In the aftermath of World War II, with the colossal loss of life and destruction weighing upon them, fifty world leaders bound by a shared commitment to peace, came together in San Francisco and pledged themselves to a common purpose, under a common banner – to ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ through the establishment of the United Nations.
Over the seven decades that have followed, the United Nations has grappled with how best to achieve its founding Charter aim, as global dynamics, weapons of war, and threats to peace, have evolved.
In recent times, as increasingly complex and intractable armed conflicts have emerged – causing untold suffering, undermining human rights, and setting back sustainable development outcomes – a renewed sense of urgency has been brought to United Nations’ efforts to more systematically prevent outbreaks of conflict and build sustainable peace.
In line with this, in April 2016, United Nations’ Member States agreed to a new organisational approach to the maintenance of international peace and security, through the concept of ‘sustaining peace’.
Sustaining peace calls for a broader United Nations approach to peace and security. One that covers the restoration of peace after conflict, as well as ensuring that the conditions for sustainable peace are in place – particularly by addressing the root causes of conflict.
Sustaining peace is based on the premise that it will not be possible to achieve lasting peace in the long-term without sustainable development, equitable economic opportunity, and human rights protections for all.
This central tenant was also recognized by world leaders in September 2015, when they adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 2030 Agenda provides humanity with a universal masterplan to transform our world, by eliminating extreme poverty, ensuring access to quality education, empowering women and girls, combating climate change, and protecting our natural environment.
Critically, the 2030 Agenda recognises the importance of fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies that are free from fear and violence, if all 17 Sustainable Development Goals are to be realised. Implementing the 2030 Agenda and the concept of sustaining peace are therefore priority tasks for the United Nations.
In order to deepen global understanding of this implementation challenge, and the interlinkages between Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda, on 24 January 2017 I will convene a high-level dialogue on “Building Sustainable Peace for All: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustaining Peace Agenda”, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event will feature leaders from across the United Nations system including Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as around 20 Cabinet Ministers and over 100 civil society organizations from across the globe.
I encourage all interested stakeholders to attend this event, watch via UN webcast or follow the meeting on Twitter at #sustainingpeace and #sustainablepeace.
The discussions stand to have wide-ranging implications for how national Governments, the UN system, civil society, the private sector, and other key actors work together in order to achieve our common aim of building a world of peace, sustainable development, and human rights for all.