International Day of Peace

21 Sep 2014

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace. This declaration recognizes that “the maintenance of a peaceful life for peoples is the sacred duty of each State”.

The people of Timor-Leste know first-hand how vital peace is to their individual and community well-being, and how far Timor-Leste has come in restoring peace since the 2006 crisis. Indeed, the country has embarked on a long-term process of rebuilding its social fabric, developing State institutions and transforming its international image.

The UN has and continues to support Timor-Leste in this transition. Working together, the UN, the government and civil society are strengthening national capacities to ensure that peace and development are sustained. This includes consolidating and further strengthening capacities within the Government of Timor-Leste. For instance, the Ministry of Social Solidarity is receiving support to maintain and deepen resilience and social cohesion across the country. Another example is joint UN-civil society support to enhance the collective efforts of government, under the leadership of the Secretary of State for Security, to deepen women’s engagement in peacebuilding through the development of a National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). This resolution specifically addresses the distinct experiences and impact of conflict on women, stressing the importance of women’s leadership and participation in conflict resolution and their essential role in peacebuilding.

In addition to strengthening national resilience, the Government of Timor-Leste has championed peacebuilding on the world stage. Indeed much of Timor-Leste’s progress has been reinforced by the country’s strong commitment, confidence and political will as a founding member of the g7+ group of fragile and conflict-affected countries, which now includes 20 states on four continents. 

Timor-Leste is now helping other states to lead and take ownership of peace and development. With the g7+, Timor-Leste is raising awareness on the challenges that fragile and conflict affected states have faced in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, pointing out that  peacebuilding and state building are the foundations upon which sustainable development depend.  As the world looks beyond the 2015 development agenda, Timor-Leste has taken a leading role in lobbying, along with other fragile and conflict-affected states, for the inclusion of a new goal on peace in the draft post-2015 universal development agenda. This agenda will frame development activities after 2015 and will be finalized by UN Member States over the next year.

The g7+ is principled on the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, which came out of the 2011 Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. The New Deal promotes a country-led and owned transition out of fragility. In this context, the government has embarked on identifying best practices and organizing consultations to address some of the root causes and potential triggers of fragility and conflict. 

In the run up to the International Day of Peace, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed the key message of the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace: humanity’s sustainable progress and the realization of fundamental rights and freedoms depend on peace and security. This is also central to the Rights Up Front initiative, launched by the UN Secretary-General in November 2013.

Rights Up Front was drawn up after an internal review panel found that that there had been a systemic failure within the UN to adequately respond to the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka in which many lives were lost. Rights Up Front is an action plan to strengthen the UN’s role in protecting people in crises. It calls upon the international community to act earlier and more concertedly in the face of human rights violations which are often the precursors of worse to come. Indeed, many situations in the world today painfully reveal that the absence of peace goes hand in hand with the violations of rights, and that both have a tremendously negative impact on the development of individuals, communities and nations alike.

The UN would like to congratulate Timor-Leste as it embarks on the drafting of a national action plan on human rights. This process will be launched publicly on 25 September. It is an excellent opportunity to assess the good progress made to date in implementing the rights that are at the heart of Timor-Leste’s Constitution, the mother of all laws, as well as numerous international human rights treaties Timor-Leste has ratified. We hope that the process will boost ongoing efforts to identify priority actions to further human rights for all, and that the plan will particularly focus on those whose rights may not yet have been fully implemented. We encourage extensive consultations throughout the country and active participation at all levels of society. A practical, realistic and well-resourced plan can truly ensure enhanced respect for human rights, while also furthering the country’s development and consolidating the peace and stability that prevails in Timor-Leste today.

By Mr. Knut Ostby, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative

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