Syria and Mediterranean shores show ‘past lessons not learned,’ Bosnia and Herzegovina tells UN

22 September 2016

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic, stressed today that humanitarian aid cannot serve as a substitute for solutions addressing the root causes of conflict nor create conditions for lasting peace.

“The main causes of modern conflicts are discrimination and exclusion, failures of governance, impunity, deep-rooted poverty and lack of opportunities, aggravated by the growing effects of climate change,” Mr. Izetbegovic said during the Assembly’s annual general debate.

Past failures have come at a very high human cost, and should have been instructional in how to better prevent and end conflicts. But the scenes from Syria or on Mediterranean shores are a reminder that those lessons have not been learned, he said.

Using the advantages of its geopolitical position as a “bridge between the East and the West and a meeting point of civilizations,” his country wishes to advance dialogue and forge partnerships. The previous year has seen a renewed sense of unity and unprecedented levels of commitments in the form of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and others.

“Peace is not merely absence of violence,” he said, adding that it represents a freedom from fear and insecurity. There can be no lasting peace and security when injustice and inequality are an everyday experience for millions as the resulting grievances make States unstable and societies vulnerable.

He said that the world is facing its worst forced displacement crisis since the Second World War, with 60 million people forced to seek a better future in other countries. They are not “faceless statistics” but human beings with rights to hope and opportunity, he added.

Hundreds of thousands of his country’s citizens had been forced out of their homes in the past, so it attaches great significance to addressing the challenge.

As a newly elected member of the UN Economic and Social Council, he said Bosnia and Herzegovina will play an active role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, development must not come at the expense of habitat, and his country is adapting to climate change, with the aim of becoming a viable and advanced “green economy” by 2025. He went on to say that the Agenda is “not the answer to all our problems,” and human rights must be placed at the centre of actions.


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