UN establishes new body to prevent countries from sliding back into war

20 December 2005 – In an historic action that brings to fruition a central reform proposed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the 2005 World Summit, the Security Council and the General Assembly today acted in concert to establish a new body that aims to prevent countries emerging from conflict from falling back into chaos.

“That word, historic, is often over-used, but in this case, I have no doubt that it is merited,” the President of the 60th General Assembly, Jan Eliasson of Sweden, said in introducing the resolution that established the 31-member Peacebuilding Commission.

“This resolution would, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, create a mechanism which ensures that for countries emerging from conflict, post-conflict does not mean post-engagement of the international community,” he said.

Around 50 per cent of the conflicts of the past 20 years have recurred within five years of peace agreements, Mr. Eliasson added at a press conference after the resolutions’ adoption.

“When the cameras disappear, the attention also disappears and five years later you pay an enormously heavy price, and people pay a very heavy price. This is what we are trying to repair when we fill this institutional gap,” he said.

Today’s resolutions defined the new Commission as an intergovernmental advisory body that will make sure attention is maintained on the countries in question, setting its agenda at the request of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretary-General, or Member States on the “verge of lapsing or relapsing into conflict.”

According to the resolutions, the Commission will act only by consensus, proposing integrated strategies for stabilization, economic recovery and development, and providing recommendations for improving the coordination of the UN system in those efforts.

The establishment of the Commission fulfills a key outcome of the 2005 Summit in New York, which committed Member States to creating it by the end of this year. It comes just about a week after the first major Summit reform was enacted by the creation of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) that will keep cash at hand for saving lives in sudden-onset emergencies.

Among other priorities of that Summit were a new Human Rights Council, also due around year’s end, and a comprehensive convention on terrorism to be completed during the current session of the Assembly, which ends on 30 September 2006.

All three issues have undergone intense and protracted negotiations. In regard to the Peacebuilding Commission, Mr. Eliasson said the most contentious issues were reporting lines and membership.

Today’s resolutions prescribed that membership will consist of seven Security Council members, including permanent members, selected by the Council; seven members of ECOSOC elected from regional groups, five top contributors to UN budgets, funds, programmes and agencies; and five top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United Nations missions.

The General Assembly would elect seven additional members, with special consideration for States that have experienced post-conflict recovery.

Thanking Mr. Eliasson for his hard work bringing about consensus on the new Commission, Secretary-General Annan stressed that more hard work lies ahead in making sure the Commission functions properly, “if it is truly to make a difference, not in these halls but in the countries where its help is needed.”

“In short,” he said in a statement released today, “it is vital that the momentum of this reform is sustained. But right now, we have real reason to be satisfied.”

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