7857th Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of International Peace and Security - Part 1

Preview Language:   English
SIX OFFICIAL 10-Jan-2017 02:34:23
The Secretary-General, in his first address to the Security Council since taking office, sets restoring trust and preventing crises as United Nations priorities, at 7857th meeting.
Six Official
Other Formats
The international community could avoid conflicts by restoring trust between Governments and their citizens on the one hand, and amongst Member States on the other, Secretary-General António Guterres said today while addressing his first Security Council open debate since taking office.

Noting that the international focus had for decades been largely on responding to conflict, he emphasized that more must be done to prevent war and sustain peace. “People are paying too high a price,” he said. “You, the Member States, are paying too high a price. We need a whole new approach.”

Opening the day-long high-level debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace, he emphasized that it had proven “very difficult” to persuade decision makers to make prevention their priority, although the rule-based international order under which the United Nations had been established was under grave threat. “We must rebalance our approach to peace and security,” he stressed.

He went on to state that the reforms he intended to set in motion aimed to achieve that goal. “I have started with the decision-making processes in the Secretariat,” he said, drawing attention to the newly established Executive Committee and to the appointment of a Special Adviser on Policy.

Warning that it took very little to trigger a crisis that could engulf a country or a region, with global consequences, he pointed out that, while the causes of crisis were deeply interlinked, the United Nations response remained fragmented. Crises required the international community to connect global efforts for peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, he said, reiterating that the primary work of conflict prevention lay with Member States.

“Too many prevention opportunities have been lost because Member States mistrusted each other’s motives, and because of concerns over national sovereignty,” he noted. “I stand ready to foster a more trusting relationship and to improve communications with the Council, with consistency, candour and transparency,” he pledged, adding that he would launch an initiative to enhance United Nations mediation capacity and support regional and national efforts to that end.

International cooperation for prevention, and particularly translating early warning into early action, depended on trust between Member States, and in their relations with the United Nations, he emphasized, pledging: “I stand ready to foster a more trusting relationship and to improve communications with the Council, with consistency, candour and transparency.” However, there was a need to avoid double standards, he said, while emphasizing “that does not mean that there are no standards at all”.

Prevention must consistently be seen as a value in itself, and an essential means of reducing human suffering and enabling people to reach their full potential. “Preventive action is essential to avert mass atrocities or grave abuses of human rights.” Disagreements about the past could not be allowed to prevent action, he said, underlining the need to collectively demonstrate leadership and strengthen the authority and credibility of the United Nations by putting peace first. War was never inevitable, but was always a matter of choice to exclude, discriminate, marginalize or resort to violence, he said. Peace, too, was never inevitable, but the result of difficult decisions, hard work and compromise. “We should never take it for granted, but should prize and nurture it in every country, at every time.”

Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Council President for January, asked: “Can we afford an ever-growing list of crises slipping into violent conflict and needless human misery?” Investing in prevention was not only morally right, but also the smart, economically sound and sustainable thing to do, she emphasized. The international community had sufficient tools but needed a new political consensus in support of prevention, she added.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Kazakhstan, Italy, Ethiopia, France, United Kingdom, Japan, Ukraine, Uruguay, China, Russian Federation, Egypt, Segegal and Bolivia.
Personal Subjects
Parent ID
Asset ID