Peacebuilding Commission Must Maximize Position as ‘Unique Platform’ for Sharing Knowledge, Expertise in Post-Conflict Situations, General Assembly Told
Peacebuilding Commission Must Maximize Position as ‘Unique Platform’ for Sharing Knowledge, Expertise in Post-Conflict Situations, General Assembly Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
101st & 102ndMeetings (AM & PM)
Peacebuilding Commission Must Maximize Position as ‘Unique Platform’ for Sharing
Knowledge, Expertise in Post-Conflict Situations, General Assembly Told
National Ownership Emphasized as Members
Consider Reports on Body’s Fifth Session, Main Funding Mechanism
The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission must tap into its potential as a unique platform for sharing knowledge and experiences among post-conflict States, delegates said today as the General Assembly convened to review the latest annual reports of the Commission and its principal financing mechanism, the Peacebuilding Fund.
Indeed, while national ownership of the peacebuilding process remained the core principle of United Nations efforts, the sharing of experiences, best practices and lessons learned between post-conflict States emerged today as a key issue throughout the debate. Speakers expressed support for the strides made by the seven-year-old Commission and its country-specific configurations in demonstrating its knowledge-sharing potential.
In that regard, Rwanda’s representative opened the debate by citing the 2011 high-level meeting on “Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: the Experience of Rwanda”, held in Kigali, his country’s capital. Organized jointly by the Government of Rwanda, the Peacebuilding Commission and the African Development Bank, the meeting had provided an opportunity for countries at varying stages of the post-conflict peacebuilding process to learn from each other’s experiences, he said, adding: “There is real need to nurture this type of cooperation in the area of peacebuilding among the countries of the South.”
Moreover, many other speakers said the sharing of experiences complemented the core premise that peacebuilding processes should be guided primarily by the countries concerned. “National ownership is, and should continue to be, the central principle which defines the work and activities of the Peacebuilding Commission,” said Australia’s representative, emphasizing his support for better and more specifically defined commitments between the Commission and countries on its agenda. “It is important that the Commission serves as a mechanism through which the international community listens not only to itself, but also to countries under consideration, to ensure that true partnership develops.”
In a similar vein, some delegates expressed concern that the Peacebuilding Commission’s report lacked sufficient inputs from Member States, particularly those on its agenda. Such inputs could help to increase the harmony between strategic peacebuilding frameworks in the countries concerned and their respective national development priorities, said Tunisia’s representative, who spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. The report should have better reflected the Commission’s “catalytic role” in entrenching the principle of national ownership and the development of national capacities, paying particular attention to vulnerable groups, he stressed. It could have focused more on the Commission’s efforts to develop a “field-centric approach”, which would guarantee well-coordinated and coherent actions on the ground, he said, adding that it could also have provided more details on potential areas of synergy between the various country-specific configurations in order to avoid duplication of efforts.
The discussion also focused heavily on Guinea, the newest addition to the Commission’s agenda, with many speakers noting that the country could learn much from neighbouring post-conflict States, such as Liberia. Luxembourg’s representative, speaking as Chairperson of the Guinea configuration, said that Guinea’s addition represented a shift in focus from exclusively post-conflict countries to those in transition, noting that the country was emerging neither from armed conflict nor a natural disaster. Nonetheless, “everything had to be rebuilt” following more than five decades of authoritarian rule, she said, emphasizing that what must be rebuilt, first and foremost, was the trust between citizens and the State. “Peacebuilding in Guinea depends as much on managing the past as on preparing the future,” she stressed, noting the importance of efforts to empower women politically, economically and socially. The Government must also create stable conditions to foster the creation of jobs.
The representative of the European Union delegation agreed, citing some of the positive steps that Guinea had taken, including progress on security-sector reform, the launch of a pension scheme for 400 military personnel and the accelerated deployment of civilian expertise. Still, great challenges remained, and not only in Guinea, he cautioned, noting that the coming year would see the holding of presidential elections in Sierra Leone, a new national reconciliation process in Liberia and security-sector reform in Guinea-Bissau.
As the Assembly scrutinized the recent financial progress of the Peacebuilding Fund — a voluntary mechanism designed to provide funding for countries emerging from conflict — many speakers emphasized its paramount importance to countries across the Commission’s agenda. According to its annual report, the Fund had allocated $99.4 million in 2011, consistent with its business plan target of allocating $100 million annually for the biennium 2011-2013. The Fund’s income of $66.7 million in 2011 represented a significant improvement over 2009 and 2010. Speakers warned, however, that, while donor contributions were rising, the increase was not fast enough to ensure that the business plan target for 2012 could be met.
Sierra Leone’s representative said his country had received $35 million from the Fund in 2007 as “catalytic funding” to support such initiatives as reparations to war victims, emergency support to the energy sector, youth enterprise development, good governance and the rule of law. That allotment had been followed by a second tranche of $7 million aimed at improving political dialogue and the participation of civil society. “The [Fund’s] catalytic funding mechanism remains crucial in preventing relapse into conflict,” he said, thanking those Member States that had contributed to the Fund.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s representative echoed the sentiments of many speakers when he emphasized that the success of peacebuilding endeavours was integrally dependent on the existence of sufficient resources. The Peacebuilding Fund was, therefore, an essential component of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, he added, noting that the target allocation of $100 million annually for the next three years was indeed “commensurate with the task ahead”.
Also speaking today were representatives of Bangladesh, Belgium, Switzerland, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Nepal, Brazil, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Croatia, Chile, Nigeria, United States, Morocco, India, Ukraine, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic and Norway.
In other business today, the Assembly took action on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), appointing Kazuo Watanabe ( Japan) and Dae-jong Yoo ( Republic of Korea) as members of the Committee on Contributions for terms beginning from 19 March 2012 and expiring on 31 December 2012 and 31 December 2014, respectively.
Acting on another recommendation of the Fifth Committee, it appointed Luis Mariano Hermosillo ( Mexico) as a member of the International Civil Service Commission with effect from 19 March 2012 to 31 December 2013.
The Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.
As the General Assembly met this morning to consider several items on its agenda, members had before them the report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its fifth session (document A/66/675), dated 30 January 2012; and the report of the Secretary-General on the Peacebuilding Fund (document A/66/659), dated 16 January.
The report states that, in addition to continuing its support for countries already on its agenda, a new country, Guinea, had been added to the agenda during the reporting period. There had also been additional improvement in synergies with the Peacebuilding Fund, and a new roadmap would be developed in 2012 to focus the Commission on priority actions and results. The latter should include actions aimed at enabling each country-specific configuration to spell out its expected deliverables.
According to the report, the Commission needed to further strengthen its relationship with key actors at Headquarters. To bring added value to the Security Council’s consideration of countries on its agenda, it must address the fragmented responses by security and development actors in the field and focus on providing high-quality analysis of specific problems in the area of peacebuilding. The Commission looked forward to receiving high-quality support for its country configurations and to the development of a full-fledged communications strategy by the Peacebuilding Support Office.
The report of the Peacebuilding Fund says $99.4 million was allocated in 2011, consistent with its business plan target of $100 million in annual allocations for the biennium 2011-2013. The Fund’s income of $66.7 million in 2011 represented a significant improvement over 2009 and 2010, it states, adding that it had taken steps to improve its performance, such as developing business and performance management plans, expanding allocations, committing itself to rapid response, increasing synergies with the Commission, and organizing annual stakeholder forums. While donor contributions were rising, the increase was not fast enough to ensure that the business plan target for 2012 could be met, especially since countries seeking to implement the New Deal announced in Busan, Republic of Korea, merited increased support for peacebuilding goals.
The Assembly also had before it reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the organization of work, adoption of the agenda and allocation of items; on the appointment of members of the Committee on Contributions (document A/66/540/Add.1) dated 14 March 2012; and on the appointment of members of the International Civil Service Commission (document A/66/746), also dated 14 March 2012.
EUGENE GASANA (Rwanda), addressing the report on the Peacebuilding Commission’s fifth session, noted that accompanying countries emerging from conflict and embarking on the path to sustainable peace and development had remained at the core of that body’s work in 2011. During the reporting period, it had responded to requests for advice from Guinea, which had become the sixth country placed on the Commission’s agenda. It had helped Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone take additional steps towards peace consolidation.
He said the Commission had taken initial steps concerning the outcome of the Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture, also known as the “2010 Review”, and had adopted a “Roadmap of Actions”, an implementation framework for taking forward relevant recommendations from the Review. Underscoring several areas of the report that he felt deserved particular attention, he said the Commission’s various configurations had taken significant steps to reach out to and engage a number of critical actors within and outside the United Nations system. The Commission’s Chair had led that organ’s first-ever visit to the African Development Bank, an event that had improved clarity on specific areas in which the two entities could collaborate.
He said the report also referred to another crucial step by the Commission to help develop best practices in peacebuilding, by demonstrating its potential as a unique platform for sharing knowledge and experiences among countries on its agenda. In that regard, he recalled, the Government of Rwanda, together with the Commission and the African Development Bank, had held a high-level meeting last November on “Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: the Experience of Rwanda”. Practical steps to take forward the outcome of that meeting were currently being explored, he said. “There is real need to nurture this type of cooperation in the area of peacebuilding among the countries of the South.”
The report also highlighted efforts aimed at strengthening the Commission’s relationship with key actors at Headquarters, he said, citing the world body’s principal organs and lead operational entities. However, there was much room for deepening and diversifying that engagement, he noted, emphasizing that it was crucial that the general membership consider ways in which to draw on its potential to become a bridging mechanism between security and socio-economic development actors. A “whole-of-Government” approach, as well as “United Nations system-wide coherence” should be encouraged, he stressed.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), Chairman, Peacebuilding Commission, stressed the need to invest time and effort in drawing upon that body’s tremendous potential. Peacebuilding was a state of mind, a continuous process and a culture in policymaking, planning, funding and implementation of activities on the ground in post-conflict settings. While the Commission had made important strides over the past six years in promoting a qualitative shift in the way in which the international community responded to post-conflict situations, much remained to be done in taking the architecture to the next level to ensure that good intentions were translated into reality, he stressed. Adequate and predictable resources were available, and there was a real focus on national capacity-building, gender and improved coherence among key actors.
The 2010 Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture provided recommendations on further evolving the Commission’s approach to its core mandates, structures, forms of engagement and working methods, he said, pledging to bolster efforts to encourage Commission members to implement the roadmap set forth by his predecessor. Countries on the agenda and the broader membership should be encouraged to reflect on what they expected from the Commission, and on the tools and resources it should have to meet its goals. Experience showed that an incoherent, fragmented approach deflected the Commission’s focus from critical peacebuilding priorities, resulting in serious programmatic inefficiencies and diverting resources to often redundant or unnecessary activities, he noted. The Commission would continue to pursue active partnership with all relevant stakeholders, and to provide a platform conducive to a more coherent approach.
Should the Commission strive to strengthen the links between itself and the field?, he asked. Should that be accomplished through dynamic and clear relationships with key United Nations operational entities and senior United Nations representatives, or by having it’s members retain a diplomatic presence in the countries on its agenda, or possibly by expanding the use of the existing Joint Steering Committees created to monitor implementation of the Peacebuilding Fund’s projects to perform the same function as the Commission itself? The Commission would continue to explore how other ongoing processes could address peacebuilding needs in post-conflict countries, he said, adding that the international community should be able to harmonize multiple global initiatives in the context of clarifying the comparative advantages of relevant actors in the field, agree on a rational division of roles and responsibilities among bilateral and multilateral actors, and ensure that much-needed human and financial resources were efficiently channelled in support of national capacities and institutions.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said Peacebuilding Commission’s report should reflect activities undertaken by the Peacebuilding Support Office to sharpen its analytical capacity for prioritizing critical peacebuilding activities. It should also clarify the efforts that the latter had taken to develop a communications strategy. As mentioned in the report, the Commission would be an appropriate forum for taking forward a number of recommendations contained in the report on the Review of Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict, he said, adding that the review process would benefit from the expertise and experience that the Commission had gathered over time. Moreover, priority should be given to national ownership as the core of all principles for reviewing civil capacities.
With regard to the country-specific configurations, he said the report could incorporate more inputs from Member States to increase the harmony between the strategic peacebuilding frameworks in the countries on the Commission’s agenda and their respective national development priorities. The report should also focus more on the Commission’s efforts to develop a “field-centric approach”, guaranteeing well-coordinated and coherent actions on the ground, and provide more details on potential areas of synergy between the various configurations in order to avoid duplication of efforts. The Non-Aligned Movement also wished to see a better reflection of the Commission’s catalytic role in entrenching the principle of national ownership and the development of national capacities, giving particular attention to vulnerable groups, he stressed.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union delegation, stressed the need for a clear re-commitment to place peacebuilding at the heart of the work of the United Nations, and strongly recommended swift implementation of several recommendations put forward by the review, especially those relating to enhancing the Commission’s relevance in the field and improving coordination at Headquarters. The comprehensive reports before the Assembly illustrated the progress made in outreach activities, the improved synergy between the Commission and the Fund, and the greater interaction between the Commission and the Security Council, among other achievements. They also showed some positive developments achieved through the continuing engagement of the country-specific configurations, he continued, noting Guinea’s inclusion on the Commission’s agenda in February 2011.
He went on to cite the positive steps made by that country, including progress on security-sector reform, the launch of a pension scheme for 400 military personnel and the deployment of civilian expertise, notably the appointment of an adviser on security-sector reform. Still, great challenges remained, he cautioned, emphasizing that efforts to develop the Commission’s full potential to overcome them must continue. Important test cases in 2012 would be the upcoming elections in Sierra Leone, Liberia’s national reconciliation process and the security-sector reform process in Guinea-Bissau. It was time to implement the 2012 roadmaps with concrete initiatives and a greater sense of accountability, and to ensure complementarity between the Commission’s work and that of other initiatives, such as the review of civilian capacity and the outcome of the High-level Forum in Busan, known as the New Deal.
JAN GRAULS (Belgium), associating himself with the European Union’s statement, said the Peacebuilding Commission’s report provided a complete overview of its substantive activities, including in the Central African Republic, the country-specific configuration of which he was Chair. Looking ahead to 2012, he said a limited number of priorities should be indentified. They included mobilizing resources, as well as strengthening national ownership and relationships on the ground. Turning first to the mobilization of resources, he emphasized the importance of developing targeted partnerships, saying the Commission must also help countries build their own finance-raising capacities. As for national ownership, he said there was a need for new ways to strengthen national peacebuilding capacities once international experts had left a country, noting that South-South cooperation was an interesting concept to explore in that regard. On strengthening relations between the Commission and its configurations with stakeholders on the ground, he said there was too often a lack of direct engagement, noting that the implementation of peacebuilding priorities and the creation of dialogue would both be stronger if there was more direct interaction between the country-specific configurations and missions, as well as between the Commission and other United Nations system entities.
PAUL SEGER ( Switzerland) said that, as a relatively new order under constant scrutiny within the United Nations system and many Member States, the Peacebuilding Commission had yet to prove itself and demonstrate its added value. The Security Council could do more in appreciation of its potential by improving relations between the two organs through deepened interaction between itself and the country-specific configurations, he said. Consideration should also be given to enhancing the involvement of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly in the Commission’s work because such interaction was virtually non-existent at present, he noted, pointing out that those two principal organs were among the latter’s founding institutions and comprised almost half its membership.
He said another dimension for improved outreach and partnership concerned the Bretton Woods institutions and regional international financial institutions, whose relationship with the Commission became more important the more peacebuilding efforts in fragile countries moved into the realm of economic development, he said. Yet another priority was the need to engage all country-specific configurations in order to share their tasks more evenly, he said, pointing out that it was the collective weight and political support of the Commission’s membership as a whole that essentially gave power and voice to any single configuration.
Citing the Burundi Configuration, he appealed for social and economic support for that country, saying it was in a crucial phase of its development towards lasting peace. “ Burundi has made much progress, but it still faces considerable political, economic and institutional challenges,” he added. To overcome them, the country needed the support of the entire international community, as well as substantial financial support for its new poverty reduction strategy, which would send a clear signal that Member States continued to accompany one of their own on its transition from a conflict-ridden past towards a politically stable future.
NIKITA ZHUKOV ( Russian Federation) stressed the need for Member States to coordinate their efforts in peacebuilding and to strengthen the Commission’s role. While applauding the Commission’s achievements, he said he was still compelled to point to the lack of coordination and shortage of human and financial resources dedicated to the organ and peacebuilding efforts at large. Member States must systematize peacebuilding processes, he stressed, noting that much remained to be done to enhance results on the ground. Serious work had been carried out in countries on the Commission’s agenda, and the accumulated experience of the country-specific configurations must be fully utilized. The Commission was still not fulfilling its role as the central peacebuilding body of the United Nations, and its Organizing Committee must do more, he stressed. The Commission must make a contribution, including on important cross-cutting issues of relevance to the entire United Nations system. It must develop civilian capabilities, bearing in mind the need to establish suitable staff reserves, he said. Applauding the efforts and achievements of the Peacebuilding Fund, he said it had proved its effectiveness, noting that the Russian Federation was still contributing $2 million to it every year.
DONG-IK SHIN ( Republic of Korea) said that the Commission had steadily been developing its capacity to carry out its mandate by catalysing international efforts to assist countries emerging from conflict situations. It was an important step for the report to reflect the progress made in accelerating the recommendations contained in the co-facilitators’ report entitled “Review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture” for the first time. Peacebuilding operations should be executed in such a way as to further strengthen and respect the national ownership and priorities of developing countries, he said, adding that it should seek to establish a basis for long-term sustainable development, in which strengthening civilian capacity should play a critical role.
In that regard, the General Assembly resolution on “Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict”, adopted on 16 March, was indeed a cornerstone in developing the idea and goal of peacebuilding, he said. It clearly stated that the Assembly encouraged national Governments, the United Nations, as well as regional and subregional organizations, to broaden and deepen the pool of civilian peacebuilding expertise in the immediate aftermath of conflict. As for the Peacebuilding Fund, he said it was indeed a critical tool for the United Nations to help countries in their efforts to build lasting peace. With more resources, the Organization would be better positioned to respond to emerging needs and opportunities, he said, noting that his country had been contributing $4 million to the Fund since its establishment in 2006, including $500,000 at the end of 2011.
JUN YAMAZAKI (Japan), noted that several critical actions had been taken during the reporting period to strengthen the Commission’s impact and demonstrate its added value in the field and at Headquarters through initiatives such as the creation of a cooperation partnership with the African Development Bank, the adoption of flexible instruments of engagement tailored to country-specific settings and the exploration of practical approaches to resource mobilization. In 2011, the Working Group on Lessons Learned, chaired by Japan, had held four meetings: on resource mobilization for peacebuilding priorities and improved coordination among relevant actors; economic revitalization and youth employment; security-sector reform and the rule of law; and the transition of the Commission’s forms and instruments of engagement, as well as its partnership with the Security Council, with a view to having a greater impact in the field.
Several interesting points had been raised during the discussions, he continued, adding that the positive momentum created by the 2010 review and pursued in 2011 must be carried forward in 2012. In its capacity as Chair of the Working Group, Japan would continue to pursue the core priority areas addressed in the Commission’s 2012 roadmap, such as resource mobilization and coordination among relevant actors and strengthening of ties with the United Nations main organs, he said. That would be done in close cooperation with the Chair of the Commission and the chairs of the country-specific configurations. He said the Peacebuilding Fund’s report provided a strong indication of its success as a catalyst that addressed immediate critical gaps in the peacebuilding process before larger development aid came online. He stressed the Fund’s comparative advantages, such as its capacity to make quick decisions, its close collaboration with the Commission and its flexibility in filling urgent needs where no funding mechanism existed. The Fund had largely achieved its allocation target of $100 million in 2011, consistent with its business plan, he noted, adding that, in order to help it meet its financial needs, and to show strong commitment to peacebuilding, Japan had contributed $12.5 million to the Fund in 2011.
WANG MIN ( China) said the Commission had made great progress in assisting peacebuilding efforts in post-conflict countries. However, peacebuilding was still an arduous task in some countries, where it faced various challenges. First, the Commission and other parties should respect fully the national ownership of the countries concerned, as well as their wishes. It should also enhance partnerships with those countries in an active and constructive manner, while developing an exit strategy with an eye to ensuring sustainable peace and development. In helping countries formulate peacebuilding and integrated development strategies, the Commission should respect their right to set their own priorities, he stressed. In addition, the Commission should enhance cooperation and coordinate with United Nations system entities, international financial institutions, as well as regional and subregional bodies. It should continue to improve its working methods and effectiveness, and indentify best practices, with a particular eye towards avoiding duplication of efforts, he said. The Peacebuilding Fund, for its part, should provide more support to post-conflict countries.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal), noting that the Commission had been gaining recognition among United Nations agencies and other development stakeholders as a dedicated intergovernmental mechanism, said countries emerging from conflict needed immediate attention in terms of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security-sector reform, restoration of basic services, transitional justice and institution-building. Those tasks must be addressed in a single overarching planning document entailing nationally owned and developed, well-defined peacebuilding elements. Such a document was critically important for enhanced coherence and coordination among different stakeholders on the ground, he stressed. Underlining the Commission’s important role in sensitizing the global community on the special challenges of post-conflict countries and in coordinating delivery on the ground, he expressed confidence that the statement of mutual commitment adopted its Liberia and Guinea configurations as a new instrument for ensuring mutual accountability would help accelerate efforts in areas of shared commitment and accountability.
The Commission’s interaction with the principal United Nations organs should be institutionalized for policy coherence at Headquarters, he said. Inviting the Chairs of the Commission and its country-specific configurations into the Security Council to present and exchange views was a good practice that should be further intensified, he noted, calling also for greater coordination with the Economic and Social Council. The Commission should be made an effective vehicle, and its country-specific configurations bolstered further. He expressed support for giving due focus to the strengthening of civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict. The Peacebuilding Fund had already proved its ability to finance much-needed peacebuilding activities rapidly and during early post-conflict transitions when other funding sources were largely unavailable or insufficient, he noted, expressing hope for more synergy and alignment between the Fund and the Commission, and for the development of a 2011-2013 business plan and performance-management plan that would help manage the Fund effectively. It was important to identify critical projects with wider ramifications for the peacebuilding process and to make swift funding decisions, he stressed, urging the international community to contribute to the Fund, which was a “smart” investment. Nepal was a top-five troop-contributing country and had served on the Commission since its inception, he noted.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said that upon assuming her duties as Chair of the Guinea configuration more than a year ago, the country had been emerging neither from armed conflict nor a natural disaster. Yet, everything had had to be rebuilt, following more than five decades of authoritarian rule under which corruption had become institutionalized, the army had preyed on civilians and human development indicators had hit “rock bottom”. What had to be rebuilt, first and foremost, was the trust between citizens and the State, she stressed. Once a configuration had moved from being a simple forum for information exchange to becoming a true intergovernmental partnership, the Commission could fulfil its mission: supporting coordination to help the country in question.
She said her trip to Conakry last week had been part of the first periodic review of the “statement of mutual commitments”, adopted on 23 September 2011, which outlined steps for sustainable development and reconciliation between the Government of Guinea and its people. The Government had worked to reform the security sector, one of the configuration’s three priorities, and legislative elections must take place in 2012. However, there could be no reconciliation without shining the light of truth on the past. “Peacebuilding in Guinea depends as much on managing the past as on preparing the future,” she said, emphasizing the importance of efforts to empower women politically, economically and socially. The Government must also create stable conditions in which to foster job creation, she said, noting that since that was also a challenge facing the wider subregion, an enhanced regional approach would be appropriate.
As for the organization of work, she stressed that the Peacebuilding Support Office should focus more on its core business — supporting the Organizational Committee and the country-specific configurations — rather than seeking a policy-research or normative role. For its part, the Peacebuilding Support Fund should continue to focus on countries on the Commission’s agenda, she said, warning that excessive fragmentation of the $100 million spent annually must be avoided. The Fund could, however, lead efforts to mainstream conflict- and peacebuilding-sensitive programmes into development efforts. Despite justified criticisms, the Commission had begun to carve out a role for itself in the institutional landscape of the United Nations, and it undoubtedly had the potential to be a key player within the Organization if all its members took ownership of its activities, if the principal organs gave it their full cooperation, and if both the Fund and the Support Office provided it with all the necessary human and financial resources.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said that, as Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration, her delegation welcomed efforts to engage more effectively with host Governments, enhance coordination and avoid overlaps. It was essential to avoid creating cycles of reporting and other mechanisms that created a burden for “the already-stretched structures of local Governments”, she cautioned. What was needed was a simplified, single peacebuilding strategy that clarified roles and priorities while integrating developmental elements. The case of Guinea-Bissau showed the importance of adequate international and regional financial support for peace consolidation, particularly in such areas as pension funds for the military, where support provided by the Peacebuilding Fund could kick-start projects, generating a “virtuous cycle”. Wider partnerships, as well as dialogue with international financial organizations could also have a positive impact on the ground, she noted, commending the African Development Bank and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and expressing hope that their links with the Peacebuilding Commission would be strengthened. Closer interaction with the Economic and Social Council, the Security Council and the General Assembly was also desirable, she added.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) said that countries emerging from conflict traversed a critical path that could lead to sustainable development or to further conflict. Indonesia was pleased that both the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Support Fund had progressed capably in a sort time. The Commission’s increased focus on efforts on the ground, and its stronger outreach to partners, had improved its outcomes. “We should all ensure that everything in our capacity is done to support the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund in carrying out their mandates,” he stressed.
While underscoring that national ownership remained critical, he said the Commission’s experience was highly valuable and should be drawn upon by the Security Council, as well as the United Nations peacekeeping secretariat as they worked on early peacebuilding. The Commission should also provide practical inputs on how the international system of harnessing and supporting civilian capacities could be strengthened. Since most conflicts occurred in developing countries and many successful transitions had been seen, it was essential to make adequate use of civilian practitioners from the Global South. Indonesia also supported fully the focus on resource mobilization and partnerships, as contained in the 2012 “Roadmap of Actions”.
He said the outcome of the Peacebuilding Commission Task Force on the role of the private sector in post-conflict peacebuilding, which his country had helped facilitate in 2008, had provided some useful directions on partnering with both traditional and non-traditional actors. Indonesia also noted with interest the various proposals on rapid-response financing in the review of civilian capacities in the aftermath of conflict. There was strong merit in exploring the potential of replicating the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Working Capital Facility model for enabling quick and predictable financing for the United Nations system’s post-conflict peacebuilding work, he said, adding that Indonesia was pleased to note the enhanced impact that the Peacebuilding Fund had had in both peacebuilding and recovery, as well as in immediate-response facilities.
PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said his country would remain a strong friend and contributor to the Fund, in recognition of the crucial gap it filled in the global response to conflicts and of its positive trajectory. Welcoming the Fund’s progress towards results-based programme design, he stressed that to have meaning it must be able to deliver improvements on the ground for affected communities. The 2011-2013 business plan demonstrated a commitment to better monitoring and measuring of the impact of the Fund’s work, he noted, adding: “This will be extremely valuable.” He encouraged greater use of independent reviews and evaluations, the selection of appropriate independent research indices, and the strong involvement of the Peacebuilding Support Office to ensure that the focus remained on designing and measuring effective programmes.
Welcoming the growing number of instances in which the Fund had fulfilled its mandate to be catalytic, strategic and able to address gaps in peacebuilding efforts, he pointed out, however, that the percentage of activities independently assessed as having made a significant contribution to peacebuilding could be increased through greater use of conflict analysis, working with existing in-country peacebuilding systems and building a shared global understanding of what “catalytic peacebuilding” was and applying that as a rigorous criterion to all future allocations by the Fund.
It had already done excellent work in that area, which should continue, thus ensuring that it achieved value for its money, he said. Improving the impact of the Commission’s work in the field was the most important priority, he emphasized. It must use the combined political weight of its membership to fill gaps in international support for key peacebuilding sectors in specific countries, and also provide political backstopping and support for the United Nations team on the ground while avoiding duplication of the team’s efforts. Clearer methods were needed to judge what the country-specific configurations were achieving, he said, adding that developing a stronger culture of mutual accountability would help strengthen the Commission’s performance.
WILL NANKERVIS ( Australia) said the Commission must examine how it could best complement and support the work of United Nations missions and country teams. It should also encourage more active engagement by multilateral and bilateral players in the field, he said, adding that Australia had deployed a peacebuilding adviser in Freetown to strengthen its peacebuilding engagement in Sierra Leone and Liberia, he said.
He said the new approach taken by the Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund in Liberia — developing an expanded priority plan linked to a statement of mutual commitments, was an important new development. While national ownership was, and should continue to be, the central principle that defined the Commission’s work and activities, Australia supported efforts to better and more specifically define commitments between the Commission and countries on its agenda, in order to make them more measurable and align them more closely with national priorities.
“It is important that the Commission serves as a mechanism through which the international community listens not only to itself, but also to countries under consideration, to ensure that true partnership develops,” he stressed. Emphasizing the Peacebuilding Commission’s importance as a platform for sharing knowledge and experience, he noted that the innovative meeting in Rwanda last November had provided a rich opportunity to learn from the lessons of a country with direct experience of peacebuilding and State-building.
RANKO VILOVIĆ (Croatia), associating himself with the European Union statement, said it was necessary to identify whatever form of national capacities had outlived a particular conflict and rebuild them carefully and intensively. Croatia was following closely the current civilian capacity review aimed at producing a more “demand-oriented, partnership-based, flexible, and effective mechanism” for the transfer of civilian skills and knowledge to national actors, and supported the establishment of a global marketplace for civilian capacity that would ensure a better match between the demand for and supply of specialized civilian capacities in commonly identified critical areas.
Welcoming the Busan New Deal, he said fragile States and those emerging from conflict required a different approach to development. The new initiative clarified existing peacebuilding and State-building goals, introduced new ways to engage and endeavoured to forge a “new, inclusive and representative global partnership”, bringing together traditional and new donors. The reporting period had witnessed continuing improvement in the synergies between the Commission and the Fund, and there were several examples of the latter’s successful catalytic role being followed by the more substantial, long-term financing of recovery and reconstruction efforts. Croatia, as the newly elected Vice-Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, stood ready to build even greater flexibility and result-orientated engagement in post-conflict societies, he said.
OCTAVIO ERRAZURIZ ( Chile) said the move to place Guinea on the Commission’s agenda showed that the latter’s role was gaining strength. Chile acknowledged the important efforts to further implement the recommendations made in the 2010 review, particularly the suggestion to develop national capacities, and recognized the advances made in fostering better interaction between the Commission and the principal United Nations organs, including participation by the Chairs of the Commission and the Fund in discussing the mandates of peacekeeping and political missions. But there was still room for progress, he noted, suggesting the holding of a debate on that matter in the Security Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations.
Reiterating the need to implement the 2010 review’s recommendations, he also acknowledged the role of the High-level Advisory Group in supporting the development of civilian capacity, stressing in that regard the importance of strengthening triangular and South-South cooperation, an area in which Latin America could offer a wealth of experience. Chile supported the idea that countries on the agenda could serve as pioneers in the implementation of association agreements, he said, also expressing support for the Commission’s moves to foster ties with the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Non-Aligned Movement and describing them as particularly important for its outreach work. The Rwanda meeting on post-conflict countries last November was also of great value to the Commission, he said, expressing support for its conclusions. He called on Member States to continue to contribute to the Fund and to study new outreach methods, including joint initiatives with the private sector. He urged the Commission to continue to work on a communications strategy that would make its goals better known.
U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said that while the report before the Assembly reflected the commendable progress that the Peacebuilding Commission had made in supporting the countries on its agenda, it also highlighted the challenges some of those countries still faced, and threw a spotlight on the challenges faced by Member States in improving the Commission’s effectiveness. She went on to identify several key challenges, and urged the Commission to step up its efforts to strengthen cooperation and coordination among the relevant parties, both at Headquarters and in the field, to avoid an overlap in efforts and to make responsibilities clear.
She went on to urge Member States to be coherent in their views when participating in intergovernmental bodies and to share evenly the burden of supporting countries on the Commission’s agenda. “Membership of the Commission implies a commitment, indeed a political and moral obligation,” she stressed. Referring to the Secretary-General’s report, she commended Member States, as well as other donors, for their increased contributions in 2011, but called on philanthropic organizations and the private sector to make more donations. She emphasized, however, that “the countries on the agenda must exercise effective national ownership” while receiving international support.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the 2010 Review had helped to focus the Peacebuilding Commission’s efforts on three key concepts: local capacity-building and related issues; the developing element of peacebuilding; and the intersection of peacekeeping and peacebuilding. It had also concluded that it was important to align the work of the Commission with national priorities. Progress had been made towards consolidating peace in Burundi and Sierra Leone, he said, adding that those “templates” should now be applied in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, since countries on the Commission’s agenda should learn from each others’ experiences.
The success of peacebuilding endeavours required sufficient resources, he continued, noting that the Peacebuilding Fund was therefore an essential component of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture. The target of allocating $100 million each year for the next three years was “commensurate with the task ahead”, and in that regard, Pakistan had contributed to the Fund for the last several years, reflecting its confidence in the peacebuilding architecture. Member States and the Secretariat must provide the Commission with the necessary resources to carry out its work, he stressed, voicing his hope that the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Support Fund would become “true beacons of hope” to “conflict-ridden members” of the United Nations family.
JOHN SAMMIS ( United States) said his country actively supported the work of the Commission and the Fund as important instruments in helping countries make the fragile transition from conflict to sustainable peace. The United States particularly appreciated the Commission’s commitment to addressing the overarching recommendations of the 2010 review, which were aimed at enhancing its impact in the field and strengthening working relationships with key partners. Applauding the focus and evidence of results, he cited as examples the Commission’s decision to focus its political advocacy on the importance of inter-party dialogue in Sierra Leone, on the need for accountability among Government officials in Liberia, its move to stimulate private investment in Burundi, and on the mobilization of substantial funds for Sierra Leone under the auspices of the United Nations Joint Vision plan.
He also commended the Commission’s active work with the World Bank, African Development Bank and other global financial institutions, which were vital in bringing resources to peacebuilding priorities. He went on to commend the leadership of the G-7+ grouping of fragile and conflict-affected countries that had helped set the global agenda on peacebuilding, including through the New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States, endorsed recently in Busan, Republic of Korea. He encouraged interaction between the Commission and that group, as well as related efforts, urging the Commission to make even greater progress in heightening its impact in the field and building its credibility as a platform for promoting effective peacebuilding practices. The expansion of the Fund’s allocations, its commitment to rapid response and its improved country support were noteworthy, he said, encouraging the continued refinement of its focus in configuration countries to bolster investment on the part of national leaders and stakeholders in its programmes.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said that, seven years after the recommendation of the world’s Heads of State and Government, the Peacebuilding Commission now worked to ensure institutional and financial support to States that had turned the painful page of conflict and were committed to moving forward. It faced the ongoing challenge of advising, supporting and assisting the six countries on its agenda. Determining strategic frameworks and signing statements of mutual commitments were important parts of national ownership, but there was a need to listening more to those countries, he stressed. “A true partnership approach is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity.”
Describing the Peacebuilding Fund as a “key instrument”, he said its aim of allocating $100 million in 2012 was “within our grasp”, noting that most of the projects undertaken by the Fund focused on institutional capacity-building. However, more attention should be paid to areas including youth employment and development of the private sector. Recalling the resolution recently adopted on civilian capacities in post-conflict settings, he said his country had been one of the few to push for such a substantive text. “The true work is only beginning,” he stressed. Morocco, with its significant experience in South-South cooperation, felt that that “unique tool” was critical, as was trilateral cooperation. “[Peacebuilding] is everyone’s business, and it’s our common challenge,” he emphasized.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India) noted the growing focus on the special characteristics of post-conflict situations on the part of a growing number of development and economic actors, saying that should have a positive impact on peacebuilding. However, the United Nations must retain the high ground in developing the normative basis for peacebuilding, he said, emphasizing that the Organization must play a central role in identifying a common peacebuilding vision, bringing together various actors and acting as a bridge between national authorities and various peacebuilding and development actors. However, it must not invest too much time and resources on over-preparing support structures at Headquarters, he cautioned. Nor should it overlook the unique strength of its people on the ground while scouting for expertise elsewhere. To retain field relevance, peacebuilding concepts and frameworks should evolve with due regard to field expertise and inputs, he said.
Considering current resource challenges, existing peacebuilding mechanisms must be allowed and encouraged to perform to their optimum potential, he said. Headquarters should grant field leadership space for thought and action, and should not rely excessively on manuals and guidelines constructed in abstract and detached from conflict zones. Field expertise should be geographically diverse and should lead the process at Headquarters. Challenges to security-sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in field missions should be the basis for any course correction or adjustments needed, he said, adding that the international community had a duty to make appropriate capacities available to national authorities, especially those tried and tested in countries that had already undergone State-building and democratic transitions. He strongly supported the role of regional players in post-conflict scenarios. Saying he had been greatly encouraged by the African Union’s efforts to develop post-conflict reconstruction capacities, he said the success of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism was instructive in terms of strengthening national ownership.
YURI VITRENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, emphasized that only a “more relevant, more flexible, better performing, better supported more ambitious and better understood Peacebuilding Commission will make a difference on the ground”. Regarding outreach, partnerships and experience-sharing, he stressed that field visits by the delegations heading the country-specific configurations remained unique in familiarizing them with each situation on the ground, in addition to channelling consistent messages of support, advice and advocacy to the agenda countries. The most recent visit, to Guinea, had seen some 25 meetings with representatives of local society, and a field mission by the Liberia configuration last July had allowed members of the delegation to take part in the International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and State-building. He recalled that his country had served as one of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Vice Chairs in 2011, and was pleased that some of its ideas had materialized during that period, in particular with regard to holding the first-ever joint Peacebuilding Commission-UN Women high-level event. Implementation of the outcome of the 2010 Peacebuilding Commission Review Process and Roadmap for Action should remain the top priority, he stressed, adding that the Organizational Committee must tackle the streamlining of the Commission’s procedures, particularly in terms of selecting the Chairperson.
MARJON KAMARA ( Liberia) said the report presented an accurate overview of her country’s engagement with the Commission. The principle of national ownership was grounded in the Commission’s work in Liberia, and the peacebuilding priorities identified by the Liberian Government — rule of law, security-sector reform and national reconciliation — reflected a national consensus that had been verified on the ground through visits by the Commission Chair, the configuration and the Fund’s Advisory Group. The Peacebuilding Support Office’s reforms, including the decision to use national frameworks to articulate the Commission’s commitments and interventions, had been successfully introduced, she said, pointing out that the time between Liberia’s May 2010 request to be placed on the Commission’s agenda and the adoption, in November 2010, of the Statement of Mutual Commitments had been significantly shortened by some six months. The Fund’s rapid release of resources had enabled partners to initiate a core justice and security project, she added.
Emphasizing the importance of ensuring that the Commission’s work in New York was intricately linked to field realities, she said regular field visits and videoconferencing had created opportunities for the Chair to consult with Government authorities, the donor community and a cross-section of Liberian society, including people in rural areas. The Chair of the Commission had also carried out outreach activities, including visits to Washington, D.C., to consult with officials of the United States Government, the World Bank and civil society, as well as the European Union in Brussels. Preliminary steps had also been taken to collaborate with ECOWAS. The Fund’s resources had facilitated the creation of the Land Commission to address the source of conflicts over land ownership — the most serious, frequent and numerous in Liberia. The Land Commission was now benefiting from more diverse donor support, as were radio and drama programmes in local dialects, which helped Liberians understand and exercise their rights. Moreover, “peace huts” provided space for communities to resolve conflicts peacefully, she said.
Training programmes had been conducted for magistrates, as well as corrections and immigration officers deployed in the counties and border areas to ensure a more effective administration of justice in rural areas, she said. A national youth volunteer service had been established to respond to unemployment among young people, and trained youth had been assigned to various counties to work with local administrations. The Peacebuilding Fund had financed the creation of five justice-and-security hubs in some counties as part of efforts to decentralize law enforcement and make justice mechanisms more accessible to rural people. The first hub, scheduled for completion in April 2012, and the new central prison under construction on the outskirts of Monrovia were priorities for 2012, she said. Still, resource mobilization, for peacebuilding activities, particularly for funding the remaining four justice-and-security hubs, was the most pressing challenge. Developing technical civilian capacity, particularly in the security sector, to man and manage the hubs and facilitate the smooth transition of responsibilities from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to the Government was another challenge, as was developing a national reconciliation strategy to address the root causes of the Liberian conflict, she said.
JOÃO SOARES DA GAMA (Guinea-Bissau), endorsing the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and that of Brazil as Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration, said that since his country had been placed on the Commission’s agenda in 2007, it had benefited from training and assistance that had made it possible to achieve positive and impressive results in peacebuilding, although significant challenges remained. Thanks to national reforms in peacebuilding, despite the global economic crisis, Guinea-Bissau had recorded progressive economic growth and had intensified its fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. Regional and international initiatives, such as the West African Coast Initiative, were a determining factor in winning that fight. Reforming the defence and security sectors was a big part of the peacebuilding process and a top Government priority, he continued, expressing hope that conditions would soon be in place to implement those goals. The upcoming launch of the pension fund would make it possible to bring the military into the security sector reform process, he said, emphasizing that the Commission’s role in raising awareness was of the utmost importance. The creation of a partnership between the Commission and the African Development Bank would be useful in financing the Commission’s goals on Guinea-Bissau, he said, thanking all donors to the Peacebuilding Fund for their contributions.
CHARLES-ARMEL DOUNBANE ( Central African Republic), welcoming the Secretary-General’s detailed and thorough report on the Fund’s activities, said that his country, which had been weakened during the post-conflict phase, had been on the Commission’s agenda since 2008. After initial financing made that year, $20 million had been allocated in 2010 to focus on security issues, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the construction of barracks, security-sector reform, the rule of law and good governance, access to justice, human rights issues, as well as the empowerment of communities affected by conflict, especially women, children and youth. Those focal areas were perfectly aligned with the Government’s priority areas, he said. In light of the shortage of financing, the Fund had made efforts to meet the needs of the poorest communities, which surely would have a real impact. It should be improved to make it more efficient, he stressed, adding that there should be a true partnership between the State and the Commission. Only by working hand in hand would they be able to achieve results and stated objectives, reducing the risks of failure and harmful consequences, he said, thanking the Chair of the Central African Republic configuration for his efforts in the peace and development process.
OSMAN KEH KAMARA ( Sierra Leone) noted his country’s tremendous progress thanks to the unrelenting efforts of the Sierra Leone configuration, donors and development partners to align peacebuilding elements of the Agenda for Change with the United Nations country team’s Joint Vision and resource mobilization efforts. Thanking Australia, Canada, Italy and the United States for their recent financial contributions to address the funding gap in implementing the Agenda for Change, he said that through the country-specific configuration and the United Nations Integrated Political Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), the Commission had provided a platform for enhanced dialogue among political parties and all national stakeholders, with a clear commitment to ensuring durable peace and stability. Today, Sierra Leone was considered a “best practice” in donor coordination, he said.
Through engagement with the Commission, he continued, the Peacebuilding Fund had released $35 million in 2007 to support well-defined peacebuilding initiatives, including contributions to war victims, the Human Rights Commission, emergency support to the energy sector, youth enterprise development, good governance and the rule of law, and public service delivery. That had been followed by another $7 million to enhance political dialogue and civil society participation in the political process leading up to the 2012 elections, among other things. The Fund contributed to visible peace dividends and its effective impact on peacebuilding could not be overestimated, he stressed.
However, its funding mechanism was designed to kick-start the pilot phase of key peacebuilding projects that required more and sustained support for such projects to be fully developed. “The [Peacebuilding Fund]’s catalytic funding mechanism remains crucial in preventing relapse into conflict,” he emphasized, thanking Member States whose contributions had led to a significant increase in the Fund from $31.3 million to $66.73 million. There was a need to develop greater synergy between the Fund, the Peacebuilding Support Office and the Commission, he said, adding that, as one of the first countries on the Commission’s agenda, Sierra Leone had charted a path from which others could learn.
TINE MORCH SMITH ( Norway) said the Commission was still relatively new and must prove its added value. There was a need to explore ways in which to enhance its impact, such as creating closer dialogue between the chairs of the country configurations and the Security Council. Applauding efforts to bring the Commission closer to the concrete experiences of African countries in post-conflict situations, and to start a dialogue with regional institutions, she welcomed the conclusion reached at the meeting between the Commission’s Organizational Committee and UN Women’s Executive Board aimed at initiating country-specific discussions on the progress and challenges of integrating women into peacebuilding.
Concerning the recommendation of the 2010 review, she said the country-specific configurations should work as a type of support group for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and United Nations country teams on the ground, adding that such an approach could have been highlighted further in the report. Owing to severe financial constraints, the prospects for increased aid were dim, she said, encouraging new partners and emerging Powers to increase their support, while praising the broadening of the Fund’s donor base.
Noting the considerable progress in making the Fund effective and accountable, she encouraged continued efforts to that end, and towards the further strengthening of management and follow-up. Norway supported the Fund’s emphasis on countries on the Commission’s agenda and on the G7+ countries while agreeing that other countries should also be included, she said. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, however, the Fund would need to work harder to fulfil its goal of allocating 15 per cent of financing to actions on the specific needs of women, she said, noting that she looked forward to rapid progress in that regard. Norway had contributed $5 million to the Fund in 2011 and was assessing the possibility of giving more this year, she added.
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