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11/22/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/22/2019 16:07

Financial Cost of Focus on Crisis Response Unsustainable, Secretary-General Tells Peacebuilding Commission, Calls for Rebalanced Approach around Prevention

Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres' remarks at the meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission on the 2020 Review, in New York today:

I thank the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission for convening this meeting, open to all Member States, to launch the 2020 review of the peacebuilding architecture. We are joined by the Vice President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council, a clear indication of strong intergovernmental commitment to this endeavour.

Today is the first time all Member States have been invited to share their views on the work of the United Nations in peacebuilding and sustaining peace as part of the 2020 review. Looking ahead and at suffering around the world today, we know that the human and financial cost of focusing primarily on crisis response is unsustainable.

That is why I have been so intent on reorienting our work around prevention, on rebalancing our approach to peace and security, and on connecting our work across the peace, sustainable development and human rights pillars.

In May of this year, I updated you on the implementation of the twin resolutions adopted in 2016 on the peacebuilding architecture, and on my subsequent 2018 report.

The Peacebuilding Commission has led by example, as a platform dedicated to bringing attention to the drivers of instability and exploring how best to address them. Meetings on Burkina Faso, Colombia, the Gambia, Guinea‑Bissau, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and the Sahel, among others, have provided venues for the discussion of multidimensional challenges and risks.

Across the United Nations system, there has been progress in working together more effectively, strengthening leadership, accountability and capacities, and furthering partnerships to support Member States to build and sustain peace.

National Governments and their people are in the lead, backed by coherent international support. Such efforts aim to address real and potential drivers of instability, including inequality, climate change, land and resource competition, corruption and transnational crime. And they are rooted in the understanding that investments in equitable service delivery, sustainable development and social cohesion are investments in peace.

Just this week, all United Nations Resident Coordinators, who support Member States towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, convened in New York to take stock and improve this work. We are also pressing to increase the meaningful participation of women, which is a proven way to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of peacebuilding. Likewise, youth must be empowered and supported as peacebuilders.

Financing for peacebuilding is crucial, and we are working to make such support more predictable, sustainable and adequate. Contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund have increased modestly, but demands for support have grown exponentially and requests for investments in critical situations are too often left unanswered. The current system has shown its limitations, and so I want to reiterate my plea to all Member States for a 'quantum leap' of support towards the $500 million per year objective.

It is important to say that in 2019, the Peacebuilding Fund is spending more money than the money that it is receiving, which means that the present rhythm of action will not be sustainable. We will have to slow down unless something changes meaningfully. And to slow down an instrument that everybody recognizes is one of the most effective instruments the United Nations has used to the benefit of the peoples that more need it is something that, in my opinion, is not a very clever thing to do.

I also again urge Member States to consider the other options I have proposed on increasing, restructuring and better prioritizing funding dedicated to United Nations peacebuilding activities, including through both voluntary and assessed contributions. It will be difficult to sustain progress within the United Nations system without corresponding contributions from Member States.

Moreover, if Member States send different messages in New York, Geneva or Rome, and when financing remains lacking, earmarked and siloed, different parts of the United Nations are driven apart when there is a need to pull them in the same direction, which is the main objective of the reform we have started.

The 2020 peacebuilding architecture review will allow us to take stock, consolidate gains and push forward on implementation. And the 2020 report on peacebuilding that I am preparing will be the principal input for the review, and its focus will be on the ultimate test of our efforts: its impact in the field. I look forward to working with you and all our partners to achieve precisely that: better results in the lives of the people we serve. Thank you.