I would like to thank Ireland for arranging this important meeting. Let me also express my great appreciation to Ms Mary Robinson and Mr Lakhdar Brahimi for sharing from their vast experiences.
Let me pick up on three key areas where Norway believes that the Security Council can do more in the years ahead:
First, the Security Council has a mandate to prevent conflict.Yet the Council often shies away from acting early, even when there are urgent warning signs. This is mainly due to political sensitivities and a wish by states to avoid Council attention on their internal affairs. This is regrettable, because it reduces the ability for the Council to perform one of its most important roles. Efforts to avert conflict by peaceful means are by far the most efficient way to reduce violent conflicts.
Tapping into available resources, in the Secretariat, in Country Teams, but also by drawing on partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations, mechanisms for early warning and prevention could be institutionalized, discreet and constructive.
Initiatives such as the informal ‘situational awareness briefings’ and fact-finding missions are positive and could be used actively by the Council to engage before conflicts erupt.
Experience shows that transitions pose a risk and need attention to prevent conflicts from re-erupting. They demand a coordinated whole-of-UN approach in close collaboration with host states.
Second, inclusion is key for lasting outcomes. Peace processes that include civil society, particularly women's organizations, peacebuilders, human rights defenders, and victims, achieve greater ownership and legitimacy.
We must continue to insist on the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all aspects of the UN’s peace and security efforts and to address the gap between this goal and realities on the ground.
As we have learned today women in Afghanistan face extreme uncertainty. While some in the Taliban leadership have stated that women may return to work, and girls to school, other Taliban leaders are saying that such issues are yet to be decided.
Amidst this uncertainty, we see that vital humanitarian access is hindered when women humanitarian workers are unable to safely do their job – and reach women and girls in need.
The international community will not be able to help Afghanistan sufficiently respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation if women are not able to provide or receive humanitarian assistance and services.
We must all be crystal clear that there is no solution to the humanitarian situation without women humanitarian workers, there is no sustainable development without women in the workforce, and there is no sustainable peace without women being part of a political solution.
An important lesson from Norway’s experience is to be willing to talk to all actors in a conflict. Engaging actors that others have deemed ‘off limits’ can be essential to reaching political solutions.
To Norway, this was evident in the Middle East peace process, where PLO was involved at an early stage. The same approach has been important in many other efforts.
When armed conflict erupts, ensuring the protection of civilians affected by the conflict is crucial in laying the foundations for sustained peace. It is important that the Council reminds the parties to the conflict of their international legal obligations. Where necessary, it is also important that the Council takes measures, within its mandate, with the aim to ensure that parties to conflict fulfil their obligations in this regard.
We fully concur with the Elders when they point out that “sustainable peace will only be achieved when root causes of conflict are tackled, impunity is challenged and human rights take centre stage.”
Third, the Security Council has a responsibility to adapt to changing circumstances and develop new ways of responding to non-traditional threats to international peace and security.
The Security Council has already recognized that the effects of climate change constitute a risk to global peace and security. This is also a matter of conflict prevention.
From Kabul to Tigray; from the outer atmosphere to the depth of our oceans: the world is facing many multi-faceted challenges. These can only be solved through multilateral cooperation, and the Security Council has a pivotal role to play.
Often, the focus is on what this Council has not achieved. However, this year the Security Council has adopted a range of unanimous resolutions, ranging from Covid-19 response, renewed mandates for peace operations and prolonging the cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism to Syria.
We are greatly encouraged by this unanimity and should continue to build on this productive work.