Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

230126 - UN Security Council: Open Debate on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Investment in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges


26 January 2023

Statement by H.E. The Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Australian Mission to the United Nations

Australia thanks Japan for convening this timely debate on ‘investment in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges.’

There are no greater complex challenges than modern threats to sustainable peace. Countries emerging from, or at risk of conflict must grapple with multifaceted challenges. These include the impacts of the COVID pandemic, the climate crisis, worsening food insecurity, and economic shocks – including those triggered by Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine.

So, there should be no greater investment than the one each of our countries make in peoples’ resilience to such challenges. One of the greatest ways this can be done is through inclusive participation in peacebuilding.

Peacebuilding is not just the activity of select countries. All of us are engaged in investing in our own sustainable peace.

We are constantly working to build and uphold resilient and effective institutions, with the experience of individuals at their core. We must invest in people, in all their diversity, and ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership of women and youth in peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

Sharing the lessons we have learnt, and continue to learn, will be key to realising these aims globally.

The late Secretary-General Kofi Annan questioned: “If the world today spends billions preparing for war; shouldn’t we spend a billion or two preparing for peace?”

Global spending on peacebuilding represents only a fraction of military spending and spending on crisis response and reconstruction. Sustained, inclusive and targeted peacebuilding results in lives and money saved in the long-term – the World Bank has estimated up to 70 billion dollars per year on average.

For example, in Liberia women peace activists started ‘peace huts’ shortly after the end of the civil war in 2003. These huts mediated local disputes, monitored police and justice services and referred victims of violence to counselling, among other activities.

At 1.5 million dollars, this local women-lead intervention cost just 1.5 percent of the 105 million spent on peacekeeping, policing and the justice sector in Liberia that year. The local police considered them key to reducing and preventing violence in the community.

We cannot talk about investment in peacebuilding without talking about the gap between the finances available, and those required to fulfill current needs.

Despite being a core task of the UN, peacebuilding is underfunded. Relying too often on a small pool of donors for voluntary funding. Australia firmly believes that the UN’s peacebuilding work must be adequately, predictably and sustainably financed.

So, while we call on all States to consider making and increasing voluntary contributions to the UN Peacebuilding Fund (‘PBF’), we also support assessed contributions for the PBF. In 2022, the General Assembly made it clear that assessed contributions could be used to finance the PBF and encouraged the Fifth Committee to conclude its deliberations (now in March).

More than 67 countries from every region of the world have benefited from the timely, catalytic and risk-tolerant investments of the PBF.

We encourage Member States to consider their investment in peace. It is time to commit to the use of assessed contributions to support the critical work of the PBF – from election monitoring in Latin America and mapping climate security threats in the Pacific, to supporting peacekeeping transitions in Africa.

Our commitment to UN Peacebuilding remains steadfast - a proud supporter of the PBF since its establishment in 2006 – we are pleased to have this month committed to a further three-year agreement with an increased contribution of 12 million Australian dollars for the PBF.

This is a core part of Australia’s peace investment portfolio.