United Nations High Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security: Closing remarks


An article from the webpage of the the President of the United Nations General Assembly

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. We have come to the end of what I believe has been a truly enriching discussion on the UN’s role in maintaining global peace and security. I would like to thank all those who contributed so actively to this event including our speakers, those of you visiting from capitals, our interpreters, colleagues in DGACM, civil society representatives and of course, you, the membership.


Discussions these past few days demonstrate that across the membership, there is a feeling that we are at a watershed moment in terms of both the challenges we are facing in maintaining international peace and security and the way we must tackle those challenges.

Taken together, the recommendations included in the three UN reviews and other relevant processes, provide us with a very solid basis from which to move forward.

Indeed, through this debate we have identified some of the key themes and connectors between these reviews, but what we need now is sustained political engagement and actual implementation.

Shortly after this meeting, I will therefore produce a summary of the key messages from this debate which I will share with both member states, the current Secretary-General and Secretary-General candidates.

I also intend to invite the Secretary-General to brief the membership on how the UN is jointly implementing the relevant recommendations emerging from all three reviews and to consider producing a possible roadmap to that effect.

Among the key messages and my own personal reflections are the following:

First, on the need to rebuild trust.

The UN’s inability to protect civilians in conflicts; the disturbing allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peace keepers; the lack of adequate tools to respond to complex conflicts, to international terrorism or to global challenges with a clear security dimension, have undermined global confidence in the UN’s role in maintaining peace and security.

On this seventieth anniversary, therefore, we need to enhance the trust on which institutional cooperation is build.

Trust between member states, large and small and between member states and the UN, that we will adhere the commitments of the UN Charter to ensure our collective security; that we will uphold our obligations under international humanitarian law; that we will rejuvenate the ability of the United Nations to confront new and evolving threats.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Questions related to this article:

Can the UN help move the world toward a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

Second, on prevention.

As Leymah Gbowee reminded us – if we spend peanuts on prevention and trillions on war, then we cannot expect to achieve peace.

Greater resources, analysis, research should therefore be dedicated to the UN’s diplomatic and preventive functions.

Furthermore, the search for conflict resolution whether through UN managed missions, efforts pursued with regional organizations or multi-national action authorized by the security council, must be ground in an overall political framework.

Third, on the role of women. Practically everyone agrees that women must be more involved right across the continuum of sustaining peace.

But agreement is not enough. Leadership and targeted steps to make this happen are needed now.

Similarly tools must be developed to place communities at the heart of peace operations.

Fifth, in today’s world the UN must increasingly look to build partnerships at political and operational level with regional and sub-regional organizations; with other multi-lateral partners, with civil society and with the private sector.

Sixth, we have to reduce fragmentation across the three UN pillars notably by enhancing the Peacebuilding Commission’s role and by taking the SDGs as our collective vision and guide. Greater efforts should also be made to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the UN, including at Headquarters.

Seventh, in relation to the fight against radicalism and terrorism, consideration should be given to identifying concrete ways for the UN to effectively contribute to the international efforts to counter terrorist entities when encountered in mission environments.

Eighth, large-scale displacement may be a consequence of instability or feed into new or existing tensions. Properly responding to these flows in the longer term demands that we focus on addressing the underlying root causes.

And finally, taking office on 1 January 2017, the next Secretary-General will

need to foster support from the UN Security Council and all Member States’ to advance peace, justice and security across our world. In particular, she or he will need support to implement the practical recommendations contained in the three reviews.


To conclude, let us remember that the current or the future Secretary-General can only do so much.

Ultimately, the shift we need – in mind-set, in our financing and partnership mechanisms, in our systems and operations – will only happen if it is supported and driven by governments and leaders around the world

I hope that you and your leaders will rise up to this challenge.

I thank you again for your participation and continued support.