Statement by Mr. Paul Teesalu, Acting Undersecretary General for Political Affairs at the High Level Dialogue of the PGA, 24 January 2017
I thank the President of the General Assembly and his Team for organising this timely high-level dialogue on how to build sustainable peace for all. Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
The new Secretary General outlined his vision on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace at the Security Council open debate organised by Sweden just two weeks ago. Estonia fully supports the Secretary General´s efforts to improve the UN´s capacity to take early action to prevent violent conflict and link the reform of the UN´s Peace and Security architecture with the reform of the UN Development System. The UN needs to fulfil its core functions more effectively and in more coherent manner.
Recent three reviews of UN peace-related activities have concluded that there is an urgent need to put prevention at the core of UN´s work, in accordance with the UN charter. More than a year ago, we adopted the Agenda 2030 that is truly transformative with its interconnected goals and targets across the full spectrum of development, addressing also the root causes of conflict. The SDGs link all the pillars of the UN and their implementation serves as a powerful toolbox for conflict prevention and sustaining peace agenda. Both, Sustaining Peace and Agenda 2030 recognize that development, peace and security, and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
I would further like to present some ideas how the synergies between the two comprehensive and integrative frameworks could be best used to achieve peace for all. Let me outline three key areas.
First, we must invest in democratic and good governance and the rule of law. Political exclusion is among the most common causes that lead to violent conflict, and therefore transparent, inclusive and accountable institutions are crucial to achieving peace. Strong national institutions can only be based on the rule of law and must respect freedom of speech and the media, open political choice, and access to justice. Creating reliable institutions is also a central part of the transformation needed to enable countries prone to or emerging from conflict, to foster development, stability and peace. Rule of law is essential in both preventing and dealing with violence and conflicts and the consequences derived from them, as well as combating transnational organized crime, trafficking and illicit financial flows that directly impact sustainable development.
Second, the protection of human rights and respecting fundamental freedoms are the basis for peace and sustainable development. By protecting those segments of our global community who are the most vulnerable, we invest into equal, equitable and progressive societies. Gender equality and empowerment of women is substantially important in this respect. The engagement of women from the early stages of prevention, resolving crises, peacebuilding and securing peace reduces the probability of relapses to violent conflict and leads to more durable peace agreements. Therefore, it is the foremost task of every country, but also of the international community as whole, to increase the effort we put into fully implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Thirdly, we must invest in effective and equitable natural resource management at local, national and regional levels, as it is indispensable for achieving peace and securing sustainable development. In the face of worsening resource scarcities, effective resource management is one of the most important factors in tackling the root causes of conflict, and hence preventing conflict. Rising living standards, changing demand patterns, population growth, combined with increasingly more severe effects of climate change, necessitates that we turn increasingly more attention to this important topic.
Finally, as both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustaining Peace resolutions state, we need to ensure that the UN system – both at country level and headquarters level – works in a more coordinated fashion to achieve better results. Increasing cooperation between the UN and regional organizations in addressing regional problems is also essential.
I can assure you that Estonia is taking the implementation of the SDGs and Sustaining Peace agenda seriously. Estonia was among the first countries presenting our voluntary review on implementation of the SDGs. Last year, in its capacity as the Vice-President of ECOSOC, Estonia participated in discussions with the Peacebuilding Commission on finding ways how to strengthen cooperation between the two bodies and we look forward to next such joint discussions. This year, Estonia became a member of the Peacebuilding Commission and we hope to make contributions for ensuring that Sustaining Peace agenda leads to tangible progress. Additionally, Estonia has supported the Peacebuilding Fund since 2013, as we believe that the PBF is an effective peacebuilding instrument for providing catalytic, fast and flexible assistance.
We would like to express our full support to your leadership in this important undertaking of building synergies between the 2030 and Sustaining Peace Agenda, to ultimately build a sustainable peace for all. Thank you!