Development ‘Lights the Way to Hope’, Promotes Peace, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Highlighting New Agenda’s Vision for Preventing Conflict

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security:  Sustaining Peace through Common Development”, in New York today:

I thank the Government of China for convening this debate on the vital link between development and sustaining peace.

This link has defined the United Nations from the very start. Our Organization is built on three pillars:  peace, development, and human rights.  This has been reaffirmed time and again.

The 2005 World Summit declared that “development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing”.

Development by itself is not enough to secure peace. But development is essential.  No peace is secure without inclusive and sustainable development that leaves no one behind.  And, of course, this recognition also defines the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Just as progress towards one goal lifts all others, failure in one area risks reversing gains across the board.  And no failure is more calamitous than the failure to prevent conflict.  Indeed, development gains are often among the first casualties of war.

We see this pattern play out across the world:  the closer a country is to conflict, the farther it is from sustainable and inclusive development.  Nine of the 10 countries with the lowest Human Development Indicators have experienced conflicts or violence in the past ten years.

Inequalities and lack of opportunities, decent jobs, and freedom can breed frustration and raise the spectre of violence and instability. Weak institutions and corruption increase the risk of conflict.

Climate chaos and environmental degradation are further crisis multipliers.  With ever-worsening climate emergencies, record heat and growing competition over dwindling resources, people are forced to move and vulnerabilities and insecurities skyrocket.  Organized crime, violent extremist and terrorist groups find fertile ground in such environments — fraying the social fabric and further aggravating insecurities and corroding effective governance.

But just as the lack of development feeds grievances that can increase the risk of conflict, the reverse is also true.  Human development lights the way to hope — promoting prevention, security, and peace.  This is why advancing peace and advancing sustainable, inclusive development go hand in hand.

Building peace means ensuring food security, access to education and skill development, health care, social protection and dignity for all.  Building peace means strengthening resilience to climate shocks and investing in adaptation.

Building peace means closing the digital divide and harnessing the benefits of digital inclusion, while protecting against the perils of new technologies.  Building peace means balancing the scales of power and participation equally for women and creating opportunities for young people.

And building peace means scaling up affordable, long-term financing for developing countries everywhere so they can invest in public goods and services for their people.

At a time when 85 per cent of Sustainable Development Goal targets are off track, we must act on this understanding with far greater urgency and ambition.  Developing countries — particularly least developed countries — are being battered by a perfect storm of crises.

Crushing debt burdens, evaporating fiscal space, and soaring prices.  Escalating climate catastrophe, widening inequalities, and worsening unemployment and poverty.  And the lingering effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and unequal recovery.  This is a recipe for social strife, political instability, and, ultimately, open conflict.  We must do more to support countries in dire straits.

I have been advocating for bold steps to make our global institutions — including the international financial architecture — more representative of today’s realities and more responsive to the needs of developing economies.  I have also proposed a set of concrete actions we can take now — including an SDG Stimulus of $500 billion a year to reduce debt burdens and release resources for long-term, affordable financing from multilateral and private sources.  Because investing in development today means investing in a more peaceful tomorrow.

Each and every day, the women and men of the United Nations are bringing to life this link between peace, development and justice in our work around the world.  Our United Nations country teams are spearheading efforts to support national priorities for sustainable and inclusive development.

Our UN peacekeeping operations are assisting Member States as they manage and resolve conflicts.  My envoys and the UN’s special political missions are facilitating political processes, mediating and preventing the eruption of open conflict.

And our Peacebuilding Commission is bringing the international community together around the mutually reinforcing nature of peace and development.  I call on Member States to strengthen the Peacebuilding Commission and enhance the effectiveness of its work.

The Security Council, in particular, could more systematically seek the advice of the Commission on the peacebuilding dimensions of the mandates of peace operations.  And our peace operations should be empowered to play a greater role in sustaining peace at all stages of conflict, and in all its dimensions.

We are proud of our work.  But we also know that more must be done to join up humanitarian, peace and development efforts.  I have put forward proposals for a New Agenda for Peace in a time of rising tensions and proliferating conflicts.  These ideas are framed around core principles foundational to the Charter of the United Nations and to a stable world.

For information media. Not an official record.