24 January 2017, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Mr. João Vale de Almeida, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the High Level Dialogue of the President of the General Assembly on Building Sustainable Peace for All: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace, at the United Nations
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
We thank the President of the General Assembly and his Team for having organised this high-level dialogue, which will form part of a series that will surely inspire us all to move forward on 2030 Agenda implementation.
It follows the open debate that took place two weeks ago in the Security Council under Swedish Presidency, where the new Secretary-General outlined his vision on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace. He then stated: “We must rebalance our approach to peace and security. For decades, this has been dominated by responding to conflict. For the future, we need to do far more to prevent war and sustain peace”.
Let me be clear: with the SDGs we have the best conflict prevention tools available. The link between peace and sustainable development indeed permeates the 2030 Agenda, starting with SDG 16.
The new EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, stresses that while a prosperous Union is the basis for a strong Europe in the world, prosperity must be shared and requires fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide, including in Europe.
Poverty, conflict, fragility, humanitarian needs and forced displacement are deeply inter-linked and must be addressed in a coherent and comprehensive way. This is precisely what the 2030 Agenda provides us with. Inter-connected answers to inter-connected problems. A life of dignity for all within the planet’s limits that reconciles economic prosperity and efficiency, peaceful societies, gender equality, social inclusion and environmental responsibility is at the core of sustainable development – and of sustainable peace.
What are we doing to support this agenda?
The EU’s new Global Strategy emphasises the importance of an integrated and comprehensive approach to conflict; one that brings to bear all the tools at our disposal to address conflict and that emphasises the commitment of the EU to working through the multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core. A coherent use of all policies at the EU’s disposal is essential – much like working across all pillars of the UN in a coherent manner.
The best instruments of conflict prevention remain democratic governance, the rule of law, access to education and respect for human rights, paired with inclusive economic development. In this context, the proposed new European Consensus on Development puts forward a shared vision for development cooperation for the EU and its Member States. It is aligned on the 2030 Agenda and responds to current global challenges. It also aims to support the domestic efforts, tailored to the needs and context of each society to build sustainable democratic states, resilient to external and internal shocks. To meet these objectives we will promote accountable and transparent institutions, participatory decision-making and public access to information. A resilient society featuring democracy, trust in institutions, and sustainable development lies at the heart of a resilient state.
We aim to contribute to building the resilience of individuals, societies and states and emphasise our strong engagement in countries most in need. Today already, support to fragile and conflict affected countries accounts for more than half of EU development funding. Significant support goes inter alia to human development, security sector reform, rule of law, justice and governance, including in the context of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States.
Beyond its volume, the modalities through which aid is delivered are also critical. At EU level, innovative tools such as Trust Funds have been set up in order to bring a collective, faster and more efficient response to fragile situations in Africa, Syria or Colombia.
We are already working with security sector actors, including military actors, to build capacity to support sustainable peace and build inclusive, responsive, accountable institutions. We also focus our efforts on preventing and countering violent extremism, strengthening the resilience of individuals and communities to the appeal of radicalisation, including through fostering religious tolerance and dialogue.
EU action is supporting prevention, management and resolution of crises around the world, with its Common Security and Defence Policy missions, a significant financial contribution to the African Peace Facility and a recent proposal for a new security sector reform strategic framework.
We also aim to tackle chronic vulnerability and risk, so as to enhance resilience. This requires improved working practices and better coordination between the development and humanitarian communities. And we will step up efforts to seize the opportunities for development offered by migration, while addressing its challenges. Peaceful and inclusive societies, good governance, rule of law, an independent judiciary, a reliable police force and a public sector without corruption are best guarantors for sustainable peace and sustainable development, providing people with the means to lead secure and fulfilling lives at home.
Article 21 of our EU Treaty calls for a development policy that also contributes to supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights; preserving peace and preventing conflict; improving the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources; and promoting an international system based on stronger multilateral cooperation and good global governance.
Sustaining peace requires that human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, protected and fulfilled. The UN’s Human Rights Upfront initiative, as an early warning tool, should thus be maintained and strengthened. Women’s and girl’s empowerment and gender equality is a matter of human rights and democratic governance, a matter of social justice and smart economics but also a matter of sustainable peace and security. Gender equality and women’s empowerment lie at the core of the EU’s external action. We must persist in our collective efforts to ensure that women and youth enjoy everywhere and at all times all of their rights as enshrined in international law. We must also redouble our efforts to fully implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda and the resolution 2050 (2015) on Youth, Peace and Security. We must show our youth that what they say matters and is clearly heard. After all, the 2030 Agenda is above all about them.
We will redouble our efforts on preventive diplomacy, mediation, anticipation by monitoring root causes of conflict such as human rights violations, inequality resource stress, and climate change. The implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement will be a crucial factor in reducing vulnerability to crises throughout the world.
We are determined to continue to work with all our partners, bilaterally and with multilateral organisations, including the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the G7, G20 and other multilateral actors, to encourage them to align with the 2030 Agenda and foster mutual support in its implementation.
In fact, the EU is a strong believer in a cooperative multilateral order, which is also central to the EU Global Strategy. We have an interest in promoting agreed rules to provide global public goods and contribute to a peaceful and sustainable world.
This is a time of many complex challenges and rising pressure on global governance. We need to address uncertainty and provide a positive narrative on globalisation.
To be able to do this, we need to restore confidence in our multilateral system; we need concrete commitments that people believe in, and we need to effectively deliver on them.
We have the luxury of having agreed in the 2030 Agenda a common vision, a positive outlook on how to make globalisation work for all and transform our world. We have all agreed to it. We cannot afford to lose sight of our common goals. We now need to focus on making them reality.
We will continue to strive to deliver in a coherent, joined-up manner – as indeed the UN is aiming to do. Enhanced coherence will help us build a more resilient, peaceful and sustainable world.
What we need most is to translate what we know into action, effectively delivering on the UN’s core tasks in a coherent manner. We need a strong, effective United Nations more than ever.
I thank you.
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