Check Against Delivery
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves,
At the outset, I would like to thank Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and in particular Prime Minister Gonsalves for convening this important debate on “contemporary drivers of conflict and insecurity”. Under the German presidency in July, we put two related topics high on the Council´s agenda: (1) pandemics and security; (2) climate and security. We are grateful to the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to bring conflict prevention and sustainable crisis management back to the agenda of the Security Council with today´s pertinent debate.
As the honorable Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and all briefers highlighted: today’s conflicts are driven by complex, multi-faceted challenges which require a concerted effort by the entire UN system. This must include the Security Council: unless this Council systematically and effectively considers the security implications of climate change, global pandemics, underdevelopment and violations of human rights we will fall short of what the international community expects us to deliver - most of all those who are most severely affected by conflicts. I am confident that everyone around this virtual table realizes that the challenges of the 21st century are not the same as those we faced in the middle of the 20th century. If we want to live up to our responsibility, we must keep up with these developments and act accordingly. Hurling procedure and tradition at reality might work in a closed system. But this Council does not deal with a closed system, it deals with an ever changing world. And if this Council wants to remain relevant, it will have to up its game and finally grapple with the security implications of pandemics, climate change and all the other pressing global issues the world expects us to deal with. A comprehensive approach to peace and security implies the need to address root causes and to anticipate mid- and long term challenges. We must strive harder to find integrated solutions for interconnected challenges. And we must do more to strengthen prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace.
In my intervention I will focus on three concrete examples of contemporary drivers of conflict to illustrate this: pandemics, climate change and violations of human rights.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world. It is a multi-dimensional challenge that heavily affects health, humanitarian, political, social, economic and environmental developments. As a consequence, it increases insecurity and undermines peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries and countries in transition. The security implications are crystal clear: in July, this Council explicitly recognized in its resolution 2532 that the pandemic is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security and might reverse peacebuilding gains. We should do more to follow up on this resolution. As the Deputy Secretary-General elaborated in her intervention, the UN system as a whole continues to adapt in response to the pandemic. We welcome these efforts and encourage the Secretary-General to fully integrate the impact of the pandemic on security in his reporting. Such reporting would support prevention and early warning – which is key to the work of this Council.
The Covid-19 pandemic has massive, immediate socio-economic repercussions. It affects people in vulnerable and post-conflict environments disproportionally strongly. We must ensure additional support for humanitarian, development, prevention and peacebuilding efforts. Peacebuilding needs are already critically underfunded - despite the fact that preventing a crisis is much less costly than addressing it later. The Secretary-General´s Peacebuilding Fund has remarkably evolved and adapted its work and projects to Covid-19 realities and needs. We continue to remain one of its major supporters. This is not good enough though. We must find ways to secure reliable and predictable funding for prevention and peacebuilding.
Climate change is undoubtedly one of the most relevant threats to stability and security in our time: 2020 is likely to be the hottest year on record, the security implications of this can be felt around the world. From the Sahel to the Caribbean and to small island nations in the Pacific: climate change threatens stability, security, and in some cases the very existence of nations. This Council has discussed the link between climate and security repeatedly, and today’s briefings once again made it clear: climate change is a major driver of conflict in the 21st century. The Security Council has to live up to its responsibility: more needs to be done to enhance our understanding of this dimension of conflict. We encourage the Secretary-General to include climate dimensions of conflict in his reporting and call on all members of this Council to use all available fora – formal and informal – to contribute to enhancing the information flow to the Council. The Informal Expert Group that a number of members of this Council are convening is an important step to anchor climate and security firmly on our agenda.
There is a vicious circle of climate change, environmental degradation and conflict. It increases the risk of violent conflict, of displacement and thereby of humanitarian crises. We see this in different regions of the world, one region where this is most evident is the Sahel region. Two weeks ago, Germany together with the UN and Denmark convened a conference on humanitarian assistance for the Sahel region. While we were delighted that more than 1.7 billion USD were pledged, this humanitarian response is only one part of the puzzle: Only when all member states and all UN actors work together to address the root causes as well as the medium- and long term effects can we hope to build and sustain peace.
Conflicts will always harm the most vulnerable most. Their human rights are most at risk in contemporary conflicts. In the pandemic, gender equality gains are at a risk of being lost as many governments are diverting funds originally directed at the support for women and girls and their participation in peace processes. Via the Women's Peace and Humanitarian Fund, Germany supported the establishment of an Emergency Response Window and made available 2.5 million USD for local women's organizations to support them through this crisis. Crises and conflicts, whether driven by climate change, pandemics or underdevelopment, have gendered dimensions that need to be taken into account by the UN’s “whole-of-system” response. This response, including the work of this Council, must be built on the respect for human rights and strive for political processes that are inclusive and allow all parts of society, especially women, youth and marginalized groups, to participate in a full and meaningful way. In doing so, we can contribute to building resilient societies that can better withstand the impact of pandemics and climate change and strive for development.
Let me conclude by stressing the need for constructive collaboration: collaboration among member states as well as collaboration across pillars of the UN system.
There are concrete steps this Council needs to take: We should further empower and encourage the Peacebuilding Commission to submit specific and targeted advice to the Council, as it holds a unique mandate within the UN system to enable integrated and cross-pillar approaches. We need to ensure that the UN and its presence on the ground, especially the Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions, are sufficiently mandated and equipped to address the direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic, of climate change and of human rights violations. We should keep these complex security challenges firmly on the Council’s agenda and work with the other pillars on addressing them holistically. Nothing less will do.