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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Statement at the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.
24 April 2018
Statement by H.E. Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson
Minister for Foreign Affairs

President of the General Assembly, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

First allow me to thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this high-level meeting. The situation in Syria and Yemen, the repeated use of chemical weapons, record numbers of refugees and displaced persons – all these worrying examples in our world demand a new approach. 
Unfortunately, we cannot discuss peace and security in this forum without mentioning our disappointment with the work of the Security Council, especially as it concerns Syria. The world body responsible for ensuring peace is hampered by its inability to agree and move forward on the most urgent issues. We must hold the Security Council to a higher standard; thousands of lives depend on it. 
Nevertheless, there are positive things to be said of the work of the UN system. Under the leadership of the Secretary-General, the organization is refocusing its efforts to better ensure peace and security. 
We spend massive amounts on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance in response to conflict. The Security Council decides our peacekeeping budget and it is roughly four times the annual UN regular budget. 

The last five years have seen an attempt to address this and important progress has been made at the policy level, shaping the concepts on sustaining peace and peacebuilding for the twenty-first century. We have realized that fire-fighting has limited impact if we then leave the site scattered with the original fire hazards. The fire will re-emerge. Prevention is better, cheaper and saves more lives. 
Agenda 2030 is our most powerful framework for peacebuilding and sustaining peace. If we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we will in fact build peace and provide much of the circumstances needed to sustain it. Remarkable conceptual work has also been carried out with the three landmark reports relating to peace operations (High level panel on peace operations, Global study on women and peace, peacebuilding). 

Mr. President
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his report “Peacebuilding and sustaining peace”. 
Iceland strongly supports the Secretary-General’s analysis. Sustaining peace requires a sustained effort – not only when conflict has broken out, but long beforehand and then following the achievement of peace. This means addressing the root causes, including human rights and governance issues. We also welcome the Secretary-General’s strong emphasis on the crucial role of women in sustaining peace and conflict prevention. They must be represented at all levels of decision making. 

Mr. President
We all selected, through a rigorous and transparent process, a Secretary-General with a clear vision of what needs to be done to sustain peace. The United Nations are never stronger than its member states. We are now at a point where we, the membership, need to step up to the plate and support his leadership.

Thank you. 

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