Secretary-General, in First Address to Security Council Since Taking Office, Sets Restoring Trust, Preventing Crises as United Nations Priorities
Summary of Secretary-General’s speech and reactions of council members
Opening the day-long high-level debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace, he emphasized that it had proven “very difficult” to persuade decision makers to make prevention their priority, although the rule-based international order under which the United Nations had been established was under grave threat. “We must rebalance our approach to peace and security,” he stressed.
He went on to state that the reforms he intended to set in motion aimed to achieve that goal. “I have started with the decision-making processes in the Secretariat,” he said, drawing attention to the newly established Executive Committee and to the appointment of a Special Adviser on Policy.
Warning that it took very little to trigger a crisis that could engulf a country or a region, with global consequences, he pointed out that, while the causes of crisis were deeply interlinked, the United Nations response remained fragmented. Crises required the international community to connect global efforts for peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, he said, reiterating that the primary work of conflict prevention lay with Member States.
“Too many prevention opportunities have been lost because Member States mistrusted each other’s motives, and because of concerns over national sovereignty,” he noted. International cooperation for prevention, and particularly translating early warning into early action, depended on trust among Member States, and in their relations with the United Nations, he emphasized, pledging: “I stand ready to foster a more trusting relationship and to improve communications with the Council, with consistency, candour and transparency.” However, there was a need to avoid double standards, he said, while emphasizing “that does not mean that there are no standards at all”.
Prevention must consistently be seen as a value in itself, and an essential means of reducing human suffering and enabling people to reach their full potential. “Preventive action is essential to avert mass atrocities or grave abuses of human rights.” Disagreements about the past could not be allowed to prevent action, he said, underlining the need to collectively demonstrate leadership and strengthen the authority and credibility of the United Nations by putting peace first. War was never inevitable, but was always a matter of choice to exclude, discriminate, marginalize or resort to violence, he said. Peace, too, was never inevitable, but the result of difficult decisions, hard work and compromise. “We should never take it for granted, but should prize and nurture it in every country, at every time.”
In the ensuing debate, representatives of more than 90 Member States welcomed the new Secretary-General and expressed gratitude to Ban Ki-moon for his service over the last 10 years. A number of speakers emphasized the need for an open and mutually reinforcing relationship between the Secretary-General and the Security Council, based on trust and mutual respect.
Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Council President for January, asked: “Can we afford an ever-growing list of crises slipping into violent conflict and needless human misery?” Investing in prevention was not only morally right, but also the smart, economically sound and sustainable thing to do, she emphasized. The international community had sufficient tools but needed a new political consensus in support of prevention, she added.
The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Europe and the Americas echoed that sentiment, pointing out that the United Nations response to global challenges had evolved significantly over the last seven decades. The challenge now was how to use modern tools more effectively. Similarly, Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs emphasized that prioritizing conflict prevention was not really an option, but a necessity.
Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs emphasized that effectively sustaining peace would require reform of the United Nations. That would involve taking down institutional silos while reinforcing coordination in order to create a seamless and holistic approach to sustaining peace. On that point, Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs suggested that reform could entail revising the Secretariat’s structure and a new distribution of roles and responsibilities.
Several speakers welcomed the Council’s comprehensive peace reviews, saying they provided clear support for a conceptual change, including the abandonment of conflict management in favour of prevention and tackling the root efforts of conflict. While agreeing broadly, Kazakhstan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs emphasized the need to develop a systemic approach to identifying and preventing emerging crises. Indeed, the Council should have direct oversight of peacebuilding, including through greater cooperation with the Secretary-General, who should play a crucial role as an “honest broker” and “bridge-builder” at the earliest stages of conflict prevention, he said.
A number of delegates raised the question of cooperation, with Bolivia’s delegate emphasizing the need to establish dynamic alliances while ensuring that regional efforts received sufficient attention. Rwanda’s representative said that experience in conflict prevention had shown that the African Union was better positioned in terms of knowledge, proximity and the ability to mobilize and respond quickly.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, France, Ukraine, Uruguay, China, Russian Federation, Egypt, Senegal, Poland, Latvia, Netherlands, Rwanda, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Finland, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, Norway, Pakistan, Iraq, Hungary, Lebanon, Ecuador, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Viet Nam, Chile, Switzerland, Iran, Estonia, Indonesia, Cuba, Bangladesh, Peru, Ireland, Federated States of Micronesia, Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Nigeria, Belgium, Georgia, Panama, India, Kuwait, Venezuela, Mexico, Austria, Republic of Moldova, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Syria, Slovenia, Guatemala, Morocco, Israel, Denmark, Philippines, Mali, Bulgaria, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Armenia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Cambodia, Kenya, Haiti, Slovakia, Cyprus, Marshall Islands, Liechtenstein and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The representatives of the European Union and the Organization for American States also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 8:10 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the Organization had been established to prevent war by binding the international community in a rules-based international order. “Today, that order is under grave threat,” he stressed, noting that millions of people in crisis looked to the Security Council to preserve global stability and to protect them from harm. However, the enormous human and economic cost of conflicts around the world showed how complex and challenging that was. It was unfortunate that the international community spent far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. “People are paying too high a price. You, the Member States, are paying too high a price. We need a whole new approach,” he underscored.
It had proven very difficult to persuade decision-makers at both the national and international levels to make prevention their priority, he continued, noting that it was, perhaps, because successful prevention did not attract attention. Most of today’s conflicts were still essentially internal, even if they quickly took on regional and transnational overtones. They were fuelled by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalization and exclusion, poor governance, weak institutions and sectarian divides. Furthermore, they were exacerbated by climate change, population growth and the globalization of crime and terrorism. With so many factors at work, it took very little to trigger a crisis that could engulf a country or a region, with global consequences.
While the causes of crisis were deeply interlinked, the United Nations response remained fragmented, he said. The interconnected nature of today’s crises required the international community to connect global efforts for peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, not just in words, but in practice. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace demonstrated strong intergovernmental support for an integrated approach. The challenge now was to make corresponding changes to our culture, strategy, structures and operations.
“We must rebalance our approach to peace and security,” he said. For decades, the focus had been largely on responding to conflict. In the future, the international community must do far more to prevent war and sustain peace, he said, stressing that the reforms he was setting in motion aimed to achieve that. “I have started with the decision-making processes in the Secretariat,” he said, noting that the newly established Executive Committee would increase the ability to integrate all pillars of the United Nations under a common vision for action.
Also, he said he had appointed a Special Adviser on Policy, whose main task would be to map the prevention capacities of the United Nations system and to bring them together into an integrated platform for early detection and action. That would enable the Organization to link the reform of the peace and security architecture with the reform of the United Nations development system, while respecting the competence of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
“The primary work of conflict prevention lies with Member States,” he continued, stressing that the entire United Nations system must be ready to help Governments implement the Sustainable Development Goals. As societies became multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural, the international community needed greater political, cultural and economic investments in inclusivity and cohesion, so that people could appreciate the benefits of diversity rather than perceiving it as a threat. All groups needed to see that their individual identities were respected, while feeling that they belonged as valued members of the community as a whole. Civil society, to that end, had a role to play in raising the alarm when that respect was threatened or lost.
He went on to emphasize the need for a surge in diplomacy, in partnership with regional organizations. “We will launch an initiative to enhance our mediation capacity, both at United Nations Headquarters and in the field, and to support regional and national mediation efforts,” he said, expressing readiness to support the Security Council through the use of his good offices and his personal engagement.
“Too many prevention opportunities have been lost because Member States mistrusted each other’s motives, and because of concerns over national sovereignty,” he said, stressing that such concerns were understandable, in a world where power was unequal and principles had sometimes been applied selectively. Prevention should never be used to serve other political goals. On the contrary, prevention was best served by strong sovereign States, acting for the good of their people. “In taking preventive action, we need to avoid double standards,” he underlined, adding that preventive action was essential to avert mass atrocities or grave abuses of human rights.
International cooperation for prevention, and particularly translating early warning into early action, depended on trust between Member States, and in their relations with the United Nations, he said. He stood ready to foster a more trusting relationship and to improve communications with the Council, with consistency, candour and transparency. Disagreements about the past could not be allowed to prevent the international community from acting today. On the contrary, the international community needed to demonstrate leadership, and strengthen the credibility and authority of the United Nations, by putting peace first. “Ending the boundless human suffering and the wanton waste of resources generated by conflict is in everyone’s interests,” he underscored.
“War is never inevitable. It is always a matter of choice: the choice to exclude, to discriminate, to marginalize, to resort to violence,” he said, noting that, by restoring trust between Governments and their citizens and amongst Member States, the international community could prevent and avoid conflict. However, peace, too, was never inevitable. It was the result of difficult decisions, hard work and compromise. “If we live up to our responsibilities, we will save lives, reduce suffering and give hope to millions,” he concluded.
MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Council President for January, spoke in her national capacity. She emphasized that a close and proactive working relationship between the Council and the Secretary-General was the cornerstone of the Organization’s ability to deliver lasting peace and security. Last year, the urgent need for a global commitment to multilateral solutions to conflict and to collaborative security had been exposed. “Can we afford an ever-growing list of crises slipping into violent conflict and needless human misery?”, she asked, stressing that investing in prevention was not only morally right, but also the smart, economically sound and sustainable thing to do. It required addressing the root causes of conflict and instability before they reached the front pages or the Council’s agenda. “We have the tools. What we need now is a new political consensus in support of prevention,” she underscored.
She went on to highlight the priority actions, which included the need to make prevention a priority for the entire United Nations system, and to ensure that the Organization worked closely with other international, regional and subregional actors. Furthermore, it was critical to improve the capacity of the United Nations to recognize and address the root causes and drivers of conflict. In that regard, she was encouraged by the concrete steps taken by the Secretary-General to make the Secretariat function more effectively. Also important was improving system-wide analysis and welcoming independent, authoritative advice from the Secretary-General, including on new and emerging threats and risks, such as climate change. Among other things, she emphasized the need to harness the capacity of women to create sustainable peace through inclusive processes, and to recognize that there could be no humanitarian solution for a political crisis.
KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said genuine dialogue was critical in preventing conflicts and attaining sustainable peace. At the international level, it would require setting the goal of building a world free of nuclear weapons by 2045. His President’s recent policy address on global partnerships focused on what needed to be done at the regional level, including strengthening peace and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan by addressing the root causes of conflict, proliferation of terrorism and violent extremism. Lack of trust, stark economic and social inequalities and underdevelopment had prevented progress in the Middle East, he added, reiterating his country’s commitment to hosting Syria peace talks in the capital, Astana. Dialogue between political and religious leaders should be intensified to find lasting solutions to eradicate terrorism.
During Kazakhstan’s tenure in the Security Council, it would remain dedicated to making the United Nations better equipped for the challenges of the twenty-first century, he said. Enhancing the level of trust between States required Council meetings at the level of Heads of State and Government. He welcomed recommendations of United Nations commissioned reports on the Organization’s peace operations and peacebuilding architecture. A systemic approach should be further developed to identify and prevent emerging crises, take into account new factors, such as cybercrime, and pay foremost attention to development and human rights. The Council must also have direct oversight over peacebuilding, including through greater cooperation with the Secretary-General, who as an “honest broker” and “bridge-builder” should play a crucial role in conflict prevention at the earliest stages.
ANGELINO ALFANO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said that the Council must spare no effort for reconciliation in Libya and Iraq. Syria required greater investment in inclusive dialogue among all the parties. He also attached great importance to a successful outcome of the Cyprus settlement talks and said that, in Africa, conflict prevention and diplomacy must prevail over military solutions. In that regard, a common effort to move from vision to action was needed. Comprehensive reform that adapted the United Nations peace system to the new global challenges was critical as such challenges required an integrated approach to peace and a United Nations fit for the new purpose. Reform might entail a revision of the Secretariat structure and a new distribution of roles and responsibilities.
The Secretary-General should not hesitate to bring emerging crises to the Council’s attention before they escalate, he continued. Reform must also include strengthening local partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, such as the European Union and African Union. It was also critical to encourage the effective use of early warning indicators of violence, radicalization, extremism and assaults on human rights, religion and culture. “We shall not be fearful because people in fear are not free,” he said, stressing that fighting terror meant fighting for freedom. It was vital to address the root causes of instability including climate change and hunger, especially for its connection to disruptive South-South and South-North migrations. Large movements of people could be both an outcome and a root cause of conflict, but if managed well, the phenomena could turn into opportunity for peace, growth and development.
WORKINEH GEBEYEHU NEGEWO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said the credibility of the United Nations and the Security Council was on the line, and that prioritizing conflict prevention was not really an option, but a necessity. The Secretary-General’s active engagement in preventative diplomacy, mediation and peaceful resolution of disputes through judicious exercise of his good offices would be critical. His efforts would need to be supported by all available tools — including early warning and rigorous analysis of emerging crisis situations — to enable him to draw the Council’s attention to emerging issues.
His efforts would be in vain, however, if they lacked the Council’s full support, he said. There was room for a lot of improvement in the working relationship between the Secretary-General and the Council. It was also essential to address institutional fragmentation and to ensure coherence across the United Nations system, he said, emphasizing also the need to enhance strategic partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, including the African Union, regarding conflict prevention, peacekeeping, special political missions, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
SAMANTHA POWER (United States), congratulating Mr. Guterres for “hitting the ground running”, underscored the continued importance of the United Nations and the Council in particular. “We help set the rules for how States should behave,” she said, pointing to its deployment of over 100,000 troops around the world, its use of arms embargoes and its imposition of financial sanctions, among other things. However, the Council’s great promise existed in contrast to the many conflicts that continued around the world. Indeed, if the body was serious about preventing conflict, the important principle of State sovereignty could not be a “straightjacket” used to prevent action or a shield to prevent scrutiny for actions by States than ran counter to the United Nations Charter. For example, she said, in 2014, the Russian Federation had violated Ukraine’s sovereignty by invading and attempting to annex Crimea, but it continued to suggest that the failure to respect State sovereignty was the main driver of conflicts. Noting that the perversion of the principle of sovereignty also sometimes undermined the Council’s peacekeeping work, she also stressed that States must move away from filling the Council’s meetings with “empty phrases” and “dodging” statements that used the passive voice instead of precisely identifying the perpetrators of abuses.
In that vein, she went on to warn against pursuing consensus as the Council’s only goal, which risked achieving only “lowest common denominator” solutions. That had been the case with a recent resolution on Aleppo, she said, noting that the agreement had been reached only at the end of a merciless military assault on that city by the Assad regime and the Russian Federation. While the United States supported efforts by Turkey and the Russian Federation to end the bloodshed in Syria, consensus should not be the measure of success. Instead, the measure should be impact, and whether Mr. Assad had ended his attacks. Member States also needed to empower Mr. Guterres and his teams to do their jobs, including the use of Article 99 of the Charter. Recalling that the United States had supported his appointment in part because he was independent-minded and prepared to fight “bullying and lawlessness” by some Member States, she also emphasized the importance of involving more “real voices” — including from civil society — in the Council’s work, which would serve to make it less sterile and help put people at the centre of its decisions.
MATTHIAS FEKL, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad of France, emphasized that the multilateral framework was needed now more than ever, and that the United Nations was the only body that could provide it. Noting that today’s debate was an opportunity to frame the Organization’s activities over the coming year, he said the first priority was to strengthen prevention and to continue to invest in peacekeeping. Recalling that Chapter I of the Charter discussed collective preventive measures, he emphasized France’s support for the strengthening of such efforts. The challenges facing the world today were becoming increasingly asymmetrical and transnational, and early warning systems were urgently needed. As the Secretary-General played a critical role in that regard, it was critical that he be able to alert the Council on any situation that he deemed a threat to international peace and security. Meanwhile, the Council should strengthen its work in mediation and good offices, and it must continue to have the ability to impose sanctions in order to stabilize explosive situations, as had been done successfully in both Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. He also recalled that France had advocated for barring the use of the veto in order to make sure the Council did not remain blocked in critical situations, such as cases of mass atrocities.
He went on to stress that peacekeeping operations remained critical to ensuring the return of peace and stability, and that flexible mandates were critical in that regard. Vulnerable countries must be assisted to develop their own capacities, and a “transversal and integrated approach” was needed to bring together the United Nations peace and development activities. In that regard, France was engaged in building cooperation and providing development assistance in all regions where it was engaged in peacekeeping. Emphasizing the need to address the issue of climate change — which could itself the cause of many future conflicts — he stressed the need to implement the Paris Agreement and such initiatives as the Great Green Wall in Africa. He also underscored the importance of strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and external actors, such as national authorities, regional organizations and civil society, and addressed several country-specific situations in Syria, Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali.
ALAN DUNCAN, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas of the United Kingdom, said the United Nations must continue to play a major role at a time of wide-spread instability. Recalling that the Unite Kingdom had been at the forefront of the Organization’s conflict prevention activities since its inception, he said that its response to global challenges had evolved significantly over the last seven decades. The challenge was now how to use modern tools effectively, he said, endorsing Mr. Guterres’ vision for preventing conflict and maintaining peace. The United Kingdom shared his view that development was fundamental to achieving peace and stability. “Together, we must harness the United Nations political and security tools,” he said, also stressing the need to equip the Organization with the expertise needed to take action sooner. That included supporting United Nations officials when they flagged risks around the world.
Stressing that the Organization should recommit itself to making greater use of Chapter VI of the Charter, and that it must encourage greater regional responsibility, he went on to say that “we must also ensure that United Nations deployments are fit for purpose”. Each mission should be properly tailored to the challenge at hand, and must deliver on the “three Ps” – planning, pledged personnel and equipment, and performance. “We must deploy the right tools at the right time,” he said, warning against reactive actions, rather than mediation. In addition, in the United Nations was to continue to achieve its objectives, it must become simpler and more decentralized.
NOBUO KISHI, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said the Council should demonstrate results in conflict prevention by making the best use of such tools as Council missions to the field. “We would like to see a Security Council that is a leader not only in resolving conflicts, but also in preventing them,” he said, adding that the concept of sustaining peace must be woven into every aspect of the Organization’s work. Peace was a long-term process, and for Japan, the emphasis had always been on the comprehensiveness and seamlessness of its assistance in such places as Mindanao, in the Philippines, and in Timor-Leste.
The Secretary-General should actively employ his good offices to address conflicts and disputes, including those in the Middle East, he said. He should also make full use of his powers to bring matters to the Council’s attention pursuant to Article 99 of the Charter. Sustaining peace effectively would require United Nations reform. That would involve taking down institutional silos while reinforcing coordination in order to achieve a seamless and holistic approach to sustaining peace.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, acknowledged that the world had not become safer since the establishment of the United Nations. Some of those who had signed the Charter tended to interpret its principles for their own convenience. As a result, the international community had to deal with new conflicts, which had broken out because of gross human rights violations and the lack of institutional capacities. Recalling the Syrian conflict, he said that the Council had failed to prevent that from happening. The international community had spent enormous resources to rebuild war-torn societies and assist those in need. Europe, for its part, was also non-immune to conflicts. Ukraine had been countering foreign military aggression for almost three years already. Although the General Assembly had adopted various resolutions which had condemned the aggression and occupation of Crimea, attempts by the Security Council to stop that had been blocked.
“Prevention is a powerful tool and bold tactic,” he continued, stressing that the Organization must use all its potential to prevent the outbreak, resurgence and continuity of armed conflicts. Unfortunately, too often, Member States kept their hands in the sand until it was too late. That pattern must change to ensure that Srebrenica, Rwanda and Aleppo would not happen again. For its part, the Secretary-General must play a special role in prevention, he said, encouraging him to take proactive, unbiased and independent action. Preventing conflicts from going into a spiral of violence often depended on the ability of the United Nations to deploy necessary resources at the earliest stage. In cases of requests for deployment of a peacekeeping mission, the Council could benefit from an early and comprehensive assessment of the situation on the ground.
LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) underscored the need to continue reviewing the peace and security architecture of the United Nations to ensure greater prevention across all stages of conflicts. The Charter, United Nations entities, and regional and subregional organizations were available tools at the disposal of the international community, he said, while stressing that prevention required political commitment. Others key mechanisms were mediation and the Secretary-General’s good offices, and holding periodic situation meetings would lead to successful outcomes. As a troop contributor, Uruguay believed in early peace building, which covered the pre-conflict period, as well. Among other things, he called for coherent implementation across the three United Nations pillars of human rights, peace and security and development, and emphasized the need to address the root causes of conflicts for long-term development.
WU HAITAO (China) said that peace was a common aspiration for the sustainability of human civilization. However, the world had continued to witness the spread of terrorism and non-traditional security challenges. To prevent conflict, it was essential to correct the security concept. No single country could achieve security alone while others suffered from insecurity, he said, stressing the need for global partnership. Given that root causes included inequality and poverty, it was crucial to find solutions that would achieve inclusiveness, and tackle global challenges such as climate change and global migration crisis. For its part, the United Nations must leverage its strength while respecting the principle of sovereignty, he stressed.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), expressing support for Mr. Guterres’ vision of peace, said it was a good time to examine what had not worked in the maintenance of peace and security, and to draw lessons from why. Among other things, he emphasized the need for a painstaking search for unique solutions to each conflict and warned against a “one-size-fits-all” model in that respect. Recalling that the main responsibility for ending conflicts lay with States themselves, he pointed out that the concept of prevention was not a new one. Indeed, it had been part of the Charter for more than 70 years, and had still not been implemented due to a lack of political will. Member States still held divergent views on former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s proposed indicators of a potential crisis, he said, noting that, for some reason, supporting coups and regime change had not been mentioned as potential drivers of conflict. Stressing that United Nations reports on potential conflict situations should be compiled professionally and impartially, he expressed his country’s support to any prevention initiative, so long as it had added value and properly took into account the views of Member States.
Noting that the Plan of Action on the Prevention of Violent Extremism, for one, did not fit those criteria, he said the Organization’s actions in that area must be guided by common values rather than national agendas. Many conflicts around the world had resulted from the irresponsible interventions of Member States, including those whose purposes had been regime change. In that regard, the United States violations of sovereignty had led to many crises, including in the Middle East where they had given rise to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), in Libya which had had dire consequences for the entire African continent and in Syria where they had led to massive refugee flows. The crisis in Ukraine would also not have happened without United States intervention, he said, adding that the Obama Administration was desperately looking for people to blame for its failures. Responding to the statement delivered by the representative of Ukraine, he said that country should stop shelling people in the Donbas region and instead begin implementing the Minsk Agreements.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) emphasized the need to develop a creative approach in response to the world’s many current challenges. The comprehensive peace reviews carried out in 2015 had provided clear support for such a conceptual change, he said, including the need to abandon the idea of conflict management in favour of prevention and tackling the root efforts of conflict. To those ends, he called for improving the Secretariat’s analytical capabilities and the adoption of a political and programmatic framework in situations emerging from conflict. Such a framework would call for long-term regional support, and should invest in national capacity-building to manage national reconciliation activities and improve the ability of Governments to meet the basic needs of their peoples. Such an approach would also give an objective and comprehensive meaning to the idea of national ownership, he said, calling on the United Nations to pursue assistance activities that were guided by the priorities of States themselves.
In that regard, he called for a shift in the United Nations cultural, structural and administrative levels. That included the improvement of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Office and the Peacebuilding Fund. The former must play a varying role according to the particular needs of each conflict, he said, also emphasizing the importance of predictable funding resulting from a broad partnership between the United Nations, international financial instruments and donors.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal), underscoring the need for a “paradigm shift” in the Council’s work, said more resources should be invested in prevention, in particular in Africa. Indeed, the effectiveness and efficiency of the Council’s work would depend on its capacity to see, analyse and prevent various threats, and to halt new ones. While the tools needed to achieve those goals existed, political will was often lacking. As a result, the Council acted too late, and its actions were costly and ineffective. Calling for the creation of synergies between the three recent reviews of United Nations peace operations, which had all placed emphasis on the importance of prevention, he said the protection of human rights and people on the ground were the only real guarantees of security. A lack of unity and political will on those issues had sometimes paralysed the Council in 2016, he said, stressing that Member States should unite around Mr. Guterres’ vision of making 2017 a year for peace.
In that regard, he emphasized the need to underscore the Secretary-General’s leadership and moral authority, given the impact it could have on the Council’s actions and those of Member States. At the same time, it was crucial to recall that the United Nations was not the only actor in the area of international peace and security. It must therefore strengthen its cooperation with other organizations, including regional organizations, in line with Chapter VIII of the Charter. Senegal supported recent recommendations on strengthening the African Union’s role in conflict prevention, and recalled that Council resolution 2320 (2016) had proposed a cost-sharing agreement between the United Nations and the African Union on the deployment of African peacekeeping units. He also recalled that Senegal had spearheaded recent Council efforts to address the issue of water, peace and security, including by holding an open debate on the matter in order to raise awareness of the link between natural resources and the maintenance of international peace and security.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) underscored the need for the United Nations to prevent conflict and ensure peaceful settlement of disputes. Bolivia rejected all sorts of aggression, and advocated for the promotion of prevention and mediation efforts to break the cycle of conflict. “Sustainable peace is possible through sustainable policies,” he said, encouraging the Council to fully use the advantages of its diverse composition. He welcomed the rapid progress made in national ownership and capacity-building, yet emphasized the need to establish dynamic alliances while ensuring that regional efforts were given sufficient attention. The Council suffered from bipolar disease, he said, noting that it had rushed into authorizing military action for some countries while remaining silent for others. Its work must be conducted in line with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States.
WITOLD WASZCZYKOWSKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said present efforts to resolve existing conflicts were not enough. In that regard, conflict prevention — which remained critically underprioritized — should be at the core of United Nations activities in the maintenance of international peace and security. Recalling that over 70,000 Polish “blue helmets” had served in peacekeeping missions around the world, he said conflicts could and should be prevented or mitigated through early, well-suited diplomatic engagement.
Asking how the Council could capitalize on opportunity for such preventive action, he said the body should use the tools already available to it more often. Those included horizon-scanning briefings by the Secretariat, interactive dialogues, videoconferencing and briefings by the Department of Political Affairs, which could help to identify early warning signs and facilitate action before they deteriorated into an open conflict. In addition, the Secretary-General’s visiting missions should take preventive aspects into consideration more effectively. Citing the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on conflict prevention in Africa as a positive example, he also stressed that the Council should not be hampered by the use of the veto from taking action aimed at stopping or preventing situations involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. Calling for enhanced consultation between the Council and troop-contributing countries, he also emphasized the importance of effective national conflict-prevention policies and stressed that the United Nations actions in such areas as conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, peace enforcement and peacebuilding must not be conducted in isolation.
EDGARS RINKĒVIČS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, said that the reviews of the United Nations peace and security pillar called for the strengthening of preventive diplomacy. The Organization must develop an effective culture of prevention, while the international community — individually and collectively — needed to move from mere commitment to concrete action. By placing conflict prevention at the centre of the United Nations agenda, the Secretary-General’s initiatives would strengthen the arrangement for information and crisis management.
States had the primary responsibility to protect their populations from atrocity crimes, he continued, adding that the permanent members of the Council must use their power to protect common peace and security. “The Council has not always lived up to this special responsibility,” he said, noting that failure to act promptly to prevent conflict in Syria had brought immense human costs. “The brutal horrors of five years of ongoing bloodshed in Syria haunt our conscience as human beings and diplomats,” he said, and added that his country had strongly supported the creation of an international, impartial and independent mechanism to assist investigation and prosecution of serious crimes committed in that country. Latvia had also called to refer that case to the International Criminal Court.
BERT KOENDERS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, compared the United Nations to an orchestra that, at times, sounded shrill and out of tune. That was not because it was “just a club to get together, talk and have a good time”, nor because the elements required for a perfect performance were missing. Rather, he said, United Nations organizations did not always coordinate as closely as they should. The different pillars of the United Nations system could work better together, bringing their respective comparative advantages to bear and delivering as one.
The Sustainable Development Goals were instruments for peace, but a silo mentality among United Nations funds, programmes and peace operations was a hindrance, he said. Member States, donors and the Secretary-General must hold those parts of the system accountable. In situations where the Security Council does not act, the Secretary-General could still use his good offices to foster mediation and dialogue. A stronger compact between the Security Council and the Secretary-General was needed, he said, adding that the Council had seldom made use of coercive measures to prevent conflict in Africa. Prevention should get a larger share of the fixed budget of the United Nations, he said, emphasizing that the Netherlands was pushing for that in the General Assembly.
VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda), pointing to the United Nations’ continued inability to credibly and accurately predict, pre-empt and rapidly respond to conflicts, said that more room had emerged for multilateral and multifaceted responses to global threats. That included opportunities to work with regional organizations, she said, recalling that in Africa experience in conflict prevention had shown that the African Union was better positioned in terms of knowledge, proximity and the capability to mobilize and respond quickly. Calling for further discussion and practical measures to enhance the collaboration between that organization and the United Nations, she said key areas of possible cooperation included the holding of a strategic dialogue with Africa on policies and practices that affected its people and the streamlining of efforts to intervene when civilians were in danger. She also emphasized the importance of implementing outstanding components of the African peace and security architecture, including making the African Standby Force fully operational.
CHOI JONG-MOON, Deputy Foreign Minister for Global and Multilateral Affairs of the Republic of Korea, declared: “We are at a critical moment vis-à-vis the international security landscape.” Todays’ conflicts had become increasingly complex and intractable, while terrorism and violent extremism was spreading across the world, creating the worst humanitarian situation of our time. In that context, the Council and the General Assembly had adopted landmark resolutions setting forth a road map towards a more peaceful future, including by reducing the United Nations fragmentation and duplication and bringing conflict prevention to the centre of the Organization’s engagements. Making several recommendations in that regard, he said the Council should make better use of its investigatory tools under Article 34 of the Charter, as well as implement and continue to build upon its resolutions 2086 (2013) and 2333 (2016) regarding the entity’s role in peacebuilding.
In addition, he said, greater engagement with the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa could facilitate action on potential conflicts, while the Council should also make more proactive use of the advisory function of the Peacebuilding Commission. The Republic of Korea, which was expected to become the next Chair of that body, believed that scaling up inclusive capacity-building and greater coordination were effective means to prevent conflict and sustain peace. Even as the Council gathered to discuss ways to achieve those goals, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities in blatant violation of relevant Council resolutions. It was critical that the latter continued to engage on that issue to sustain peace in the region, he said.
PORNPRAPAI GANJANARINTR (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recalled that 2017 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the group’s founding. Conflict prevention and sustaining peace remained one of its fundamental priorities. It attached great important to preventative diplomacy, with the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit providing venues for regular dialogue on policy-security matters. The 2030 Agenda, particularly Goal 16 regarding peace and justice, could serve as an important guideline for conflict prevention efforts, she said, recalling also the contribution of ASEAN member States to United Nations peacekeeping missions.
It was ASEAN’s view that the Security Council and Secretary-General should world closely to make conflict prevention and sustaining peace a reality, she said. Regular dialogue should be promoted, and the Secretary-General and Council members — as well as other relevant organs, such as the Peacebuilding Commission — should enhance cooperation to promote coherence and complementarity between peace and security efforts, on the one hand, and development on the other. She also encouraged the United Nations to engage with regional organizations and all concerned parties as soon as possible to address emerging threats.
ANNE SIPILÄINEN, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Security Policy of Finland, speaking for the Group of Friends of Mediation and its two co-chairs, said it was critical to strengthen the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution. The Group also believed it was important to empower more women to serve as mediators. Speaking in her national capacity, and aligning herself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, she stressed the need for the Security Council, Secretary-General and all Member States to capitalize on the current momentum and turn it into concrete action. The Council and the Organization as a whole needed to strengthen its own capacities to undertake prevention measures, including by developing and making use of early warning tools, better assessing root causes in a timely manner, upholding universal human rights and implementing the sustainable development agenda.
Mediation and conflict prevention were the most cost-effective methods to achieve peace, she added, emphasizing that Finland’s approach to mediation included national dialogues and other formal and informal processes which contributed to more inclusive peace processes and thereby, to lasting solutions. Finland supported non-governmental actors, including religious and traditional leaders’ engagement in peace processes. She emphasized the need to provide political and financial support to special political missions. Urging the Council and Secretary-General to pay particular attention to the active role of women in conflict prevention, she added that women remained the single greatest underutilized resource in effective peacebuilding. Experience had shown that empowering women and supporting their full participation in peace-related, political and economic decision-making could lead to more lasting agreements.
JOACHIM RÜCKER (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, emphasized the need for a factual and common understanding of current crises situations, their root causes and drivers. To align with the realities of the twenty-first century, Germany had sharpened its analytical tools and refined its approach to achieve stability in crisis situations. It was currently developing national guidelines on conflict management and peace-building with the help of international organizations, academia and civil society. For its part, the Council had to prioritize prevention at every stage of conflict by focusing on reconciliation efforts, mediation, security sector reform and good governance. It could resume regular horizon-scanning sessions to discuss, prepare and respond to emerging crisis situations.
Germany would remain committed to further strengthening crisis prevention capabilities, he continued. In 2016, it had tripled its funding in the field of prevention, contributing over $4 million to the Mediation Support Team, more than $22 million to the Peacebuilding Fund and boosting contributions to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). On the ground, Germany had continued to actively engage in crisis prevention and peacekeeping. Its stabilization and peacekeeping efforts in the context of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) had supported the political trajectory that would eventually define a sustainable settlement in Mali. Germany would continue to encourage others to invest more in stabilization projects so that legitimate authorities in precarious areas would be equipped to sustain peace in their countries.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) said multiplying conflicts had exposed United Nations weakness and inability to prevent conflict. United Nations engagements must adopt a comprehensive approach of sustaining peace with a focus on conflict prevention. Engagement must go beyond addressing the causes and drivers of conflict. Rather, strategies to sustain peace must focus on structural prevention including by fighting poverty and ensuring youth employment, building full-fledged institutions and improving governance. Those actions must be carried out in close cooperation of national authorities. Better coordination and cooperation between the Council and Peacebuilding Commission was needed, he added, encouraging Member States to work closely with the latter. The Council would benefit from the Commission’s field visits where appropriate. It was also important to consider strengthening political missions as they served a crucial role, but lacked predictable and adequate financing.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said conflicts around the world had become increasingly complex, testing the ability of the United Nations to respond effectively. “Prevention is not just a priority, but rather the priority,” she added, emphasizing the role of development in preventing conflict and sustaining peace. The 2030 Agenda had committed to leaving no one behind and combating the various causes of conflicts around the world. Preventing conflict and sustaining peace required involving women in the process. The peace agreement in Colombia would allow the county to foster economic and social development particularly in areas it was not able to reach during the conflict. The inclusion of women at the negotiating table was an area where Colombia had enjoyed unique experience. Colombia’s peace agreement was the first one of its kind to directly include women in the process.
MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends of Mediation, said peace and stability would remain elusive if the international community did not address the nexus between security and development. Sustainable peace consolidation required the strengthening of political approaches, including through preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding. Under-resourcing of conflict prevention remained an obstacle, he said, adding that commitment to sustaining peace and conflict prevention required adequate and predictable resources. That would invariably lead to less spending on costly peacekeeping, humanitarian responses and protecting development gains. In addition to traditional threats to international peace and security, the nature of conflict was changing, with a multiplicity of armed actors, many employing asymmetric methods. The Council must do everything in its power to prevent conflict and sustain peace.
GEIR O. PEDERSEN (Norway), speaking on behalf of the “UN70” group — comprising Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand and his own country — recalled a set of recommendations by the group in November 2016 that included placing conflict prevention at the heart of the United Nations peace and security agenda. The group strongly urged the Council to use all means at its disposal to prevent the emergence of new crises like those in Syria or South Sudan. The Council needed to work closely with the Secretary-General, give him space to work proactively on preventative diplomacy, and be willing respond when he recommended action. More resources should be allocated to conflict prevention, and there should be a more coherent approach to identifying and addressing conflict risks. While the Council had a crucial role to play, Member States must come together to advance the sustaining peace agenda. Preventing conflict and sustaining peace, with the assistance of the international community, did not undermine State sovereignty. On the contrary, it strengthened State sovereignty.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the capacity of the United Nations for sustaining peace was relatively nascent. While its nation-building endeavours had mixed results, they were more productive and cost effective than unilateral actions taken by some Powers. Sustainable peace could not be achieved unless the underlying causes of conflicts — including poverty; environmental degradation; political and economic injustice; ethnic, tribal and religious tensions; and external interference and intervention — were addressed. Prevention was a task to be shared by national Governments and national stakeholders, she said, emphasizing that only national actors could drive processes for sustainable peace.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq) said international organizations, such as Da’esh and Al-Nusrah, had taken terrorism to a new level. They had greater capacities, powerful modern weapons and the ability to use new technology to enlist recruits and build support. Iraq was in a state of war against such groups. Transparent democracy, the rule of law and good governance were preconditions for building peaceful societies. Public participation was also extremely important. Sustainable peace would only be possible through consensus in society, he said, outlining efforts by his Government in that regard. The international community had a collective responsibility to help Iraq fight terrorism. More than ever, Iraq needed international community support for reconstruction, stability and the return of displaced persons. He encouraged all States to respect Council resolutions concerning terrorism and cutting off sources of terrorist financing.
KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the European Union, emphasized a need for greater focus on prevention, and for greater participation of police and women in peace and security efforts. Effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda was crucial for sustaining peace, she said, underscoring Hungary’s increased voluntary contribution to a UN-Women project focused on preventing violent extremism. She went on to emphasize respect for human rights and ending a culture of impunity. On United Nations reform, she said the performance of the Security Council must be enhanced. She encouraged the Secretary-General to make use of Article 99 more frequently and to convene regular situational awareness meetings to help Council members undertake conflict prevention, preventative diplomacy and early engagement.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said the United Nations had at its disposal a number of assets including the Secretary-General’s good offices, resident political missions, peacekeeping operations and fact-finding missions, among others. It was vital to strengthen those assets and streamline their roles. Partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, youth, women, civil society and academia would improve the early warning systems to identify the sources of tension, address them. Collaboration would also help consolidate national, regional and international support to accompany peaceful developmental processes. The nature of new and emerging challenges required an integrated approach within the United Nations, as well. It was also important to build on preventive initiatives taken by other agencies in the field of education, good governance and democratic processes. The situation in the Middle East was a clear example of the critical need to address the root causes of conflict. Regular briefings and open debates were needed to pave the way towards collective ownership of conflict prevention.
JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of the European Union delegation, said it was common knowledge that security and development were closely interlinked, mutually reinforcing and key to preventing crises and attaining sustainable peace. A political culture of acting sooner to the risk of violent conflict must be developed. He explained how the Union’s new Global Strategy emphasized the importance of acting promptly on prevention, and how it promised that the bloc would engage in a practical and principles way in sustaining peace, taking an integrated approach. Implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change would be crucial in reducing susceptibility to crises around the world.
The Council had a particular responsibility to address, in a timely and effective manner, situations in danger of deteriorating, he said. Given the role foreseen by Article 99, it was essential for the Council and the Secretariat to cooperate smoothly and efficiently. More creative approaches to diplomacy also needed to be developed, such as promoting the role of women in peace efforts and exploring more innovative ways to work with civil society. “We call upon members of the United Nations Security Council not to vote against credible draft resolutions on timely and decisive action to prevent or end mass atrocities,” he said, adding that the body should ensure that mandates for peacekeeping missions include consideration for longer-term peacebuilding.
HORACIO SEVILLA BORJA (Ecuador) said that the United Nations, since its founding, had succeeded in preventing a dreaded third world war. However, the past 70 years had seen a number of more localized conflicts in such places as the Korean Peninsula, Viet Nam, Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Those wars resulted from a failure to respect the Charter, as well as the unilateral decisions of certain Powers. He listed a number of measures that needed to be taken to ensure effective conflict prevention, starting with a renewed commitment by all States, especially major Powers, to the Charter. The Security Council also needed to be made more representative, ensuring fair geographical representation. Prompt implementation of the 2030 Agenda would be the most effective form of preventative diplomacy, he stated.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) underscored his country’s support for a comprehensive approach to deep-rooted causes of conflict. The United Nations system had a broad array of tools at its disposal for preventative diplomacy and mediation, but there was a need to strengthen those tools and to have more consistency. The General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and Peacebuilding Commission all dealt with conflict prevention, but it was regrettable that action in terms of prevention by those four bodies was piecemeal and lacking an overarching vision. Concrete strategies were needed to encourage both early warning and early action. Priority must be given to political rather than military solutions, he said, and it was crucial to deliver greater consistency between Secretariat action and the rest of the United Nations system. He went on to emphasize the role that could be played by such organizations as the Organization of American States, Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said more had to be done to improve coherence, accountability and financing for sustaining peace, and coordination between departments and agencies, field and headquarters, policies and programmes. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations also had a vital role in implementing the sustaining peace agenda. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should continue to adopt new policies and practices for enhanced coherence and joint programmes. It was also paramount to monitor progress and recognize successes and failures. Providing independent and frank advice to the Security Council should remain a key goal of the Secretary-General. Collaborative pilot projects on sustaining peace in Sri Lanka and Burkina Faso should serve as examples that shape new practices and policies for a coherent United Nations. A fit-for-purpose United Nations must be financed in a way which promotes high‑quality advice, personnel and action on the ground. That would ensure a nimble, innovative Organization which responds to needs rather than corporate structures.
CATHERINE BOUCHER (Canada) said an unprecedented number of people around the world had been displaced by conflict and indiscriminate bombing and targeting of civilians and medical facilities had become the hallmark of too many conflicts. Clearly, more had to be done and at an earlier stage to prevent conflicts from escalating. Political solutions to conflicts lay at the heart of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Preventing conflict and sustaining peace had to become an overarching goal for all United Nations activities before, during and after conflict. A better balance must be struck between the considerable resources spent on peace operations and those supporting conflict prevention and sustaining peace. The Secretary-General had a central role to play in galvanizing international action for peace. Highlighting the link between sustaining peace and the sustainable development agenda, she urged the strengthening of that connection particularly in the area of gender equality, women’s empowerment and the participation of women and youth in peacebuilding and governance.
PHAM THI KIM ANH (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said the Asia-Pacific region was plagued with intractable conflicts over natural resources, as well as territorial disputes, including in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea. It was high time for the United Nations to renew its commitment to prevent and remove threats to peace, with the Security Council promoting robust leadership. Coordination and cooperation between the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the General Assembly should be strengthened. More internationally binding legal instruments were needed to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors, combat transnational human and drug trafficking, and to prevent the propagation of violent extremist ideology and terrorism. He said ASEAN was committed to upholding the supremacy of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to ensure full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to strive for an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
CRISTIAN BARROS MELET (Chile) said prevention should be promoted through a multidimensional and integrated approach that addresses conflict’s underlying causes namely socioeconomic, gender, ethnic, tribal, religious and ideological tensions. Empowering women and increasing their participation in politics, including in peace processes, was critical. The Council must reinforce its interaction with the Peacebuilding Commission while the Commission itself redoubled efforts to promote greater consistency with national strategies and priorities in the field of peacebuilding, he said, highlighting the importance of its coordination with regional and subregional institutions. To address and prevent the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the United Nations could help concerned States create the framework for legal exploitation that fostered the development of the country concerned. He also stressed the need to protect critical infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, in conflict areas and highlighted the untapped potential of young people in peace processes.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) underscored the need to invest more in United Nations instruments for preventing conflict and sustaining peace. Expressing regret that such instruments remained chronically underfunded, he emphasized that prevention was a responsibility to be shared by the entire United Nations system. Such an approach would require a shift towards proactive, inclusive, comprehensive and nationally owned approaches to conflict, as well as breaking down silos. There was also value in strengthening collaboration between the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, he said, noting that the former could request regular briefings by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and use the Human Rights Council’s reports as an information base.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations, despite some success in decreasing the number of wars among nations, had yet to have any success in harnessing violence and extremism perpetrated by non-State actors. Aggression was still one of the major causes that lay at the root of violent extremism. The occupation of the Palestinian territory by the Israeli regime lay at the core of the tension and anger in the Middle East. It would not be an exaggeration to consider United States aggression towards Iraq in 2003 as one of the major causes that radicalized, set loose and fed a host of groups. That was also the case for Syria and Yemen where foreign intervention had damaged the prospect of international cooperation aimed at focusing on fighting terrorist and extremist groups. He also expressed concern at the rise of xenophobic ideologies both in the East and West. It was imperative that the United Nations take a proactive role in ensuring that civilization, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and understanding be encouraged, promoted and protected.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) emphasized the need to develop a political culture of acting sooner in response to the risk of violent conflict and investing in prevention. Ensuring effective prevention required integrating peace and security, human rights and development approaches. None of them could be achieved without the other. Sustainable peace and security were essential to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, providing universal access to justice and building effective and accountable institutions at all levels. Furthermore, the international community must heed the warning signs of conflicts, he said, urging all Member States to actively support and strengthen human rights initiatives. While Member States were primarily responsible for conflict prevention, international organizations must also do their parts. For better outcomes, the United Nations system needed to work in a more integrated fashion and to develop synergies between the Security Council, the Secretariat and other entities. Among other things, he emphasized the need for the Council to continue addressing peacebuilding through horizon-scanning briefings.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, ASEAN, UN70 and the Group of Friends of Mediation, said there were currently more peacekeepers on the ground than ever before. They increasingly operated in the context whereby the United Nations was asked to manage conflict rather than restore or keep the peace. The United Nations could not single-handedly resolve such challenges, he emphasized, calling for a stronger global-regional peace and security partnership. Prevention and mediation should be reinforced by a significant increase in funding and more reliable resourcing through the regular budget and a single peace and operations account. It was also important to explore how peacekeeping operations could more explicitly integrate conflict prevention and sustaining peace into the implementation of their mandates. National authorities must effectively address the socioeconomic development and security challenges facing common people, he said, underlining that women and young people must play a bigger role in fostering reconciliation.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) said that war and armed conflict had brought humanity nothing but agony and economic setbacks. The Charter called on Member States to practise tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Many conflicts over the last 70 years could have been prevented had the causes of conflict not been linked to the self-interest of the powerful few. Stable and lasting peace that would prevent the outbreak of conflict required respecting the sovereignty and political independence of all States. Sustainable peace also implied the rejection of aggression. There could be no peace as long as an unjust and exclusive global economy existed. There could be no peace and stability without development and as long as millions continued to be condemned to poverty and hunger. The Council had a key role to play in maintaining international peace and security. Manipulation and double standards had in no way contributed to peace. Improving the ability of the United Nations to prevent disputes was more effective than shouldering the aftermath of conflict.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said conflict prevention was first and foremost a national responsibility supported by responsive and functioning institutions, the promotion of human rights and the rule of law, as well as sustainable development. The active participation of all segments of society, including women and youth, was fundamental to mitigating potential drivers of conflict. The United Nations had a critical role to play in facilitating and monitoring the implementation of internationally agreement commitments, he said, adding that the Organization’s ability to decipher early-warning signs of conflict should give it an edge in devising context-specific engagement strategies. As a contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, Bangladesh recognized the need to manage expectations on all sides, including through nationally owned and internationally supported approaches to sustaining peace.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) emphasized the need to improve the flow of information on emerging conflicts, with the Operations and Crisis Centre providing an enhanced quality of information from credible sources. Emphasizing the importance of national ownership and a human-centred approach, he said called upon the United Nations to play a key role in providing assistance, political support and financing in order to lay the foundations for lasting peace.
DAVID DONOGHUE (Ireland) said his country favoured a stronger voice for those best equipped to flag early warning signs of conflict and make recommendations for Security Council action. However, the capacity of the United Nations to intervene early and quickly in order to prevent conflict was significantly diminished because funding was decided on year-by-year basis, he noted. While implementation of the 2030 Agenda was not the Council’s responsibility, realizing the Sustainable Development Goals would eliminate or reduce many of the root causes of conflict, he said, stressing that women must be involved at all stages of initiatives for sustaining peace, and that the role of regional partners could not be overstated. Deliberations on sustaining peace must be conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner that would ensure a United Nations fit for purpose.
JANE J. CHIGIYAL (Federated States of Micronesia), speaking on behalf of Pacific small island developing States, called for reinvigorated political and diplomatic engagement in responding to conflict. “Happy, safe and secure people rarely see the need to reach for a weapon,” she said, emphasizing that the single largest threat to the safety and security of present and future generations was climate change. It threatened food and water security, exposed people to extreme events and had the potential to destabilize societies. Since 2011, the threats had only grown with impacts more severe than scientists had previously projected. The climate change threat was unprecedented and therefore warranted new tools to respond to it. Pacific small island developing States would renew their call for the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security who would report to the General Assembly and the Security Council on emerging climate-related security threats and help vulnerable countries evaluate their security-related national circumstances.
During the first two years of his or her mandate, the Special Representative would assess the United Nations capacity to respond to the security implications of climate change, she said. The Special Representative would also work with relevant scientific bodies and research organizations on a new report that identified potentially dangerous tipping points at the climate and security nexus. The climate change risk was real, dangerous and growing. “It will touch the lives of billions over the coming century, threatening their well-being, and in some cases, their lives,” she warned. It also had the potential to undermine global peace and stability in ways the international community was only beginning to understand.
SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), associating herself with the UN70 group, said the world was seeing increasingly complex and prolonged conflicts sometimes beyond the response capacity of the United Nations. The Middle East continued to face major political and ideological instabilities. It was therefore critical to find a holistic solution to major challenges, such as extremism, terrorism, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The responsibility of preventing conflict required real commitment on the ground. Efforts must be national. However, given the deterioration of peace and security around the world, the role of the United Nations was more critical than ever. The United Nations had to adopt an effective approach to “uproot evil” with the cooperation of all international partners. Jordan supported the Secretary-General’s agenda for peace, as well as other tools, such as political and regional offices. She reiterated the importance of quickly implementing a strategy that would ensure peace was sustained while taking into account the unique challenges of each country. She also highlighted the vital role of regional organizations and women in peace processes.
MAX H. RAI (Papua New Guinea) called for political will and commitment needed for a paradigm shift that recognized the importance of an integrated approach to peace as well as conflict prevention. That included reforming outdated and inadequate structures and improving synergies between human rights and sustainable development work in the United Nations system. Country ownership and leadership in addressing the root causes of conflicts was also pivotal. Following a decade-long internal civil conflict, Papua New Guinea had learned first-hand of the importance of political will and commitment in conflict prevention. It was vital to adequately address the underlying root causes of tensions and conflicts and engage women in the peace process. Sustaining peace had intrinsic links to sustainable development, he added, expressing concern that climate change had not only posed threats to sustainable development, but also had wide-ranging implications for international peace and security. The involuntary displacement of people who seek refuge from the catastrophic effects of natural hazards and rising sea-levels would inevitably lead to outbreaks in conflict if left unaddressed.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) emphasized the need to pursue the prevention, continuation and exploitation of conflict. That wider concept meant that the Secretary-General bore the additional burden of ensuring that conflict prevention was not used to advance the ideologies of any particular country, he said, adding that unilateral coercive economic sanctions were as reprehensible as resorting to the use of force to settle conflicts. Stressing that the root causes of African conflicts, including the one in Darfur, were economic degradation and climate change, he said that, despite a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to that effect, the United Nations position remained limited to an implicit denial. In that regard, there was a need to appoint a Special Representative on Climate Change and Security, he said, adding that the General Assembly and the Secretariat also had major roles to play in the United Nations prevention efforts.
YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said it was important to highlight the role of the rule of law in establishing a stable and durable peace, shed light on real facts and combat impunity. The continuing aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan had led to the seizure of a significant part of Azerbaijan’s territory and serious violations of international humanitarian law amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide. Not much had changed since the Council adopted four resolutions condemning Armenia’s use of force against Azerbaijan. The Council’s “principled demands” had still not been implemented. Armenia continued to refuse to start meaningful peace negotiations and continued to obstruct the conflict settlement process, he said, adding that the only way to achieve a durable and lasting solution would be through a complete withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
GÜVEN BEGEÇ (Turkey), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Mediation and the European Union, stressed that defusing tensions before they escalated into violent conflicts was the best way to preserve peace and stability. Turkey’s renewed efforts to address the crisis in Syria, including the suffering of its people, demonstrated the need for effective political engagement, as well as the cost of its absence. In any quest for peace, the root causes of problems should be addressed, long-term grievances must be brought to an end and prospects for security, development and justice should be made available to all. While Turkey had supported efforts of the United Nations in that regard, including the primacy of politics, there were still Member States who considered that preventive actions without consent of the parties might entail premature interventions. Such actions might eventually damage the prospects for a peaceful solution, he warned, adding that complex political, ideological and socioeconomic challenges, as well as asymmetric threats and terrorism had rendered conflict prevention and resolution more difficult than ever.
ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria) said that, for far too long, the international community had accorded little attention to mediation and prevention of conflicts. It had placed far too much emphasis on and devoted enormous resources to the military dimensions of peace and security without addressing the root causes of conflicts. Fragile constitutional frameworks, limited natural resources, and economic disparities could together render a State vulnerable to conflict. Africa had, over the years, invested much political weight on the application of preventive diplomacy strategies by putting in place early warning and mediation mechanisms. The African Union had taken bold steps to develop a framework for preventive diplomacy through the efforts of the African Union Peace and Security Council. At the subregional level, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had also made great strides, primarily through the steady implementation of its conflict prevention framework encompassing diplomacy, fact-finding and early warning systems.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), noting that conflicts did not happen by accident, emphasized the need to address root causes and further invest in early warning mechanisms. Further, it was critical to advance communication between the Secretary-General and the Security Council, while paying particular attention to countries in fragile situations. In order to move forward, it was also essential to invest in education of conflict victims and to ensure the rehabilitation and reintegration of children. “Determined action will break the vicious cycle of conflict,” he said, stressing the need to improve coordination between the peacekeeping operations and the rest of the United Nations system.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) welcomed the efforts to build new political consensus in support of maintaining peace and security through conflict prevention. Identifying early warning signs and addressing risks were crucial to that end, he said, adding that it could be done through joint determination and adherence to the principles of international law. Peace processes were directly linked to advancing the 2030 Agenda and a continuous focus on strengthening human rights. Stressing the need to learn from history, he said that a permanent member of the Council had vetoed the presence of the Organization’s observer mission in his country right after a full-scale war in 2009. Since then, the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions were under illegal military occupation by the Russian Federation, he said, emphasizing that the veto right must be restricted in order to eliminate its misuse.
LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama) said “the batteries are recharged” to revisit the concept of prevention, which had been around a long time. The efforts of the international community to maintain peace and security were mostly devoted to peacekeeping, she said, stressing that more should instead be invested in proactive conflict prevention. While wars between States were becoming fewer, other types of conflicts were becoming increasingly complex, requiring effective action on the part of the Council. Among the tools available to it was the role played by women in preventing conflict, which should be used much more. The Council should also prioritize analysis and early warning, which required a closer relationship with the Human Rights Council. Calling for a “matrix-oriented” and more humanized approach to conflict prevention, she said the Council should be capable to making proposals to conflict parties and bolstering trust between them. In addition, it needed a more balanced power structure ensuring that narrow interests did not prevail.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said the primary responsibility for sustaining peace belonged with Member States. Prevention could only be effective if undertaken with the consent and cooperation of Member States concerned. While the mandate set out in the Charter was vast, the Organization could not do everything by itself, he said, emphasizing how local, national, subregional and regional actors might be better placed to act. Despite last year’s General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace, not even 1 per cent of the peacekeeping budget was allocated to that goal, he said. Moreover, despite an ever-changing world, the institutional architecture responsible for peace and security had remained frozen, with the Council representing an increasingly small minority of the world’s population. A Council that had lost its legitimacy could not be effective in addressing the challenges of conflict prevention and sustaining peace, he said.
ABDULAZIZ S M A ALJARALLAH (Kuwait), expressing support for the Secretary-General’s vision of preventive diplomacy, recalled that more than 128 million people around the globe were currently affected by conflicts, displacement and other emergencies. In that context, today’s debate was an opportunity to work towards making 2017 a year for peace. Calling for creative solutions to today’s complex conflicts, in line with the principles of preventive diplomacy, he said the international community should learn from the lessons of the past. The Council, in particular, must shoulder its responsibility to prevent conflicts, and not simply respond to them after they erupted. Pointing to the Palestinian question, which had remained on the Council’s agenda for decades, and the ongoing Syrian conflict as two examples of the Council’s inability to end conflicts, he said it was crucial to remove all hurdles to the Secretary-General’s use of Article 99 of the Charter.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), drawing attention to the changing nature of conflict, said that new financial and technological threats had taken place on various fronts, destabilizing several countries. In many cases, the principle of sovereignty and non-interference had been undermined, he said, stressing the need for firm political will to peacefully settle disputes. Any intervention that promoted post-conflict State-building must pursue long-term peace, otherwise the international community would witness terrorism, he cautioned. In order to move forward, it was critical to focus on the economic development of fragile States, inclusive development and justice.
JUDITH MARCIA ARRIETA MUNGUIA (Mexico) called for innovative approaches to improve the work of the United Nations. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s vision, she hoped that it would help States prevent conflicts. It was unfortunate that the Council had not focused on prevention as much as it should have, and that had led to significant loss of life. However, the adoption of historic United Nations resolutions had demonstrated global commitment to sustaining peace. Among other things, she expressed Mexico’s readiness to work with the Secretary-General to eliminate systematic fragmentation.
JAN KICKERT (Austria), commending the Secretary-General’s “crisp and clear” appeal to make 2017 a year for peace, agreed that conflict prevention was notoriously difficult and thankless. Outlining five areas where the United Nations could become more effective in preventing conflict, he said the Council had a legal and moral obligation to prevent mass atrocities. In that regard, its members should support the code of conduct in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as elaborated by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group. The Secretary-General also had the mandate to play a proactive role in warning the Council when international peace and security were threatened, and regional organizations must play an increasing role in prevention and sustaining peace. Describing Austria’s recent support to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), he added that effective prevention needed to begin at both the regional and country level. “Nothing is more helpful than being in the field and knowing the actors,” he said in that regard, underscoring the importance of the Human Rights Up Front initiative as human rights abuses were the early warning signs of conflict.
VLAD LUPAN (Republic of Moldova), emphasizing the importance of early warning mechanisms, said that such tools had not been present in his country in 1992. For 25 years, the Republic of Moldova had been promoting the resolution of the Transnistrian conflict, with the support of external partners. While national authorities continued to strive for prevention of any escalation, in 2016, military exercises had been conducted by separatists together with a United Nations Member State. Such experience proved that external interference was a destabilizing factor. He went on to stress the need to focus efforts on creating a favourable environment for peace while respecting the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore, the peacekeeping mechanism needed to be adjusted to the current realities and transformed into a compact, multinational civilian mission.
Mr. ALOWAIS (United Arab Emirates) said that nowhere else was the need for conflict prevention more urgent than in the Middle East where millions of people continued to feel the grave effects of violence and instability. The connection between extremist ideologies and terrorist acts was clear and they must be addressed simultaneously. The nihilistic narratives perpetuated by extremists were in stark contrast to the United Arab Emirates’ model as a modern, progressive Arab society. The key to conflict prevention and sustainable peace lay in building inclusive societies based on principles of tolerance, acceptance and pluralism. It was pivotal to invest in people and promote women and youth as agents of prevention in their communities. For its part, the Security Council must better consult with and utilize regional organizations which had a different understanding of unique dynamics. It was critical to combat extremism at its root by deconstructing extremist ideologies and offering opportunities to all citizens.
AHAMED LEBBE SABARULLAH KHAN (Sri Lanka) said that while the international community had faced a multitude of challenges, they were not insurmountable, and that with a common voice and unwavering political will, the world could steer towards peace for all. Terrorism, human rights abuses, poverty and the destruction of culture must inspire all United Nations bodies to work actively to address such emerging challenges. The Council had in its toolkit powerful instruments to address international peace and security. Peacekeeping operations must also adapt and acquire specialized capabilities. Countries receiving peacekeepers when possible should take ownership of the process. It was vital to focus on building national institutions, strengthening national security structures, and addressing issues of reconciliation and restorative justice. Sri Lanka had successfully eradicated terrorism after suffering under its yoke for nearly 30 years, and stood ready to serve as the beacon of hope as the international community embarked on confronting that scourge.
CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal) said global problems required global solutions and emphasized that the United Nations must be at the centre of efforts to address terrorism, the humanitarian crisis and the refugee problem. Preventing conflict called for enhanced effectiveness and accountability on the part of institutions, protection of human rights, good governance, economic empowerment and national ownership. Furthermore, it required partnerships at the national, subregional, regional and international levels. Timely statements, open debates and country visits were also useful methods, she said, adding that it was also important to share burdens and information, and to ensure the effectiveness of institutions.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria) expressed concern about double standards and politicization, saying that the actions of some countries contradicted the Charter as the world continued to witness a growing number of conflicts. Drawing attention to the number of resolutions adopted in the Council, he said it was not such texts that it lacked, but political will. It was unfortunate that foreign terrorist fighters kept entering Syria with the support of certain countries, he added.
ONDINA BLOKAR-DROBIC (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Mediation, said it was important to overcome political divisions to show that the Council could respond to crises and human suffering. All Governments had a responsibility to protect their people and to sustain peace. The promotion of the rule of law at all levels was crucial for the realization of sustained economic growth, eradication of poverty and hunger, and protection of human rights. She welcomed the engagement in conflict prevention issues at the Organization and commended the efforts in different parts of the United Nations system to significantly strengthen its capacities. It was important to not alienate oneself from multilateralism. Rather, the United Nations must foster it especially in preventive action. Cooperation and credible information sharing on early warning and situation assessments between international actors must be stepped up, in particular with the comprehensive approach that encompassed human rights and rule of law promotion.
OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Council had been disproportionately concerned with addressing the “crisis of the day” rather than preventing future conflicts. Working in a holistic manner in the long run was therefore critical, he stressed, calling for a shift from a linear approach to a more comprehensive one. “The message is clear: we cannot talk about peace without development or development without peace,” he said. In 2002, Guatemala had been able to reach an agreement with civil society to combat impunity and strengthen the country’s judiciary, he said, calling that success a “model” for other countries. The international community must not wait for an outbreak of conflict, but should address the underlying root causes.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the increasing number and complexity of conflicts around the world required an approach that was more integrated, strategic and coherent. Sustaining peace meant preventing conflicts and addressing their underlying causes, including those related to economic and social conditions. A “change of culture” was also needed within the United Nations system, he said, calling in particular for the strengthening of the Peacebuilding Commission. He also expressed satisfaction that Venezuela — which had long perverted the cause of democracy and proclaimed itself an expert on human rights, even while its people suffered from human rights violations, poverty and were refused a referendum — was ending its term of office on the Council. Indeed, that country’s presence had tarnished the body’s image and that of the United Nations.
DAVID ROET (Israel) said that, despite hate and terrorism that his country faced on a daily basis, it would always remain committed to sustaining peace. Courage was needed to prevent conflicts, to equally apply moral values, and not to turn a blind eye to actions taking place on the ground. Sadly, that was not the case when the Council examined the actions of those who systematically tried to harm Israel. His country had continued to observe an increased number of Hizbullah operatives in possession of unauthorized weapons in the southern Lebanon area of restriction. That situation only served to heighten tensions in an already volatile environment. He went on to emphasize that the latest initiative by the Security Council, resolution 2334 (2016), had condemned Israeli actions and attempted to portray them as a major obstacle to the two-State solution. That attitude was paralysing the Council, and holding it back from playing a constructive role in conflict prevention.
PETER MARTIN LEHMANN NIELSEN (Denmark) said that his country strongly supported the Secretary-General’s vision, which aimed at ensuring the Organization’s coordination across all departments. “We have a shared responsibility,” he said, noting that, as a major donor to the Department of Political Affairs, Denmark had placed strong emphasis on policy coherence efforts. Respect for human rights was key in strengthening peace, he said, stressing the need to include youth in decision-making processes to prevent radicalization and frustration.
ALISON AUGUST TREPPEL, Organization of American States, said that sustaining peace could not result exclusively from military measures. It would only be possible to achieve when based on a multidimensional approach. She hailed the recent peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. Dialogue and mutual understanding had made that agreement possible, she said, endorsing the need to improve and strengthen dialogue among regional organizations. The deployment of civilian missions had also produced satisfactory results particularly in regards to providing support to Colombia, Honduras and Haiti. The challenges that Governments and society confront were many, but not impossible to overcome. Sustaining peace would only be possible if the international community put aside rhetoric and focused on good governance and ensuring more rights for more people. As long as there was poverty, racism and discrimination, it would be difficult to achieve peace.
IRENE SUSAN BARREIRO NATIVIDAD (Philippines) said that the tools and mechanisms available to Member States and the Security Council — Chapters 6 and 8 of the Charter in particular — could be more effective if applied at the earlier stage. For the Philippines, a country that had endured armed conflict over generations, efforts to realize a just and lasting peace was ongoing, she said, citing the peace agreement signed by the Government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the resumption of negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines. There was a greater incentive to pursue peace if parties to a conflict recognized the need to safeguard the seeds of economic and social development, she emphasized. Sharing important elements of her country’s “peace template”, she said they included the implementation of development projects alongside peace negotiations and the establishment of “people’s peace tables” open to all stakeholders, including women, youth, indigenous peoples, religious leaders, business and other sectors of society. Economic empowerment was also key, she said, stressing that fragile communities must benefit from programmes to reduce their vulnerability.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) noted that, for too long, conflict prevention had not been a very attractive topic for the international community, and alarm bells were only heard once a conflict had erupted. Mali was a case in point. Emphasizing the need to revitalize preventive diplomacy, he said there must be greater cooperation among international, regional and subregional mechanisms. Poverty was a major source of conflict, with women, young people, children and senior citizens among the first victims, he said, adding that abject poverty and despair put young people at risk of terrorism, violent extremism and migration. Solutions included improved governance and the creation of opportunities, he said. The outcomes of international financing conferences must be implemented, and States must refrain from military intervention in third countries, he said, recalling that the 2011 military intervention in Libya had imposed collateral effects on Mali and other countries in the region.
GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed new concepts of sustaining peace that encompassed addressing root causes of conflict, preventing outbreaks and recurrences of armed conflict and moving towards recovery and development in conflict-affected countries. A greater emphasis on prevention also meant that the 2030 Agenda should be part of strategies for sustaining peace, he said, adding that Bulgaria had contributed to the development and operationalization of the United Nations guidelines on effective mediation. Underscoring the concept of sustaining peace as a cost-effective way to find sustainable political solutions to armed conflicts, which currently drove 80 per cent of global humanitarian needs, he recalled that Bulgaria had made a commitment to addressing the root causes of conflict and reducing fragility in post-conflict situations at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. It had also consistently supported the United Nations mediation capacity, including through annual voluntary contributions to the Organization’s mediation trust fund.
MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his continent remained confronted by a long list of complex challenges, but the African Union — in partnership with the United Nations — was coming up with promising tools to address them, including a framework for the structural prevention of conflicts. He quoted a report from the Institute for Economics and Peace as putting the estimated cost of violence and conflict on the global economy at $13.6 trillion in 2015, or 13.3 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), compared to the 0.7 per cent of GDP set aside for development assistance. That figure alone was reason enough to make optimum use of available preventative diplomatic tools set out in the Charter and to implement the recommendations of the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, he said, adding that the Secretary-General’s message should give impetus to collective action.
ADIKALIE FODAY SUMAH (Sierra Leone), stressing that the United Nations should pool its strengths in bringing analysis to the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, also emphasized the need for adequate, predictable financing for good offices and mediation. “We have the tools with which to do better,” he said, expressing his delegation’s commitment to preventing conflict and sustaining peace. Sierra Leone had made progress in addressing key priorities that could trigger conflict, particularly in the areas of youth unemployment and empowerment, improving the justice system and the security sector, and the effective management of its natural resources. A country that had once received peacekeepers, Sierra Leone now contributed troops to missions in other countries, it had put in place mechanisms for economic growth and it had healed itself after years of civil divisions. However, sustained international support remained crucial to fully address the challenges faced at both the national and subregional levels, he said, noting in particular Sierra Leone’s goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2030.
KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for the idea of putting conflict prevention at the heart of the Council’s work and activities. Welcoming the increased emphasis on partnerships across and beyond the United Nations system with a view to ensuring that possible responses were more comprehensive, credible and sustainable, he said the Council should work more holistically with the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and other bodies to break the silos that hampered the Organization’s work. At the same time, predictable financing was also vital, and non-traditional donors and other partners should consider making voluntary contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund. In light of the renewed focus on the “primacy of politics”, the Council should take more proactive steps, including by empowering its President to conduct low-key “quiet diplomacy” with representatives of countries on its agenda. In addition, the Council must not lose sight of the broader strategic objectives of addressing the root causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, human rights violations and environmental destruction.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and recalling that his country had been on the Council’s agenda for many years, said that today its conflict prevention efforts revolved around a national reconciliation policy that ensured the rights of all Namibian citizens. “We have not forgotten the policies of deliberate oppression and disempowerment that resulted from colonialism and apartheid,” he said, noting that conflict prevention meant committing to peace and making deep changes, even when they were uncomfortable. In that vein, the United Nations must begin to make deep, and possibly uncomfortable, changes for peace. Its structures at the regional, continental and global levels must be revisited and improved upon, and the Organization must ensure that the benefits of a democratic practice become normalized in a restructured Security Council and a revitalized General Assembly. Aligning his delegation with the African Union and its African peace and security architecture, as well as the related road map on conflict prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding, he went on to stress that nuclear disarmament was central to conflict prevention and that the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be promoted, shared and linked to safety.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), expressing support for Security Council reform as laid out by the African Union in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, said his country had never served on the Council since having joined the United Nations in 1968. While two thirds of the Council’s work centred on violence and conflicts in Africa, the continent was not fully represented in its membership, and that lack of inclusion created socioeconomic and humanitarian conditions that kept African States and institutions dependent on foreign aid, underdeveloped and unstable. “Member States must resist the temptation of modelling other parts of the world in their own image,” he emphasized, noting also that longevity in leadership could be positive and did not always equate to non-democratic governance.
TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) said the regional context of conflict prevention required broad recognition and support. Division of labour, coordination and non-duplication of efforts and activities were the building blocks of effective use of the capacity of regional organizations in conflict prevention and conflict resolution. Recalling that Azerbaijan had carried out a diversionary incursion attempt on the state border with Armenia which had resulted in human losses, he said that heinous act had taken place only months after Azerbaijan’s large-scale aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh in April 2016. That country’s habitual glorification of atrocities, beheadings and mutilations by its armed forces represented the incapacity of the Azerbaijan authorities to adhere to the basic norms of a civilized world, he said, stressing that the perpetrators of those heinous crimes should be brought to justice. Armenia remained fully committed to peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the internationally agreed format of the OSCE.
MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) recalled that his country had earlier today been struck by another terror attack which had wounded the Governor of Kandahar, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Afghanistan and killed and wounded several others. Violent extremism and terrorism featured dominantly in several conflict settings around the world, threatening human rights, undermining stability and development and claiming the lives of scores of innocent people. Terrorism could only be defeated through a multidimensional approach that focused on both internal and external drivers, he said, adding that the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism constituted a key preventive tool in that regard. Nevertheless, the Organization must also pay greater attention to external drivers, such as the cycle of violence and insecurity and the presence of sanctuaries and safe havens across the region.
In that regard, he said, the Council should devise a viable approach to identify situations where State institutions facilitated violence and extremist activities by non-State proxies as a means to advance their foreign policy agendas. Stressing the importance of national dialogue, mediation and reconciliation — efforts which were under way in Afghanistan — he went on to say the United Nations was well-positioned to help address the trust deficit associated with State rivalries, which often led to conflict. Far too often, lack of consensus in the Council had prevented necessary and effective action to avoid the exacerbation of a conflict, as well as the creation of fertile ground for healthy dialogue. Moreover, strengthening the Organization’s early warning system required greater coordination between relevant offices to monitor fluid and conflict-prone settings.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said the erosion of the rules- and principles-based environment of international engagement had increased the danger of all-out global nuclear annihilation. Attempts to resolve smaller-scale conflicts would be futile without a meaningful accord between the major nuclear Powers. The world must realize the true degree of the fragility of its physical, social, cultural and political environment. The world was anxiously waiting to see if the hope of better understanding between the super-Powers would materialize. With regard to the Security Council, the true measure of its success was the ability of individual members to create a sense of moral urgency for the big Powers to connect and empathize. The Council needed to be defined not so much by its political machinery as by the sincere interaction of human beings who could talk to each other, not at each other.
RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said stressed that in order to ensure sustained peace, the international community must address the deep-rooted causes of conflict, including the negative social, political and economic conditions that contributed to cycles of violence. Prevention must be at the core of United Nations efforts, and action to curtail disputes must be taken early and decisively. Calling for greater political will in that regard, he also warned against viewing conflict prevention through the narrow lens of military involvement. Instead, comprehensive and purposeful international cooperation must be promoted, he/she emphasized, adding that the Council must be open to working with the wider United Nations membership while remaining politically accountable and transparent. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General also had important roles to play, he said, adding that all actors must be fully respectful of the Charter, including the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, self-determination and non-interference in the domestic affairs of States.
MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said that sustaining peace required global efforts ranging from conflict prevention to reconstruction and development. The 2015 review of the peace and security architecture emphasized the primacy of politics and a greater focus on prevention. Similarly, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided a solid foundation for attaining and sustaining peace while leaving no one behind, he said. Describing the United Nations as the only truly universal entity that could guide and develop conflict-prevention norms, he stressed that it must break down the silo mentality within its system. While national ownership and inclusive leadership were the key to successful outcomes, it was also essential that the Council encourage and reinforce mutually supportive partnerships with regional and subregional entities such as the African Union, the East African Community and the European Union, he said.
DENIS RÉGIS (Haiti) said the right of veto in the Security Council should be limited to situations involving brazen violations of human rights, crimes against humanity and serious violations of humanitarian law. Peacekeeping had undergone a qualitative change over the years since extreme poverty had provided the backdrop for many conflicts. “Blue Helmets” were no longer mere buffers between combatants. Noting the deployment of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) over the past 13 years, he emphasized that the root causes of conflict must never be underestimated, and that the United Nations must never shirk its responsibility to the people it was called upon to protect. Outlining recent developments in Haiti, he said they included the confirmation of a new Head of State following elections that had made it possible to turn the page on political instability. Haiti continued to count on the support of the United Nations on its path to reconstruction, democracy, the rule of law, poverty reduction and sustainable development, he said.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia) emphasized the need for continued engagement, greater coherence and coordination among the General Assembly, Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. With regard to early warning, he called upon the international community to place greater emphasis on detecting the emergence of conflicts prior to their eruption. Furthermore, he underscored the need for the United Nations to improve its cooperation with regional organizations, and to help countries build their national capacities for conflict prevention. He also hoped to see further measures taken to examine the root causes of conflicts.
MICHAEL MAVROS (Cyprus) said that one of the key determinants of building and sustaining peace was timely political leadership. It was of paramount importance that the Council and the new Secretary-General paved the way of much needed consensus at times of humanitarian emergencies. In order to achieve lasting peace, the Council must explore ways of improving its ability to prevent conflicts and facilitate the political dialogue, in line with the principle of nationally owned and political processes. There could be no sustainable peace without ensuring local and inclusive ownership and the eventual peace agreement.
AMATLAIN ELIZABETH KABUA (Marshall Islands), associating herself with the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said the Council must be able to better demonstrate credible and responsive leadership. Calling for stronger political will to drive forward more proactive approaches to conflict prevention, she recalled that a 2015 open debate on the peace and security challenges of small island developing States had revealed new dimensions of security and should not be an isolated event. Indeed, it was imperative that the Council establish a regular agenda item or regularized treatment of that topic, as those States made up nearly 20 per cent of the United Nations membership. “Basic math reveals that the Council is overlooking emerging trends across our region which are concerning,” she said, including the long-term risks of instability coupled with growing youth populations and overwhelming unemployment. Small island developing States were uniquely vulnerable to external shocks, she said, reiterating the call, among other things, for increased attention to the relationship between climate change and security.
GEORG SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said that gaps in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, as well as consistent violations of human rights obligations were important early warning signals constituting the basis for early preventive action by the United Nations. Transnational justice was an important prerequisite for consolidating peace and preventing conflicts because it reduced the likelihood that post-conflict societies would relapse into conflict, he said, adding that such an approach should be taken when a conflict was still ongoing in efforts to resolve disputes and grievances sooner. That was one reason why Liechtenstein had initiated General Assembly resolution 71/248 to establish an international, impartial and independent mechanism that would collect and preserve evidence of the most serious crimes committed in Syria since March 2011, he said, adding that besides contributing to justice, such a mechanism would have an important deterrent effect.
KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the Korean Peninsula faced “extremely aggravated tension”, and nobody knew when nuclear war would break out. In addition to annual joint military exercises, nuclear missiles and nuclear submarines, the United States had deployed a terminal high-altitude area defence anti-ballistic missile system, he said, adding that his delegation had repeatedly requested that the Security Council hold an emergency meeting to discuss that situation, but had been turned down every time, leaving it with no choice but to adopt the nuclear option to protect itself. Concerning the legal basis of Security Council resolution 2321 (2016), he said there was no provision in the United Nations Charter or international law stipulating that nuclear and ballistic missile activity threatened international peace and security. As long as the United States and its followers continued their nuclear threats and war games, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would significantly bolstered its “self-defensive” capabilities — and its pre-emptive strike capability, with nuclear armed forces as its pivot. He expressed hope that the Council would discharge its responsibilities by observing strict impartiality and objectivity in fulfilling the purposes and principles of the Charter.
DOUGLAS NICOMEDES ARCIA VIVAS (Venezuela), taking the floor a second time, said Morocco’s delegate was spreading false information about the situation in Venezuela. That was unacceptable, he emphasized, pointing out that Western Sahara had been waiting for a solution for more than 20 years.
ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco), also taking the floor a second time, said that people in Venezuela were forced to leave the country due to the lack of food and medicine. A country that had killed tons of judges could not act in the name of peace and security, he added.