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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the Arria Formula Meeting on “Transitioning from Protracted Conflict and Fragility into Peace Through Sustainable Development”

2022-12-23 22:20

Mr. Chair,

China welcomes Kenya’s initiative to hold today’s meeting. I thank the briefers for their briefings. It is China’s pleasure to attend today’s meeting as a co-sponsor. 

Peace and development are the fundamental aspirations of people around the world. The close nexus between peace and development is the subject matter of more and more in-depth reflections. Secretary-General Guterres said that “conflicts do not emerge out of thin air, nor are they inevitable. Too often, they result from lack of access to basic services and life staples”. People see no hope in their lives, so they lose confidence in social governance systems. This lack of confidence is what may potentially trigger a conflict. Many of the conflict situations that persist on the Council’s agenda for many long years can mostly be traced to a development deficit. For conflict and post-conflict countries, the economic dividends and livelihood gains from development are the most powerful superglue for political stability, national identity, and social cohesion. And precisely because of that, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda focus on development as an important means of addressing the root causes of conflict and achieving lasting peace. 

At present, our world is undergoing a new round of turbulence and changes, caught in a complex web of interlocking global challenges. Among them, security issues and armed conflict are the fast variables. We pay attention to these issues on a daily basis. On the other hand, development issues are the slow variables, which are very important on their own, but often do not receive the attention they deserve. They usually do not receive the attention from international media, because from their perspective, those issues are not newsmakers. They are not going to arouse too much interest in the general public. In recent years, the international community has been seriously under-responsive to the development needs of developing countries. It is all too clear that development issues have been moved to the back burner of the multilateral agenda, with a significant decline in the developed countries’ input in development assistance. Confronted with this very grim situation and complex challenges, we should act with a greater sense of urgency, focus on the longer-term prospects, revitalize global development, and explore better ways to find the key to unraveling the global security crisis and achieving lasting peace and sustainable development by way of development. To this end, I wish to put forward the following three proposals.

First, we must genuinely prioritize development on the agenda of international cooperation. Here we have heard strong voices, but the effect to date has been less than desirable. Going forward, in 2023, we will have the SDG summit, the third South summit, and other important meetings. We must seize those opportunities to pay high attention to development issues, and respond to the concerns of developing countries. We must put development at the center of global macro policy coordination, and pay close attention to the spillover effect of certain major economies’ monetary and trade policies on developing countries. Developed countries should take more tangible actions to fulfill their development assistance commitments. International financial institutions, multilateral development banks, and commercial creditors should actively participate in international development cooperation and debt relief. Their participation is not charity or relief, but their obligation. Secretary-General Guterres has repeatedly stressed that there is a moral deficit among international financial institutions. We should support the Secretary-General in pushing for the reform of international financial institutions, and support the UN in taking concrete actions in this regard to increase the representation and the voice of developing countries. This will help create an enabling international institutional environment for achieving peace through development.

Second, we should examine security issues through the lens of development. Development must not be overlooked at any stage of peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. Here, the UN has explored and rolled out a number of good practices. For example, the deputy heads of MINUSMA, MONUSCO, and UNMISS are double-hatted by the resident coordinators. This practice helps the UN agencies better manage security and development in an integrated manner, so as to form greater synergy. The UN Trust Fund for Peace and Security in Mali administered by MINUSMA has implemented a good number of projects in such areas as infrastructure, health, and energy, meeting the urgent needs of many people in northern and central Mali. The Security Council should promote such experience, and take into full account the interface between peacekeeping and peacebuilding when writing mission mandates. And at the same time, ensure the interface is in line with the nature and targets of the missions. Recently, some of the missions have aroused displeasure in the local public. This is a reminder that we should address these issues in a targeted manner, so as to find a fundamental solution.

Third, we should tailor our approaches to the realities of the host countries, and respect their ownership. Conflict and post-conflict countries have different national realities, different security issues, and different endowments for development. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether it is security cooperation, development assistance, or trade and investment cooperation, the international community should not impose external solutions or attach any political strings. It is imperative to fully respect the views of the countries concerned, focus on their needs, align assistance with their development strategy, and help them improve their own “blood-making” capacity. Poverty reduction, employment, infrastructure, and food and energy security are prominent issues for many countries in conflict and fragility. The Security Council, other UN agencies, and international financial and development agencies should pay close attention to these issues, and provide more targeted support to those countries.

China has always been a staunch supporter, advocate, and practitioner of the concept of development for peace. The Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative put forward by China aim to help developing countries overcome the difficulties in achieving common development, and realize lasting peace through sustainable development. China is considering hosting the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation next year. We want to take this opportunity to strengthen cooperation with all parties, launch more results-oriented cooperation projects, and help achieve the goal of lasting peace through more inclusive and resilient global development. 

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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