Security Council Commends Progress by Peacebuilding Commission, but Acknowledges Mechanism ‘Still Trying to Find Its Place’ in United Nations System

23 March 2011
SC/10207

Security Council Commends Progress by Peacebuilding Commission, but Acknowledges Mechanism ‘Still Trying to Find Its Place’ in United Nations System

23 March 2011
Security Council
SC/10207
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6503rd Meeting (AM)

Security Council Commends Progress by Peacebuilding Commission, but Acknowledges

Mechanism ‘Still Trying to Find Its Place’ in United Nations System

 

Council Can Draw Sooner on Commission’s Expertise, Says Chair, While Commission

Can Ensure Broader ‘Buy-In’ to Peacebuilding, Ease Peacekeeping Mission Drawdowns

While they praised the overall efforts of Peacebuilding Commission to meet its mandated objectives as a platform for galvanizing action and aligning long-term support for post-conflict countries, members of the Security Council today acknowledged the 5-year-old body’s growing pains, as it endeavoured to meet the extremely high expectations placed on it, increase its visibility in the field and strengthen interaction with other actors in and outside the United Nations.

Before the Council weighed in on the Commission’s work, outgoing Chairperson Peter Wittig (Germany) presented the 31-member body’s 2010 report, noting that the core of its work last year had consisted of strengthening the peacebuilding agenda, enhancing its impact in the field and providing support to peacebuilding efforts in Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.  Recently, Liberia and Guinea had been added to its agenda, the latter case being the first time a request had been submitted directly to the Commission.

“The momentum generated by the 2010 review must be maintained, especially as the Commission further expands its agenda,” Mr. Wittig said, referring to the mandated survey of the intergovernmental body’s functioning and achievements called for in its founding resolutions adopted by the Council and the General Assembly late in 2005.  He said progress had been made in addressing the recommendations that had emerged from the review, particularly in connection with the creation of a new country-specific configuration on Liberia.

Meanwhile, the challenge facing the Commission in realizing its full potential as an advisory body that increased collective capacity to aid fragile, post-conflict countries, he said, was to ensure that its work was backed by a higher level of political commitment from Member States and senior United Nations leadership.  The 2010 review “should be a wake-up call to strengthen the collective resolve to deal with peacebuilding in a more comprehensive and determined way”, as the co-facilitators of the review report put it.

In his remarks, newly elected Chair Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda) outlined specific ways the Commission could help the Council deepen its commitment to tackle the complex challenges facing post-conflict countries.  First among those was to draw on the Commission’s expertise earlier, which could help when the Council considered the role of peacekeeping missions in and their contributions to broader peacebuilding efforts undertaken by actors in the field.

He said the Commission could also provide an inclusive and flexible platform to forge partnerships and engagement with key actors, thus ensuring broader “buy-in” to the peacebuilding process and facilitate informed drawdown of peacekeeping missions.  Third, it could provide advice on assisting countries on its agenda, including monitoring their progress from stabilization to peace consolidation on the basis of country-specific analysis of risks and opportunities.

When Council members took the floor, they generally agreed that the momentum provided by the 2010 review should be built upon and that its recommendations should guide the way forward as the Commission sought to build partnerships in the field and enhance its cooperation with other United Nations bodies.  They also acknowledged the Commission’s initial success in bringing together political, security and development actors.  It was noted that today’s discussions followed the General Assembly’s consideration of the Commission’s report on 21 March.  (See Press Release GA/11058)

Yet, several speakers emphasized that while the Commission had proved the potential for its contribution to the Organization’s overall peacebuilding activities, it was nevertheless a work in progress, with France’s representative noting that the Commission “is still trying to find its place” in the United Nations system.  Indeed, many States considered it an additional donor agency rather than an intergovernmental body mandated to provide support, advice and advocacy for countries recovering from conflict.

The Commission, above all, was a policy platform, he said, and host countries, once added to its agenda, must be prepared to undertake specific activities to ensure their own long-term success.  Indeed, partnership with the Commission should be seen as the beginning of a long process that could only be concluded by national authorities and should cover such activities as fighting corruption, security sector reform and promoting the rule of law.

Citing specific actions the Commission could take to carry out its mandated advisory activities, the representative of the United Kingdom said the body should galvanize action to support security and justice reforms in Liberia, work towards full implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) road map on security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau and bolster security sector reform activities in Guinea.  He was also among those appealing to the Commission to explore possible steps for countries to either graduate from its agenda altogether, or be transferred to some “lighter mechanism”.

The representative of the United States said efforts must be made to link ambitions in New York with programmes and leadership in the field.  The Commission should continue to promote national ownership by focusing early on local capacities and management programmes.  He was also among those calling on the Commission to deepen its interaction with international financial institutions in order to enhance its expertise in that area.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Brazil, India, Russian Federation, Portugal, Gabon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Africa, Colombia, Nigeria, Lebanon and China.

The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11:45 a.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider post-conflict peacebuilding, for which it had before it the report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its fourth session (document A/65/701-S/2011/41).  For a summary of the report and of the General Assembly’s consideration of the item, see Press Release GA/11058 of 21 March.

Briefings

PETER WITTIG (Germany), former Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, introducing the report of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that the core of the Commission’s work in 2010 consisted of strengthening the peacebuilding agenda, enhancing its impact in the field and providing continued support to the peacebuilding efforts in Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.  Recently, Liberia and Guinea had been added, the latter case the first time a request had been submitted directly to the Commission.

“The momentum generated by the 2010 review must be maintained, especially as the Commission further expands its agenda,” he said.  Progress had been made in addressing emerging recommendations from the review, particularly in connection with the creation of a new country-specific configuration on Liberia.  The road map of actions in 2011 focused on meeting practical objectives and making concrete progress in enhancing the Commission’s impact on national capacity-building, resource mobilization and aligning key actors behind common peacebuilding objectives.

Highlighting some elements of the report, he said that it underlined the need to strengthen partnerships and efforts of the Organizational Committee to engage the international financial institutions and regional organizations, in addition to a range of potential partners from civil society, academia and other sectors.  The Commission, during the reporting period, had also prioritized strengthening interaction with the principal organs of the United Nations.

The 2010 review particularly highlighted the potential for developing a dynamic linkage between the Commission and the Council, he said.  “The Commission could provide early peacebuilding perspectives in the design, review and transitions in peacekeeping mandates.  It could identify and promote country-specific sustainability factors.  It could catalyse early partnerships with the international financial institutions, among other valuable contributions,” he added.

The report, he said, also highlighted the work of the Peacebuilding Support Office, which, notwithstanding its stretched capacity, had been an essential link between the Commission and the operational entities within and outside the United Nations system.  The Office’s briefings on the Peacekeeping Fund showed that the Fund’s resources, combined with the efforts of the Commission, helped to ensure that the countries on the Commission’s agenda benefited from the sustained attention of the international community.

The challenge facing the Commission in realizing its full potential as an advisory body that increased collective capacity to aid those emerging from conflict, he said, was to ensure that its work was backed by a higher level of political commitment from Member States and senior United Nations leadership.  The 2010 review “should be a wake-up call to strengthen the collective resolve to deal with peacebuilding in a more comprehensive and determined way”, as the co-facilitators of the review report put it.

EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA (Rwanda), incoming Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that over the past year, the Security Council had convened a number of thematic debates on post-conflict peacebuilding.  The frequency of those meetings and the scope of the discussions was a testament to the Council’s growing commitment to take into consideration the complex challenges facing countries emerging from conflict. At the same time, the Peacebuilding Commission could certainly help the Council deepen that commitment by providing three main advisory functions.  First among those was an early peacebuilding perspective, which could help when the Council considered peacekeeping missions’ roles in and their contributions to broader peacebuilding efforts undertaken by actors in the field.

He said the Commission could also provide an inclusive and flexible platform to forge partnerships and engagement with key actors, thus ensuring broader “buy-in” to the peacebuilding process and facilitate informed drawdown of peacekeeping missions.  Third, the Commission could provide advice on assisting countries on its agenda, including monitoring their progress from stabilization to peace consolidation on the basis of country-specific analysis of risks and opportunities.  He welcomed the initial steps taken thus far by the Council to engage the Chairpersons of the Commission’s country-specific configurations in more interactive and informal dialogues around peacebuilding opportunities and challenges.

The co-facilitators of the recent review of the peacebuilding architecture had underscored the advantages of broader and more frequent interaction between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Security Council, he said.  Along those lines, the contributions of the bodies’ shared members were important for obtaining that objective.  As incoming Chair he was prepared to work in close collaboration with the Council to identify appropriate measures to bring a new momentum to that interaction.

Statements

PHILIP PARHAM (United Kingdom) said the recent report and attendant review of the Organization’s peacebuilding architecture had provided useful opportunities to take stock of the Commission’s work.  It had highlighted its tangible results and the areas in which it faced challenges.  Overall, examinations of the Commission’s activities should consider the absolute need for the 5-year-old body to demonstrate effective contribution to alleviating peacebuilding bottlenecks in the countries on its agenda.

Specifically, the United Kingdom believed the Commission needed to work harder to enhance its capacity to carry out its mandated advisory activities: it needed to galvanize action to support security and justice reforms in Liberia; it should work towards full implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) road map on security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau; as well as bolster security sector reform activities in Guinea.  Further, the Commission must improve its analysis towards effectively identifying gaps, as well as what could be done to overcome them, and what actions might subsequently be taken.

He said that going forward, the Commission must identify ways for countries to work their way off its agenda.  The Commission had welcomed two new countries over the past year, and there remained the possibility that more could be added, which could place an additional burden on the Commission as well as Member States.  Therefore, it should explore possible steps for countries to either graduate off the Commission’s agenda altogether, or transfer to some “lighter mechanism”.  In addition, the Commission should enhance its cooperation with the new grouping of 17 fragile States known as the “G-7 Plus”.  The needs of those countries should be explored, for which the Commission could provide a platform in New York.

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said there were three areas of peacebuilding that should be strengthened: the integrated and multidimensional nature of peacebuilding; national ownership; and partnerships with other relevant actors.  It was of utmost importance that the Commission adopt an integrated approach to its activities.  Besides security and stabilization tasks, it was essential that peacebuilding strategies also focus on economic and social policies aimed at improving the standard of living of the affected population.  Assisting national Governments to resume their capacity to fight poverty and strengthen their institutions was another responsibility.  That included the provision of basic services, education, youth employment and strengthening the voice of women, among other areas.  Tangible progress in economic and social issues could have a positive impact on security.  She pointed, as an example, to Guinea-Bissau, adding that Brazil had chaired its country-specific configuration.

With regard to national ownership, she said that actions undertaken must be steered by the interests and needs of the affected country, including through a “fluid dialogue” with national Governments.  Additionally, the assistance provided must be tailored to what national stakeholders considered to be their fundamental interests and should focus on the consolidation of national institutions.  Partnerships with different actors were also instrumental for the success of any peacebuilding initiative.  Reaching out to financial institutions and regional and subregional organizations should be pursued.  In that vein, one partnership capable of yielding tangible results was the deployment of civilian capacities, in particular through flexible arrangements and South-South cooperation.  The Security Council should resort more often to the advice of the Commission.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said peacebuilding was a cooperative effort and the United Nations must work with other peacebuilding actors, including global financial institutions.  It, however, must retain the high ground in developing the normative basis for peacebuilding.  The global effort to understand the links between development, peace and security, and to suggest solutions must not create a new peacebuilding orthodoxy; efforts to talk down rather than listen should be avoided at all costs.  Relevant to peacebuilding’s evolution were the conclusions of the working group on lessons learned on the Peacebuilding Commission’s role in marshalling resources, the need for national dialogue in post-conflict situations and youth’s role.

He said his country, based on its vast peacekeeping experience, felt that the process of implementing a peace agreement must go hand in hand with humanitarian and emergency aid, economic revitalization and the creation of a human rights culture and political institutions that could resolve conflicts.  National ownership was crucial, but the global community must also make available appropriate capacities to national authorities.  The success of the all-female Indian Formed Police Unit in Liberia was a good example of using the global South’s capacities and experiences in peacebuilding situations.  The international community must also provide predictable, appropriate resources over the long term.

The role of regional players in post-conflict scenarios had his strong support, and he said he was greatly encouraged by the African Union’s efforts.  The Secretariat, funds and programmes, however, must do more to become effective players, and relevant skill sets and expertise in post-conflict societies must be augmented.  He criticized the ponderous nature of the United Nations, saying:  “An organization that takes up 200 days to fill positions in the field can hardly be a model worthy of emulation when it comes to institution building.”

ALEXANDER PANKIN (Russian Federation) said that the 2010 review should contribute to the strengthening of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Of its recommendations, he underscored the importance of ongoing dialogue between the Commission and host countries, as national ownership was crucial; only national players could ensure the sustainability of peacebuilding efforts.  The General Assembly and its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) should play the leading role in implementation of the recommendations.  He greatly valued the Commission’s role as an advisory body, while at the same time he proposed that the Commission could play a greater role in activities on the ground, particularly through the Peacebuilding Fund, to which Russia had made significant contributions.

JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) welcomed the progress of the Commission as presented in the report, taking pride in Portugal’s role in various areas.  He said it was most important to strengthen partnership on the ground.  Greater engagement of the Commission in development issues, such as youth unemployment, required increased dialogue with development organizations and other partners.  Strengthening the relationship between the Commission and principal United Nations organs was equally important.  Further engagement with the Council in planning for peacekeeping missions and other areas, would provide particular benefits.

NOEL NELSON MESSONE (Gabon) welcomed the engagement of the international community in strengthening the capacities and resources of the Commission, through the 2010 review and by the implementation of its recommendations.  Most important in that effort was strengthening the partnership between the Commission and other actors involved in the consolidation of peace, particularly the international financial institutions and regional organizations.  In addition, he highlighted the central role that the host country must play, increasing the resources of the Peacebuilding Fund and mobilization of additional resources for more impact on the ground.  It was important that all sectors of society saw themselves included in peacebuilding frameworks; the core of the review’s results involved making sure that such frameworks reflected the situation on the ground.

Underlining the Peacebuilding Commission as a highly important component of the United Nations security architecture, IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) stressed that a common vision for engagement in a country was essential for improving impact on the ground.  Building and strengthening partnerships with key peacebuilding actors, international financial institutions and regional and subregional institutions were equally important.  Existing national strategies and priorities must be augmented to reinforce national ownership and capacity.  Critical funding and policy gaps must be identified and the resources of multilateral and bilateral donors leveraged to address them.  To bridge short-term activities in the wake of conflict and long-term visions for sustainable peace and development, responsibilities must be appropriately divided.  Measuring the impact of peacebuilding activities in the field would be crucial in that regard.

He further stressed the need for greater synergy between the Commission’s country-specific configurations and the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, saying it would reinforce shared accountability between the concerned countries and international partners, strengthen coherent planning and financing, and better leverage capacities and expertise.  He also emphasized that peacebuilding must not be a supply-driven process.  Cooperation between the Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund must also be maximized.  The statement of mutual commitment, as a new instrument of engagement, would help to identify the main risks and challenges to peacebuilding and expedite engagement.  Enhancing national ownership and building national capacity would also lay the foundations of economic growth, peace consolidation and sustainable development.  In light of the 2010 review, he agreed on the need to develop a practical mechanism to track the Commission’s work, such as a single planning document for a specific country.

MARTIN BRIENS (France) said his delegation was satisfied with the report and welcomed the Commission’s work over the past year.  He encouraged the incoming Chair to consider identifying ways to establish partnerships with new actors in the field, including financial institutions such as the African Development Bank.  Despite its solid successes, it was still clear that after several years, the Commission “is still trying to find its place” in the United Nations system.  Indeed, many countries considered the body as an additional donor agency rather than one mandated to provide support, advice and advocacy for countries recovering from conflict.

He said the Commission was, above all, a policy platform; it should be seen as such and its mechanisms should be utilized to that end.  Host countries, once added to the Commission’s agenda, should be prepared to undertake specific activities towards ensuring their own success.  Indeed, partnership with the Commission should be seen as the beginning of a long process that could only be concluded by national authorities and should cover such activities as fighting corruption, security sector reform and promoting the rule of law.

DAVID DUNN (United States) said his delegation wholeheartedly backed the Commission’s work, as that body was mandated to support sustainable peace, which was at the heart of the United Nations work.  The Commission continued to make progress, offering advice on and generating broad support for national post-conflict development strategies after guns had fallen silent.  He also welcomed the Commissions attempts to address many of the shortcomings identified in last year’s review.  The United States commended the body’s efforts to alleviate administrative burdens on the countries on its agenda, by among other ways, tailoring frameworks to better respond to national priorities.  It also applauded the Commission’s “quick start” in Liberia, as for example, that country had already begun construction on five regional community security hubs to identify root causes of conflict.

Yet, he said, despite such considerable progress, real challenges remained to ensuring that the Commission was the Organization’s leading authority on peacebuilding.  Efforts must be made to link ambitions in New York with programmes and leadership in the field.  The Commission should continue to promote national ownership by focusing early on local capacities and management programmes in the field.  It should also bolster its interaction with international financial institutions to enhance its expertise in that area.  As the Commission continued to grow and take more countries on its agenda, it must do more to enhance its capacity to promote international peace and security.

DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa) affirmed the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission, but acknowledged the large amount of work that must be done for it to reach its full potential.  There was scope for further improvement in the Commission’s relationship with the Council and other principal United Nations organs, better coordination among stakeholders, more involvement of women, enhanced information sharing, strengthened local ownership and a stronger partnership with the international financial institutions, among other priorities.  The Peacebuilding Fund could also be used more effectively in supporting projects on the ground, he said.

NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said important progress had been made by the Peacebuilding Commission in fulfilling its mandate, but there was much to be done to implement the recommendations of the 2010 review.  He underscored the leadership role played by the Commission in maximizing the resources available in the United Nations system and the international community.  He underlined the importance of partnership between the Commission and the international financial institutions and regional organizations, as well as the need for national ownership.  With the Council, there should be increased efforts to seek the input of country-specific configurations, particularly in integrating early peacebuilding within peacekeeping.  Strengthening of evaluative capacities was important as well.  He called for increased support to the Commission so it could strengthen its activities in all those areas.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said the Security Council had been enriched by its acknowledgement that peacebuilding and relevant institution-building played an important role in its peacekeeping work.  The review of the Organization’s peacebuilding architecture dovetailed with the current report on the Commission’s work.  What Nigeria took from those two work streams was the importance of partnership.  Indeed, it was clear that the Commission could not achieve its mandated advisory and support roles without interaction and cooperation with other actors in the field, especially regional groupings and organizations.  The importance of such partnerships had been highlighted by the Commission’s work in Liberia.

She supported along those lines the annual meeting between the Commission and the African Union Peace and Security Council as a forum to continue identifying opportunities, challenges and gaps in peacebuilding efforts under way in Africa.  Despite significant gains, many challenges remained in Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic.  Guinea-Bissau could and would overcome its security sector reform challenges.  The Central African Republic configuration must support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts under way in the “post-MINURCAT” environment.  Nigeria continued to support the Commission and hoped that it would receive the support it needed to meet its full potential.

CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon) said tangible results had been achieved in all the countries on the Commission’s agenda, as that body had proved the added value of its work in post-conflict situations.  Yet, varying challenges remained in those countries, and last year’s review of the peacebuilding architecture had offered valuable recommendations on the way forward.  Lebanon believed that the Commission must keep national ownership at the forefront of its activities by involving local actors as early and as broadly as possible within national governance structures.

She said it was also essential to enhance synergy between the Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund towards meeting the priorities identified by countries concerned.  It was also essential that the Commission be supported by requisite political weight to align actors in the field around common peacebuilding objectives.  Also, the Security Council should make better use of the Commission’s advisory capacity by increasing interaction between the two bodies.  It was important to build on prior successes to enhance the Commission’s capacity and to put into practice the recommendations that had emanated from the review.

Council President LI BAODONG (China), speaking in his national capacity, said that the United Nations should formulate an integrated strategy for the entire cycle of conflict, so that the Peacebuilding Commission could have a more defined role, with an exit strategy that resulted in countries standing on their own.  The independence of host countries must be respected.  Among the most important issues dealt with by the Commission, he listed national capacity-building, youth unemployment and socio-economic development.  He supported close cooperation between the Commission and the Security Council, as well as with other major organs of the United Nations and other critical partners, and he called for the Commission to improve its efficiency and focus on improvements on the ground in the countries concerned.

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