New York

18 December 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to the Peacebuilding Commission [as prepared for delivery]

Delivered by Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernández-Taranco

I welcome this opportunity for dialogue today.

I commend Egypt for the successful organization of the Aswan Forum on sustainable peace, security and development in Africa, which was the first of its kind on the continent.

The Forum served as a useful platform for addressing the root causes of crisis on the continent, recognizing the commitment of African States towards sustaining peace and development, and championing Africa-led solutions.

I was honored to facilitate the dialogue of African leaders at the opening of the Forum, which reinforced my conviction that Africa has both the vision and the leadership required for a future of peace and prosperity.

The outcomes of Aswan will feed into our thinking here in New York as we pursue integrated responses on the ground, with sustainable development at the centre.

The outcomes will also serve as a key input for the 2020 United Nations peacebuilding architecture review and the upcoming Report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It was clear from the Aswan discussions that Africa has a bold and achievable vision for the years to come, anchored in Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Let me mention five key takeaways:

First, there was unanimous recognition that to chart a road to peace and prosperity in Africa, development strategies must be front and centre.

Investments in infrastructure, energy transitions, job creation, the empowerment of women and youth – these are ultimately investments in peace.

Climate action will play a key role. Agenda 2063 calls on all to “act with a sense of urgency on climate change and the environment.” Today we have an opportunity to manage growth and plan our cities, towns, villages and regions in a cleaner, more sustainable and socially inclusive manner. 

Second, Aswan has reminded us that sustaining peace and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin. A holistic approach to building and sustaining peace is essential to building the future Africa wants. This was also the basis of the 2016 resolutions on the review of UN peacebuilding architecture.

Third, it was clear in all panel discussions that engaging and empowering minorities, vulnerable groups, women and youth -- who comprise three quarters of Africa’s population -- is absolutely critical. 

Discrimination and injustice remain among the main drivers of conflict, instability and discontent with institutions.

And as I mentioned in the panel with African leaders, we need genuine commitment by all to ensure that women and youth are truly at the table, shaping decision-making processes, and contributing to building their future for the greater good of all.

Fourth, the promise of greater African unity was palpable. Regional integration is essential for African nations to assume full leadership over their development pathways. Regional cooperation is also critical to resolve the cross-border challenges that are at the heart of Agendas 2063 and 2030. This was clear, for example, in the panel on the Sahel.     

The good news is that most of Africa’s normative and legal frameworks are adequate. There is strong commitment in the African Union leadership to operationalize these frameworks in order to shift from crisis management to lasting peace and sustainable development.

And fifth, we heard strong calls for more alignment and coherence in support by the international community, as well as enhanced support to strengthen the capacity of governments to improve governance and provide services and security for their citizens.


The United Nations is taking steps to be a stronger partner for African nations.

As part of the current reform process, the Secretary-General has brought sustainable and inclusive development to the heart of the United Nations.

Last year, the General Assembly agreed to bring the Resident Coordinator system to the Secretariat, under the Secretary-General’s direct purview, to ensure that RCs are impartial and empowered UN leaders on the ground. Stronger conveners, able to deploy all UN assets across all pillars, RCs are working with great vigour to ensure that countries are on track to achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals.

We have also repositioned sustainable development and prevention at the centre of our partnership with the African Union, through the UN-AU joint frameworks on development.

The “Silencing the Guns” initiative is a case in point, where solutions are being sought that bring together peace and development actors as well as local, regional and international stakeholders for a more preventive approach.

I welcome the continued support of the Peacebuilding Office in ensuring that all the approaches we are taking in these priority African countries are developed through a peace and prevention lens.

I count on all Member States to ensure adequate, sustained and predictable resources for sustainable development and peacebuilding.  You are all aware that the Secretary-General has called on Member States to make a “quantum leap” to $500 million per year in support for the Peacebuilding Fund.


Despite headwinds in and beyond the continent, the Agenda 2063 vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena” is within our power to achieve.  The African Union can count on the United Nations as a full and committed partner.

I again commend the Government of Egypt for having organized such a timely initiative.

And I thank the Peacebuilding Commission – this year under the leadership of Colombia, and in the future that of Canada – for your support of the 2020 peacebuilding architecture review and your role in strengthening our support for building and sustaining peace.

Thank you.