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Report on post-conflict civilian capacity stresses stronger national ownership of peace processes, need to broaden experts’ pool in Security Council debate

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Security Council
6533rd Meeting (AM)

Chair of Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group Delivers Review Findings

The next generation of United Nations peacebuilding must strengthen national ownership of peace processes, broaden the pool of international expertise and make United Nations support more appropriate, timely and effective, the Security Council heard today as it held a debate on post-conflict civilian capacity.

Delivering the first of three briefings to Council members, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Chair of the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group for the Review of International Civilian Capacities, said the international community had too often missed the immediate post-conflict window of opportunity to provide basic security, deliver peace dividends, build confidence in political processes and strengthen core national capacities in the lead-up to peacebuilding efforts.

“Our report is, therefore, founded on the principle that international assistance has to identify, protect and nurture latent national capabilities, in short, that it must build on what is already there, not start from a blank slate,” he said, outlining the recommendations contained in the Group’s report. The review focused on the principles of ownership, partnership, expertise, and nimbleness.

Mr. Guéhenno said that boosting national ownership required providing stronger support to core State capacities, like aid coordination, policy and public financial management; maximizing the economic impact of interventions through local procurement; and using local capacities as much as possible. Because the United Nations could not hope to fill increasingly specialized needs from within its own ranks, it must follow the lead of its agencies, funds and programmes in establishing effective partnerships with outside providers, just as was already done by many of its entities.

In that vein, he said, the report recommended the establishment of a civilian partnership cell to link field requirements to the capacities of Member States and non-governmental organizations, and to facilitate faster deployment. It also called for a clear model to define roles and clearly designate leads for all areas in order better to leverage civilian expertise. The report further recognized that, to improve nimbleness in the field, the Secretary-General’s representatives needed the authority to adapt their implementation plans so they could react to unforeseen events and seize opportunities. Those efforts might be better served if missions were able to undertake certain programmatic activities, at least before the initiatives of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes were under way, he said.

Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said that as Chair of the Steering Committee established to formulate a set of concrete actions based on the report’s recommendations, she was taking a holistic system-wide approach. There was already broad agreement on the key goals of improving national-capacity development, creating mechanisms for effective partnerships with external capacities, and designing more seamless arrangements within the United Nations in order to respond rapidly to crises. However, selectivity would also be important in addressing the roughly six-dozen recommendations contained in the report, she said. “We need to identify those that offer the greatest return on investment and prioritize them,” she added, stressing that ideas must also be tested in the field.

Eugène-Richard Gasana ( Rwanda), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, acknowledging the high expectations surrounding the report’s implementation, noting that the Commission was already working with urgency to address them. In moving forward on the recommendations, the Commission had identified national ownership as its key area of attention this year, he said, adding that it had also agreed that the focus must be on enabling local capacities rather than substituting them. Noting the particular importance of leveraging capacities from actors in the immediate vicinity, including those of South-South partners and women, he stressed that attention must be paid to the ways in which such capacities could be integrated into the United Nations system.

During the ensuing debate, Council members voiced strong support for the report’s recommendations, particularly its emphasis on national ownership, which they agreed was essential in securing sustainable peace. Calling for the immediate implementation of the recommendations, several speakers said the follow-on mission proposed for Southern Sudan would be the place to start.

In contrast, other delegates argued that some recommendations needed further clarity, particularly those concerning the flexibility of mission resources. The financial proposals should be discussed in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), some speakers said. Others cautioned that a transformation in post-conflict civilian capacity would have a major impact on staffing, and emphasized that providing resources for peacekeeping missions must not detract from peacekeeping requirements.

Among those speaking today were representatives of the United States, India, Germany, South Africa, United Kingdom, Gabon, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Brazil, Portugal, China, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia and France.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.