|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Central African Republic configuration
1st Meeting (AM)
PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION PLACES CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC ON AGENDA; AMBASSADOR
TELLS BODY ‘CAR WILL ALWAYS WALK SIDE BY SIDE WITH YOU, WELCOME YOUR ADVICE’
Special Representative Says, Now More Than Ever, Nation Needs
Help Addressing Multiple Governance, Security, Development Challenges
Beginning its consideration of the Central African Republic, the Peacebuilding Commission today approved additional members of the group that would work on the country and discussed preliminary ideas on the scope of its involvement there.
On 12 June, the Central African Republic became the fourth country to be placed on the agenda of the Commission, which was set up in 2005 to help countries emerging from conflict avoid the slide back into war or chaos. The 31-member body agreed to take up the situation after a request earlier this year from the Government of that impoverished country, which had been beset by armed attacks, widespread banditry and massive internal displacement in recent months.
In confirming the new members of the Central African Republic configuration, the Commission acted on a 26 June note from the Chair of its Organizational Committee that listed additional Member States and regional, subregional, international and United Nations organizations that wished to join.
Addressing the configuration after that action, Francois Lonseny Fall, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the country, said that, now more than ever, that nation needed assistance to address its multiple governance, security and development challenges. The United Nations country team in Bangui was working hard to address the immediate needs for security sector reform, the promotion of good governance, rule of law and revitalization of conflict-affected communities, utilizing the $10 million that the Peacebuilding Fund had allocated.
He said that the United Nations was also assisting in the organization of an inclusive political dialogue, the preparatory process of which had allowed the Government to conclude peace agreements with all rebel movements operating in the northern provinces. The Government had also succeeded, with United Nations assistance, in bringing together the opposition parties, rebel movements and civil society around one table, within the framework of the Dialogue Preparatory Committee. The findings and recommendations of that Committee would form the basis of the dialogue, which should be held in the coming weeks.
It was critical to consolidate the gains achieved thus far on the ground, in order to capitalize on the current window of opportunity for the Central African Republic to turn the page in its unstable history, he said. The efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission would strengthen the work already started and add to the strategic vision for the United Nations peacebuilding efforts in the country.
Following Mr. Fall’s statement, members welcomed developments in the dialogue process, which they said was necessary to ensure stability and development in the country, as well as the peace agreements signed. Stressing the importance of stability in the Central African Republic for the rest of the region, they expressed confidence that the Peacebuilding Commission’s efforts would live up to the high expectations that existed among the people. Noting the experience in other countries on the Commission’s list, they underlined the importance of an immediate peace dividend. Some noted, however, that the Central African Republic was still awaiting the realization of earlier promises.
The Permanent Observer of the African Union underscored that the Peacebuilding Commission was engaging with the country at a very tender but propitious moment, following the signing of the peace agreements. She was pleased to note that the international partners on the ground, including the African Union, stood ready to work with the Commission. During its recent Summit meeting, the Union had thanked all partners in the country and urged them to join the Commission in accelerating reconstruction in a country that was key to the region’s stability.
Answering members’ questions, Mr. Fall said the $10 million “package” from the Peacebuilding Fund was destined to finance projects for the promotion of good governance and the rule of law, reform of the security sector, and recovery of conflict-affected areas. Those priorities had been determined by the Government, in close cooperation with the United Nations country team. The two top priorities were security sector reform and the issue of good governance and rule of law.
Carolyn McAskie, the outgoing Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, said that the Peacebuilding Fund allocation for preparatory work in the Central African Republic was an excellent use of that mechanism, allowing a quick start, which was very much appreciated by the people on the ground.
Also participating in the discussion were the representatives of Brazil, Gabon, Netherlands, Russian Federation and Egypt, as well as the Observers of the European Commission and the International Organization of French-Speaking People.
Also this morning, Jan Grauls, Chairperson of the configuration, addressed the organization of work of the configuration, saying that there had been some concern voiced by members about the volume of meetings. He proposed to maximize the lessons learned from the experience of the other three country-specific configurations to assure quality work with fewer, but more strategic meetings, in what he called a “new, lighter approach”.
Mr. Grauls also announced that he would visit the Central African Republic next week, at the invitation of its President, to establish preliminary contacts with officials, organizations on the ground and civil society. He expected to submit a mission report, along with a paper meant to orient the Commission on the possible design and scope of the Central African Republic configuration’s work.
The representatives of India, Canada, as well as the International Organization of la Francophonie strongly endorsed the strategic approach to the organization of work. The representative of the Russian Federation offered to alert his Embassy in the Central African Republic about the Chairman’s visit to the country, to assist him as needed.
Closing the meeting, the representative of the Central African Republic reiterated his Government’s appreciation for being placed on the Commission’s agenda, and invited all the members of the configuration to visit to see the situation for themselves, including the impact of the food crisis, with the rise in commodity prices and the concurrent drought. His country was agricultural, but at a subsistence level, which needed to be upgraded through mechanization to assure food security and a healthier economy.
In general, he said, international assistance was crucial for his country. It had not been adequately forthcoming in the past and he hoped that the Peacebuilding Commission’s actions would alleviate that situation. “The CAR will always walk side by side with you and will always welcome your advice,” he told the group.
The Peacebuilding Commission will reconvene at a date to be announced.
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