By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) - Out of the 54 African States, only eight have not experienced armed or violent conflict since they achieved independence between the 1950 and 1980s, Carlos Lopes, Executive Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) told a joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).
Because of the interrelated nature of Africa’s economy, a conflict in one State had economic costs for neighbouring countries, he told the joint meeting on June 24 in New York.
Conflict-affected countries in Africa, therefore, needed strong support to meet the Goals of the 2030 Agenda. Lopes stressed the need for renewed multilateralism despite a global gridlock in multinational negotiations and how to handle different crises.
“The United Nations should invest in peace and bring development to communities rather than spend 75 per cent of its budget addressing conflict. Furthermore, its silos must be broken down, including among the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs,” said Ambassador Juan Sandoval Mendiolea, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN in New York.
Sustained commitment was needed to implement all the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustaining peace concepts and goals must be clearly set out in the quadrennial comprehensive policy review. The Secretariat must adapt to the 2030 Agenda, not the other way around, he stressed.
Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Gillian Bird said the 2030 Agenda and the resolutions on sustaining peace adopted in April must be high on the programme of Member States and the next United Nations Secretary-General.
At its heart, sustaining peace was about building societies where all people could prosper. The challenge of implementation belonged to everyone; the entire Organization must be involved and its silos must be broken down.
Yet, the United Nations delivering as one was “more rhetoric than reality at present”. A coherent, integrated approach was crucial for implementation. “If people are more worried about defending turf […] it won’t work,” she said. Funding must drive cohesion rather than increase fragmentation. She also commended Sweden and Sri Lanka for their intention to hold a pledging conference on sustaining peace.
Annika Söder, State Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, also stressed the need to break down silos at the UN and for member states to act coherently across their own systems to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
With this in view, she said, the Prime Minister of Sweden had formed a group of Prime Ministers worldwide to continue to inspire local, national and international implementation of the 2030 Agenda. More resources – particularly core funding and assessed contributions – were needed for peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
United Nations agencies and programmes must stop competing with each other for funds. Sustaining peace was not just an exercise for Africa; fighting El Niño and criminality in Latin America, and ensuring early warning in Europe were also important. She urged everyone to overcome the divide between peace and security issues and humanitarian and development concerns.
Addressing the meeting devoted to the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace’, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson emphasized the strong relationship between the 2030 Agenda and the peacekeeping resolutions approved in April 2016 by the General Assembly and the Security Council.
Complex tasks cannot be compartmentalized. “If problems are connected, then solutions must be, as well. It’s a simple as that,” he said, stating how peace and security, development and human rights were mutually reinforcing.
The UN system needed to work collectively as one in order to support member states to meet the targets they had set. Such work should cover development, human rights, peace and humanitarian issues, with the goal of achieving collective outcomes, Eliasson said.
“The Sustainable Development Goals will, in my view, not be reached if we are not able to sustain peace,” nor could peace be sustained without addressing the drivers that were related to achieving the Goals, he added.
Requests for more resources and increased coordination were not enough, he added, calling for coherent institutional responses across the three pillars of sustainable development, as well as a change of mindset.
The United Nations presence on the ground should aim to respond to the challenges set by the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace resolutions. Adequate resources were needed to invest in sustaining peace before, during and after conflict, as well as coherent support from the leadership of all parts of the UN system.
Ambassador Oh Joon, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea and current President of the Economic and Social Council, said that while Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies was relevant to the peacebuilding agenda, sustaining peace was critical for achieving all the Goals.
As conflict and unrest could reverse development gains, everyone must work together to help countries emerging from conflict implement commitments through support to address immediate challenges, build institutions and develop human resources. In that regard, close collaboration between the Council and the Commission was imperative, he said, noting that moving forward the Council would benefit from lessons from the Commission.
Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, who chairs the Peacebuilding Commission, agreed that all the Sustainable Development Goals were important in conflict-affected countries, not just Goal 16, and many were related to violent conflict. Goal 10 on inequalities, Goal 8 on jobs and Goals 12, 14 and 15 on natural resource management were also critically important to addressing the root causes of conflict.
The Commission should support the General Assembly, Council and the High-Level Political Forum in their follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda, focusing on progress in conflict-affected countries.
Furthermore, said Kamau, the Council and the Commission should hold a regular dialogue to promote coherence between the United Nations peace and security efforts and its development, human rights and humanitarian work. And they could review good practices in addressing the root causes of conflict, preventing it and how the United Nations development system had integrated sustaining peace into its planning frameworks and activities.
Shedding light on the negotiations to develop Goal 16, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, David Donoghue, said among the innovative ideas put forth was the prominence given to the rule of law. Accountability, transparency and many other factors were also central.
The range of items to be covered was extensive. A key to the consensus reached was the focus on issues affecting men and women on the street, such as violence, corruption, bribery, poor governance and lack of transparency, which were widespread in many societies and needed to be tackled as a whole. Once they were addressed, consensus would be possible, said. [IDN-InDepthNews – 26 June 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo: Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson (left) and Macharia Kamau, Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission at the joint meeting of ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
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