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DSG/SM/836-SC/11735-PBC/103: Addressing Security Council, Deputy Secretary-General Calls upon Solid Commitment from All Sides to Fulfil ‘Original Vision’ for Peacekeeping Structures

14 JANUARY 2015

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General’s Jan Eliasson’s remarks to the Security Council on post-conflict peacebuilding, in New York today:

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s report on Peacebuilding in the Aftermath of Conflict.

This report reminds us that peacebuilding is at the core of the United Nations’ aims and ambitions.  The challenges and responses described in the report will directly affect the future of individuals, communities and societies and their chances of living in peace.

I would like to highlight five key features of the report.

First, peacebuilding is most effective when political, security and development actors support a common, comprehensive and clear strategy for consolidating peace.

We have seen examples of this in Guinea and Burundi.

In Guinea, the United Nations country team supported an inter-party agreement on parliamentary elections that was facilitated by the then-SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] for West Africa, Said Djinnit.  The team held public meetings with local political leaders and helped train election monitors.

In Burundi, the Peacebuilding Commission and the country team supported the efforts of the UN Office in pursuit of a more inclusive political environment.  They did this by facilitating broad consultations with political parties and civil society.  This led to the adoption of a new electoral code and a code of conduct for the upcoming elections.

Second, strong and well-functioning institutions that are central to peacebuilding must be based on effective and inclusive political agreements.

Such agreements provide legitimacy and support for institutional development and reform.  Without inclusive agreements, political divisions may persist and control of the State may indeed remain contested.  Under such circumstances, nationally led peacebuilding strategies have a limited potential.  Let’s admit that we have seen this in South Sudan, where extensive investments in institution-building were lost when weak and unstable political agreements between different factions resulted in a tragic relapse of conflict.

Third, peacebuilding requires sustained international political, technical and financial support.

Regretfully, we are seeing such gaps in several places, particularly where the establishment of basic Government functions and the provision of social services are required to sustain peace.

The Peacebuilding Fund can partially address the financial gaps in the short term.  But, it remains problematic to ensure the necessary larger-scale and longer-term assistance and support.

I encourage the Peacebuilding Commission to continue its efforts to mobilize the support of Member States for the UN’s missions and mandates.  Groups of Friends and Contact Groups can play an important role.  Also, compacts between post-conflict States and key international partners can align international support with national priorities — as they did in Sierra Leone and Somalia.

Fourth, regional actors and neighbouring countries, working together with the United Nations, can play a critical role in creating an environment conducive to sustainable peace.

The Peacebuilding Commission can help support such efforts, as it has done recently in the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau, by convening meetings with regional organizations, neighbouring States and international partners.

This underlines how conflicts in today’s world more and more take on a regional dimension, which I am sure you in the Council have noted in your deliberations on so many issues.  This regional dimension, in my view, should be better reflected in how we in the future deal generally with both conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding.

Fifthly, and lastly, at this part of my presentation — promoting inclusion means that we must ensure women’s equal participation in post-conflict political and development processes.

The Secretary-General’s report details innovative approaches from Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan and Liberia, including an initiative in Guinea called the Women’s Situation Room.  This provided support to a network of local women’s organizations, enabling women to play a crucial role as election monitors.  It also facilitated inter-party trust and strengthened women’s political participation.  We need more initiatives like this, and I particularly would like to say that this could be very valuable this year when we mark the 20 years after the important Beijing conference.

I would on this occasion like to present the Council with some reflections and thoughts on the important review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture that was launched by the General Assembly and the Security Council last month.

It was my privilege, as President of the General Assembly 10 years ago, to be part of the creation of the peacebuilding structures — the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Support Office.  You may recall that this work was in response to the troubling phenomenon at the time of frequent relapses into conflict.

Since then, we can see that peacebuilding efforts are more necessary than ever.  In the recent past, the Central African Republic and South Sudan have tragically fallen back into conflict.

The three Ebola-affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are all on the Peacebuilding Commission’s agenda.  In addition to the large and tragic loss of life, the epidemic has also had a dramatic impact on social cohesion and State institutions.  As the Peacebuilding Commission noted in its early meetings on the epidemic, there is a need for comprehensive support that will ensure the resilience of State institutions and of course rapid recovery.

The United Nations’ involvement in peacebuilding has evolved considerably since 2005, with broader mandates and more actors, working in ever more difficult environments.  Our peacekeepers and special political missions are often in these situations called upon to support inclusive political processes and to build effective rule of law and security institutions, together with UN agencies, funds and programmes.

The Peacebuilding Commission was intended to be a diverse, flexible and dynamic political forum, which would focus sustained international attention on the challenges for countries at risk of relapse into violence.  Although the Commission has made some important progress, many now agree that its structure and working methods need review, improvement and adaptation to a rapidly changing environment.  Here, I would like to commend the efforts of the Permanent Representative of Brazil, Antonio [de Aguiar] Patriota, who has been Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission and set the direction in a very positive way, as also the new Head of the Peacebuilding Support office, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, who is behind me, and his predecessor.  So, we are on the right track and I think we need to go with an open mind into this work.

We need a forum that can act quickly to mobilize the collective support of Member States for the UN’s mandates and missions.  We also need to consider the circumstances in which the Peacebuilding Commission can be particularly useful.  A more flexible, more dynamic and strategically oriented Commission could be more relevant to a broader range of situations in today’s world.

These and other ideas are included in the UN system’s input to the review.  I hope you will give them your serious consideration.  The UN system is committed to increase its support to and engagement with a dynamic, flexible and focused Peacebuilding Commission.

Your review will coincide with the Secretary-General’s review of peace operations and the Global Study to assess progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000).  The work and outcomes of these three reviews, and their follow-up, should be complementary, and in my view, mutually reinforcing.

These reviews come at a time of complex threats to peace, security and development.  They provide us with an important opportunity to sharpen and re-shape our thinking and our actions.

We owe it to the people we serve to ensure that we are bold, ambitious, and above all, effective in our approach to modern-day peacebuilding.  I urge Member States to be open, candid and constructive in their assessment of the peacebuilding challenges and potentials.

I would just like to add that, when we look at a conflict, the life of a conflict, we have a tendency to focus on the middle section of that life of a conflict — when you are at the “CNN stage” — when you are at the stage of suffering and taking urgent decisions on missions — peacebuilding and peacekeeping operations.  I think we need all to think of extending that attention to the pre-stage and the post-stage.  The life of a conflict which is discovered at the first vibrations on the ground — that is when we should start to act.  And then, like the convalescence of a patient, at the end of a conflict with ceasefires and so forth, we need to know that there is post-conflict work to be done, so that we don’t get back to the vicious cycle of conflict.

We need a solid commitment from all sides to fulfil the original vision for the peacebuilding structures and to improve the UN system’s support for countries emerging from conflict.

This could make the difference, the crucial difference, between peace or continuing conflict for millions of people around the world.  This is an opportunity the United Nations and its Member States should not miss.

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