I thank you for convening today’s open debate on “Pandemics and the Challenges for Sustaining Peace”.
I would also like to thank the Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and Ms. Sarah Cliffe for their insightful briefings.
Six weeks ago, the Security Council held an Open Debate on “Pandemics and Security”, chaired by the German Foreign Minister.
Recently, we also had an informal exchange of the Council members with representatives of the Peacebuilding Commission on the impact of Covid-19 on Peacebuilding. In both meetings, we called on the Council to adopt a comprehensive understanding of peace and security.
Therefore, I am grateful to Indonesia for providing us with an opportunity to build on these discussions today.
A comprehensive approach to peace and security means to also address root causes and mid- and long term challenges as opposed to only acute crises. It means the need to find integrated solutions for interconnected challenges and to strengthen prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace – no matter if we are facing human rights violations, a pandemic or climate change as multidimensional challenges.
Covid-19 continues to rage across the world. It is a multi-dimensional challenge that adversely affects humanitarian, health, political, social, economic and environmental aspects. And it affects peace and security and undermines peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries and countries in transition.
What needs to be done? Allow me to focus on four brief points:
1) The need for an active and engaged Security Council:
This Council needs to follow-up on resolution 2532, in which the Council explicitly recognizes that Covid-19 might reverse peacebuilding gains. We should encourage the SG to fully integrate the impact of the pandemic on security in his reporting. Such reporting would support prevention and early warning.
The Council should further empower the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), which holds a unique mandate within the UN system to enable integrated and cross-pillar approaches. We commend the PBC for its fast response and excellent track record since the outbreak of the pandemic.
We need to ensure that the UN and its presence on the ground, especially the Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions, are sufficiently equipped and mandated to address the direct and indirect challenges of the pandemic. This is particularly important in the context of transitions, [such as currently in Darfur or Guinea Bissau). And this is this Council’s core business.
2) The need for coordination and coherence:
We need integrated peacebuilding efforts in response to a challenge such as Covid-19. The SG’s briefing today, but also his recent report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, have demonstrated how the UN system as a whole has adapted in response to the pandemic. However, we need to ensure further progress in achieving better coordination and coherence within the UN system, its agencies, funds and programs.
There are lessons to be learned from the impact and response to the pandemic. We believe there is value in incorporating such lessons into the currently ongoing process of the Peacebuilding Architecture Review.
3) Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace urgently need funding:
The Covid-19 pandemic has massive, immediate socio-economic repercussions. Peacebuilding needs are already now underfunded – despite the fact that a prevented crisis is much less costly than an acute crisis.
Germany continues to contribute to Peacebuilding and Prevention. For instance, we keep supporting the SG’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), where we have just cleared a first contribution of 15 million Euro for 2020. The PBF with its flexibility and catalytic function plays a crucial role in meeting critical peacebuilding needs such as on gender and inclusivity, cross-border collaboration and particularly in contexts of transition.
On a bilateral level, Germany has contributed to the SG’s call for a global ceasefire by supporting additional efforts by its mediation partners on the ground.
Gender equality gains are at a risk of being lost as many governments are diverting funds originally directed at the support for women and girls and their participation in peace processes.
As a member of the Women's Peace and Humanitarian Fund's Funding Board, Germany supported the establishment of an Emergency Response Window within the Fund and made available 2.5 Million USD to this emergency window.
Through this window, local women's organisations from countries in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe can apply for funding, which enables them to sustain themselves through the crisis, and for programmes responding to the pandemic and its gendered dimensions.
But these efforts are not enough: To create sustainable and predictable financing for peacebuilding, we need strengthened partnerships with international financial institutions, regional banks and the private sector.
And as donors we should not forget: To make a difference, donors should coordinate better, use pooled funding if possible and engage in “good peacebuilding donorship”.
4) The need for inclusive approaches to build resilience:
All efforts will be in vain if they are not based on national ownership. Only in lockstep with the affected countries will we be able to build resilient societies that can better withstand the impact of such a pandemic. The respect for human rights and political processes that are inclusive and allow all parts of society, especially women, youth and marginalized groups, to participate in a meaningful way, are crucial in building up such resilience.
Let me conclude on a hopeful note: This pandemic, just like other multidimensional challenges, offers us as international community an opportunity. An opportunity to strengthen cooperation, reinforce multilateralism and show international solidarity.
If we manage to overcome traditional thinking and siloes and find integrated and coherent solutions, we will be able to defeat a deadly virus, eventually halt climate change and hopefully realize a world where everybody can live in peace and security.
I thank you.