Security Council Debate: Peacebuilding & Sustaining Peace: Post-conflict reconstruction, Peace, Security & Stability

Statement by Her Excellency Ms. Sigrid Kaag,
Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

New York, 5 December 2018

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands reiterates its condolences on the death of former President George H.W. Bush.

Permettez-moi de commencer en remerciant le président de la République de Côte d’Ivoire, monsieur Alassane Ouattara, d’avoir organisé ce débat pertinent.

And thank you Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and His Excellency Mr. Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the AU Commission, for their contributions to the debate.

As we’ve heard, Côte d’Ivoire is an excellent example of a country that is no longer on the Security Council’s agenda, but instead represents a valued member of the Council. In bringing its experience to the table, Côte d’Ivoire provides valuable support for other countries and this Council, as highlighted in the examples given by His Excellency, the President.

Like Côte d’Ivoire, the Kingdom of the Netherlands believes it is essential for the Security Council to focus more sharply on equitable post-conflict social and economic development, and reconstruction as well as reconciliation, as part of the broader international peace and security agenda.

This Council was created to improve the lives of people. To provide men, women, boys and girls, children with the opportunity to live their lives in peace, security and enjoy sustainable development. And peace and security is so much more than the absence of armed conflict.

When we ignore this fact, we see war-torn societies reaching fragile peace deals, only to fall back into armed conflict when international attention drifts away. And, as members of the Security Council and the international community, we find ourselves discussing missions, mandates and budgets, to fix something that shouldn’t have been broken in the first place.

It’s in all of our interests to realise this: sustainable peace and conflict prevention require an integrated approach. One which is sustainable and includes social and economic development from the outset. This is essential.

But let me underline: the Kingdom of the Netherlands believes that the most successful form of prevention, is to make sure there is no need for the Council to address a particular country situation. This requires a collective effort of states, the entire UN-system and international institutions, be they financial or social, to tackle root causes and prevent instability from going down the line.

Mr. President, conflict prevention is the cornerstone of the integrated foreign policy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and it has been a priority during our tenure on this Council.

We have invested in timely risk analysis around climate change as well as the failure and impact of failure to respect human rights, which is needed not only to help prevent conflicts from starting or emerging, but also to ensure a sustainable transition from conflict to peacebuilding and durable peace.

The Joint UN and World Bank study Pathways for Peace highlights the importance of addressing inequalities and exclusion in ensuring sustainable peace. I would like to add environmental sustainability to this list.

Three points are crucial in this respect:

  • First of all, environmental sustainability is no longer optional but in the menu of economic development. Over the past year, the Security Council has seen in many countries that climate change, food insecurity and water stress increase tensions that ultimately may lead to conflict. So efforts to build up the economy after conflict must take these challenges into account to ensure resilience, energy transformation as well as innovative approaches to achieve these goals. This is particularly relevant when it comes to food security. This also needs no further elaboration.
    This year, all of the countries around this table have shown the courage and political will to recognize this fact in the unanimous adoption of Security Council Resolution 2417 on conflict and hunger. And I commend OCHA, the United Nations system, for taking up their mandated task earlier this year with respect to Yemen and South Sudan. The latter country turned seven years old this year and has seven million people at risk of severe food shortages.
    But there is also more we can do as an international community. If we want to we need to safeguard
  • The second point we would like to address which is inequality, economic development must provide opportunities for all. Women and girls can and will be powerful agents of socioeconomic change.
    But we must provide them with equal opportunities, especially access to education, inclusive finance and land rights.
    As for children, the great challenge is to equip all children in developing countries, but particularly those in conflict or under threat of conflict, with the skill sets they need: no matter which group they belong to or which region they come from.
    An instrument that is often forgotten but most helpful in reducing inequality in post-conflict societies is the provision of psychosocial support to all those who have suffered trauma as a result of conflict. And the Netherlands is proud to announce it will host a conference on this particular theme towards the latter half of next year, drawing attention to the importance of psychosocial support, the political will to support it, financial means and the capacity to provide assistance to those who need it the most and are most vulnerable.
  • Finally, following the principle to Leave No One Behind, to ensure that all can participate and no one is truly excluded, societies need to develop strong and inclusive institutions, strengthen the rule of law and demonstrate respect for human rights for all.
    Access to justice is also the focus of the ministerial meeting which will be hosted in the Hague on 6 and 7 February 2019. It is part of the third conference of the Task Force on Justice, which the Netherlands co-chairs with Sierra Leone, Argentine and the Elders.
    The rule of law and strong, inclusive institutions are good for business and to attract and retain investments. This is what makes it possible for a country to make the transition from an economy of war to an economy of peace.
    Respect for human rights is instrumental to all of this. We have seen time and time again that disregard for human rights leads to conflict.
    This is why we believe the Security Council should request timely briefings about human rights situations of concern. And this is why we have supported human rights briefings on Syria, North Korea and Iran.

Mr. President, I would like to conclude by stating that the Kingdom of the Netherlands stands with Côte d’Ivoire, and indeed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his quest to reform the UN system. It is our quest, to promote and ensure the implementation of an integrated approach by all of us and the system along the three pillars outlined.

We have the tools set out to achieve this direction: the Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, they are the ultimate prevention agenda.

Together, it is upon us to promote a proactive UN system that acts to prevent conflict in a timely manner, through improved risk analysis and early warning. That acts to resolve conflict, amongst others through better peacekeeping. And a UN system that acts to sustain peace, by ensuring that root causes are properly addressed in all strategies and mandates. And by treating the wounds of conflict, through transitional justice and accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses, or through support for those who have suffered the most.

These were and will be the priorities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. And I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere and personal commitment to pursue these goals long after our Security Council membership will have ended.

We will not stop. We will remain strong and steadfast, as we always are, as your partner in peace, security and justice.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Secretary-General.