26 January 2017
High-level Dialogue Addresses Roots of Sustaining Peace
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UNGA High-level Dialogue on 'Building Sustainable Peace for All: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace' took place from 24-25 January 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.

Governments and civil society representatives stressed that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace agenda “stand or fall together.”

25 January 2017: Governments and civil society representatives discussed the link between sustainable development and sustaining peace during a High-level Dialogue of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Participants called for a holistic response to current global challenges, one that integrates peace, sustainable development and human rights “from conception to execution.”

High-level Dialogue participants also stressed that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustaining Peace agenda “stand or fall together,” as outlined in joint resolutions of the UN Security Council and UNGA.

Many speakers welcomed the UN’s recent shift towards conflict prevention, as embodied in the 2016 adoption of parallel ‘Sustaining peace’ resolutions in the UNGA and the Security Council (2282 (2016)). They emphasized the need for addressing the “root causes” of conflict, such as climate change and the illicit trade in natural resources, as well as for sufficient development financing. Participants also noted that links between the 2030 Agenda and “sustaining peace” are found not only in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on strong institutions and inclusive societies, but across all 17 SDGs, and that sustainable peace is both an enabler and an outcome of sustainable development.

The event ‘Building Sustainable Peace for All: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace’ took place from 24-25 January 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Throughout the dialogue, UN Member States and civil society also stressed the importance of: partnerships, including among the UN, the World Bank and the private sector; strong and transparent institutions and governance systems; empowering women and youth; and overcoming the fragmentation among UN entities in order to work across pillars.

Opening the meeting on 24 January, UNGA President Peter Thomson reported that two billion people live in countries troubled by fragility, conflict and violence. He said the Sustaining Peace resolutions signal a new cross-sectoral and integrated approach to the maintenance of international peace and security, and reflect the spirit of the 2030 Agenda.

Outlining major areas of reform at the UN, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said his Senior Policy Advisor is identifying various means for conflict prevention within the UN system, and will be designing a platform to integrate them. He noted a need for collective results and for financing mechanisms that favor integration and coherence rather than inter-agency competition, adding he will outline his vision on the UN development system by June 2017. He also called for a simplified, decentralized and flexible UN system.

Margot Elisabeth Wallström, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN Security Council President, remarked that with populism rising across the world, peace and sustainable societies cannot be taken for granted. She called for identifying “hope spots,” noting that change is possible, and said prevention is an “economically smart” thing to do.

Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said participation of women, young people and vulnerable groups in economic and political decisions is central to sustainable peace. Julienne Lusenge, SOFEPADI, Fund for Congolese Women (FFC), identified as root causes of conflict: impunity, poor governance, and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.

SDG 16 is the powerhouse from which all the other SDGs will flow, said Agio Pereira, Timor-Leste’s Minister of State.

In the high-level segment and plenary debate, Agio Pereira, Timor-Leste’s Minister of State and of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, said SDG 16 is “the powerhouse from which all the other SDGs will flow.” Jean-Marie Le Guen, France’s Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, called for accountability for action on the ground, a strong UN at Headquarters, and strengthening the UN Resident Coordinator system.

Jesus Dureza, Philippines, called for ensuring adequate resources for the peace-development nexus. Sujata Mehta, India, remarked that the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) funding corresponds to not even 1% of the peacekeeping budget. Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Kazakhstan, suggested considering 1% of national defense budgets to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Pascale Baeriswyl, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, stressed the importance of: investing in existing instruments for prevention, such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP)-UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) Programme on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention; strengthening human rights as a prevention means; and supporting civil society.

Tone Sokgen, State Secretary of Norway, said national ownership is fundamental, noting that inclusive peace and development is a prerequisite for lasting peace and development. Paul Teesalu, Estonia, said the rule of law is essential in conflict prevention, and highlighted the importance of protecting fundamental freedoms, gender equality and the empowerment of women. Delivering a message from King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of Jordan, Sima Sami Bahous, Permanent Representative of Jordan, stressed the role youth and of inter-faith dialogues in peace and security.

In a panel discussion on ‘Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace,’ Macharia Kamau, PBC Chair, called for placing peace “front and center,” saying that all the SDGs will “add up to nothing and end up being nothing if a country loses peace.” Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Iraq, stressed the need for national ownership, working with national leaders and government, institutional and capacity building, and crossing the divide between the silos within the UN system. Peter Wallensteen, Uppsala University and University of Notre Dame, said societies with gender equality have fewer civil wars, engage in fewer inter-state conflicts, and have fewer human rights violations.

Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico and Chair of the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace, stressed that the UN is going through significant paradigm changes, including through the 2030 Agenda. He said development is no longer seen as North-South issue, and all challenges are faced by all countries, as inequality and poverty are no longer phenomena of the South. He added that the sources of conflict have changed, and the only way to avoid conflict is to ensure that societies have the minimum they need to live in peace and create prosperity.

Three parallel workshops took place on 24 January. In Workshop I on ‘Empowering women and youth for peace and sustainable development,’ speakers called to move “from voice to agency to leadership,” and highlighted that violent extremism could best be prevented by “countering exclusion.” Workshop II on ‘Managing Natural Resources for Peace and Sustainable Development’ considered the increasing role of resource scarcity, climate change and poverty as drivers of conflict. In Workshop III on ‘Strengthening transparent, inclusive, and accountable institutions,’ discussions highlighted inclusive institutions as the “golden thread” running through the 2030 Agenda.

Because of the high number of participants who wanted to take the floor, the plenary discussion continued on 25 January. Delivering closing remarks, President Thomson said he will work with the Presidents of the Security Council and ECOSOC, the UN Secretary-General and the incoming PBC Chair on ways to improve coherence and coordination of the UN’s peace, development and human rights efforts. Thomson also announced that a summary of the High-level Dialogue will be prepared as a contribution to preparations for a high-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace during the UNGA’s 72nd session. [UN Meeting Coverage 24 January] [UN Meeting Coverage 25 January] [Event Website] [UNGA President’s Opening Remarks] [UNGA President’s Closing Remarks] [UN Secretary-General’s Remarks] [Statements] [Concept Notes for Workshops] [IISD Sources]

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