Development Goals Unattainable without Sustaining Peace, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Economic and Social Council, Peacebuilding Commission

Peace, security, development and human rights were inextricably linked, and building peaceful, inclusive societies required closer collaboration and less fragmentation among all stakeholders, speakers said as the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission held a joint meeting today on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace.

Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, emphasizing the strong relationship between the 2030 Agenda and the peacekeeping resolutions adopted in April by the General Assembly and the Security Council, said complex tasks could not be compartmentalized. “If problems are connected, then solutions must be, as well. “It’s a simple as that,” he said, noting how peace and security, development and human rights were mutually reinforcing. The United Nations system needed to work collectively as one in order to support Member States to meet the targets they had set. Such work should cover development, human rights, peace and humanitarian issues, with the goal of achieving collective outcomes.

“The Sustainable Development Goals will, in my view, not be reached if we are not able to sustain peace”, nor could peace be sustained without addressing the drivers that were related to achieving the Goals, he said. Requests for more resources and increased coordination were not enough, he added, calling for coherent institutional responses across the three pillars of sustainable development, as well as a change of mindset. The United Nations presence on the ground should aim to respond to the challenges set by the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace resolutions. Adequate resources were needed to invest in sustaining peace before, during and after conflict, as well as coherent support from the leadership of all parts of the United Nations system.

Annika SAlder, State Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, agreed on the need to break down silos at the United Nations and for Member States to act coherently across their own systems to achieve the 2030 Agenda. She said the Prime Minister of Sweden had formed a group of Prime Ministers worldwide to continue to inspire local, national and international implementation of the 2030 Agenda. More resources – particularly core funding and assessed contributions – were needed for peacebuilding and conflict resolution. United Nations agencies and programmes must stop competing with each other for funds. Sustaining peace was not just an exercise for Africa; fighting El NiAo and criminality in Latin America, and ensuring early warning in Europe were also important. She urged everyone to overcome the divide between peace and security issues and humanitarian and development concerns.

Gillian Bird (Australia) said the 2030 Agenda and the resolutions on sustaining peace adopted in April must be high on the agenda of Member States and the next United Nations Secretary-General. At its heart, sustaining peace was about building societies where all people could prosper. The challenge of implementation belonged to everyone; the entire Organization must be involved and its silos must be broken down. Yet, the United Nations delivering as one was more rhetoric than reality at present. A coherent, integrated approach was crucial for implementation. “If people are more worried about defending turf [] it won’t work,” she said. Funding must drive cohesion rather than increase fragmentation. She also commended Sweden and Sri Lanka for their intention to hold a pledging conference on sustaining peace.

Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that while Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies was relevant to the peacebuilding agenda, sustaining peace was critical for achieving all the Goals. As conflict and unrest could reverse development gains, everyone must work together to help countries emerging from conflict implement commitments through support to address immediate challenges, build institutions and develop human resources. In that regard, close collaboration between the Council and the Commission was imperative, he said, noting that moving forward the Council would benefit from lessons from the Commission.

Macharia Kamau (Kenya), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, agreed that all the Sustainable Development Goals were important in conflict-affected countries, not just Goal 16, and many were related to violent conflict. Goal 10 on inequalities, Goal 8 on jobs and Goals 12, 14 and 15 on natural resource management were also critically important to addressing the root causes of conflict. The Commission should support the General Assembly, Council and the High-Level Political Forum in their follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda, focusing on progress in conflict-affected countries. Furthermore, the Council and the Commission should hold a regular dialogue to promote coherence between the United Nations peace and security efforts and its development, human rights and humanitarian work. And they could review good practices in addressing the root causes of conflict, preventing it and how the United Nations development system had integrated sustaining peace into its planning frameworks and activities.

David Donoghue (Ireland), shedding light on the negotiations to develop Goal 16, said among the innovative ideas put forth was the prominence given to the rule of law. Accountability, transparency and many other factors were also central. The range of items to be covered was extensive. A key to the consensus reached was the focus on issues affecting men and women on the street, such as violence, corruption, bribery, poor governance and lack of transparency, which were wide-spread in many societies and needed to be tackled as a whole. Once they were addressed, consensus would be possible.

Juan Sandoval Mendiolea (Mexico) stressed the nexus between the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations peacebuilding architecture. The Organization should invest in peace and bring development to communities rather than spend 75 per cent of its budget addressing conflict. Furthermore, its silos must be broken down, including among the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs. Sustained commitment was needed to implement all the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustaining peace concepts and goals must be clearly set out in the quadrennial comprehensive policy review. The Secretariat must adapt to the 2030 Agenda, not the other way around, he stressed.

Carlos Lopes, Executive Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, speaking via video link, shed light on Africa’s economic prospects and how they related to the concept of sustaining peace. He said the fundamentals for economic progress in Africa were there and intact. Amid a global slump, the continent was seeing growth, and infrastructure projects had not been affected by the downturn. The news was rather good, however a “fragility perception” combined with a lack of deeper structural transformation had shifted the mainstream narrative back to the past. Inequality between groups rather than individuals was probably the foremost cause of conflict in Africa. Deprived groups were persuaded to seek redress, while privileged groups were motivated to protect their interests. Those nations that were richest in minerals, oil and gas were poorest in social development and general well-being.

With economic stagnation or decline, combined with a worsening of State services, the social contract broke down and violence was more like to occur, he said, noting that, out of the 54 African States, only eight had not experienced armed or violent conflict since independence. Because of the interrelated nature of Africa’s economy, a conflict in one State had economic costs for neighbouring countries, he said, stressing the need for renewed multilateralism despite a global gridlock in multinational negotiations and how to handle different crises. Conflict-affected countries in Africa needed strong support to meet the Goals of the 2030 Agenda, he added, noting also the need to work closely with regional organizations.

During the ensuing interactive session, many delegates stressed the close connection between peace and sustainable development, and supported the idea of the Council and Commission working more closely, within their respective mandates.

“There can be no sustainable development without peace, and no peace without sustainable development,” said the representative of Timor-Leste, one of many to use variations on that phrase.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, in describing his recent trip to West Africa, said that he had met United Nations personnel on the ground for whom peace was a comprehensive notion that had nothing to do with processes and everything to do about bringing happiness and hope.

Italy’s delegate said “war is the mother of all poverty, but not necessarily the other way around”, and proposed a preventative approach to peace and security that would benefit from targeted development assistance, in line with the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Burundi underscored the role of economic and political stability, and the need to stabilize countries emerging from conflict in order to attract foreign investment.

The representative of Colombia noted the ceasefire agreement his country has signed the day before with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) after 50 years of conflict.

Mr. Lopes, in response, said that, when dealing with financing, there was an acute need for incentives for joint work, without which there would be competition for resources. It was also important not to lose sight of the need for coherence.

Ms. Bird said she hoped that the quadrennial comprehensive policy review would take up the issues discussed, and that the incoming Secretary-General would put it at the top of his or her agenda.

Mr. Sandoval Mendiolea said new understandings were being forged. The quadrennial comprehensive policy review would be the time for new dialogues. It was not a matter of changing mandates of various bodies, but of establishing a dialogue where the Organization’s right hand spoke to the left hand.

Mr. Kamau said that, for those worrying about Goal 16, peacebuilding was about the entire 2030 Agenda, before, during and after conflict.

Mr. Oh hoped that today’s discussion would lead to concrete action.

Also participating were representatives of Rwanda, El Salvador, Japan, Thailand (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), United States, Norway, Egypt, Bangladesh (for the least developed countries), Morocco, Kazakhstan, Belgium, China, Brazil, Somalia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Germany and the Russian Federation.

Source: United Nations