UN chief Guterres makes case for new efforts to build and sustain peace

New York [United States]: Delivering his first formal briefing to the Security Council, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underlined the need for new, strengthened efforts to build and sustain peace ranging from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peace building and sustainable development.

“We spend far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. People are paying too high a price [.] we need a whole new approach,” Guterres stressed at a Security Council debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.

He added, however, that it has also been difficult to persuade decision-makers at national and international levels that prevention must be their priority.

In his address, the UN chief, whose five-year term began on January 1, noted that while most of the contemporary conflicts are essentially internal, their consequences become regional and even global.

Noting that UN’s response to such challenges remains fragmented, Guterres highlighted that changes needed to be made to rebalance the approach to peace and security.

“For decades, this has been dominated by responding to conflict. For the future, we need to do far more to prevent war and sustain peace,” he said.

He also informed the Council members on reform initiatives within the UN Secretariat, in particular with regard to the decision-making process and strengthening the capacity to integrate all pillars of the UN – peace and security; human rights and development and called on the Security Council as well as the 193-member General Assembly for their support.

Further in his address, the Secretary-General called on all sections of the society for greater political, cultural and economic investments in inclusivity and cohesion, so that people appreciate the benefits of diversity rather than perceiving it as a threat.

“All groups need to see that their individual identities are respected, while feeling that they belong as valued members of the community as a whole,” he stated, particularly emphasizing the role of civil society in raising the alarm when this respect is threatened or lost.

Urging the Council to make greater use of the options laid out in Chapter VI of the UN Charter, dealing with pacific settlement of disputes, Guterres pledged the support of his ‘good offices,’ as well as his personal engagement.

He also cautioned that many opportunities to prevent conflict have been lost due to UN Member States mistrusting each other’s motives and because of concerns over national sovereignty.

“Disagreements about the past cannot allow us to prevent us from acting today,” Guterres said, noting that he stood ready to foster a more trusting relationship and to improve communications with the Security Council, with consistency, candour and transparency.

Concluding his address, he repeated the appeal for peace he made shortly after taking office, saying: “I think it would be naïve to say that 2017 will be a year of peace, but at least it is our obligation to do everything we can to make it a year for peace.” (ANI)