“A Blueprint for Peace and Prosperity for People and the Planet”
The UN’s Peace and Security Pillar and the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, aims to provide a “blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet”. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which hold that ending poverty and deprivation must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, spur economic growth and promote peace – all while tackling climate change and working to protect our environment.
Development and humanitarian agencies – within and outside the UN system -- have naturally been very active in promoting the SDGs and highlighting the role they play in supporting national efforts in the implementation. One SDG, Goal 16, focuses on fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies and is closely identified with the UN’s peace and security entities. But how do those entities help make the totality of the SDGs a reality?
To answer that question, it helps to look at the work of the high-level political forum (HLPF), the central United Nations’ platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development. The HLPF, which last met from 8 to 18 July in New York, reviews progress made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs on the basis of regular reports from UN Member States. This year, 47 States, including several conflict-affected countries, presented reports at the HLPF gathering. In the margins of the meeting, DPPA’s Peacebuilding Support Office, the Central African Republic, Iraq and the Republic of Korea hosted an event on 9 July to review specifically how the UN’s peace and security pillar – including through its peace operations, peacebuilding and conflict-prevention work – supports national governments in implementing the SDGs. The event focused on the experiences in the Central African Republic and Iraq.
“Conflict prevention is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and the 2016 resolutions on Sustaining Peace highlighted that conflict prevention is a responsibility of the entire UN system,” said Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support. “The side event organized during HLPF was important because it showcased the interlinkage between Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda through the contributions of the UN peace and security pillar to the SDGs, telling us why we need to work more closely together to ensure system-wide coherence”.
Central African Republic
“In my country, the Central African Republic (CAR), it is particularly true that, as stated by the UN Secretary General, violence and conflict are the main obstacles to sustainable development while building peace can protect and even facilitate development gains,” Ambroisine Kpongo, Permanent Representative of the CAR to the UN, said during the event.
The CAR continues to suffer from one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. It is at the bottom of the 2018 Human Development Index and the lack of development for many groups is a key driver for the conflict. Widespread displacement, a shortage of employment opportunities for young people and for women and the proliferation of arms and small weapons, constitute serious obstacles to the country’s progress towards sustainable development and peace.
The return to constitutional order in March 2016 and the strengthening of state institutions, allowed reconstruction and stabilization policies to advance through the National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan (RCPCA). However, despite strong efforts, armed groups still occupy a large portion of national territory, fueling insecurity and exacerbating marginalization and poverty.
Against this backdrop, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), a peacekeeping mission, is working closely with the UN Country Team, the Government and communities, as well as key partners, to support tangible peace dividends and laying the foundation for longer term peacebuilding and development initiatives in support of the Peace Agreement signed in February 2019.
“Throughout its deployment, MINUSCA has acted as an accelerator of the SDGs,” said UN Police Advisor, Luis Carrilho.
“It’s done so,” he added, “by supporting the establishment of a national Special Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes, rehabilitating and establishing new civilian prison services to alleviate overcrowding and securely house high-risk detainees, among other actions.” Other work includes enhancing the security sector through nationwide recruitment campaigns and robust accountability frameworks for the national army and internal security forces. Furthermore, the mission is contributing to the establishment of sustainable cities and communities through community-oriented policing initiatives and complementing the Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) efforts with community violence reduction programmes that support the economic and social reintegration of armed groups. MINUSCA is also actively working towards mainstreaming the role of youth and women in the peace efforts.
However, Carrilho said, given the daunting scale of the needs of the population, more support is required. There is an urgent need for financial support to stem the tide of the humanitarian crisis and stabilize the development of the country.
“A strong commitment from international partners to these windows of opportunity in CAR and in other conflict-affected settings will ensure that gains made as a result of UN peacekeeping operations in fostering peace, justice and inclusive institutions are consolidated and create the conditions for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda,” said the UN Police Advisor.
When the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were adopted in September 2015, Iraq was at the forefront of global efforts in the fight against the terrorist group ISIL, which had controlled close to two thirds of Iraqi territory. The cost of the fight against terrorism coupled with a sharp decline in global oil prices had heavily impacted the country’s economy, which is largely oil dependent. Since the military defeat of ISIL in September 2017, the Government of Iraq has shown progress in promoting the SDG agenda, evidenced by the country’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) on implementing the SDGs, presented to the HLPF this year.
“Iraq continues to face many challenges on the road to economic recovery and sustainable peace and development, including the ongoing threat of terrorism, heavy IED contamination, the major task of reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and a displaced population of approximately 1.7 million people who have yet to return to their places of origin,” Mohammed Sahib Mejid Marzooq, Charge d’Affaires of Iraq to the UN said. The cost of Iraq’s reconstruction is estimated at US $88.2 billion. The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Country Team are working together to support the Government in the areas of both reconstruction and development and prevention of relapse into violent conflict. To consolidate the gains, Marta Ruedas, Deputy Special Representative/Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator at the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said, “Iraq has to further strengthen state institutions, improving the delivery of basic services, enhancing national dialogue, establishing inclusive and accountable governance frameworks at federal and local levels and promoting national and community reconciliation.” Water management issues and the effects of climate change are also topics that need to be tackled, she added.
Renewed efforts are essential to move towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. For the UN peace and security pillar it will mean to find innovative ways to make tangible progress on implementing Goal 16 and finding new ways of collaborating with UN and other partners to collectively achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals.