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Economic and Social Council President urges closer ties with UN peacebuilding body

24 June 2016 – Closer collaboration between the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN Peacebuilding Commission is imperative in order to move forward on commitments in the sustainable development agenda and effectively address the specific challenges and needs of countries emerging from conflict, the President of ECOSOC said today.

"We have seen time and time again how conflict and unrest can reverse gains made in developments. We must work together to assist the countries emerging from conflict in their efforts to implement their commitments," ECOSOC President Oh Joon said at the opening of a joint meeting of ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace.

"Now is the time to turn our commitments into action to achieve results for people on the ground," he added.

The joint meeting, being held at UN Headquarters in New York, brings together high-level representatives of UN Member States, civil society, academia, the private sector and the UN system, and will focus in particular on globally agreed targets for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice and the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions, as well as the drivers of conflict pertaining to social, economic and environmental areas.

In his remarks, Mr. Oh – who is co-chairing the meeting with Macharia Kamau, Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission – highlighted that the past ten months have been historic for the UN, with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and most recently, the completion of the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.

"The 2030 Agenda […] is universal and transformational. Its integrated nature brings complexity and calls for better coherence in policy-making. While SDG 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies is of relevance to the peacebuilding agenda, sustaining peace is critical for achieving all the goals," he said.

"We need to address the immediate challenges of peace and security and, at the same time, tackle the root causes of conflict. We need to support institution-building as well as human resource development. This requires closer cooperation between our intergovernmental bodies – that goes beyond the election of Peacebuilding Commission members by ECOSOC," he added.

Over the years, the ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission have forged a working relationship between the respective bureaus as well as the bodies themselves, Mr. Oh said, including holding several joint meetings. In addition, he noted that since 2009, ECOSOC has invited the Peacebuilding Commission Chair "to continue to inform it on best practices, particularly on lessons learned from its experiences, that are relevant for addressing the economic and social challenges of peacebuilding in other African countries emerging from conflict."

Mr. Oh also highlighted that during the most recent joint bureau meeting that took place this past December, participants considered ways to enhance the collaboration of the two bodies. The importance of enhanced collaboration was also emphasized in the most recent review of the peacebuilding architecture, he added.

Going forward, he said that ECOSOC will certainly benefit from the experiences and lessons learned by the Peacebuilding Commission on how to integrate peacebuilding issues in order to put countries emerging from conflict on a path to sustainable development.

Also speaking at today's meeting was Deputy Security-General Jan Eliasson, who noted that the event was an important step towards the implementation of the recently adopted General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace.

"You are doing this by focusing on the need for strategic and operational coherence both among Member States and within the UN system," Mr. Eliasson said.

"A central aspect of the concept of sustaining peace is the recognition that peacebuilding is not only a post-conflict activities, but also steps that needs to be taken before, during and after conflict," he added.

Noting that the resolutions explicitly state that it is necessary to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, the Deputy Secretary-General said that in peacekeeping operations and humanitarian action, the international community and the UN focus primarily on the acute phase of conflicts.

He emphasized that the international community, however, needs to pay more attention to the periods both before the outbreak of violence and at the end of violent conflicts.

In that regard, the Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the strong relationship between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the new peacebuilding resolutions, noting, in particular, that both recognize that each country has primary responsibility for implementing the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace.

Both the 2030 Agenda and the resolutions also emphasize the importance of preventing violent conflict and of building peaceful societies, as well as strongly stress the interdependence of the challenges being confronting and the comprehensive approaches needed to address them.

"Complex tasks – whether promoting sustainable development or sustaining peace – cannot be divided into silos, be compartmentalized. If problems are connected, then the solutions must be as well. Peace and security, development and human rights are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing," Mr. Eliasson said.

The Deputy-Secretary General added that it is important to recognize that there are various drivers of violent conflicts, including of socio-economic and environmental character, as well as that inclusive, effective and accountable institutions and the rule of law are fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and to sustaining peace.

"Institutions strongly determine the allocation of resources, the functioning of markets, the delivery of social services and the management of natural resources. Equally, they often determine the mitigation of and solutions to conflicts, access to justice and protection of human rights," he said.

Moreover, the Agenda 2030 and the peacebuilding resolutions recognize it is necessary to work collectively as "one" across the UN system, the Deputy Secretary-General stressed.

"This we must do in order to provide coherent support to Member States in their efforts to meet the targets they have set for themselves. This work should be based on joint analysis, covering development, human rights, peace and humanitarian issues and should be driven to achieve collective outcomes," he said.

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