Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by H.E. the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mrs. Teresa Ribeiro, at the High Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

New York, 24 April 2018

Mr. President of the General Assembly,

Mr. Secretary General,

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to start by thanking President Lajčák for conveying this High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.

This high-level event provides us with an excellent opportunity to share best practices, discuss common challenges and reaffirm our commitment to building and sustaining peace in a comprehensive and holistic manner.

We are living in challenging and complex times. New forms of contemporary threats - most of them transnational - are increasingly threatening our stability and our pursuit for peace, development and prosperity.

Climate change, food insecurity, water scarcity, pandemics, terrorism, organized crime, cyberattacks and multiple forms of illicit trafficking - human beings, human organs, weapons, narcotics and cultural goods - are but some of the contemporary challenges we face.

Today, more than ever, multilateralism is essential to address old and new threats to peace and security. History has shown us that we cannot fight them alone.

As we all know, ceasefires, peace agreements or elections do not necessarily imply that a sustainable peace has been finally achieved. Sustainable peace requires the international community’s continuous and unwavering attention.

Post-conflict situations are times of great uncertainty and vulnerability. Transition to peaceful political settlements is a fragile moment when spoilers act and mobilize.

It is undeniable that successful peacebuilding and sustaining peace processes must be nationally owned. However, there have been several examples of failure when incipient democratic structures are left alone following political arrangements that are enforced, rather than agreed among relevant stakeholders. Thus, sustaining peace requires increased international political vigilance and engagement.

Peacebuilding is a long-term joint effort. We all know that peace can only be achieved if the root causes of conflicts are accordingly and comprehensively addressed, including underdevelopment and inequalities.

Portugal fully aligns itself with the principles of conflict prevention, early warning, primacy of politics, resurgence of diplomacy, and gender balance, as advocated by the Secretary General.

In order to face the complex contemporary challenges, we welcome and support Secretary General Guterres’ proposals to reform the UN system in its management, peace and security and development strands.

Portugal currently participates in seven UN peacekeeping missions and is committed to increase its further participation as well as to work further on enhancing the missions’ interoperability.

Peacekeeping operations should have, whenever possible, a realistic and feasible exit strategy, which should be implemented in parallel to the initial action of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Support Office and the Peacebuilding Fund. This common endeavor would require more synergy and cooperation between peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

The international community must take into account social mechanisms and informal institutions and networks at the local level, where women, elders and youngsters can play an important role to enhance the resilience of their societies and to support the healing and reconciliation process.

Regional arrangements also have an important role to sustain peace. Allow me to briefly mention the UN General Assembly resolution 71/324, adopted in August 2017, on cooperation between the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, including in areas of critical importance to tackle the root causes of conflicts. We are convinced that this resolution will strengthen the relationship, cooperation and complementarity between these two Organizations in the pursuit of common values and in sustaining peace.

Mr. President,

Peacebuilding is not State-building; however, although distinct, these are unavoidably interlinked efforts. In this framework, Portugal welcomes the latest Secretary General´s report on peacebuilding. The report clearly identifies concrete actions to increase, restructure and better prioritize funding dedicated to UN peacebuilding activities. Predictable and sustainable funding is paramount to the UN’s success.

We look to the Security Council, which has the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, to further enhance its mechanisms to prevent conflicts. We call for the reinforcement of existing cooperation and dialogue with the General Assembly, the ECOSOC and the rest of the United Nations system, including the Peacebuilding Commission, in order to strengthen our collective capacity to prevent conflicts and sustain peace.

In closing, Mr. President,

We must stay together and in close cooperation to break the cycle of conflicts.

We must endeavor to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of violent.

Our action must always be guided by the strict respect for the UN Charter, human rights and international law.

We must recognize that development, peace and security, and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.

Only a universal organization like the UN is in a position to adequately respond to this challenge and call for action and Portugal stands ready to be part of this effort and to cooperate with the whole system in fulfilling this noble objective.

Thank you.