Exclusion, inequality and conflict - Security Council, 8900th Meeting
Corruption an Obstacle to Inclusiveness, Mexico’s President Tells Open Debate
The Security Council discussed today the importance of addressing exclusion, inequality and conflicts, as members adopted a presidential statement aimed at reaffirming its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.
By the presidential statement (to be issued as document S/PRST/2021/22), presented by Mexico, Council President for November, the 15‑member organ underscored the importance of a holistic approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, conducted in accordance with applicable international law. Also during the open debate it reaffirmed that “sustaining peace” should be broadly understood as a goal and a process to build a common vision of a society, which encompasses activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict.
United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres said rising inequalities are a factor of rising instability. The world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945; conflicts which last longer and are more complex. Human rights are being denied, from Afghanistan, where women are denied their rightful place in society, to Myanmar, where minorities are targeted, brutalized and forced to flee, he said. Further, recent seizures of force indicate that “a dangerous sense of impunity is taking hold”.
Against this backdrop, he underlined the need for conflict prevention, which is at the heart of the Agenda for Peace, in the report on Our Common Agenda, noting that “without inclusion, the puzzle of peace remains incomplete, with many gaps to be filled”.
Also briefing the Council was Lourdes Tibán Guala, an indigenous affairs expert from Ecuador, who pointed out that indigenous peoples in each State already grapple with issues of peace and conflict, although they are not seen as armed conflicts or wars. She suggested that the Council address the increasing criminalization of social struggles by States, including through the persecution of human rights defenders, which threatens to undermine peace. Another area of concern is the uptick in armed conflicts linked to disputes over natural resources. This may be “a time bomb” endangering peacekeeping and international security, she warned.
When the floor opened to Council members, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s President and President of the Security Council for the month, speaking in his national capacity, denounced corruption, which he called the main obstacle to peace, security and inclusiveness. Pointing to the lavish lifestyle of elites and the neoliberal economic model that privatizes profits and encourages looting of resources, he said corruption allows courts to punish those without means to buy their innocence, protects major corporations stealing from the State and avoiding payment of taxes, covers up illicit funds in tax havens and allows shareholders of so-called “vulture funds” to practice usury without losing respectability.
During the ensuing debate, in which representatives of nearly 40 Member States participated, speakers underscored the need for conflict prevention, early warning systems and greater equity in access to vaccines. Many emphasized the importance of addressing factors that drive conflict, such as exclusion, inequality and poverty, while some deplored the use of sanctions and economic blockades as a driver of inequality that is inimical to countries’ pursuit of their developmental goals.
The representative of Norway was among those calling for the need for greater inclusion and strengthened prevention efforts, underlining the need to mobilize grassroot movements and civil society, including women’s organizations. Human rights are a key part of both Norway’s foreign and development policies, as development and peace gains are not sustainable if large parts of the population are marginalized, and human rights are not respected.
In a similar vein, France’s delegate said the protection of women, children and minorities must remain priorities, emphasizing that protection of freedoms and rule of law are prerequisites for lasting peace. He urged the Council to seek to improve the rights for Afghani women and girls, and called on Ethiopia and the Central African Republic to pave the way for national dialogues.
Ireland’s delegate underscored the importance of early, preventive action to avert war and mass atrocities, pointing out that such efforts can cost as much as 60 times less than late response and military intervention. She also stressed the need for the Council to address non-traditional challenges, such as climate risks, collapse of food systems, endemic corruption, exclusionary politics, or human rights and protection, which she pointed out are increasingly impacting peace and security.
Meanwhile, the representative of China was among those who highlighted the need to redress vaccine inequity, observing that the COVID‑19 pandemic is further widening the North-South divide. Vaccines should be treated as public goods, and China is working hard to share them as the world’s largest provider.
For his part, the delegate of the Russian Federation stated that although the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund help address the dire situation resulting from inequalities, they are merely applying a Band‑Aid onto developmental challenges, as they cannot create jobs or reinforce infrastructure. He went on to deplore “pernicious actions” such as sanctions and the refusal of development assistance, which undermine Governments’ ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Also speaking today were representatives of Estonia, United States, India, Kenya, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Viet Nam, Niger, Peru, United Arab Emirates, Malta, Iran, Chile, Malaysia, Japan, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Portugal, Lebanon, Ecuador, Cuba, Denmark, Netherlands, Qatar, Albania, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Guatemala, Argentina, Morocco, South Africa and Indonesia.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m., suspended at 1 p.m., resumed at 3:12 p.m. and ended at 4:42 p.m.