Implementing the 2030 Agenda: The Challenge of Conflict

Vol. LII No. 4 2015

This issue looks at the link between conflict and the implementation and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The articles examine, among other things, children and armed conflict, climate change, terrorism and food security.

[T]here are many problems the United Nations has not managed to resolve, and it can hardly sit on its laurels. It must address many new challenges and much unfinished business. A few are enumerated below.

If the United Nations is to take the lead in helping Governments and others to deliver on their shared commitment, it is imperative that "upstream" prevention becomes a part of its core business.

As a result of successful peace talks in Colombia, chances run high that, by the end of 2016, Latin America will be free from armed conflict for the first time in over 55 years.

The African Union, Member States, Regional Economic Communities, civil society and the international community all have a responsibility to take action in order to accelerate the process of “silencing the guns” in Africa by 2020.

Ensuring accountability for violations against children is the best way to prevent their recurrence. Accountability comes in many forms, but Governments bear the primary responsibility for protecting their civilians and ensuring justice.

Climate change continues to test our knowledge base, our governance mechanisms and coping strategies. However, looking at its impacts through the narrow filters of violence does fully capture the complexity of myriad social, cultural and economic change.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), violent extremism is most acute, and women are on the front lines of warfare. They are the widows, victims and survivors of the suicide bomb blasts, the displaced and the traumatized.

Sometimes the same factors that drive rural poverty and inequality fuel conflict and instability. Climate change and natural resource degradation threaten food security and increase the risk of conflict.

Nothing can ever justify an act of terrorism. No religious pretext can ever excuse violent methods. At the same time, we will never be able to defeat terrorism long term unless we address conditions conducive to its spread.

As transnational and global challenges become increasingly complex and intertwined, they pose a growing threat to sustainable development that no single country can tackle alone. This is a key reason why regional organizations such as the OSCE have an important role to play in supporting the 2030 Agenda.

In this article, I identify specific leadership attributes that contribute to building peace in the aftermath of conflict and during the period of transition from post-conflict peacebuilding to sustainable development.

International organizations still have to operate within their mandates and are under the sway of powerful states or voting majorities. And yet, there is room for structural change in the content and procedures of international law of the future, which must become an international law of security and protection with the United Nations indispensably in the forefront.