New York

23 June 2008

Secretary-General's remarks at the closing meeting of the Second Session of the Peacebuilding Commission

Mr. Chairperson

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

Once again, I am honoured to join you as you mark another milestone in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). Today represents an important opportunity for us to acknowledge the progress achieved during the second year of the Commission's operation and to consider the prospects and challenges in the year ahead. I am thankful to the Chairperson, the Permanent Representative of Japan, Ambassador [Yukio] Takasu, and to all of you, for this opportunity to address you today.

When I spoke a year ago at the closing of the first session, I expressed my confidence that you would continue to support the countries under your consideration so that peace can become truly irreversible. In this regard, it is gratifying to note the progress in both Burundi and Sierra Leone as captured in the review of your work you have now adopted; it is also important to recognize the dialogue which is now developing with Guinea Bissau, a country suffering from serious difficulties which will need all our attention; and I am pleased to learn that arrangements have been completed for the Commission to address the situation in Central African Republic, a country surrounded by conflict. Your work represents an important step towards the much-needed coherence we are seeking to ensure across the UN system, bridging critical gaps in the global response to post-conflict situations and promoting a truly integrated approach aimed to advance equally on economic, political and security fronts.

A significant value added of the Peacebuilding Commission is in its place in the UN which enables it to bring together the UN's three main pillars - peace and security, development and human rights - in an integrated approach to peacebuilding. We have made significant advances in peacemaking, in peacekeeping and in addressing the development needs of fragile states. However, the persistent risk of conflict has proven that it is not one single actor which holds the key, but how we bring all the actors together at the crucial time that counts. This is the rationale behind the creation of the Commission, and we must all reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the success of this critical international experiment. I am convinced that one of the reasons why we are not on track to meet the MDGs in Africa, is the insufficient emphasis on the urgent need for post-conflict peace consolidation.

To achieve success in peacebuilding, we will need to address a wide range of situations. I understand you are looking at ways to streamline your methodologies with a view to accommodating a larger number of countries on the Commission's agenda. I fully support this approach, and the Secretariat actors will work to help you achieve it. It is also necessary to address the needs of post-conflict countries at varying stages, whether they are for early recovery or longer-term peace consolidation. As many of you have witnessed, every situation is unique, and we will need to develop tools across a broad spectrum.

To support this, I recognize the need for a UN system-wide culture of coordination and coherence that can respond to the specific nature of peacebuilding, ensuring that all the operational actors, whether political, security, development or human rights, can come together in support of the integrated approaches you are developing. It is in this way that the UN can provide effective leadership for global efforts in response to post-conflict situations. In this regard, the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) is well situated, as a neutral party under the direct supervision of my office, to serve as a hinge between the Commission and the operational players carrying out peacebuilding activities. I trust that the convening role conferred on the PBSO will continue to contribute to your efforts to bring tangible and timely results to the countries under your consideration. In addition, I am committed to achieving greater integration of the UN presence in countries emerging from conflict, and in particular, those countries on the agenda of the PBC. In this way we can ensure that we develop a fully integrated approach to peace consolidation.

Our collective challenge is to address the immediate priorities for peace consolidation, in such a way that it also promotes a holistic approach to the requirements for sustainable peace. We must invest generously in critical national capacities to ensure that peace is sustainable. Viable states require local institutions capable of delivering basic services and providing security, justice and political stability. The UN can play a leading role with the support of member states, in ensuring that appropriate local, regional and international civilian capacities are deployed in a timely manner. I look to the PBC to generate good practices which we can apply, not only in the countries on its agenda but across the board.

As you have identified in your comprehensive mandate, there is an urgent need to generate predictable and sustainable funding for recovery and peacebuilding. The Peacebuilding Fund has provided useful catalytic support in this regard, but more substantial funding will be required. I am pleased to have been able to allocate PBF financing not only in countries on the agenda of the PBC, but also to other countries in critical situations. As you know, I plan to call for a review of the Fund's Terms of Reference, once I have received the independent evaluation report currently being prepared by OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services). We must ensure that the Fund is enabled to achieve maximum impact and value-added in countries where peacebuilding support is most needed. Your advice, together with advice from my Advisory Group, will form an important part of this review process, and I look forward to hearing your suggestions on how to strengthen the Fund.

It is my intention to initiate a process to identify conceptual and operational gaps in the international community's immediate response to post-conflict situations, with a view to providing concrete recommendations to all relevant UN organs. In leading this process, I shall draw on the PBC for advice. I recognize that the PBC has already reflected on some of these critical gaps.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity, since this is going to be the last session for my Assistant Secretary-General for PBSO, Ms. [Carolyn] McAskie, to express my profound appreciation to Ms. McAskie for the dedication and sustained application to the work of the PBSO. Her commitment has been commendable. As she leaves us, she carries our gratitude and best wishes.

In conclusion, allow me to congratulate all of you for the important work you are doing. I wish to reassure you of my personal commitment, and that of the entire United Nations system, to the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.