First, I would like to thank the briefers, the Secretary-General and Ms. Lourdes Tibán Guala for their input to today’s meeting.
Conflict prevention should be a clear priority for all of us. Therefore, we very much welcome today’s timely debate on the underlying causes of conflicts, such as violations of human rights, exclusion, inequality and poverty. An increase in human rights violations has often preceded the eruption of an acute conflict. What we are witnessing today in Belarus is massive repressions against people and intensifying acts of transnational repression. During the past few days, thousands of migrants from third countries were gathering with the help of Belarusian authorities along the Polish border, including some trying to breach the border fence.
All this refers to a clear pattern – the instrumentalization of human beings for political purposes with the objective of destabilizing neighbouring countries and diverting attention from its own increasing human rights violations. This tactic of the Belarusian authorities is unacceptable. It has become a threat to international peace and security. We call on the Belarusian authorities to stop putting people’s lives at risk.
Estonia strongly believes that early focus on enhancing the resilience of communities can prevent the outbreak of conflict in the first place, as well as relapse into violence. This includes actively and holistically addressing the root causes of instability such as underdevelopment, effects of climate change, poverty, and lack of education opportunities. Even more, unhindered humanitarian access to conflict areas, be it in Syria, Afghanistan, Tigray or elsewhere must be ensured. Humanitarian access and safety of humanitarian workers is an issue the Security Council can and should focus on in the context of instability.
Development and peace are interlinked, as are the protection of human rights and building sustainable peace.
Human rights must be at the centre of our response to any conflict and conflict prevention. It is naïve to think that it is possible to find a peaceful solution to any conflict without broad representation at the negotiations table. This concerns especially women. Consciously and continuously working towards achieving women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes is key to long-lasting peace and stability.
Exclusion and inequality – with respect to members of all vulnerable and marginalised groups – is a risk for peace and security. Human rights violations and abuses can act as one of the triggers for conflict and are always a feature of it.
Furthermore, the scale of climate related security risks cannot be underestimated, including the gender dimension of climate change. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change. Therefore, it is important to empower them. This is the only way to build resilient communities for everyone.
The importance of rule of law is one more aspect I wish to underline in the context of conflict prevention. The rule of law and development are strongly interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Open and just societies, supported by strong accountable institutions that respect the rule of law provide a predictable environment for the population. It helps to create sustainable livelihoods and decrease levels of poverty, which often stem from exclusion, discrimination and disempowerment. Weak governance, poor rule of law and judicial institutions are also one of the primary underlying reasons for the insufficient protection of human rights.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that Estonia will never stop stressing the importance of good governance, accountability, compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and respect for the rule of law, which all play an indispensable role in addressing the root causes of conflict around the world in a meaningful and sustainable manner.
Thank you, Mister President.