Security Council Open Debate: Maintenance of international peace and security - addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 20 December 2017

Thank you, Mr. President.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes your initiative to convene this open debate. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his excellent briefing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make one important point today. That is our firm belief, that only through an integrated approach and early action, we will be able to prevent conflict, and sustain peace.

Mr. President, the challenges of the 21st century transcend borders. Conflicts are compounded. Causes of conflict are plentiful, as the President explained in the concept-note. These compounded conflicts ask for an integrated approach by the United Nations, other international and regional organizations and governments.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands has first-hand experience with the integrated approach, be it in Afghanistan, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or other places. We have learned, sometimes the hard way, of the connection between root-causes and ensuing conflict. We value the importance of partners working together, valuing each other’s comparative advantages and recognizing the need to work within their given mandates.

We therefore support the vision of the Secretary General to enhance the performance of the Secretariat’s pillars in an interconnected way. Only if we succeed to work across these pillars and avoid isolated actions will we be able to address conflicts effectively. This includes a comprehensive approach of peace, human rights and development.

But formulating an integrated response to conflicts is not enough. The Security Council should also devote more attention to preventing conflicts from either occurring in the first place or recurring in post-conflict situations. This means addressing some of the underlying causes of conflict, even if it is not the sole or even primary responsibility of the Security Council to deal with issues like Poverty Reduction, Human Rights or Climate Change.

Where appropriate and needed, the Security Council has a role to raise awareness, and a responsibility to call for integrated action. The Council’s involvement with the situation in Gambia earlier this year proved timely, successful and contributed to preserving the sovereignty of the country.

Mr. President, proper prevention also requires proper early warning tools to identify emerging threats, as well as instruments to act. Depending on the specific situation the Secretary-General can rely on different parts of the UN system both in New York, Geneva and in the field, to inform this Council.

For some issues though, a clear focal point is still lacking. One example is ‘climate and security’. At the Planetary Security Conference last week in The Hague, Mr Hassan Janabi, the Iraqi Water Minister, said his country – which is now entering the process of stabilisation – was going through an additional “painful cultural change”.

This change could form the basis for new tensions, though has little to do with conventional threats of armed groups or terrorist organizations. Dwindling water resources due to climate-change-driven drought and related changes in rainfall patterns will become a major challenge. Minister Janabi said: “More than 100,000 of our people have been fighting ISIS, but now they are out of work and will go back to their farms, but the water shortage will make it hard.” Given the growing risk of climate change increasing tensions within and between nations, it is important that there is an institutional home for this topic.

A place where such risks can be assessed and addressed in the UN. During Italy’s Arria-meeting on 15 December the Kingdom of the Netherlands together with Sweden and other countries called for such an institutional home and we do so again today.

A final example of the necessity of early warning tools is when trying to prevent humanitarian crises from lapsing into wider instability and conflict. Reliable and real-time data is needed to feed into early warning and early action capabilities. In that respect I am happy to mention that in two days the UNSG will officially open the new UNOCHA Data Center in The Hague. By collecting, sharing and standardizing data, OCHA and its partners are working together to improve the lives of millions of people affected by conflict and disaster and thus avoiding renewed conflict.

To conclude, mr. President, while we are well aware of ongoing discussions on what falls within the mandate of this Council and what does not, the Kingdom of the Netherlands underlines the importance of prevention and early warning when addressing complex security challenges. And we will continue to do so during our Security Council membership in 2018.

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