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"Prevention saves lives and safeguards development gains," tells USG DiCarlo

Remarks by USG DiCarlo at the Security Council Open Debate on

“Promoting Conflict Prevention - Empowering All Actors Including

Women and Youth”

New York, 13 March 2024

Mr. President,

I would like to express my gratitude to Japan for hosting this important open debate.

The prevention of conflict – “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” – is the very purpose for which the United Nations was founded.

We are witnessing an upsurge in armed conflict around the world, with the highest number of conflict-related deaths in three decades.

Humanitarian needs continue to break new records, and far outpace our ability to meet them.

We need more prevention.

Prevention saves lives and safeguards development gains. It is cost effective.

Prevention is a central priority in the Secretary-General’s policy brief on A New Agenda for Peace, on three levels:

First, the prevention of conflict at the international level – to guard against the onset and escalation of violent conflict among countries.

Second, the need for stronger global-regional partnerships, given the increasingly regionalized nature of conflict and the importance of regional actors.

Third, the prevention of conflict within countries – to shore up development gains, protect advancements in human rights, and help guard against the impacts of global shocks.

Mr. President,

At the international level, the Charter of the United Nations provides a clear direction. Its first Article refers to the obligation to “take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace”.

For nearly 80 years, the United Nations has given the world a home for dialogue.

Chapter VI of the Charter enshrines the mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of disputes – from the judicial dimension of prevention provided by the International Court of Justice to arbitration, negotiation and mediation.

Ultimately, at the international level, prevention is about the use of diplomacy for peace.

As the Secretary-General noted in A New Agenda for Peace, all sides must prioritize diplomacy – especially countries that disagree – to bridge the growing divides in the world, and to ensure that unmitigated competition does not trample humanity.

The good offices of the Secretary-General can play a critical role in this regard.

In A New Agenda for Peace, the Secretary-General reiterated his commitment to deploying his good offices to help Member States manage deepening divisions in global politics.

Mr. President,

Regional arrangements and organizations are crucial to prevention.

They can bring credibility and legitimacy to diplomatic efforts, increase trust and provide mechanisms for crisis management.

Regional actions have successfully prevented conflicts and escalation throughout history, as was the case with the Helsinki Process in Europe as well as regional integration efforts in Africa and its subregions.

The United Nations Regional Offices in Central Africa, West Africa and the Sahel, and Secretary-General’s Special Envoys for the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes all work closely with regional counterparts, helping to resolve issues that transcend borders, such as farmer-herder disputes.

Mr. President,

Prevention begins at the national level. 

National actors have the ability to build the necessary mechanisms to manage disputes peacefully in their societies, and to enact the structural reforms needed to address the underlying drivers of conflict.

A New Agenda for Peace recognizes that prevention must be approached as a universal goal. Every single country, whether rich or poor, has an obligation to address the drivers of conflict in its own society, and to make the necessary political and financial investments to that end.

We have seen countries successfully invest in national infrastructures for peace. Such initiatives play a key role in building societies that are more inclusive and able to manage tensions peacefully.

International actors, in particular the United Nations, can play an important role in supporting these national efforts.

Through the Joint UNDP-DPPA Programme on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention, we provide such support to dozens of countries.

The Peacebuilding Commission is ideally placed to bring international actors together in support of national priorities, helping marshal resources, and providing a platform for experience sharing.

We note with great appreciation the increasing engagement by Member States who have come to the Peacebuilding Commission to show how they are advancing peacebuilding goals in their societies.

For example, Timor-Leste has spoken at the PBC of its peacebuilding journey and reflected on efforts to address challenges such as economic development and women and youth empowerment.

Canada, Colombia and Norway have shared their experiences in promoting indigenous voices in peace and reconciliation processes. These cross-regional experiences demonstrate the universal nature of prevention.

Mr. President,

A New Agenda for Peace places inclusion at the centre of prevention efforts. 

It focuses on how women’s full, meaningful and effective participation is closely connected to our efforts to prevent conflict and build sustainable peace. 

Simply put, without half the population participating in decision-making, there cannot be sustainable peace.

But almost 25 years after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325, women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in building peace and preventing conflict remains the exception, not the rule.

Women must be able to exercise their full rights – they must be able to generate their livelihoods and participate in the economy; have access to education, health, and legal protections; and enjoy safety and security, online as well as offline.

The Women, Peace and Security Agenda can only be fully realised through national action.

Over a hundred countries from all regions have developed national plans to implement Security Council resolution 1325. We commend them for their leadership and call on others to join them.

It is essential that international support is made available for these efforts.

For our part, we have supported Women’s Advisory Groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to enable women’s voices to be heard in political and peace processes.

We must also prioritize inclusion and empowerment of youth. They are a great source of resilience, hope and innovation in every society.

To achieve this, we have increasingly deployed new technologies to organize digital consultations with youth constituencies. These dialogues have helped us better understand their views and aspirations, and to reflect them in our work.

Mr. President,

We have an  obligation to chart a path through these uncertain times by prioritizing the prevention of conflict at all levels, global, regional and national.

Thank you.