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Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at the High-Level Meeting on Sustaining Peace

National statement delivered by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations General Assembly opening of the High-Level Meeting on Sustaining Peace, 24 April 2018, New York.

Mr President,

First of all thank you very much for bringing us together in this high-level meeting on Sustaining Peace. This week offers an excellent opportunity to advance this important agenda.

A significant breakthrough in the twin resolutions on Sustaining Peace in 2016, recognizing that efforts to sustain peace were necessary not only at the end of a conflict, but long beforehand, through the prevention of conflict and addressing its root causes.

The real test is to translate this into change on the ground. As we all know it requires continued strong political commitment at the highest level, from all countries, north and south, small and large.

I would like to outline three core cases, as I would like to call them, for operationalizing the 'Sustaining Peace' agenda:

First: The economic case: Invest in peace.
Second: A sovereignty case: Which means Prioritize inclusion.
And thirdly: The regional case. Support reform for prevention.

1. And if I start with The economic case for preventing violent conflicts it is undisputable. It can save up to tens of billions of dollars per year.

And that is reason enough to review our investment portfolios on peace and security. And what does it mean for the UN?

The financially largest part of the UN is the development system. The 2030 Agenda offers an integrated framework to address the economic and social drivers of conflict, and to build stable societies, including through focusing on institutions, human rights and the rule of law.
And to be agile and relevant in-country, we need to provide adequate, predictable and sustainable resources. Sweden is one of the largest contributors to UN development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. We are currently in the process of entering into multi-year agreements with the funds and programs, with continued ambitious and even increasing levels of Swedish core support.

Core funding is an investment in peace.

We should heed the Secretary-General's call for a quantum leap in the Peacebuilding Fund.

This year, we intend to contribute approximately 24 million US dollars to the fund. Sweden will more than double its core support in 2018, with an increase of approximately 12 million US dollars. We are examining the possibility of having a multi-year funding agreement with the fund.

2. The second case has to do with fighting inequality. In the 1970's, Sweden's then Prime Minister, Olof Palme, told the General Assembly that "equality within nations is a prerequisite for equality between them". And I think that still rings true. Building inclusive societies is fundamental for sustaining peace.

And therefor, equality must be at the forefront of our efforts. Exclusion and discrimination are root causes of conflict that are often overlooked. We have to address all dimensions of inequality. This includes frank discussion about discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and income inequalities as well as other mechanisms of oppression.

Investments in capacity and legitimate national institutions, can also bring strengthened sovereignty. Sustaining peace and avoiding a relapse into conflict entails reaching inclusive political solutions and addressing the root causes of conflict.

That is why we have heard already, several of the before speakers before me have said the same thing, empowering women, youth and children is critical for sustaining peace, and indeed core peace and security business.

Harnessing their potential increases the resilience of all societies – and benefits all, women and men, girls and boys. Investing in youth and children today, prevents the conflicts of tomorrow.

3. Finally, advancing the sustaining peace agenda requires political will. We must be open to change.

The beneficiaries of our work are not in NY, but at country-level. And my country therefore fully supports the principles for reform articulated by the Secretary-General: a country-level and people-centered perspective, gender parity, decentralized responsibility and decision-making, and reformed budget procedures.

Key to push coherence and avoid fragmentation is an impartial, independent and empowered UN resident coordinator; driving implementation of a UN development assistance framework that can rally all members of a UN country team to accompany national efforts on Agenda 2030. I call on fellow Member States to go the extra mile in the current negotiations on the UN Development System, particularly on the financing aspects.

A stronger coordination between development, humanitarian and conflict prevention efforts in the field is so important.

Lastly, the UN cannot – and should not – do it alone. Partnerships at the regional and sub-regional levels for early warning and conflict prevention have proved invaluable. ECOWAS is a case in point. Their well-developed infrastructure should be sustainably supported.

Mr President,

In conclusion, we Member States carry an immense responsibility. That responsibility is to turn the promise of Sustaining Peace into a reality that touches the lives of those living under the shadow of conflict and violence. However, peace is never inevitable. It is clear –that if we want peace, we must prepare for peace.