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Security, Development and the Root Causes of Conflict

On November 17th, the British Presidency of the Security Council organized an open debate on the maintenance of international peace, with focus on security, development and the root causes of conflict. The event, presided by Justine Greening, British Secretary of State for International Development, was a proof that the Security Council can be simultaneously effective and transparent in its works. Scheduled in the context of the new paradigm introduced by the Agenda 2030, the debate was of an even greater actuality because of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Terrorism threatens the core sovereignty of a country, constitutes a direct violation of the UN Charter and is a great impediment to the implementation of the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Killing innocent people based on ideology is not just an attack on Paris, on Ankara, or on Beirut, but an attack on all of humanity. Therefore, it is not just Paris, Ankara or Beirut we should pray for, it is the world. And we must stand together in hunting down the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Poverty does not cause terrorism, but it can fuel resentments that terrorists exploit. Which is why sustainable development is part of countering violent extremism. Development is, indeed, the thread that runs through the Agenda 2030 and, as we have already learned, there is no development without peace, and there is no peace without development, and there is none of the above without respect for human rights. These are the three pillars of the UN: if one of them is weak, the whole structure is weak. Balance is key.

More than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by violent conflict and few low-income conflict affected countries have achieved any of the millennium development goals by 2015. The terms "rule of law," "human rights," "peace and security," "development", are often used as de facto separate concepts. The reality is that challenges such as poverty, insecurity, violent conflict and terrorism transcend those boundaries.

Although some countries were reluctant to recognize the fact that poor governance fuels civil conflict and hinders development, the period from 2001 to 2015 proved that fragile states, characterized by weak governance, have had the greatest difficulty in achieving the millennium development goals. Which is why, at the UN, Romania together with Mexico and the Republic of Korea have established the "Group of Friends of the Governance for Sustainable Development", as a flexible and informal space to discuss issues related to good governance and foster cooperation between multiple actors.

A recent report of the UN Secretary General on "Overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions" shows that the global peace and security landscape has continued to deteriorate in 2015, and that the number of major wars has tripled since 2008. This must be a call for an urgent global effort not only to respond to the proliferating number of crisis, but to prevent them from emerging. Prevention is first and foremost a responsibility of Member States. Therefore, the UN task to maintain international peace and security should be based on preventive actions, institution building, coordination among different actors, reinforced partnerships with regional organizations, but also on a strong national ownership.

Conflict prevention includes the mitigation of climate change and global warming, which is part of environment protection, which is part of sustainable development. In the absence of substantial action, climate change is expected to bring severe food and water shortages in many areas, leading to mass migrations (there are already 60 million refugees in the world), instability and conflicts. A successful outcome of the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) next December could, therefore, be a turning point in preventing potential new conflicts. Here again, the national ownership is vital.

The Agenda 2030 demonstrates that where there's a will, there's a way, and the UN is again at the heart of the multilateral system. But it must be fit for purpose. As the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, remarked in his address at UN 70th session in New York: "It has become a common practice to ask the United Nations to do more with less. Despite the fact the UN does not need to prove the legitimacy of its actions, his role is once again dramatically tested at present. It is called upon to make, in concert with regional organizations and individual states, new commitments in the fight against terrorism, in all its manifestations, be they coward crimes against innocent people, barbarous destruction of the common cultural heritage of mankind, or the unprecedented abhorrent form developed by the so-called ISIL/Da'esh whose actions constitute clear violations of international law and human rights we are striving so hard to uphold".

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