12 May 2011
Security Council
SC/10249

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6533rd Meeting (AM)


Report on Post-Conflict Civilian Capacity Stresses Stronger National Ownership


of Peace Processes, Need to Broaden Experts’ Pool in Security Council Debate


Chair of Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group Delivers Review Findings


The next generation of United Nations peacebuilding must strengthen national ownership of peace processes, broaden the pool of international expertise and make United Nations support more appropriate, timely and effective, the Security Council heard today as it held a debate on post-conflict civilian capacity.


Delivering the first of three briefings to Council members, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Chair of the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group for the Review of International Civilian Capacities, said the international community had too often missed the immediate post-conflict window of opportunity to provide basic security, deliver peace dividends, build confidence in political processes and strengthen core national capacities in the lead-up to peacebuilding efforts.


“Our report is, therefore, founded on the principle that international assistance has to identify, protect and nurture latent national capabilities, in short, that it must build on what is already there, not start from a blank slate,” he said, outlining the recommendations contained in the Group’s report.  The review focused on the principles of ownership, partnership, expertise, and nimbleness.


Mr. Guéhenno said that boosting national ownership required providing stronger support to core State capacities, like aid coordination, policy and public financial management; maximizing the economic impact of interventions through local procurement; and using local capacities as much as possible.  Because the United Nations could not hope to fill increasingly specialized needs from within its own ranks, it must follow the lead of its agencies, funds and programmes in establishing effective partnerships with outside providers, just as was already done by many of its entities.


In that vein, he said, the report recommended the establishment of a civilian partnership cell to link field requirements to the capacities of Member States and non-governmental organizations, and to facilitate faster deployment.  It also called for a clear model to define roles and clearly designate leads for all areas in order better to leverage civilian expertise.  The report further recognized that, to improve nimbleness in the field, the Secretary-General’s representatives needed the authority to adapt their implementation plans so they could react to unforeseen events and seize opportunities.  Those efforts might be better served if missions were able to undertake certain programmatic activities, at least before the initiatives of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes were under way, he said.


Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said that as Chair of the Steering Committee established to formulate a set of concrete actions based on the report’s recommendations, she was taking a holistic system-wide approach.  There was already broad agreement on the key goals of improving national-capacity development, creating mechanisms for effective partnerships with external capacities, and designing more seamless arrangements within the United Nations in order to respond rapidly to crises.  However, selectivity would also be important in addressing the roughly six-dozen recommendations contained in the report, she said.  “We need to identify those that offer the greatest return on investment and prioritize them,” she added, stressing that ideas must also be tested in the field.


Eugène-Richard Gasana ( Rwanda), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, acknowledging the high expectations surrounding the report’s implementation, noting that the Commission was already working with urgency to address them.  In moving forward on the recommendations, the Commission had identified national ownership as its key area of attention this year, he said, adding that it had also agreed that the focus must be on enabling local capacities rather than substituting them.  Noting the particular importance of leveraging capacities from actors in the immediate vicinity, including those of South-South partners and women, he stressed that attention must be paid to the ways in which such capacities could be integrated into the United Nations system.


During the ensuing debate, Council members voiced strong support for the report’s recommendations, particularly its emphasis on national ownership, which they agreed was essential in securing sustainable peace.  Calling for the immediate implementation of the recommendations, several speakers said the follow-on mission proposed for Southern Sudan would be the place to start.


In contrast, other delegates argued that some recommendations needed further clarity, particularly those concerning the flexibility of mission resources.  The financial proposals should be discussed in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), some speakers said.  Others cautioned that a transformation in post-conflict civilian capacity would have a major impact on staffing, and emphasized that providing resources for peacekeeping missions must not detract from peacekeeping requirements.


Among those speaking today were representatives of the United States, India, Germany, South Africa, United Kingdom, Gabon, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Brazil, Portugal, China, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia and France.


The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.


Background


Meeting this morning to discuss post-conflict peacebuilding, the Security Council had before it identical letters from the Secretary-General, dated 18 February 2011 and addressed to the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council (document A/65/747-S/2011/85).  They transmit the report of the independent review on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, conducted by the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group with the aim of analysing challenges in responding to the needs of post-conflict societies.


The report recommends several ways to strengthen national ownership of peace processes, broaden the pool of international civilian capacity and make United Nations support more appropriate, timely and effective.  It gives detailed descriptions on how to accomplish those goals by applying four key principles:  ownership, partnership, expertise and nimbleness — together known as “OPEN” — all of which are discussed in Annex II.  The report also stresses the need to do more with existing resources, and to make better use of existing systems in order better to respond to circumstances in the field.  Annex I of the report discusses the status of United Nations human-resource capacity.


Regarding ownership, the Group suggests that the global community build strong national capacity and ownership to help post-conflict countries cope with crisis and change, in addition to supporting core Government functions.  United Nations procedures should be adjusted to enable more local procurement.  To strengthen partnerships, the Organization should create a civilian partnerships cell to give external providers a simple cooperation mechanism, systems to deploy expert partners during missions, as well as training standards and quality certification of training programmes for civilian deployment.


On expertise, the Group suggests extending the humanitarian community’s cluster approach to other areas of post-conflict work, adopting a results-based audit culture to improve accountability and leadership, and retaining talented staff by imposing a better system of rotation and mobility.  To improve nimbleness, missions should be authorized to reallocate up to 20 per cent of their resources to civilian personnel, and to provide funds to an agency, programme or other actor with a comparative advantage in implementing a mission-mandated task.  Moreover, the Organization should reduce the rate of overhead charged for voluntary contributions to mission trust funds from 13 to 7 per cent, and adapt more broadly to each entity’s needs.


Briefings


JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Chair of the Senior Advisory Group for the Review of International Civilian Capacities, said the overarching problem that its report aimed to address was the concern that the international community, and particularly the United Nations, was neither doing well enough in providing the right kind or quality of civilian expertise, nor in deploying it quickly enough to conflict-affected countries when they needed it.


That was not a new problem, since the operating environment for missions and the international community’s expectations had changed significantly since the Brahimi report, he said.  They were increasingly mandated to play many and varied roles across the peace and security landscape, requiring much greater agility at Headquarters and in the field, as well as a broader range of specialized skills that might be harder to find.


Noting that the review had focused on national ownership, global partnership, expertise and nimbleness, he emphasized that international assistance would not succeed unless conflict-affected countries developed their own capacities to cope with crisis and change.  Yet, those countries constantly said that the lack of capacity and the principle of national ownership were not sufficiently respected.  Citing Liberia as one example, he noted that its national police force needed civilian expertise in administration, communications, criminal investigation, institutional capacity-building and logistics.


“Our report is, therefore, founded on the principle that international assistance has to identify, protect and nurture latent national capabilities, in short, that it must build on what is already there, not start from a blank slate,” he said.  That required stronger support to core State capacities, like aid coordination, policy and public financial management; maximizing the economic impact of interventions through local procurement; and using local capacities as much as possible.  Such support must also start early on, he emphasized, voicing hope that the United Nations would employ that approach in Southern Sudan.


In terms of partnerships, he said the United Nations could not hope to fill increasingly specialized needs from its own ranks, and must establish and operate effective partnerships with outside providers, just as many of its agencies, funds and programmes already did.  To that end, the report recommended establishing a civilian partnership cell to link field requirements to the capacities of Member States and non-governmental organizations, and to facilitate faster, more effective deployment.


He also underlined the need for greater South-South and triangular cooperation, noting that the kind of expertise needed in conflict-affected countries frequently existed in countries with recent experiences in transition or institutional transformation.  Among other pertinent examples was the use of 200 advisers from the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and 150 United Nations volunteers working to help restore and strengthen core State functions in South Sudan.


With respect to expertise, he said assistance efforts were still hampered by the lack of rapidly deployable expert capacity, including in mission-critical areas like the rule of law.  A lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities was part of the problem, and the report recommended the establishment of a clear model that would define who did what and clearly designate leads for all areas.  That would strengthen responsibility and accountability while filling obvious capacity gaps.


Turning to the question of nimbleness, he said that, while the Secretary-General’s representatives in the field were entrusted with great political and diplomatic responsibility to carry out the Council’s mandates, they also needed the authority to adapt their implementation plans so they could react to the unforeseen and seize opportunities.  Their efforts could be better served if missions could undertake certain programmatic activities, at least before the initiatives of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes got under way.  Examples included the Community Violence Reduction Programme carried out by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and a road-building scheme managed by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).


He said the report also made one cross-cutting recommendation, proposing seamless arrangements within the United Nations to enable rapid response and interoperability across the system.  That issue pointed to a deeper problem — a single human resources system that tried to recruit staff for Headquarters, as well as field missions.  Those vastly different tasks were impossible to carry out within a single set of rules, he said.


He stressed that the international community had too often missed the immediate post-conflict window of opportunity to provide basic security, deliver peace dividends, build confidence in political processes and strengthen core national capacities leading to peacebuilding efforts.  “The stakes are high,” he said, suggesting that a shift was needed in the way in which the United Nations responded to the needs of post-conflict countries, since its efforts were currently determined by the supply of human resources, rather than demand.


In the end, he said, the independent review envisioned a core of United Nations staff working in close partnership with host communities and civilians from Member States, regional organizations and other partners, while accessing temporary capacities in response to needs.  He noted in that regard, the similar conclusion of a meeting organized by the United Nations and the African Union in Addis Ababa last December:  “The spirit of partnership must drive the next generation of engagement with conflict-affected States.”


SUSANA MALCORRA, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said there was much congruence between the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s 2009 first report on “Peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict” and the priorities that the Council had long identified for improving collective performance in support of conflict-affected countries.  Those priorities included national ownership and the need for early and predictable support for security-sector reform, the rule of law, respect for human rights and refugee return, core Government functions and economic revitalization.  The Council had rightly stressed the vital role of the United Nations in helping national authorities develop early strategies for addressing peacebuilding priorities.


She went on to stress that the Organization must do better at helping Governments build the core structures needed for policy management and prioritization, aid coordination and public financial management.  That was congruent with the key findings and messages of the newly released World Development Report.  Another priority was for the United Nations to supplement its core staff by investing in long-term partnerships with external providers who could provide the necessary niche capacity on a more flexible, on-demand basis.  In that context, the report recommended greater South-South cooperation and triangular partnerships, she said.  It also noted the need to translate proposed rules and management changes into improved operational effectiveness on the ground.


To that end, the Department of Field Support intended to involve representatives from the field in Steering Committee meetings, whenever possible.  As Chair of the Steering Committee, the Department was working on the basis of openness and consultation.  The entire United Nations system and other external partners must be involved in creating a set of actions based on the report’s recommendations, she said, adding that peacebuilding work in the aftermath of conflict must be aligned with other initiatives and reforms across the United Nations system.  Some of the report’s human resources recommendations could be pursued more productively within other work streams, she said, pointing out that if they were placed under a “civilian capacity” chapeau, they could have a sharper focus, sense of urgency and added value.


A holistic system-wide approach was being adopted, she said, noting that the Steering Committee had invited the World Bank to join.  There was broad agreement on the key goals of improving national-capacity development, creating mechanisms for effective partnerships with external capacities, and designing more seamless arrangements within the United Nations in order to respond rapidly to crises.  It was also important to be selective, she emphasized, noting that the report contained more than 70 recommendations.  “We need to identify those that offer the greatest return on investment and prioritize them,” she said, stressing that ideas must be tested in the field.  South Sudan, for example, may present opportunities, should a mission be deployed there.  However, it was necessary to be realistic, she said, adding that some of the recommendations required systemic change and would take longer.


EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA (Rwanda), Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, said ownership was best understood and meaningful in three primary areas:  forming the primary vision of national political and peacebuilding processes; developing human and institutional capacities; and including all segments of society in peacebuilding efforts.  The independent review provided a key opportunity to address adequate development of human and institutional capacities and to underline the urgency with which collective responses must be improved.


To move forward on the report’s recommendations, he said, the Commission had identified national ownership as its key area of attention this year.  To that end, it recognized the need to undertake actions across the report’s four areas of focus:  national ownership; global partnership; expertise; and nimbleness.  The Commission nevertheless appreciated that doing so required prioritizing those actions that would deliver the most tangible results in the field.  At the same, it recognized that high expectations surrounded the report’s implementation and was working to address them with urgency.


He went on to underscore the Commission’s recognition that the most pressing peacebuilding needs must be addressed in a time-bound manner.  It agreed that the process must be nationally owned and demand-driven.  The means of identifying national capacities must themselves be identified, and the focus must be on enabling local capacities, not substituting them.  It was also essential to leverage capacities from actors in the immediate vicinity, including those of South-South partners and women.


Acknowledging that doing so would be particularly challenging, he stressed that immediate attention must be paid to the ways in which such capacities could be integrated into the United Nations system.  As a forum that worked across organizational boundary and addressed the entire continuum of peacebuilding activities, the Peacebuilding Commission offered the space to address the report’s recommendations and could introduce a degree of complementarity, he said.  It was committed to performing its function as an advisory body to the Council and the General Assembly as both bodies carried out their respective mandates.


Statements


SUSAN RICE ( United States) noted that when new Governments emerged from the ashes of conflict, the United Nations was often not well prepared to offer timely support, whereas countries needing to rebuild could not afford to wait six months or more.  International efforts must enhance existing capacity, rather than displacing or replacing it, she stressed.  Welcoming the report’s practical recommendations, she expressed full support for its emphasis on gender and the recruitment and retention of more women.  On authorizing a new mission in South Sudan, she said there was an opportunity to advance some of the report’s important ideas in that context, asking what the Secretariat could do to improve its ability to identify and deploy the relevant expertise, and how the Council could support that.  What could be done to forge more productive partnerships with international financial institutions and donor entities?


MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India) noted that significant enhancement of post-conflict civil capacity would have a major impact on staffing, and emphasized that providing resources for peacekeeping missions must not detract from peacekeeping requirements.  The concept of a lead agency must be reconciled with the need for unity of command.  While there was demand to create entities in New York to administer civilian capacity, it was also important to avoid setting up large bureaucratic structures, he stressed, adding that the focus should instead be on the field.  Having contributed the first female formed police unit, India had always responded promptly to requests for civilian capacity, he pointed out.  Civilian deployments must be driven by demand, and the recruitment model must give primacy to partnerships with Member States, he said.  It was also necessary to ensure a gender balance, and that capacities being sourced were relevant to existing conditions on the ground.


PETER WITTIG ( Germany) said the international and United Nations response in bolstering post-conflict civilian capacity remained too fragmented and too late.  It was time to do better in improving its appropriateness and timeliness.  The emphasis must be on leaner options, while identifying and addressing duplications and gaps within the United Nations system.  Recruitment procedures for civilian experts must also be streamlined.  He underlined the need to make better use of existing resources and partnerships, especially those with South-South partners.  Indeed, building on United Nations partnerships with regional and subregional organizations would be vital, as would engagement with international financial institutions and the private sector.  Noting the benefits of the cluster approach, he also underscored the need to implement the report’s recommendations without delay, including in Southern Sudan.


BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) stressed the need to develop transitional justice mechanisms, to integrate armed forces and support economic recovery.  He agreed that the United Nations must use local civilian capacities to complement its peacebuilding efforts, adding that, while they may have been weakened by conflict, there were often latent capacities that were not entirely visible at first.  They should be identified and targeted for support, he stressed.  In providing assistance, the international community must avoid creating dependency, and strengthening national capacities was critical in that effort.  To deepen the pool of civilian capacities, the comparative advantages of regional and subregional organizations must be leveraged, which was equally true in harnessing the efforts of women, he said.  For its part, South Africa had provided training for civil servants in South Sudan and was working with Germany to strengthen the delivery of certain basic services.


PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said the United Nations must be more effective in building national capacities in the aftermath of conflict.  Without progress on security, justice and jobs, people would have little confidence in peace processes.  It was essential to get the right civilian expertise promptly to deliver core security, justice and development functions, he stressed, adding that international capacity should only be used as a last resort.  Supporting the proposal to create civilian partnership cells, he said that would help to widen the network of experts with intimate knowledge of a region.  It was also essential to see the benefits of those recommendations working quickly on the ground.  Some of the report’s recommendations needed further clarity, particularly those concerning the flexibility of mission resources, he said.


NOËL NELSON MESSONE ( Gabon), stressing that partnerships should be credible, responsive and genuine, said they must lead to strong national ownership in the judicial, education and administrative sectors.  When receiving international aid, a State must have sovereign prerogatives, and all aid must be distributed under State leadership.  Welcoming United Nations post-conflict training programmes, he said they enabled the replacement of external staff with locals, as had been the case in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Timor-Leste and Afghanistan.  The real priorities and needs of a country must be respected and obeyed, he said.


ALEXANDER A. PANKIN ( Russian Federation) said the report adequately reflected the main problems of peacebuilding and his delegation supported two of its main arguments — the deployment of civilians must be swift, and peacebuilding must focus on strengthening national capacity.  Generally, any assistance from the international community must be provided with the consent of national Governments and respect the principle of national sovereignty, he said.  While underlining the particular legitimacy of the United Nations in coordinating international peacebuilding, he said he had questions about exporting the practice of using reserves in United Nations field missions.  How balanced would that practice be in terms of geographic distribution and as a reflection of the actual capacity of Member States?  He also asked how effective external teams could be in strengthening national capacity.  A closer analysis of staff capacity was needed, he said, noting that the proposal for further flexibility on financing and logistics, including borrowing from other missions, required further study, as well as discussion in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).


CAROLINE ZIADE ( Lebanon) emphasized the importance of guaranteeing national ownership in countries emerging from conflict, noting their unparalleled interest in identifying local needs.  Experience showed that national ownership was extremely complex in terms of implementation, she said, expressing hope that concrete recommendations would emerge on how best to use civilians in strengthening national capacity.  She further stressed the need for greater participation by women, and hoped there would be equally concrete recommendations on their role.  Agreeing that partnerships were a key tool for deploying civilian experts, she said consideration should be given to leveraging expertise from within the country concerned first of all, then, in a widening ring, from the region, other countries of the South and finally the international community.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) called for further consultations on the report’s recommendations, in a broader setting.  Describing the review as an opportunity to translate the mutually reinforcing aspects of peacekeeping and peacebuilding into practice, she said its main objective was to better address the needs of post-conflict countries, and Brazil appreciated the focus on national ownership in that regard.  Sustaining security and stability gains achieved with the help of peacekeeping missions depended greatly on the capacity of national Governments to resume their core functions, which required the development of national capacity and strengthening local institutions.  Peacekeeping methods must be supplemented as soon as possible with peacebuilding activities, she said.  While the deployment of military and police forces was a distinct characteristic of peacekeeping, the role of a mission’s civilian component must not be underestimated, she emphasized.  Partnerships were also important for expanding capacity in post-conflict countries, she said, calling for stronger South-South cooperation.  The use of experts in missions and civilian support packages were good options that could provide developing countries with more expertise and help to implement mission mandates more effectively.


JOÃO MARIA CABRAL ( Portugal), supporting the report’s major findings, said it should become a reference document for the planning and management of peacebuilding activities.  It was clear in identifying the need to strengthen national capacities to fulfil core State functions as the foremost priority.  Emphasizing that decisions must be made by national actors, he said their international counterparts were there to assist, not replace them.  The United Nations must ensure comprehensive, integrated approaches to its presence in a given country.  The recommendation to provide civilian expertise in post-conflict situations was encouraging, and the United Nations should show greater flexibility in reallocating resources, in close consultation with national authorities, he said, underlining the need for coordination with international actors.


YANG TAO ( China) said host-country resources must be utilized fully, not least to bolster national ownership.  Indeed, it would also help ensure the continuing presence of qualified staff after United Nations peacekeepers withdrew.  The Organization should, in line with the actual conditions and needs of host countries, focus on selecting, training and matching the required experts to local efforts to enhance security-sector reform and promote social development, he said, adding that Member States should be encouraged to train their talent pool, and that the United Nations should continue to select candidates in an open and transparent manner.


U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said the review clearly showed that United Nations response mechanisms must be recalibrated.  Nigeria agreed that the report’s recommendations could be quickly applied in transitional situations such as Southern Sudan, and that home-grown capacities must be identified even as temporary gaps were filled.  Steps by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to review field work were particularly encouraging, she said.  As a facilitator and partner for peace, the United Nations must be guided in its every action by the communities it served.  The review must serve as a catalyst for change, enjoining all United Nations actors to use resources more efficiently, while also drawing on the full range of national capacities.  That would increase the Organization’s ability to keep pace with changes in the field.


IVAN BARBALIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that enhancing the capacity of national institutions should be seen as a core peacebuilding issue and one of the most relevant ways to improve the performance of United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  It was essential to strengthen national ownership of peace processes by supporting core Government functions such as aid coordination and policy management.  The United Nations must better coordinate with Member States in order to use existing resources more effectively, and improve guidance in capacity-building and training.  It was crucial to harmonize overlapping mandates and various policy perspectives in order to make United Nations support more agile and relevant, he said.


FERNANDO ALZATE (Colombia) said that strategies for responding to post-conflict challenges must be tailored to conditions in the field, describing the Senior Advisory Group’s approach as relevant in that regard.  Ongoing consultations on national ownership were imperative in determining essential Government functions, while agile and flexible instruments were needed to deal with specialized situations.  However, they must be consistent with legal standards, he emphasized.  Human-resource administration must address the need to deploy specialized personnel quickly and efficiently in large-scale field operations, without creating unnecessary disparities.  Geographic diversity must be maintained in that regard, he said, calling also for more flexible and cost-efficient systems for responding to changing conditions in the field.


Council President GÉRARD ARAUD ( France), speaking in his national capacity, said that implementation of the report would require the United Nations to pull together as a whole.  The review fell within the context of efforts to improve United Nations efforts in the field, and ideological discussions should be avoided.  Rather, the focus must be on practical suggestions on how the Secretariat could address the report’s specific recommendations.  France agreed that national ownership was a priority, that the mobilization of local human resources in support structures was critical, and that partnerships must be multiplied.  While Southern countries could provide greater human capacities, their Northern counterparts should not shed their responsibilities, he stressed, adding that trilateral coordination, including donor support, must be increased, to that end.


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