20 February 2020

Untimely Mission Drawdowns, Transitions Place Years of Investment at Risk, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Peacebuilding Commission Review Event

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission on the 2020 review of the peacebuilding architecture:  “Effective support in UN transition contexts”, in New York today:

I thank the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission for convening this meeting.

The review of the peacebuilding architecture is a critical opportunity as the reforms of the United Nations unfold.  Accelerating transitions out of crises is a key part of the picture.  And effective United Nations support for transitions is crucial.  First, because effective transitions are critical to ensure that peace and development are sustained over time.  Second, because poorly managed transitions may lead to a relapse into conflict or chronic instability, squandering investments in peace.  Third, because more effective transitions can help to uphold the core promise of the 2030 Agenda and humanity’s promise to leave no one behind.

Transitions are successful only when anchored in nationally led and owned processes.  Yet for too long, our efforts on transition have been overly focused on UN-centred processes and on the administrative aspects of moving from one form of presence to the other.  This must change.  Transitions are an opportunity to put people at the centre and accompany national efforts to strengthen the social fabric and create socioeconomic opportunities.  Only this will truly address the root causes of crisis and vulnerabilities in order to put a country on a firm path of prosperity and stability.  With that in mind, a number of efforts are under way.

First, the United Nations reforms are now well advanced and provide new tools and mechanisms with which to better integrate and pool UN resources to respond in a tailored manner to transitional needs.  A consolidated peace and political pillar, as well as the establishment of an independent, empowered resident coordinator system, lie at the heart of this transformation.  Second, UN efforts have been furthered through a joint project of DPO (Department of Peace Operations), DPPA (Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs) and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) since 2018, which DCO has recently joined, in line with the UN development system reform.  Third, one year ago the Secretary-General issued a planning directive to the system for the development of consistent and coherent system-wide UN transition processes.  This is already helping to improve joint planning among various UN actors from the outset.  But we must do much more, together, to change the game.

The Peacebuilding Commission offers a valuable platform to support transitions.  In Liberia, for example, the Commission helped to identify gaps in financing and related expertise following the departure of UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia).  However, in Liberia and elsewhere, it is clear that transitions require long-term engagement and a strong focus on institutions.  In Haiti, despite recognized improvements in stability following years of MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) and MINUJUSTH (United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti), the country is yet again mired in a political impasse and the root causes remain relatively unaltered.  And a significant part of transition planning happened amidst a political crisis, which made it difficult to truly anchor our efforts in a sound foundation of national ownership.  We have another opportunity to get this right, with a strong integrated strategic framework now being finalized to ensure a more ambitious and coherent support to Haiti and its people.

One thing is clear:  Success will require new approaches.  As missions draw down, we must avoid a phenomenon known as the “financial cliff”.  We have seen it time and time again.  Financing decreases precisely at a moment when national authorities and communities assume increased responsibilities for security and peacebuilding.  Without continued support from the international community, years of investment in peace and sustainable development and economic recovery can be lost.  The Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund can help avert such financing shortfalls and catalyse additional resources if well-sequenced with other instruments and if planning starts early.

The strengthened partnership between the United Nations and international financial institutions can also be helpful.  But ultimately, there must be a commitment by international partners to ensure that countries have a fair chance to transition into long-term development, with inclusive and sustainable economies, rule of law and political stability.  The Security Council is currently accompanying the transitions of missions in Darfur and Guinea-Bissau and has requested the United Nations to articulate a joint transition strategy with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Through comprehensive support to these transitions we can promote empowerment while addressing the climate crisis and its linkages to peace, security and development.  We need to get this right.  The 2020 review of the peacebuilding architecture is an opportunity to be ambitious, but also pragmatic.  I encourage you to identify practical ways in which we can transform and strengthen our work.

Let us seize this opportunity to offer effective support and a strong financial foundation to countries as they aspire to peace, development, human dignity and a better future for all their people.  With your support, the Secretary-General has taken important steps in this direction.  We count on Member States to take this effort to the next level.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.