UN Secretary-General’s remarks “Sustaining Peace – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at event in Sri Lanka on SDG16: Sustaining Peace – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2 September 2016
It is an honour to be here today to talk about the links between peace and sustainable development.
This is my first visit to Sri Lanka since 2009, when I saw great suffering and hardship. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and in need of humanitarian aid after the terrible conflict that tore the country apart.
I called for fast reconciliation and action to build peace, in the knowledge that conflict can recur in fragile post-war societies.
Today, the picture is very different. I congratulate the Government and people of Sri Lanka for the progress you have made. There remains much hard work ahead, but you have moved with determination along a new path with great promise for all the country’s people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Last year, 2015, was a landmark year both for Sri Lanka and for the United Nations.
The United Nations turned 70 at a time of great turbulence.
As we witness conflicts in Syria, Yemen, the Central African Republic and elsewhere, the words of the United Nations Charter “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” may sometimes ring hollow.
Extreme poverty and deepening inequalities challenged our sense of what is just.
The number of people displaced by conflict reached the highest level since the Second World War.
The threat of violent extremism gave rise to countermeasures that were sometimes counter-productive – xenophobic or heavily militarized responses that did not respect human rights.
But 2015 was also a year of inspiring collaboration.
In March, countries agreed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
In July, they reached consensus around the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.
Then in September, world leaders came together in New York to launch the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda — our plan of action for people, peace, prosperity, partnership and the planet.
It was followed in December by the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
I thank the Sri Lankan cabinet for your decision this week to ratify the agreement, and I encourage you to deposit your instrument of ratification during the High-Level event that I am convening on 21 September or by the end of this year, so that it enters into force as soon as possible.
At the same time, the United Nations carried out a series of reviews on our peacekeeping and peacebuilding work. We looked at our progress on involving women in peace and security, and our capacity to prevent and manage conflicts and build peace.
These led to parallel resolutions by the Security Council and the General Assembly on Sustaining Peace, which reaffirmed our shared responsibility and renewed our commitment to work together to tackle the root causes of violence.
And in May of this year, at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, world leaders, humanitarian organizations, people affected by crisis, the private sector and others came together to reaffirm the centrality of political will to prevent and end conflicts, address root causes, reduce fragility and strengthen good governance.