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Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at ministerial debate in the Security Council on conflict prevention and sustaining peace
Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at ministerial debate in the Security Council on conflict prevention and sustaining peace. Check against delivery.
Thank you for reminding us of the achievements of the United Nations over the last 70 years, and for laying out your vision of a UN equipped to respond to the conflicts and instability that today affect the lives of millions.
A close and proactive working relationship between the Secretary-General and the Council is the cornerstone of this organisation's ability to deliver lasting peace and security. We look forward to forging a strong and trusting relationship with you, not least to improve the UN's capacity to take early action to prevent violent conflict.
We have discussed conflict prevention, today's topic, many times before in this Chamber. But progress is meager. I will speak about how this needs to change.
Mr. Secretary-General, Fellow members of the Council,
2016 exposed the urgent need for a global recommitment to multilateral solutions to conflict and to collaborative security – and specifically to the prevention of conflict. The horror in Syria and Yemen, and situations such as the instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dominate this Council's work. Can we afford an ever-growing list of crises slipping into violent conflict and needless human misery?
UN's humanitarian and peacekeeping instruments have come under immense pressure. 22.2 billion USD in humanitarian appeals. Over 100,000 UN peacekeepers. Meanwhile, research shows that measures to peacefully prevent conflict cost, on average, just a tenth of post-conflict recovery efforts. Investing in prevention is not only morally right. It is the smart, economically sound and sustainable thing to do.
Prevention requires addressing the root causes of conflict and instability before they reach the front pages or this Council's agenda. It calls for inclusive nationally led processes that build strong institutions; and that are supported by a 'whole of organisation' commitment. The Sustaining Peace agenda, together with the Sustainable Development Goals, provides the platform and the master plan.
At the same time, Chapter VI of the Charter, on pacific settlement of disputes, requires the parties to a dispute to seek solutions through peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation or judicial settlement.
We have the tools. What we need now is a new political consensus in support of prevention.
Let me highlight some areas for priority actions that can underpin it:
Firstly, make prevention a priority for the whole UN system. Hold each entity accountable for its part in contributing. Ensure that the UN works closely with other international, regional and sub-regional actors. A good example is the current joint efforts, by ECOWAS and the UN Regional Office for West Africa and the Sahel, regarding The Gambia.
Secondly, improve the capacity of the United Nations to recognise and address the root causes and drivers of conflict by working together across the UN system's pillars, mandates and agencies. In this regard, we are encouraged by the concrete steps you have already taken, Secretary-General, to make the Secretariat work more efficiently.
Thirdly, improve system-wide analysis and welcome independent, authoritative advice from the Secretary-General, including on new and emerging threats and risks, such as climate change, to improve our collective strategic planning and response. Tell us what we need to know, not what we want to hear.
Fourthly, harness the agency of women to create sustainable peace through inclusive processes. Experiences shared through a network of female peace mediators that I have initiated, confirm the importance of inclusiveness.
Finally, recognise, in the words of the Secretary-General, that there can be no humanitarian solution for a political crisis. Humanitarian action can never be a substitute for political dialogue and mediation.
We should heed the Secretary-General's call for a "surge in diplomacy for peace".
In order to do so, Sweden commits to contributing to a Security Council that empowers the Secretary-General to take timely, decisive and effective action to resolve disputes and prevent conflicts before they begin.
I hope that other Council members can join us in adopting this approach. We will do our utmost to create an atmosphere of open, respectful and honest dialogue around this table.
We have heard your call for effective conflict prevention. We know that for you to be effective, you need the political support of Member States.
We therefore commit to a new consensus on prevention. We commit to overcome our differences in pursuit of the common good.
We owe this to the United Nations and to our constituencies.
We owe it to the people and nations of the world.
Let us resolve to put peace first.