General Assembly Concludes High-Level Debate on Sustaining Peace with Consensus Resolution Encouraging Further Action by United Nations, Member States
The General Assembly capped its high-level debate on peacebuilding and sustaining peace today with a consensus resolution welcoming the Secretary-General’s January 2018 report on those activities and deciding to further discuss his recommendations to address existing gaps.
Adoption of the text, titled “Follow-up to the report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding and sustaining peace”, coincides with the passage of a similar one in the Security Council (please see Press Release SC/13319), both encouraging action by Member States and the United Nations to implement the “twin” sustaining peace resolutions of 2016.
By its terms, the Assembly invited the relevant United Nations bodies and organs — including the Peacebuilding Commission — to further advance, explore and consider implementation of the report’s recommendations and options during its current and upcoming sessions.
By other terms, the 193-member body requested the Secretary-General to present, during its seventy-third session, an interim report elaborating on his recommendations and options, including for financing United Nations peacebuilding activities.
During the seventy-fourth session, he was requested to submit a report in connection with the next comprehensive review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, focusing on continued implementation of resolution 70/262 and progress in the implementation of his recommendations and options contained in his report (document A/72/707-S/2018/43).
Throughout the day, delegates commended United Nations peacebuilding assistance as an important instrument for helping States overcome conflict and preventing its recurrence, while calling for more coordinated efforts among United Nations agencies and structures. Expressing concerns about sovereignty, several speakers called for interventions to be carried out in line with the United Nations Charter and according to the desires of Member States.
Calling for more national ownership, several underscored that peacebuilding and sustaining peace were the primary responsibility of Governments. Among them was Indonesia’s representative, who said that if the affected countries did not take charge of their destiny, lasting peace could not be achieved on the ground. The international community must listen to those countries, especially as they transitioned into the post-conflict phase.
Other speakers said national efforts would only succeed with predictable and sustained financing. Calling for increased contributions to help countries with capacity-building, several delegates underscored the importance of aligning resources and working effectively with regional and local partners.
In that context, Sudan’s representative called for structural changes to humanitarian assistance and a new generation of peacekeeping, with a view of boosting development. Noting that the lack of development was a main reason behind the conflict in his country, he said investment was needed to help achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adding that the transfer of peacekeeping assistance towards that agenda would have a major impact on States.
Trinidad and Tobago’s delegate highlighted the unique security concerns of small island developing States, which must rely on the rule of law, strict observance of the Charter, and collective security mechanisms to guarantee their right to a secure, sovereign and peaceful existence. In her country, sustainable development was intricately linked to the safety and security of its people.
Meanwhile, the speaker from the University for Peace stressed that without education, societies would be condemned to repeating cycles of conflict and violence. That involved education for non-violence, for social inclusion and for the rule of law, with a focus on promoting skills, values and behaviours.
Reflecting on the success of the high-level meeting, Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said the international community had recognized that holistic approaches and a culture of peace were needed for sustaining peace. While that goal was a difficult task, the international community had not shied away. Indeed, amid conflict and crises, it had a shared responsibility to bring sustaining peace to the people on the ground.
In other matters, the Assembly adopted a draft decision titled “United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament”, postponing the conference and its one-day organizational meeting to a date to be determined.
Subsequently, the Assembly elected Chad and Italy as members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2020.
Also speaking were representatives of Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Serbia, Angola, Namibia, Ethiopia, Andorra, United States, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Belarus and Syria, as well as the Permanent Observers of the Holy See and the State of Palestine.
Speakers from the Inter-Parliamentary Union and International Development Law Organization also addressed the Assembly.
The representatives of Iran, Turkey and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 30 April, for the International Law Commission.
YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso) said conflicts costs a lot more to States than prevention. Prevention must therefore be at the heart of peacebuilding. Peacebuilding and sustaining peace were the responsibility of Governments, as was involving all sectors of society. Such efforts would only succeed with predictable and sustained financing. Nevertheless, there was still some way to go on that front, he said, appealing for greater contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund. It was important to both channel and align regional resources for peace. Without security, there could be no development, and without development, there could be no peace, he said. Indeed, this was a priority for Burkina Faso, which had experienced an uprising in 2015. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations, he said a holistic approach must be taken towards reforms.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the MIKTA countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia), and the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace, said his country had witnessed various challenges and opportunities in building peace. Indonesia had learned that while achieving peace was difficult, sustaining it was even more so. If the affected countries did not take charge of their destiny, lasting peace could not be brought about on the ground. The international community must listen to those countries, especially as they transitioned into the post-conflict phase. He went on to note that no one organ of the United Nations could itself promote peacebuilding, sustaining peace, or the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. As such, he called for stronger and inclusive partnerships with regional organizations to establish good governance and economic policies, with economic incentives as tools for prevention.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said, in these times of turbulence, the imperative for peace was growing, and the people looked to the United Nations for vision, leadership and action. Recalling Kazakhstan’s nuclear disarmament efforts, he said conflicts should be addressed with a strengthened security-development nexus, a regional approach and coordinated efforts among United Nations agencies and structures. Confidence-building measures were a powerful tool for peacebuilding, while diplomatic engagement and constructive negotiations should be the main means to resolve and prevent conflicts, he said, noting Kazakhstan’s role in hosting talks on Syria and the Iran nuclear deal. He went on to underscore the primary responsibility of Member States in implementing peacebuilding strategies, with inclusiveness being at the core.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), expressing regret that some delegations had used the high-level meeting for political public relations, said United Nations peacebuilding assistance was an important instrument for helping States overcome conflict and preventing its recurrence, subject to regular review by Member States in light of changing realities. The Russian Federation fully supported strengthening United Nations work in preventing conflict, but that must be carried out in line with the United Nations Charter and relevant decisions of Member States. With every conflict having its own unique set of causes, a delicate and unbiased approach would be required. Member States must act on the basis of the Charter rather than on controversial concepts such as humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect. He went on to say that human rights were too often politicized, and that interference in domestic affairs was the most common source of conflict. The United Nations should not be part of that. Relevant United Nations system bodies must adhere strictly to their mandates, and the parameters of peacebuilding assistance should be defined by the priorities of host country. He agreed on the need for adequate, predictable and sustainable financing, adding that the Secretary-General had the necessary powers in that regard. Concluding, he underscored the importance of an unbiased, unpoliticized and transparent approach to sustaining peace that would, without mentoring, support beneficiary countries.
MAGDI AHMED MOFADAL ELNOUR (Sudan), associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the lack of development often led to armed conflict, which in turn prevented sustainable development. The General Assembly and Security Council resolutions of 2016 had reasserted that peace was indispensable for development. Assistance should be directed to countries facing internal conflicts since it would be tantamount to sustaining peace, without which economic, social or environmental development could not be achieved. He called for structural changes to humanitarian assistance, allowing people to gain a decent livelihood in a manner that preserved their dignity and become producers than receivers. A new generation of peacekeeping was also needed with a view to boosting development and establishing communications with country teams, while paying greater attention to construction and engineering assistance. Meanwhile, he highlighted the need to strengthen the United Nations role in conflict settlement and its partnerships with regional organizations. At the same time, it was important to tailor responses with local Governments, while increasing contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund. The lack of development was a main reason behind the conflict in Sudan. Investment was needed to help countries achieve the 2030 Agenda, and the transfer of peacekeeping assistance towards development would have a major impact on States. There was a golden opportunity for the international community to build peace in Sudan.
PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said the inclusive and ambitious 2030 Agenda must not be lost in rhetoric. The challenge was to make the world peaceful and secure. That was especially true for small States that must rely on the rule of law, strict observance of the Charter, and collective security mechanisms to guarantee their right to a secure, sovereign and peaceful existence. For Trinidad and Tobago, sustainable development was intricately linked to the safety and security of its people. While her country was in a region that had not been affected by armed conflict, it was impacted by armed violence. Indeed, transnational organized crime posed a daunting challenge to the security of small island developing States. At the same time, lasting peace could only be achieved if women were more involved in decision-making for peacebuilding and post-conflict development, she said.
MILAN MILANOVIĆ (Serbia), associating himself with the European Union, and emphasizing the link between peace, stability, growth, development and respect for human rights, said that as a host country to several international and regional organizations, Serbia understood the need to work closely with such bodies. In that regard, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was of paramount importance for stability and creating the conditions conducive for a lasting solution to the question of Kosovo and Methohija. On the European Union-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, he said the Serbian side had confirmed time and again its readiness to compromise in the quest to find mutually acceptable solutions. “Only through a committed dialogue will it be possible to resolve all outstanding issues and build a stable region,” he said.
JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said conflict prevention and peace processes must be rooted in national leadership and inclusive ownership. Achieving peace and sustainable development required strong collective actions, enhanced collaboration and partnerships, including with the private sector, civil society and regional and subregional organizations. After a long war, Angola now lived in peace and was making bold efforts towards economic and social development, while deepening its democracy. Indeed, Angola was a success story that should make all nations proud. He rhetorically asked whether it made sense to discuss the preservation of peace, while creating tensions in parts of the world.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that although his country had been independent for 28 years, obstacles remained from its long war, violence and deprivation of the apartheid system. Yet, Namibians were determined to implement a policy of reconciliation. And while that policy had not been without its tests and tribulations, it had succeeded in bringing people together. Policies of reconciliation had also resulted in better services, such as electricity and education, and had significantly reduced maternal and infant mortality and HIV deaths. “We remain steadfast in our resolve to overcome these challenges and to ensure that in our struggle to lift people from poverty and hunger through economic emancipation, no one is left behind,” he said.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said conflict prevention and sustaining peace must be at the heart of the United Nations work, but that could not be achieved without fully realizing the potential of the Peacebuilding Commission, whose convening, bridging and advisory role must be scaled up. At the same time, the Organization could not address the myriad international challenges alone. Partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, international financial institutions, Governments, civil society and the private sector must therefore be enhanced. She voiced hope that the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would strengthen cooperation in peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Africa.
Joan Josep López Lavado (Andorra), expressing support for the Secretary-General’s proposals to focus on better conflict prevention, cited the role that institutions had played in maintaining peace in his country for centuries. However, peace could never be taken for granted. Rather, it should be seen as an end and as a bedrock. He emphasized the role of education, which in Andorra focused on creating a global citizenry, as well as respect for diversity and human rights. He went on to convey support for the Secretary-General’s proposals for a more effective and accountable United Nations development system.
KELLEY A. ECKELS-CURRIE (United States) said peace “is not merely the silencing of guns. Peace is built over time, forged through trust, openness, and goodwill between a Government and its citizens.” While peacekeeping missions could help create space for peace, they must be a part of a larger strategy. Most critically, Governments must also uphold their end of the deal, by seeking political solutions and commitments on the ground. The United Nations must change how it did business and she voiced support for the Secretary General’s reforms. However, the United States did not believe that throwing money at a conflict would result in peace as it would not fix the fundamental obstacle to effective peacebuilding. As a newer United Nations initiative still trying to prove itself, peacebuilding should be voluntarily funded and not tied to the peacekeeping budget. Nevertheless, the operational ties between those two areas should be strengthened.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said peacebuilding and sustaining peace required mechanisms on human rights, development and the rule of law. He stressed the importance of the role of women and youth in building peace. More broadly, there was a need to mainstream practices so that the United Nations could prove its ability to face challenges. Indeed, political will was needed to ensure stability and security around the world, especially at the same time when terrorism had become a tool used by some countries to serve their own interests. For its part, Bahrain had established partnerships to ensure security in its region, counter terrorism and protect trade routes.
MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) said the increase in intra- and inter-State conflicts required a stock-taking of international prevention efforts. The $233 billion spent on humanitarian interventions, peacekeeping and hosting refugees should be rededicated towards strengthening early warning mechanisms, as well as enhancing national and regional leadership to foster resilient societies. Outlining issues that were essential to effectively promote sustainable peace, she said all means should be devoted towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda. At the same time, community-led initiatives to strengthen social cohesion and local solutions remained paramount. Sustaining peace was also deeply linked to women’s role when addressing the causes of conflict, she said, encouraging women’s participation in mediation.
ZAKIA IGHIL (Algeria) set out a number of elements that were essential for peacebuilding and sustaining peace, including broad, inclusive national ownership, overcoming the fragmentation of United Nations activities, addressing the nexus between security and development, and involving more women and youth in conflict prevention. Urging greater cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, she said that Algeria, having won its battle against terrorism in the 1990s, took a preventative approach to stability that focused on deradicalization and combating violent extremism. That policy included addressing the factors behind marginalization and exclusion, while promoting national reconciliation, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) described a world in which unprecedented conflicts were evolving, with hundreds of thousands of people suffering due to the aggressive geo-political conduct of certain States. A third world war was under way, with one third of States involved in combat operations — more than in the Second World War. Massive air strikes had subjected Syria to a blatant act of aggression, while there was probably still someone in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) might have been defeated, but an end to war was nowhere in sight. Claims of chemical weapons use, the spread of bogus stories, the bullying of States and the imposition of sanctions had meanwhile taken the situation to the point of absurdity. For some leaders, war was a means of self-assertion. However, the status of super-Power implied super-responsibility, not becoming a barbarian wielding a modern tomahawk. Responsible, civilized States must talk to each other, show political will and unite for peace. “Our common future depends on the good-faith efforts of each and every country,” he added.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled how the founding of the United Nations had created a new hope for the world’s people. Importantly, the Organization had emphasized the responsibility of Governments to sustain peace. He urged respect for the Charter, which stressed sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal State affairs, while condemning the practices of some Member States that did not heed such principles. Those countries attempted to change regimes by force or by igniting strife. He questioned whether foreign interventions had built peace in the world or whether, in some States, they had only brought about raging war and breeding grounds for terrorists. Indeed, foreign occupation threatened global peace and security. Any effort to counter terrorism would fail if it contravened international law and was taken without the consent of Governments concerned. Pointing to hypocritical remarks by his counterpart from Turkey, he expressed dismay at his claim that countries must interfere in order to prevent conflict, noting that Turkey had been the main cause of terrorism in Syria for years.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said societies could not thrive if they were torn by conflict and strife. Indeed, citizens could not realize their potential if they were engulfed by instability and insecurity. He stressed the need to develop a practical, comprehensive and integrated strategy to promote peace that took into account national responsibility. He also highlighted the need to address the deep roots of conflict, while taking collective responsibility to eliminate extreme poverty. Meanwhile, measures to prevent the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict required a coherent, integrated and coordinated approach, he said, noting that the Peacebuilding Commission could help strengthen coordination. In most conflicts, there were “no winners and everyone loses. That is why we must commit ourselves to being artisans of peace,” he concluded.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said that, having been deprived of peace for so long, Palestinians understood how invaluable and fundamental it was for all aspects of life. The attention span of the international community was increasingly hard to sustain, with too many crises, too many cold conflicts and too many violent conflicts. “Diplomacy cannot just follow the news cycle,” he said. Rather, it must respond to early warnings and engage in situations both before they made the news and after they had left television screens. On the situation in the Middle East, he said Palestine was suffering from double standards and an “a la carte” approach to the implementation of Security Council resolutions, alongside an exemption for Israel that had allowed it to escape accountability. “Our tragedy has proven over and over again that impunity is the enemy of peace,” he said, appealing for a revival of the ideals underpinning the international system and for the law to be upheld.
ANDREA CARONI, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), said antagonisms and divergences were inevitable, and that platforms to address them — including, at the national level, parliaments — were therefore indispensable. But as the United Nations reorganized itself to better prevent conflicts, it was a matter of concern that parliaments and parliamentarians were often missing from the Organization’s debates and reports, despite the essential role they could play in sustaining peace. He recalled the resolution on sustaining peace adopted by the IPU Assembly in March that highlighted the need for inclusivity and partnerships. Parliaments had much to offer when it came to sustaining peace, he said, asking relevant actors to keep that in mind.
FRANCISCO ROJAS ARAVENA, Rector of the University for Peace, said education was a fundamental tool for peace. That involved education for non-violence, for social inclusion and for the rule of law. Such education must promote skills, values and behaviours. Without it, societies would be condemned to repeating cycles of conflict and violence. Sustaining peace also required prevention, addressing the roots and consequences of crises. He stressed the need to provide broad and effective education to achieve the 2030 Agenda. For its part, the University for Peace was at the heart of the United Nations, highlighting the role of women and young people in conflict prevention, and educating and training leaders in prevention, mediation, transformation and conflict resolution. “If we want peace, we must work for peace”, he concluded.
PATRIZIO M. CIVILI, Permanent Observer of the International Development Law Organization, said many root causes and drivers of conflict stemmed from, or were exacerbated by, the absence of the rule of law. “For peace to take hold, people must have confidence in justice institutions,” he said. Noting his organization’s work in fragile and conflict-affected countries, he said meaningful and sustainable justice sector reforms were only possible when they were nationally led and owned and tailored to specific contexts. Rule of law initiatives — including the empowerment of those seeking justice, notably women and girls — must be both top-down and bottom-up. Greater and more sustained investment in justice sector reforms were required as well, he said, warning that short funding cycles and unrealistic time frames risked alienating stakeholders when they failed to deliver.
The General Assembly then took action on draft resolution A/72/L.49 titled “Follow-up to the report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding and sustaining peace”, adopting it without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly invited the relevant United Nations bodies and organs — including the Peacebuilding Commission — to further advance, explore and consider implementation, as appropriate, of the report’s recommendations and options during its current and upcoming sessions.
It requested the Secretary-General to present to the Assembly, during its seventy-third session, an interim report further elaborating on his recommendations and options, including those on financing for United Nations peacebuilding activities.
It also requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly, during its seventy-fourth session, a report in connection with the next comprehensive review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, focusing on continued implementation of resolution 70/262 and progress in the implementation of the recommendations and options contained in his report.
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK President of the General Assembly (Slovakia) thanked delegations for a successful meeting, as the Assembly had gained more understanding and ideas for the future. Member States recognized that holistic approaches and a culture of peace were needed for sustaining peace. While that goal was a difficult task, the international community had not shied away. Prevention was a key theme, he said, noting that it was no longer an abstract concept. The importance of a coherent approach and national ownership were also emphasized throughout the meeting. Touching on inclusivity, particularly the role of women, young people and civil society, he said: “When we pull up more chairs to the table, we see more results. We must open our doors wider.” The private sector must also play a greater role in making our planet more peaceful. It had also emerged that Member States could do more to fully grasp the preventative potential of the 2030 Agenda and that the United Nations must learn from regional organizations. Noting that many Member States had called for increased funding for the Peacebuilding Fund, he said the international community had a shared responsibility to bring sustaining peace to the people on the ground.
Right of Reply
The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Yemen had made unfounded remarks against his country. Claiming that Iran had intervened in Yemen was a naïve and false scenario aimed at diverting attention away from war crimes being committed there. He added that the Persian Gulf was the correct name for that body of water; it had been so for centuries and would remain so forever.
The representative of Turkey rejected the intervention by her counterpart from Iran. It was appalling that such a regime could even take the floor in the context of a meeting on peace and security, she said, adding that those responsible for the suffering of the Syrian people would be held accountable for their crimes.
The representative of Syria said Turkey country had cooperated with others to support terrorist groups in Syria, including ISIL/Da’esh and the Nusrah Front. Among other things, Turkey had enabled terrorists to train on its territory and helped them to develop chemical weapons for use against Syrian civilians. Turkey continued to support terrorists inside Syria, he added.
The representative of Turkey, taking the floor a second time, rejected the comments by Iran’s delegate.