|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
General Assembly Speakers Underscore Vital Importance of Building Momentum towards
Achieving Global Development Goals, Beginning Discussion of Post-2015 Agenda
Also Focus on Improving United Nations Efforts in Building Civilian
Capacity in Aftermath of Conflict, as Follow-up to Report of Advisory Group
The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider ways to improve the on-the-ground effectiveness of the United Nations and ensure that the Organization delivered on two decades’ worth of development commitments, with delegations focusing on ways to strengthen civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict and following-up the historic Millennium Summit.
All the speakers underscored the vital importance of maintaining and building momentum towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals — which aim to halve extreme poverty and hunger, ensure universal primary education, solidify gains against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and improve women and children’s health — by the 2015 deadline. Yet, the discussion revealed that delegations were eager to begin talks on a post-2015 global development agenda; one that was led by the United Nations and which tackled social inequality, economic uncertainty and environmental degradation.
The representative of Cuba noted that during the Assembly’s 2010 summit to review the status of the Goals, many developing countries had emphasized that it was absolutely necessary to generate more resources to achieve those “modest targets in the scant time we have left”. Unfortunately, the developed world had ignored such calls, and instead of solidarity had offered the excuse that the current financial downturn justified scaling back agreed development commitments.
He warned that if developed countries did not fulfil their promises, more was at stake than the achievement of the Millennium targets; indeed, there was a danger that all the development goals agreed over the past two decades would wither away. The upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development — “Rio+20” — would be a unique opportunity for all Member States to generate the political will to move forward, including according to the principle of shared, but differentiated responsibility. In the meantime, only through radical changes in the consumption patterns of Northern countries and building a more equitable global financial order would real progress be made towards the Goals agreed at the start of the new century.
Brazil’s delegate was among those who noted that, even as the international community redoubled its efforts to ensure broad achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, it was important to look beyond 2015. As such, she stressed that sustainable development should be at the heart of the Organization’s post‑2015 agenda, and to that end, Rio+20 could be considered a starting point for relevant discussions.
While the three pillars of sustainable development — environmental protection, economic development and social equity — might form the core of the Organization’s work going forward, they should complement, rather than substitute for the Millennium Goals, which would remain relevant. The United Nations should remain “firmly engaged”, she said, and any new targets should be similarly limited and time-bound. Above all, the post‑2015 development agenda should be discussed in an open and transparent manner, including with civil society.
Another crucial way the United Nations could strengthen its role in global problem-solving, said the representative of New Zealand, would be through the “urgent” implementation of the report of the Senior Advisory Group, which aimed to redress current inadequacies in the Organization’s ability to identify, deploy and effectively utilize specialized civilian expertise. Nowhere were those deficiencies more starkly evident than in the area of post-conflict peacebuilding. Effective capacity-building in that field was complex and difficult, and great care was necessary to ensure that any support worked to supplement existing capacity, without displacing it.
Currently, the United Nations lacked the tools or mechanisms for the rapid identification of relevant personnel who might be available for such tasks, even from within its own ranks, and lacked the ability to recruit and deploy such personnel in a timely manner. For countries seeking urgent assistance, delays of 18 to 24 months were “woefully inadequate” and “totally unacceptable”. Meanwhile, when the personnel were deployed, many lacked the requisite skills, experience or training for the effective rebuilding of national capacity. “Too often, it’s the wrong people with the wrong skills at the wrong time, arriving far too late to be effective,” he stressed, adding: “We can do better. And we must do better.”
Pakistan’s representative stressed that building effective and relevant capacities for post-conflict situations rested on the “judicious implementation” of the Secretary-General’s report on the topic, and highlighted the main areas for action, including identifying civilian capacities from within the region concerned and ensuring that the exercise was resource neutral.
Underscoring that civilian capacities should not replace key peacekeeping functions or be conceived at the expense of resources allocated for peacekeeping, he said there was already a “resource crunch” in the peacekeeping field. Moreover, peacekeepers were undertaking key peacebuilding functions in various integrated missions. Civilian capacities should, therefore, be identified to supplement existing structures, and not create parallel ones.
Also speaking today were representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Bangladesh (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Norway (also on behalf of the Nordic countries), Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Russian Federation, Malaysia, Canada, United States, India, Mongolia, Colombia, Mexico, United Kingdom and Switzerland. A representative of the delegation of the European Union also addressed the Assembly.
The Assembly will reconvene on Monday, 5 December, at 10 a.m. to consider matters related to social development, including follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers.
The Assembly met today to discuss the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow‑up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields; follow‑up to the 2000 Millennium Summit; and United Nations reforms.
For its consideration of the first item, the Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary‑General on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation (document A/66/255), which was submitted by Catarina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on that topic. The report reviewed major issues surrounding the resources available for the realization of the right to water and sanitation.
Following an introduction, section II of the report offers a brief overview of the status of resources for those sectors. It then considers several principal sources of financing within the sectors and offers suggestions on how those might be augmented and improved through alignment with human rights principles, and recaps the benefits of investing in the rights to water and sanitation. Section III considers the related challenge of targeting resources effectively, offering concrete examples of how stakeholders could better utilize limited resources by keeping human rights principles in mind. Lastly, Section IV addresses additional challenges to adequate financing, such as institutional fragmentation and lack of transparency.
Further for its consideration of the follow‑up and outcomes of United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields, the Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary‑General entitled “Human Security” (document A/66/160). That note refers to a report on human security, with which the Secretary‑General was charged by Assembly resolution 64/291 and had been asked, by the same resolution, to submit to the General Assembly during its sixty‑sixth session. The note informs the Assembly that, as it had required extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, that report would be submitted to it in May 2012.
For the Assembly’s discussion of the second item, follow‑up to the Millennium Summit, it had before it a report of the Secretary‑General on strengthening the institutional arrangements for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women (document A/66/120). The report summarizes progress in the implementation of the section of General Assembly resolution 64/289 which bore the same name. By that section, the Assembly had established the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN-Women. The report covered progress in regard to general principles; governance of the Entity; administration and human resources; financing; and transitional arrangements.
In January 2011, as a first step towards defining the work plan for UN‑Women, a “Vision and 100‑day action plan” was launched, setting out the core principles and priorities of the organization. Its first UN‑Women strategic plan, 2011‑2013, set out the entity’s vision, mission and priorities in supporting Member States and other entities of the United Nations system in the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Among others, those efforts included support for closing persistent implementation gaps between global normative policy commitments and women’s daily realities, the report notes.
Another report of the Secretary‑General before the Assembly on the item, was entitled “Accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015” (document A/66/126). At the request of Member States, the report explores successful experiences in fostering sustained and inclusive economic growth as part of strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It further stresses the need to step up efforts to meet commitments in strengthening the global partnership for development (Goal 8) and properly follow up on agreements at the 2010 high‑level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals. The report also provides suggestions on key considerations for a new agenda and appropriate consultation processes as the 2015 deadline to meet the Goals approached.
A third report of the Secretary‑General for the Assembly’s consideration of the follow‑up to the Millennium Summit focused on the implementation of its resolution 64/215 on the legal empowerment of the poor and the eradication of poverty (document A/66/341). It found that expanding access to justice and the rule of law was important for poverty reduction and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals. Legal empowerment of the poor required improvements in the administration of justice and the expansion of identity and birth registration, as well as the repeal of laws that impeded the poor from exercising their rights.
Key legal instruments for poverty reduction included pro‑poor property rights and access to land and assets; employment policy and regulatory frameworks that protected labour and increased employment; a fair, inclusive and socially responsible private sector; and quality education and training that targeted vulnerable populations. Furthermore, the report states, international cooperation efforts should be cognizant of and conducive to the legal empowerment of the poor. National and local contexts, including traditional or informal dispute resolution mechanisms, must be considered in any reforms aimed at empowering people living in poverty.
Also before the Assembly were two notes by the Secretary‑General. The first (document A/66/383) refers to a comprehensive review of the existing framework of the system‑wide evaluation of operational activities for development of the United Nations system, with which the Secretary‑General — in consultation with the United Nations Development Group and the Joint Inspection Unit — had been charged in Assembly resolution 64/289. That report would be submitted in February 2012, the note states.
The second note by the Secretary‑General (document A/66/384) refers to the report of an independent evaluation of lessons learned from the “delivering as one” pilots, with which the Secretary‑General had been charged in Assembly resolution 64/289 and which should inform the preparation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, to be conducted in 2012. The preparation of the report would require extensive data collection, analysis and stakeholder consultations, states the note. It would therefore be submitted to the Assembly by August 2012.
Finally, for its discussion on the strengthening of the United Nations system, the Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary‑General to both the General Assembly and the Security Council, entitled “Civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict” (document A/66/311-S/2011/527). The report notes that, despite many bilateral and multilateral actions taken to improve support to conflict‑affected countries, no reliable and effective mechanism to provide countries with assistance had yet been established.
The United Nations, for its part, still struggled to recruit and deploy civilian expertise and to support national actors in deepening their skills. In March 2010, the Secretary‑General appointed a Senior Advisory Group to undertake an independent review of civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, and to offer concrete proposals. The Group’s report had been presented in February 2010.
The present report, states the Secretary‑General, was the first response of the United Nations to that independent review. It stresses that putting the Organization’s own house in order with regard to countries emerging from conflict was a prerequisite for effective engagement with Member States and other actors. However, everyone had an obligation to review their individual efforts, as well as their partnerships, in support of those who had endured violence and deprivation.
The report identified 12 concrete priority actions and timelines for the United Nations over the course of the next year, which were aimed at improving its civilian response and becoming a better partner for others. Those included: developing guidelines for better use and development of national capacity; giving stronger strategic direction to new planning processes; undertaking a review of how gender expertise was structured and deployed; consulting Member States and regional organizations on developing stronger partnerships; detailing critical capacity gap areas and ensuring that designated United Nations focal points engaged with external partners to address them; and ensuring that the United Nations exercised operational and financial agility, among others.
MARCELO SUAREZ SALVIA (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that while his delegation took note of the report on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, it would stress that it was quite evident that more efforts were needed to reach those targets and to address other outstanding issues by 2015, especially in the context of the ongoing economic and financial crisis. A major step in the right direction would be to reinvigorate Goal 8 (international partnership for development) and to ensure proper follow‑up to the Assembly’s 2010 High‑level Meeting on the Millennium Goals.
He said the Group of 77 believed that it was high time for donor countries to sit down with developing nations and agree on mechanisms to fulfil their commitments concerning official development assistance (ODA), including the agreement to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) towards international development cooperation. He said that expanding global trade could also contribute to economic growth and efforts to eradicate poverty, and in that regard, expressed serious concern at the lack of progress in the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. He reiterated his delegation’s call for stakeholders to show the necessary flexibility and political will to break the current impasse in those talks and to better address the needs of developing countries.
He went on to note the importance of making further progress in areas such as debt relief and technology transfer to developing countries, specifically to avert the further technological marginalization of the global South. Finally, he said the Group believed that the Goals would be relevant long past the 2015 achievement deadline and the delegation was therefore ready to constructively engage in discussions on a post‑2015 global development agenda. The Group intended to shortly present a draft resolution on that matter, aiming to ensure that all Member States continued working together to promote socio‑economic advancement, taking into account new and emerging challenges.
Referring to peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict and speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, TAHURA ALI, Member of Parliament of Bangladesh, underscored the importance of civilian capacity that already existed in the developing world. In that respect, the review of such civilian capacity should be conducted solely to support peacebuilding through national capacity development, she stressed, and should be based on demand in the field. Efforts must strive to incorporate the grass‑roots needs of people, particularly women. Those efforts should also be buttressed by predictable funding. The capacity that existed in the global South must be mobilized on a priority basis. The Non‑Aligned Movement hoped that, in the course of the future interaction, the Secretary‑General would come up with detailed plans on how each of those priority areas would be implemented.
In that regard, she stressed several key points. First, the peacebuilding process could realize several potential benefits from inclusive partnership among relevant stakeholders. Those partnerships should go beyond briefing, to meaningful consultations with Member States to benefit from their ideas, views and experiences and to avoid duplication of work. Second, while the Movement commended the report for adopting a demand‑driven approach, it nonetheless stressed that the assessment of demand should reflect the views of the national stakeholders and strike the “right balance” between developmental needs and the contingencies of peace and security. Third, as capacity from the global South was mobilized, the framework of South‑South and triangular cooperation should be based on predictable and adequate funding and resources.
Fourth, the Movement stressed that both peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities should also be supported by adequate financial and human resources, and that peacebuilding activities should not negatively impact on resource support to peacekeeping operations. Fifth, as the national capacity in many post‑conflict situations was fragmented, initiatives should focus on integrating those fragmented capacities in order to drive sustainable peace and avoid possible relapse into conflict. Sixth, national ownership — the core of all principles for reviewing civilian capacities — should not be conducted in a selective manner, but rather be inclusive. “Empowering a community ensures the security of people, their lives and properties”, she emphasized, adding that the civilian review capacity process should benefit from the experience and expertise that the Peacebuilding Commission had gathered over time.
MORTEN WETLAND (Norway), also speaking on behalf of the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden), said that partnership and national ownership were at the heart of efforts to strengthen civilian capacities in the aftermath of conflict. The report before the Assembly offered a host of recommendations for the United Nations to strengthen its partnership base and cooperation with external institutions, in particular those of the global South. Efforts to promote readily available and stronger capacities would remain futile unless the Organization committed to use the tools it already had at hand.
To that end, he said, the Organization had much to gain from what his delegation saw as the “promising” experience of South Sudan, where both partnership and national ownership were being strengthened through regional initiatives that brought in experts from neighbouring countries, and through the delegation of the responsibility of child protection to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). “This is not only a more cost-effective and sensible use of the United Nations resources and capacities, but it also paves the way for a more integrated and coherent United Nations in the field,” he said.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that thanks to improved policies and economic growth in many countries, the global community was on track to reach many of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It was, however, seriously off track on others, including Goal 4. The adoption of best practices and a sufficient funding base was required to prevent the deaths of millions of children each year from preventable causes. Similarly, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young girls and women during pregnancy and childbirth could be prevented, as called for by Goal 5, if similar steps were taken. While the Secretary‑General had responded to that alarming situation by launching the “Every Woman, Every Child” initiative, too many Member States had resisted joining it. Thus, the global campaign must continue beyond 2015 if necessary.
Even if the world worked right up to the 2015 deadline, it would have a long way to go to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, he said. Policy changes were needed in many countries, alongside more international solidarity and cooperation. That was why Norway provided more than 1 per cent of its gross national income as development assistance. Further, the development agenda beyond 2015 needed to remain focused on eradicating poverty and hunger. The health‑related Goals should also be retained. Development growth should aim to be fair and inclusive, while the number of donors should be expanded beyond traditional ones. Due consideration should be given to the security aspect of development. Because access to energy was essential for growth, energy and infrastructure issues belonged in the post‑2015 agenda. The end goal should be making more countries self‑sufficient. In that context, he stressed that women’s empowerment was the single most important catalyst for change and their full participation in each country’s economic, social and political life were a prerequisite for development.
IOANNIS VRAILAS, Delegation of the European Union, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s report on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict and noted the great merit in his drawing up a road map along three major axes. The report also divided the United Nations response to implementing many of those actions into different categories, which the Union encouraged in line with a results‑oriented focus. It would, however, welcome greater clarity on which initiatives could be taken forward within the authority of the Secretary‑General, or the Organization’s Executive Heads.
He said the Union strongly supported the basic principles the Secretary-General’s report built on. National ownership was underlined as the only way to build a lasting peace, and efforts toward that end must be made from the very beginning in addressing a conflict. Partnerships were also vital. To that end, the international community must do better at providing rapid, effective civilian capacity to conflict‑affected countries. Moreover, it must be understood as a collective enterprise by various actors, both internationally and within the United Nations system.
He noted that the Union was already strongly involved in the deployment of international civilian expertise through its Common Security and Defence Policy, as well as its development cooperation, which was increasingly focused on governance and statebuilding as central features of assistance in fragile situations. Eight civilian Common Security and Defence Policy missions were currently deployed. The Union was ready to share its experience, particularly in terms of needs assessments for civilian crisis management and strategies and tools to facilitate the raising of civilian personnel. In the field of training, it was also considering how to engage the United Nations on a more predictable and systematic basis. It was working on how to provide support to the Organization’s Civilian Capacity review, particularly regarding matching demand with supply, expediting recruitment and avoiding overlaps in its Common Security and Defence Policy deployments with United Nations capacity. In addition, the Union has developed crisis response teams for deployment in post‑conflict contexts, and the Union and the United Nations could explore options for their deployment within a United Nations operation.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) said that Member States must continue to work actively, in partnership and with commitment to achieve the aims they had set for the Organization. While poverty had declined and democracy and good governance had been spreading since the Millennium Summit, such achievements could be easily eroded in the wake of ongoing and emerging challenges, such as economic instability, deep inequality and discrimination, conflict and persistent poverty and hunger. Turning specifically to conflict, he stressed the need to bolster support for post‑war peacebuilding, including through broadening the pool of experts from developing countries and ensuring predictable financial resources for countries emerging from conflict. There was also a need to ensure genuine dialogue and to bolster the capacities of developing countries.
He noted his delegation’s interest in various proposals for rapid‑response financing, particularly those that sought to replicate the World Food Programme (WFP) Working Capital Facility model, to enable quick and predictable financing to the United Nations system’s post‑conflict peacebuilding work. Indonesia had taken steps to enhance its civilian capacity and the Foreign Ministry was coordinating with various other ministries and agencies to establish a national hub for civilian experts. Those experts would focus on, among others, conflict resolution, gender empowerment, mediation and electoral reform.
As for ensuring sustained, inclusive economic growth and the legal empowerment of the poor, he said that efforts to ensure such growth must be backed by policies that promoted, among others, good governance, entrepreneurship, human resources development and infrastructure improvements. It was also important to ensure that the benefits of such growth were distributed equally throughout all sectors of society. Emphasis should be placed on social safety nets and promoting and protecting the rights of women.
JUN YAMAZAKI (Japan) said that his delegation supported the three axes of the Secretary‑General’s report on civilian capacity in conflict‑affected countries, namely understanding ownership and developing greater national capacity in post‑conflict response; improving external partnerships and making the necessary adjustments within the United Nations system to source the civilian capacity required; and exercising the organizational and financial agility necessary to respond nimbly to unpredictable post‑conflict situations. In particular, reform of the security and judicial sectors and strengthening the rule of law were areas that required addressing at the early stages of post‑conflict situations, he stressed. In that context, Japan had been working to build the national capacities of affected countries and support their ownership through the provisions of ODA, assistance to peacekeeping operations training centres and the implementation of the programme for human resource development for peacebuilding in the global South.
The challenge now was to ensure the effective implementation of the good ideas set out in the report of the Secretary‑General, he continued, and to generate visible and tangible successes on the ground. Consideration should be given to the better use of assets of the global South and the enhancement of the role of women, as well as to stronger cooperation with regional and subregional organizations. “Agility and transparency are crucial in deploying civilian capacity, and internal reform must be encouraged,” he stressed, citing as an example the idea to develop a “virtual marketplace” of civilian capacity through an online platform. However, such projects must ensure that they do not follow the path of some roster systems, in which the reality had not met the expectations. In addition, in efforts to enhance the agility of the use of financial resources, an initial step should be to asses and fully utilize the potential of the existing budgetary systems.
GARY QUINLAN (Australia) said his country had restructured its aid programme around the Millennium Development Goal framework, which had helped to generate domestic support for an increasing aid budget. Australia’s aid programme had doubled in size in the five years preceding 2010, and would double again to over $9 billion by 2015. As the world faced the 2015 deadline to achieve the Goals, lessons gained from many countries that had met the targets must be applied to those that had not. “Now is not the time to pull back from our commitments”, he warned.
However, it was also timely to think about how to establish development targets beyond 2015, taking into account the weaknesses of the current framework. In that regard, Australia suggested that such a new framework could take into account a number of key points, including addressing inequalities; strengthening targets and indicators for women’s empowerment and gender equality; measuring the quality of education, as well as the number of children in school; addressing the needs of those countries with peacebuilding and statebuilding challenges; the special circumstances of small island developing States; the particular challenges of least developed countries, with reference to the Istanbul Programme of Action; natural disasters; and climate change. It would also be important for a post‑2015 approach to be linked to the Rio+20 process, he said, adding that any post‑2015 framework should have sustainable development at its core. Australia, therefore, supported a set of internationally agreed “Sustainable Development Goals”, and encouraged the Secretariat to engage widely with Member States and other actors to develop such a framework.
With regards to civilian capacity, he said, the international community must take concrete steps, without delay, to help build peace and promote development and economic growth in conflict‑affected countries. More than half of Australia’s aid programme was directed to meeting the needs of such countries, including through its endorsement of the G7+ New Deal for International Engagement in Fragile States. It had also provided $250,000 to support the civilian capacity team under the Division for Field Support of the United Nations, in addition to the contribution made to the civilian capacity review in 2010. Australia also agreed that the principal focus of the work ahead must be to utilize and build national civilian capacities. Finally, he said, the United Nations needed greater operational and financial agility in sourcing and deploying civilian personnel. “We call on the United Nations system to demonstrate its ability to be agile, to take calculated risks and to be innovative in achieving results. And as Member States, we must give the United Nations the latitude to do so”, he concluded.
JAIRO RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ (Cuba) said today’s debate was of crucial importance to developing countries, especially as it allowed those countries to highlight the central role of the United Nations in tackling development challenges. During last year’s summit on the Millennium Development Goals, many developing countries had made clear that it was absolutely necessary to generate more resources to achieve those “modest targets in the scant time we have left.” Unfortunately, the developed world had not heeded such calls, using the excuse of current economic and financial instability. Some of developed countries had even expressed their intention to ignore or scale back their agreed ODA commitments.
He said that Cuba had, and would, continue to stress that unless the developed world lived up to the commitments that had been made, it was not only the Millennium targets that would be threatened, but all the agreed development goals over the past two decades. He said that the upcoming Rio+20 conference would be a unique opportunity for all Member States to generate the desire and political will to move forward, including according to the principle of shared, but differentiated responsibility. In the meantime, it was clear that only radical changes in the consumption patterns of Northern countries, and building a new and more equitable global financial order, were the only ways to make real progress towards the goals member States had set in 2000. As such, reforming the Bretton Woods institutions would be key. Finally, he said that Cuba was still studying proposals on the establishment of a post‑2015 development scenario.
GRIGORY Y. LUKIYANTSEV (Russian Federation) said that his country was pleased with the early activities of UN‑Women, in particular those efforts taken to consolidate various units and mechanisms of the United Nations system dealing with women’s empowerment and equality. However, a review of the entity would be premature, as it was still in its beginning phases. Regarding its personnel, the universal geographic scope of UN‑Women was critical, but there was no need to create units throughout the world; instead, local activities should be carried out through regional offices, and programmes should be carried out only with the agreement of States. All United Nations Members should be directly involved in the negotiations on the entity’s Executive Board, which should take place in the Economic and Social Council.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said that four years away from the deadline set for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, many countries were still far from achieving those targets. Indeed, the global landscape had changed dramatically in the years since the Millennium Summit and today’s financial and economic pressures, and environmental issues were seriously affecting the least developed countries. As such, it was necessary for all Member States to adopt a radical change in strategy to ensure socio‑economic development. Indeed, he said, it was now clear that targeted interventions were needed to mitigate economic inequalities and eradicate extreme poverty. Such efforts should be backed by a major push to ensure access to basic infrastructure and necessities, such as clean water, electricity and health care services.
“We are mindful of the difficulties presently facing developed countries in meeting their ODA commitments,” he continued, stressing that, in light of the current economic downturn, it was vitally important for the United Nations to play a “bigger and stronger” role in addressing the crisis. It was also important that Member States took urgent steps to reform the international financial system, in order to stabilize the world’s economy and further ensure that all nations were back on track to achieve the Millennium targets. He noted that the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development — known as Rio+20 — would be an excellent opportunity to reaffirm political commitment to such development, but also to strengthen the Organization’s funds and programmes dealing with development. There was also a need to streamline the work of those agencies to reduce overlap and ensure the United Nations “works as one”.
GUILLERMO E. RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) said that the United Nations should take steps to reform the ways in which it develops, draws on, and deploys civilian expertise in post‑crisis settings. That important issue had the potential to improve the Organization’s efforts in conflict management, peace support operations, peacebuilding and early recovery. Too often, opportunities were missed because important civilian capacities were lacking, international efforts were disjointed or expertise was too slow to arrive. For those reasons, Canada supported the review of civilian capacities underway within the United Nations system, and said that the Secretary‑General’s report outlined a sensible plan that began by building on reforms possible within the existing purview of the Organization. While that was a “good start”, a more detailed analysis and record of results in the field were needed.
In that respect, the international commitment had not always been successful in turning the concept of national ownership into practice. Recommendations from the report, therefore, prioritized building national capacities, co‑locating international capacity with national institutions, and supporting work on core Government functionality. The report also rightly stressed the need to leverage, nurture and support latent capacity within the immediate region and across the global South. Triangular models of cooperation also held great potential. The process presented an important opportunity to improve cooperation with Member States in the area of civilian capacity. Reforming those modalities would help connect the United Nations with latent and underutilized sources of expertise. Those steps held promise for increasing international cooperation, lowering transaction costs and making more efficient use of existing capacity and activity. Finally, there was a clear need to provide better, more timely and targeted expertise to missions and country presences, adding that the United Nations should, therefore, work to clarify roles and responsibilities in that respect, particularly in such areas as the rule of law and governance, where overlapping mandates and differing policy perspectives needed to be more harmoniously resolved.
ELIZABETH COUSENS ( United States), said that one of the most impressive achievements of the United Nations system in the last generation had been its contribution to reducing the devastating toll of war worldwide through its mediation, peacekeepers, humanitarian agencies, and development support. Ensuring that peace endured, in turn, required the Organization to draw on a full range of tools and capabilities across the United Nations system. The United States appreciated the Senior Advisory Group’s overarching conclusions on the importance of national ownership in post‑conflict transitions, the value of building partnerships with diverse sources of capacity, the need for timely access to critical expertise and administrative flexibility to be able to respond to fluid post‑conflict environments.
She also welcomed the process outlined by the Secretary‑General to address the Group’s recommendations and agreed with his proposal to prioritize implementation in areas that fell within the existing authority of the Secretariat and agencies, funds and programmes while reflecting on issues that would require more careful consideration by the Member States and other stakeholders. She particularly welcomed the priority given to reviewing how gender expertise was structured and deployed, as identified by the Secretary‑General in his report on ways to improve United Nations civilian response in the aftermath of conflict.
Continuing, she was also appreciative of the review that the Department of Management was now undertaking to improve current practices and procedures in related areas, and looked forward to the opportunity that created to draw on capacities in the global South. She observed that the ultimate test of any of those ideas, which had come about as a result of consulting host countries and other critical partners, would be in the field. The review presented the United Nations and Member States with an opportunity to strengthen how they addressed the underlying drivers of conflict and built the foundations of lasting peace.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India) reaffirmed his support for UN‑Women. He also welcomed progress by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in expediting its work and shared the concerns in the Tribunal’s eighteenth annual report on the need to retain adequate and experienced staff. He fully supported the Tribunal’s goal of completing its proceedings as soon as possible, without sacrifice for due process. He stressed the need for enhanced civilian capacities in post‑conflict situations and lauded the efforts of the Secretary‑General’s Independent Advisory Group in examining the matter and making recommendations on how to incorporate enhanced civilian capacity into the United Nations work in post‑conflict situations. India would engage proactively and constructively in the debate on civilian capacity review to help enhance the United Nations capacity in that regard. The key was to ensure mandated tasks were given the necessary human and financial resources.
Rebuilding public governance institutions with good basic administration would foster sustainable peace and development, thus reducing the chance of relapse into conflict, he said. But, expanding efforts regarding the rule of law, policing, justice, correction and reconciliation would impact peacekeeping missions staffing and resourcing. That must neither dilute nor detract from peacekeeping requirements. While keeping field‑orientation intact, it was important to avoid creating additional bureaucratic layers. It was critical that civilian capacity deployments were demand driven and that people were recruited in partnership with Government officials. Experts in fellow developing countries that had successfully built governance structures and arranged for better basic service delivery were the most relevant sources of capacity. Their lessons learned were very significant.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia) called for greater implementation and follow‑up on the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits, and a review of achievements and failures, in order that a post‑2015 development agenda could be drawn. Although the world as a whole would meet many Millennium Development Goals targets, the most vulnerable would remain in need of “targeted and scaled‑up action” by the international community and there were currently significant delivery gaps on aid, trade, debt relief and technology access commitments. Looking beyond 2015, she said the development agenda should thoroughly review implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, addressing specifically the problems of the most disadvantaged and marginalized. She urged States to focus on poverty eradication, through policies such as social safety nets, social protection floors, improved employment, and conditional cash transfers to the most vulnerable. Mongolia would achieve 66 per cent of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 but poverty, environmental degradation, and gender equality were “seriously off track”, she said.
On reform, she said the United Nations needed urgent reform, to ensure it was able to help Member States address shared threats and challenges. The Security Council needed to better reflect present world realities to remain viable and effective. Revitalization of the General Assembly had proceeded positively, she said, adding that rationalization and streamlining of agendas would allow it to focus its limited time on the most important issues. As Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) at the Assembly’s sixty‑fifth session, Mongolia had contributed to that goal, she said, and all resolutions currently sponsored by Mongolia were biennial, with the texts’ preambles kept to a minimum. She called for reform of the Economic and Social Council to strengthen the United Nations’ role in economic and financial affairs, and described the establishment of UN‑Women as a “landmark in establishing United Nations system‑wide coherence”.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said strategies were needed that allowed peace to be built and preserved. The United Nations must work intensely to build institutions and bolster civilian capacities in post‑conflict situations. Colombia agreed that national peacebuilding activities must be supported by civilian capacities and, therefore, supported the efforts of the United Nations to assist with the provision of professional civilian support in areas such as rule of law and human rights. All peacebuilding efforts must be nationally owned and driven. As such, Government institutions must be built up and innovative civic partners must be brought in to enhance trust with war‑affected communities.
He said that Colombia hoped that new tools under consideration by the Organization would continue to enhance national civilian capacities, including ways to generate the requisite finances, so that such capacities could be deployed in a timely manner. In all that, he called for more focus on strengthening the participation and skills of women, whose input was crucial in all post‑conflict scenarios. Finally, he stressed that, while post‑conflict assistance was crucial, especially for developing countries, mechanisms must be devised so that such countries did not remain dependent on such assistance.
MARIA TERESA MESQUITA PESSÔA ( Brazil) said that over the past decade, the Millennium Development Goals had become the most visible and prominent feature of the global development agenda, and Brazil remained convinced that those targets could be reached, so long as they received sufficient support from the international community. While development was largely a national responsibility, international assistance was necessary to ensure that developing countries, especially the least developed countries, had the necessary fiscal and policy space to implement effective polices that reflected their national priorities. As the centrepiece of international cooperation, the global partnership for development required the international community’s full engagement, including civil society, the private sector and non‑governmental organizations.
“But first and foremost, Member States must deliver on all development commitments, particularly ODA,” she said, stressing that innovative sources of financing could complement, but not substitute for such commitments. As the deadline for reaching the Goals approached, Brazil considered poverty eradication, along with the elimination of chronic hunger and malnutrition, should remain at the heart of global and national efforts to achieve sustainable development. While progress to that end would largely depend on the impact on developed countries of the current financial downturn, she said it would, therefore, be crucial to promote strengthened policy coordination and enhanced coherence. “We reiterate the call for the United Nations, along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the G‑20, to send a clear signal on policy cohesion and political determination to address the crisis in an effective and timely manner,” she said.
She went on to stress that economic growth alone could not ensure sustainable development, and as such, growth must be complemented by policies that promoted social inclusion and effective environmental protection. Under normal circumstances, a basic social protection floor that provided universal access to social services could be sufficient to stave off poverty and help individuals gain the skills to participate in their respective economies. Yet, in times of global uncertainty, such polices must ensure minimum incomes to the unemployed and essential services for the poor. Finally, she told the Assembly that the post‑2015 development agenda should be discussed in an open and transparent manner, including with civil society representatives. Brazil agreed with the Secretary‑General that sustainable development should be at the heart of the Organization’s post‑2015 agenda, and to that end, Rio+20 could be considered a starting point for relevant discussions.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) aligned his statement with that delivered by the representative of Bangladesh on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, and agreed with the basic parameters outlined in the Secretary‑General’s report on civilian capacity. In particular, the United Nations must enable national ownership, work in global partnership, utilize expertise in prioritized areas and exercise organizational agility to be nimble in the face of change. The report had rightly emphasized the need to work more closely with host communities, regional organizations and civil society. Building effective and relevant capacities for post‑conflict situations rested on the judicious implementation of the report, he added, highlighting four main issues.
First, broad acceptance of the work of the Steering Group would depend on institutional agreement with the Member States in line with the intergovernmental nature of the process. Second, identifying civilian capacities from within the region would be beneficial, as noted in the old adage of “finding local solutions to local problems”. Third, building civilian capacity should be a resource‑neutral exercise. The Senior Advisory Group’s recommendations had also made a similar observation. Fourth, civilian capacities should not replace key peacekeeping operation functions, or be conceived at the expense of resources allocated for peacekeeping. There was already a “resource crunch” in the peacekeeping field, he stressed; moreover, peacekeepers were undertaking key peacebuilding functions in various integrated missions. Civilian capacities should, therefore, be identified to supplement existing structures, and not create parallel ones.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) praised the report on strengthening post‑conflict peacebuilding capacities and said that the essential element of such assistance should be focused on bolstering local capacities that could jumpstart all aspects of local recovery. It was necessary to strengthen national ownership and ensure that exit strategies were well‑defined. There was also a need to avoid redundancy of effort and to support regional and South‑South cooperation, as a way to ensure interventions that were more agile and better reflective of on‑the‑ground needs. He said that Mexico could provide assistance to national capacity‑building in electoral matters and post‑disaster reconstruction. He said that there was widespread interest in implementation of the recommendations in the Secretary‑General’s report. Any such exercise must be inclusive and transparent, and must ensure that all Member States played a part.
BARBARA HENDRIE ( United Kingdom) said that helping communities emerge from conflict lay at the heart of the United Nations mandate. With regard to post‑conflict peacebuilding, the United Kingdom strongly supported the principles of stronger partnerships and national ownership, and hoped that the process of review would lead to real results on the ground. It was necessary to build a “truly global system” for the deployment of expertise around the world, she said. The United Kingdom welcomed the emphasis on South‑South cooperation and on triangular cooperation, and, in that vein, was looking forward to the results of a programme in which Kenyan, Ugandan and other experts were assisting in South Sudan’s capacity‑building, with costs paid for by a United Nations trust fund. That programme could be a model for future projects, she said.
The United Kingdom also wished to see further clarification on the recommendation focused on financial flexibility. More flexibility for field leaders was a positive idea, but should be accompanied by transparency and accountability. She hoped to see additional future discussions with Member States on that issue.
THOMAS GUERBER ( Switzerland) said the ongoing review of the international civilian capacities was a promising element of the overall exercise aimed at strengthening the work of the United Nations. Switzerland supported the “stage-by-stage” approach suggested by the Secretary-General, and welcomed the determination of the Organization to rapidly implement relevant changes. Developing national capacities was essential, and international assistance should respond to the needs of post-conflict communities. He stressed that civilian resources with ever-more skilled assets would continue to be needed. To fill the gaps in expertise that were sure to surface, it would be necessary to form a large pool of actors, including from the global South. Through its partnerships and its expert pool, Switzerland aimed to capitalize on the experience of fragile and conflict-affected countries.
“We encourage stepping up efforts to develop new partnerships with these countries, for instance within the framework of the international dialogue on peacebuilding and state-building,” he continued, adding that Switzerland had also established cooperation partnerships with institutional centres of excellence in Africa and provided experts and know-how to support the management and formation of civilian capacities on the continent. Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he said that while all Member States must remain committed to achieving progress, it was necessary to look beyond the 2015 deadline. Significant shifts had occurred in the economic, political and environmental landscape since the Millennium Summit, so it was now necessary to identify ways to address important universal goals in the context of sustainable development.
With that in mind, he said that the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative could provide an example of how a more universal agenda could be set out. In that regard, Rio+20 should provide inputs for the post-2015 agenda and indicate how to bridge, in an open and transparent process, the Rio outcome and formulation of future development goals. He added that the needs of fragile and conflict-affected countries should be given specific attention when that strategy was agreed upon.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said that the recommendations contained in the report of the Senior Advisory Group were wide-ranging, and their implementation was likely to be complex and time consuming. Before any decisions were reached, some would require broader consultation and deeper analysis to clarify their full implications. Nonetheless, the increasing range of United Nations activities requiring specialized civilian expertise, and the current inadequacies in the Organization’s ability to identify, deploy and effectively utilize such expertise made the implementation of the report a matter of importance, and even one of urgency.
Nowhere were those inadequacies more starkly evident than in the area of post-conflict peacebuilding. Effective capacity-building in that field was complex and difficult, and great care was necessary to ensure that any support worked to supplement existing capacity, without displacing it. Currently, the United Nations lacked the tools or mechanisms for the rapid identification of relevant personnel who might be available for such tasks, even from within its own ranks, and lacked the ability to recruit and deploy such personnel in a timely manner. For countries seeking urgent assistance, delays of 18 to 24 months were “woefully inadequate” and “totally unacceptable”. Meanwhile, when the personnel were deployed, many lacked the requisite skills, experience or training for the effective rebuilding of national capacity. “Too often, it’s the wrong people with the wrong skills at the wrong time, arriving far too late to be effective,” he stressed, adding: “We can do better. And we must do better.”
Recalling the principals set out in the Group’s Report — including national ownership, strengthened partnerships, accountability and practical suggestions for nimble responsiveness — he nonetheless noted that “the devil will be in the details of implementation”. Ensuring a coordinated response from the United Nations system to the report would be crucial to its implementation. New Zealand supported the approach outlined in the Secretary-General’s report on beginning the process with some “quick wins”, first by implementing measures that fell within the Secretary-General’s existing authority, before moving on to more complex issues. It also welcomed moves to pilot specific approaches in the field. Moreover, he said, the process that had been initiated by the Secretary-General in response to the Group’s report provided an opportunity to move the United Nations performance on peacebuilding “closer to its lofty goals and rhetoric”.
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