UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has called for a decisive shift from responding to crises to preventing them in order to accomplish sustainable peace.
"Sustainable peace is a challenge and cannot be achieved unless the underlying causes of conflicts are addressed: poverty; environmental degradation; political and economic injustice; ethnic, tribal and religious tensions; and external interference and intervention," Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the Security Council on Tuesday.
Speaking in a debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace, the envoy also underscored the need for the resolution of long-standing political disputes to build and sustain peace.
Prevention was a task to be shared by national governments and national stakeholders, she said, emphasizing that only national actors could drive processes for sustainable peace.
Opening the debate, new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in an impassioned speech -- his first to the 15-member Council -- that he had made conflict prevention his top priority.
"We spend far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. People are paying too high a price. We need a whole new approach," Guterres stressed
He added, however, that it has also been difficult to persuade decision-makers at national and international levels that prevention must be their priority.
In her remarks, Maleeha said the capacity of the UN for sustaining peace was relatively nascent. While its nation-building endeavours had mixed results, they were more productive and cost effective than unilateral actions taken by some powers.
Sustaining peace entailed a political process, encompassing prevention of outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, Ambassador Lodhi said. Inclusivity was the lynchpin for sustaining peace, she said, adding that only national actors could drive towards that goal.
"When we look at sustainable peace through the lens of conflict prevention then it is important to shift from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention," the envoy added.
Effective preventive strategies relied on: -- Early reaction to sign of trouble; Efforts to alleviate the factors that trigger violence and resolution of the underlying root causes of violence. In all these processes, national ownership was essential. Moving a country towards durable peace began with a clear understanding of the sources and nature of local conflicts.
"Ambitious conflict prevention strategies have to avoid the pitfalls of either a delayed reaction or reading incorrectly into signs of an impending conflict," she said.
The UN and regional organizations maintain dozens of good-offices missions in or in proximity to countries faced with significant risks of conflict, Ambassador Lodhi noted. Existing conflict-prevention mechanisms, such as early-warning systems, were mostly designed to detect only imminent or recurring conflicts.
The United Nations, she said, could not fulfill the role of sustaining peace and preventing conflict without adequate financial resources, and political support of member states.