Peace Moves to Center Stage At the Core of Development at the UN

August 4, 2015

As a member of the governing committee that oversees the work of the Quaker United Nations Office in New York (QUNO-NY), I’ve just received the e-mail below from Andrew Tomlinson, QUNO-NY’s Director. He’s reporting on progress at the UN regarding new UN goals to replace the Millenium Development Goals.  The MDGs were eight goals established in 2000 to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women.

Much of the world made very impressive progress toward realizing the eight goals between 2000 and 2014, but one striking — and unsurprising — conclusion was that countries experiencing violent conflict made relatively little progress.  Andrew’s e-mail focuses on the new goals that the UN is setting and tells us that peace building will be central to the new goals.  This is something that QUNO-NY has been working towards.


From Andrew Tomlinson:

Over the weekend, UN member states agreed the final text for the ‘post-2015’
agenda, a new global development framework that will be formally adopted in
New York in September, a framework that replaces the Millennium Development
Goals with a vision that is far more ambitious in its breadth and universal
applicability. The document, entitled “Transforming our World: the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development”  incorporates 17 universal goals and
accompanying targets:

“We resolve, between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere, to
combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and
inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and
the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of
the planet and its natural resources.”

One of the key new element in this framework is the inclusion of goals and
targets that address social transformation, and in particular that identify
support for peaceful, just and inclusive societies as a core objective.  The
heart of this approach is in Goal 16 “Promote peaceful and inclusive
societies”, but there are key related elements in other places, including
Goal 10 “Reduce inequality within and among countries”, Goal 5 “Achieve
gender equality” and more. When this process began, more than 3 years ago,
it seemed very unlikely that the peace issues would overcome the strong
political headwinds against their inclusion. As our colleagues at Saferworld
noted today “This is a rare moment when multilateralism has exceeded
expectations and affirmed the right priorities – and should be celebrated” .
Peace is recognized as one of the key areas of the framework (the preamble
lists People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership) and is also a
cross-cutting issue in the complementary document on financing, the Addis
Adaba Action Agenda.

As with any multilateral agreement, the document is the product of a lengthy
process of political negotiating. Perfect it is not, and the details of
implementation, measurement and accountability will take many months to sort
through. Significant issues on the financing side in particular remain
unclear, and the balance between the interests of people, governments and
commercial interests will be continue to be actively contested.

QUNO has been working at the UN for over three years to support the peaceful
and inclusive societies approach within the negotiations and bring attention
to the needs of conflict-affected societies, engaging with member states, UN
officials and civil society as required. The details of this engagement can
be found on the QUNO website .

Recent contributions include an article in the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development on peaceand post-2015

and an associated podcast for the Academic Council on the United Nations System  that was released last week.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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