UNGA Debate Discusses UN Performance in Peace, Security
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During a High-level Thematic Debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), UN Member States and others called for a paradigm shift that emphasizes the primacy of politics in ensuring peace and security, and shifting the mentality from conflict management to conflict resolution.

Speakers at the debate, titled 'In a World Of Risks: A New Commitment for Peace,' also identified ways to strengthen the UN's performance as it engages in international peace and security issues, and highlighted strong interlinkages between peace and development.

UNGA 2nd Committee - Economic and Financial11 May 2016: During a High-level Thematic Debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), UN Member States and others called for a paradigm shift that emphasizes the primacy of politics in ensuring peace and security, and shifting the mentality from conflict management to conflict resolution. Speakers at the debate, titled ‘In a World Of Risks: A New Commitment for Peace,’ also identified ways to strengthen the UN’s performance as it engages in international peace and security issues, and highlighted strong interlinkages between peace and development.

The high-level thematic debate was convened by UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft, from 10-11 May 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Comments also focused on: means, instruments and practices available within the UN context to tackle peace and security challenges; the responsibilities and institutions required for an effective collective security architecture; involving women and youth in peacebuilding; and empowering the UNGA to act in the realm of peace and security, especially when the UN Security Council is unable to respond to conflict.

Opening the meeting, Lykketoft called on the international community to forge a consensus on a set of budgetary, institutional and cultural reforms to put prevention at the heart of the peace and security architecture. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, identified common messages among the three reviews recently carried out by the UN on peacebuilding, peace operations and women, peace and security. He said all three reviews emphasized: prevention as the UN’s central mission; that higher priority must be placed on finding inclusive, long-term political solutions; and the importance of solid partnerships.

On the topic of today’s threats to international peace and security, Espen Barth Eide, World Economic Forum, spoke about “hybrid” threats, such as changing threat scenarios arising from a more interconnected world, and technological advances that both pose security challenges and provide opportunities to solve them. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former President of Indonesia, said the empowerment of women is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the success of which could make communities, nations and the world more peaceful. Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate and SDGs Advocate, called for world leaders to allocate resources to building constructive dialogue, rather than militarism. Amre Moussa, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt and former Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said terrorism, climate change and natural disasters should be added to the Security Council’s agenda, and stressed the need for reforming the Security Council to ensure better representation of developing countries.

On UN effectiveness in preventing and resolving conflicts, Sigrid Kaag, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, said inclusive multilateralism is “the only way forward.” Alexandre Marc, World Bank Group, noted that, being much less institutionalized, conflicts are crossing borders and taking on a more regional form.

On innovative partnerships and responses, Abdusalam Omer, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somalia, stressed the importance of partnerships with “local people” to enhance local ownership. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya and Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), asked if the international community “is in the business of building peace or enforcing security,” noting that the UN Peacebuilding Fund includes about US$10 million, while UN peacekeeping is funded with billions of dollars. Asma Mansour, Tunisian Center for Social Entrepreneurship, stressed the need to use creative ways to educate citizens, including games, and to support social entrepreneurs, which often face death threats and security issues. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, announced the launch of the Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace, in Rome, Italy, on 11 May 2016. He said the Alliance will serve as a platform for strategic dialogue between FAO and four Nobel Peace Laureates to discuss the challenges and opportunities for FAO to amplify its contribution to conflict prevention in the context of the 2030 Agenda.

On responsibility for implementation: going “beyond the current conundrum,” Jose Ramos-Horta, Chair, UN High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO), stressed the importance of: prioritizing prevention; well-targeted development assistance; and ensuring that the UN delivers on the ground. Alain Le Roy, Secretary-General, EU External Action Service, called for improving the financing of regional organizations, and said the SDGs will not be implemented through additional development aid, but through innovative and private sector financing. Alvaro Estaban Pop, Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII), said indigenous peoples are increasingly experiencing conflicts and militarized violence.

During interactive discussions, speakers outlined the importance of: national ownership; regional organizations for responding to conflicts; eliminating the basic root causes of the conflict; early warning; prevention; respecting the principles of international law by all countries; cooperation among countries to achieve peace and security at the global level; deeper consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries in decision-making; education; partnerships with the UN system, the civil society and the private sector; and “shared responsibility” as basis for partnerships, among others.

Thailand said the next UN Secretary-General should be “an activist Secretary-General,” and should lead a renewed call for multilateralism and mobilizing the entire UN system. [Debate Website] [Concept Note] [UNGA President Opening Remarks] [UNGA President Closing Remarks] [UNGA President Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UN Meeting Summary, 10 May] [UN Meeting Summary, 11 May] [IISD RS Sources]


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