EU Statement - United Nations General Assembly: Civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict

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Summary: 11 May 2011, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Mr. Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the United Nations General Assembly informal meeting of the plenary on "Civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict"

Mr President,

Thank you for giving the floor to the European Union.

Mr President,

Supporting countries to recover from conflict and lay the foundation for sustainable peace after the scourge of war is a major challenge faced by the international community which requires an effective response encompassing political, security, humanitarian and development activities.

In the meantime, and whilst no single template can be applied to fluid and complex situations, the post-conflict period offers a window of opportunity to provide basic security, deliver peace dividends, shore up confidence in the political process and strengthen core national capacity to lead the peacebuilding efforts.

During this period, often characterised by a critical shortage of capacity needed to secure a sustainable peace environment, the prompt identification and the timely deployment of civilian expertise is of paramount importance. Capacity development needs to be considered from the outset as a pivotal element of all our peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.

Unfortunately, too often, major international operations have failed to draw on the capacities that do exist and we have often struggled to deliver in this vital window of opportunity when rapid, effective and efficient action can establish a platform for future stability and prosperity.

Mr President,

It is in this context that the European Union highly welcomes the independent report put forward by the Senior Advisory Group on the Civilian Capacity in the aftermath of conflict as a key contribution for strengthening national ownership and improving the appropriateness, timeliness and effectiveness of the United Nations support to conflict-affected countries.

Its recommendations, aimed at deploying a more flexible, demand-driven and better qualified civilian expertise on the ground will be crucial in our efforts to help national actors build their own capacity in peacebuilding related areas.

Partnerships are a vital element, including the south-south cooperation.

Furthermore, the European Union agrees with the report's emphasis on women as a priority.

Many of the recommendations contained in the report can be implemented very swiftly and the European Union encourages the Secretariat to take steps in this direction, and is looking forward to working with partners to see this happen.

Others may require further elaboration, and the European Union strongly encourages the Steering Committee led by Ms Malcorra to take this process forward through the Compact Support Team. To this end, some EU members have already decided to provide financial support to such a team. The EU welcomes the open and consultative approach taken to follow-up and implement the report, and underlines the importance having a results oriented focus in this process.

Mr. President,

The deployment of international civilian expertise is one of the areas where the European Union is already strongly involved, both through Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and its civilian crisis management missions as well as through Development co-operation with an increasing focus on "Governance" and "Statebuilding" as central features of assistance in fragile situations.

Over the last ten years, civilian aspects of the European Common Security and Defence Policy crisis management have seen exponential growth. The European Union has nine civilian CSDP missions currently deployed in eight different theatres of operation supporting core national capacity to lead the peacebuilding efforts.

The EU fully shares the assessment that the lack of trained civilian experts (police, judges, prosecutors, civilian administrators, customs/border police officers, correctional personnel) is a key hindrance to the development of viable and legitimate governments in crisis stricken countries.

Against this background of scarce civilian capacity, the EU is fully committed to strengthen its partnership with the United Nations aimed at broadening and deepening the pool of deployable experts.

The establishment of a "Civilian Partnership Cell", as a single point of contact for external providers to match their capacities with UN needs, represents a very good start aimed at ensuring a maximum interoperability between the EU and its Member states on the one hand and UN structures on the other hand. To develop such synergies, the EU is fully ready to share its experience, particularly in the areas of needs assessments for civilian crisis management (Civilian Headline Goal 2008 and 2010) and strategies and tools to facilitate the raising of civilian personnel.

Finally, in the field of training, the European Union is also considering ways to engage with the United Nations on a less ad hoc and more predictable and systematic basis. Some concrete initiatives are currently underway, such as the "Europe's New Training Initiative for Civilian Crisis Management" financed by the Instrument for Stability (signed with ZIF/Berlin). The integrated training unit of the DPKO is an Associate member of this project and personnel being deployed to UN missions are eligible for funded participation.

To conclude Mr President,

The European Union thanks the Senior Advisory Group for having put forward a very important number of valuable recommendations aimed at better meeting the challenges in deploying the appropriate civilian expertise in a timely fashion.

The European Union is looking forward the implementation process and stands ready to work with the Secretary General and the whole UN membership to deliver on this important agenda.