Prevention of Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General

Prevention of Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General

Prevention of Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General

Prevention of Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General

Synopsis

This report by the UN Secretary-General reviews the progress made in developing the conflict prevention capacity of the UN. It also presents recommendations for further policy development in this field, with the active support and co-operation of member states. The report finds that a general consensus is emerging that coherent conflict prevention strategies offer the greatest potential for promoting lasting peace and creating an enabling environment for sustainable development.

Excerpt

1. Perhaps the most pitiful lesson of the past decade has been that the prevention of violent conflict is far better and more cost-effective than cure. The challenge is to apply that lesson so that prevention exists not just at the rhetorical level but also practically. This is easier said than done; existing problems usually take precedence over potential ones and, while the benefits of prevention lie in the future and are difficult to quantify, the costs must be paid in the present. On the other hand, the costs of not preventing violence are enormous. The human costs of war include not only the visible and immediate — death, injury, destruction, displacement — but also the distant and indirect repercussion for families, communities, local and national institutions and economies, and neighbouring countries. They are counted not only in damage inflicted but also in opportunities lost.

2. The 1997 Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict found, for example, that the gross domestic product (GDP) in Lebanon in the early 1990s remained 50 per cent lower than it was before fighting broke out in 1974; that civil war and widespread use of landmines was widely blamed for the abandonment of an estimated 80 per cent of Angola’s agricultural land; and that already inadequate food production in Burundi dropped 17 per cent during recent periods of conflict. We also need to factor in the costs to external actors who intervene to stem the violence. A Carnegie Commission study estimated that the international community spent about $200 billion on the

See Preventing Deadly Conflict, final report of the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict.

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