New York

17 November 2015

Secretary-General's Remarks to Security Council Open Debate on "Security, Development and the Root Causes of Conflicts" [as delivered]

I thank the United Kingdom for convening this discussion.

I would like to start by offering my condolences to the Government and people of France for the losses of life and injuries in the atrocious terrorist attack last Friday.

In the aftermath of other terrorist bombings in recent days in Beirut and Baghdad, and the apparent bombing of a Russian airplane, we see the continuing peril of terrorism -- and indeed the mounting threat from Daesh.  No grievance or cause can justify such acts.

I just returned from a G20 leaders [meeting], which was held in Antalya, Turkey. I was encouraged by the shared resolve to combine security-based counter-terrorism measures with preventive steps that address governance failures, injustice, exclusion and other drivers of extremist violence.

There was also consensus on the need for our response to uphold the rule of law, and to avoid being ruled by fear and inflaming tensions further still.

I am especially concerned about reprisals or further discrimination against Muslims, in particular Muslim refugees and migrants.  This would just exacerbate the alienation on which terrorists feed.

The world must come together to defeat terrorist groups, to bring perpetrators to justice and to break the vicious cycle of radicalization.  Today’s discussion here in the Security Council is thus especially timely.

I thank the United Kingdom for focusing the attention of the Security Council on security, development and the root causes of conflicts.

You will all recall that in the 2005 Summit Outcome, world leaders declared that “development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing”.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development builds on that understanding by taking an integrated approach, and by including Goal 16 on achieving  peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice and building accountable institutions.

Today’s violent conflicts and violent extremism are often rooted in a mix of exclusion, inequality, mismanagement of natural resources, corruption, oppression, governance failures, and the frustration and alienation that accompany a lack of jobs and opportunities.

Yet our responses have not caught up to these realities.  We are not yet properly integrating United Nations action across the inter-dependent pillars of our work: peace, development and human rights.

Today, I would like to make four main points.

First, we must focus greater energy on prevention.

We have long known this.  Now the message is coming through again from the recent major reviews of peace operations, peacebuilding and the women, peace and security agenda.

Prevention demands concerted use of preventive diplomacy and good offices.

But it also means that the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals must become a bigger part of our strategies.

Development that leaves people behind sows the seeds of instability and violence. Well-targeted development assistance can help to address risk factors such as inequality and marginalization.  Well-timed development measures can help at critical moments when societies are emerging from conflict and risk lapsing back into it.

Prevention is not something to be turned on and off; it should instead be an integral part of United Nations action in all contexts.

Second, a heightened focus on prevention means a sharper focus on human rights.

Violations of human rights are often our best early warning signs of trouble.  Yet too often, Member States and the UN system itself have been reluctant to recognize the centrality of human rights.

Human Rights up Front calls for three types of change within the UN system: cultural change, to ensure staff recognize prevention and protection as a core responsibility; operational change, to streamline our analysis and deploy teams with small footprints to assist national authorities before crises emerge; and third, earlier and more transparent engagement with national authorities and other Member States on deteriorating situations.

The initiative is being rolled-out.  A system for early warning and quick response is in place.  Staff have a better understanding of how their work reinforces pillars other than their own.  And in a number of instances, Human Rights up Front has enabled the United Nations System to react to warning signs more quickly and effectively than in the past.

  We are grateful that the Council has received briefings by the Secretariat on situations of concern on a systematic basis.  Now we should strive for the day when Member States take early and effective action on such situations.  We look to Member States to more fully embrace Human Rights up Front as a means to protect their people and strengthen their sovereignty.

Third, we need to strengthen coherence among all actors.

The 2030 Agenda calls on us to move from silos to synergy, to move from fragmentation to partnership.  The United Nations system must pool its strengths to bring strong analysis to the Security Council and Peacebuilding Commission.

Fourth, we need adequate, predictable financing for our good offices and mediation work, for our Country Teams, and for the Peacebuilding Fund. 

We also need to be bold when necessary -- for example in rebuilding Syria and supporting the countries generously hosting large numbers of refugees, including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.  There is a growing global call for a recovery plan for the region -- perhaps akin to the Marshall Plan in scale.  I urge you to give this idea due consideration when the day arrives, as I know we hope it will soon.

The human costs of our failures can be seen in all-too-many places.  The suffering and setbacks weigh heavily on my conscience, as they should on yours.

At the same time, we have the tools with which to do better.  Let us use them.

Thank you very much.