UN Security Council: Open Debate: Maintenance of International Peace and Security and Conflict Prevention

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 17 November 2015.

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

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

I want also to thank the Secretary-General and Ambassador Skoog, as well as Nobel laureate Ms. Bouchamaoui, for their briefings. I pay particular tribute to Ms. Bouchamaoui for the inspiration that Tunisia and her colleagues have given the rest of us.

We share the assessment of most speakers today that this debate marks an important recognition by the Council that security and development are intrinsically linked and must be considered in their interconnections. The 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 on the part of the Council and the wider United Nations system on emerging crises and preventing 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 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 Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa. We have also made efforts to explore targeted interventions, such as statements and Council missions, and to call for more meaningful coordination with regional actors, who are often at the forefront of prevention efforts. Conflict prevention will remain a primary focus for New Zealand for the remainder of its term.

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 reoccurrence 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 Agenda for Sustainable Development (General Assembly resolution 70/1), notably through Goal 16. This relationship between a stable, secure environment and sustainable development was also acknowledged in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway, agreed at the 2014 International Conference on SIDS, and was also a strong theme of the open debate convened by the Council in July on the peace and security challenges facing small island developing States (see S/PV.7499).

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 United Nations system and with relevant regional actors.

The Council needs to ensure that it reflects these understandings in its mandates. Its interventions need to be tailored to the specific drivers of conflict in each setting, and to be based on a clear assessment of the roles that 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 specialized expertise and longer time horizons. This means bridging the silos between different pillars of the United Nations, including development, security and human rights. It also means reaching out to enhance cooperation with others beyond the United Nations system, including the international financial institutions, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and bilateral donors.

We have yet to fully realize the potential of the Peacebuilding Commission to coordinate peacebuilding actors or to achieve the kind of partnership with the 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 valuable knowledge and insights they can provide. We also need to ensure that United Nations 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 United Nations 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 United Nations Development Programme on conflict prevention.

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, and the United Nations in particular, to translate these understandings into action. New Zealand will continue to champion greater up-front attention, investment, practical innovation and courage in exercising the Security Council’s responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations for preventing conflict.


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