Peace is more under threat around the world than it has been in the 80 years since World War II, the United Nations warned.
Two billion people, a quarter of the population, currently live in conflict-affected areas, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reported at the UN Peacebuilding Commission on Wednesday, according to NPR.
An estimated 84 million people were displaced by conflict, violence, and human rights violations and 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance due to conflict.
Conflict disrupts access to basic services that put people at a greater risk of experiencing extreme poverty.
“We are facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945,” Guterres said.
Military-backed coups and terrorist networks are only some of the challenges countries in conflict are facing.
“A perilous sense of impunity is taking hold. Nuclear arsenals are growing. Human rights and international law are under assault. Criminal and terrorist networks are fueling — and profiting from — divisions and conflicts,” Guterres said.
Vital resources are being diverted away from support needed to address the increase in hunger and poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he added, according to CBS.
The secretary-general proposed a plan for bringing stability to countries facing some of the world’s biggest crises, such as Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, Sudan, and Ukraine. He recommended additional funding for fragile states with investment from the private sector and for countries and international financial institutions to address inequality, deprivation, and underfunded systems.
Guterres went on to highlight UN initiatives addressing conflict by engaging women and young people in political conversations in the Ivory Coast and the agency’s efforts to lend COVID-19 support worldwide.
The poorest and most vulnerable always pay the highest price for conflict, he pointed out, and he stressed that war doesn’t only impact the global economy but also robs a generation of children of education and development.
The UN’s Peacebuilding Fund will require $100 million in annual donations, Guterres said, and the agency plans to have formal commitments from member states after its April UN General Assembly meeting. The secretary-general also urged member states to bring ideas for solutions to the meeting.
"When we consider the costs of war — to the global economy but most of all to humanity's very soul — peacebuilding is a bargain and a prerequisite for development and a better future for all," he said.