New York

20 May 2008

Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council debate on post-conflict stabilization : Peace after war

Thank you, Mr. President.


It is an honour to join you this morning. I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom for bringing us together to discuss the critical question of how the international community can respond effectively in the immediate aftermath of conflict.

Over the past two decades, the United Nations has deepened its understanding of what it takes to prevent a relapse into conflict. We have learned how to better create space for national authorities to establish processes for sustainable peace, security and development. Lessons from many countries -- the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Timor Leste, Haiti, Burundi and Liberia -- all demonstrate that while each context is different, there are three common and immediate priorities.

? First, establishing viable political processes to buttress peace agreements and to put in place legitimate national authorities;

? Second, restoring security and the rule of law, including early development of professional and accountable security services and justice systems,

? Third, delivering immediate and tangible benefits to the affected population, and creating enabling conditions for longer-term development.

How, then, can we strengthen our collective response in the immediate aftermath of conflict and deliver on these critical priorities?

First, we must be coherent. While the primary responsibility for rebuilding after conflict undoubtedly belongs to national authorities, the UN has a major obligation. My Special Representatives are responsible for coordinating the response of all UN actors in the field. We have put in place structures, planning and monitoring processes to support this effort in the immediate term and throughout the transition to longer-term peacebuilding.

But the UN is only one of several actors in the field. Regional organizations, Member States and international financial institutions contribute critical elements of a collective international response. Where we work together, as in Liberia or in Sierra Leone, we deliver a vastly more effective response. Coordination and clarity of leadership is critical to ensuring that each partner brings its distinctive strength to the broad collective effort.

Second, we need sufficient capacity. If the UN is to lead on the ground, my Special Representatives need to be empowered to do so. They need the means to identify strategic priorities, elaborate plans and mobilize funds with others, in particular, development partners. By aligning -- if not integrating -- our respective instruments, such as reports to the Security Council, donor pledging conferences, and relief frameworks, we can ensure that priorities are pursued consistently. We should also consider joint assessments and strengthened reporting to the Security Council on critical recovery needs -- drawing on expertise from the whole UN family, as well as international financial institutions.

Third, we need to build up civilian expertise. The small but agile UN standing police capacity is an important step in the right direction, as is the recent launch of a Standby Team of Mediation Experts. The creation of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions in DPKO reflects my commitment to a team approach to upholding the rule of law, security sector reform and respect for human rights. But we remain desperately short of judges, prison wardens, state administrators and managers -- particularly those with knowledge and experience of the countries and systems in which we operate. Not only should these be well-equipped when they are deployed; they need start-up funding at their disposal. Many Member States and regional partners, including the European Union, are exploring ways of building deployable capacities in this critical area. We need to broaden and pool our efforts to deliver a global resource for peace.

This need for civilian expertise also extends to recovery and development. We need to do much better in delivering early peace dividends. That means scaling up relief and development capacities to enable national authorities to pay their civil servants, restore agricultural life, and initiate employment programmes. It may be time to draw on the experience of the humanitarian community in launching urgent recovery in a rapid and predictable way, including through greater use of local resources and capacities.

Ultimately, all this requires early and flexible funding. Early investment does entail risk. But the cost of failure and the potential of rewards are much higher. Bold and innovative steps are required to meet critical priority needs. To facilitate rapid delivery in the earliest phase, let us explore approaches such as a common start-up fund.

Mr. President,

The immediate aftermath of conflict is the crossroads at which peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding meet. We need to ensure that the road taken is the one that leads us most rapidly and effectively to our goal of a nationally owned, sustainable peace, with strengthened national capacities. Many of these issues have been identified by the Peacebuilding Commission, which has a key role to play in supporting national actors to achieve their long-term objectives for sustainable peace and development.

Today's debate is, I hope, the start of a collective effort to reach that objective.

Thank you very much.