I am pleased to join this annual Peacebuilding Fund Stakeholders meeting. And I can assure you, Madame Chair, that I am not in the stage of fatigue. I’ve probably had the peacebuilding intuition in my blood since 2005, when I was President of the General Assembly and negotiated the creation of the new architecture for peacebuilding. At the time, we envisaged improving the way the UN helps countries emerging from conflict. We wanted to be sure the United Nations would act faster, intervene more effectively and help countries to move more energetically from conflict to peace.
The Peacebuilding Fund has made great strides towards meeting this goal. Just last month, the first-ever global, independent review found that the Fund’s facilities – and I quote – “have proven useful, both for being able to provide rapid assistance when needed and to help address the conflict causes and drivers that require sustained attention” – end quote.
The Review stated that over the last three years, the Fund has built a “much stronger platform” and developed “substantial credibility” with partners.
The Fund has built such credibility by being persistent, creative and focused, in my view. In Sierra Leone last year, as UNIPSIL was preparing its departure, the Fund used its Immediate Response Facility to finance critical tasks, including support to an inclusive constitutional review. This year, the Fund aims to provide one more round of financing. The Fund’s goal in this final phase – and in line with the logic of the Peacebuilding Commission – is to sustain attention through the transition, supporting the growth of Sierra Leone’s institutions.
In other settings over the last two years, we have witnessed tragic relapses into violence. In countries where such setbacks have occurred, the Fund has earned credibility by supporting early action.
For the Central African Republic, which was the theme of the lunch discussion yesterday, the Fund assisted the UN system response and humanitarian action by supporting peacebuilding efforts as soon as political frameworks, however tentative, began to emerge.
Last September, the Fund backed Special Representative Gaye’s advocacy with the Government and efforts to reduce violence by investing two and a half million dollars to support the redeployment of police and gendarmerie in Bangui.
Three months later, as violence worsened, the Fund financed the accelerated deployment of human rights advisers to Central African Republic – in line with the response to the situation shaped by the United Nations’ Rights Up-Front initiative. And I want to express my particular appreciation of this quick action on the side of PBSO, and with the understanding of Member States.
The Fund also took an exceptional measure to boost the credibility of the new Transitional Government. It worked with the World Bank, UNDP, the European Union and the Government to provide four months’ worth of salary payments to the police and gendarmerie.
Now, PBSO is working with our mission, MINUSCA, as well as with the Department of Political Affairs and UNDP, on a common strategy to support Government and community efforts to promote reconciliation and inclusive political dialogue.
This is exactly the kind of catalytic, hands-on action the Fund was set up to generate. It has succeeded in building the UN’s collaboration with international financial institutions, not least the World Bank. It has improved cooperation within the UN system. And it is helping national partners create strong and legitimate national institutions that are a necessary foundation for peace, as we all know.
The Fund is just one instrument inside a larger UN system, benefiting from and serving to reinforce other initiatives.
The Fund’s relationship with the Peacebuilding Commission is particularly important. I have already mentioned Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic, which are both on the Commission’s agenda. And let me here express my appreciation to the new Chair, Ambassador Patriota, for the very dedicated and energetic way in which he is taking on this very important function.
I should also mention Burundi, where over the last year the Chair of the Burundi Configuration has used the Fund’s investments to bolster advocacy on youth, dialogue, land, human rights and other critical and – I would also add – sensitive issues.
The international community is also paying greater attention to the role of women in peacebuilding. But I must admit we are still not doing enough. The Secretary-General has established a target of 15 per cent for investment in women’s empowerment and gender equality in peacebuilding, the PBF now stands at 7.4 per cent.
I commend PBSO for being self-critical on this front, commissioning a review that showed progress in effort, but insufficient progress in results. And we will redouble I know our efforts to achieve sufficient progress.
The Fund can also give support to our Rights Up-Front initiative, which I mentioned earlier.
The Rights Up-Front Action Plan places the promotion of respect for human rights, mandated by the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – I know the Minister feels strongly committed to this – and puts this work at the heart of our UN agenda.
Aimed primarily at preventing Human Rights violations from turning into mass atrocities, Rights Up-Front also contains actions for improved crisis response. The Fund can help by providing resources that support the system-wide strategies that Rights Up-Front is to promote.
The Secretary-General and I commend the PBSO’s efforts to build strategic relationships with other parts of the UN system, including the Department of Political Affairs and UNDP. It is particularly important to take advantage of the collective expertise in conflict prevention, to help implement the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, and to enhance the UN’s system-wide capacity for conflict analysis.
The Secretary-General and I also support the Peacebuilding Support Office’s efforts to use the Fund strategically:
First, to empower UN leadership to develop strategies that take account of complex political realities.
Secondly, to advance progress in security sector reform, rule of law, reconciliation and national dialogue.
Third, to support economic and social peace dividends that help consolidate peace.
Fourth, to prioritize women’s economic and political participation and empowerment.
And fifth, to catalyse other partners to invest in these areas.
The Peacebuilding Fund has received over half a billion dollars since 2006 and has allocated more than 490 million dollars. It is about to enter its second Business Plan cycle – covering 2014 to 2016 – with a continuing annual target of 100 million dollars. The Fund’s core donors remain committed, with an impressive donor base of more than 50 Member States. And for this I want to express my deepest appreciation for your belief in the work and future work of the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Commission.
As we look ahead, we will need more resources to meet the world’s many peacebuilding challenges and our 100 million dollar target. I call on supporters of the Fund to renew their commitments, especially in the light of the positive findings of the global review and, I would add, the magnitude of crises that we see emerging around the world.
I particularly appeal to those Member States with substantial bilateral cooperation programs to recall the value of good international mechanisms.
In closing, it is easy to be discouraged by the continued tragic level of conflict and the horrendous violence in the world today.
But if we look beyond the headlines, we can find indeed encouraging progress.
The coast of West Africa is free of the horrific wars which plagued recent decades and the peoples of the region. The Great Lakes Region of Africa is still dealing with the aftermath of the tragedies of the 1990s. But there is a growing movement towards increased democratization and tangible peace.
There are remarkable transitions underway for long-standing conflicts, from Mindanao in the Philippines to Colombia recently.
Of course, we cannot ignore the emergencies that confront us daily – we must respond. But we can also draw lessons and energy from progress and successes in the area of peacebuilding.
The Peace Building Fund exists to prove that there can be no peace without development, and no development without peace, and that neither can be sustained without respect for human rights and the rule of law. Let us bear out this indispensable connection in today’s troubled world.
I thank you.