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SC: Peace and Security in Fragile Contexts

Statement by Foreign Minister of Norway, Ine Eriksen Søreide, in the UN Security Council high-level meeting on Peace and Security in Fragile Contexts, 6 January 2021.

Mr President,

First, let me thank you and Tunisia for organising this important debate.

Let me also use this opportunity to strongly condemn the horrific attacks on civilians in Tillabery, Niger, including a large number of young children. I offer my sincere condolences to the bereaved.

Maintaining peace and security in fragile contexts requires a determined and long-term effort, based on a solid understanding of the root causes.

Firstly, poor governance and human rights violations, combined with a lack of development, a scarcity of jobs and poor prospects for the future, are indications of countries and regions moving into fragility.

Secondly, systemic corruption and inequality are mutually reinforcing, and increase the risk of conflict and destabilisation. This may in turn amplify the potential for terrorist groups to grow by providing them with funds and access to recruits.

Thirdly, there is substantial overlap between fragility and climate vulnerability. Of the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change, half of them are also struggling with violent conflict.

Mr President,

Assisting countries and regions in bringing conflicts to an end and laying the foundations for sustainable peace requires concerted action across all the pillars and institutions of the UN.

Norway supports the Secretary-General’s call for a surge in peace diplomacy. We are convinced that the reforms we have adopted are gradually making the UN more conflict sensitive and agile at country level.

The UN system is now better positioned to take a system-wide approach.

The UN’s political missions, such as the United Nations’ Office for West Africa and the Sahel, play a crucial role with regard to preventive diplomacy and mediation.

We believe that the Security Council can benefit more from the combined resources of the new generation of Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams in its efforts to sustain peace.

Mr President,

War and conflict hits the civilian populations hardest. 

Norway remains deeply concerned that the humanitarian toll of conflict and fragility is continuing to rise, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Protecting civilians must be at the core of our interventions, with particular attention focused on those who are most vulnerable. A lack of protection fuels conflict, displacement and mistrust.

Attacks against schoolchildren, such as those carried out by Boko Haram, are unacceptable. All children must be protected, have safe access to education and be safe at school.

In the midst of devastation and trauma, it is often up to women to rebuild what has been destroyed: trust and unity, infrastructure and institutions.

In Mali, Norway has worked with a mandate from all signatory parties to support increased, legitimate and representative inclusion of women in the formal committees in charge of implementing the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Northern Mali.

The inclusion of women is a matter of rights, and it is also a matter of results. No society can truly succeed without the active involvement of women.

Mr President,

The Security Council has a Charter-based mandate to prevent conflict using peaceful means.

We believe that the Council should have a stronger focus on early warning and pay more attention to fragile states threatened by conflict.

We must broaden the analysis and strengthen the Council’s capacity to act.

Initiatives such as the informal ‘situational awareness briefings’ and fact-finding missions are positive steps, but could be used more actively by the Council to engage before conflicts erupt.

Efforts to avert and prevent conflict by peaceful means do not only reduce human suffering, they also save the international community the considerable financial costs of peace operations and of rebuilding societies after conflict.

Mr President,

UN peace operations play a key role in addressing issues of fragility when implementing their mandates.

This includes efforts to build the capacity of judicial and security enforcement institutions to address impunity and promote the rule of law.

These efforts are vital to maintaining stability beyond the lifetime of the mission.

The Peacebuilding Commission’s role and resources could be better utilised, especially in transition situations where peace operations are being phased out.

Working together better equips the UN and regional organisations, such as the African Union, to understand and tackle emerging security threats, including the rise of non-state actors in conflict.

We commend the achievements of AMISOM in securing areas previously controlled by al-Shabaab in Somalia. As an important supplement to the military efforts, Norway took an early decision to make stabilisation funds available to Somali authorities and institutions for service delivery.

Mr President,

Norway’s interests and respect for international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, will form the foundation for our work in the Security Council.

As a member of the Council, we will use the knowledge we have gained from our engagement in peace processes to strengthen the Council’s conflict prevention and resolution efforts – also in fragile contexts.

We will use our commitment to the women, peace and security agenda to ensure that women’s participation and rights are safeguarded in UN peace and security efforts.

We will work to strengthen the protection of civilians, including children. We will use our knowledge and experience of humanitarian work, and bring perspectives from civil society organisations into the Council.

Finally, Norway will work to ensure that the Security Council discusses climate-related security risks in specific country contexts and constantly assess the potential impacts of climate change on all parts of the Council’s agenda.

If we act today, we can prevent the crises of tomorrow.