Organizational Committee Elects Bureau, Country-Configuration Chairs
Opening their ninth session, members of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Organizational Committee today elected that body’s 2015 bureau and chairs of its country configurations, as well as discussed its goals for the coming year.
In addition, they designated the Chair of the Commission’s Working Group on Lessons Learned, approved the draft report of its eighth session (document PBC/8/OC/L.1) and concluded other procedural matters.
Speakers approved the session’s theme, “Predictable financing for peacebuilding — breaking the silos”, stressing the importance of coherent strategies among all relevant actors, sustained support for countries emerging from conflict and the need to listen to those countries in setting priorities. They also generally agreed that peacebuilding should form part of the Ebola recovery process.
By acclamation, members elected Olof Skoog (Sweden) as Chair and outgoing Chair Antonio Aguiar Patriota (Brazil) as Vice-Chair, as well as re-elected the current chairs for four of the Commission’s six country configurations as follows: Paul Seger (Switzerland) for Burundi; Omar Hilale (Morocco) for Central African Republic; Sylvie Lucas (Luxembourg) for Guinea; and Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada) for Sierra Leone. All were elected for terms ending on 31 December 2015.
Mr. Patriota, in remarks as outgoing Chair, said that countries building a path to sustainable peace needed sustainable support. Partnerships among the countries, the United Nations and other actors was essential to ensure the objectives fit the needs of the specific countries involved. The benefit of such partnerships and the Commission’s capabilities had been demonstrated in the Commission’s collective and determined position in the early stages of the Ebola outbreak.
The Commission should position itself to promote greater coherence across political, security and other sectors, he said, adding that the body’s advisory function to the Security Council and the General Assembly should be strengthened. He also drew attention to the gender dimension of peacebuilding, as women suffered tragic consequences during conflicts, but were instrumental in building peace in their aftermath. He expressed confidence that the expert advisers, in their country reports, would continue to help enhance the Commission’s work.
Mr. Skoog noted that 2015 marked the tenth anniversary of the Commission, which had been set up to help countries transition from war to lasting peace. Over the next six months, the Commission’s priorities would the peacebuilding review; peacebuilding in Ebola recovery, especially as all three affected countries were on the Commission’s agenda; support for coordination with regional organizations; and financing for peacebuilding. In keeping with the theme of the 2015 session, he hoped to build on the political momentum generated by the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Addis Ababa in July.
Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, also welcomed the theme for the 2015 session, particularly given international efforts to stem illicit financial flows. He said 2015 would be a year rich in parallel intergovernmental processes, and he welcomed efforts to fight Ebola and to strengthen the Commission’s advisory relationship with the Security Council. Enhanced coordination among Member States and all relevant partners to aid the countries concerned in a coherent manner was essential. The Commission could ensure that collective efforts to support those countries were coherent and mutually reinforcing.
Chairs of the Commission’s country configurations also commented on their goals for the new session, with all underscoring the critical role of financing in supporting the essential tasks those countries were undertaking to recover from conflict and establish sustainable institutions for lasting peace. Mr. Hilale said: “Financing is the essence of war, but it is also the essence of peace.” It was essential to supporting the upcoming elections in Burundi, as noted by Mr. Seger, and to cope with the impact of the Ebola epidemic, as noted by Ms. Lucas, who also stressed that the configurations for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone would have to cooperate closely in that effort.
Mr. Rishchynski said that those three configurations had put Ebola on the radar and recommended they conduct a joint field mission, as coordination was needed to preserve peacebuilding gains made following the outbreak. Mr. Skoog, as Chair of the Liberia configuration, said he was impressed at the country’s determination not to let the Ebola crisis roll back peacebuilding gains. Noting that in renewing the mandate for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Security Council had made changes to it relating to the outbreak, he said the Commission could help ensure a smooth transition.
Mr. Patriota, as Chair of the configuration for Guinea-Bissau, commended the strides made by the new authorities there and stressed the need for security, technical and financial support to ensure that changes would be embedded in a reconciliation framework during the country’s new historical phase.
Mohamed Cherif Diallo (Guinea), expressing commitment to work with the configuration for his country, said the Ebola virus claimed not only human lives, it thwarted social cohesion and economic growth, and created problems in the political and health spheres. The Commission had an important role in addressing priorities of the affected countries, such as jobs creation for young people and women, which could help strengthen social cohesion in an electoral year. The Government was working to ensure transparent elections and hoped the international community would aid it in a timely manner. He added that the proposal for a joint visit of the three configurations for the affected countries was worth exploring further.
George Patten (Liberia) said his country had discharged its last Ebola patient last week, and had had no new cases for two weeks. But the epidemic could not be declared over as long as it continued in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea. His Government was preparing for Mr. Skoog’s upcoming visit in April.
Motohide Yoshikawa (Japan), newly designated Chair of the Working Group on Lessons Learned, proposed the theme of institution-building for the coming year, to focus on the extension of State authority and building political institutions in post-conflict countries. He hoped to examine how to extend core state institutions such as judicial and law enforcement institutions beyond the capital and major cities.
Also speaking today were representatives of South Africa, Italy, Malaysia, Colombia, Netherlands, Germany, India, Chile, Republic of Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Egypt, Nigeria and the Russian Federation.