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8900th Meeting (AM & PM)

In Presidential Statement, Security Council Reaffirms Its Primary Responsibility for Maintenance of International Peace

Corruption an Obstacle to Inclusiveness, Mexico’s President Tells Open Debate

The Security Council discussed today the importance of addressing exclusion, inequality and conflicts, as members adopted a presidential statement aimed at reaffirming its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.

By the presidential statement (to be issued as document S/PRST/2021/22), presented by Mexico, Council President for November, the 15‑member organ underscored the importance of a holistic approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, conducted in accordance with applicable international law.  Also during the open debate it reaffirmed that “sustaining peace” should be broadly understood as a goal and a process to build a common vision of a society, which encompasses activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict.

United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres said rising inequalities are a factor of rising instability.  The world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945; conflicts which last longer and are more complex.  Human rights are being denied, from Afghanistan, where women are denied their rightful place in society, to Myanmar, where minorities are targeted, brutalized and forced to flee, he said.  Further, recent seizures of force indicate that “a dangerous sense of impunity is taking hold”.

Against this backdrop, he underlined the need for conflict prevention, which is at the heart of the Agenda for Peace, in the report on Our Common Agenda, noting that “without inclusion, the puzzle of peace remains incomplete, with many gaps to be filled”.

Also briefing the Council was Lourdes Tibán Guala, an indigenous affairs expert from Ecuador, who pointed out that indigenous peoples in each State already grapple with issues of peace and conflict, although they are not seen as armed conflicts or wars.  She suggested that the Council address the increasing criminalization of social struggles by States, including through the persecution of human rights defenders, which threatens to undermine peace.  Another area of concern is the uptick in armed conflicts linked to disputes over natural resources.  This may be “a time bomb” endangering peacekeeping and international security, she warned.

When the floor opened to Council members, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s President and President of the Security Council for the month, speaking in his national capacity, denounced corruption, which he called the main obstacle to peace, security and inclusiveness.  Pointing to the lavish lifestyle of elites and the neoliberal economic model that privatizes profits and encourages looting of resources, he said corruption allows courts to punish those without means to buy their innocence, protects major corporations stealing from the State and avoiding payment of taxes, covers up illicit funds in tax havens and allows shareholders of so-called “vulture funds” to practice usury without losing respectability.

During the ensuing debate, in which representatives of nearly 40 Member States participated, speakers underscored the need for conflict prevention, early warning systems and greater equity in access to vaccines.  Many emphasized the importance of addressing factors that drive conflict, such as exclusion, inequality and poverty, while some deplored the use of sanctions and economic blockades as a driver of inequality that is inimical to countries’ pursuit of their developmental goals.

The representative of Norway was among those calling for the need for greater inclusion and strengthened prevention efforts, underlining the need to mobilize grassroot movements and civil society, including women’s organizations.  Human rights are a key part of both Norway’s foreign and development policies, as development and peace gains are not sustainable if large parts of the population are marginalized, and human rights are not respected.

In a similar vein, France’s delegate said the protection of women, children and minorities must remain priorities, emphasizing that protection of freedoms and rule of law are prerequisites for lasting peace.  He urged the Council to seek to improve the rights for Afghani women and girls, and called on Ethiopia and the Central African Republic to pave the way for national dialogues.

Ireland’s delegate underscored the importance of early, preventive action to avert war and mass atrocities, pointing out that such efforts can cost as much as 60 times less than late response and military intervention.  She also stressed the need for the Council to address non-traditional challenges, such as climate risks, collapse of food systems, endemic corruption, exclusionary politics, or human rights and protection, which she pointed out are increasingly impacting peace and security.

Meanwhile, the representative of China was among those who highlighted the need to redress vaccine inequity, observing that the COVID‑19 pandemic is further widening the North-South divide.  Vaccines should be treated as public goods, and China is working hard to share them as the world’s largest provider.

For his part, the delegate of the Russian Federation stated that although the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund help address the dire situation resulting from inequalities, they are merely applying a Band‑Aid onto developmental challenges, as they cannot create jobs or reinforce infrastructure.  He went on to deplore “pernicious actions” such as sanctions and the refusal of development assistance, which undermine Governments’ ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Also speaking today were representatives of Estonia, United States, India, Kenya, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Viet Nam, Niger, Peru, United Arab Emirates, Malta, Iran, Chile, Malaysia, Japan, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Portugal, Lebanon, Ecuador, Cuba, Denmark, Netherlands, Qatar, Albania, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Guatemala, Argentina, Morocco, South Africa and Indonesia.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m., suspended at 1 p.m., resumed at 3:12 p.m. and ended at 4:42 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said the COVID‑19 pandemic has amplified misery and inequalities, with 120 million more people being pushed into poverty, billions lacking the social protections, health care and job protection to cope with the biggest recession the world has seen since the Second World War.  Only 5 per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated, while people in the richest countries are getting third doses of the COVID‑19 vaccine, he said, while advanced economies are investing 28 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) into recovery, while least developed countries invest just 1.8 per cent of a much smaller amount, setting the stage for a lopsided recovery.

“Rising inequalities are a factor of rising instability,” he said, adding that this is particularly the case in areas where basic services are lacking.  The world faces the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, he said, adding that the conflicts last longer and are more complex.  Further, the recent seizures of force indicate that “a dangerous sense of impunity is taking hold”.  Human rights are being denied, from Afghanistan, where women are denied their rightful place in society, to Myanmar, where minorities are targeted, brutalized and forced to flee.  Tragedies are further enflamed by the climate emergency and the pandemic, he added.

Against this backdrop, he pointed out that humanitarian funding and assistance, the kind that the United Nations provides around the world, are under tremendous strain.  Stressing the need for conflict prevention, which is at the heart of the New Agenda for Peace, in the report on Our Common Agenda, he noted that “without inclusion, the puzzle of peace remains incomplete, with many gaps to be filled”.  He went on to outline a road map for inclusion, built around four key pathways to fill these gaps:  people, prevention, gender and institutions.

First, he said, there is a need to invest in the development of all people, equally.  Noting that military spending worldwide is approaching $2 trillion annually, he said:  “Imagine the progress we could make — the peace we could build, the conflicts we could prevent — if we dedicated even a fraction of this to human development, equality and inclusion.”  Second, he said, prevention needs to be strengthened on multiple fronts to address different types of exclusion and inequalities, including through more rigorous monitoring of growing inequalities and perceptions of them — including of gender and youth — to address grievances early.

Third, he continued, women must be prioritized in building peace.  “We can draw a straight line between violence against, and exclusion of, women and civil oppression and violent conflict,” he noted, adding:  “That’s why the United Nations continues to stand up for the rights of women and girls around the world.”  The Organization is working with de facto authorities in Afghanistan to keep girls in school and ensure that women can fully participate in civil and economic life, the number of women peacekeepers is being increased and 40 per cent of the Peacebuilding Fund focuses on gender equality and women’s rights, he stated.

Fourth, trust must be built through national institutions that include and represent all people, anchored in human rights and the rule of law, he said, calling for institutions resilient to corruption and abuse of power, and policies and laws specifically protecting vulnerable groups.  In all societies, especially those experiencing conflict, diversity of culture, religion and ethnicity should be viewed as a powerful benefit, rather than a threat, he said, adding:  “Without full inclusion and equality, peace is a job half done.”

LOURDES TIBÁN GUALA, an indigenous affairs expert from Ecuador, said the issues of peace and conflict are already dealt with by indigenous peoples in each State, although they are not seen as armed conflicts or wars.  The Security Council should include historical conflicts that have not been resolved by States through mediation mechanisms or disarmament, but rather related to structural problems in policy.  The Council should monitor factors which could jeopardize peace.  Social inequality is one of those causes that can endanger international peace.  A product of social inequality is a large gap in poverty, lack of economic progress, malnutrition and infant mortality.

Social exclusion is another factor, she said, noting that exclusion occurs in many forms, affecting homeless people, prisoners, people with disability, women and girls, people with mental health issues, youth and drug users, prostitutes, the Roma and immigrants.  States must pay close attention to these exclusions if they want a lasting peace.  The best example is Ecuador’s inclusion of people with disabilities as a State policy over the previous decade.  The Council should also assess measures to reduce gender-based exclusion and strengthen implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  Migration is not only a consequence but also a cause that endangers international peace.  Criminalizing the social struggle and prosecuting rights defenders is another factor that could undermine peace.  Perhaps this is a new topic for the Council, but criminalization of social protest has become a tool used by States persecute the defenders of human rights.

Noting that corruption leads to enormous losses in economic resources, she said it also undermines trust in institutions and endangers economic and social development.  In the long run, that could put peace at risk.  It is said that climate change and disputes over natural resources could trigger the third World War.  United Nations studies show that more than 40 per cent of internal armed conflicts in the last 60 years are linked to natural resources.  This could be “a time bomb” that would endanger peacekeeping and international security.  Lastly, instead of imposing coercive measures or economic sanctions, the Council should incentivize measures States are undertaking to reduce inequalities and exclusions.


ANDRÉS MANUEL LÓPEZ OBRADOR, President of Mexico and President of the Security Council for November, speaking in his national capacity, said the main obstacle to peace, security and inclusiveness is corruption, pointing to the lavish lifestyle of elites and the neoliberal economic model that privatizes profits and encourages looting of resources.  Corruption allows courts to punish those without means to buy their innocence, he said, protects major corporations stealing from the State and avoiding payment of taxes, covers up illicit funds in tax havens and allows shareholders of so-called “vulture funds” to practice usury without losing respectability.  Adding that the main problems of the planet are political, economic, legal and financial forms of corruption, he said these lead to inequality, poverty, frustration, violence, migration and grave social conflicts.  Using the pandemic as an example, he noted that pharmaceutical companies have sold 94 per cent of their vaccines, but only 6 per cent has been distributed to the COVAX Facility for use in the developing world — a painful and complete failure of inclusion.  Mexico has been addressing corruption and inequalities by redirecting recovered funds to the poor, he said, stressing that no country can be viable if inequalities persist.  It is also seeking to control migration by affording youth options for study and employment to keep them from being dragged into criminality, depriving illegal gangs of “cannon fodder”.

EVA-MARIA LIIMETS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said enhancing community resilience can prevent outbreaks of conflict or violence.  Achieving this means actively and holistically addressing the root causes of instability like underdevelopment, climate change, poverty, lack of education opportunities and humanitarian access to conflict areas, be it in Syria, Afghanistan, Tigray or elsewhere.  Moreover, human rights must be at the centre of the Council’s response to any conflict or its prevention, she said, adding that finding a peaceful solution requires broad representation at the negotiation table, especially for women.  Climate-related security risks should not be underestimated, she said, noting that women and girls are disproportionately affected by the phenomenon.  Also underscoring the need for rule of law in conflict prevention, she highlighted the strong interrelation between this and development.  Open and just societies supported by strong accountable institutions help create sustainable livelihoods and decrease poverty, which often stem from exclusion, discrimination and disempowerment, she said.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said the Council debate sends a clear message that inequality, marginalization and exclusion are issues of peace and security.  She noted there are more conflicts worldwide today than at any time since the end of cold war — and they are more violent, last longer and are increasingly regionalized.  The United States is laser-focused on ending them, but the international community must address root causes including stunted economic group, competition for resources and hatred for others.  Turning to the pandemic, she said the United States is committed to being the “world’s arsenal of vaccines”, pledging 1.1 billion doses and having provided 230 million worldwide with no strings attached, and will double international financing to $11.4 billion annually by 2024.  When inequality and exclusion stunt economic growth, citizens will leave their homelands for a better future; she added the exclusion of women costs a State half its workforce — a development issue.  The international community must take on the intertwined threats together, with the Council addressing the root drivers of conflict.

RAJKUMAR RANJAN SINGH, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said that intra‑State conflicts are attracting more attention from the Council, and international peace and security efforts must be inclusive, in tandem and without politicizing humanitarian and developmental assistance.  “The international community needs to walk the talk” he said, ensuring predictable, enhanced flow of resources and actively supporting the post-conflict reconstruction agenda, particularly in Africa.  He stressed that the existing framework of cooperation such as the Joint United Nations‑African Union Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security must be implemented more proactively, with robust support for initiatives such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the G5 Sahel joint force and the Multinational Joint Task Force.  The spread of terrorism, particularly in countries facing conflicts, can also reverse the efforts of the international community and must be condemned, with those supporting it any manner held accountable.  He emphasized that exclusion, inequality and conflict are relevant to the functioning of the Council as well, asking how long the rightful voices of the developing world including Africa can be denied.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that although the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund play a relevant role in addressing the dire situation resulting from inequalities, they are merely applying a Band-Aid onto developmental challenges, as they cannot create jobs or reinforce infrastructure.  He underlined the need for greater “division of labour” among United Nations entities, adding that human rights protection calls for the involvement of specialized platforms with the necessary tools and expertise, as well as broad representation of Member States, notably the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  He expressed concern that Our Common Agenda reflects a tendency to mix mandates, and produce structures that duplicate Charter-based bodies, thereby decreasing overall effectiveness.  He went on to oppose universal indicators for conflicts, as well as deplore “pernicious actions” such as sanctions and the refusal of development assistance, which undermine Governments’ ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Pointing out that the situation of Syria “vividly demonstrates this trend”, he called on all those involved to heed the appeal of the Secretary‑General and stop such harmful practices.  He also deplored remarks made about Belarus by the representative of Estonia, pointing out that the refugees at the border seek to get to Europe.  “Who is creating the crisis, by building fences with barbed wire and militarizing the border?” he said, adding:  “It is time to stop shifting the blame here.”

MONA JUUL (Norway) called for an integrated approach across the United Nations humanitarian, development, peacebuilding and human rights work to tackle such complex issues as exclusion, inequality and poverty — which are all conflict drivers.  Norway is committed to the principles exemplified in the Grand Bargain, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and the reform of the United Nations development system, and supports better, more coordinated financing.  Citing the need to mobilize grassroot movements and civil society — including women’s organizations — she also highlighted prevention efforts and the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund.  Human rights are a key part of both Norway's foreign and development policies, as development and peace gains are not sustainable if large parts of the population are marginalized and human rights are not respected.  That requires women’s empowerment and creating a culture of public participation, she stressed.

ZHANG JUN (China) said inequality among and within States remains ubiquitous and it can be a cause for conflict.  Pointing to the hegemony in the global governance architecture, he warned of the coronavirus pandemic worsening the North-South divide.  The Council should pay more attention to this issue.  Expressing grave concern about gaps in COVID‑19 immunization, he called for addressing that injustice to developing countries.  Vaccines should be treated as public goods, and China is working hard to share them as the world’s largest provider.  Achieving inclusive development is key to eliminating conflict.  In the era of globalization, only by eradicating development inequality, the world can strive towards a better future, he said, drawing attention to his nation’s global development initiative that leaves no country behind.  Stressing the importance of addressing sovereign inequality, he pointed out that imposing external political models often led to internal conflict.  This lesson must be learned, he emphasized, calling for the promotion of true multilateralism based on the Charter of the United Nations.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) stressed that a key competence of a State in its protection of national security is its legal, administrative and operational ability to address underlying grievances based on social and cultural differences.  Everywhere in the world, differences are being weaponized whether in the context of elections or demands for political or economic change.  This weaponization of differences is the basis of radicalization conducive to terrorism.  Everywhere it breaks into hate speech and incitement to violence, atrocities and war crimes are the result.  Stressing the need to challenge corruption in the international system, he also urged the Council to embed within the United Nations peacekeeping architecture, capacity-building mandates to support State institutions.  Moreover, the Council should make greater use of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Discussions around technology are not inclusive of the global South.  A positive collaboration will enable the development and deployment of early warning tools to be used within peace operations and country teams.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), noting that addressing conflicts requires political solutions bringing together all stakeholders, urged Ethiopia and the Central African Republic to pave the way for national dialogues.  In Haiti, he encouraged all political actors to build an inclusive Government capable of organizing peaceful elections, and all parties in Syria to respect international humanitarian law.  Emphasizing that protection of freedoms and rule of law are prerequisites for lasting peace, he said the protection of women, children and minorities must remain priorities.  The Council should seek to improve the rights for Afghani women and girls, which have already been violated by the Taliban, he urged.

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) said achieving stability means addressing the root causes of conflict, including inequality and exclusion, as well as a comprehensive approach based on conflict settlement processes leading to peacebuilding.  Noting that the very nature of conflict has changed, he said it has become more internal and complex, with an increasing role of non‑State actors and criminal groups as well as the exploitation and recruitment of youth.  Adding that exclusion issues are issues related to identity, including religious and ethnic groups, he said the Council should expand its view of conflict to consider human rights and climate change through a participatory approach guaranteeing all actors a role.  Further, the international community will fail to achieve peace and stability without sustainable development, justice for all and more inclusive societies.

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) said the crisis in Ethiopia will only be resolved through an inclusive dialogue, and true stability in Afghanistan will only be possible with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls.  While development is the best form of prevention, to be effective it must also address root causes.  “Human rights violations warn us about rising conflict and atrocity risks,” he said, noting peace needs to be nationally-owned and nurtured.  States have a responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations to meet their commitments; however, the Council must advocate for more coordinated and conflict-sensitive assistance by the Organization, supporting better analysis and early warning to address risks before it is compelled to act.  The Council should also ensure that United Nations peace operations have a more holistic understanding of the drivers of conflict, better coordinating with local, national, regional and international peacebuilding actors.  When inequality and exclusion transform into atrocities, “we have an obligation to act and prevent further humanitarian crises,” he said.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said security risks often materialize amid striking disparities, which stoke social divisions, and all too often morph into violent conflict.  Describing unbalanced global development as a “moral blemish” on the international order, she said United Nations entities must work more closely together — with the support of Member States, regional and subregional groups and international financial institutions — to advance practical and people-centred solutions.  Developed countries should scale up their official development assistance (ODA) commitments, and such counterproductive measures as unilateral sanctions and spurious blacklists should be withdrawn.  Advocating for reparatory justice for the historical abuses of chattel slavery and native genocide — from which the legacy of inequality emerged — she said the peoples of Haiti, the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin and elsewhere deserve a more just and equitable social and political order, as well as access to COVID‑19 vaccines.

DINH QUY DANG (Viet Nam) noted that inequalities and exclusion can drive or exacerbate the underlying root causes of conflicts.  “We all know that very few conflicts end simply with the signing of a peace agreement,” he said, pointing out that damaged infrastructure, lack of essential services and few development opportunities can jeopardize post-conflict recovery efforts.  It is thus essential to address the underlying root causes of conflict.  The Council must continue to uphold the Charter and work with other United Nations entities in accordance with their respective mandates.  Regional organizations play a complementary role in maintaining international peace and security, he added, citing the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  Meanwhile, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development continues to be the utmost priority, and more innovative finance should be considered to support its implementation.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said early, preventive action to avert war and mass atrocities can cost as much as 60 times less than late response and military intervention.  Whether related to climate risks, collapse of food systems, endemic corruption, exclusionary politics, or human rights and protection, the Council must recognize how non-traditional challenges are increasingly impacting peace and security.  The adverse effects of climate change are being felt across the globe, from the Sahel to small island developing States, contributing to instability and increasing tensions.  The Great Lakes Region is facing a host of complex and interlinked crises, she noted, including persistent violence and insecurity, illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources, staggeringly high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition as well as extreme poverty, exclusion and inequality.  A coordinated and partnership-based approach to such challenges will enable the international community to anticipate and respond to emerging threats before they lead to conflicts, she said.

MOUSSA MAMAN SANI (Niger) cited worsening inequalities due to the pandemic and the climate crisis, as the Sahel is responsible for less than 1 per cent of total emissions, but is one of the most affected regions of the world.  He called for a new social contract that meets the needs of citizens, integrating the 2030 Agenda into development and peacebuilding policies and strategies, with the United Nations supporting States in fragile situations.  States must also invest in capacity development and strengthen national institutions, through fairer and more inclusive governance.  He also urged for reform of the United Nations and the Security Council, to strengthen its role and provide it with the means to fulfil its missions.  In view of the twenty‑sixth United Nations Climate Change Conference, he stressed the importance of that issue and its multifaceted effects on the stability of countries in conflict situations.  States with high emissions rates must meet their commitments to finance resilience and adaptation, and integrate security risks linked to climate change into stabilization and peacekeeping operations.

JOSÉ MANUEL RODRÍGUEZ CUADROS (Peru) said peace is not just the suppression of conflict; it is a kind of social coexistence based on the recognition of social cohesion based on equality and the fair distribution of wealth.  The current system is characterized by instability and inequality, and calls for the forming of a new style of world governance focused on building peace.  Further, the pandemic starkly revealed the world’s social divisions, as well as the market’s deficiencies, he stated, pointing out that growth without inclusion has concealed enormous inequality across the world.  There are persistent and widening gaps in social protection, and in addressing the climate crisis.  The pandemic has led to Latin America losing years of progress, he said, which has gravely affected social cohesion, and created conditions that exacerbate conflict, including migratory crises.  He called for a new form of multilateral governance, which is not restricted to the maintenance of peace, but also focusses on human development, and the inclusive realization of social and economic rights.

MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) stressed that Governments have the primary responsibility to provide enabling environments that offer sufficient access to educational and economic opportunities for all.  This can prevent widening inequality gaps and address long-standing drivers of conflict.  Highlighting the critical need to ensure the inclusion and engagement of women and youth, he suggested that the Council must ensure that strategies and mandates of peace operations provide for the inclusion of local grassroot actors, particularly women and youth leaders.  He went on to point out that developing strategies that embed a rule of law approach in conflict and post-conflict settings will guarantee long-term stability, but it requires a coordinated response.  Stressing the critical role of fighting corruption to maintain good governance and the rule of law, he underscored mechanisms such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption and its Abu Dhabi Declaration of 2019, noting that his country signed an agreement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to establish a programme to support the implementation of the Declaration.

VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) stressed that the consequences of social exclusion may provide fertile ground for violent conflict.  Identifying and addressing these issues in a timely manner play an important part in conflict prevention.  States have the responsibility to promote and protect human rights, she noted.  She highlighted the importance of creating conducive conditions on the ground for the full, effective and meaningful participation of women and girls in peacebuilding.  She emphasized that enhancing State capacity to address humanitarian needs, while also ensuring compliance with international humanitarian law, remains essential.  She further reiterated the importance of partnerships with civil society, the private sector and social media companies to address hate speech, racism, xenophobia and intolerance on social media and to ensure access to factual and accurate information.  Education is central in countering this phenomenon, she noted, pointing out her country’s focus on promoting the importance of “literacy" if entrusted to serve on the Security Council in 2023‑24.

MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said that, while conflict prevention is an internal matter for States, the international community and the United Nations must assist conflict-affected countries, upon their request, through provision of tailored technical and financial support to address the root causes of conflicts properly and more effectively.  Other underlying causes, such as climate change, foreign intervention and occupation as well as application of unilateral acts, which lead to prolonged conflict situations, must also be considered and tackled.  He said the imposition of unilateral coercive measures, such as the “illegal” sanctions by the United States imposed on the Iranian people cause serious consequences for the well-being of all segments of the population.  Moreover, those “unlawful acts” have caused severe shortages, especially in medicines and medical equipment needed for combatting COVID‑19, and also exacerbate poverty and exclusion.  The provision of technical and humanitarian assistance to people in conflict or post-conflict situations should in no way be politicized, conditional or discriminatory.  Noting that conflict prevention requires coherence and coordination among the United Nations bodies, he emphasized that the Security Council must focus its efforts on any situation that is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.  Issues such as exclusion and inequality with social and economic aspects must be addressed by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said that since the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed the concept of “human security” in 1994, the world has faced an increasing number of new challenges to security, which no State can avoid.  These include transnational dangers such as terrorism, trafficking in persons and drugs, and money laundering, among others.  Therefore, a multidimensional focus is required to tackle the factors that worsen inequality and conflict, including lack of opportunities and rigid social structures.  He pointed out that the Council witnesses how such tensions can flare out into global concerns.  He called for better early warning systems, and for greater multilateral cooperation to strengthen the virtuous cycle of peace and development.  While countries in Latin America have the lowest defence budgets in the world, and are free of nuclear weapons, they nonetheless grapple with a high crime rate and transnational crime, he said, calling on societies to do their best to eradicate and limit such dangers.

MOHD HAFIZ BIN OTHMAN (Malaysia) said national Governments must make sociopolitical and socioeconomic fragility a strategic priority so as to sustain peace and stability.  This would then create conditions for sustainable development.  Malaysia supports efforts to include a broad range of actors, particularly women and youth, in national peace and political transition processes.  Women’s involvement in conflict prevention and resolutions would encourage stability and reduce the risk of conflicts re‑emerging.  He said it is critical that international partners work closely with local stakeholders and fully understand local situations and societal dynamics to help create strategies to build peace and prevent conflicts.  Without this understanding, international partners could inadvertently promote or prolong inequality and exclusion in affected communities.  It is essential that the international community, including the Council, uphold the rule of law and accountability by fully implementing Council resolutions.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) stressed that States must shift the focus to prevention and effectively address the root causes of conflict.  Emphasizing that trust is key to building peaceful societies, he pointed out that systematic exclusion and widening inequality fuel people’s resentment against Government, create tensions between communities and aggravate human insecurity.  He went on to stress the essential need to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at the national and local levels, including institutions in the security and judicial sectors and those which ensure equal access to basic social services, as well as to build the capacity of personnel managing the institutions.  Highlighting that the voices of women, youth and marginalized groups must be heard, he pointed out that a holistic and coordinated approach is essential for the United Nations to play its role.  He also commended the human security perspectives incorporated in the Council’s resolutions, and the role of Peacebuilding Commission, which works to accelerate these efforts and facilitate broad partnerships between various actors.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) said some States promote exclusion and inequality and act as “conflict manufacturers”.  Conflicts take place in response to those States’ attempts to impose norms of behaviour that are not compatible with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.  Those States employ economic coercive measures that undermine the authority of the Security Council, and they act as an exclusive moral authority of democracy and human rights.  The application of unilateral coercive measures by the United States against Venezuela violates the Council’s exclusive authority, he said, adding that this is a policy of calculated cruelty to gain colonial advantages through suffering and pain.  Although poverty, inequality and exclusion are structural causes of conflict, there are countries that manufacture the same causes through the illegal application of unilateral coercive measures, he said, urging the Council to help end those measures.

JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic) said only a firm response to deep-seated ills can build peaceful societies for all, requiring multidimensional measures to resolve issues, with a focus on prevention.  The first step in such a paradigm shift is in anticipating the causes of crises and inequality.  All protagonists must be involved, including women, taking their perspectives into account in designing all actions by bringing them to the table in the decision‑making process.  None of this is new, she noted, but weaknesses persist in the multilateral system, preventing it from making a difference in the lives of millions of people.  The effort to change must be a structural one, including in the United Nations and the Security Council.

EDUARDO MANUEL DA FONSECA FERNANDES RAMOS (Portugal) said it is crucial to fully implement the Sustainable Development Goals towards creating a more peaceful and secure world.  Member States must commit to an effective multilateral system in building more inclusive societies.  He noted that human rights violations are not just the outcome, but also often the cause of conflict.  The link between poverty and insecurity is evident in societies affected by terrorism, which destabilizes and radicalizes societies, especially using the Internet, requiring efforts to develop socially inclusive policies and online monitoring.  Citing dialogue with local authorities as one of the main tenets in the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, he called for the Peacebuilding Fund to be used to bolster fragile societies.  As women and youth are particularly affected by poverty and insecurity, he emphasized they must therefore be part of any steps necessary in resolving them.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said the Council’s work is very important because of the many challenges and inequalities that world is facing.  The pandemic has unmasked these challenges and vaccine inequality is just one example.  Less than 4 per cent of the African population is vaccinated.  Conflicts are raging and vaccines are not being distributed in the conflict areas.  Conflicts, many within States, are left unresolved and managed poorly and threaten international peace and security.  Conflict in the Middle East is the main obstacle to peace.  “The Middle East is a tinder box today,” she said.  The Council needs information and political will to prevent conflicts.  Using United Nations officers on the ground is the best way to obtain information and analysis about conflicts and deal with their root causes.

CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) supported international initiatives, including those promoted by the United Nations and the Security Council itself to overcome the cycle of food insecurity caused by conflicts, expressing grave concern about the food situation in Haiti, where more than 4 million people have been affected by acute food insecurity.  There are only eight years left to achieve Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda on peace, justice and strong institutions.  Stressing the link between climate change, extreme poverty and inequalities, he agreed that security and development are mutually reinforcing.  Noting that a significant portion of the world's poor people live in rural areas, he said local communities play a central role in development and peacebuilding.

PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) said that years of capitalism have led to irrational patterns of consumption and production, which favored egotism above the legitimate aspirations of millions of people.  Such inequities were widened further by the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said, pointing out that in the United States, while 89 million citizens lost their jobs, billionaires added $2.1 billion to their already colossal fortunes.  Vaccine equity has also been regrettable, exacerbating the North‑South divide, he said, adding that 80 per cent of all the doses of vaccines administered so far had gone to Group of 20 countries, which represent less than half the inhabitants of the world.  He went on to deplore the use of sanctions and blockades, which hinder effective action by countries seeking to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals.  He called for better representation in the Security Council, and for a more equitable international order.

MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said there is no doubt that global security challenges reinforce each other, which is why addressing root causes and drivers of conflict — such as exclusion and inequality — must be part of conflict prevention and peacebuilding.  He went on to outline four points pertaining to the work of the Council in relation to exclusion, inequality and conflict.  First, he stressed the importance of ensuring inclusion as part of sustaining peace and upholding human rights, including through the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and youth in peacebuilding.  Second, he said the Council must ensure that United Nations peacekeeping operations are able to further the interlinkages between development, security and human rights.

He urged the Council to increase cooperation with the Resident Coordinators and United Nations Country Teams on the ground, as well as with other international, regional and local partners, including international financial institutions, regional organizations and civil society, throughout the conflict cycle.  Third, he called on the Council to strengthen its cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission, including by drawing on its recommendations and its advisory, bridging and convening roles.  Finally, he underlined the importance of addressing inequality, exclusion and other root causes of conflict in peacebuilding, including through investing in targeted work for gender equality.

MARK ZELLENRATH (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, stressed the need to urgently address inequality and exclusion by building solidarity across groups and Governments to deliver visible material change in people’s lives, tackling corruption and expanding representation of all groups in society.  Pointing out that 1.5 billion people have unresolved justice problems that contribute to grievances, violence and instability, particularly among women, children and youth, he emphasized that strengthening the rule of law requires a new approach, which allows justice systems to be more effective, transparent and centred around peoples’ most common problems.

Calling for a new agenda for peace, he said the Council could avail itself of broader analysis and benchmarks on trends in inequality, exclusion, access to justice within the framework of its field missions, and request the advice of bodies like the Peacebuilding Commission to incorporate that counsel in its work.  He went on to note that the Council could systematically indicate to mission leadership the importance of linking economic and political analysis and support, and the value of exploring partnerships between Resident Coordinators, Governments, international financial institutions and civil society with regard to socioeconomic destabilizing factors and psychosocial dynamics that need to be addressed in prevention strategies, national development plans and mandate objectives.  Calling on the Council to focus on lessons learned in inclusive national dialogues, he pointed out that the rule of law could be strengthened as a preventative tool by focusing on the resolution and prevention of daily access to justice obstacles and by supporting national institutions to be more responsive to people’s justice needs.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said conflict prevention requires that root causes be countered, including the engines of marginalization and poverty.  Peace, security, development and human rights are interlinked, she emphasized, and the international community must work to counter emerging new threats, welcoming the Council’s focus on these factors.  Qatar has prioritized sustaining peace and mediation, she said, focusing on boosting economic and social development and the role of women.  Promoting multilateral and bilateral partnerships, she cited the importance of international support in forging social cohesion, through initiatives including education for all and athletics programmes.  Stressing that marginalization of certain social groups undeniably results in heightened tensions, as such exclusion fuels a dangerous and vicious cycle, she condemned any policies that foster such results.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said sustainable development will remain a mere illusion without peace.  Well-coordinated efforts between different actors, including the United Nations, that integrate conflict prevention and peacebuilding in development programmes, are essential.  Member States should always make prevention a priority, support humanitarian action, invest in development, and pay special attention to the most vulnerable groups, especially women and girls.  Albania has made the implementation of the global goals a priority, which goes hand in hand with its overall development towards integration with the European Union.  Regarding judicial reform, he said no other country has ever taken such  profound, comprehensive and far-reaching reform to create a more effective, accountable and transparent judicial system, that serves its citizens.  As an incoming Council member, Albania will consistently work with other members to better integrate a more preventive approach in the Council’s work, he said.

PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) said that while the Security Council’s primary task is peace and security, it can and should also support the entire United Nations system in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Switzerland supports the efforts of the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight impunity.  The Security Council should rely more on an integrated approach and strengthen cooperation, collaboration and coordination between the Organization’s three pillars.  Violent conflict and resulting inequalities can only be prevented in resilient and inclusive societies where everyone, especially the most vulnerable, is protected.  To this end, the United Nations human rights system plays a key role.  The Human Rights Council reacted quickly to recent developments in Sudan by organizing a special session and calling on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to appoint an expert in the country.  Switzerland encourages the Security Council to integrate this type of analysis and to cooperate more with human rights bodies.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said it is important to work on addressing all the root causes of conflict, considering that peace, security, development, human rights and the rule of law are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  The outcome document containing the 2030 Agenda stated that there could be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.  Acting to break the cycle of exclusion, inequality and conflict and promote inclusive strategies, the Security Council and other organs, bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations must strictly comply with their respective mandates, he said.  Close cooperation and coordination are critical to enable the United Nations to effectively address the existing, new and emerging threats and challenges.  Providing support to States affected by conflict and engaged in post-conflict peacebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation must be a commitment of the entire United Nations system.

RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh) said the pandemic has exposed the inequalities across all societies and this debate is very timely.  It is critical to create synergies in the humanitarian responses across the United Nations systems.  There is evidence for more effective use of existing mechanisms to support evidence-based risk assessment, early warning and mitigation measures.  Bangladesh has seen how the social and political exclusion of Rohingya minorities has led to a full- blown crisis in Myanmar, with serious humanitarian and security ramifications for the region.  Addressing the root causes of conflict is critical.  Pointing out that the underlying factors of violence vary, she said the development and humanitarian responses of United Nations organizations must work together.  Adherence to international law is fundamental to ensure the rule of law at the global level.  It is imperative that the Council firmly commit to uphold the sanctity of the International Court of Justice, she said.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said many Council situations begin as intercommunal tensions with roots in ethnic, racial, regional, partisan and religious differences.  Stressing the need to address such tensions through a governance mechanism that can uphold the rights of communities within a State, he said such a mechanism can meet demands for further internal self-determination and help realize the full strength that every country can find in diversity.  The Council must demonstrate the mutually reinforcing nature of peace, human rights and sustainable development in its mandates.  The 2030 Agenda provides the most ambitious and most comprehensive human development and human security programme ever devised and it acknowledges the need to sustain peace based on international law, in particular human rights law, cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism.  He also pointed out that the Secretary‑General’s Our Common Agenda report reiterates the importance of a human security approach to prevent social divisions and national and international instability.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia) said fighting against corruption is crucial to protecting the rule of law.  Corruption dismantles the trust of people in public institutions, puts them at risk of exclusion, hinders social development and has a disproportionate impact on the enjoyment of human rights, particularly by people belonging to disadvantaged groups.  For this reason, his Government declared the fight against corruption as one of its key human rights priorities.  Stressing the importance of the rule of law on safeguarding a stable democracy and domestic peace, he encouraged Member States to intensify their efforts to uphold that principle of governance.  As that approach is a prerequisite for tackling the root causes of conflict, the Security Council should pay proper attention to that issue.  In the post-pandemic recovery, the international community must put human dignity at the heart of its actions and ensure that those in need are provided with quick and efficient humanitarian assistance and protection, he said.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said the Security Council should address roots causes in a holistic fashion in order to avoid permanent emergencies.  He stated that in countries in already fragile situations, risks such as climate change amplified the risk of violence, which could be exacerbated by exclusion and economic crises.  He urged the Council to take steps to mitigate large-scale food security emergencies and to make climate security assessments of all situations on its agenda.  The overarching approach must be prevention, and not reaction, he said.  He expressed his support for the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, and called for strengthened environment action, and measures to tackle food insecurity and migratory flows in cooperation with regional organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS).

FABIÁN ODDONE (Argentina) said “reality has struck”, as never before have there been so many refugees, displaced persons, and people fleeing from increasingly violent conflicts.  Life itself must be at the heart of concern, with respect for human rights one of the cornerstones of Argentina’s State policy.  Combating impunity for serious violations of human rights is fundamental, he stressed, as justice and peace are complementary.  Hunger and poverty, exclusion and inequality can generate conflict, leading to violence, he said, urging fluid cooperation of the various bodies of the United Nations in tackling structural issues.  The international community must also pool efforts to protect and promote all services for all people, especially the most vulnerable.  With young people particularly affected by armed conflict, interruption of education and economic opportunities, he encouraged all States to join the Safe Schools Declaration, endorsed by over 105 countries.  Noting the importance of dealing with issues on a case-by-case basis, he reiterated that the Council’s functions must not be watered down.

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco), noting that conflicts have become more complicated as development gaps widen, said multilateral action is vital in preventing escalation of violence, breaking links between conflicts and their root causes, and establishing lasting peace.  Calling on the international community to pool efforts for more inclusive societies, he underscored the need for a road map to guide actions in addressing the current lack of multilateral cooperation in accomplishing this.  Adding that all nations have a role to play in sustaining peace, he said cooperation is essential in promoting reconciliation, supporting peace processes, preventing violence, providing equitable access to basic needs, protecting human rights and ensuring education for young people.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa) said that with conflicts becoming increasingly protracted and transnational, the existing global conflict resolution architecture must adapt, stressing the need to identify innovative ways to confront today’s challenges.  The Security Council must continue to identify new and emerging threats to peace and security and adopt proactive approaches to address these.  However, conflict prevention and sustaining peace are not only the Security Council’s responsibility, he pointed out, noting that the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission all have specific responsibilities to address the conditions which give rise to conflict.  It is particularly important for the Security Council to strengthen collaboration with the Peacebuilding Commission.  Successful conflict prevention requires collaboration and cooperation, including with subregional and regional organizations.

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia) stressed the need to involve all segments of society to end inequality, and to enhance nationally-owned and -led peacebuilding efforts.  Any such efforts would be futile if they leave any parts of the society behind, he noted, citing his country’s own experience.  Emphasizing the critical role of the rule of law in building peaceful dialogue and trust within societies, he underscored that security sector reform that is nationally owned and led is critical to sustain peacebuilding, including to curb injustice and inequality in conflict-affected countries.  To that end, Indonesia has been including community engagement training as an essential part of predeployment for our peacekeepers.  He went on to highlight the important role of partnerships, including regional and triangular partnerships, in bridging the gap related to States’ capacity to deal with internal challenges.  As a member of the Pathfinders Group, Indonesia will continue to work together with all States to halve global violence, he noted.

Ms. GUALA, responding briefly, said the Council must look closely at access to basic services as a fundamental part of human rights, and must also look at enhancing employment opportunities for young people to prevent them from being drawn into activities that risk leading to insecurity.  Turning to the pandemic, which has exacerbated global social and economic crises and threatens to imperil international peace in the future, she called on countries that have already vaccinated their populations to show greater solidarity towards those who have not.  She welcomed statements affirming the role of women in peacebuilding, and called for steps to be taken to bolster inclusive dialogue.  Finally, she said security must not be seen as military might but about taking actions to create a society without fear and conflict.

For information media. Not an official record.