We Can No Longer Be Bound by Traditional Approaches When Mending Societies Torn by Conflict, General Assembly Told in Annual Peacebuilding Debate

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Sixty-seventh General Assembly
69th Meeting (AM)

Secretary-General Pays Tribute to Late President of Bangladesh; Resolution Adopted on Cooperation with Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries

Peacebuilding was not a linear, progressive process, but a multifaceted one that required stepping into new partnerships and articulating new strategies, as mending societies in the aftermath of armed conflict remained a fragile undertaking, seven years after the foundations for United Nations peacebuilding were laid, delegates in the General Assembly heard today.

Launching the body’s annual consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, as well as that of the companion Peacebuilding Fund, was the Commission’s outgoing Chair, Abdul Momen of Bangladesh, who said: “We can no longer afford to remain in the custody of traditional and business-as-usual approaches to the link between security and socio-economic development.”

He pointed to an urgent need to address sources of protracted instability, and stressed that the challenges must be faced with the requisite resolve and determination, and bolder and more courageous steps should be taken to achieve sustainable peace and security.

He invited delegations to “envisage a new paradigm” for South-South and triangular cooperation, which, he said, could reinforce national ownership of peacebuilding. The Commission was uniquely positioned to become a platform for that paradigm through piloting concrete projects in the countries on its agenda — presently, Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone — and by helping to match the needs of those countries with the relevant experience of others, especially from the Global South.

The representative of Croatia, incoming Chair, described the Commission’s main goal as achieving cooperation and synergy in order to improve the lot of people on the ground and achieve sustainable peace and economic development in the countries on the Commission’s agenda. He lauded the Secretary-General’s initiative for civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict as an important contribution to national institution-building and the ensuing transformation.

Equally important, he said, was the Peacebuilding Fund’s activities to promote gender equality and empower women in the peacebuilding process. He intended to engage the Commission’s main constituencies and encourage more proactive contribution to its work and, in order to mobilize resources, he would explore new ways to strengthen cohesion among the political, security and development components of the Commission’s mandate.

The Assembly heard from the Chairs of two country-specific configurations. Brazil’s representative, heading the Guinea-Bissau configuration, emphasized that developing national capacity should be designed first and foremost to enable countries to assume ownership of their own. However, the efforts of the configuration were forestalled due to the coup d’état last April. She hoped that steps would be taken to restore international cooperation with the country.

Luxembourg’s representative, as Chair of the Guinea configuration, said that national reconciliation had been that configuration’s focus, although efforts to achieve certain goals had been challenged due organizational issues and the delay of elections. However, “dialogue has won the upper hand,” she stated, noting that once electoral modalities had been agreed, elections would be held.

Speakers in the Hall considered core tenets of peacebuilding, as well as ways to enhance the process in the myriad contexts in which the United Nations operates. The Head of the European Union delegation stressed the need to fully tap the Commission’s potential. He saw restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau and the holding of long-overdue legislative elections in Guinea as important test cases. At the same time, he applauded such progress as security sector reforms in Guinea and the support given by the configuration in Liberia for the launch of a national reconciliation strategy.

The delegate underscored the importance of regional cooperation between the configurations, notably in West Africa and in the context of the Mano River Union as illustrated by the joint mission of the Sierra Leone and Liberia configurations. He appealed for more attention to the situation in the Central African Republic, in light of recent developments on the ground there.

Important developments in peacebuilding were unfolding, said Egypt’s representative, pointing to implementation of the exit strategy of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). However, the military coup in Guinea-Bissau in April of this year illustrated the importance of implementing a regional comprehensive perspective that addressed trafficking of arms, drugs and humans. That approach would add new momentum to peacebuilding efforts, and towards that end, he proposed the establishment an African Union centre for post-conflict reconstruction and development.

Nigeria’s representative complained that insufficient support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration for two countries on the Commission’s agenda facing serious political difficulties was evident. Those countries, he said, would risk relapse into conflict without a greater commitment by Commission members to provide financial, technical and institutional support. At the same time, he said that while peacebuilding was necessary in the aftermath of conflict, it was not an effective long-term strategy.

Also today, the Assembly adopted by consensus a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries”. It was introduced by Antonio Gumende of Mozambique, in his capacity as Chair of the Permanent Representatives of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries. He said the text aims at strengthening cooperation between the Community and the United Nations, targeting, among others, the human right to adequate food and the eradication of hunger and poverty through political and diplomatic coordination and cooperation across all fields.

Prior to today’s proceedings, delegations observed a moment of silence in memory of the late Zillur Rahman, who had served Bangladesh as President since 2009. The Secretary-General, offering his condolences to the people of Bangladesh, stated that: “Today we mourn his loss, but take comfort that the country he helped to found is growing stronger by the day.”

Also paying tribute to Mr. Rahman were the representatives of Chad (on behalf of the African Group), Qatar (on behalf of the Asia Pacific Group), Republic of Moldova (on behalf of Eastern European States), Saint Lucia (on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean Group), Finland (on behalf of Western European and Other States Group), United States (on behalf of the host country) and Sri Lanka.

Additional statements during the discussion on peacebuilding were made by the representatives of Tunisia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Switzerland and Ukraine.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 27 March, to conclude its discussion of peacebuilding.