Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Open Debate of the Security Council ‘Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Security, Development and the Root Causes of Conflict’

Statement by H.E. Ms. Lilianne Ploumen Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands New York, 17 November 2015

Madam President,

I would like to start by thanking the UK for convening this important debate. The horrors of the recent terrorist attacks on innocent people in various parts of the world, all remind us that a threat to one is a threat to all. We have a shared responsibility to build a more secure world. 

Madam president, the world is winning the fight against poverty. Never before have so many people escaped hardship in such a short time. We know that in the years ahead, poverty will become more and more concentrated in places affected by violence and injustice. Ten years from now, four out of five poor people will have to deal with fear and human insecurity as part of their daily lives. The construction of roads, schools and hospitals will not bring about development if people don’t feel safe.

Strong, inclusive institutions are often taken for granted by people who come from peaceful and prosperous societies like me. It’s like the ground under our feet: we don’t think about it, we just walk on it. But imagine if the ground were constantly trembling beneath you. Imagine waking up every morning not knowing who to turn to for protection. Realizing your freedom, job or business can be taken away from you just like that, by someone more powerful than you. Remember Mohamed Bouazizi, who triggered the Arab Spring by setting himself on fire because he was fed up of being exploited every day by the police.

Madam President,

Justice and strong, inclusive institutions are the bridge between development and peace, and the foundation for trust between citizens and government. But this only works if the law is not used to exclude many to the benefit of a few. The rule of law is not the same as rule by law.

Today, the Security Council is discussing the nexus between security and development. Some are worried that talking about peace and conflict prevention in the context of development will ‘securitise’ the development discourse. The opposite is true: bringing a development perspective to issues of conflict prevention and peace will allow us to focus better and earlier on emerging conflicts and instability.

As the Council tries to focus more on prevention, it must pay attention to development. Issues like inequality, poverty and unemployment have a tremendous impact on the risk of conflict. We should view development indicators as the canaries in the coal mine. While justice and legitimate institutions act as an immune system: they can help to protect countries from violence and from ‘development in reverse’.

Recent reports on peace operations, peacebuilding and conflict prevention offer the Security Council a wealth of suggestions for addressing root causes at a much earlier stage. For the Netherlands, two issues stand out: 

First, we support the view that the Security Council should engage much earlier when a conflict starts to develop by adopting a more flexible and sequenced approach on the basis of conflict analysis.

Horizon scanning and briefings by the Secretary-General could help the Council in this task. The African-led international support mission to Mali by the Economic Community of West African States is a good example. The mission was authorised by UN Security Council Resolution 2085, and later became part of MINUSMA.

Second, creative approaches are needed to finance conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding. It is simply unsustainable to rely on a few voluntary donors to support this central function of the UN. The burden should be shared more equally amongst states and stakeholders. [ Alt: It is in the interest of all to prevent crises. This should not be left to a few donors.]


With the adoption of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the world has turned the importance of peace and development into an agenda for action. We must deliver on the pledges we made less than two months ago: that no one will be left behind. We cannot allow fragile and conflict-affected areas to become the ghettos of the world.

Thank you.