Remarks by Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari at the Security Council High-Level Debate on “Peace through Dialogue: the Contribution of Regional, Subregional and Bilateral Arrangements to the Prevention and Peaceful Resolution of disputes”
New York, 20 October 2023
I would like to express my gratitude to Brazil for hosting this important open debate.
Today the stakes for preventive diplomacy and dialogue could not be higher.
The dangerous and escalating situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory is a bitter reminder of the urgent need for an end to the horrific violence, an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and a pathway to negotiations towards a just, lasting and comprehensive political solution. Absent a negotiated two-state solution, this vicious cycle of violence risks plunging the entire region into conflict for years and generations to come.
The world has entered a new era. The post-Cold War period is over anda transition is underway to a new global order.
As history teaches us, transition periods come with heightened risks.
This new era is already marked by deepening divisions and retrenchment. Geopolitical tensions are at their highest in decades.
Contestation and competion among States is increasingly testing the boundaries set in the United Nations Charter.
The ensuing loss of trust – and the risks of escalation – affect almost all regions.
At the same time, many States are skeptical, and have been for some time, of how the multilateral system is working for them.
They have profound grievances regarding unmet commitments and double standards. Women and men everywhere also have a deep sense that Governments and international organizations are failing to deliver for them.
With increasing geopolitical strife and challenges to international norms, negotiated settlements of conflicts have been harder to achieve. Pursuit of military solutions has sadly been a prominent feature of recent conflicts for which the civilians are paying a heavy toll.
The deterioration of global and regional arms control frameworks and crisis management protocols which had helped stabilize great power rivalities has increased the possibility of dangerous standoffs, miscalculations and escalation.
In some regions, polarized global politics are mirrored in the unravelling of integration efforts that had previously contributed to regional stability for decades.
Against this backdrop, the Secretary-General’s policy brief on A New Agenda for Peace outlines how Member States can take action to re-engage, de-escalate, recommit to diplomacy for peace, and rebuild trust.
The driving force for a more effective collective security system must be diplomacy.
Diplomacy requires risk-taking, persistence and creativity.
Diplomatic engagement is important among countries that think alike. But it is crucial between those that disagree.
Diplomacy demands, above all else, a commitment to the pacific settlement of disputes.
Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter prescribes that all States shall rely on peaceful means as their first option to resolve disputes. It offers a range of options to address our differences within the framework of this Council, within our respective regions, or bilaterally.
Adherence to the principles set out in the United Nations Charter remains an essential precondition.
It is our collective obligation under international law to prevent and resolve armed conflict.
Regional organizations and frameworks have a critical role to play in this regard.
They can bring credibility and legitimacy for preventive diplomacy. They can help increase trust and reduce misperceptions. And, they can enhance mechanisms for crisis management.
In the face of growing competition at the global level and increasingly transnational threats, regional frameworks and organizations can offer avenues for trust-building and détente.
Regional actions have successfully prevented conflicts and escalation throughout recent history.
Not all lessons are transferrable from one region to another, but their essence is important:
How to initiate dialogue to overcome differences – and seek assistance of a trusted intermediary when needed, sometimes from within the region and sometimes from outside.
How to ensure that channels of communication remain open even when the disputes escalate into violence.
How to take account of the fears and concerns of one’s rival and actively work to reduce these by building frameworks that enhance trust.
Strengthening, building or re-building regional frameworks and organizations is particularly important in regions where long-standing security architectures are collapsing or mired in stalemate – or where they have never existed.
We also need strong partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations.
As A New Agenda for Peace recognizes, the Member States of the United Nations have the responsibility – and the means – to meet the shared obligations entrusted to them by the United Nations Charter.
The good offices of the Secretary-General, and his envoys, remains at your disposal – not only as a tool to prevent and mediate conflict, but as an impartial vehicle to bring Member States together to seek mutually acceptable solutions. Good offices can help manage and reverse the deterioration of global and regional relations.
It is also the responsibility of the United Nations Secretariat to put forth proposals that can help enhance trust and increase space for cooperation.
A shared understanding of challenges is an essential prerequisite to agreeing on potential solutions.
That is why A New Agenda for Peace aimed to provide a unifying analysis of the current geopolitical moment as the basis for joint problem-solving.
It is our duty to seize every moment to forge a common understanding of the threats and challenges before us.
The impartiality of the Secretariat is vital. An impartial Secretariat can help forge common ground between States or conflict parties, even in the most complex of circumstances, and assist decision-making in Security Council with analysis that takes into account divergent perspectives around this table.
In this increasingly divided world we need at least one institution in which all can trust.
We cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in search of avenues for de-escalation and trust-building.
For this to work, we need courage to listen to the views of others and consider them in good faith. Regional frameworks and institutions play a key bridge-building conduit in this regard.
I commend them and all those that expend tireless efforts every day in pursuit of building bridges across divides.
At a time of heightened tensions, it is our shared responsibility to do everything in our power to maintain the system of collective security that our predecessors built.
Thank you, President.