Guterres found it necessary to sustain peace efforts not only once conflict had broken out but also long beforehand, through the prevention of conflict and addressing its root causes.
In introducing his report, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, March 5, 2018 that the imbalance between spending on conflict and spending on peace must be tacked head-on. He urged the United Nations to rally all international actors “for our efforts across the peace continuum – from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustainable long-term development.” He reiterated “instead of responding to crises, we need to invest far more in prevention.” The report can be accessed via https://undocs.org/en/A/72/707.
SG Guterres said that two years earlier, the General Assembly and the Security Council came together to send a clear joint message: Member States have primary responsibility for building and maintaining peace. But, the United Nations must offer coherent, comprehensive and integrated support, working with Member States and other partners, before, during, and after conflict.
The report showed that failure to make progress on financing peacebuilding will undermine our other efforts to save lives, stabilize countries in crisis, alleviate suffering and protect the vulnerable. In the past ten years, the international community had spent $233 billion on humanitarian response, peacekeeping and hosting refugees. Instead of responding to crises, we need to invest far more in prevention.
The Secretary-General emphasized that prevention works, saves lives and is cost-effective. Our recent study with the World Bank estimates that better funded, more focused preventive action could have saved between $5 billion and $70 billion per year for the affected country and the international community combined.
The Peacebuilding Fund is a critical tool in our efforts to achieve this. It has a catalytic effect and can unlock funding from other sources. It provides resources for projects that are too risky for others to invest in. Many of its programs support women and young people. The Peacebuilding Fund has a proven track record of supporting national partners; helping transitions to peace and stability; building coherence by spreading resources through more than 25 UN agencies and partners, including governments; and aligning its goals with international financial institutions and others. Guterres then urged that the Fund’s resources be increased to $500 million annually.
My report sets out several options on increasing, restructuring and prioritizing the financing of peacebuilding activities. These include different combinations of voluntary and assessed funds, linked to the peace continuum.
This would provide greater predictability and sustainability of funding and reduce the costs of mobilizing voluntary resources. It would also send a powerful signal of Member States’ commitment. In addition to these sources, he found the possibility of innovative financing solutions. These might include contributions by individuals, foundations and faith-based organizations, corporate partnerships, web-based mechanisms and crowdfunding.
The Peacebuilding Fund is complementary to other financing streams and provides support directly to UN Country Teams, governments and regional organizations that are making a difference on the ground.
In presenting his report on ‘Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace` (A/72/707 and S/2018/43), Geterres furthermore noted more countries had recently experienced violent conflict than at any time in nearly three decades. Forced displacement has reached unparalleled levels. In too many places, the cohesion of societies and the well-being of people are at risk. Building a common vision of society must involve paying attention to the causes of those problems. In the resolutions, it was recognized that the international community must redouble its efforts to support Member States in preventing crises that exact such unacceptable and growing human and financial tolls. Another important element of the resolutions was the recognition of the importance of women’s leadership and participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding and the need to increase the representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict. The consideration of gender-related issues in all discussions pertinent to sustaining peace should remain at the front of the efforts of the United Nations and the international community.
Guterres expressed his desires to forge a common vision and common systems and capacities across the United Nations to consistently and adequately support Member States in their endeavor to sustain peace and build resilient and prosperous nations in line with their commitments to leave no one behind. For that purpose, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contained the blueprint of the common vision of society towards which the world is trying to move. Inclusive and sustainable development not only is an end in itself but also happens to be the best defense against the risks of violent conflict. The 2030 Agenda also contains the promise to leave no one behind in the quest to build such societies. In the twin resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council, it was recognized that development was a central goal in itself, and the important contributions of the United Nations development system to peacebuilding, in particular through economic development and poverty eradication, were acknowledged. The United Nations system needs to continue to strengthen cooperation and coordination for that purpose in the field through United Nations country teams and at United Nations Headquarters, in accordance with their respective mandates, with respect for national ownership and the priorities of countries affected by conflict, including through the overarching framework of the United Nations operational activities for development.
Guterres emphasized that the scale and nature of the challenge of sustaining peace called for closer strategic and operational partnerships among the United Nations, national Governments and other key stakeholders, including international, regional and subregional organizations, international financial institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups, youth organizations and the private sector, taking into account national priorities and policies. In today’s complex world, those partnerships need to harness the energies of all sectors of society. The United Nations is one partner among others, and all partners need to come together in support of the efforts of Governments.
The Secretary-General was convinced that the fragmentation of efforts across the United Nations system undermines its ability to support Member States in their efforts to build and sustain peaceful societies and to respond early and effectively to conflicts and crises. He had therefore introduced a set of mutually reinforcing reforms to ensure that the United Nations is more fit for the purpose of including in the realms of development, management and peace and security. The reforms aim to ensure greater coherence and accountability within those pillars and generate greater coherence and synergies across the United Nations system.