"Building Sustainable Peace for all: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace"
New York, 24 January 2017
I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly for organizing this timely high level dialogue on such a pressing and actual topic and I welcome the PGA’s statement this morning, as well as the ones made by the Secretary-General, the President of the Security Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and the President of the ECOSOC. This displays the kind of close, proactive and effective institutional dialogue and cooperation, so much needed when dealing with deeply interlinked issues within the United Nations.
My statement is fully aligned with the one earlier delivered by the European Union.
No one, no longer questions the assertion that sustainable development cannot be achieved without peace and security and that peace and security are at risk without sustainable development. We went through a long way to get where we are now in this regard. In recent years there have been long and in depth discussions and negotiations brainstorming everyone; it all led to fresh and good agreements on peacekeeping, on peacebuilding, on Women, Peace and Security, on sustainable development, on climate change. The challenge to tackle now is implementation and implementation should happen in an integrated and comprehensive manner. How will it all work out, how successful it will be for the sake of a globally saver, more developed, equal and sustainable world, is totally depending on us as member States, on the UN and on all relevant international actors. The challenge at stake is high, but we must have it clear that ultimately human dignity and preservation of the humanity depends on the success of rightly implementing the vision agreed.
We see it now as the time to build on the momentum created to the 71st General Assembly, and its theme “The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World”, could not be more appropriate. We have a unique and remarkable opportunity to make the difference, by effectively develop a wide-ranging, global, comprehensive and inclusive response to peace and development.
Prevention of conflicts was put at the core of this Organization´s priorities by new Secretary-General, who is advocating “to develop a comprehensive, modern and effective operational peace architecture, encompassing prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and long-term development – the peace continuum”.
The facts are well known: a great number of countries and millions of people are affected by conflict and struggle with poverty, millions are displaced, millions have no access to education and health assistance; millions suffer violations of human rights; so many millions are deprived from the basics of human dignity. Conflict comes along with all this. On the other hand, we see that development overall is very uneven and inequalities continue to grow worldwide among States and in so many countries; and so many others are under severe climate change threats.
All those challenges and serious threats must be coherently and inclusively addressed and effectively responded. We all agreed that no one should be left behind. This is a strong message calling for true global solidarity, and strong political vision and leadership for concrete action.
For long, Portugal has been advocating for an integrated and systemic approach to peace, going far beyond the cessation or the absence of hostilities and for a focus on sustaining peace and sustainable development. Besides Goal 16, the 2030 Agenda clearly embraced that approach to peace and conflict prevention as cross-cutting issues. In this regard, the 2030 Agenda is also an effective preventive tool for peace and security.
We heard this morning the Secretary-General´s ideas on areas of reform for the UN to be more efficient and effective. We feel encouraged by his vision of incorporating a “culture of prevention and sustaining peace” system wide. We understand that it entails drawing upon all UN bodies and entities across the three pillars - Peace and Security, Development and Human Rights -, as only by creating the necessary synergies amongst its organs and throughout the whole spectrum of the UN family, will it be possible to act transversally and coherently addressing conflict prevention, sustaining peace and sustainable development.
The political legitimacy of the United Nations, its convening power and global normative authority, as well as its multidisciplinary expertise, are all good examples of its unique assets that must be further and better explored for the sake of our common quest for sustaining peace, security and sustainable development worldwide.
We acknowledge that perhaps like never before the world needs and expects much from the United Nations. But, for the UN to succeed, it must be empowered to perform to the full extent of its potential. At the same time, we Member-States, need to commit to do more, and better, through a renewed commitment to the principles of the Charter and to the purposes of this Organization.
The task ahead is huge and all tools must be used. In this regard we believe that it is essential to build partnerships of all sorts: global, regional, trans-regional, national and local, involving governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society, local communities, as well as international financial institutions (IFIs) and public and private entities.
In this context, I would also like to recall that recently in Davos, the Secretary General called the international community´s attention to the returns on investments that can be generated by the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. He said it “would mean something in the order of magnitude of 30 billion USD per year, which means that we have here an opportunity, both to generate investments that are attractive for the private sector, but simultaneously to allow for the private sector to play an absolutely essential role in making sure that those goals are effectively achieved”.
We also understand that peace can emerge only from within societies. Although UN´s guidance and support, as well as international cooperation and solidarity can be crucial, building peace must entail inclusive national ownership, which often requires assistance in building national capacities, including of early warning and the strengthening of domestic institutions.
Strengthen the focus on prevention also means a sharper focus on inclusivity. This means the involvement of all relevant actors, communities and stakeholders, including women, youth, religious leaders and minority groups. Preventing the lapse and relapse into conflict must entail not only the political, but also the economic empowerment of women.
To conclude, the “primacy of politics” and sustainable development should go continuously along in a mutually reinforcing manner and, in this regard, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda can only be an integral and essential dimension of “sustaining peace”.
I thank you, Mr. President.