Peacebuilding must be rooted in ‘bedrock of inclusive, sustainable development’
While describing maintaining peace as core to the UN – it's very reason for being - Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed warned the Security Council on Thursday that it was a mission now “under grave threat.”
“People’s sense of safety and security is at a low in almost every country, with six in seven worldwide, plagued by feelings of insecurity”, she stated.
The world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War she said, with a quarter of humanity live in war zones – triggering grave human suffering, exacerbating poverty, food insecurity, and denying millions access to education and healthcare.
“It is imposing severe constraints on people’s ability to fulfil their potential and contribute to society”, said the deputy UN chief.
Conflict and poverty are deeply intertwined – UN deputy chief
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict-affected countries were lagging on the UN development goals, with projections indicating that by 2030, more than 80 per cent of the world’s extreme poor would live in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
“In other words, conflict and poverty are deeply intertwined. The pandemic has only aggravated this dire situation”, she pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Ukraine war has not only devastated life for Ukrainians but also compounded food, energy, and a global financial crisis.
“As we approach the midway point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we see that our current progress is far off-track”, she said.
Since the start of the pandemic over 200 million more have fallen into poverty; an additional 820 million people are going hungry; the rights of women and girls are being further trampled on; the global financial system is failing developing countries; and economies are failing to serve their citizens.
These challenges “pose a threat to our peaceful coexistence”, she flagged.
Lack of development drives grievances, corrodes institutions, and allows hostility to flourish, she continued.
“The triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution does not merely threaten our environment. It also threatens to unleash destructive forces that drive wedges in our societies, erode social cohesion and ignite instability”, explained Ms. Mohammed, urging the Council to push for more sustainable development in securing peace now, and in the future.
Peace that lasts
Peace must be built on “a bedrock of inclusive, sustainable development”.
With prevention and peacebuilding at its core, she said that “the New Agenda for Peace will provide a unique opportunity to articulate a shared vision for how Member States can come together to address these challenges”.
It will identify national prevention and peacebuilding priorities, and channel the international community’s support to nationally-owned violence reduction
Noting that “all Member States are exposed to risks”, she said “all governments must be prepared to take measures that address grievances and prevent violence”.
She underscored the importance of inclusion, particularly for the underrepresented, but also in the social, economic, and political life of every country, saying that it leads to public support, greater legitimacy and strengthened social resilience – all risk factors that can lead to war.
“Human rights are pivotal in the New Agenda”, said the deputy UN chief, adding that they are “not only right” but the wise thing to do.
Exclusion of women and the young
Meanwhile, women remain shut out of all levels of decision making and funding for their organizations declines – as military spending grows.
We need to “halt the erosion of women’s rights and ensure gender equality” to build and sustain peace, she underscored.
Turning to youth, Ms. Mohammed recalled their role in promoting peace, security and stability, and pushed for dedicated regional and national frameworks for youth engagement in peacebuilding.
Moreover, she pressed the Council to host an annual debate on youth, peace and security, as a platform to engage with youth-led civil society and young peacebuilders.
Highlighting the importance of the peacebuilding, the senior UN official urged the ambassadors to better leverage the Peacebuilding Commission by integrating “prevention and peacebuilding lenses” into its work.
Noting that peacebuilding investments would advance sustainable peace globally, Ms. Mohammed lauded the 2022 General Assembly resolution on Financing for Peacebuilding, as being “essential” for constructing societal resilience.
And in spotlighting assessed contributions for the Peacebuilding Fund, she reminded that it remains “the UN’s leading instrument to invest in peacebuilding and prevention”.
“We cannot allow crises – of which there are many – to divert funding away from these core efforts”, she concluded.
Addressing multifaceted challenges
In acknowledging growing obstacles to sustaining peace, Peacebuilding Commission Chair Muhammad Abdul Muhith said it was “imperative” for the ability of individuals, societies, and nations to be enhanced, to meet “challenges specific to our times”.
He commended the UN’s Our Common Agenda report as echoing the need to “enhance support for national peacebuilding priorities and the importance of the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, and of the inclusion of youth in peacebuilding processes”.
Mr. Muhith reiterated the call for “adequate, predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding”, going forward.