War and violence often erupt suddenly, in a loud and painful clash, causing many victims, very often civilians, on both sides, as events in the Middle East have sadly reminded us since the rocket launches by Hamas on 7 October and its attacks on Israel.
War often erupts suddenly.
But how do you build peace, then? This debate gives us the opportunity to address this question, and I would like to thank Brazil for having convened us for this purpose. Like my colleagues, I would also like to thank ASG Khiari, as well as Presidents - or ex-Presidents - Bachelet, Mbeki, and Ms Echavarría Alvarez for their contributions.
Colombian peace builder Genith Quitiaquez recently spoke on this subject. She said: "Peace is the common construction of the river, it may seem a complex path, with stones, with multiple settlers, where we women will be the foam that always seeks to win peace and make transformative actions".
These words remind us that peace is a collective endeavour. In 1945 already, this conviction has been deeply enshrined in the United Nations Charter by its architects.
Any common creation, and certainly that of peace, requires trust. This was also the theme of our open debate last May. It is also something Switzerland has noticed in all its mediation experiences, and in particular in the mediation process in Colombia, which we have been supporting for over 20 years.
Of course, trust cannot be taken for granted. It has to be built and earned.
Trust often finds fertile ground in regional organisations that encourage ongoing dialogue and technical cooperation. Over the years, these hundreds of sincere exchanges, promises kept and demonstrations of good faith come together to form a solid basis for ambitious cooperation.
It is therefore not surprising that regional organisations often manage to maintain their course even in troubled waters. Switzerland is a member of the oldest regional organisation, the Central Commission for Navigation of the Rhine, one of Europe's great rivers. As a native of the Rhine city of Basel, I am myself always impressed to see how this river has developed into a source of cross-border cooperation and trust.
Regional organisations are therefore well placed to take the lead in conflict mediation. The Geneva International Discussions on Georgia are a good example. Here, under the auspices of the OSCE, the European Union and the UN, key practical issues for the conflict-affected populations are addressed. This cooperation is crucial to peace and stability in Georgia, given the challenges that remain - fifteen years after the war - unresolved.
So, what role does the Security Council have when regional organisations take the lead? The Council has a threefold role to play: the role of a normative guardian, a catalyst and a preventive role.
Allow me to explain:
Firstly, the Security Council has a duty to ensure that regional arrangements comply with universal norms, such as human rights. Respect for norms foster confidence, as High Commissioner Volker Türk pointed out in this room on May 3rd. – This is the Council's role as normative guardian.
Secondly, the Council can amplify regional conflict mediation efforts. An important lever in this regard is the sharing of views and recommendations. The Council's visits to the field and its informal interactive dialogues are opportunities for such sharing, which enables all actors to work more effectively for peace. – This is the Council's role as a catalyst. This is also where the Peacebuilding Commission can play its unifying role.
Finally, it is crucial for this Council to assume its preventive role by focusing on cooperation in the broadest sense. This concerns, on the one hand, the UN's special political missions. We must ensure that these missions can engage more in prevention, in particular when strengthening regional efforts. On the other hand, the Secretary-General should make full use of all his mediation tools, as he pledges to do in his New Agenda for Peace.
As the Assistant Secretary-General pointed out before, the New Agenda for Peace can serve as a common point of reference for all of us - the Security Council, the UN, regional, sub-regional and local actors. It is said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is also true for the vectors of peace at the local, regional and global level - but only if these vectors point in the same direction, uniting for the same purpose, just as small streams make great rivers.
This brings me back to the Central Commission of the Rhine mentioned earlier. It remains a living testament to the strength of the cooperation that enables us to achieve common goals, sometimes against the tide, sometimes with the wind in the sails. Above all, the peaceful settlement of disputes, which remains an obligation for all Member States, guided by a shared conviction: that every conflict avoided benefits humanity as a whole.
I thank you.