Deputy Secretary-General Appeals to Security Council to Help Shape Peacebuilding Commission as ‘Relevant, Catalytic and Effective’

19 March 2014

Deputy Secretary-General Appeals to Security Council to Help Shape Peacebuilding Commission as ‘Relevant, Catalytic and Effective’

19 March 2014
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Appeals to Security Council to Help Shape

Peacebuilding Commission as ‘Relevant, Catalytic and Effective’

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General’s Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as delivered, to the Security Council on post-conflict peacebuilding, today in New York:

Thank you for organizing this timely debate.  I know, Madam President, how committed and experienced, you and several of your colleagues in the Council, are to the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.

Peacebuilding encompasses a variety of political and developmental actions by United Nations peacekeeping operations, special political missions, country teams and other actors.  It lies at the very heart of UN aspirations in countries emerging from conflict.

Just two weeks ago, the Secretary-General visited Sierra Leone to mark the closure of the UN peacebuilding operation, UNIPSIL.  The transition to the country team there is under way, in close collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone and with the continued political engagement of the Peacebuilding Commission.

The example of Sierra Leone — and of Timor Leste before it — provide evidence of how post-conflict peacebuilding can indeed prevent a relapse into violence and underpin a country’s development after conflict.

On the other hand, the recent upsurges of violence in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan demonstrate the unpredictable environment for peacebuilding and the great risks involved.  That is why we must always be prepared to adapt and seek new approaches based on experience and on evidence.

In 2012, the Secretary-General identified inclusivity, institution-building and the need for sustained international support and mutual accountability as three priority areas for peacebuilding.

Let me say a few words about each.  First, inclusivity.  National ownership, national leadership and national political commitment are indispensable elements for durable peace.  But peace agreements that involve only a limited number of protagonists or key actors often fail to meet people’s needs and expectations — and therefore turn out to be fragile. 

While peace settlements, admittedly, need to include so-called “people with the guns”, peacebuilding primarily requires political processes with broad participation and public accountability.  

In Guinea last year, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, facilitated a political dialogue, with support from the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund.  It promoted trust among political parties and strengthened women’s role, including as electoral monitors.  These were critical elements for the largely peaceful elections in September 2013. 

In Yemen over the past two years, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser worked to bring the voices of women and youth into the country’s National Dialogue.

Both examples highlight the importance of gender-responsive peacebuilding and the inclusion of women in peace processes. 

Let me underscore the Secretary-General’s engagement in this area, through the commitment to allocate 15 per cent of UN-managed peacebuilding funds to projects promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.  I am aware that this goal has not yet been reached, but it remains a priority concern in peacebuilding.

My second point concerns institution-building for fostering peace, development and social cohesion.  Inclusive institution-building in the areas of justice, education and healthcare can help States gain broad popular support and confidence and ensure that disputes and political competition are handled without resort to violence. 

Effective and impartial security and judicial institutions are particularly important for building respect for human rights and the rule of law. 

We see the centrality of institution-building in Liberia, where UN support for the creation of five regional security and justice hubs has helped to restore faith in the country’s security services. 

The expansion of judicial services and legal reforms are central parts of Liberia’s statement of mutual commitments with the Peacebuilding Commission.  And support to the Land Commissions and so-called “peace huts” has promoted the peaceful resolution of disputes. 

These examples of successful peacebuilding depend on sustained and predictable financial and political international support.  And this is my third point.  Where a United Nations mission is transitioning to a UN country team, such as in Burundi or Sierra Leone, we need to ensure continued funding for critical activities.

We also need to provide necessary political support and to act decisively at critical moments.  As the Council noted during its recent mission to Mali, cantonment is a key confidence-building measure in the peace process.  Early and reliable funding by the Peacebuilding Fund is essential for the UN’s ability to support cantonment.

In Somalia, a New Deal Compact has aligned donors with the priorities articulated by the Government and Somali counterparts.  This has strengthened mutual accountability.  And in Liberia, again, a publicly accessible so-called “Dash‑board” showing the details of donor funding has promoted transparency. 

I would also like to add that the African Union engagement in CAR [ Central African Republic], Somalia, and elsewhere in Africa underlines the importance of working in close partnership with regional organizations in the spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. 

Building a regional environment conducive to peace should be a critical priority for countries emerging from conflict.  This will help them to strengthen fragile transitions and reduce, inter alia, illicit arms or financial flows. 

The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in Burundi, the CAR and Guinea-Bissau have worked actively with the Peacebuilding Commission to ensure the cooperation of neighbouring countries and regional organizations.

Last year, the Secretary-General and the World Bank President visited the Great Lakes region of Africa in May and, together with the Chairperson of the AU [African Union], the President of the African Development Bank and the Commissioner for Development of the European Union, they visited the Sahel in November.  This demonstrated joint commitment to support transformative work and engagement for peace and development. 

Similar partnerships have been developed in the Great Lakes region, where the United Nations and the European Union are working with Governments and civil society to improve natural resource management.

Member States created a new peacebuilding architecture at the Summit in 2005 in response to the frequent relapse into violence of countries emerging from armed conflict. 

Given its diverse composition, the Peacebuilding Commission is well placed to help ensure coherence of efforts and sustained attention in support of peace. 

And the Peacebuilding Fund, I claim, is now widely recognized for its usefulness and flexibility. 

But questions remain as to where and how the Commission can be most helpful and relevant.  The Commission and its country configurations are working hard to play a useful advisory role to the Security Council and to bring to bear the collective weight of Member States in support of peacebuilding priorities. 

But we should recall that the Peacebuilding Commission is, of course, a subsidiary organ of this body and can only be of optimal use if the Council empowers it and utilizes its potential.  When the Peacebuilding Commission was established, we believed that the Council could benefit from an advisory body that could take a longer post-conflict perspective. 

I would like to appeal to the Council to take advantage of the review of the peacebuilding architecture in 2015 to shape the kind of Peacebuilding Commission that will be relevant, catalytic and effective, not least from the perspective of the Security Council and, of course, the interests of those States that are affected.

The realities in the world certainly remind us that there is a need for such a function and such a UN role.  The challenges are many, the challenges are serious and the challenges are urgent in countries like Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali, and Somalia.  I am confident that the Governments and people of these countries could gain considerably from an efficient and broadly anchored UN peacebuilding architecture.  Thank you.

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