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General Assembly Hears Calls to Maximize Potential of Peacebuilding Commission

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GA/11634
Sixty-ninth Session, 85th Meeting (AM) General Assembly Meetings Coverage

Speakers Urge Honest and Critical Review Process

Acclaiming peacebuilding as central to the international community’s collective efforts to build sustained international stability, speakers at the General Assembly today urged the ongoing review of the topic to explore ways of maximizing the potential of the Peacebuilding Commission.

Opening a joint debate on the annual reports of the Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund, Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly, said conflict-affected countries and communities suffered severe and agonizing losses that might take decades of dedicated attention to overcome. Limiting the risk of relapse into conflict was among the most difficult and perplexing challenges facing the international community.

The need for sustained engagement in post-conflict areas was evident following the outbreak of the Ebola virus this past year, he said. Hard fought peace gains in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were suddenly and unexpectedly put at risk due to the unprecedented epidemic. In a matter of months, important progress that had been made in critical areas, including security, governance, political stability, social cohesion and economic recovery was put in jeopardy.

He said that the Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund had made significant strides in 2014, including valuable contributions beyond the six countries on the Commission’s agenda. In the year ahead, he added, the peacebuilding architecture would undergo a comprehensive review, a major undertaking some 10 years after its establishment. Member States would consider the findings through an intergovernmental process that should be concluded by a concurrent decision by the Council and the Assembly before the end of the year.

Presenting the Commission’ report, Antonio De Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, former Chair of the body, said it reflected the range of cross-cutting and country-specific work undertaken in 2014. The Commission had confirmed its potential as a platform leveraging the political weight of its members in support of peace consolidation, a potential that should be further realized.

The gender dimension of peacebuilding deserved continuing attention and unwavering commitment as well, he said, adding that defining and improving the nature and scope of its advisory function to the Security Council and General Assembly continued to be one of the body’s major goals.

Olof Skoog of Sweden, current Chair of the Commission, said the original vision of more effectively helping countries transition from war to lasting peace and filling the related institutional gap in the United Nations system remained today. The review of peacebuilding, Ebola recovery, financing and support for and coordination with regional organizations would be the main priorities of 2015.

In the ensuing debate, speakers highlighted the Commission’s successes and pointed to areas that needed improvement. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Head of the European Union Delegation said the Commission must respond better to challenges identified by Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, Regional Coordinators and other actors. In so doing, it could significantly contribute to the “One UN” vision.

While the Commission’s greatest comparative advantage was its ability to mobilize a large number of actors and help reconcile their approaches, he said delivering on that “added value” had been hampered by a number of factors, including what he called the “flexible and politically attuned approach” that some country-specific configurations had taken. The review should explore how to maximize the potential of the Commission’s unique composition.

Motohide Yoshikawa, the representative of Japan, said last year’s discussions in the Working Group on Lessons Learned, which he had chaired, identified two major challenges to the transition process: gaps in funding and technical capacity for peacebuilding priorities and challenges to sustaining inclusive political processes. The Commission could create an environment conducive to smooth transitions in its agenda countries through its advisory function vis-à-vis the Governments concerned, the Security Council and other stakeholders.

Turning to the Peacebuilding Fund, Mr. Yoshikawa said it needed to ensure national ownership and strengthen partnership with other donors in order to implement programmes outlined in its 2014-2016 business plan. He expected it to continue its important role in Africa and other parts of the world, pledging Japan’s continued support.

Pakistan’s representative, Sahebzada A. Khan, noting that his country was a member of the Commission and one of the top troop contributors for peacekeeping in some of the countries on its agenda, stressed the imperative of advancing the peacebuilding strategies. While international support remained critical it was also important that domestic resources were mobilized, to make the exercise sustainable.

Asoke K. Mukerji, the representative of India, said the United Nations needed to go beyond short-term fixes and address long-term socioeconomic development of host countries. Sustainable peace could not be achieved unless a population was confident that its grievances would be redressed in a just manner.

Several speakers lauded the Commission’s successful response to the Ebola outbreak in three countries on its agenda, with the representative of the United States, David Dunn, attributing that to, among other things, a flexible funding mechanism. The Commission had played a major role to keep peace in Burundi on track and remained on top of the situation in the Central African Republic, some noted.

Many speakers stressed the need for an honest and critical review process, urging that Member States and United Nations agencies become actively engaged in a process. It was important to recognize that peacebuilding might involve high risks, tough political choices, and fundamental changes to societies and economies, stressed Michael Grant, the representative of Canada. Along with other speakers, the representative of Australia, Gillian Bird, stressed the need to ensure that the peacebuilding review was coordinated with the Secretary-General’s review of peace operations, as well as with the global study on women and peace and security.

National Governments bore the primary responsibility for post-conflict peacebuilding efforts based on their specific contexts and requirements with international support and coordination, said Petr V. Iliichev, the representative of the Russian Federation. As peacebuilding had complex and multifaceted aspects, it would be counterproductive to focus excessively on gender and human rights issues which might not be the immediate issues on hand. He also stressed the need for a thorough review of the Central African Republic’s relapse into conflict.

Describing the Peacebuilding Fund as a unique mechanism in the architecture, Talaibek Kydyrov, the representative of Kyrgyzstan, stressed the importance of increasing donor contributions so that the Fund could achieve its $100 million target and implement effectively its plan for the next two years.

The representative of Burundi, Albert Shingiro, said that, in his country the Commission had participated in mobilizing regional and international support in a post-conflict setting. The body should henceforth rely on the round table in Bujumbura on the processes necessary for holding elections and ensuring sustainable development there. The Commission was well-placed to harmonize the different dimensions of post-conflict response and must include regional and subregional perspectives in its work. Furthermore, the body should strengthen cooperation with the African Union and immediate neighbours of countries on its agenda.

Also making statements on peacebuilding were the representatives of Indonesia, Morocco, Portugal, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea, China, Colombia, Egypt, Croatia, Netherlands, Rwanda, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Denmark, Rwanda, Guatemala, Nepal, Kenya and Chile.

In other business this morning, the Assembly elected Portugal as a member of the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a term beginning 16 April 2015 and expiring 31 December 2017. In so doing, the President recalled that the Economic and Social Council had decided to postpone the nomination of three members from Western European and other States for election by the General Assembly: one member for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring 31 December 2015 and two members for terms expiring 31 December 2017. It also had postponed the nomination of one member from Asia-Pacific States for a term ending 31 December 2017.

The Assembly also appointed Bahrain as a member of the Committee on Conferences on the recommendation of the Asia-Pacific Group, for a term beginning 16 April 2015 and ending 31 December 2017.

For information media. Not an official record.