10 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 Security Council Open Debate on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
We are grateful to Sweden for organising this fundamental debate, and to the new Secretary General, who has so convincingly outlined his vision for working on prevention with the Council, as well as the clear imperative for all of us to work as hard as we can, collectively, on finally getting prevention right. We also heard about the major costs associated with failing to do so.
Because we know we have often failed. On many fronts. As has been said by the Secretary General: “trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies”. The human suffering we are currently witnessing is immense, and frankly shameful. We thus whole-heartedly support your call to make our New Year’s resolution to “put peace first” and welcome the great emphasis you place on prevention.
It is by now well established common knowledge that security and development are closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that they are key to preventing crises and attaining sustainable peace. The link permeates the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The General Assembly and Security Council have both agreed that sustaining peace is the joint responsibility of governments and societies, and supported by the international community. And the high level reviews have underlined the need to prioritize prevention, in order to break the cycle of responding too late.
It is therefore no longer a question of agreeing on the principle that prevention is better than firefighting and that sustaining efforts for peace reduces human and financial costs immensely in the long run. While it is almost by definition difficult to put a concrete price tag on something that has been prevented, and therefore has not happened, it has long been known that preventing conflicts is more efficient and effective than engaging with crises after they break out.
We know we must develop a political culture of acting sooner in response to the risk of violent conflict. And we must act together if we want to have any chance of success.
The European Union’s new Global Strategy emphasises the importance of acting promptly on prevention, whilst also responding responsibly and decisively to crises, investing in stabilisation, and avoiding premature disengagement. It also emphasises the importance of an integrated and comprehensive approach to conflict, one that starts with joint analysis; that brings to bear all the tools at our disposal to address conflict; that addresses the various inter-connected levels of conflict; and that emphasises the commitment of the EU to working through the multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core.
The Global Strategy promises that the EU will engage in a practical and principled way in sustaining peace, taking an integrated approach. Building on the Comprehensive Approach and working in the same inter-connected manner that is also embodied in the SDGs, the EU will step-up efforts and capabilities to further strengthen the way we bring together institutions, expertise, and instruments, and work with Member States in prevention, resolution and stabilisation. 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 EU is working with the UN on early warning capacities in order to identify risk trends and address the gap between warning and response. In order to prevent the emergence, re-emergence or escalation of violent conflict, early warning is indispensable. But generating early action is the key. The tool of mediation has to be recognised as not only an effective tool in conflict resolution but also in conflict prevention. Sustainable peace can only be achieved through comprehensive agreements rooted in broad, deep and durable regional and international partnerships, which the EU will foster and support.
Building and sustaining peace is inescapably linked to inclusive development, resilience and human rights. Long term structural policies are not a luxury in times of many crises. The best prevention of conflicts remains democratic governance, the rule of law 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, aligned with the 2030 Agenda and responding to current global challenges. It also aims to contribute to building the resilience of individuals, societies and states and emphasises our strong engagement in countries most in need, whereby already today, support to fragile and conflict affected countries counts for more than half of EU development funding. Significant support goes to security sector reform, rule of law, justice and governance. We work in partnership with governments in countries at risk of conflict and fragility, external partners and civil society as defined in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States and we continue to be actively involved in the International Dialogue for Peace-Building and State-building (IDPS) which oversees the implementation of the New Deal and its five peace-and state-building goals and principles of engagement. 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. Sustaining peace requires that human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, protected and fulfilled.
We will redouble our efforts on prevention, 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 susceptibility to crises throughout the world.
Much of this will have to be tackled outside the Security Council. But there is a particular responsibility for this Council to effectively and timely address situations in danger of deteriorating. Given the role foreseen by article 99 of the UN Charter for the Secretary General in bringing issues to the attention of the Security Council it is essential that the cooperation between the Council and the Secretariat functions smoothly and efficiently.
We also need to develop more creative approaches to diplomacy. This includes the continued promotion of women’s roles in peace efforts. Women indeed need to be at the forefront of creating and sustaining peace, from the local to the international level, if we want to have any chance of succeeding.
In order to be prepared for timely and effective responses, the Council could explore new and innovative ways to work with different actors, including civil society, bringing together the variety of actors working on sustaining peace. Existing tools, such as Arria-formula meetings are very useful in this regard. Horizon scanning briefings could be reinvigorated and the Human Rights Upfront initiative, as an early warning tool, maintained and strengthened.
We call upon members of the UN Security Council not to vote against credible draft resolutions on timely and decisive action to prevent or end mass atrocities.
The Council should ensure that longer-term peacebuilding is considered in mission mandates along with reflections on how to design transitions and to strengthen the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission. All our efforts should be reinforced by an active private sector allowing it to invest and help, especially the youth, in having a perspective.
In order to be able to act we need better and shared assessments of threats and challenges. And what we need most is to translate what we know into action, effectively delivering on the UN’s core tasks in a coherent manner. A strong, effective United Nations are more essential than ever.
I thank you.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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