|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2nd Meeting (AM)
PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION APPROVES MONITORING MECHANISM TO REGULARLY REVIEW
PROGRESS OF CONFLICT-RECOVERY, DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY IN BURUNDI
Deputy Secretary-General Welcomes Mechanism
Which Will Pave Way for Principled, Active Partnerships
With a long-awaited conflict-recovery and development strategy for Burundi now in place, the Peacebuilding Commission today approved a jointly developed monitoring mechanism to regularly review progress in its implementation -- both locally and in New York -- in priority areas such as justice and security sector reform, generating jobs and making radical improvements to governance.
Meeting in its special “Burundi Configuration”, the Commission adopted the Monitoring and Tracking Mechanism (MTM) of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi. That Framework -- in place since June -- is the country-led integrated peacebuilding strategy now guiding the engagement and dialogue between Bujumbura, the United Nations and other international partners.
The Framework identified key objectives, major challenges and threats to peace, especially the implementation of a stagnant ceasefire agreement between Burundi and the National Liberation Forces (Palipehutu-FNL). Promoting inclusive growth, employment, transparency and human rights were among its other top priorities.
Members of the Commission, which was created in 2005 to prevent countries emerging from conflict from sliding back into chaos, hailed the jointly-developed Monitoring Mechanism as a “groundbreaking” and “living” document. It has three components: a Partners Coordination Group in Burundi -- the monitoring structure; matrix and progress reports –- the assessment unit; and the Monitoring and Tracking Mechanism review meetings of the Peacebuilding Commission and other follow-up activities.
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro congratulated the Burundi Government and the Commission for their accomplishments in the past year towards consolidating peace in the country. The endorsement of the Strategic Framework in June and adoption of the Mechanism to track its implementation were critical steps for Burundi, its people, and the Commission itself.
She stressed, however, that, while Burundi had made great strides towards consolidating hard won peace gains, challenges remained. It was therefore encouraging that the new Tracking Mechanism would focus on implementation in specific target areas, including good governance, the ceasefire between the Government and the Palipehutu-FNL, and socio-economic recovery, among others. The Mechanism would also strengthen the long-term international support and engagement that Burundi desperately needed, she added.
Noting that the Mechanism was the “first of its kind”, the Deputy Secretary-General said it would pave the way for a “principled and active” partnership between countries such as Burundi, the United Nations and the entire international community, including civil society and the private sector. It would also help track core responsibilities and ensure accountability of those engaged in Burundi as that country continued along the long road to peace and development. She added that the Mechanism would ensure an open and transparent partnership among all stakeholders, and called on all actors to “spare no effort to support this critical process”.
According to the Mechanism document (PBC/2/BDI/4), the Government of Burundi and its partners agreed to establish the Partners Coordination Group to serve as a dedicated framework for dialogue, coordination and monitoring for the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the Strategic Framework. The Peacebuilding Commission in its Burundi configuration would hold two high-level (or ambassadorial-level) formal meetings per year to review the progress reports.
The Matrix was designed to assess progress in Burundi on the implementation of the Framework using a two-fold approach: monitoring the implementation of mutual engagements by and contributions of the Government of Burundi, the Commission, and other relevant actors cited in the Strategic Framework; and monitoring progress towards achieving benchmarks for peace consolidation while mitigating risks identified in the Framework.
The Matrix would consist of several key elements, including objectives and priority areas of the Framework; summary of risks related to each priority area, as identified in the Framework; and critical benchmarks to gauge progress under the priority areas also as identified in the Framework (defined at the political and strategic levels). Some of those benchmarks include, the creation, by 2010, of a political environment conducive to holding free and fair elections. It also called for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire between the Government and the Palipehutu-FNL and set a target date of the end of 2008 for progress towards adopting a law that would establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Executive Representative of the Secretary-General Youssef Mahmoud explained how the Government of Burundi and the Commission had jointly developed indicators for the Strategic Framework, stressing that the Bujumbura-based team was guided by three key principles: ownership of the process by both Government and Burundi-based partners; identification of indicators at the political level, to help measure progress in areas critical to peace consolidation; and selection of a limited number of indicators with real strategic significance.
The process of developing monitoring was as important as the product that the Commission was adopting today, he continued. The Mechanism -- developed by a joint task force composed of the Government, national and international partners and the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) –- had built on lessons learned from the consultative process. The exchanges between the Commission and the Peacebuilding Support Office had led to a mutually owned process and high quality set of indicators.
Nevertheless, since indicators linked to peace consolidation were often multidimensional, he cautioned that measuring them would not be as easy as it was for project indicators. The Mechanism was a tool to be adapted as parties advanced in implementing the Framework. He called for speedier implementation of the Framework and to quickly show the added value of the new tool, which could galvanize political efforts around the peace consolidation priorities. The Commission’s future meetings on Burundi should be guided by the Framework, which would ensure a focus on added value.
Peacebuilding Commission Chair Yukio Takasu ( Japan) said the advent of the Monitoring Mechanism indicated that the Burundi configuration was making it clear that the Commission could make concrete contributions by drawing on its multifaceted mandate and by bringing together the expertise of all stakeholders. Indeed, the Mechanism was a “milestone” for the work of the Commission as a whole.
But he said that the real challenge started today –- making the Mechanism operational. The Mechanism must be a living, working document, implemented, respected and supported by all stakeholders. At the same time, it would be important to follow up on how and whether the indicators were being met, as well as to identify shortcomings and subsequent remedial actions. The Commission’s leadership would have to fill any “implementation gaps” discovered along the way.
The entire exercise, including implementation of the Strategic Framework, was a “learning process” that should be built upon and improved down the road, he said. It was also important to ensure that the United Nations programmes system was on board and, beyond that, actively engaged in the implementation of the Mechanism. The wider Commission should also be careful to not overburden the administering responsibility of the host Government in carrying out or reporting on programme implementation, he added.
The representative of Burundi said today’s approval of the Monitoring Mechanism would make it possible for the Commission and the Government to monitor implementation of the Framework. He pointed out that adoption today marked the end of a theoretical stage and the start of a more operational one. He urged all involved parties to ensure that such an essential project became a reality in the field.
In closing remarks, Chair of the Burundi Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, Johan Lovald ( Norway), said that today marked a turning point for the Commission’s engagement in that country. “Our efforts will now be fully invested in the implementation of the Strategic Framework […] and particularly in taking concrete actions to fulfil our mutual engagements, as reflected in the Framework.” The Monitoring and Tracking Mechanism just adopted would be the Commission’s “road map”, he said, adding that the formal bi-annual meetings, possible field visits and other follow-up activities would be key events in the Commission’s Burundi-targeted work now that the Mechanism had been approved.
[The Commission last year chose Burundi as one of its two focus countries -- the other was Sierra Leone -- to receive intensive international support, as well as an initial grant of $35 million, for critical post-conflict peacebuilding projects that would pave the way for sustainable development. Burundi had struggled through decades of ethnic conflict and, in 2005, held its first democratic elections in 12 years, subsequently installing a new national Government and disarming some 20,000 combatants.]
The representative of Belgium welcomed the adoption of the Mechanism and expressed appreciation for the work done, notably by the Government of Burundi and the Support Office of the Peacebuilding Commission. A stage had now been reached that would make it possible to undertake work in concrete terms. Belgium had always emphasized the operational aspect, and should be kept abreast of developments in Burundi. The Mechanism and the criteria were just tools, and should not become an end in themselves; neither was carved in stone.
Brazil’s representative said the Mechanism would be a “useful complement” to the Framework, and would help all relevant actors to assess progress. It would also be fundamentally important as an early warning system. Providing the Commission with a clear picture of developments in the priority areas would hopefully prompt stakeholders into future action. The fact that the Mechanism was developed in tandem with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper was important. The Commission’s commitments listed in the matrix of indicators must guide progress in the country, she said, adding that economic and development indicators could be more broadly reflected in the future. It was important to ensure that the “dividends of peace” reached the population.
The representative of France said the Commission must now enter an operational phase by ensuring that concrete steps were taken on the ground and the wider Commission must guide that process. It was therefore more important for New York to be better informed than it was now about what was happening on the ground.
The representative of the European Community said the Mechanism was an important step in the Commission’s work. He welcomed the fact that the latter had identified just one body on the ground to monitor both the Mechanism and the Strategic Framework. The challenge would be to strike the right relationship between the Framework and other activities in which the Government would be engaged, such as implementation of its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. It was also important for the Commission to ensure the smooth flow of implementation of both documents and be ready to act quickly if problems arose.
The representative of the United Kingdom welcomed the adoption of the documents which allowed work to move forward. It was important to remember that adopting the Mechanism marked the start -- not the end -- of the process, and he called for focusing on what could be done to further advance the eight priority areas.
Indonesia’s representative said the creation of the Mechanism demonstrated the unity of national and international stakeholders in ensuring that Burundi could reap “the peace dividend”. As the Mechanism would deal with post-conflict challenges, it must be flexible and would require a strong sense of ownership by the Government. Indeed, the Mechanism should be modified according to the realities on the ground. Without that, it would be hard to imagine how it would produce tangible results. Acknowledging the difficulties in reforming the public sector, he said the Matrix was a tool of mutual engagement, and would induce national and international stakeholders to “step forward” to help the country implement its programmes.
The representative of the Netherlands said today’s action signified a very important step and its symbolism should not escape the Commission. The way ahead would be even more important than those that had been taken so far. All involved should now work to ensure that the Mechanism was fully implemented for the people of Burundi.
Calling to the approval today as a “significant” and “groundbreaking” moment, Canada’s representative said the full peacebuilding strategy for Burundi was now complete. While she appreciated calls not to “over-bureaucratize” the process ahead, it was important that all the players recognized that implementation of the Framework and the Mechanism would require an unprecedented degree of cooperation between stakeholders on the ground, including the Government, United Nations, civil society and other partners.
India’s representative was among those calling the Mechanism a “living document” and urging the Commission to be flexible in New York as situations and conditions on the ground in Burundi changed. All efforts should be carried out at a speed with which the Government and partners on the ground were comfortable. He urged stakeholders and partners to “think creatively” going forward, including in areas such as marshalling resources and expert advise, or other areas in which the Government might ask for assistance during implementation of the Strategic Framework.
The representative of Chile said the Mechanism was a consensus formula between Burundi, civil society and the international community -- a mutually owned process. Indeed, the document was the first of its kind and could serve as a model for future cases. It should be adapted according to the experience gained on the ground. Further, it must be dynamic in nature, given that its final purpose was to speed reconciliation in Burundi.
The representative of Egypt said the Mechanism complemented the Strategic Framework and fully agreed that the Commission must be informed of developments in Burundi, especially at the level of national reconciliation.
The representative of Pakistan said his delegation hoped the Mechanism would have a positive effect on Burundi’s efforts to consolidate peace and ensure solid socio-economic development.
Angola’s representative agreed that the Commission was moving out of a theoretical phase and into an action phase. At the same time, everyone should recognize that a degree of flexibility would be required, both in New York and in Bujumbura, to address evolving issues on the ground, especially on engagement with the Palipehutu-FNL and fulfilment of the terms of the comprehensive peace agreement.
Jamaica’s representative said, while there were still political difficulties vis-à-vis the peace agreement, serious economic constraints still affected the country. He urged the Commission to keep in mind that tracking and monitoring activities should give equal weight to socio-economic issues, as well as security and political ones.
The Peacebuilding Commission will meet again at a time and date to be announced.
* *** *