Margot Wallström is no longer a government minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs
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Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
National Statement delivered by H.E. Ms Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden, at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, 25 April 2018, New York.
Thank you Mr President,
I will begin with some thanks to you Mr President and the Peruvian Presidency for hosting today's meeting and, to you, Secretary-General also for your statement; and Secretary-General, you know that you have our support, our full support.
Let me also thank our briefers, the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Mr. Dan Neculaescu, and of course African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the members of the Security Council for their participation in the Secretary-General's retreat at the estate of Dag Hammarskjöld at Backåkra last weekend. Thank you for taking the trouble to come.
Now, the 25th of April is a special day because we commemorate the pimpernel revolution, which ended dictatorship in Portugal, and colonial rule in many lusophone countries. It set Portugal on the path to European integration, joined by Spain and Greece.
Indeed, this example, which inspired a generation of Europeans, including me, compels us to reflect on the fabric of sustaining peace.
And fostering the same commitment to sustain peace, that inspired leaders following two devastating world wars, could hardly be more pressing. In 2016, more countries were affected by conflict than at any time in nearly 30 years. The types of security challenges have become more complex, and are often interrelated. Once ignited, such conflicts can take years to quench – requiring investments in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, resilience, peacebuilding and development. Not to mention the cost in human lives and human potential. This, if anything, provides a strong incentive for us to increase investments in prevention. Can we afford not to prevent conflicts?
The Secretary-General has made sustaining peace the overarching purpose of the reforms to the UN system and his follow-up report to the resolutions of 2016 offers a clear roadmap.
Now we must move to action.
So today, let me just shortly outline three core commitments that are needed to operationalise the Sustaining Peace agenda:
First: to boost equality and inclusive national ownership.
Multi-dimensional poverty, abuses and violations of human rights and growing inequality are challenges increasingly influencing the situations that appear on this Council's agenda. Addressing exclusion and structural discrimination is therefore critical for prevention.
Importantly, no peace is sustainable, just or legitimate if it shuts out half the population. The full and effective participation of women in peace and security is core Council business. Not for the sake of women, but for the sake of peace and security. Gender equality benefits all.
Likewise, violations and abuses of human rights erode trust within societies and are root causes of conflict. Human rights are not optional extras. Building inclusive societies requires states to abide by their obligations under international law, to respect, protect and promote all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
Second: improve early warning and commit to preventive action.
Within this Council we must establish a practice of early discussions on situations at risk of escalating into violent conflict, as we heard examples of before here, with a view to preventing them from emerging.
There are a number of tools at our disposal that would allow us to engage in early action and these include the Peacebuilding Commission, the Ad Hoc Working Group on conflict prevention and resolution, and the many informal meeting formats at the Council's disposal. We must utilise them.
We need independent, authoritative and candid advice from the Secretary-General based on comprehensive analysis. This includes analysis on new and emerging threats, such as climate change, in fact not new, that's true, but emerging to improve our collective understanding, strategic planning and response.
And thirdly, target drivers through collaborative action.
If conflicts have multiple drivers, then no single action alone can prevent them. Cross-pillar cooperation and a system-wide approach are essential. This means going beyond sharing individual country plans to being jointly accountable for delivering a common goal. It means true collaboration that delivers enhanced synergies and lead to results that are greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Furthermore, as we heard already, to enhance our partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations. They are the eyes and the ears on the ground, they understand their neighbours, and can intervene when we cannot.
The Peacebuilding Commission is a vehicle for collaborative action and partnerships. It is uniquely placed to convene international actors for coordinated and strategic responses for sustaining peace. So we can unlock the full potential of the Commission – for more informal and frequent interactions between the Council and the Commission. The catalytic role played by the Peacebuilding Fund has been extremely useful and Sweden therefore intends to double our support to the fund.
So Mr President,
In conclusion, preventing violent conflict is a Charter obligation. The sustaining peace approach allows us to improve this Council's ability to do its part in delivering on that responsibility. And today, we as Member States must play our part, by mustering the political will and wholeheartedly supporting the Secretary-General and his vision of putting conflict prevention at the centre of this organization.