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PRESS RELEASE September 21, 2017

United Nations and World Bank leaders call for stronger international efforts to prevent violent conflict

UNITED NATIONS, September 21, 2017 — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank Group (WBG) President Jim Yong Kim called today for stronger international efforts to prevent violent conflict, taking an inclusive approach that puts people at the center to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Speaking at a launch of the joint study “Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict (Main Messages and Emerging Policy Directions),” -- the first of its kind in the history of the UN-WBG partnership -- the two leaders said that, while governments must take the lead for effective prevention, the complex nature of conflict today requires many actors – international and regional institutions, civil society, and the private sector –to work more closely together. 

They also emphasized the importance of sustainable and inclusive development as a means for prevention. They further found that grievances around exclusion from access to power, opportunity and security are creating fertile ground for mobilization to violence.

“This joint study … reflects our shared commitment to preventing conflict -- an obstacle to the core goals of both the United Nations and the World Bank,” said Secretary-General António Guterres. “Preventing violent conflict is a universal concern. It is not only for those in a specific region or income bracket. We are all affected, and we must work together to end this scourge”.

“Prevention works, and it benefits everyone. As our report details, if we could prevent conflict in countries that bear the direct costs – including casualties and losses to economic growth – we would avoid over $34 billion in damages per year,” President Jim Yong Kim said. “While we have worked to address the impact of conflict, we need to do more early on to ensure that development programs and policies are focused on successful prevention.” 

According to the study, since 2010, the number of major violent conflicts has tripled, and fighting in a growing number of lower intensity conflicts has escalated. Transformations in technology, demographics, labor, and trade have brought populations closer together and reduced poverty. But a combination of global risks, such as climate change and illicit trafficking, has made us more vulnerable.

These trends have shaken our long-standing assumption that income growth alone leads to peace. The study makes clear that inclusion matters as much as growth or institutions in ensuring resilience against conflict.

Enhancing the meaningful participation of women and youth in decision-making, as well as long-term policies to support the aspirations of young people are fundamental to sustaining peace.

Preventing violent conflict is an urgent agenda shared by the UN and WBG. The two institutions have different but complementary mandates. The joint study marks a significant milestone in implementing their new partnership for crisis-affected situations. 

In the same preventive spirit, the two institutions are also ramping up their joint efforts to avert and respond to famine. The two leaders called on the humanitarian and development community to accelerate new ways of working, and to manage crises more effectively and efficiently. 

At a high-level meeting chaired by the Secretary General Guterres joined by President Kim, representatives of governments, international NGOs, and international organizations renewed their commitment to address the ongoing famine situation in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and North-East Nigeria.

The international community has provided critical immediate support to reach 12 million people each month, but participants warned against complacency. Integrating short- and longer-term planning, as well as conducting joint humanitarian and development assessments were suggested as ways to further enhance collaboration.

The full study entitled “Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict” will be published in 2018. The brief version “Main Messages and Emerging Policy Directions” launched at UNGA offers a preview. This study was supported by the governments of Norway, United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Germany.


New York
Chisako Fukuda
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