|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
1st Meeting (AM)
Peacebuilding Commission Adopts Joint Strategy for Guinea Aimed at National
Reconciliation, Security Sector Reform, Job Opportunities for Women, Youth
‘Statement of Mutual Commitments,’ Negotiated with Government, Says
Post-election Period Chance to Address Long-standing Challenges to Peace, Security
Seizing the opportunity to deepen democratic gains triggered by the political transition in Guinea, the Peacebuilding Commission today approved a joint strategy to promote national reconciliation, reform the security sector, and provide job opportunities for women and young people, in a country where, President Alpha Condé said: “Everything is a priority.”
With the unanimous adoption of the draft statement of mutual commitments on peacebuilding (document PBC/5/GUI/L.1), which was negotiated between the Commission and the Government, in consultation with other key stakeholders, the parties acknowledged that the post-election period following the inauguration of the country’s first-ever democratically elected President provided a chance for Guinea and its partners “to address long-standing challenges to peace and security, and quickly deliver tangible improvements in living standards to a population eager to benefit from a peace and democracy dividend.”
The statement of mutual commitment is intended to be a “flexible instrument” that could be adjusted in the light of developments in the West African country. It focuses on the country’s peacebuilding challenges and highlights issues and actions to be taken for each of the agreed priorities. It also spells out the engagements of both the Commission and the Government, and defines the frequency with which the mutual commitments will be reviewed.
Ahead of action on the statement, Sylvie Lucas (Luxembourg), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Guinea Configuration, said that after years of instability and authoritarian regimes in Guinea, the decision just taken would make possible broad cooperation between the United Nations and the Government. She recalled that after credible elections in 2010, the Guinean Government had requested the Commission to “help it get out of the crisis”. Guinea was the first country to submit such a request directly to the Commission, without going through the Security Council and without hosting a United Nations peacekeeping operation on its territory.
That singular act had been a clear sign that Guinea was determined to seek dialogue and cooperation with the international community. She welcomed the Government’s decision to focus on key priority areas that included reconciliation and the promotion of national unity, reform of the security sector, and employment for women and youth. Success in those endeavours would require dedicated national appropriation and leadership. The Peacebuilding Commission would do everything in its power to support those efforts and to make sure the commitments taken today were “given concrete form [through] concrete acts.
Calling the statement of commitment a “very solid foundation and a clearly defined framework for action by the international community”, she said: “We should act in a concerted manner and translate commitments into actions.” She also stressed that from today, the Commission and the wider international community, as well as the Government of Guinea itself, had the shared responsibility to ensure the country became stable and prosperous.
Guinea had “huge potential,” but had been unable to live up to it, she said. The Commission and its Guinea formulation stood ready to provide support as it moved along that road. To that end, she cited two areas that must be addressed quickly: the holding of legislative elections — “a key stage in restoring confidence and the full return to democracy” — and mobilizing international support for initiatives led by the Commission, such as the holding of a census.
Hailing the mutual commitment between his Government and the Commission, President Condé said the scope and complexity of the challenges facing Guinea were deeper than even the most pessimistic assumptions. In its effort to move forward, Guinea would have to overcome such obstacles as poor governance and institutional weaknesses, as well as impunity and a non-functioning economy. All those ills played out against a national backdrop characterized by civil war, organized crime and drug trafficking. “Everything is a priority,” he said, but declared: “The development of the country and meeting pressing needs of the people are our primary responsibilities.”
To that end, he had set the Government to work promoting “the rebirth of Guinea”. That required, among other things, taking steps to maintain the “fragile peace” by bolstering national unity and rebuilding the country’s institutions. Those areas, as well as security sector reform and providing opportunities for women and youth, would be the thrust of the Government’s collaborative efforts with the Commission. Meanwhile, the Government was aware of the challenges and had adopted certain measures in each of the priority areas outlined in the statement of mutual commitment.
Among other actions, he had established a provisional committee led by two religious leaders working with regional coordinators and grass roots organizations to ensure that all the people of the country were involved in the reconciliation process. He also planned to press ahead with the transition to democracy through legislative actions, making it possible to put in place a national assembly. Guinea’s actions, including through approving the text adopted today, were an expression of its determination to “lay the foundations of peace and lasting concord in our subregion”. Guinea would depend on the international community’s support, especially towards reconciliation and reconciling the status of some 4,200 soldiers in the country.
Wrapping up the special meeting, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, said that with successful peacebuilding under way in Guinea “this is a critical moment for conflict prevention.” To that end, the United Nations had some concerns about issues that would require immediate attention, including ensuring “real” national dialogue and organizing credible legislative elections. It would also be necessary to seriously examine the 19 July assassination attempt on President Condé and its implications for security sector reform.
She said the Organization’s Peacebuilding officials were also concerned by the harshening political rhetoric in Guinea, and many feared the demonstrations called by the opposition for later this month risk clashes that could turn violent. As for the United Nations efforts, she said that plans to support security sector reform, elections and economic revitalization had already been set out. In the meantime, the United Nations fast-track funding mechanism — the Immediate Response Facility — could be used for key, well-targeted and timely initiatives aimed at diffusing tensions and averting violence.
Also expressing support for the implementation of the statement of mutual commitment were the representatives of Indonesia, Canada, United States, France, and the United Kingdom.
A representative of the European Union also spoke, as did a representative of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also addressed the meeting
The Peacebuilding Commission will meet again at a time and date to be announced.
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