Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Contemporary Drivers of Conflict and Insecurity - Security Council Open VTC

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03-Nov-2020 02:52:06
Integrated approach to peacebuilding, development urgently needed as climate change, COVID-19 pandemic aggravate cross-border conflict, speakers warn Security Council.

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As COVID-19 and climate change exacerbate poverty and other drivers of conflict, it is ever more urgent that security, development and human rights be addressed in an integrated manner, speakers told the Security Council today in a video-teleconferenced open debate.

“Conflict, climate change and stalled progress on development reinforce each other, but, too often, our efforts to address them are fragmented,” United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said as she opened the meeting, which also featured briefings by Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD); Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies; and Munir Akram (Pakistan), President of the Economic and Social Council.

The meeting was presided over by Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which holds November’s presidency and proposed the topic, drawing Council members attention to a related concept note (document S/2020/1064).

Ms. Mohammed said that COVID-19 is exacerbating cross-border insecurity, social unrest and democratic deficits. Grievances and inequalities are deepening, eroding trust in authorities and institutions of all kinds, increasing vulnerabilities and stoking violent extremism. Along with climate change, the pandemic is also reversing development progress and peacebuilding gains, aggravating conflicts, undermining efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and having a devasting impact on human rights and gender inequalities.

Building and sustaining peace requires addressing evolving causes as they interact with other ills in an intensive and coherent manner which has yet to be pursued, she said. The pandemic has shown, however, that rapid change to such an approach is possible, as millions of people adopt new ways of working, learning and socializing. Quoting the vision of the presidency of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for the debate, she said: “A better post-COVID-19 world remains within our reach.” This requires building back better and abandoning the failed, fragmented frameworks that allowed the creation of the fragilities and inequalities that are now being worsened by the pandemic.

Recovery from COVID-19, she said, must prioritize resilient, inclusive and accountable institutions that foster the rule of law, good governance, gender equality, environmental sustainability and human rights. Partnerships, including with international financial institutions, will be more important than ever. At the same time, recovery must also put in place solutions to prevent and protect communities from climate-related causes of conflict.

At the United Nations, a “whole‑of‑UN” approach is required, she said. The review of the peacebuilding architecture and the Secretary General’s reforms have strengthened the Organization’s focus on prevention. She welcomed, in that regard, the attention devoted by the Security Council to contemporary drivers of conflict, including a resolution supporting the Secretary-General’s call for an immediate COVID-19 ceasefire. “We must put all our energies into fighting our common enemy: the virus,” she said, seconding that call. She underlined the need to expedite investment in prevention and to focus more on conflict risks “at a time when the world needs peace and calm more than ever before”.

In his presentation, Mr. Mayaki said that West Africa’s population has grown by 72 per cent over the last 20 years and is expected to double by 2050. Two thirds of the increase will occur in cities. In Niger, the number of communities of 10,000 to 50,000 people has increased from 40 in 2010 to 84 today. The capacity of States to provide public services will however remain low as the populations continue to grow, he said, pointing out that, in Mali, there is one doctor for every 10,000 people, and one hospital for 500,000 people.

Added to these structural problems is insecurity, he said, emphasizing: “Peace, security and development are inextricably linked.” He added that the Sahel region is witnessing an outbreak of insecurity, negatively impacting civilian populations, with the number of people displaced by armed violence surpassing 1 million in Burkina Faso, about 5 per cent of the total population. Cross-border areas, such as Liptako-Gourma and the Lake Chad Basin — home to a large part of the West African population — are already strongly integrated socioeconomically. They are also vulnerable to insecurity, with 40 per cent of violent acts taking place within 50 kilometres of a border. The Sahel has also been experiencing extreme weather events, he said, pointing to floods in Niger. The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged millions more people into dire food insecurity. More than 82 million jobs could be directly affected by mobility restrictions amid the pandemic, he warned, noting that these preventive health measures have altered the livelihoods of workers in the informal sector.

“All of these factors are dependent on each other,” he said, pointing out that possible solutions exist, including mounting structural responses to eradicate chronic food vulnerability, supporting the informal agricultural sector as a primary driver for development, and fostering regional cooperation and using border strategies as policy levers. Solutions also include strengthening the nexus between humanitarian aid, development and peace; supporting initiatives to adapt to climate change and the development of warning systems; safeguarding jobs and livelihoods during and after the COVID-19 crisis; and formulating gender‑sensitive recovery policies in the face of the pandemic. To better understand the dynamics of conflict drivers and articulate public policies and international strategies, he underscored the need to produce and use data. It is imperative to put data at the heart of action to stem “downward spiral”, meet the needs of immense populations and restore peace in the Sahel and West Africa.

Mr. Beckles, for his part, said that the global community faces a defining moment in human history. The modern world came into being packaged with many progressive ideas, but also plagued with inhumane actions on a global scale. For 500 years, the Caribbean region was the global theatre for Western imperial warfare and competitive militarism. Now, however, it is a culture of peace, stability and achievement of democracy “that stands aloft as an ideal crafted from the rubble of colonialism,” he said. The Caribbean is determined to be the freest region in the world, celebrating the global industry of tourism.

Stressing the primacy of the twenty-first century movement for reparatory justice against institutional racism, he said that call for social justice, atonement and conciliation is “the inevitable logic of modernity’s history.” This is essential for healing the wounds inflicted on the people of Africa and their descendants, the global black enslavement and colonization which poisoned the world with the toxin of racism. “There is no carpet in the world big enough to hide these legacies in their current manifestations,” he said, adding that Caribbean leaders recently called for a global summit with the Governments of European countries to discuss and resolve matters that inhibit peaceful development. While reparations address development, he said the twenty-first century has been an “age of apology”, without a commitment to those reparations. The Caribbean is the core constituency advocating reparations with justice, which is both politically and legally sound. He called on the Council to acknowledge the global reparatory movement, adding that while most crimes against humanity were committed in past, the current century will be one of peace and justice.

Mr. Akram, in the final briefing of the morning, noted that the Charter of the United Nations provides for all branches of the Organization to help create the conditions required for peace and stability. The failure of collective and cooperative efforts to bring about global security thus far, he said, could be attributed to the cold war, a decolonialization process that did not redress inequalities and the prioritization of mercantilism in the international system. Most disputes addressed by the Security Council can be traced to inequalities and a struggle for resources, he observed. These elements will be magnified now that the world economy is contracting due to the pandemic. The poorest countries will suffer the most and are struggling to mobilize the resources they need to avoid collapse, which will further fan conflict.

In that context, he said, the international community must mobilize in a way it has never done to erase gross inequalities. Immediate measures should include the suspension of debt payments by developing countries at least until the end of the pandemic crisis, debt restructuring in general, fulfilment of official development assistance (ODA) commitments and the issuance of new sustainable development financial tools. The opportunity to build back better from the pandemic must be firmly seized. Structural reforms must be accompanied by an end to illicit financial flows and trade restrictions that disfavour developing countries, as well as by granting access to latest technologies. Political will for such efforts is necessary to address the existential threat of climate change and to enable developing countries to play a critical role. He stressed that never in human history has survival depended so much on international cooperation, adding that the role of the United Nations has never been more critical, in the necessary shift to an equitable and sustainable global order.

Following those briefings, Security Council members took the floor, affirming the links between peacebuilding and other United Nations concerns, and calling for all challenges to be addressed in an integrated, coherent way. Most speakers underlined the deep impact of evolving crises such as COVID-19 and climate change, advocating that the response to both be bolstered in a way that acknowledges the connection to all other challenges. Many also pointed to different priority areas in the peacebuilding nexus that needed to be addressed most urgently, including human rights violations, competition for scarce resources, deterioration of food security, illicit exploitation of natural resources, governance issues and the effect of “bad actors”, respectively.

Most speakers also affirmed the need to strengthen multilateral cooperation to meet complex challenges effectively, with the United Nations playing a major role. At the same time, the representative of the Russian Federation underlined the need for each entity of the Organization to take the lead in its respective field, with the Council focusing on its mandate in international peace and security.

As the meeting was an open debate in the video-teleconference format, Member States not on the Council who wished to make statements submitted written versions for inclusion into the meeting record.

For further details please see SOURCE below.
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s Remarks
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