UN: Guterres stresses need for new efforts to build, sustain peace

New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday stressed the need for new, strengthened efforts to build and sustain global 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 made the call in his first address to a UN Security Council meeting.

The meeting on conflict prevention and sustaining peace was convened by Sweden in its capacity as President of the Security Council for January 2017.

He, however, said that it has also been difficult to persuade decision-makers at national and international levels that prevention must be their priority, noting that "perhaps because successful prevention does not attract attention. The television cameras are not there when a crisis is avoided."

While most of the contemporary conflicts were essentially internal, their consequences became regional and even global, he pointed out, adding that the UN's response to such challenges remains fragmented.

Guterres, who took office on 1 January, briefed the Council on his initiatives to re-balance the UN Secretariat’s approach to peace and security and to increase its capacity to integrate all pillars of the global organization, namely peace and security, human rights, and development.

"War is never inevitable. It is always a matter of choice: the choice to exclude, to discriminate, to marginalize, to resort to violence. By restoring trust between governments and their citizens and among UN member states, we can prevent and avoid conflict.

"But peace, too, is never inevitable. It is the result of difficult decisions, hard work and compromise. We should never take it for granted; but should prize and nurture it in every country, at every time.

"Prevention is not merely a priority, but the priority. If we live up to our responsibilities, we will save lives, reduce suffering and give hope to millions. 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 emphasized.

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, and called on the Security Council as well as the UN General Assembly for their support.

The UN chief 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 regretted 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.

While such concerns were understandable, in a world where power is unequal and principles have sometimes been applied selectively, he stressed that "prevention should never be used to serve other political goals. On the contrary, prevention is best served by strong sovereign States, acting for the good of their people."

Guterres repeated the appeal for peace he made shortly after taking office: "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."
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  10Jan2017

10 january 2017 18:52:44

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