A New Ap­proach to Peace

Iran News - - INTERNATIONAL - By Miroslav La­jčák Miroslav La­jčák is the Pres­i­dent of the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly.

When the United Na­tions was cre­ated, its founders en­vi­sioned a dif­fer­ent kind of world.

A world in which dis­putes were re­solved in meet­ing rooms and not bat­tle­fields. A world in which wars were stopped be­fore they broke out. A world that didn’t wait for lives to be lost be­fore spring­ing into ac­tion.

But vi­o­lent con­flicts are on the rise in many parts of the world to­day. They’re be­com­ing more drawn out, com­plex and deadly. Civil­ians are no longer killed in cross-fire; they are now the tar­gets of di­rect at­tacks. We are also see­ing an un­prece­dented num­ber of peo­ple leav­ing their homes, out of fear and des­per­a­tion. And that is why the UN needs a new ap­proach to peace. I will con­vene a High-Level Meet­ing on Peace­build­ing and Sus­tain­ing Peace in New York on 24 and 25 April. It will bring world lead­ers to­gether to fo­cus on con­flict preven­tion, me­di­a­tion, di­a­logue and diplo­macy. This is part of a wider ef­fort by UN Mem­ber States to help our Or­gan­i­sa­tion do bet­ter at fos­ter­ing peace.

And when I say peace, I’m talk­ing about the kind of peace that can be taken for granted. The kind of peace that won’t dis­ap­pear at the next elec­tion cy­cle. The kind of peace that is mea­sured not in months or years, but in gen­er­a­tions.

This is what we call “Sus­tain­ing Peace”. And this is what we should be work­ing for – rather than scrambling for so­lu­tions, once con­flict has bro­ken out.

Some might say that true last­ing peace is im­pos­si­ble in cer­tain parts of the world. But it is not. I have seen this first­hand. When Montenegro split from Ser­bia, peace was not a given. In fact, some peo­ple were pre­dict­ing se­ri­ous vi­o­lence. But through in­tense diplo­matic ef­forts, and real po­lit­i­cal will, peace per­se­vered. And it has lasted – with no signs that it will wa­ver in the fu­ture.

Last month, I trav­elled to west­ern Colom­bia and was in­spired to see indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties work­ing with the UN to build peace through strength­en­ing so­cial bonds. I was in­spired to see vil­lagers, some of whom had suf­fered through more than 50 years of war, ex­cited about their fu­tures. One woman told me about her peo­ple’s de­ter­mi­na­tion not to slide back into con­flict.

These are the ex­am­ples of Sus­tain­ing Peace, which are tak­ing place now – all around the world. We may have the bulk of our dis­cus­sions in New York. But they should be led by ex­pe­ri­ence from the ground. We need to high­light what the real peace­builders are do­ing – from those run­ning women’s peace huts in Liberia, to those or­ga­niz­ing me­di­a­tion work­shops in Kyr­gyzs­tan. That’s why the High-Level Meet­ing will pool ac­tors from across dif­fer­ent coun­tries, sec­tors and so­ci­eties, and al­low them to share their in­sights.

Of course, it won’t mat­ter that ev­ery­one buys into Sus­tain­ing Peace if there are no funds to make it hap­pen. We need more in­vest­ment in preven­tion. When con­flict causes so­ci­eties to col­lapse, so­cial fab­ric tears. Build­ings are de­stroyed, and no one fixes them. Salaries stop get­ting paid. Wa­ter stops flow­ing out of taps.

So then we spend money on re­build­ing – but so much more than what we’d spend on pre­vent­ing con­flict in the first place. Aside from the suf­fer­ing that we’re fail­ing to avert, that just doesn’t make fi­nan­cial sense. In­creas­ing in­vest­ment in even a hand­ful of coun­tries can re­sult in bil­lions of dol­lars of sav­ings for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. At the end of the day, what we can’t for­get is that the UN was founded for peace. That’s what its flag should stand for. Its suc­cess in pre­vent­ing con­flict should be the norm – not the ex­cep­tion.

It must be the world’s bro­ker for peace.

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