Statement by HE Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
at the event “From words to Action: a global ceasefire beyond COVID-19 pandemic”
Let me thank the delegations of who have organized this timely initiative to mark an important milestone in recent times. March 23rd 2020 marked a pivotal moment in international diplomacy. The Secretary General in issuing an urgent appeal for a global ceasefire, and the subsequent support received by member states, indicated that as a global community we realized a threat that confronts us all. Look around us. The response in tackling COVID-19 reiterated and underlined the importance of multilateralism as a force in seeking solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Is that happening? By what stretch of imagination or jurisprudential gymnastics can interpret the UN Charter to accommodate anything other than peace? Words express what's on your mind, but your actions say what's in your heart.”We have had enough of well-structured diplomatic rhetoric which at most times is not matched by action.
As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, it should be acknowledged that present environment is a far cry from what we envisioned. The achievement of the 2030 agenda hangs in the balance, on the edge of an abyss as the SG puts it. We have seen an increase in global poverty, and a recession in the global economy remains probable, which will again disproportionately threaten marginalized communities and nations. Mr. Chair, against this backdrop it becomes even more imperative to use the political momentum created by the COVID-19 pandemic to reform global governance, cooperation, and development into a manner that reflects the economic and social requirements of developing countries, Small Island Developing states, Least Developed and Lower Middle income states.
A global ceasefire although a mirage continues to remain a desirable concept since we do not address the underlying power struggles that have created the prevailing issues. Investment in prevention tools such as mediation would be helpful if conducted by geographically and economically representative bodies/states that can truly merge conflicting interests. A prevention oriented multilateral architecture needs to prioritize the wellbeing of the marginalized, and value legitimate policy autonomy, especially in peace building and developmental agendas. At the heart of many violent conflicts lie issues of inequality, injustice and exclusion. While criminality can feed on and into a conflict, there are often genuine and unaddressed grievances at play, which are expressed in violence. Military power may be deployed to prevent or defend against an immediate threat, but it cannot resolve underlying political, social and economic problems and sustain peace. In fact it can sometimes complicate that task.
More than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by violent conflict. 59.5 million are currently forcibly displaced worldwide, 19.5 million of them refugees, of which half are children. No low-income conflict-affected country has achieved a single one of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Peacebuilding approaches, including mediation and diplomacy, dialogue and participation, are an essential part of the toolkit we need to meet Goal 16 of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals, to ‘promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development’.
The UNGA in September reiterated its commitment “to make sustainable long-term investments to eradicate poverty in all its forms, as well as address inequalities and human rights abuses or violations…and address climate change and the environmental crisis in order to build a better future for all.” A global ceasefire as envisaged would undoubtedly provide the necessary space at a much needed time for countries and UN Agencies to deliver on these commitments. Ultimately, we cannot ask for ceasefires if at its core citizens or nations do not feel their concerns or interest as being visible or equally valued – a realignment of competing priorities and values with a view to prevent future crises and promote well-being of the global community in the longer term is an urgent necessity.
To sum up : What is the importance of peace to human beings?
Peace is something we hold close. Peace is an emotion; a feeling of traquility that we entitled to as members of the human family. At the same time it is also a sense of harmony in the objective world. Peace means not only having arrived at a place of complete inner cohesion but in your perception the outside world is also without conflict, or added needless suffering. I think it is something that has similar meanings for everyone and yet something that remains left behind. I think a number of people feel it is not something real or attainable or represents a time in our culture that praised irresponsibility and lack of ambition. Peace is better than conflict.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.