Burundi + 1 more

Secretary-General underscores national ownership, international partnership in consolidating peace, as Peacebuilding Commission ends first session

News and Press Release
Originally published
General Assembly

Peacebuilding Commission
Organizational Committee
10th Meeting (AM)

In First Meeting of Next Session, Organization Committee Elects Members of Incoming Bureau

The Peacebuilding Commission -- created to support societies recovering from the devastation of war -- had shown in its first year that the consolidation of peace must be based on both national ownership and international partnership, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this morning as the new body concluded its first session.

"In your deliberations, you have seen, first hand, that efforts to consolidate peace and development must be based on the needs and perspectives of the countries themselves," he said of the Commission, which was created as one of the reforms to United Nations operations proposed by the September 2005 World Summit held at the Organization's Headquarters New York.

In its first year, the Commission had successfully worked both with Governments and with such key actors as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Community and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to agree on modalities to ensure the tapping of the resources and skills of civil society. Members of the Commission had focused their first efforts on the challenges facing Burundi and Sierra Leone, and the entire United Nations system would support the integrated strategic peacebuilding processes for both countries, for which funding envelopes of $35 million had already been announced.

Johan Verbeke of Belgium, which holds the Security Council's rotating presidency, compared the Commission's evolution over the past year with the four seasons -- from its birth and organizational work last summer through this past spring, when the international community could harvest its "first fruits" in the form of the strategic framework for Burundi and the preparation of a similar one for Sierra Leone.

He said that over the past year, the Security Council had increasingly integrated the role of the Commission into its own work and the Chairs of both country-specific configurations had been invited to participate in the Council's consideration of those two countries over the past few months. As the Commission added other countries to its agenda, however, it should not do so at the cost of current attention to Burundi and Sierra Leone.

Peacebuilding Commission Chairman Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of Angola said the daunting challenges of achieving sustainable peace and the high expectations of people emerging from conflict could not be underestimated. The Commission had faced those challenges with the utmost seriousness, with the goal of making a difference in people's lives.

In its first year, the Commission had been able to operate within a flexible framework, in order to develop working relationships with all its partners, he said. While it was crucial to refine those relationships and the criteria for identifying new areas of work, there was a sense of urgency for the Commission to go beyond procedural concerns to perform its full functions. Hopefully, it would meet that challenge in the year to come.

Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa ( Bahrain), President of the General Assembly, noted the "huge" challenges facing countries emerging from conflict and commended the Commission for having undertaken its sensitive tasks with seriousness and perseverance. Looking ahead it should make the most of the partnerships that now existed between its members and the respective focus countries, so as to continue refining its strategies, developing its advocacy role and marshalling resources more effectively.

She called on the Commission to continue developing dynamic and balanced relationships with all relevant United Nations organs, particularly the General Assembly, which had been mandated to provide overall policy guidance in support of the new body. "The success of the Commission will clearly depend on [...] our full commitment to eliminate the few remaining obstacles so that it is fully and effectively operational," she concluded.

Delivering a statement on behalf of Dalius?ekuolis ( Lithuania), President of the Economic and Social Council, that organ's Vice-President, Hjalmar Hannesson ( Iceland) said he was pleased that the Commission had recognized the link between poverty, weak State capacity and conflict. It had ensured that its priorities included job creation, especially for youth, capacity development and delivery of basic social services. Only by making substantial progress in those areas could the Commission ensure the sustainability of national peacebuilding efforts.

As several delegates spoke in recognition of its achievements during the first session, the representative of Burundi expressed the thanks of his country's Government and people, saying they had gained confidence, calm and determination because of the Commission's support. The Government would fully support efforts to make the Commission a success and, hopefully, the next year would be marked by the implementation of agreements on the ground, with a reduced focus on organizational meetings and documents.

Sierra Leone's representative expressed the hope that the seeds planted by the Commission in the past months would take root and flower. While Sierra Leone was satisfied with the first year's work, the Commission's ultimate success lay in the translation of all its plans and strategies into concrete action that would make a difference in the lives of the country's people. The Commission's future task would be to ensure that peacebuilding processes remained on track, acting in a timely manner for that purpose.

The representatives of Croatia, Guinea-Bissau, Egypt, Jamaica, Norway, United Kingdom, Ghana, El Salvador, Netherlands and Brazil also congratulated the Chairman and staff of the Peacebuilding Commission on the achievements of the past year, saying they looked forward to the year ahead.

Following immediately upon the conclusion of its first session, the Commission opened the first meeting of the Organization Committee for its second session, which will run through June 2008.

Acting by acclamation, the Organization Committee elected Kenzo Oshima ( Japan) as its new Chairman. He in turn oversaw the election, also by acclamation, of Carmen Maria Gallardo Hernandez ( El Salvador) and Leslie Kojo Christian ( Ghana) as Vice-Chairpersons.

Paying tribute to outgoing member Croatia and welcoming new member Georgia, Mr. Oshima pledged his full commitment to carrying out the mandate of the Peacebuilding Commission and commended the "remarkable progress" made by its previous Bureau, the membership and the Peacebuilding Support Office, headed by Carolyn McAskie, in building a foundation for the new body and undertaking its first efforts in Burundi and Sierra Leone.

In the second year, it would be crucial to deliver tangible results, with the country-specific approach remaining at the core, he said. Working methods must be streamlined as more countries were taken into consideration and standard operating procedures developed where possible. The Commission could also act as a focal point for best practices in peacebuilding, and should take on cross-cutting issues such as rule of law and security sector reform. In all those efforts, the importance of close cooperation with the full United Nations system could not be overstated.

He said the Commission's calendar of meetings ran from July through December 2007. The report on the first session, the text of which had been approved by the membership pending translation into all official languages, would be formally adopted at the next meeting, the date of which he proposed 13 July.

The next meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission will be confirmed at a later date.

* *** *

For information media - not an official record