25 April 2018

Human, Financial Cost of Responding to Crises ‘Unsustainable’, Secretary-General Underlines at Security Council Meeting on Building, Sustaining Peace

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, in New York today:

Thank you for organizing this briefing on peacebuilding and sustaining peace — key aspects of the work of this Council and the entire United Nations system.

Peacebuilding and sustaining peace are first and foremost about enhancing our strategic coherence to support efforts by national Governments and their people to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict.  This Council can contribute in several ways.

I thank you for seizing this opportunity to take a long-term view of peace and security challenges, and peacebuilding and sustaining peace require strong partnerships beyond the United Nations, in support of nationally owned solutions.  We need a broad and inclusive approach to such partnerships, working closely with host country authorities, regional and subregional organizations — and I am happy to see here Commissioner [Smail] Chergui, Peace and Security Commissioner of the African Union, our most relevant partner in peace and security in the world with whom we have exemplary cooperation — but also with international financial institutions, including the World Bank, and other multilateral donors, the business community, civil society and local actors.

The Peacebuilding Commission can bring far greater strategic coherence to international efforts, by providing a platform for complementarity and partnership across the pillars of the United Nations.  It also brings national and local voices to the table.  You have already benefited from the Commission’s support, including in the Sahel.  I urge you to build on this example to achieve greater operational and policy coherence in other contexts and situations.

Sustaining peace requires support for inclusivity, particularly of those who are frequently marginalized and excluded.  That means women and girls, the elderly, the young, people with disabilities and minorities of all kinds.  Women’s empowerment through meaningful participation is a proven way to deepen the effectiveness and sustainability of peacebuilding.  And this Council has the means to ensure greater inclusion and success, by more consistently applying your own robust agenda on women, peace and security.

Earlier this week, in this Chamber, you heard first-hand about the important role young people can play in sustaining peace.  Young women and men are key peacebuilders.  We must work with them and for them far more effectively.

Most critically, building and sustaining peace requires addressing the root causes of conflicts and crises, which often lie in poverty, exclusion, inequality, discrimination and serious violations of human rights.

The human and financial cost of focusing our efforts on responding to crises is unsustainable.  I have been outspoken in my support for prevention — the foundation of building and sustaining peace.  Investment in prevention pays off in human lives, in financial savings and in development gains.

Sustainable, inclusive development, deeply rooted in respect for all human rights — economic, social, cultural, civil and political — is an end in itself.  But, it is also the world’s best preventive tool against violent conflict and instability.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our common global blueprint to tackle these root causes and create more peaceful, stable and resilient societies, founded on a fair globalization.

The reinforcement of the Peacebuilding Support Office will enable it to play a stronger role in connecting our efforts on peace and security with our work to support sustainable development.  My peace and security reform proposal includes a 50 per cent increase in regular posts in the Peacebuilding Support Office at no extra cost, based on gains in efficiency in other areas.

At the same time, my envoys and the United Nations special political missions are dedicated to facilitating political processes, mediating and preventing the eruption of open conflict.  My high-level advisory board on mediation will build on the expertise of skilled diplomats, and strengthen our relationships with regional organizations, non-governmental groups and others engaged in this critical activity for peace.

United Nations peacekeepers have a particularly critical role on the front lines of our efforts.  We owe them an enormous debt for their service and their sacrifice.  The twin resolutions of 2016 recognize and welcome the contributions of United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Their overriding objective is to create the space for a political process.  They have a vital role in containing violence and protecting civilians while giving political solutions time to take hold.

In order to create peacekeeping operations that are fit for the challenges we face, I launched the action for peacekeeping initiative in this Chamber last month.  Action for peacekeeping aims to refocus United Nations peacekeeping in three key areas:  to set realistic expectations for our operations; to make them stronger and safer; and to mobilize more support, both for political solutions and for well-structured, well-equipped and well-trained forces in their mission.

We need peace operations that are better able to respond to the specific needs and contexts of the countries where they operate, adapt to evolving conditions on the ground, and leave when their job is done.  Key conditions for success will be clear, defined, more focused mandates, a long-term view and adequate exit strategies.

Smarter investment in peacebuilding and sustaining peace should reduce the costs of peacekeeping.  This, in turn, will enable us to provide more support, so that our peacekeeping and political missions can fulfil their mandates more effectively.  My report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace sets out several options to increase, restructures and better prioritize funding dedicated to United Nations peacebuilding activities, for the consideration of Member States.  These options include assessed and voluntary contributions and innovative financing.

The Peacebuilding Fund is a key instrument to drive coherence across all our peacebuilding activities and partnerships, and a catalyst for others to take action.  I repeat my call for a quantum leap in Member State support for the essential work of the Peacebuilding Fund, and look forward to further discussion on these options.

I look forward to the adoption of a General Assembly resolution following up on my report and outlining our joint path ahead.

The past two days have seen rich and engaging discussions on how we build and sustain peace, ranging from mediation to local-level conflict resolution, to peacekeeping and support for effective and accountable institutions.

We can build our work on our successes.  And I think that the most important success in recent times has been the success in Côte d’Ivoire.  I take this opportunity to present to Mr. Minister my sincere condolences after the passing of our great friend and colleague, Ambassador Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoué, who always played, in this Council, an extremely positive and important role.  Now it is time for action.

For information media. Not an official record.