There can’t be development without peace and sustainability

Interview with Amalya Grigoryan: Conflict Prevention Program officer at the Armenian United Nations Association (AUNA).

Currently, AUNA is implementing “Peace, Security and Conflict Prevention in Post-2015 Development Agenda” project. What is the project about and what does “Post-2015 Development Agenda” mean?

The “Peace, Security and Conflict Prevention in Post-2015 Development Agenda” project is being implemented by AUNA in collaboration with World Federation of United Nations Association (WFUNA) since March of 2014. The aim is to raise public awareness on the importance of the integration of Peace, Security and Conflict Prevention in Post-2015 Development Agenda. In the scope of this project AUNA is working with Politicians and Parliamentarians, Journalists, Civil Society representatives and Academic community.

To answer to the second part of your question there is a need to make some historical note. In 2000 during the Global Summit, the decision was made to reduce the worldwide extreme poverty in the framework of Millennium declaration. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were designed to reduce the poverty percentage through eight ways. The MDGs include eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, reduction of child mortality, maternity health, combating HIV/Aid, malaria and other disease, achievement universal primary education, environmental issues, gender equality and women empowerment, global partnership. To achieve these 8 goals 15 years are given until 2015. The deadline is coming to the end and the international community evaluates the results reached by the implementation of MDGs and does some steps to make the program continuous. The program is called post-2015 as it is planned to do after 2015.

2015 has not come yet, but the discussions about establishing new goals for improvement and the ways of bringing them into life have already begun. How can you explain this?

The discussions have begun earlier. The goal is to get well prepared, by taking into consideration the experience of the past 15 years.

The model of MDGs was not inclusive. In other words civil society was not involved in the processes of problem prioritization and in the findings of solutions; only heads of the countries participated. Besides that, the MDGs were not universal, which means that world has been divided into two parts` north and south; developing and developed countries. Developed countries, in this case, were financing the realization of the MDGs and were not considered as a target group.

So, it means that they have not managed to implement the 8 goals until 2015, have they?

Eight goals are implemented, but it is hard to say if they have succeeded or not as the variables are different in various countries and regions. But, the important fact is that such format has created a platform for giving united solutions to common issues.

How is the civil society involved in this program?

First, we have online platform called The World We Want 2015, where everyone can vote for her/his prioritizations։ Moreover in every country the national meetings are occurring during which the priorities are being defined.

Were such meetings organized in Armenia? If yes, what has been defined as a priority?

Town-Hall Meetings were organized in five regions of Armenia. During these meetings six prioritized goals for Armenia were raised, which should be achieved during upcoming 15 years. The goals include healthcare, food security, environment and sustainable development, growth and unemployment, inequality, good governance. Discussions were held by two phases. During the first part the prioritized goals were indicated and then the methods of implementation were developed.

What is the entire image of the post-2015 development agenda?

The deadline for the next development agenda is 2030.

As a result of the discussions of many countries and UN bodies, the draft of the document of 17 goals is proposed. Post-2015 agenda’s main goal is the elimination of the extreme poverty. By the way, in 2012 during the Rio+20 the decision was made to name these upcoming goals Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For us, the 16th goal is the most interesting as it touches upon the topic of peace, security and conflict prevention by mentioning the concept of “Peaceful Society”.

While, we are examining the MDGs and the entire process of them, it is clear, that the countries which are for the conflicts or are under the risk of being involved in the conflicts cannot achieve some improvements and register success in development of these goals. So, both the peace and the prevention of the conflicts are guarantees for sustainable development.

So, does it mean that the post-2015 agenda is taking into consideration the fact that development is closely dependent on peace and security?

There are always debates concerning this statement. Some people are pointing out that conflict prevention; peace and security are reflected in all SDGs. So there is no need to consider them independently as in any case without sustainability the goals cannot be achieved. However, we always are pointing out the fact, that in this case the goal will require additional effort and time. It is important, to include the peace, security and conflict prevention at least as a sub goal, because there is close relationship between development, peace and sustainability. We can even say that one causes another.

Sustainability, peace and security or conflict prevention are the prerequisites for sustainable development in any sphere; from sanitation to extreme poverty reduction. While examining regions which are involved in conflicts or wars, we can notice that the extreme poverty is exceeding in such regions. In these cases no educational, healthcare infrastructural institution can work.

By taking into account that due to globalization everything is interconnected not only phenomena, but also states, it is very important to realize that war in other part of the world is affecting us too. It is relating to us both directly and indirectly; emigration, refugees, different epidemics, viruses and so forth… We are connected as parts of the chain and it is very important notion. This is even relating to countries, which has nothing to do with wars or conflict situations.

In which stage of preparation for post-2015 development agenda are we now in Armenia?

We have had meetings with working groups, which have organized national consultations. We have raised these issues and discussed with them.

Also, I want to highlight that by talking about peace, security and conflict prevention we do not mean only the peace in borders. It should be discussed also as a social problem, which is connected with goal of good government, because it is the part of the chain in line with impartial and fair justice and police.

Conflict and antagonism phenomena are being redefined now. They are not only concerning interethnic, international relations, but also to inter-social problems.

Moreover, this new program is portraying the universal human rights. What do the prioritizations of the healthcare and education mean? It means that citizens should be provided with the right of gaining education and with equal opportunities to receive medical support. Thus, we can conclude that the main goal of the post-2015 development agenda is the realization of human rights.

How can an ordinary citizen or NGO express their suggestions for 2015-2030 agenda?

First of all, one should be active and informed, as now it is being formed an agenda which will be the guidance for us and for our governments during upcoming 15 years. As national consultations have already been held, I will just suggest following actively the news on online platforms. I have already mentioned about “The World We Want 2015”, where everyone can participate in the discussions. Besides that, UN regularly provides documents for public discussions, so everyone can participate in those online discussions and leave his or her comments.

I mostly value the role of organizations which are working in the field of human rights, because, I think, this program is a good platform to work for them as well.

Interview by Mary Aleksanyan