UN officials urge Security Council to allow for effective post-2015 peacebuilding tools

Ceremony marking closure of the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Office held in the capital Freetown on 5 March 2014. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

19 March 2014 – Inclusivity, institution-building and international/regional support are the three key ingredients to long-lasting post-conflict peace, United Nations officials said this morning as they called on the Security Council to help shape a more effective UN peacebuilding architecture.

“Peacebuilding encompasses a variety of political and developmental actions by United Nations peacekeeping operations, special political missions, country teams, and other factors. It lies at the very heart of UN aspirations in countries emerging from conflict,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, as he briefed the Council alongside UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, and Peacebuilding Commission Chair, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota.

Mr. Eliasson drew attention to cases of Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste, where peacebuilding operations had prevented relapse into violence and facilitated those countries’ post-conflict development. He also highlighted the unpredictable and risky nature of peacebuilding environments, as experienced recently in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan, which are currently suffering from upsurges of violence.

“That is why we must always be prepared to adapt and seek new approaches based on experience and evidence,” he insisted.

The Deputy Secretary-General explained that peacebuilding can only succeed if inclusive. “National ownership, national leadership and national political commitment are indispensable ingredients for durable peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for the participation of women and youth in peace processes.

He recalled that to respond to the frequent relapse into violence of countries emerging from armed conflict, Member States created in 2005 a new peacebuilding architecture. Given its diverse composition, the Peacebuilding Commission is well placed to help ensure coherence of efforts and sustained attention in support of peace, said Mr. Eliasson, adding the corresponding Peacebuilding Fund is now widely recognized for its usefulness and flexibility.

“But questions remain as to where and how the Commission can be most helpful and relevant,” he said,, and while the body and its country configurations are working hard to play a useful advisory role to the Security Council and to bring to bear the collective weight of Member States in support of peacebuilding priorities, the Commission is nevertheless a subsidiary organ of the Council “and can only be of optimal use if the Council empowers it and utilizes its potential.”

With that in mind, he appealed to the Council to take advantage of the upcoming review of the peacebuilding architecture in 2015 to shape the kind of Peacebuilding Commission that will be relevant, catalytic and effective, not least from the perspective of the Security Council and, of course, the interests of those States that are affected.

Echoing many of Mr. Eliasson’s points, Mr. de Aguiar Patriota stressed that that while sustaining peace is a central objective of UN peace and security architecture, “we face the systemic challenge of the short span of attention and commitment from the international community to the complex and long-term challenges to sustainable peace. The Peacebuilding Commission was indeed mandated to ‘extend the period of attention given by the international community to post-conflict recovery.’” Along with highlighting the importance of inclusivity, institution building, and sustained international support and mutual accountability, he underscored the need for gender parity in peacebuilding. “While women and youths endure the tragic consequences of violent conflicts, they are also the main agents or societal transformation and emancipation in post-conflict societies,” he insisted.

For her part, Miss Clark stressed the need for a “sustained presence at the local level to understand and respond to immediate and longer term needs of communities, including on issues of livelihoods, basic social services, provision of security and justice to victims,” highlighting the 2013 collaboration between the UN and local authorities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in the investigation of various crimes.

She highlighted the recent example of Somalia, where the UN “enabled local governments and municipalities to collect property and business taxes,” the revenue of which is now used to fund elections, waste collection and road-building across the country.

The third and last essential ingredient for effective peacebuilding is “predictable and sustained international support, based on clear and focused proprieties and mutual accountabilities,” said Miss Clark, adding that “by setting clear and realistic goals which cover the whole peacebuilding spectrum, including building inclusive politics, security, justice, livelihoods, and social service delivery, and then agreeing on how to deliver on these goals, we can help strengthen the credibility of peace processes and peacebuilding, and ensure effective delivery and results.”

“The challenges are many,” concluded Mr. Eliasson. “The challenges are serious and the challenges are urgent in countries like Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali, and Somalia. I am confident that the Governments and people of these countries could gain considerably from an efficient and broadly anchored UN peacebuilding architecture.”


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