Secretary-General Tells Peacebuilding Commission, Once Guns Are Stilled, People Expect Peace Dividend, but Too Often Dividend Is Dashed, Opportunity Is Missed

13 July 2009

Secretary-General Tells Peacebuilding Commission, Once Guns Are Stilled, People Expect Peace Dividend, but Too Often Dividend Is Dashed, Opportunity Is Missed

13 July 2009
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Peacebuilding Commission

Organizational Committee

5th Meeting (PM)



United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon this afternoon spelled out five key ways to help post-conflict countries achieve sustainable peace more rapidly and effectively, as he addressed the Peacebuilding Commission’s third session.

Drawing on highlights from his report on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict (document A/63/881-S/2009/304), which he would present later this month to the Security Council, the Secretary-General pointed to the crucial two-year window after conflicts ended when insecurity and threats to peace were often great.  After the guns stilled, people and institutions were filled with hope and were open to new ways of resolving problems, expecting a peace dividend in return.  But too often that dividend was dashed, and the window of opportunity was missed.

“If peace is to be sustainable, the international community must make the most of such make-or-break moments and provide the right support at the right time,” Mr. Ban said.

Support for national ownership, as well as leadership, coherence, urgent alignment behind a common strategic vision with realistic priorities, and predictable and credible delivery were crucial to meeting the urgent needs and addressing the enormous challenges of countries emerging from conflict, he said.  Peacebuilding must be anchored at the country level, with the United Nations and the international community in a support role to build national capacity in the conflict’s immediate aftermath.  The Organization must assume a leadership position and it should set up a senior-level mechanism to ensure that the right leaders and support teams were installed on the ground in post-conflict areas as early as possible. 

The Secretary-General also warned against fragmentation, saying peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and recovery must be properly coordinated, and national and international actors must unite behind a common strategic vision, particularly in the light of scarce resources.

“I will be asking Member States to help us build our capacity to respond rapidly to the most urgent needs:  to protect civilians and strengthen the rule of law; support political processes; help restore basic services and Government functions; and revitalize the economy,” Mr. Ban said.

Pre-positioned pooled funding proportionate to the tasks at hand, like the Peacebuilding Fund, was essential to jump-start action, followed by faster, funding from other sources, he said.  Donor funding must be more flexible and risk-tolerant and issued more rapidly.  Strategic partnerships with the World Bank, regional organizations, civil society and the private sector were also necessary, as were the Commission’s efforts to mobilize resources, promote national ownership of peacebuilding by bridging peace and development concerns, and increase the focus on countries emerging from conflict.

The Secretary-General said his report built on the lessons of the last few years, including those in countries being considered by the Commission, and it emphasized the need to build on successful reforms already under way -– such as humanitarian reform, “delivering as one”, and integrated peace operations -– rather than creating new mechanisms.  The report was a work in progress and was one of several related peacebuilding initiatives, such as the recent mediation report, the revision of the terms of reference of the Peacebuilding Fund and ongoing discussions on peacekeeping.

Several delegates lauded the report and its focus on a rapid, coordinated approach to post-conflict management.  Benin’s representative said the document was of great interest to Africa, home to 25 per cent of the post-conflict cases under consideration.  It rightly recognized that there was no “one-size-fits-all” solution.  Greater attention must be given to the role of the diaspora in reversing the brain drain that ensued when people fled their countries during conflicts.

Mexico’s representative agreed, stressing the need to initially consider strengthening and promoting national abilities and noting that skilled human resources did not necessarily belong to the group in power after the conflict ended.  The focus must be on meeting the basic needs of the population –- which helped to maintain the peace and prevent a resurgence of conflict.  The knowledge of local experts, and women, could go a long way in helping to achieve those objectives.

Japan’s representative stressed the importance of having a clear understanding of the types of peacebuilding efforts and sequence of peacebuilding stages.  There must be a priority action plan and strategy, with the main actor identified for establishing that plan.  As the United Nations was often in the driver’s seat in the immediate aftermath of a conflict, coordination between field and Headquarters staff must be strengthened and a functional senior-level mechanism must be defined and developed at Headquarters to lead the Organization in the post-conflict country.  He also called for deploying a diverse range of experienced administrators and civilian experts to build implementation capacity, as well as expanding the Peacebuilding Fund, rather than creating a new financing mechanism.

Sweden’s representative said it was not acceptable that 30 per cent of countries fell back into conflict within five years of a peace agreement.  The recommendations of the Secretary-General’s reports must be urgently implemented.  Peacebuilding efforts must start immediately after a peace agreement was signed, and national capacity built and strengthened from the outset.  Alongside the deployment of peacekeepers to help national authorities provide security, efforts were needed to stimulate economic recovery, revamp basic services, and restore the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.  He supported the report’s emphasis on joint needs assessments, planning and support, as well as putting that into practice.  The Commission’s achievements thus far must also be built on, he said, adding that the 2010 review offered an opportunity to learn from its first years of operation and make appropriate improvements.

Turning to Burundi, Peter Maurer ( Switzerland), who on 29 June was elected Chair of the country-specific configuration on Burundi, said the people of that country deserved a chance at a better future, with safety and dignity.  In face of the global financial crisis, it was all the more important that the United Nations support Burundi and other countries emerging from conflict. 

Burundi’s representative thanked outgoing Chair of the country-specific configuration on Burundi, Anders Liden (Sweden), saying Mr. Liden had expedited the reconciliation process during his one-year mandate, through visits on the spot and other efforts.  Mr. Liden had shown that dialogue among different political groups could in fact lead to understanding.  Burundi had made progress in disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating former armed combatants, and in laying the groundwork for free and fair elections in 2010, in the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue.

Mr. Liden lauded the efforts of Burundi’s neighbours in the southern part of Africa.  He noted the breakthroughs achieved, with the implementation of a ceasefire agreement and the last guerrilla group laying down its weapons.  He hoped that the Commission would be able to help ensure that next year’s elections in Burundi were successful.  There was also a need to prioritize the reintegration of former combatants and refugee returns to Burundi.  Sweden’s Government would remain engaged in Burundi and in other peacebuilding contexts.

Committee Chairman Heraldo Muñoz (Chile) also spoke during the session.

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