Secretary-General, Releasing Independent Report on Civilian Capacities, Urges Member States to Support Its Recommendations

7 March 2011

Secretary-General, Releasing Independent Report on Civilian Capacities, Urges Member States to Support Its Recommendations

7 March 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, Releasing Independent Report on Civilian Capacities,


Urges Member States to Support Its Recommendations


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged United Nations Member States to join him in supporting the report of an independent advisory board on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, which puts forward wide-ranging recommendations aimed at strengthening international civilian support for post-conflict countries.

“I welcome the direction articulated in this report,” the Secretary-General said in his transmittal letters to the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council, expressing his support for the report’s recommendations aimed at strengthening national ownership, broadening and deepening the pool of international civilian capacity and improving the appropriateness, timeliness and effectiveness of United Nations support.  The Secretary-General stressed that these recommendations are congruent with his broader reform efforts to create a more open and responsive United Nations, working in closer partnerships with Member States, and to build a more accountable, efficient and effective Organization.

In March 2010, the Secretary-General appointed Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to chair the Senior Advisory Group that conducted the review.  Today, Mr. Guéhenno welcomed the Secretary-General’s support for the report, saying: “We are proposing a fresh approach […] a better way of working that will mean conflict-affected countries get the civilian support they need, when they need it.  If we can harness both national and global capacities, and deploy them efficiently, then we can deliver better results, faster.  In cases like South Sudan, where the challenges are huge and the need for specialized civilian expertise is great, our recommendations have the potential to make a real difference.”

Marjon V. Kamara, Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations and a member of the Senior Advisory Group, added: “As happened in Liberia, countries emerging from conflict often face a critical shortage of the capacities needed to secure sustainable peace.  We are talking about the skills and expertise needed to re-establish the rule of law, to revitalize the economy and create jobs, to restore basic services to the population and much more.  All too often we cannot get the right people at the right time.  Nor is the international community doing enough to nurture national capacities.  Our recommendations will help fix that problem — and help conflict-affected countries take ownership of their own peacebuilding processes.”

The Group’s report makes recommendations within a vision called “OPEN” — a United Nations that enables national “Ownership”, works in global “Partnership”, delivers with “Expertise” and is “Nimble” in the face of change.  At its heart is the idea of a core of United Nations staff in conflict-affected countries, working with host-community capacities and supported by civilians from Member States and beyond with the specialized skills and experience these countries need.

In follow-up to the report, the Secretary-General has decided to set up a steering group empowered to facilitate informed decision-making and pursue coordinated action.  He has designated Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, to lead it on his behalf.

Some of the report’s key recommendations are:


-   Stronger support for key Government capacities: international support to countries emerging from conflict must focus more on aid coordination, policy and public financial management.  This requires a deeper partnership between the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

-   Primacy of local capacity: international capacity should be used as a last resort.  Wherever feasible, international capacity should be co-located with national actors.

-   Greater involvement of women: the report endorses the proposed 20 per cent quota for women in United Nations police deployments and calls for women’s needs to feature more prominently in international planning processes.


-   Build efficient, effective partnerships: Member States and other external providers of capacity need a single point of contact with the United Nations that can match their capacities with the needs of conflict-affected communities and enable swift and efficient deployment through the use of standardized legal and administrative agreements.  This might be done through a new civilian partnerships cell.

-   Expand models that enable fast, effective deployment of Member States’ civilian capacities: the United Nations should make greater use of existing mechanisms that enable temporary deployment of external experts with the requisite civilian skills (for example, teams of experts established by Member States in response to a field-identified need for a group of specialized civilian capacities).

-   Invest in triangular and South-South cooperation mechanisms: to access pools of capacity in the global South that have relevant skills and experience, the United Nations should strengthen its outreach to these actors, building on successful models from peacekeeping.


-   Clearer definition of roles: “who does what” — built around the successful humanitarian model known as “clusters”, which identifies deployable capacities within each area of civilian support and strengthens partnerships within the United Nations and beyond in order to fill any gaps.

-   Stronger accountability for results: the United Nations needs to change its audit culture to focus on improving implementation of mandates, not only on administrative non-compliance.  Senior management compacts should include accountability for results and for performance against concrete gender targets.


-   Flexibility: United Nations leaders in the field must be able to allocate resources in the most effective and efficient manner.  Within existing resource envelopes, Heads of Mission should be able to reallocate to mandated tasks up to 20 per cent of the civilian personnel budget.  This small degree of flexibility — an average of less than 5 per cent of a total peacekeeping operation budget — will allow missions to respond to crises and changing circumstances.

-   Channelling mission funds based on the principle of comparative advantage: mandated tasks should be funded by the mission budget and implemented by the actor with the greatest comparative advantage — national or local actors where possible, United Nations agencies, funds or programmes, or external actors.

-   Faster funding for early peace dividends: agencies, funds and programmes should consider adopting a model used by the World Food Programme (WFP), which enables advance financing against expected contributions to kick-start programmes in the immediate aftermath of conflict.


The Secretary-General recommended in his 2009 report, Peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict (document A/63/881-S/2009/304), that a review be undertaken to analyse how the United Nations and the international community can help broaden and deepen the pool of civilian experts to support the immediate capacity-development needs of countries emerging from conflict.

The Secretary-General appointed, in March 2010, a Senior Advisory Group chaired by Jean-Marie Guéhenno to carry out the review.  The Group’s report (document A/65/747–S/2011/85) was issued on 4 March 2011.  The full report, its annexes and further background can be found at

The Senior Advisory Group’s members are:

Jean-Marie Guéhenno ( France), Chair, former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations

Rubem César Fernandes ( Brazil), Executive Director of Viva Rio

Ameerah Haq ( Bangladesh), Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste

Bruce Jones ( United States), Director, Center on International Cooperation, New York University

Marjon V. Kamara ( Liberia), Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations

Carlos Lopes ( Guinea-Bissau), Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research

Catherine Pollard ( Guyana), Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management

Michael von der Schulenburg ( Germany), Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone

Mitra Vasisht ( India), Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (retired)

For more information, contact Reidun Otteroy, United Nations civilian capacities review team,, +1 212 963 1620, or + 1 917 515 3292; or visit

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