|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
1st Meeting (AM)
New Peacebuilding Commission Chair — Ranko Vilović of Croatia — Urges Members
to Think about Ways to Generate Commitment to Body’s Original Vision
Also Adopts Report for 2012, Elects 5 of 6 Country-Configuration Chairs;
Hears Statements from Outgoing Chair, Head of Peacebuilding Support Office
The new Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission today urged members to “put our heads together” on ways to reinforce the body’s founding vision — providing strategic advice and harnessing expertise and financing to help post-conflict countries avoid sliding back into war or chaos — so that in 2013, the Commission could gain its rightful place within the United Nations peacebuilding architecture and beyond.
“The Commission is only as strong as the collective strength of its individual members,” Ranko Vilović said upon his election, inviting delegations to “lead by example”, as they sought in 2013 to enhance international cooperation for peacebuilding, and work together to generate the requisite attention and commitment to the Commission’s original vision in their respective national capitals and at Headquarters. He said that Croatia’s bitter recent history, as well as its subsequent success at reconnecting and rebuilding integral parts of its society in the wake of war, underpinned his belief “that we should share our experiences with others in similar positions”.
Pledging that his Chairmanship would take a pragmatic and tightly focused approach, he laid out a five-point strategy which he believed would significantly enhance the Commission’s efforts in the coming year. First, he would continue to enhance the relationship between the Commission and its parent bodies — the General Assembly and the Security Council — so that it could “fully realize its advisory role and vast potential as a central political platform within the United Nations system”.
Second, through consultations on working methods, another key aim would be to further the Commission’s impact on the ground, including through adopting terms of reference for the activities of the chairs and members of its country configurations, and to improve its process for reviewing its instruments of engagement and field visits. Third, he intended to strengthen traditional — and explore new avenues — for partnerships with non-traditional actors, emphasizing cooperation with and the engagement of the private sector and foundations.
Continuing, he said that an important aspect of the Commission’s achievement in resource mobilization was linked to its success in exercising its role in forging partnerships with, and coherence among, key peacebuilding actors. As such, his fourth area of focus in 2013 would be continuing to deepen cooperation with international financial institutions, chiefly the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Finally, he said he would continue to explore ways to help the Commission avoid duplication, and not impose on the limited capacities of the countries with which it was engaged.
Ahead of Mr. Vilović address, the Commission’s Organizational Committee adopted the body’s 2012 draft report (document PBC/6OC/L.2), which reviewed the past year’s work and noted, among other things, that the developments in the countries on the Commission’s agenda had highlighted the body’s potential, as well as its limitations.
According to the report, the Commission’s unique membership structure should enable it to serve as a central global platform for discussion, coordination and advice on peacebuilding. Yet, in performing that role, it faced serious constraints, because it lacked a system-wide mandating authority and resources at its disposal. The report, therefore, concludes that there was an urgent need to renew the sense of collective responsibility and commitment from the individual members of the Commission, including from the countries on its agenda.
In other action, the Committee elected Bangladesh as one of its two Vice-Chairs. That country would hold that position through 31 December 2013. The Group of Latin American and Caribbean States would submit its nomination for the second Vice-Chair at a later date. The Committee went on to re-elect Japan, represented by Tsuneo Nishida, as Chair of the Working Group on Lessons Learned.
Also re-elected were the Chairs of five of the Commission’s six country configurations. Those were: Switzerland (Paul Seger), Burundi configuration; Brazil (Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti), Guinea-Bissau configuration; Sweden (Staffan Tillander), Liberia configuration; Luxembourg (Sylvie Lucas), Guinea configuration; and Guillermo Rishchynski ( Canada), Sierra Leone configuration. As Belgium had relinquished its Chairmanship of the Commission’s configuration on Central African Republic on 1 June 2012, that country’s Government had initiated consultations on finding a successor. In the meantime, Mr. Vilović, as the Commission’s Chair, would handle duties regarding that configuration.
Abulkalam Abdul Momen (Bangladesh), outgoing Commission Chairman, reviewed progress made over the last year, as well as challenges the body continued to face. Throughout 2012, the Commission had, among others, developed a better rapport with the Security Council, begun discussions with the World Bank and the African Union, and worked to consolidate its relationships with regional development banks. Yet, although “we have done our homework to engage the private sector and philanthropic or such other organizations”, he said that the Commission had not yet been able to engage them effectively on the ground.
The year 2012 had been a year when the question of collective responsibility and commitment of the membership had taken centre stage, he stressed. While some sense of urgency on that matter had been instilled, the task of translating such commitments into concrete actions and contributions remained unfulfilled. He was, therefore, pleased that the Committee had decided to prioritize that topic in the Commission’s forward agenda for 2013.
The Commission, among other activities, should continue to develop its resource-mobilization role. “This is an area where the Commission is expected to deliver results at the country-level,” he said. Therefore, it should conceive its role around three main themes: supporting national Governments to manage and coordinate aid and resource flows, identify gaps in international assistance and devise effective national resource mobilization strategies; deepening partnerships with international and regional financial institutions, as well as non-traditional actors such as private corporations and philanthropic organizations; and promoting a new paradigm for South-South and triangular cooperation.
In her remarks, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, said the main highlight of the past year had been the convening by the Commission in September of the High-Level Event on “Peacebuilding: the way towards sustainable peace and security”. The event, and the political declaration adopted at its conclusion, had been a welcome opportunity for the wider membership to recommit to key peacebuilding principles and objectives. It had also served as a platform for interaction between the relevant actors whose efforts and support would be critical to the work of the Commission in the future.
Looking ahead, she said that her Office would work to ensure that both entities lived up to exceptions, particularly in time for the next joint General Assembly-Security Council review of their work, set for 2015. As such, her Office would place supporting the Commission at the top of its 2013 agenda, chiefly in helping the body to continue to “define its niche”, including towards leveraging the collective experience and resources of its membership at country-specific levels.
For example, she said the Commission could leverage support from a number of countries in the global South — particularly those that had logged notable post-conflict successes — to provide guidance and share lessons learned with nations currently on the Commission’s agenda. Through such collaborative endeavours the Commission could become a viable platform for discussing South-South and triangular cooperation in support of peacebuilding. Finally, she said that her Office would continue to further enhance country-level interaction between the Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund. While 2012 had seen much improvement in that regard, she would continue to seek innovative ways to do more.
Making statements on the work of the Commission in the coming year were the representatives of Indonesia, Denmark, Egypt, Brazil, Pakistan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Japan, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, France, and the Central African Republic. A representative of the Delegation of the European Union also spoke.
The Peacebuilding Commission will meet again at a time and date to be announced.
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