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Thank you, Ms. Hiba Qasas, for the introduction. Thank you, Germany and Somalia, and Principles for Peace, for convening this discussion – an important opportunity for us to rethink how we approach conflict prevention and peacebuilding.  I am honored to be here with this group of committed partners, including their Excellencies Somali Foreign Minister Abshir Omar Jama, German Minister of State Dr. Tobias Lindner, and our distinguished panelists from the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, the Robert Bosch Foundation, USAID, and the U.S. Department of State.

As we gather this afternoon, our global community faces the highest levels of instability and violence in decades.  It should shake us all that 2022 marked the deadliest year for armed conflict since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. But we’re not here to acknowledge these challenges and “admire the problem.”  We are here to strengthen partnerships and build resilience to prevent future conflict and secure lasting peace.

As President Biden has said, the “best strategy to save lives, build lasting stability, and disrupt the cycles of violence is to prevent conflicts before they happen.”  The U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability – or SPCPS – puts the President’s words into action.  Rather than funneling resources into crisis response, we are engaging early with host countries and like-minded partners to mitigate violence and instability.

In fact, every dollar invested in conflict prevention saves $16 spent in reconstruction, crisis management, and military spending.  And our 10-year SPCPS plans deploy the full range of U.S. foreign policy tools and resources in a whole-of-government effort.  By integrating and engaging the U.S. diplomatic, development, and security sectors, we advance peacebuilding and conflict prevention.  We collaborate with host governments and local communities, further strengthening our efforts through consultations and support from partner countries and organizations, many of whom are represented here today.  While the task at hand may seem daunting, the scope of our response and strategy is unprecedented.

Together, we can advance our shared prevention and stability goals. Together, we also can promote open and democratic societies, guarding against the rising tide of autocracy and backsliding.  We do so by reinforcing our civil society partners and their ability to advance human rights, including freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.  We also work with local partners to enable citizens to exercise their right to vote through free, fair, and peaceful elections and empower independent open media to provide accurate information and oversight.

These objectives served as our North Star while developing our SPCPS country and regional plans and will continue to do so as we implement them.  Let me highlight the five areas where we are turning plans into action: our focus countries of Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, and Papua New Guinea – and Coastal West Africa’s Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo.

In Coastal West Africa, we are combining forces with stakeholders in at-risk communities to build trust between national and local security actors and community leaders and empower women peacebuilders.  Informed by lessons learned from the Sahel, we are reducing the drivers of instability and focused on support for responsive and inclusive governance.  Our joint conflict prevention effort with Germany is marshaling new resources to bolster efforts by like-minded governments.  Together, we’re countering the expansion of instability from the Sahel into Coastal West Africa, and I thank Minister Lindner for Germany’s partnership on this consequential collaboration.

In Mozambique, where five years of fighting in Cabo Delgado has displaced some 800,000 people, our 10-year plan reinforces the national government’s efforts to stabilize the country’s north.  It focuses on countering vulnerabilities to terrorism and its negative effects by addressing the root causes of instability.

In Haiti, more than 195,000 civilians were forced to flee their homes in the last two years amid the deteriorating security environment.  Our plan engages local partners to foster longer-term, targeted stabilization interventions in communities subjected to horrifying abuses by local gangs, including conflict-related sexual violence.  This unacceptable toll propels our work to address the underlying drivers of conflict and mitigate the impact of future shocks.

In Papua New Guinea, an estimated 1.5 million women and girls experience gender-based violence annually, ranking worse than Afghanistan in the UN Gender Inequality Index.  In response, the 10-year plan prioritizes the needs and experiences of women and girls, who are fundamental to preventing, mitigating, and responding to violence.  Secretary Blinken, Administrator Power, and Secretary Austin all conducted historic visits to Papua New Guinea this year to demonstrate the U.S. government’s commitment to our new strategy.

In Libya, hundreds of thousands remain displaced after a decade of fighting, and the devastation delivered by the recent flooding will only exacerbate humanitarian needs and broader instability concerns.  Our close partnership with the UN to support the national election process has only become more critical.  In this challenging context, our 10-year plan complements existing peace and stabilization efforts.  We have had early success supporting reconciliation in southern Libya by giving voice to historically marginalized communities and securing Libyan government development investments.  U.S. support is unwavering as we continue our work to prevent conflict and secure lasting peace.

We know from hard-learned lessons that strong, meaningful partnerships are key to addressing the structural causes of fragility, inequality, and conflict.  Success depends on our ability to push our governments and organizations to rethink how we address the mounting levels of violence and instability.  We cannot use the same, tired playbooks from the past.  The data is clear: focusing on conflict prevention to pre-empt the need for crisis response not only saves lives, but it saves money as well.  This ethos fuels our new strategy, which we hope will be central to our ongoing collaboration.  We value your partnership and look forward to deepening our work together.  Thank you!

U.S. Department of State

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