Open Debate: Security, development and the root causes of conflict

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, November 18, 2015.

Thank you Madam President.

We thank the United Kingdom for convening this debate and particularly you Secretary Greening for presiding over the meeting.

We want also to express our condolences to the government and people of France after the horrific attacks in Paris last Friday and to the governments of Lebanon and Iraq over the attacks also in Beirut and Baghdad.  As others have said, terrorism is a scourge that affects all of us.

Madam President.

I want also to thank the Secretary General and Ambassador Skoog as well as Madam Nobel Laureate Madam Bouchamaoui for their briefings. Madam Bouchamaoui I want to pay particular tribute to you for the inspiration that you and your colleagues have brought to the rest of us.

Madam President.

We share the assessment of most speakers today that today’s debate marks an important recognition by this Council that security and development are intrinsically linked and must be considered in their interconnection. This Council does not and cannot operate in a theoretical vacuum.

New Zealand has made no secret of its belief that the Security Council should do more to prevent conflict. Since joining the Council in January we have pushed for a greater focus by the Council and the wider UN system on emerging crises and on arresting countries from sliding into conflict.

This has led us to call for attention to developments in Burundi and earlier this year in Guinea Bissau, and for our calls for a credible response to the situation in Israel and the occupied territories which we regard as dangerous and unsustainable.

It has led us to support discrete, informal options for Council engagement on emerging crises that are sensitive to concerns regarding national sovereignty.  We have encouraged informal briefings by the Secretariat where appropriate, and see potential in making greater use of the Working Group on Conflict Prevention in Africa.

We have also made efforts to explore targeted interventions, such as statements and Council Missions; and call for more meaningful coordination with regional actors, who often are at the forefront of prevention efforts.

Conflict prevention will remain a primary focus for New Zealand for the remainder of our term.

Mr President,

Today’s Debate offers the opportunity to consider one specific aspect of prevention. To sustain peace, we need to get better at addressing the root causes and drivers of conflict. 

There is a growing recognition – led by the pioneering work of post-conflict countries themselves through the g7+ initiative under the leadership of Timor-Leste – that security and development needs are closely interlinked, particularly in fragile and post-conflict states. 

For most societies, inclusive growth and development are critical elements in preventing the emergence or re-emergence of conflict.

But prospects for development are in turn contingent on maintaining a stable environment, underpinned by institutions that provide security, effective governance, and the rule of law.

As others have noted, this has been acknowledged in the 2030 development agenda, notably through Goal 16.

This relationship between a stable, secure environment and sustainable development was also acknowledged in the Samoa Pathway agreed at the 2014 SIDS Conference and was a strong theme of the Open Debate convened in this Council in July on the peace and security challenges facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS).   

Madam President.

As we all know, and acknowledge, the Security Council is not the primary actor in addressing many of these challenges. But it can  and must play an important role in addressing them and in ensuring that its work in addressing threats to peace and security is linked up with and complements the work of the wider UN system and with relevant regional actors. 

The Council needs to ensure it reflects these understandings in its mandates. Its interventions need to be tailored to the specific drivers of conflict in each setting. And they need to be based on a clear assessment of the roles Council-mandated Missions can most effectively play, based on the Council’s comparative advantage.

The Council must also be proactive in seeking more effective coordination with other international actors. Where it mandates development–related activities, whether they be quick impact projects or targeted support to core institutions, the Council is invariably reliant on other international development actors with more specialised expertise and longer time horizons. 

This means bridging the silos between different pillars of the UN, including development, security and human rights.  It also means reaching out to enhance cooperation with others beyond the UN system – with International Financial Institutions, regional organisations, NGOs and bilateral donors.

Madam President.

We have yet to realise fully the potential of the Peacebuilding Commission for coordinating peacebuilding actors, or for achieving the kind of partnership with this Council that was originally envisaged. We firmly believe that there must be closer engagement with, and more systematic involvement of country configuration chairs in Council discussions, given the invaluable knowledge and insights they can provide. 

We need to ensure UN missions are equipped with the resources and expertise they need to identify and address the drivers of conflict and to manage emerging threats. 

We therefore strongly support the recommendation of the High Level Independent Panel on the future of UN Peace Operations for much greater investment in the political component of peace operations, and in conflict prevention efforts more generally.

It is for these reasons that New Zealand has recently significantly increased its funding to the Department of Political Affairs. We also acknowledge the good work being done by the UNDP on conflict prevention.

Madam President,

Our understanding of the requirements of conflict prevention, and the relationship between peace and development, has advanced significantly in the past decade.  It is incumbent on the international community, particularly on this United Nations, to translate these understandings into action.

New Zealand will continue to champion greater upfront attention, investment, practical innovation and courage, in exercising the Security Council’s responsibilities under the Charter for preventing conflict.


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