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Third year will be real test for Peacebuilding Commission, its Chair says in briefing to Security Council

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Security Council
5997th Meeting (AM)

The upcoming third year of the Peacebuilding Commission would be its real test, Yukio Takasu ( Japan), Chair of the new body created to keep countries from slipping back into conflict, told the Security Council this morning.

"The foundation was laid in the first year," he said. "We started to produce results in the second session." In the third year the Commission must consolidate its achievements and help mobilize resources so it could create a real difference on the ground.

Introducing the Commission's report, he highlighted the work it had carried out in the countries now on its agenda -- Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic -- emphasizing that, with strong leadership by the chairs of its country-specific configurations, the Commission had focused its attention on supporting national efforts. In the future, it could provide useful support to many more countries in post-conflict peacebuilding processes. For that purpose and for its current workload, serious efforts were being made to enhance partnerships at the highest levels, particularly with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Union and the European Union.

Priorities for the way forward included deepening strategic and policy discussions, strengthening partnerships and ensuring the coherence of the Commission's activities, he said, suggesting that, in its rapidly developing relationship with the Commission, the Security Council might find it useful to examine further its inputs and observations, while making full use of its potential and capacities.

In the discussion that followed, Council members strongly supported the Commission's work while agreeing on the crucial importance of making a real difference in the countries on its agenda. Monitoring mechanisms must be established to track progress and national ownership of the peacebuilding process must remain a priority.

France's representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Commission must become more strategic, particularly with regard to the inclusion of new countries, and it should also start working on how to terminate its involvement. It was important to engage as early as possible in order to strengthen a country's ability to avoid relapsing into crisis. In addition, the Council could, when deploying a peacekeeping mission, define its military and civilian components with peacebuilding in mind, and it could even ask the Commission to intervene before an operation was established. Other Council members stressed the need for more vital and integral cooperation between the Council and the Commission.

Representatives of two countries on the Commission's agenda -- Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau -- then made statements, with the Deputy Foreign Minister of the former saying that the range of bilateral and multilateral interventions intended to support projects in promoting democracy, good governance, the energy sector, justice and security reform, youth employment and empowerment continued to show promising signs of consolidating peace in his country.

However, the problem of resource unpredictability was critical, and the Secretary-General's initial allocation of $35 million from the Peacebuilding Fund had been exhausted, he said, reiterating recent appeals for Sierra Leone's partners to scale up their assistance.

Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Belgium, United States, Italy, Indonesia, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Viet Nam, Burkina Faso, Panama, South Africa, Croatia, Costa Rica, Libya, China, Netherlands, El Salvador, Bangladesh and Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries).

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:45 p.m.


As the Security Council took up post-conflict peacebuilding today, members had before them the second annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission (document A/63/92-S/2008/417), which states that the Commission focused its second year on strengthening its interdepartmental and internal infrastructure, instituting a joint monitoring and tracking mechanism for Burundi and Sierra Leone, and expanding its operations to Guinea-Bissau.

According to the report, the Chairs of the Commission's country-specific configurations met regularly to: a) continue developing agendas of meetings and work programmes; and b) encourage within the Commission innovation and flexible procedural practices, as well as the integration of advanced information technologies, especially in light of the possibility of working with other countries. The Commission's Chair participated in public events to raise its profile and increase the visibility and awareness of its work. The Organizational Committee held an interactive dialogue last April with the Chairperson of the African Union Peace and Security Council to strengthen interaction and collaboration between the Commission and the regional Council.

A joint monitoring and tracking mechanism for the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi was adopted in the Commission's second year in that country, the report states. Representatives from civil society organizations, women's groups and international partners all participated in defining benchmarks and indicators for the periodic assessment of progress in consolidating peace. Since then, progress made includes steps towards implementation of an annual work plan; participation by the Chair of the Burundi configuration in a meeting with the country's special envoys and the South African facilitation; and a field mission to obtain first-hand information on the ground, particularly on the renewed confrontations between the National Defence Forces and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Parti pour la libération du peuple hutu-Forces nationales de libération).

The report says that, in its second year in Sierra Leone, the Commission focused on support for national elections and the democratic transition, which included formal and informal meetings with the configuration as well as national and international stakeholders. The Chair of the configuration visited the country and met with newly elected officials to discuss ways for the Commission to support the Government's peace efforts.

A recommendation to add Sierra Leone's energy sector to existing peacebuilding priority areas is under consideration, the report says, adding that, with the adoption of the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework in December 2007, the focus has been placed on three primary objectives: generating support for implementing commitments under the Framework; broadening the donor base; and expanding existing initiatives as well as initiating new ones in peacebuilding priority areas.

Also during the second year, the Security Council referred Guinea-Bissau to the Commission, the report states. An agenda for that country -- developed through meetings, delegations and visits -- focuses on reforms, consolidation of the rule of law, technical training and the collection of small arms and light weapons. The Government was to have finalized the draft outline for a strategic framework by July 2008.

A Peacebuilding Fund envelope of $6 million has been allocated to Guinea-Bissau, according to the report. The Peacebuilding Fund also recorded pledges of $267 million, which exceeded the original target of $250 million. This reflects the strong support of the Fund, and a diverse, 45-strong donor base, including 19 new donors. To improve the transparency of the Fund's operations, quarterly briefings by the Peacebuilding Support Office to the Commission, and regular briefings to Peacebuilding Fund donors, have been established.

The report goes on to note that the Commission provided sustained support while strengthening the concepts of ownership, accountability and partnership with countries under its consideration. It continues to mobilize international and domestic resources from traditional and emerging donors. The Commission is considering an annual informal retreat to help ensure the development of best practices as well as in-depth policy discussions and effective strategies, an issue discussed by the General Assembly on 9 October. (See Press Release GA/10765)

Established after the 2005 World Summit, the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission was a response to the need for coherent and strategic peacebuilding efforts.


YUKIO TAKASU (Japan), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that the body's report, covering its second year of activity, tracked steady progress and concrete results, including its work in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. The Commission, with strong leadership from the Chairs of its country-specific configurations, had focused on supporting national peacebuilding efforts.

In the future, he said, the Commission could provide useful support to address serious concerns in many more countries facing many challenges in the post-conflict peacebuilding phase. Serious efforts were being made to enhance partnerships at the highest levels, particularly with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Union and European Union. Priorities for the way forward included producing more tangible results on the ground, deepening strategic and policy discussions, strengthening partnerships and ensuring coherence in the Commission's activities.

During the reporting period, the relationship between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission had become well established, he said, noting that he consulted regularly with the Council President and that the Chairs of the country-specific configurations were invited regularly to Council meetings. In the future, the Council might find it useful to examine further the Commission's inputs and observations, and make full use of its potential and capacities. The foundation had been laid during the Commission's first session and it had started to produce results during the second session. The present third session would be "the real test" for the developing organ, which hoped to consolidate its achievements and help mobilize resources so that it could make a real difference on the ground.

Speaking in his national capacity, he concluded by thanking Member States for his country's opportunity to serve on the Security Council and pledged Japan's hard work and cooperation in the years ahead.

JAN GRAULS (Belgium), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said the Commission had not yet met the expectations of its founding fathers, but it was starting to show its added value by creating links between security and development, and by making progress in respect of donor responses. The Commission must yet prove its real added value in terms of donor diversification by attracting non-traditional partners. Its teething problems had included procedural debates and ideological confrontations, which had been transcended during the second year. The third year should focus on strengthening achievements and finding new ways to improve resource mobilization.

Describing the country-specific configurations as essential for the Commission's work, he said it should focus its efforts on making a genuine value-added difference in the field rather than holding academic debates. Real success would be measured by the countries not falling back into conflict and the addition of new countries to its agenda. Security Council action remained essential in determining the success of peacebuilding strategies, and the Commission's advisory role would only be used in full cooperation with the Council. The Commission's response and its interaction with the Council would also benefit from flexibility.

Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Central African Republic configuration, he said the country had been on the Commission's agenda since May 2008. The challenges facing it were enormous, and discussions with the Government had led to a focus on a limited number of priorities: security sector reform, including the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of political-military groups; good governance and the rule of law in a country with serious violations of human rights and an administrative culture in need of modernization; re-establishing State authority over the whole national territory; development; and access to public services. The Government had worked to establish stability and launch a national reconciliation. That had given new confidence and the necessary political dialogue must be re-launched with the inclusion of all actors.

ROSEMARY DICARLO (United States), expressing her strong support for the Commission's work, said that, while progress was slower than hoped, it was now clear that the body could eventually perform its crucial role of coordinating assistance in the "golden hour" following peace agreements and keep countries from falling back into conflict. For that reason, the Commission should have a central place in the United Nations system, harnessing the capabilities of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the rest of the system, in addition to the full range of other partners. It was also essential to bolster the role of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and to improve the Peacebuilding Fund so it could respond in a timely and effective manner. With the right mandate, the right leadership and the right resources, the Commission would become an effective tool for peace and security as well as development.

GIULIO TERZI ( Italy), endorsing the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said the Peacebuilding Commission had started with "realistic expectations" -- only two countries on its agenda in its first year -- to ensure it could develop effective mechanisms before embarking on larger tasks. The results had been satisfactory, as the countries on the agenda were on "a promising road" to stabilization, despite difficulties.

Noting that the job of the Peacebuilding Fund was to fill a crucial gap as a mechanism for channelling resources into stabilization and recovery projects, he said he was heartened that it had exceeded its $250 million target. The Secretary-General should continue to help make the Fund more flexible and also provide the Peacebuilding Support Office with adequate resources, as its role in supplying the Commission with analysis could not be overstated.

Cooperation between the Commission and the Security Council could be intensified by identifying links between the former's country-specific strategies and the Council's decisions on peace and security, he said. The scope of a peacekeeping mandate should contemplate future steps and no longer be conceived as a "stop-gap measure" to monitor a ceasefire. The Commission should develop close cooperation with the entire United Nations system; the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council first and foremost. To be a truly global instrument, the Commission must also look at other regions and maintain a broad vision.

MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said peacebuilding support should be provided at an early stage to ensure it was incorporated into a United Nations mission. Close consultations with the receiving country, potential contributors and the Secretariat were of key importance. The Council was the appropriate forum for providing guidance on the political and security aspects of peacebuilding activities. The Commission could play a very important role as a nexus linking the political and security components taken up in the Council with the social, humanitarian and economic aspects focused in the Economic and Social Council.

Coordination remained critical, he emphasized, noting that the Security Council could play an important role in enhancing the division of labour at the level of United Nations organs and ensure the operational relevance of the Commission's advice. The synergy between the two organs would clarify and define a seamless transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. Equally essential was the synergy between the Commission, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Of particular importance was bridging peacebuilding and political stability, socio-economic recovery and humanitarian issues. Creating synergies among regional and subregional organizations and troop-contributing countries was also important. The Council should help in boosting the public awareness and visibility of the Commission's work by featuring its processes and outcomes in its various engagements.

KONSTANTIN DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) said the second year's experience showed that assistance by the United Nations and other partners to countries emerging from conflict posed significant challenges in the areas of national capacity-building, coordination and synergy, and funding. The Peacebuilding Commission's main goal now was to achieve feasible progress at the country level through coordinated implementation of peacebuilding strategies, and by monitoring and tracking under the leadership of the Governments concerned.

Noting the progress made in arranging regular dialogue between the Commission and the Council, he said it was important to ensure an intensive exchange of information in the form of regular meetings between the Commission Chair and the Council President. Both organs should also cooperate in drafting their respective documents. Dialogue on adding new countries should take into account the real need of a specific country and the Commission's progress in other countries, with the understanding that it was not an additional source of funding. It would also be appropriate to begin discussing criteria and timelines for removing countries from the Commission's agenda.

During its third year, he said, the Commission must strengthen its coordinating role in those areas requiring greater international attention by harmonizing its activities with already existing assistance mechanisms. The Commission should also focus on lessons learned and improve the efficiency of its working group in that regard. It should also concentrate on mobilizing additional resources by integrating international financial institutions, regional organizations, the private sector and trust funds into its work. The Peacebuilding Fund was very important as a mechanism for catalytic emergency financing and in facilitating the mobilization of more sustainable aid mechanisms.

JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said that, to help a country out of conflict, it was necessary to address all the issues that had been discussed in the Council, such as drug trafficking, elections and security and justice sector reform. The Commission had to make a difference on the ground. It was to be hoped that monthly meetings between the Chair of the Commission and the Security Council President would be sustained in order properly to align the work of the two bodies and ensure that their interaction did not become purely mechanistic. New threats to peacebuilding, including the impact of the commodity and financial crises, must be addressed quickly.

In addition, the Council must be more creative in soliciting the Commission's advice and support, particularly in respect of countries not yet on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission, he said. The new report provided an opportunity for the United Nations system to tackle the gaps in leadership, deployable civilian capacity and rapidly available funding that impeded the international community's work on early recovery. It was also an opportunity to address such problems as the lack of implementation plans for peace agreements, which resulted from a lack of the right linkages between mediation processes and the critical recovery and peacebuilding phases.

LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) noted the tangible results achieved in Sierra Leone and Burundi with the support of the Peacebuilding Commission, particularly in preparing for elections, rebuilding of infrastructure and public administration reform. The inclusion of Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic, in addition to Côte d'Ivoire's request to participate, also highlighted the Commission's success. Yet, despite its achievements, the growing global crises were impeding its further progress, as well as necessary improvement in its working infrastructure. Specific issues included developing a consensus on the concept and priorities of peacebuilding; a clearer relationship between the United Nations and non-United Nations systems; honing and streamlining a variety of internal managerial structures; and reinforcing early warning and response systems for potential conflict situations.

He concluded with a request that the Commission, at the start of its third year, receive additional support to achieve expanded concrete results and in doing so develop a closer, more coordinated relationship with local governments, the Bretton Woods institutions, regional organizations and non-governmental organizations, as well as the different organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council, General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Improving its role through more integrated peacebuilding strategies would ensure an expanded development agenda reflecting the recipient countries' needs, the respective national Government's financial and institutional absorptive capability, a strengthened response to poverty reduction, private sector reform, socio-economic recovery and lasting peace and sustained reconstruction.

JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Commission had shown promising progress in its second year. In Burundi and Sierra Leone, the implementation of peacebuilding strategies was based on clear programmes and coordination in the field had been increased. It was important to increase the Commission's visibility in peacebuilding activities and training capacity. In that regard, the reticence of some recipient countries was remarkable. There was a need for more communication, particularly with regional organizations. The Commission could also meet outside New York.

He said the Commission must improve its working methods in order to be more strategic, with particular regard to the inclusion of new countries. That should lead to fewer but better prepared meetings. The Commission should also start working out how to terminate its involvement in certain cases. It was also important to go in as early as possible in order to strengthen a country's ability to avoid relapsing into a crisis.

When deploying a peacekeeping operation, the Council could define the military and civilian components, while the Commission could even be asked to intervene before a mission was established, he said. As the primary donor to countries on the Commission's agenda, the European Union could also support the political and security aspects of its peacebuilding strategies, as it had done in Guinea-Bissau. International financial institutions had also begun to adapt their instruments, as had the African Union and other regional and subregional actors.

MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said the creation of the Commission two years ago had been an expression of the international community's solidarity with post-conflict States. Burkina Faso welcomed the recent inclusion of the Central African Republic on the Commission's agenda and hoped Côte d'Ivoire could be included soon. The Commission had been able to help a number of countries restore State authority and re-launch their economies. The Commission should continue its on-site missions in order to engage directly with local partners and actors, and also continue its cooperation with other bodies of the United Nations system in order to avoid duplication. The participation of international and civil organizations was also important.

He said the Commission must step up its efforts to mobilize partners by providing the necessary resources to assist States with post-conflict rehabilitation, as there were still untapped possibilities. The Commission must play a mainly coordinating role to avoid duplication, promote national ownership and make recommendations on integrated peacebuilding strategies. The Commission's contribution to reconstruction and capacity-building would only be effective if the Commission focused on cooperation with regional and subregional organizations. Quick-impact projects could be crucial in laying the foundations for rapid rehabilitation.

ALFREDO SUESCUM ( Panama) said there had been significant progress in fulfilling the Commission's mandate in the past year, though it still faced many challenges. In order to overcome those challenges, it must take into account lessons learned in post-conflict situations, and design communications strategies in country. It was also important to develop specific indicators of monitoring and follow-up needed to be developed as well.

He said sustainable peace required consideration of multiple aspects of a situation, including human rights, and for that reason it was necessary to better define missions authorized by the Council. Duplication must be avoided as well. To ensure the Commission's success, furthermore, ongoing and proactive commitment to its activities was needed from by the entire United Nations system and its membership.

DUMISANI SHADRACK KUMALO ( South Africa) applauded the Commission's second-session accomplishments, particularly its strides towards implementing its mandate and core functions. A strong, successful Commission was crucial in addressing conflict, instability and underdevelopment and in preventing post-conflict countries from relapsing into war. As for the Commission's successes in strengthening cooperation with relevant United Nations bodies, it was important also to enhance cooperation with relevant regional and subregional organizations, particularly the African Union, which sought to address the root causes of conflict in its Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development.

With the United Nations peacebuilding architecture now in place, the challenge was consolidating achievements, he said, urging Member States to continue to drive the Commission in that regard. While the central role of its Organizational Committee should be strengthened, its country-specific meetings had made tremendous contributions to the Commission's success.

Expressing confidence that the Central African Republic configuration would yield positive results under Belgium's leadership, he cautioned that national ownership would be of fundamental importance in the post-conflict peacebuilding process. Also of paramount importance were official development assistance (ODA), trade and investment. Quick-impact projects and sufficient injection of predictable resources would help ensure stability and development on the ground. As the Commission gained experience, more emphasis should be placed on the nexus between peace and development.

NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) described the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission as one of the most important results of United Nations reform. The concept offered the best way to consolidate the three main pillars of the United Nations in the context of post-conflict situations: security; development; and the protection of human rights. Only by implementing them together could peace and development be achieved. It was important to coordinate and integrate all post-conflict efforts.

The Commission's second year had brought many important developments, he said, welcoming the inclusion of Guinea-Bissau and Central African Republic on its agenda. The Commission should have greater flexibility in post-conflict situations, and the interaction between it and the Council should be increased. Without sufficient and timely funding, peacebuilding would not be possible. Croatia hoped that, during its third year, the Peacebuilding Commission would continue to build on previous experience and strengthen its flexibility and efficiency in supporting the countries on its agenda.

JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) welcomed the Commission's work, noting, however, that its full effectiveness had not yet been felt and emphasizing the need for even closer coordination mechanisms in the countries on its agenda so as to maximize resources and enable political agreements to advance. The arbitrary distinction between peacekeeping and peacebuilding should also be erased, building the transition from one to the other into the mandates of all peace missions. Aspects of both peacekeeping and peacebuilding were present in all mission situations and the Commission should advise the Council on mission mandates in that context.

In addition, there was a need to develop criteria to define the point at which a situation ceased to be an emergency, so that interventionism was not encouraged and the seeds of future crises were not sown, he said. The community of donors should be more flexible in laying the foundations for sustainable development. Such flexibility was the strength of the Peacebuilding Commission. The Council should muster equal flexibility in order to maximize resources and achieve sustainable results.

ATTIA OMAR MUBARAK ( Libya) welcomed the efforts undertaken by the Commission, both in the organization of its work and in its interaction with other bodies of the United Nations system and other organizations, including the African Union. As for its successes in Burundi and Sierra Leone, Libya was confident that the Commission would continue its efforts with the same effectiveness. It agreed with the report's recommendations on implementation of an integrated peacebuilding strategy and the need to continue to focus on assistance to national efforts in dialogue, reconciliation, capacity-building, institutional reform, economic rehabilitation and human rights. Libya also underscored the importance of international, regional and subregional efforts.

While priority should be given to security sector reform, as well as institutional and judicial reform, better living conditions, employment and access to social services should also receive attention, he said. All efforts by the Commission must be carried out in coordination with and with the consent of local authorities. All projects should reaffirm the concept of national ownership. To enhance effectiveness, annual programmes should be part and parcel of a longer-term plan. The Peacebuilding Commission must discharge its mandate within the framework of a global sustainable development plan. Its success hinged on the development support it brought to States.

ZHANG YESUI (China), making a positive assessment of the Peacebuilding Commission's work over the past year, said he expected that there would be further improvements in the coming year in such areas as mobilization of resources and coordination. Strengthened links between the Commission and the Security Council, through more frequent consultation with the Chairs of the country-specific configurations, were also necessary. The Commission's recommendations should be incorporated into the Council's work as much as possible, with the Council working more closely with the Commission when new countries were brought onto the latter's agenda.

VANDI MINAH, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, said that, as one of the pioneer beneficiaries, his country had witnessed a significant evolution in United Nations peacebuilding during the short existence of the Peacebuilding Commission. The Commission's engagement in Sierra Leone had had a positive impact on the Government's peacebuilding efforts. The range of bilateral and multilateral interventions intended to support projects in promoting democracy, good governance, the energy sector, justice and security reform, youth employment and empowerment continued to show promising signs of consolidating peace in the country.

Still, the problem of resource unpredictability was critical, he said, noting that the Secretary-General's initial allocation of $35 million from the Peacebuilding Fund in March 2007 had been exhausted. Sierra Leone requested its partners to scale up their assistance to the resource-mobilization drive launched at high-level stakeholder meetings in May, in order to expedite implementation of the Sierra Leone Cooperation Framework. Human and financial resources were the key to building lasting peace, national reconciliation and combating poverty. When the weapons of war went silent, post-conflict societies were more often than not left with the scars of massive devastation and the flight of the limited skilled workforce, leading to an enormous demand for human, technical and financial resources.

He said he was encouraged by the Secretary-General's recent catalytic support, through the Peacebuilding Fund, to the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau aimed at kick-starting critical peacebuilding interventions. However, conflict prevention remained woefully underfunded, which was cause for a serious rethinking of the United Nations and international approach to maintaining international peace and security. More financing and technical assistance were the keys to effective implementation of the Cooperation Framework.

ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL ( Guinea-Bissau) noted that everyone agreed that the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission constituted one of the major outcomes of the 2005 World Summit. Its positive results could be attributed to the unequalled dynamism that the Chairs of two country-specific configurations had brought to the new endeavour. Guinea-Bissau had also had the good fortune to cooperate closely with the Peacebuilding Support Office under the initial leadership of Carolyn McAskie. In carrying out its "sterling work", the Commission was creative as well as flexible. The results achieved in Guinea-Bissau demonstrated its people's ability to rise from their situation.

Emphasizing that his country had a major problem of drug trafficking, he said Guinea-Bissau was determined, nevertheless, to fight that activity with the help of the international community. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), by holding a ministerial-level conference in Cape Verde to address the problem, had decided to provide an overall solution. Guinea-Bissau welcomed the adoption of a strategy that would facilitate major administrative and security reforms, while establishing a credible justice system so that those committing crimes would be punished by a system that met international criteria. National ownership was important and a responsibility, first and foremost, of the country concerned, but also the shared responsibility of the international community as a whole.

FRANK MAJOOR (Netherlands), aligning himself with the European Union, said the Commission's important achievements of the past year were stepping stones towards its ultimate goal of making a positive difference in the countries on its agenda, and ensuring that identified peacebuilding gaps were effectively addressed. "We are not there yet," he emphasized, noting that concrete support was needed from both existing and new donors to address the gaps. To do that, United Nations support on the ground would be crucial. In that context, the Netherlands welcomed the establishment of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) and its mandate to work integrally with the Commission.

Stressing that UNIPSIL needed to be fully staffed and operational as soon as possible, he said lessons from Sierra Leone should be applied in upcoming Security Council discussions on strengthening political missions in Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. Now was the time to make the Peacebuilding Commission work. There were sufficient strategic documents to determine where support was most needed. "Let us not waver and offer whatever expertise or funds we can muster to ensure that the four countries on the [Commission's] agenda will be irreversibly on track towards consolidated peace and stability."

CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ ( El Salvador) said her country was honoured to serve as Vice-Chair of the Commission, as it had itself been on the receiving end of international efforts while emerging from conflict. El Salvador also chaired the Commission's working group on lessons learned, which had examined many facets of peacebuilding. It was important to strengthen that group's work in the future, as well as links between the Commission and the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.

The equitable participation of various regional groups was also important in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, she said. It was important that the international community participate together in peacebuilding on the basis of dialogue and understanding. El Salvador called on regional groups and Member States to examine the possibilities for inclusive participation in order to overcome obstacles currently facing the Commission.

ISMAT JAHAN ( Bangladesh), commending the Commission's work, said the disbursements of the multi-donor trust funds and other monies should be to ensure the early stabilization of countries in the peacebuilding process. Members of the Commission should be given more frequent updates on the operations of the Peacebuilding Fund. The relationship between the Commission and the Fund must be made clear to stakeholders on the ground.

She said that, while peacebuilding required certain expertise, she did not support any type of cadre or pool of United Nations staff for rapid civilian deployment. The filling of both military and civilian posts in the field by personnel recruited from Member States and host countries could better serve the purpose. Bangladesh also stressed the importance of greater ownership of the peacebuilding process by the countries on the agenda. Bangladesh was not only one of the largest troop-contributing countries, but also experienced in development strategies. It was imperative to integrate economic recovery and development fully into peacebuilding, as Bangladeshi peacekeepers had done to some extent.

MORTEN WETLAND (Norway), speaking also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden -- the Nordic countries -- said that, while the Commission had shown considerable progress, there was still a way to go in ensuring effective coordination within the United Nations and other partners. After two years of experience, the Commission's focus must be on enhancing cooperation with global financial institutions, especially the World Bank. Further, it should have a key role in ensuring that the international community was a more reliable partner to Governments in a post-conflict situation. However, all must heed the principle of national ownership.

On the role of neighbouring countries, he commended the Regional Peace Initiative and the South African Facilitation for their indispensable support of durable peace in Burundi. Norway urged recognition of peacebuilding as part of the core agenda; a central component, from the start of the transition from war to lasting peace, which would require constant political attention, including from the Council. Norway welcomed the practice of inviting the Chairs of the Commission's subsidiary bodies to brief the Council regularly.

Peacebuilding meant addressing the most critical areas of nation-building, he said, stressing that it could not happen without national ownership. It was crucial that the Commission continue to seek an appropriate working format. The Peacebuilding Support Office should strengthen its focus on strategic planning, as the Commission's success rested upon the extent to which it targeted sectors outside the coverage of other funding institutions. While monitoring and tracking mechanisms were important, unnecessary layers of bureaucracy should not be created, particularly at the country level.

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