Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Preventive Diplomacy

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
November 16, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to our distinguished briefers for being with us today. Your presence and interventions serve as important reminders of how we can work together to collectively deliver for the people of the world.

As President Biden noted in his Proclamation on United Nations Day last month, the United Nations remains the cornerstone of international order, contributing to unmatched strides toward peace and prosperity shared around the world.  This is what Member States should collectively strive to accomplish. When the United Nations was founded, the world united and embarked on a shared mission: creating a rules-based international order, grounded in democratic principles, to advance respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, and strengthen adherence to international law.

The United Nations is not a perfect body, but the progress we have made in the past eight decades is overall a remarkable achievement. We took another unified step forward three years ago, when the General Assembly endorsed, by consensus, the Secretary-General’s UN Reform Agenda on peace and security, development, and management reform. As part of these reforms, the Secretary-General proposed new ways to strengthen the UN’s capacity to prevent conflict. The UN has a unique advantage when engaging in preventive diplomacy, given its extensive presence in conflict-affected settings worldwide. UN field mechanisms like the Resident Coordinator system, peace and development advisors, special political missions, and peacekeeping operations are on the frontlines of preventive diplomacy, and we must empower them and reinforce their efforts.

A modern approach to our work requires a modern approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The United States is now implementing the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, which details lessons learned and best practices for addressing the root causes of conflict and preventing future ones. Many of these lessons are relevant to the UN, including: the primacy of political solutions to conflict; the value of local buy-in, legitimacy, and accountability; the need for monitoring and evaluation; and the importance of integrating all diplomatic, assistance, and security activities under a coherent plan.

Fundamentally, we have found that conflicts are often fuelled by the abuse of human rights, which is one reason it is so important Member States uphold their international obligations and commitments. Many have spoken today about greater coordination within the UN system. In that vein, we will continue to push for the Peacebuilding Commission to brief the Human Rights Council, as it would serve as an opportunity to advise the Human Rights Council on the important work of the of the Commission. This is exactly what the Secretary-General called for when he asked for a more networked, inclusive, and effective multilateralism.

Mr. President, at its best, the United Nations can advance peace, security, and prosperity for people around the globe. It can lead the world forward through the choppy waters of the 21st century. We saw this during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the UN once again demonstrated the essential role that it plays in times of global crisis. It is up to us, collectively, to ensure the UN is up to the task of making this century the most peaceful and prosperous in human history.

Tremendous work lies ahead of us. We must remain committed to the vision laid out by the Secretary-General, and endorsed by all Member States, to empower the UN to prevent violence and to bring parties together in support of political solutions to conflict. But I know we can meet this moment, so long as we stay true to the original vision and values enshrined in the United Nations Charter: freedom, equality, opportunity, and human dignity for all.

Thank you, Mr. President.