IT is easy to get people interested in questions of war and
peace but hard to get them to focus on development, the lack of
which is the underlying cause of conflict.
Two years ago this week, at the request of the first-ever
Security Council Summit, I produced a report on ways to improve
United Nations capacity for maintaining peace and security.
Entitled "Agenda for Peace," the document was debated around the
world in parliaments, in ministries, in nongovernmental groups, in
academic circles, and in the media.
Some governments have taken action on my recommendations. Last
week the Netherlands presented its offer to put military units at
the disposal of the UN Standby Arrangements System. This is the
most recent of such preferred contributions to peacekeeping
capacity which could enable the UN to respond rapidly when the
Security Council decides action is necessary.
Although troops stand ready, financial support has not been
adequate. And political will has not been forthcoming.
Consequently, vicious conflicts continue to erupt. The world has
not summoned the resolve to deal with them effectively. It has not
fully realized that chaos and war are contagious; while these
continue to spread, no country can be confident about its future.
At a time when much of the world, even when faced with
horrifying scenes, is reluctant to get involved, it is hard to
generate enthusiasm for action in the seemingly more abstract cause
of "development." But the need is urgent. The pattern of violent
upheaval around the world cannot be broken until development is
given top priority. The lack of development heightens rivalries for
land and natural resources. Such tensions bring a perceived need
for military power. Societies caught in this cycle find it
difficult to escape all-out warfare. Development is the most secure
basis for peace.
But development is in crisis. The theories and practices of
decades of effort have achieved neither consensus on the concept
nor satisfaction with results. Donors are weary. The poor are
dispirited. At a recent Organization of African Unity meeting I
felt frustration and despair.
Development is not easy to understand, let alone achieve. The
drafters of the UN Charter in 1945 could confidently spell out
provisions for international peace and security. When it came to
development their words were more ambiguous.
We must recognize that development has many dimensions. More
than economic growth is needed. Peace is essential to development,
but 44 countries today are without peace. Heavy sanctions imposed
on four other countries impede their development and impair the
economies of countries that apply sanctions. …