Press Conference by Outgoing Chair of Peacebuilding Commission

26 January 2011

Press Conference by Outgoing Chair of Peacebuilding Commission

26 January 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Outgoing Chair of Peacebuilding Commission


The United Nations peacebuilding architecture was bolstering its ability to help post-conflict nations avoid the all-too-common fate of relapsing into violence after the departure of peacekeeping missions, Peter Wittig (Germany), outgoing Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, said today.

“The challenge is huge,” Mr. Wittig said during a Headquarters press conference, noting that half of all countries in that situation fell back into conflict within 10 years.  However, the Commissionwas increasingly poised to put those nations on the path to sustainable peace and development, he added.  It could do so by exploring ways to mobilize resources and new funding sources to finance post-conflict reconstruction, encouraging broader engagement by more post-conflict countries, and better coordinating partnerships with regional and international partners on the ground.

He recalled that in 2010, the Commission, an advisory body, had strengthened United Nations ties with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to streamline their respective peacebuilding strategies.  The Commission had also held its first dialogue with the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.  Moreover, the United Nations Security Council, long focused on peacekeeping, had become more open to the Commission’s peacebuilding advice.

He went on to note that the 15-member Security Council had held thematic debates on peacebuilding issues, including one last week in which the Chairs of the Commission’s five country-specific configurations had issued a common statement.  The Commission’s configurations deal with five countries on its agenda:   Burundi; Sierra Leone; Guinea-Bissau; Central African Republic; and Liberia.  The interactions were part of United Nations efforts to implement the recommendations set forth in General Assembly resolution 65/7 and Security Council resolution 1947 (2010) following a comprehensive 2010 review of the Organization’s peacebuilding architecture.

Accompanying Mr. Wittig was Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, who said that, since its inception in 2005, the Peacebuilding Fund had received about $360 million from some 50 donors to pay for projects in 18 to 19 countries.  The Fund’s flexibility and ability to move quickly were major assets, she said.  For example, it had been able to set up security arrangements within three days to ensure the safety of the local population prior to last June’s presidential elections in Guinea.

Ms. Cheng-Hopkins said the Fund paid for things that traditional official development assistance (ODA) would not, such as military barracks to support security-sector reform.  Recently, it had developed a very strong monitoring and evaluation system to assess progress, which was vital in areas where the definition of success was often abstract.

She said that, in Liberia, which had been added to the Commission’s agenda in 2010, the Fund and the Commission were working with local officials to set up five regional security and rule-of-law hubs to ensure the presence and proper functioning of the police and courts, in order to complement the work of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Asked about the key conclusions of last week’s Security Council debate on the role of institution-building in peacebuilding, Mr. Wittig said there had been no single, specific key message.  Speakers had focused on success stories, including those found in countries on the Commission’s agenda, as well as others like the nationally owned institution-building plan of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, which focused on good governance, social issues, infrastructure and economic revitalization.

Questioned about the procedure for placing a country on the Commission’s agenda, and whether Southern Sudan would soon be added, Mr. Wittig replied that the Governments of the countries concerned had to apply to be on the list.  The increasing interest in doing so was encouraging, he said, adding that, should Southern Sudan choose independence, it would indeed require a lot of institution-building and peacebuilding support from the United Nations and major donors.

Ms. Cheng-Hopkins added that the Commission tried to educate post-conflict countries about the benefits of working with it, such as its ability to attract and retain donors and its capacity to play an arbitration role on the ground, while drawing the Security Council’s attention to the country’s plight and needs.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.