Implementing the New Commitments to Peace
A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations
International Day of Peace, 21 September 2017
The last year has seen significant global challenges, including an unprecedented level of humanitarian need, rising inequality and exclusion, growing climate change impacts, and increasing threats to our shared security. Nevertheless, the international community has taken important steps in addressing these challenges by implementing the recent bold commitments to foster sustainable peace.
Member states have affirmed the centrality of peace and prevention, first through their commitment to “foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence” with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, and then with the dual resolutions on Sustaining Peace in 2016. While these efforts should be applauded, urgent action must be taken to ensure that the opportunities for more effective development, peace and security, and humanitarian action presented by these new approaches are realized. Most critically, these commitments to address root causes are at the heart of the changes required for the international community to genuinely shift towards preventing, rather than responding to, crisis.
At this year’s High Level Political Forum (HLPF), member states, through their Voluntary National Reviews, illustrated the centrality of peace, justice, and inclusion through their efforts to implement the SDGs, both at home and globally. These reviews underlined the indispensable contribution of these approaches, (often now referred to as “SDG16+”), to achieving the goal of eliminating extreme poverty (this year’s HLPF theme). In a series of parallel developments, we have seen important initiatives in ECOSOC, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Security Council to ensure that UN action to assist countries in transition is based on the longer term needs and aspirations of the communities most affected by instability and violence. This has included initiatives to address the fragmentation of UN efforts, and we welcome the leadership of the Secretary-General and his reform proposals that are intended to make the UN more fit for purpose for ensuring sustainable peace.
There is an important opportunity during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly to consolidate and broaden these gains. As organizations devoted to the building of peace around the world, we call on the international community to take these next steps:
- Fully embrace the commitments to peace in the 2030 Agenda: Member states have committed to the principle that there is no peace without development and no development without peace. If we are truly to reflect this interdependence, then progress against the 36 targets across the 2030 Agenda that are necessary to achieve peace, justice and inclusion needs to be highlighted in all SDG reporting at all levels, reflecting the role of peace as an indispensable condition of development. Social, economic, and political inclusion across all segments of society is critical for peacebuilding and sustaining peace, (a central issue for the UN with the upcoming UNSG report and High Level Event on this subject), and to transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies, (which is the theme of the 2018 HLPF).
- Balance national efforts with a focus on regional and international drivers of peace, justice and inclusion: National implementation alone will not suffice to achieve the SDGs: 40% of the SDG16+ targets require implementation at regional and international levels. This is particularly the case with issues of peace, where addressing the external drivers of peace, justice and inclusion requires concerted action by states, as duty holders, to support responsible trade, reduce arms flows, promote constructive financial, tax and investment practices, and to strengthen a rules-based system that creates a more effective enabling environment that privileges the long-term peace, development and human rights needs of all people and communities.
- Mainstream prevention: The Sustaining Peace resolutions articulated the need for a new, preventive lens to be applied to all development and humanitarian action, and for inclusive peacebuilding approaches to be used before, during and after conflict.
Member states need to affirm their primary role in prevention, as national governments, members of regional and international organizations, and as peers and donors. Prevention needs to be mainstreamed, with conflict sensitive approaches applied to all development and humanitarian action in transitional environments. For prevention to be realized, it will be essential that peacebuilding and preventive priorities at all levels receive adequate funding. Additionally, crisis response needs to be forward looking, with a preventive lens that aligns with and contributes to longer term strategies for building peace.
- Protect and support civil society in fostering sustainable peace: Civil society, including youth and women’s groups, are at the forefront of building peace at all levels and in all places, and civil society participation is at the heart of effective peace processes and national implementation of SDG16+ targets. Nevertheless, civil society inclusion continues to be under threat around the world, with onerous restrictions imposed on the ability of civil society groups to be effective, speak out and access funding. We call on member states to reverse this course, and for the UN system to model inclusion in all its local and global processes.
African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
Alliance for Peacebuilding
American Friends Service Committee
CDA Collaborative Learning Projects
Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies
Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding
Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO)
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)
Institute for Economics and Peace
Pax Christi International
Quaker Council for European Affairs
Quaker United Nations Office
Search for Common Ground
Visão Mundial Internacional
Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt)