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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Open Debate on Exclusion, Inequality and Conflict

Mr. President,

I would like to thank Mexico, and you personally, President Obrador, for being with us today and for bringing this important item to the Council.

I want to thank the Secretary General also for his insightful briefing and in particular say thank you to Ms. Lourdes Tiban Guala, for the powerful messages she gave at the start of the briefing. We listened attentively to those.

Mr. President,

Ireland’s own President, Michael D. Higgins, in his recent statement celebrating 200 years of Mexican independence, noted the striking parallels in the histories between Mexico and Ireland, which include colonisation, emigration, poverty and exclusion. These are features which mark both of our histories, but which also unite Irish and Mexican people. They also form a particularly relevant backdrop for our discussions here today.

Mr President,

Let’s admit it, today the Security Council is not effectively addressing the root causes of conflict. Today’s debate – and your own thoughtful statement - highlights the gaps in the urgent, and critical need to further the preventive agenda of the Council. And to ensure that as the Security Council, we avoid the struggle underway now to move beyond simply reacting to crises.

The value Ireland places on this is reflected in how we approach our role at this table. It’s reflected in how we approach our work on climate and security, on conflict and hunger, on Women Peace and Security, on human rights and on peacekeeping. We believe that this council must take these issues into the heart of our agenda, to ensure effective prevention and transitions to peace, particularly in contexts where we’re moving from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. 

In our view, this is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. We know that on average, early, preventive action to avert war and mass atrocities can cost as much as 60 times less than late response and military intervention. And daily, at this very table, we are dealing with the result of the Security Council doing too little, too late.  

Whether in relation to climate related risks, collapse of food systems, endemic corruption, exclusionary politics, or the human rights and protection landscape, we truly need to recognise what is now increasingly so obvious. That non-traditional challenges are increasingly and rapidly impacting - not just on peace and security – but also acting as a drag on our ability to address those challenges.

As others have said today, the adverse effects of climate change are being felt across the globe, from the Sahel to small island developing states. It is leading to sea level rise, displacement, and competition over resources, thus contributing to instability, and increasing tensions.

As we discussed here just last month under Kenya’s presidency, the Great Lakes Region is facing a host of complex and interlinked crises, including persistent violence and insecurity, illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources, a cycle of conflict and hunger, staggeringly high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, as well as extreme poverty, exclusion and inequality.

Failing to address these issues is nothing less than an abdication of our responsibility.

Ireland believes that a coordinated and partnership-based approach across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus will enable us to anticipate and respond to emerging threats before they lead to conflicts on our agenda. It can help us to extinguish the sparks which might otherwise become flames.  It can also help us to hold ourselves to account against the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

We have also seen in countries like Timor-Leste a positive example of how suitable anticipatory actions, early response, and inclusive political engagement, can generate a robust peace. As is often stated, there is no peace without development and no development without peace.

Mr. President,

We should be under no illusion that the glaring examples of poverty, exclusion and inequality we see around us, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and ever-increasing climate related risks, are contributing to international insecurity.

The exclusion of women, too, in peacebuilding contexts is also deeply damaging. The evidence shows that women’s participation in peace processes leads to better outcomes in the substance and in the quality of peace agreements, as well as in their durability. As this Council has heard before – in all peace and political processes that the UN leads or co-leads – women’s participation must be full; it must be equal; and it must be meaningful. We know this well in Ireland from our own experience.

Mr. President, 

Other speakers have reminded us of the alarming array of humanitarian crises and human rights violations in conflict settings on our agenda today. It’s a grim reminder that the Security Council is not effectively addressing the root causes of conflict. In the past month alone in this room, we have discussed the acute humanitarian emergencies Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Mali and more. 

In order to remain credible – I would argue in order to meet our responsibilities – this Council must better work with other parts of the UN system, notably the Peacebuilding Commission, the General Assembly, and the Human Rights Council. We must continue to provide platforms and listen to civilians – like Lourdes this morning - who in this Council have an amplified voice and show us that this Council can meet its responsibility, to strive to protect those who are most affected by our work.

As our President noted in his recent message to you, President Obrador, Ireland shares with Mexico a common wish to “advance the role of women in peace processes, advocate for the peaceful settlement of disputes, ensure respect for the rule of law, and promote the protection of vulnerable groups and civilians in armed conflict”. I am therefore grateful to you that this open debate today is allowing for a refreshing, and at times provocative discussion, that reflects our shared aspirations.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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