It is my pleasure to welcome you to this “Arria formula” meeting, whose theme is “Unlocking the potential of science for peace and security”.

The Security Council's mandate is to deal with the many crises shaking the world. Gaza and Sudan are just two current examples. Yet even in these difficult times, it is essential that we take a longer-term approach.

The challenges to peace and security are complex and interdependent. The number of armed conflicts is increasing. The impacts of climate change are exacerbating risks. Emerging technologies profoundly affect our societies - in war and peace - and misinformation threatens trust within and between nations.

We need to use knowledge and understanding to respond effectively to these developments. “Peace cannot be kept by force it can only be achieved by understanding”. This is the famous quote of the scientist Albert Einstein, who was - incidentally - also a Swiss citizen. He was referring, of course, to understanding as “dialogue”. However, we can also see in it the need for a deeper understanding of the obstacles that stand in the way of peace. This is exactly what science can provide.

Scientists and academic institutions maintain close relations with many parts of the UN system. Last week, ECOSOC held its annual multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation. This is a good illustration of the partnership between the scientific world and the political debates of a key UN body.

Today's meeting provides us with an opportunity to reflect together on how the Security Council could also improve its interaction with scientific actors and their findings in order to fully harness the power of science in the service of peace and security.


Allow me to emphasize three points.

First: science builds trust.

In his New Agenda for Peace, the Secretary-General describes a world at a crossroads. To address interdependent threats, he sets out this new agenda on the basis of a fundamental principle: trust. Trust is based not only on mutual understanding, but also on reliable facts and knowledge. The many confidence-building measures, such as observation missions, verification and information exchange, that have helped to mitigate risks and prevent violence in the past are evidence of this.

The scientific community is well equipped and experienced to produce reliable knowledge. Yet we still face the challenge of misinformation and the fact that science too can be misused. The members of the United Nations, but especially those of the Security Council, have a particular responsibility to preserve and respect the integrity of the scientific evidence introduced into the Council's deliberations. We must ensure that we provide a platform for the voices of the scientific community that represent the methods and principles of scientific work.

Almost exactly a year ago, at the very first Security Council open debate organized by Switzerland, we heard a strong call for the Council - and the international community - to act on the basis of reliable knowledge. Act decisively on the basis of scientific evidence and rely more actively on reliable knowledge to understand, anticipate, mitigate and address risks to peace and security.

Second: science diplomacy supports peace and security.

Switzerland has made science diplomacy one of the priorities of its foreign policy.

International science and scientific cooperation have historically helped to build trust. For example, the "Blue Peace" initiative of Swiss development cooperation combines science-based technical knowledge with political dialogue to promote regional cooperation on the peaceful management of limited water resources.

The 39 international organizations and more than 400 non-governmental organizations based in Geneva collect and publish a considerable amount of high-quality data. In the area of climate, for example, the World Meteorological Organization and UNOSAT make it possible to anticipate displacements due to drought or flooding. These data can transform evidence-based analysis and decision-making, including for peace and security. In this context, we underscore the importance of age- and gender-disaggregated data, which can highlight areas where further efforts are needed to achieve the goals of the “Women, Peace and Security” agenda.

The Secretary-General has also taken important steps to strengthen the role of science within the UN, through the creation of the Scientific Advisory Board and the transformation towards a UN 2.0. In other words, a UN that works with the latest tools and methods, based on data and evidence. This has great potential to better support the work of the Council and the many missions in the field. These initiatives deserve our attention and support.

Thirdly, the Council must be based on science.

We actively promote exchanges between Member States and the academic world to better understand and assess risk multipliers, such as climate change. We also encourage capacity building for the United Nations and its peace operations: for example, by supporting, as Switzerland does, climate, peace and security advisors who draw on scientific knowledge to improve the implementation of mandates in the field.

We call on the members of the Council to continue to engage and intensify dialogue with the scientific community, both formally and informally, on the issues on its agenda.


Today, we look forward to hearing your views and recommendations on how the Security Council can better respond to complex global challenges through science. How the Council could more effectively integrate scientific tools and knowledge into its work. How the Security Council could strengthen scientific capabilities in mandated operations, and what actions and commitments UN members could take to unleash the potential of science for peace and security.

To begin, we will hear from three speakers.

Henrietta Fore is a board member of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA). GESDA sits at the intersection of science and diplomacy and aims to anticipate the major scientific trends of the coming years. She will inform us of the decisions we need to make today to build a sustainable and peaceful future.

Lieutenant General Mohan Subramanian, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), will present how the use of science can improve the fulfillment of the mandate of peacekeeping missions.

Sascha Langenbach, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, uses machine learning technology to improve conflict prediction using data collected by UN missions. He will illustrate the practical potential of scientific methods and resources and how they can be used in the service of peace and security.

I now have the great pleasure of inviting Madame Henrietta Fore to speak on the subject that has brought us together this morning.