REMARKS TO THE PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION ON
THE NEW AGENDA FOR PEACE
New York, 30 JANUARY 2023
It is a pleasure to join you today on behalf of the Secretary-General.
I am delighted that this Commission is meeting to discuss how the New Agenda for Peace can help advance the peacebuilding and sustaining peace.
When the Secretary-General presented his report on “Our Common Agenda” in 2021, he gave Member States a candid diagnosis of the entrenched challenges we face.
As he said then, “on almost every front, our world is under enormous stress”.
His proposal to write a New Agenda for Peace was a direct response – a recognition that we must revitalize our collective security system and our multilateral action for peace.
Unfortunately, the global peace and security environment has deteriorated – even since the release of the report.
Divisions among Member States are deepening. They are reducing our collective ability to address common threats and seize opportunities for cooperation. At the same time, pressures on the most vulnerable in this world continue to grow. The rise in food and energy prices, due in large part to the war in Ukraine, are compounding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is lagging.
The Secretary-General has often and vividly pointed out the dangers of a world of increasing inequality.
The global architecture to manage disagreements and de-escalate conflicts has become weaker. Longstanding commitments, particularly in the areas of nuclear disarmament and strategic stability have eroded. These are significant concerns. They heighten the threat of miscalculation and escalation, and they have potentially devastating global consequences.
There is no question that this is a difficult time to talk about a New Agenda for Peace. We are under no illusions. And yet, challenging as this task might be, it could not be more vital.
The original Agenda for Peace was issued in 1992. As then, we are at an inflection point – like the early 1990s though, there is today less optimism and greater uncertainty about what the transition into a new era may bring.
The New Agenda for Peace presents a unique opportunity to take stock and change course. It will seek to articulate a unifying vision to help reforge the commitment of Member States to the collective security system and the values of the United Nations Charter.
From our perspective, three core values should cut across the New Agenda for Peace: trust, solidarity, and universality. These go to the heart of many of the problems we see today, including a deep sense of alienation felt by many people in institutions and public life.
We are grateful for the many contributions we received from Member States – as well as regional organizations and civil society – to inform the thinking around the New Agenda for Peace. There is clearly a broad consensus on many of the challenges we face, even if there are differences on how they can best be addressed.
Many Member States highlighted conflict prevention and peacebuilding as their priority. These objectives will be at the heart of the New Agenda for Peace.
Yes, we need greater investments, both political and financial to prevent conflict and sustain peace. And achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is vital.
But we also need new approaches with prevention, violence reduction and peacebuilding as universal goals, for each Member State to pursue. Indeed, national efforts are central to sustain peace. We must support such efforts to the best of our ability.
The New Agenda for Peace will also explore the prominent role of regional actors in peace and security and the need to strengthen, rebuild or develop frameworks that promote regional security cooperation.
It will call for Member States to adopt new norms, regulations and accountability mechanisms to strengthen the multilateral system in areas where gaps have emerged.
It will look at how the diplomatic toolbox of the Charter, in particular the approaches highlighted in Chapter VI on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes, must be used to its full potential.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative demonstrates once again the unique and important role of the United Nations, working in tandem with Member States, in brokering solutions to global challenges. We must continue to build on the ability the Organization to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of the time.
The New Agenda for Peace must place inclusion at its centre. It must focus on how women’s full, meaningful and effective political participation are closely connected to our efforts to prevent conflict and build sustainable peace.
Simply put, without half the population participating and deciding, there cannot be sustainable peace.
Recognizing that young people will live their entire lives with the consequences of the decisions we make today, the New Agenda for Peace will also look into strengthening the meaningful inclusion of youth across all areas of peace and security.
The contributions this Commission makes to advance our efforts to avert conflict and build peace are invaluable.
We have heard this in many of our informal consultations so far. How the Commission can become even more effective is a question which I know is of utmost importance to you, too. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on recommendations the New Agenda for Peace might make to support the role, functions and enhancement of the Peacebuilding Commission.
We welcome the expansion of the Peacebuilding Commission’s geographical and thematic engagements as well as the continued emphasis on inclusive approaches in support of national peacebuilding initiatives.
Helping countries build more inclusive societies, based on trust, social cohesion, and human rights, requires a coherent approach. It means addressing all drivers of conflict, from the adverse effects of climate change to weak governance and human rights challenges.
The Commission’s convening role remains instrumental in bringing the UN system and its partners together, as we recently saw in meetings with ECOSOC, with regional development banks, and in various country and regional engagements.
It has also been encouraging to see how the Commission increasingly facilitates the sharing of experiences across regions. A recent meeting with Timor Leste, for example, provided valuable insights into the country’s transition and peacebuilding process, which other States might wish to consider as they navigate their own challenges.
The unanimous support for the General Assembly resolution on financing for peacebuilding last September provided a clear signal: Member States recognize the wisdom of investing in prevention and peacebuilding.
Now it is in their power to bring this process to a successful conclusion.
We have a moral obligation to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war in the words of the UN Charter and chart a path through these uncertain times.
And so, we must accelerate our work to revitalize multilateral action and uphold that promise. The Peacebuilding Commission is at the heart of these efforts.
Thank you very much.