Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Sustaining Peace Through Common Development

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 20, 2023


Let me start by thanking China for convening today’s important discussion on peace and sustainable development. I would also like to thank all of the briefers for their insights.

Colleagues, when all people in a country are not able to enjoy the benefits of development equally, or when they cannot exercise their fundamental human rights, the risk of violent conflict increases. As members of the Security Council, it is our job to maintain international peace and security. Which means we have the responsibility to strengthen human rights and promote equitable development, so that we can prevent conflict, before it spirals out of control.

Let me be clear, promotion and strengthening of human rights are not conflict drivers as we have heard. But proactivity is necessary. Because we have seen how difficult it is to take action after conflict has already broken out.

Take, for instance, global food insecurity. We know that conflict is the number one cause of hunger. But we also know that hunger is a driving force of conflict. It is our job to disrupt that cycle.

In 2022, the United States was proud to provide over half of the World Food Program’s budget. But more than just responding to current famines, we need to work collaboratively to prevent future ones, whether it’s helping develop climate-smart crops and agricultural practices or helping family farmers secure equal access to land, knowledge, and financial support.

That same spirit of equity applies to our financing strategy, as well. Together with the G7, we’ve committed to mobilize $600 billion dollars in new investment by 2027 through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, including hundreds of billions in private sector investment.

As the world’s major economies mobilize financing for development, it is imperative that we all ensure this lending is responsible and transparent. That we prevent, rather than contribute to unsustainable debt, and even debt distress. And that we all come to the table together to help borrowers struggling to pay off their debts.

The United States has been working with a broad coalition to evolve the multilateral development banks, and to expand by hundreds of billions of dollars the availability of safe, sustainable financing, especially for the poorest countries.

As we do and indeed, as we work to meet all of the Sustainable Development Goals, the United States is committed to putting SDG 17 on partnership at the forefront of our approach. And we will work bilaterally and regionally, with the UN and other multilateral institutions, to that end.

Colleagues, I want to be clear. As we recommit to promoting peace through development, and development through peace, we must ground both in principles of human rights and conflict prevention. And we must ensure no one is left behind. Failing to do this makes development work all the more difficult. And it sets us up to be reactive, rather than proactive, when it comes to securing peace.

We need to identify instability, places where a lack of development, and a lack of fundamental freedoms, heightens the risk of conflict. To that end, we appreciate the important roles played by the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund to identify and support states and communities experiencing fragility.

I hope we can harness the momentum of today’s event to increase the Council’s engagement with these organizations and support their work on conflict prevention. Because we know such crises result in so much senseless death and destruction and set back progress on every SDG. There is no doubt: this work will not be easy. In fact, we know it is not easy. But now is not the time for cynicism. Rather, this is a moment for renewed focus and shared dedication.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must make sure that sustainable development is grounded in the principles of this foundational document. One we all are party to and that we must work to make reality for every single person, so that we can finally realize the vision of a world without conflict. Our children and our grandchildren’s future depend on this.

Thank you, Mr. President.