More Engagement with Local Communities, Women’s Leadership Key for Building Resilience in Peace Operations, Secretary-General Tells Security Council
Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks at the Security Council open debate on integrating effective resilience-building in peace operations for sustainable development, today in New York:
I thank the Government of Ghana for organizing this open debate on “integrating effective resilience-building in peace operations for sustainable peace”.
Our peace operations, which include peacekeeping operations and special political missions, provide the space for political solutions. They help protect civilians and prevent violence. They enable the work of peacebuilding, development, humanitarian and human rights actors.
But, the local and global contexts in which they operate are becoming more challenging by the day. Geopolitical tensions are rising. Insecurity is spreading. The drivers of instability are powerful, many and mutually reinforcing. They include: escalating climate catastrophes, worsening hunger and poverty, deepening inequalities, spreading violent misogyny, mis- and disinformation, and waning trust in institutions.
All of this is fuelling political tensions, economic despair and social unrest. Unconstitutional changes of Government are proliferating — alongside inter-State conflicts, invasions and wars. Entrenched divides between world Powers continue to limit our ability to collectively respond. The chasm between humanitarian needs and humanitarian assistance keeps widening. Human rights and the rule of law are under assault. Cyberwarfare and lethal autonomous weapons are presenting risks we barely comprehend and lack the global architecture to contain.
Our world is transforming at breakneck speed. We must keep pace to keep peace. Peacebuilding gains on the African continent and elsewhere are reversing. We must ensure a sharper focus on [prevention] and building resilience.
The New Agenda for Peace proposed in my report on Our Common Agenda will prioritize investment in prevention and peacebuilding. Our peace operations must be empowered and equipped to play a greater role in sustaining peace at all stages of conflict, and in all its dimensions. That requires committed, inclusive national ownership that considers the needs of the most vulnerable, including women, young people and minorities. Above all, development and respect for all human rights — economic, social, cultural, civil and political — are the world’s best preventive tools against violent conflict and instability.
Today, allow me to focus on four priorities. First, we must deepen engagement with local communities and promote more responsive and inclusive Governments and institutions. Peace operations are manifestations of the political leverage of this Council. They bring the normative role and technical capacities of the United Nations system to bear on the ground. And they contribute to shared goals for legitimate, responsive and inclusive governance. Peace operations create space for dialogue and political participation, reduce community violence, secure the delivery of basic services, encourage reconciliation and promote equal access to justice. But, we must act more quickly and effectively to address needs and grievances. Specifically, that means strengthening a whole-of-society approach and increase investments that build trust, community engagement and cohesion.
Second, we must bolster the leadership of women and youth in shaping the future of their countries and ensure they benefit from peace and development gains. The contributions of women peacekeepers and local women networks are pivotal to building community resilience and ensuring that women’s concerns are front and centre in conflict-prevention and -resolution efforts. We know securing women’s rights and equal participation in decision-making is essential to building and maintaining peace. That is why we are investing in partnerships with local women leaders and peacebuilders, including by increasing the number of women personnel at all levels.
And we are pursuing policies that guarantee full gender parity and women leadership — including through quotas — across election‑monitoring, security sector reform, disarmament and justice systems. At the same time, we must ensure the voices of young people are heard loud and clear in articulating peacebuilding priorities. Our youth, peace and security agenda — together with the African Union’s 2020 Continental Framework for Youth, Peace and Security — are important and complementary tools to amplify these critical voices.
Third, we need a more holistic and integrated approach to building resilience and sustaining peace, with tailored investments across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. That means strengthening synergies across the range of peace work — from conflict-prevention and -resolution to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and long-term development. It means deepening partnerships among the United Nations, African Union and other regional organizations, as well as with international and regional financial institutions. And it means better integrating the work of United Nations country teams with the mandates of peace operations, particularly in transition contexts.
Fourth and fundamentally, the crucial question of finance. We all recognize that prevention and peacebuilding are cost-effective and save lives. But, that understanding in principle is not matched with the necessary resources in practice. The international community continues to underinvest in peace. It is time to walk the talk.
The General Assembly’s Financing for Peacebuilding resolution reflects a commitment to find solutions for increased and more predictable and sustainable funding. The Peacebuilding Fund continues to be an invaluable resource. Last year, the Fund provided $150 million to 25 countries in Africa and became the catalyst for much larger contributions by other financial institutions.
But, needs far outpace resources. Funding must be scaled up — and partnerships with international financial institutions even more strengthened. The Security Council plays a critical role in supporting the efforts of our peace operations to build resilience and sustain peace. By acting early, engaging strategically, and speaking with one voice, this Council can mobilize the international community’s political and financial support and foster the commitment of conflict actors to secure peace.
I look forward to continuing to work with the Council to strengthen peace operations and advance peace.