Peace and stability are vital if sustainable development is to take root and flourish, United Nations officials stressed today as the General Assembly met to consider how these essential conditions can contribute to eradicating poverty and ensuring well-being for all.
"Stability and peace are essential enablers of sustainable development, just as violence is one of its greatest obstacles," Assembly President John Ashe stated as he opened the thematic debate on 'Ensuring Stable and Peaceful Societies.'
"Indeed, many of the broad goals and values that underpin sustainable development assume the existence of stable and peaceful societies, which can address urgent development issues such as health, education and access to water, to name a few. Yes, it is true: development can only take root within a stable and peaceful society."
Mr. Ashe noted that the devastating impacts of conflict destroy hard-won development gains and hold back progress by diverting critical finance toward activities that prevent development.
At the same time, there are numerous additional stressors that lead to unstable and fragile societies such as organized crime; corruption; trafficking in persons, arms and drugs; illicit trade and illicit financial flows; as well as economic and financial shocks.
The Assembly President went on to say that within the process Member States have begun to elaborate a new development agenda beyond 2015, the deadline for achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is now time to look more broadly at the relationship between peace, security and sustainable development.
"Achieving the overarching goal of the eradication of extreme poverty will simply remain an elusive ideal and dream, out of reach of those who most need it, unless we work together to end conflict and instability, and to promote inclusiveness, good governance, the rule of law, and human rights, including the right to development for all," he stated.
Over the course of the next day and half, the Assembly will hear from high-level officials and experts on: the nexus between sustainable development, peace and stability and how they are mutually reinforcing; the role of national institutions in helping to address external stressors; and the contributions of global partnerships in strengthening domestic institutions and supporting national and regional efforts.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering that one-fifth of humanity lives in countries experiencing significant violence, political conflict and insecurity. Countries with major violence have poverty rates more than 20 per cent higher than average.
"Durable peace needs inclusive development. And sustainable development, if it is to take hold and flourish, needs peace, stability and the firm foundation provided by human rights," he said.
Mr. Ban added that peace and stability are fundamental development outcomes, especially in the realm of personal security and enabling people to feel safe as they go about their daily lives.
"Children need to be safe going to school. Women need to be free of violence at home and their workplaces. People need to feel secure in their neighbourhoods whatever their ethnicity, faith or sexual orientation...
"Let us therefore work together to develop a post-2015 development agenda that will address the underlying causes of violence and conflict wherever they occur. Let us use sustainable development and human rights to provide the foundations for lasting peace.
"Let us continue to sharpen peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and preventive diplomacy so that they can do their part to create environments conducive for development.
And let us build effective and trustworthy institutions, promote the rule of law and pay closer, earlier attention to human rights abuses. "By using these tools in a coherent, holistic manner, we can build stable and peaceful societies of freedom and well-being for all."