11 October 2006 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched a multi-million dollar Peacebuilding Fund to help war-ravaged countries rebuild state institutions after conflict, and act as a “kick-start” for longer term donor investment in recovery efforts.
“The Peacebuilding Fund must help people to rebuild state institutions, and regain confidence in them after years and even decades of strife. The Fund can help countries emerging from conflict reach that crucial tipping point at which a majority of the people no longer expect conflict to be renewed,” he said in New York today.
Member States have already contributed and pledged around $140 million to the Fund out of a target of $250 million but Mr. Annan highlighted in his address to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – the UN’s principal body for coordinating and advancing development policy – that the needs in many nations will be much greater than what the Fund can satisfy.
“In such cases, the Fund is meant to act as a catalyst, paving the way for sustained investment in peace and recovery… it will “kick-start” critical peacebuilding interventions – such as the reintegration of demobilized soldiers – and then rely on multilateral and bilateral supporters to see that these efforts come to fruition.”
The Fund is a key element in Mr. Annan’s efforts at reform of the UN which, along with the recently set-up Peacebuilding Commission, was requested by the General Assembly as a way to prevent countries emerging from war falling back into conflict.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) will manage the Fund and adhere to the “strictest standards of accountability and transparency”, Mr. Annan said, adding that a key task will be to determine precisely which activities receive the Fund’s attention and here he stressed the main role of the host Government.
“Although peacebuilding is a collective effort, involving the international community, it is the Government of the country concerned that carries the main responsibility for setting priorities and ensuring that a peace process can be sustained. National ownership is the core principle of peacebuilding, and the restoration of national capacity to build peace must therefore be at the heart of our international efforts.”
Day-to-day operations of the Fund will be overseen by the Peacebuilding Support Office which in turn works very closely with the Peacebuilding Commission that held its first meeting in June. The Commission will meet again tomorrow and Friday to discuss the cases of Burundi and Sierra Leone when Mr. Annan said they will “formally declare those two countries to be eligible for the Fund’s support, thereby setting in motion the disbursement process.”
Stressing the Fund’s importance, Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General in the Peacebuilding Support Office, told reporters after the launch that it was the third part of the UN’s “peacebuilding architecture,” along with the Commission and the Support Office.
“The Fund will be a very lively tool for peacebuilding because one of the things that we have discovered is that the drop in resources to countries coming out of conflict is a critical element in whether or not they can maintain the path to peace.”