Repairing War-Torn Societies ‘Fraught with Challenges’, Security Council Hears in Briefing on Peacebuilding Commission’s Report
7217th Meeting (AM)
Repairing War-Torn Societies ‘Fraught with Challenges’, Security Council
Hears in Briefing on Peacebuilding Commission’s Report
The Security Council, considering the report of the Peacebuilding Commission’s seventh session, heard that building peace in post-conflict countries was a complex and challenging process, requiring national ownership and leadership, and strengthened responses to early warning signs of relapse.
Vladimir Drobnjak ( Croatia), former Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, presented the report (document S/2014/67), noting that the myriad challenges of the process were often “context-specific”. Advocacy and sustained attention, as well as resource mobilization and coherence were focal points in the Commission’s work, but success depended on the level of commitment of national authorities and the quality of the international response.
In efforts to strengthen the Commission, he spotlighted the convening of its first ever annual session in June, which addressed the development of intergovernmental policy in countries emerging from conflict. The participation of Member States, United Nations entities and international financial institutions, as well as regional development banks and civil society underlined the Commission’s role as a unique platform to explore the multidimensional nature of peacebuilding and the policy-related opportunities and challenges.
Current Commission Chair, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota ( Brazil), said the recent crises in the Central African Republic and South Sudan were painful reminders that efforts to prevent relapse into conflict remained insufficient. With timely and strategic interventions by the Peacebuilding Fund, work had continued with a focus on stabilization, not only in the Central African Republic, but also in Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and elsewhere. He agreed that national ownership was a key political principle, as was regional engagement. Other crucial components included programmatic interventions centred on institution-building and improved interaction with the Security Council.
In the ensuing debate, Council members underscored the need for sustainable solutions that addressed the root causes of conflict, agreeing that the role of regional partners was vital. A comprehensive approach would help prevent a recurrence of violence, some said, concurring that a stronger interaction between the Council and Commission would facilitate coherence and complementarity.
Delegates broadly agreed on the need to use the wide spectrum of tools available to understand post-conflict situations. They also stressed the importance of national ownership to guide peacebuilding, with many insisting that peacebuilding actions must reflect true national consensus. Institutional capacity-building and women’s involvement were also highlighted.
Rwanda’s representative, Council President for July, speaking in his national capacity, said that developing countries in Africa and elsewhere needed to take control of their own destiny by “graduating” from international aid. “We need to earn it and work for it,” he stated, as his counterpart from Lithuania pointed out that “peacebuilding cannot be outsourced”.
There was a strong focus on addressing the root causes of conflict. Nigeria’s representative, for example, stressed that sustainable and enduring solutions would result only when the roots of a conflict were addressed, and not just its symptoms. Jordan’s representative agreed, saying that the end of conflict would not bring peace as long as the underlying causes went unaddressed.
The point was made by France’s representative that there must be clearly defined mission mandates as peacekeeping often laid the foundation for peacebuilding. The Russian Federation’s delegate expressed concern that international cooperation was still fragmented, and with that, he called for a clear division of labour that adhered to mandates and respected State sovereignty.
Also speaking today were representatives of Australia, Chad, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Argentina, Luxembourg, Chile, United States and China.
The meeting started at 10:03 p.m. and ended at 12:14 p.m.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia), former Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, presenting the report of its seventh session, said the text focused on three main functions, namely advocacy and sustaining attention; resource mobilization; and forging coherence. Particular emphasis had been placed on ways to capitalize on its members’ experience and capacities in support of the objectives of the countries on its agenda, as well as regional and subregional members in Burundi, the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau. He reported significant progress in identifying practical modalities for informal interaction between the Commission and the Security Council, including field visits and periodic consideration of mission mandates.
He said it was clear that peacebuilding was “a process fraught with challenges that are typically context-specific”. Its accompanying function depended on the level of commitment of national interlocutors and the quality of the international response. Resource mobilization would remain a priority, but the Commission was not a viable fundraising mechanism. Rather, as an intergovernmental body, it highlighted the imperative of the timely deployment of targeted resources, especially in crises, such as in the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau, or at critical milestones, such as the elections in Guinea last year and in Guinea-Bissau this year. The Commission was also encouraging greater focus on strategic opportunities and gaps in peacebuilding responses. The complementary relationship between the Commission and the United Nations’ senior leadership was a key factor for fostering coherence of messages and actions.
The drawdown and subsequent closing of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) and the transition to a United Nations country team had helped usher in a next phase of socioeconomic development. Women’s contribution to peacebuilding was crucial and the Commission was approaching economic revitalization and national reconciliation by examining the gender dimension in both. A high-level event on women’s economic empowerment for peacebuilding had been convened in September 2013, resulting in a political declaration that affirmed the Commission’s commitment to women’s economic empowerment in peacebuilding.
In June of this year, the Commission had convened its first ever annual session as a way to strengthen its contribution to the development of intergovernmental policy in countries emerging from conflict. Member States, United Nations entities and international financial institutions, regional development banks and civil society all participated, demonstrating that the Commission was a unique platform to explore the multidimensional nature of peacebuilding and the policy-related opportunities and challenges.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil), Peacebuilding Commission Chair, said the recent crises in the Central African Republic and South Sudan were painful reminders that efforts to prevent relapse into conflict remained insufficient and the tools not fully adequate. The Commission, reinforced by the timely and strategic interventions of the Peacebuilding Fund, had therefore continued to work intensively towards stabilization, not only in the Central African Republic, but also in Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and other varied country situations. Those context-specific engagements had highlighted areas in which broader intergovernmental policy development was necessary, including in constructing frameworks to mobilize domestic resources and stem illicit flows.
He said that national ownership of all efforts and regional engagement were key political principles of peacebuilding. Experience had also shown the importance of programmatic interventions, with an emphasis on building institutions that strengthened the capacity of societies to manage tensions, deliver services, protect human rights and facilitate access to justice. Many partnerships were critical in those efforts, particularly improved interaction with the Security Council, he added.
U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said that “sustainable and enduring solutions must be found that address the roots of conflicts and not just their symptoms”. She welcomed stakeholders’ efforts to increase ownership of peacebuilding. She noted the convening of the annual session in New York, which was significant in terms of the Commission’s working methods, which should be honed through further review. The Commission’s advisory role to the Security Council should be enhanced, coordination with all key stakeholders must be improved, and financial support must be made more predictable. All must be guided by the principles of national ownership and results-oriented actions, such as those to which her country had contributed. Nigeria would remain fully engaged in further improving the United Nations peacebuilding architecture.
PHILIPPA JANE KING ( Australia), reviewing advances and setbacks in peacebuilding in Africa, said she shared the Secretary-General’s view that building a country’s capacity to mobilize domestic resources was critical. At the same time, she welcomed the increased use of the Peacebuilding Fund for strategic purposes. More funding must be directed to projects aiming for gender equality, she said, adding that in all areas, the engagement of regional actors remained critical. Regarding the upcoming review, she emphasized the need to coordinate all development actors with the peacebuilding architecture, as well as the need for stronger interaction with the Security Council, citing mutual work on Burundi as a foundational example. In closing, she emphasized the importance of peacebuilding efforts to the ideals of the United Nations.
BANTE MANGARAL ( Chad) reiterated the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission and welcomed the backing received by the peacebuilding support offices in Africa. He particularly welcomed support of stabilization efforts in Sierra Leone, Burundi and Liberia. He was concerned by the difficulties in Guinea-Bissau, while noting efforts to overcome them. He encouraged mobilization of funding from the private sector and welcomed coherence provided by the Commission in various endeavours. Stressing the importance of women’s empowerment in the peacebuilding context, he advocated reconciliation efforts that took due account of the abilities of women. Expressing concern over the challenges in such countries as the Central African Republic, he looked forward to the upcoming reviews, towards a strengthening of the Organization’s peacebuilding efforts.
DAINIUS BAUBLYS ( Lithuania) acknowledged the encouraging results, as seen in the preparatory process for the 2015 elections in Burundi, the National Palava Hut Programme in Liberia, which was crucial for national reconciliation, and the impressive progress such as UNIPSIL’s drawdown. However, institution-building remained key to preventing relapse into conflict, as did national ownership as “peacebuilding cannot be outsourced”. Local communities should be included in the process, which would prevent peacebuilding from being a “purely foreign intervention”. In addition, women should play an active role, not only in conflict resolution, but also in building peace. Although they bore the brunt of conflict, they remained marginalized in efforts to rebuild war-torn communities and States. A “path to empowerment with a full-scale participation” should be envisaged in post-war social, economic, political, and security structures.
HAHN CHOONGHEE ( Republic of Korea), underscoring that catering to each post-conflict situation was a complicated task, said that “the same input doesn’t guarantee the same output”. Critical to peacebuilding was the clarity of a national vision and the commitment of the country leaders to their people. An enhanced partnership between the Commission and the Council could not only foster unity in post-conflict societies, but could also detect a country’s possible relapse into the conflict. Joint efforts must be solidified for stocktaking and review. The Commission could play a “value-adding role”, offering a wide spectrum of tools to understanding post-conflict situations, in particular the root causes of conflict, including a “winner-take-all” culture. Furthermore, through its advocacy role, it could keep the world’s attention on its efforts. The synergy between the Commission and the Council was a long-term task. He voiced hope that the 2015 review of the peacebuilding architecture would be a significant step forward.
EIHAB OMAISH ( Jordan) said that the end of conflict did not mean peace as long as the root causes went unaddressed and unresolved. Echoing the Secretary-General, he said that actions must be taken after conflict to consolidate peace and prevent a relapse into violence. It was important, therefore, to achieve integration and coherence with peacebuilding and peacemaking to realize a permanent peace and security. Enabling a State to regain and restore its tasks and shoulder governance must include assistance to vulnerable populations, particularly women and children. Peacebuilding required more than diplomacy and military action, and women’s engagement was vital in that process. He commending the Commission’s efforts to enhance its operational components, including the holding of informal discussions, which generated a shared understanding within the membership on which situation needed immediate action.
MARTIN SHEARMAN ( United Kingdom) said it was a timely opportunity to reflect on the United Nations’ role in helping countries emerging from conflict, such as Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. The situations in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, however, demonstrated the need to hone that approach in order to prevent relapse. There had been information and early warnings, but “we collectively failed by not taking action”, he said, adding that the challenge was to find the appropriate response when informed of those early warnings. That, he added, was the most effective approach and made the most economic and cost-effective sense. Among tools to engage at that juncture and prevent a relapse were sanctions and the assistance of United Nations entities, among other factors. In Burundi, the situation was being monitored to ensure that tensions did not undermine progress. Preventing relapse would be a critical theme in developing the Commission’s architecture, and future reviews needed to avoid a narrow view. There could be “no sacred cows”, he said; rather, future efforts should be far-reaching and ambitious in support of countries “on the road to peace”.
MARIO OYARZÁBAL ( Argentina) said that national responsibility, coordination among United Nations’ bodies and the complementarity of regional organizations remained the essential elements of peacebuilding. The integration and coherence of all efforts was key, as was promotion of development and social well-being, strengthening human rights and building the rule of law. All efforts should contribute to bolstering national institutions, in line with a country’s objectives. Much of peacebuilding’s success depended on women’s empowerment, and in that regard, collaboration with UN-Women should continue. He pledged his country’s active participation in the upcoming review of the Peacebuilding Commission, as that was an opportunity to strengthen peacebuilding and the relationship between the Commission and the Security Council.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said now was a good time to deepen the collaboration between the Peacebuilding Commission, its country-specific configurations and the Security Council. Root causes of conflict, in particular, must receive more attention. The goal of implementation of a new social contract in a post-conflict State required the long-term commitment of all stakeholders along with a serious interpretation of national ownership, with peacebuilding action reflecting a true national consensus. Describing the efforts of the Commission’s Guinea Configuration, she said it was important that the Guinean population enjoy the peace dividends. Lessons learned from the United Nations system should feed into the upcoming review, and she pledged her country’s engagement in that exercise.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET ( Chile) said that the developments in Sierra Leone and Burundi were evidence of the Peacebuilding Commission’s positive impact. The process was complex and multidimensional, for which national reconciliation and sustained dialogue between all actors were critical. Lessons learned should be fully utilized, and he welcomed cooperation with the Commission of international financial institutions and regional banks, calling for greater support to women’s full participation at all stages of the peacemaking and peacebuilding process. Also important was greater participation of the chairs of country configurations in Council deliberations, particularly when mandates were being discussed.
DAVID B. DUNN ( United States) shared the Secretary-General’s view that the Commission should focus on its three core pillars. He welcomed the strengthened relationship between the Commission and the Security Council, with the Commission helping to sustain attention on crises when they were not in the headlines. Advances in Burundi showed evidence of a closer Commission-Council relationship, reflected also in the mandates of recently deployed peacekeeping missions, such as the one in Mali, which had incorporated peacebuilding functions. In promoting the mobilization of domestic funds, he stressed the importance of Government transparency. His country was enthusiastically participating in laying the ground for the upcoming review process and looked forward to the contributions of all stakeholders.
PHILIPPE BERTOUX ( France) similarly underlined the importance of coordination among all actors in peacebuilding, particularly during transitions, noting that strategic use of the Peacebuilding Fund could strengthen such cooperation. Recognizing that peacekeeping operations often laid the foundation for peacebuilding, he said, however, that peacebuilding activities must be clearly defined in mission mandates. Stressing the importance of national dialogue and citing the example of Burundi, he welcomed efforts to strengthen the participation of women in all areas. Justice and the fight against impunity also were essential; the International Criminal Court could bolster such efforts. Resource mobilization, both domestic and international, was also crucial. He looked forward to efforts to improve international coherence and consistency throughout the peacebuilding process.
ALEXANDER A. PANKIN (Russian Federation), commending the United Nations’ central role in consolidating peace efforts, noted that international cooperation was still fragmented and stressed the importance of a clear division of labour that adhered to mandates and respected the Charter and State sovereignty. The Commission’s mandate was in line with its role as a key body in coordinating peace, and it should build on those successes. However, the negative situations in Guinea-Bissau and the Central Africa Republic reflected bottlenecks. A balanced strategy would set the right priority without scattering scarce resources. In the upcoming 2015 review, attention, first and foremost, should be paid to the Commission’s components, including the Fund and the Support Office, and their interaction with the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council. A focus on successes and disappointments would help improve future efforts.
LIU JIEYI (China), noting the Commission’s work helping to consolidate efforts, as well as its success in Sierra Leone with the smooth completion of its mandate, cited certain areas requiring greater focus, including respect for national ownership of the process, as the countries themselves bore the primary responsibility for peacebuilding. Resolving root causes and supporting economic recovery as early as possible would contribute to reconciliation and avoid the recurrence of conflicts. The international community should always concentrate on building capacity, training personnel, prioritizing development and helping a country to utilize its resources. He also called for strengthened cooperation with major bodies and specialized agencies, as well as with international financial institutions, to put in place a comprehensive strategy for economic and social development.
EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda), Security Council President, speaking in his national capacity, encouraged the 15-member body to utilize the Commission’s potential in order to benefit from its broader post-conflict perspective. As coordinator between the Council and the Commission, he noted the joint memberships’ exchange of views on monitoring and stocktaking. In support of reinforcing collective efforts to prevent relapse, he said the elements of a durable peace were intertwined. The relapses in Africa were mainly a direct consequence of a lack of leadership, institution-building, inclusive dialogue and good governance.
Combating impunity was also critical to preventing relapse and setting the ground for mass atrocities, he said. However, that fight must be adapted to the history and culture of the particular country. Transitional justice, and reconciliation and truth councils might be appropriate methods. Domestic resource mobilization was another critical issue. Developing countries in Africa and elsewhere needed to take control of their own destiny by “graduating” from international aid. “We need to earn it and work for it,” he said, voicing hope that action, proposed during the first annual session, would be taken.
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