Kevin Rudd at UN: Preventive Diplomacy Is Key to International Peace

ASPI President Kevin Rudd speaks during the UN General Assembly’s high-level debate on maintaining international peace on October 1, 2015. Footage provided by the United Nations.

In a major address during the United Nations General Assembly’s high-level debate on the maintenance of international peace, Asia Society Policy Institute President Kevin Rudd argued that “the concept and the praxis of prevention” must be central to the UN’s efforts to end conflict and uphold security worldwide.

“Much has been written on the self-evident costs and benefits of conflict prevention, as opposed to armed intervention once conflict has begun,” said Rudd, whose remarks were delivered in the opening segment of the debate and followed those by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft.

“I recognize that it is easy to say, with 20/20 hindsight, that each stage of the Syrian crisis was preventable. It was not. But the uncomfortable truth for us is that many parts of it were,” he added.

Prevention, Rudd argued, should be applied across “practically all of the policy domains” in which the UN engages, through preventive diplomacy, peace-building operations, arms control and disarmament, and economic development, among other strategies.

“The concept and praxis of ‘prevention,’ therefore, represents a core organizing principle for much of the work of the United Nations system writ large,” Rudd said.

As Chair of the International Peace Institute’s Independent Commission on Multilateralism, Rudd has been leading a review of the seven-decade-old United Nations system. His remarks were informed by consultations that he and the commission have undertaken over the last nine months.

Rudd also recently launched, through the Asia Society Policy Institute, a new initiative to consider how the international order, as well as the international governance institutions such as the United Nations, might be reformed as Asia continues to gain economic strength and global policy influence. 

About the Author

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Joshua Rosenfield is Director of Content Strategy with the Asia Society Policy Institute. He is based in New York.