Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s keynote statement at the fifth Global Meeting of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding: “Addressing Fragility and Building Peace in a Changing World”, in Stockholm today:
Thank you for inviting me to this important meeting with the International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding.
The world is at a critical juncture in the midst of turbulence and turmoil. We are living in a period of uncertainty, fragility and serious risks of continued violence and conflict. Civilians continue to pay the heaviest price in today’s conflicts and humanitarian crises. International humanitarian law is being widely neglected. We are seeing a steep increase in death and destruction from terrorist acts. And we are experiencing the highest number of forcibly displaced people — 60 million — since the Second World War, both within and between countries.
The nature of conflict and violence has changed. There are many more non-State actors, often part of transnational networks with links to organized crime. In addition — in the economic and social areas — we face growing risks from climate vulnerability to financial crises, glaring inequalities and dangerously high unemployment among young people. That is why this meeting today in Stockholm is so important. We have to confront these threats together — rich and poor nations as well as international organizations, civil society and the private sector.
The International Dialogue offers a unique platform, bringing together countries affected by conflict and fragility, as well as development partners and civil society — in solidarity as well as in our enlightened self-interest. You, who started the dialogue, were years ahead analysing these trends, devising innovative policy frameworks and the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. Let me here recognize the key role of Timor-Leste, not least the Special Envoy of the G7+ and former Finance Minister Emilia Pires, present here today.
You recognized the strong links between peace and development early on — a link that is now generally accepted — together with the crucial relationship to human rights. That is why SDG 16 [Sustainable Development Goal 16] is so important. It focuses on peaceful societies, access to justice and strong, well-functioning institutions. It aims to reduce conflict and violence, corruption and organized crime. It highlights the crucial role of the rule of law and inclusive decision-making.
It is striking that the Member States have recognized that the SDGs and these issues are universal, and not only challenges to conflict-affected and fragile countries. In fact, the universality, the integration and the indivisibility of the SDG framework form the critical foundation for the 2030 Agenda.
Goal 16 is not the only Goal that addresses the drivers of conflict. Other Goals — such as those related to poverty, women’s empowerment, decent jobs and management of natural resources — are also affecting peace, development and human rights. We live in a world of interdependence. While the SDGs are universal, it is clear that achieving them will to a large degree depend on how much progress is made in conflict-affected and fragile countries. For us to achieve the SDGs by 2030, we must strengthen the work on prevention, address the roots of conflict and consistently try to find political solutions as early as possible.
This meeting and a revitalized New Deal will play an important role to move us all in this direction. The Stockholm Declaration, to be adopted here today, is a very important document and tool in order to achieve this. The United Nations has been a strong supporter of the New Deal from the beginning. The Secretary-General has lent his voice and support. UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] has supported implementation of the New Deal in the field. And the Peacebuilding Fund has championed New Deal principles, such as ownership, integrated plans, working with country systems and acting speedily.
The 2030 Agenda is the overarching framework, but we need tools to implement it. The TRUST and FOCUS principles of the New Deal are such tools. They will be essential if we are to implement Agenda 2030 in conflict-affected situations. This means understanding drivers of conflict through assessments of fragility. It means national ownership and inclusive political dialogue to address root causes and to agree on sometimes difficult reforms. It also means greater transparency and more rapid and predictable support on the part of international partners.
There are no easy answers in peacebuilding and State-building, no blueprints, no merely technical solutions. Political will and inclusive dialogue can achieve the solutions — with the support of broad segments of the population, not least women and youth. That is why the Security Council adopted resolutions 1325 (2000) 15 years ago and 2250 (2015) in December last year on peace and security and women and youth, respectively.
We will also need better dialogue between countries and partners who provide support. Again, that’s why this International Dialogue is essential. Let me briefly highlight five key areas where you can help change the direction ahead of us.
First, we need to switch from reactive, short-term responses to prevention, peacebuilding and State-building.
Of course, we must address immediate humanitarian needs. But we also need to take more preventive measures to reduce humanitarian needs. And we must develop a more dynamic interrelationship between humanitarian assistance and development — and, indeed, peace and security.
On prevention, we must get better at stamping out the flames of conflict before they pose an existential threat to social, economic, and political systems. The UN’s Human Rights Up Front initiative is helping to transform how the United Nations thinks and acts on prevention. It introduces three types of change in the United Nations system — cultural change, operational change and a change in our engagement with Member States. We must be better in identifying early warning signs, the vibrations on the ground, and addressing them early on. Why wait for mass atrocities when we can act at the stage of human rights violations?
Second, when we look at numbers, it is clear that a greater investment is needed in prevention and peacebuilding. In 2016, the United Nations launched its largest ever annual humanitarian appeal — $20 billion — of which 80 per cent is to meet immediate life-saving needs in man-made conflicts. The United Nations peacekeeping budget is about $8.5 billion. The Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund targets a mere $100 million. And let us face it: as it looks now, we will not be able to reach this goal in 2016 unless we see new commitments coming soon.
We need more resources, not just for the sadly headline-grabbing countries, but also for the so-called “aid orphans”. The World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 in Istanbul will be a critical occasion to address systemic funding problems. It will also agree on concrete steps to better prepare for and respond to crises. The Summit will be an opportunity to move forward on the commitments on the five core responsibilities in the Secretary-General’s report and to a great extent the agreements made here in Stockholm. I ask all countries present here today to participate actively in the Summit at the highest possible level.
Third, we must encourage inclusive political dialogue as a means to find solutions to conflicts. National ownership, capacities and accountability are key in this pursuit. And let us recall that national leadership needs to be supported by consistent international political, technical and financial support in true partnership.
Fourth, we need to change the debate on measurable results. The focus on measurable outcomes must not, in my view, lead to a diversion of resources from prevention and long-term peacebuilding and State-building. It is relatively easy to report to parliaments and the public on how many lives are saved by humanitarian emergency aid. But we need to get better at measuring, and making a stronger case, for the work of prevention and peacebuilding. And we must do better in communicating the importance of such efforts. We also need to be innovative and sometime take risks in order to effect real change, as we did with early salary payments of police and gendarmerie in the Central African Republic. I hope donors will continue to support such — often unconventional — action.
And fifth, we need to again be reminded that the UN’s three pillars of peace and security, sustainable development and human rights form an integrated whole. That is the central premise of the 2030 Agenda. Complex problems cannot be sub-divided into often hermetically separate silos. We have to think and work much more horizontally. The answers demanded by the 2030 Agenda are cooperation, integration and coherence — within the United Nations system as well as in the policies of Member States.
The discussions you will have here in Stockholm are critical to demonstrate the political will to go in this direction — and to do it together. I thank you for your leadership, courage and determination to actively take on these timely and crucial challenges in a new and transformative way. This will surely benefit “We the Peoples” of the world, whom we are to serve in the letter and the spirit of the United Nations Charter.
For information media. Not an official record.