. Rising living standards, changing demand patterns and population growth, combined with increasingly more severe effects of climate change, required more attention to be paid to resource management. The United Nations, both at the country level and at Headquarters, must work in a more coordinated fashion to achieve better results. Increasing cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in addressing problems was also essential. Estonia was taking sustainable development seriously and had made strides in various international bodies including most recently in discussions with the Peacebuilding Commission on strengthening cooperation.
SUJATA MEHTA, Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, drew attention to chronic disparities and continued inequality, as well as the emergence of non-traditional challenges such as violent extremism. Technology continued to shrink the world and the lives of people in distant countries were increasingly intertwined, with economies tied ever closer, pandemics able to spread more easily and terror networks able to strike anywhere. At the same time, economic growth, inclusive development security and general human well-being were themselves linked, she said, stressing that their enjoyment anywhere in the world had implications elsewhere.
Noting that the link between peace and development underpinned both the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, she nevertheless said that progress since then had been “less than encouraging”, with pushback from donors in financing those agreements. “Walking back from commitments made can harm us all,” she warned, calling for a deeper focus on longer-term development. “We live in a global village,” she added, calling on States to commit to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and on the United Nations to back them.
The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said 2016 had marked the first year of implementing the 2030 Agenda. Moving forward, a holistic, inclusive approach to sustainable development must be based on the principle of leaving no one behind. Implementing the 2030 Agenda must focus on eradicating poverty, which would be necessary to achieving sustainable development. The international community should address the needs of developing countries, especially those in special situations. Yet, the implementation required a revitalized global partnership.
Issues that needed to be addressed, he continued, were predictable financial resources and technology transfers. In addition, peace and security were requirements, with specific challenges requiring tailored solutions. Justice and prosperity were also part of what was needed to firmly advance sustainable development objectives.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network Group, supported a people-centred holistic approach as that was a perfect tool to creating synergies among the pillars of the United Nations system. Pleased that the 2030 Agenda incorporated elements of a human security approach, he said the world needed inclusive partnerships to achieve peace and sustainable development.
He said that when confronting multiple challenges affecting countries, human security proposed responses that encompassed elements of the three pillars of the United Nations system — peace and security, development and human rights. Prevention-oriented approaches allowed for timely and effective policy planning, addressing underlying causes of threats endangering prospects for those pillars. International organizations, Governments, the private sector and civil society must come together to ensure an integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, calling upon all Member States to integrate the human security approach into their policies and programmes.
ÁDÁM ZOLTÁN KOVÁCS, Deputy State Secretary for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, stressing that the gap between the rich and poor was increasing, said his country was dedicated to realizing the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, Hungary had hosted the second Budapest Water Summit, as that resource was an integral part of global sustainable development policy. Hungary was a co-moderator of a working dialogue to improve coordination of the United Nations work on the water-related Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, and further, had organized the ninth Budapest Human Rights Forum, highlighting the human rights aspects of the Agenda. As a Human Rights Council member, Hungary aimed to prevent human rights violations. How States addressed challenges and implemented programmes to create sustainable societies would determine whether “we can create the world we want”.
PLAMEN BONCHEV, Director-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, stressing the importance of United Nations mediation and good offices, said that was why his country participated in the Group of Friends of Mediation. It also attached importance to peacekeeping and peacebuilding and was exploring ways to enhance its contribution to the United Nations peace and security architecture. The sustainable management of natural resources could help build resilient societies and the 2030 Agenda could be a powerful prevention tool in that regard. Noting that Bulgaria had advocated for the incorporation of inclusive societies, rights of persons with disabilities and gender equality into the Agenda, he said the global humanitarian crisis was a reminder that investing in prevention was not only morally right but also economically sound.
WERNER BAUWENS (Belgium) said that, amid the current wars and crises, it was necessary to bolster efforts recognizing the links between peace and security and sustainable development. Such synergies among conflict-prevention efforts focused on a silo-free approach based on the three United Nations pillars and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Belgium supported combating impunity and welcomed the Assembly’s adoption in December of a resolution creating an independent investigative mechanism to focus on the atrocities that had been committed in Syria. He supported mediation-centred efforts, calling for an increase in capacity-building for local organizations and in involving women in such initiatives. Belgium would host in February a conference on mediation that would examine those and other issues. “We must move from words to action,” he said.
The representative of Italy said the 2030 Agenda offered a unique opportunity to address the root causes of instability. The rule of law, economic growth and gender equality were key elements for those efforts. For its part, Italy had joined with partners in the Mediterranean region in areas such as agriculture. Italy’s commitment was global in an effort to build resilient societies capable of dealing with climate change. She hoped the 2030 Agenda would be instrumental in building and sustaining peace.
The representative (Egypt) said there was a need for more coherent policies of development and sustainable peace. Challenges, including poverty, migration and extremism, required novel approaches, establishing a stronger link between peace and sustainable development. The rule of law, justice and addressing poverty were critical in those approaches. The relationship between peace and development required an emphasis on national ownership. The link between the 2030 Agenda and peace and development must recognize the importance of poverty eradication. Goal 17 was the main instrument to implement sustainable development objectives, he said, emphasizing the importance of predictable financing and inclusive approaches.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said the synergy between the 2030 Agenda and peace must be maximized at the domestic level. “The implementation of the 2030 Agenda can help to strengthen social inclusiveness and resilience,” he said, stressing that the rule of law and establishment of effective public institutions were vital for achieving peaceful societies. ASEAN had played a critical role in fostering peace and stability and the United Nations must support regional initiatives to promote peace and development. Peace and sustainable development required an international system based on norms, rules and law, and the United Nations role was critical as the defender of a rules-based multilateral system. Greater coordination among United Nations agencies and organs was not an end in itself; it was a means to achieving a common goal of peace and development.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) urged improving United Nations coordination and coherence as States expected the Organization to work seamlessly across its three pillars. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations had a vital role in implementing the sustaining peace agenda, and along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it should continue to adopt new policies for enhanced coherence. New financing approaches were long overdue. A fit-for-purpose United Nations must be financed in a way that facilitated action on the ground, she said, pointing to a gap in financing for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. “Prevention is far more cost-effective than reacting to crises,” she said. It was paramount to monitor progress to recognize success and failure. The Goals provided a tool to report on the development agenda, as did the 2016 quadrennial comprehensive policy review.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) underscoring the indivisible and integrated nature of the Goals and targets, said mitigating the risk of new and recurring conflict required concentrated efforts at all levels to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, empower women and girls, and respect human rights, particularly at the country level. He emphasized the need to enhance coordination and coherence among United Nations entities and organs in their development, peacebuilding and humanitarian activities at the country level, in line with their respective mandates and with national plans, needs and priorities. Lebanon had signed a “pioneering” United Nations Strategic Framework for the 2017-2020 period, recognizing a “Whole of Lebanon” approach that integrated the Organization’s diverse expertise and resources in helping the country manage security, political governance and socioeconomic challenges.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said the high-level dialogue offered an opportunity to bolster action through the United Nations system and the world. Emphasizing three important action areas, he said building peaceful, inclusive societies must be human-centred and recognize that without peace and security, sustainable development was impossible. At a time of climate crises and urban growth, action was also needed to address Goal 6, which focused on clean water and sanitation. Universal access to water was a complex topic and required urgent action. In addition, a coherent response by the United Nations system was needed. Emphasizing the links between the Goals and their 169 targets, he said the focus should be on reaching the most vulnerable.
The representative of Ireland said sustainable development could not be realized without peace and security, as outlined in Goal 16. Member States had pledged, in the 2030 Agenda, to support both peacebuilding and conflict prevention. Prevention must be based on a comprehensive approach that built on both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. As the world progressively achieved the Goals, it would be putting in place the building blocks for lasting peace and security. It would also create the necessary conditions for peace. Going forward, the United Nations must ensure that it was fit for purpose and silo thinking must end.
JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA GARCÍA (Costa Rica) said one of humankind’s main goals should be based on leaving no one behind. The 2030 Agenda must be implemented, keeping in mind the importance of a culture of peace. The concept of sustainable development had, in the Agenda, matured, including the broader aspects such as gender equality, the rule of law and human rights. Based on the Agenda, countries had proposed ambitious goals. Discussions were now needed to find ways to finance those ambitions, including channelling budgets to education and health. Peace was not simply the absence of war, but the presence of justice, inclusion and social investment. In building sustainable peace, it was also important to focus on conflict prevention.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said existing tools must be used to make peacebuilding and conflict prevention truly sustainable. The long-term people-centred Goals recognized conflict drivers and the ingredients needed for peace. Inclusive, accountable and representative political systems were critical. More politically inclusive countries were more peaceful. How the Goals were to be implemented required an inclusive approach and should not just concern Governments, but the citizens they served. More must be done within the United Nations system, including the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. In addition, Governments must do their part to address pressing issues.
DAVID ROET (Israel) said the Sustainable Development Goals would remain beyond reach unless the challenges of national and international peace and security were directly addressed. Radical Islamist groups like Hamas, Hizbullah, Al-Qaida, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Boko Haram posed the greatest threat, he said, adding that the battle being waged against them was a battle between civility and barbarism, between pluralistic and totalitarian societies, and between tyranny and freedom. It was crucial to create an enabling environment for inclusive and peaceful societies, as strong parliaments, an independent judiciary, a free press and a vibrant civil society were proven fundamental underpinnings of sustainable development. Concerns that accountability equalled interference were valid, and should be addressed, but they should not undermine efforts to promote peaceful societies. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls were essential for prosperity and security, he said, adding that investing in youth at an early stage would pay dividends far into the future.
The representative of Republic of Moldova recalled that 2 March would mark 25 years of conflict in his country’s eastern regions, making it a frozen conflict. While his country’s development had been hindered, it complemented its political efforts with various development initiatives, among them, one that supported confidence-building measures, which had been implemented since 2009 with UNDP. The project aimed to bring people across the Nistru River together through social and economic projects; improve economic integration and access to the European Union markets; and build bridges between local authorities and civil society. Resolution 2171 (2014) supported the idea that a peace process could be attained through integration of a “Sustainable Development Goal philosophy”, including through promoting poverty eradication and national reconciliation, among other things. “There is no security without development; and no development without security,” he said, expressing hope to see the implementation of such principles on the ground.
ION JINGA (Romania) said that in many cases, lack of solid institutions and fair and transparent governance, corruption and the mismanagement of public funds had made States vulnerable to violent extremist groups. Calling on the United Nations to be the cradle for creative efforts that generated synergies between peace and development, he said such efforts required promoting good governance, opportunities for young people, full involvement of women and civil society, inclusive economic development and fighting terrorism. The 2030 Agenda affirmed that peace and development were mutually dependent, he continued, calling for increased involvement of the Security Council in preventative actions to help generate a strategic plan for peacebuilding. Romania had been contributing resources to capacity-building for public institutions, election assistance, anti-corruption efforts, youth and education programmes. It had also contributed to boosting cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, and to peacekeeping and special political missions.
The representative of Panama, associating herself with the Human Security Network, said that, without eradicating poverty, there could be no peace. Environmental policies were formulated if they were isolated issues. Yet, the planet functioned as a single system, which meant finding ways to harmonize conflicting economic and social objectives. It was also important to tackle the root causes of conflict, while paying attention to countries with growing inequalities in order to prevent conflicts from taking place. The United Nations development system had an important role to play in that regard, she said, urging closer cooperation between the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Council, and a more transparent Security Council that worked with other forums, including the Human Rights Council. She advocated a preventive approach that particularly included women and children as drivers.
LIU JIEYI (China) urged building a new international relations and security framework by focusing on win-win partnerships. His country rejected a zero-sum game mentality, and advocated defending the rule of law. It also supported a common, comprehensive and sustainable security approach that addressed the refugee crisis and joint efforts to build a world of lasting peace. Further, China advocated open, inclusive and balanced development, and implementing the 2030 Agenda in a manner that prioritized eradicating poverty and hunger. States should subscribe to a philosophy of global governance that featured shared benefits, addressed climate change with appropriate measures and helped developing countries boost self-reliance. They should also continue to honour the United Nations Charter and safeguard the Organization’s role in international affairs, he said, also advocating a holistic approach to preventive diplomacy.
MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the cost of violence on the global economy in 2015, according to the Global Peace Index developed by the Institute for the Economics of Peace, was an estimated $14.3 trillion or 13.4 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP). That was 10 times the total amount of overseas development assistance. Every time conflict broke out, efforts to synergize the 2030 Agenda and sustain peace would be jeopardized, he said. Investing in peace was urgent and vital. Additional resources for supporting peace must be allocated, and interventions made in a manner than would integrate peace with development.
The representative of the United States said changes to the United Nations system under discussion involved applying common sense. Challenges had commonly been addressed by a variety of actors, with United Nations programmes operating in silos. When Member States had adopted the 2030 Agenda, they had agreed on breaking down those silos and working together. Pooling talent and existing resources should aim to do so, with efforts to support Governments in their strategies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. As the United Nations was drawing down its Mission in Liberia, a united approach must be outlined for the future. Citing an example of a successful silo-free approach, she said the United Nations had collaborated on multiple efforts in Sierra Leone, which could guide future initiatives.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said peace went beyond an absence of war and required addressing socioeconomic development challenges and eradicating the root causes of conflict. Efforts to build sustainable peace were hampered by double standards on the global agenda, coercive unilateral actions and the production of sophisticated arms and nuclear weapons. Sustainable development significantly contributed to eliminating the causes of conflict while advancing post-conflict efforts. Achieving sustainable peace required a democratic, transparent order and a new type of international relations based on solidarity. For its part, Cuba was committed to sustaining peace — regionally and globally.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), stressing that Goal 16 was key in guiding efforts towards building peaceful societies, said achieving that aim was at the centre of Georgia’s reconciliation policy concerning the people still in the occupied regions. Promoting confidence-building measures, Georgia ensured that services provided by State institutions were equally accessible to all. However, that was largely impeded by the Russian Federation’s occupying forces. Emphasizing the importance of ensuring independent international human rights monitoring on the ground, he said the promise must be kept to leave no one behind. For its part, Georgia was committed to including women in international negotiations and recognized the role played by youth. Effective, transparent and inclusive institutions were also important, with e-governance and the use of modern technology playing a key part alongside the inclusion of civil society in public administration. Addressing existing challenges required strong political resolve, he said, underlining that a holistic approach to peace and development would help to “connect the dots” to build just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the twin agenda of sustainable development and sustaining peace must be pursued in tandem, with the goal of avoiding competition. The critical enablers of sustainable development, such as a rules-based multilateral trade regime and access to innovation and technology, must be embraced, requiring that commitments to chart the path for least developed countries’ graduation be fulfilled. The notion of “sustaining peace” focused on conflict prevention, through participatory and nationally owned processes. Addressing poverty, inequality and other conflict drivers was fundamental to building peaceful and inclusive societies. Those national efforts “take time to gain traction” and were often influenced by global trends, such as terrorism and climate change. The United Nations should pursue reforms identified by the Secretary-General, ensure the predictable flow of resources to deliver on its mandates and enhance accountability of its work at the country level.
The representative of the European Union said that, “with the [Sustainable Development Goals], we have the best conflict-prevention tools available”. Poverty, humanitarian needs and forced displacement, among other issues, must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. The Union’s new global strategy on foreign and security policy emphasized a comprehensive approach to conflict, bringing all tools to bear in addressing conflict. The best conflict-prevention instruments were democratic governance, the rule of law, access to education and respect for human rights, paired with inclusive economic development. The bloc’s new consensus aimed to support domestic efforts to build democratic States resilient to internal and external shocks. Noting that the Union’s support to fragile countries accounted for more than half of its funding, he said the Human Rights Up Front initiative should be maintained and strengthened. The Union would redouble efforts to monitor the root causes of conflict.
The representative of Nicaragua, associating himself with the Non-Aligned and the Group of 77, cited such problems as war, refugees, hunger and non-respect for peoples provoked by powerful countries to show that “the only option we have is to establish new relations based on dialogue”. He advocated working on an equal footing. Recognizing the interdependence between peace and development, he supported prioritizing sustainable development as a way to guarantee stability. Further, international agreements achieved by consensus, including the 2030 Agenda, must not be undermined; efforts should focus on inclusive development aimed at eradicating poverty. Commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of gross national income to official development assistance (ODA) should be fulfilled, while new predictable financial resources should be allocated.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that forging united approaches often faced stumbling blocks. In giving international support to States in difficult situations, every structure and body of the United Nations system must clearly understand its mandate, mission and the distinction of the entity that bore responsibility for specific actions. Sustaining peace was a concept that had been formulated in 2016, emphasizing the need for the recognition and elimination of the root causes of conflict. However, the major responsibility of doing that relied on countries themselves and all actions must strictly respect the sovereignty of States. The Goals must be a benchmark for lending peacebuilding assistance, yet they could not be seen as guaranteeing development. The 2030 Agenda had the potential to change the lives of millions of people around the world and the Russian Federation was ready to help in decisions affecting the United Nations and its agencies while maintaining international peace and security.
ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said that his country was committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals with determination. Sri Lanka had declared 2017 the Year of Poverty Alleviation, and had launched a national programme for creating a sustainable country. It was the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to establish a separate Ministry of Sustainable Development, and the Government had drafted the Sri Lanka Sustainable Development Bill. Regarding post-conflict reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts, he said that the Government had identified various measures to address the grievances of victims, including truth seeking, justice and reparation. Further, it had enacted a law to set up a permanent office for missing persons and a consultation task force on the matter.
The representative of Kyrgyzstan said almost half of all people living in extreme poverty were in conflict-affected countries, which reaffirmed that comprehensive approaches were needed. Education was a driver for development and investments should be made in that area, with a particular focus on reaching girls. For its part, Kyrgyzstan offered free and obligatory education, and was taking steps to narrow the gaps between girls and boys and young and old. Kyrgyzstan was also pursuing policies of cultural and spiritual values, making contributions to strengthening understanding among cultures. Political rights were also necessary for achieving sustainable development and peace, including democratic elections, corruption reduction efforts and other measures.
The representative of Afghanistan expressed hope that the 2030 Agenda would reinforce links between peace and development. Countries in conflict and post-conflict situations had dealt with reversals of development gains. In Afghanistan, recent attacks had not only represented an insult against society, but had destroyed infrastructure and killed young people who were working to strengthen the country. For its part, Afghanistan stood resilient in the fight against terrorism. The successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda must mainstream related activities nationwide, with peace being at the core of sustainable development. Agreeing to the 2030 Agenda had been an important moment for the United Nations, he said, and countries should honour their promise of leaving no one behind.
The representative of Morocco said that, in an ever more interconnected world, an integrated approach was needed to both peace and development. That also required consistent, holistic action by the international community, he said, adding that the Sustainable Development Goals could only be achieved by peaceful, stable societies which respected human rights. Action to make peace sustainable must end conflicts by addressing their root causes, including by ensuring human dignity, ending poverty and creating jobs. At the same time, national policies to achieve the Goals must be designed in the interest of the populations concerned, and enhanced regional coordination was needed. In that regard, Morocco had established a South-South cooperation mechanism with other African countries, dealing especially with such areas such as training and technical assistance, food security and combating violent extremism.
MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea) said the current unprecedented ravages of war, terrorism, poverty and discrimination starkly contrasted with the United Nations Charter’s noble principles and goals. The peace and sustainable development nexus was clear, in the Charter and in Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Strong political will must now guide a paradigm shift, recognizing that an integrated, comprehensive and mutually reinforcing approach to attaining those goals included predictable funding and reforming outdated structures and policies. A peaceful, sustainable future must be intertwined with combating climate change. Addressing the consequences of natural disasters and rising sea levels, including loss of food and territory, would prevent outbreaks of conflict over scarce resources. Oceans and their resources served as an umbilical cord nourishing humanity’s survival. Underlining the world’s collective duty to ensure ocean preservation for present and future generations, he urged that the June High-level United Nations Conference to Support Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 — to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development — would deliver on peace and security promises.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Lichtenstein) said that women were powerful agents of change to ensure sustainable peace in the aftermath of conflict, yet their participation in peace processes was often limited. Having women fully and equally participate in such processes was not a simple request, but a prerequisite to make peace agreements durable. For inclusive and peaceful societies, it was also essential to ensure access to justice for all and to build accountable institutions. Further, he said that the use of force and armed conflicts were violations of international law, calling on States to ratify the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression.
The representative of the Netherlands said 2017 should be a year of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the sustainable peace agenda. “It is up to us all to lay the groundwork for a reinvigorated multilateralism,” he stressed, noting that sustaining peace and sustainable development had much in common, in that the Goals sought to address structural weaknesses well before people turned to violence. From the United Nations, both agenda required integration and collaboration. Welcoming that the quadrennial comprehensive policy review included a mandate to “shake up” the Organization’s development section, he urged the United Nations to promote multistakeholder partnerships, prioritize a more integrated presence on the ground and promote leadership aimed at breaking down silos.
The representative of Malaysia said that political will was necessary to build sustainable peace for all mankind, and States, international and regional organizations, international financial institutions and the private sector must do everything possible to identify and address the root causes of conflict. Drawing attention to the key role played by women in pursuing peace and development, he said that the Government had designed various long-term strategies and programmes to ensure an equitable share for youth and women in the acquisition of resources, information and opportunities. “Inclusiveness must go hand in hand with other equally important values, including tolerance and moderation,” he said, adding that those values had allowed Malaysia to enjoy peace, stability and progress since its independence.
The representative of Armenia drew attention to a number of protracted emergencies, which took up many of the international community’s resources, and stressed that improving the United Nations ability to respond was a matter of priority. A collective response, including through better coordination on migration and border management, was needed. Noting that some 20,000 Syrian refugees had fled to Armenia in recent years, he said the Government was working to help resettle them with the help of international organizations and a vibrant civil society. As a consistent supporter and promoter of conflict prevention, Armenia supported early warning efforts, as well as the advancement of the United Nations normative and operational capacity. Regional and subregional organizations could play a major role in promoting both peace and development, he said, welcoming negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh region held under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa) agreed that prevention should be the guiding policy of the United Nations peace and security architecture. Within the system, he advocated making prevention a reality. “Sustainable peace cannot be achieved just by articulating national positions”, he said, but rather, through a commitment by States to end conflict. There was broad agreement within the United Nations that security and development were mutually reinforcing. Peace and stability would remain elusive without addressing the nexus between security and development, as conflicts might be aggravated by dispute related economic and development issues, including access to water and natural resources. The interdependence of security and development required United Nations organs to work in a complementary manner, which in turn, required a strengthening of all organs to ensure they effectively used their mandates.
The representative of Qatar said current, gruelling conflicts and forced migration had created a breeding ground for terrorism and violent extremism. Underscoring the need to address those simultaneous crises, as well as the drivers of terrorism, she said all members of society — including women and youth — must be involved in such efforts. For its part, Qatar had been at the forefront of creating a global alliance to foster inclusive, peaceful societies, having formed an inclusive national development strategy and making mediation part and parcel of its foreign policy. It also hosted the Centre for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies and worked to uphold its commitment to the United Nations development system and its partners.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the United Nations responsibility for sustaining peace flowed from the Charter’s promise of protecting economic and social development for all peoples “in larger freedoms”. While the Organization’s capacity to sustain peace remained relatively nascent, and its efforts in nation-building had yielded mixed results, such efforts had nevertheless been more productive and cost-effective than the unilateral actions taken by some Powers. Emphasizing the importance of respecting the fundamental principles of sovereignty and sovereign equality of States in all of the United Nations work, she said the underlying causes of conflict — including poverty, environmental degradation, political and economic injustice, ethnic, tribal and religious tension and external interference and interventions — must be addressed. Stressing that only national actors could drive the process for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and achieving peace through transparent, participatory decision-making, she said the availability of adequate and timely resources remained the most critical development challenge.
KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the Korean Peninsula was the world’s most dangerous hot spot. Ensuring peace there was the foremost prerequisite of his Government, which was implementing a five-year strategy for national economic development to lay the foundation for sustainable development. The root cause of the situation on the Korean Peninsula squarely lay with the United States, he said, adding that sustainable development in his country was proceeding under the most adverse conditions due to outside forces. The Sustainable Development Goals would not be achieved without putting an end to political, military and economic pressure and threats. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would steadily hold fast to the strategic line of simultaneously promoting economic construction and building its nuclear forces in terms of both quality and quantity, he said, urging the United States to immediately remove all kinds of nuclear threats and sanctions and to withdraw its anachronistic hostile policy against the country.
The representative of Japan said that generating synergies between peace and development would make both sustainable. Asia was an example of a region where conflict had given way to peace and sustainable democracy as a result of development and prosperity. Asian countries had tried their best to build strong institutions, which shored up peace and development while building the trust of the people. Japan’s development assistance in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world emphasized institution-building, he said, adding that challenges to that goal should be addressed in the Peacebuilding Commission.
The representative of Brazil said the 2030 Agenda acknowledged the interdependence among development, peace and security. A comprehensive approach to sustaining peace could help to achieve the Agenda’s targets and goals, including the eradication of poverty. Sustaining peace could be promoted while maintaining the focus on development in all countries, he said, emphasizing that underdevelopment was only one variable as a source of conflict. He went on to say that sustaining peace and the 2030 Agenda should be seen by their own merits.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said emerging and complex threats to international peace and security needed to be addressed through multilateralism, within the framework of international law. International peace and security should remain a key priority for the United Nations and the international community must spare no effort in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. Preventing the outbreak, continuation or recurrence of conflict was a national responsibility that could sometimes benefit from objective, impartial and supportive assistance from the United Nations, in partnership with regional and subregional organizations. While there were various tools available for maintaining peace and security, they must be used in good faith, and not to interfere in the internal affairs of Member States.
Overcoming conflicts and sustaining peace required a holistic approach that addressed root causes, he said. Such problems should be addressed in a coherent, well-planned and coordinated manner across the three pillars of the United Nations, namely peace and security, development and human rights. Poverty, hunger, gender and other forms of inequality, human rights violations, injustice, lack of jobs and access to education, poor accountability and mismanagement of natural resources were among the structural causes of conflict, but they were also all addressed in the 2030 Agenda and they were core elements of a comprehensive approach to sustaining peace. Concluding, he stressed that peace processes must involve all segments of society, including women and youth.
Speaking in his national capacity, he stressed that implementing the 2030 Agenda meant putting an end to interventionism. Colonialism and foreign occupation were major obstacles and it was vital to end such reprehensible practices. The occupation of the Palestinian people who had suffered for more than 50 years had prevented the development of a sovereign Palestinian State. All colonial situations and foreign occupation must cease as soon as possible. He went on to emphasize that many developing countries depended in large part on their natural resources, and that the United Nations should help them in the sovereign management of those resources.
The representative of Canada called for increased investment in societies in order to help them better absorb and manage shocks, as well as bolstered economic opportunities and an increased focus on conflict prevention. While Member States had recognized the link between peace and development, they must now translate that political momentum into concrete action. In that regard, he expressed disappointment over the results of the recent quadrennial comprehensive policy review, which was viewed as contentious when it came to issues of development. “Preventing conflict and sustaining peace must become overarching goals for all United Nations activities before, during and after conflict,” he stressed, noting that history had shown how difficult and costly it was to respond only after conflict had erupted. For its part, Canada had launched a “peace and stabilization operations programme” aimed at addressing the full spectrum of conflict, and it maintained the inclusion and empowerment of women and girls as one of its top priorities.
The representative of Argentina said peace, development and the protection of human rights were mutually reinforcing and interdependent. Peace and development must be approached from the perspective of prevention, including preventive diplomacy and effective early warning strategies, he said, adding that sustainable development could itself serve as a tool to peace. Argentina supported a comprehensive approach based on the promotion of economic growth, democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and it emphasized the importance of providing the resources necessary to build resilience. “We find ourselves at a critical juncture” with regard to both the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and the United Nations strategies to sustain peace, he said, calling for a more consistent, coordinated approach by actors including the Security Council, World Bank, United Nations Secretariat and others.
The representative of Portugal, associating herself with the European Union, said recent years had seen recent long, in-depth multilateral discussions leading to fresh agreements on peacekeeping, peacebuilding, sustainable development, climate change and other issues. “The challenge now is implementation,” she said, adding that it was up to United Nations, its Member States and other relevant actors to ensure that those visions were actualized. For his part, the new Secretary-General was working to build a modern, effective architecture to address those issues, in particular as inequality continued to grow within and among States. “No one should be left behind,” she said, stressing that Portugal had long advocated for an integrated and sustainable approach to peace that went beyond the absence of conflict. “The world needs and expects much from the United Nations,” she said stressing that the task ahead was huge and the Organization needed to fulfil its potential.
The representative of Thailand, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that addressing the root causes of conflict required persistent action focused on tackling poverty, inequality and lack of access to public services. Thailand’s national development policies and models had been guided by a people-centred approach, focusing on strengthening the resilience from within as a buffer against internal and external shocks. Emphasizing the need to ensure gender equality and empower women and girls, he said his country would continue to support women leaders and female participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding. Thailand had also been pursuing a gender-sensitive approach towards development. Peacebuilding was essentially a political process that required sustained international cooperation and support, he continued, calling for a better way to finance peacebuilding and prevention activities. Partnerships and cooperation between the United Nations and relevant regional organizations were also crucial.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) said that sustaining peace and attaining sustainable development required an equally varied and multidimensional approach. Noting that conflict had reversed national development gains by more than 20 years, he expressed concern over the growing concentration of absolute poverty in fragile situations. Addressing that challenge required identifying and eradicating key drivers of conflict. Efforts must include attention to a wide range of inter-related issues, including access to justice for all, creation of strong institutions, tackling inequality, ensuring access to basic social amenities and establishing solid macroeconomic foundations. All of that was indispensable to advancing development and allowing societies to thrive. Spotlighting the need to tap into new and traditional sources of funding, he said intensified international support would be critical to building resilience and promoting inclusive economic growth.
INA H. KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia) said her country promoted prevention, dialogue and mediation as part of a comprehensive approach to foster peace and equitable development. It had integrated the Goals into its medium-term development programme, and through ASEAN and other arrangements, was determined to contribute to international peace. She advocated more synergies between the two agendas in the United Nations, urging the Secretariat to help implement a whole-of-system response. National progress hinged on having a well-functioning and representative Government, with institutions that were fully accountable to citizens. Further, a stronger global peace and security partnership, including in the area of conflict prevention, was essential. All countries must be fully consulted as the Secretariat worked with them to forge links between the two agendas.
Summary of Workshops
The Assembly then heard brief summaries of the three workshops held this afternoon, as well as an interactive dialogue. Opening that discussion, moderator Sarah Cliffe of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University said that while sustaining peace was not the only aim of the 2030 Agenda, implementing the Sustainable Development Goals could make a tremendous contribution to peace. Many speakers throughout the day had drawn attention to the world’s current deep inequalities, as well as their ability to erode trust in Governments and international organizations.
Citizens wanted to see hope and inclusion for their children, she said, noting that inequalities in any development area could undermine peace. The Assembly’s workshops had examined three specific issues in that regard, namely empowering women and youth; managing natural resources and exploitive industries; and strengthening transparent, inclusive and accountable institutions. She then asked the Chairs of the three workshops to outline three main messages emerging from each session.
GRAEME SIMPSON Director of InterPeace USA and Chair of Workshop I on “Empowering women and youth for peace and sustainable development”, said the session had been rich and far-reaching. Among the most important issues discussed were the ability of women and youth to help “cross the silos” in the peace and security agenda. Many had stressed the need to move beyond narratives of women and children as victims, and to instead focus on them as actors in building. There had also been an emphasis on moving “from voice to agency to leadership”, and a strong view had emerged that violent extremism could best be prevented by “countering exclusion”. Lastly, many had recognized the need to better understand the growing mistrust in the institutions of State and the multilateral system, and underscored a need to address that trust deficit.
MANISH BAPNA of the World Resources Institute and Chair of Workshop II on “Managing Natural Resources for Peace and Sustainable Development” said the session had been timely and relevant. Resource scarcity, climate change and poverty were increasingly acting as drivers of conflict. Many examples of successful, inclusive, sustainable natural resource management had emerged throughout the session, but there were challenges in getting those solutions to scale quickly.
YOUSSEF MAHMOUD of the International Peace Institute and Chair of Workshop III on “Strengthening transparent, inclusive, and accountable institutions” agreed that strengthening accountable, transparent institutions was crucial. Participation of all stakeholders and eliminating barriers to their participation was also crucial, he said, noting that participants had also stressed the need for a strategic approach to measuring progress of the Sustainable Development Goals. Three important examples of countries that had made commendable progress in that arena had emerged, namely Guatemala’s work in countering impunity; Tunisia’s efforts in promoting participatory democracy and fighting corruption; and South Africa’s work in creating institutions to peacefully manage “national stresses”.
In the ensuing discussion, panellists addressed how to accelerate progress on sustainable development and sustaining peace beyond the halls of the United Nations.
Mr. SIMPSON said there was a real danger of addressing root causes by reference to a narrow range of issues. He also emphasized the “rich dimension” of horizontal learning and the need to listen to women and youth.
Mr. BAPNA, noting the discussion in his workshop about land degradation, stressed the importance of demonstrating the economic implications of positive natural resource decision-making. An example of that had been the issue of climate change, which had been reframed not just as an environmental matter, but a core economic issue.
Mr. MAHMOUD said that, in some places, spaces for public policy debate were shrinking, and civil society was being consulted rather than included. He suggested that the sustainable development agenda could be useful for addressing the “trust deficit” between citizens and States.
Ms. CLIFF noted some common strands emerging from the three moderators’ reports. They included a strong message that while all of the 2030 Agenda related to sustaining peace, there were areas newer to the development agenda which lacked mechanisms for delivery. There was also a common message in favour of an integrated approach, as opposed to simplifying the Agenda. Youth inclusion, for example, should not be seen as a jobs issue, but as a wider issue of respect. In addition, she said, the workshops reflected a need to accelerate implementation and to scale up promising examples. Thought also needed to be given to putting the right financing in place for crucial development areas.
Mr. THOMSON, in closing remarks, said the process of taking the issue of sustainable development and sustaining peace out of the conference room had already begun. He had written letters to every Head of Government in the world, suggesting that the Sustainable Development Goals be taught in every school, he said, adding that he had received positive responses. The Goals would play a transformative role, but real change would come from youth, who had “the most skin in the game”. Youth would transform the world through the Goals, but they would need to know what the Goals were and understand their integrated nature. Concluding, he said his office would be travelling to Silicon Valley soon to discuss the Goals with the tech world.
Following the high-level debate, an interactive discussion on taking a comprehensive approach to sustainable development and sustaining peace was moderated by Elizabeth Cousens, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the United Nations Foundation. Speakers on the panel included: Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya and Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission; Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq; Joy Onyesoh, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, an non-governmental organization based in Nigeria; Peter Wallensteen, Senior Professor of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University in Sweden; and Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico and Chair of the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace. Also participating as discussants were Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, and Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice-President at the World Bank.
Ms. COUSENS, introducing the panel, said the aim of today’s discussion was to explore the nature and challenges of peace and development, particularly in light of the guidance provided by the sustainable development agenda. “We are in a new era in which questions take on fresh urgency,” she emphasized, adding that current manifestations of conflict were complex and ever changing. Questions of inclusion and social cohesion were universal in nature and therefore deserved a renewed look at fresh ways to integrate various tools needed to sustain peace.
Mr. KAMAU said the area of peace was fundamental to the realization of the 2030 Agenda and attaining sustainable development. That had been said “virtually by everyone who had a chance to speak this morning”, he added, stressing the need to explore and question practical methods needed to reach and achieve various goals. It was important to position the issue of peace “front and centre”. Fighting poverty, achieving gender equality and all the other Goals were important, but would end up as “virtually nothing” in any country that did not have peace.
Mr. KUBIŠ said that conflict festered when people are discriminated against, rulers perpetrate inequality, and people, particularly women and minorities, lose confidence in their leaders and their future. Supporting instruments that were centred on people was critical, but, unfortunately, a weakness, he said, highlighting the importance of national ownership and working with leaders and Governments elected by popular vote. Weak and corrupt institutions and those staffed based on nepotism caused people to lose trust in their Government. Justice systems must be legitimate and corruption-free. Humanitarian action and sustainable development must go hand in hand, he said, adding that the United Nations system was at times fragmented and its mechanisms imperfect. He also warned of the challenges caused by competing mandates, interests and personalities. It was critical to ensure that country coordinators be accountable to the Secretary-General and not the current system that exists on the ground.
Ms. ONYESOH, sharing experiences, said several people had died in Nigeria due to the violence and women had taken an active role to address that. She said that one critical way of ensuring sustainable peace was addressing the root causes of conflict and violence. That required undertaking a human security approach, focusing on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and empowering women at the local and national levels to ensure their meaningful participation. It was also essential to enhance understanding and advance dialogue with key stakeholders. Further, she emphasized the need to establish women-led early warning and conflict-prevention mechanisms, and to support women’s participation in political processes through providing mentorship for aspiring candidates.
Mr. WALLENSTEEN said that societies with more gender equality had fewer civil wars and they were less involved in inter-State wars. The number of conflicts had increased in the past five years, he said, adding that such trends had negative impacts on peacemaking and peacebuilding. “If we are to build sustainable peace, we have to respect human dignity, ensure the security of citizens, and to generate hope,” he stressed.
Mr. GÓMEZ said that the 2030 Agenda represented one of the most important historical changes in the history of the United Nations. The only way that the Organization and Member States could fulfil the mandate of the Charter was through creating prosperity for all. “Development should not be seen as a North-South issue, but a world problem,” he said, adding that inequality and poverty were not exclusive problems for developing and underdeveloped countries only. All branches of the United Nations must work together to achieve the common goal of peace and development, he said, calling upon the international community to give necessary tools to the Organization to achieve more. Also critical was that Member States overcame suspicion and mistrust, and looked at the bigger picture.
When the floor was opened up, a member of civil society posed a question on how to bridge the gap between young people and Governments, to which several speakers responded by stressing the need to fully engage youth in the peace and development process. Mr. KAMAU spotlighted the challenges that arose when young people did not have access to gainful employment. Governments had a responsibility to provide its young people with opportunity, he added, using the example of the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose resources he said had been used to benefit children in the West and even the Far East, but not the children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ms. ONYESOH underscored the importance of inclusive dialogue at the local level. From there, young people’s visions and concerns must reach the international level, particularly the United Nations.
Mr. CAMACHO, responding to a question from the representative of Ethiopia about what measures and methods could be brought forth to make every Member State fully comfortable with making the link between peace and development, said loose concepts were very dangerous. The challenge now was to define and refine sustaining peace and sustainable development. Some had expressed concern over what they called the securitization of development.
Mr. GILMOUR, joining the discussion, said that peace and security and development and human rights were mutually reinforcing. There had been a human rights approach to development recently, he added, recalling his briefings to the Security Council which had in each case reinforced the close link between human rights and security and development. Human rights abuses preceded every security crisis.
Mr. MOHIELDIN said that economic progress did not automatically guarantee peace but economic failure was a sure guarantee to instability. Every nation was exposed to risk. The World Bank was engaged in minimizing the possibility of violence. It was committing $250 million to work with Yemen, for instance, and while it was the source of funding, a large part of putting those resources to use at the local level depended on the United Nations and civil society. The Bank was focusing on bridging inequality, enhancing the role of women to minimize and prevent conflict, and boosting access to resources.
Mr. GÓMEZ said it would not possible to achieve successful outcomes without ensuring the meaningful participation of the private sector. “We need keep them involved intelligently, otherwise what we do at the United Nations would be incomplete,” he said.
The representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union said that, when people trusted institutions, societies were less likely to enter into civil wars. “Dysfunctional institutions are preludes to conflicts,” he said, inquiring how the United Nations could work with parliaments around the world.
A student from the University of British Columbia expressed regret that young people’s energy and capacity were underutilized, and asked how youth could contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. KAMAU emphasized the need to integrate parliaments into the work of the United Nations while acknowledging that the process would be complex. He pointed to the upcoming Economic and Social Council Youth Forum, noting that it would be a great opportunity to participate in the implementation process of the 2030 Agenda.
Mr. GÓMEZ said parliaments were an integral part of States and it was essential to improve the quality of interaction with them. Regarding the role of youth in implementing the 2030 Agenda, he said that they were the real guarantors of making the world prosperous and just and improving societies’ well-being.
Mr. KUBIŠ emphasized that United Nations country teams were readily available to help national institutions develop action plans for implementing the 2030 Agenda.
Mr. WALLENSTEEN said that parliaments played a unique role in preventing and ending civil wars and conflicts, and young people’s participation in the 2030 Agenda was key to moving forward.
Ms. ONYESOH said that young people had the requisite energy and skills to prevent conflicts, and were the true owners of the 2030 Agenda.
Mr. KUBIŠ, in concluding remarks, said it was time to abandon the routine, business-as-usual approach and think outside the box. The Secretary-General was speaking from experience — much of which had been gained on the ground. When speaking about the requirements of tomorrow, it would be vital to empower Mr. Guterres in his work. Mr. KAMAU reiterated the need for a United Nations fit for purpose, one that could rise to the challenges of the twenty-first century. The United Nations remained an underfunded and underappreciated institution and some of the challenges were bound to get the Organization in a “tough situation”. Membership had to engage differently. Member States had not made the “mental switch” to recognize the truisms necessary to implement the universal agenda of sustainable development. Peace would not be delivered so long as countries remained in conflict and their resources continued to be exploited.
Mr. WALLENSTEEN highlighted various ways to use academic knowledge to improve and inform things on the ground. Conflicts were not “hot spots”, but rather entire phenomena that required a cohesive and inclusive approach to peacebuilding and improving the lives of people on the ground. Ms. ONYESOH said it was critical to invest in women and address arms proliferation and militarism. Civil society should not be designated solely to finger-pointing, but rather be empowered to fully engage in sustaining peace. Mr. CAMACHO said that concepts and mandates had to be clarified in order for everyone to feel comfortable and collaborate on a universal agenda. In countries where the environment was increasingly complex, the United Nations and its agencies had to coordinate more so that participation could be more meaningful.