Continuing its annual session in Geneva, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today held a panel discussion to examine how to best assist conflict-torn Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Angola enjoy lasting stability and transition from relief to development.
Noting that 65 per cent of countries emerging from war in Africa slipped back into conflict, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Carol Bellamy said transition must be about acting quickly and effectively to build and consolidate peace by laying the foundation for addressing the causes of the conflict.
Ms. Bellamy, who moderated the panel, said the challenges of transitions were complex and meeting them required more than humanitarian relief and development efforts, but a coherent strategy for creating stability and peace.
The main elements characterizing such transitional situations were the emergence of an administration, the restoration of civil authority, overall stabilization, increased security and access, as well as increased hope for the end of conflict, said Ameerah Haq, of the Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Recovery in the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction (4Rs) are the cornerstone to the sustainable peaceful co-existence and return of those displace by conflict, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers stated.
Echoing the need for approaches that promote long lasting peace, Ross Mountain of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in situations of transition, UN Country Teams must focus their priorities around goals such as normalizing the situation to enable full participation of the local population in the development process and identifying factors that could result in a conflict relapse.
Focusing on the situation in Angola, Eric de Mul, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, said the move from a situation of emergency to one of development made life much more difficult in many ways. Many more partners got involved and structural problems - which could not be tackled within the context of prior humanitarian programmes - emerged making it evident that coordination only worked when it represented added value to its participants.
Jacques Forster, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said transition periods should be understood as intermediate periods, where conflict had ended or was in remission. ICRC policy regarding assistance programmes was guided by the importance of adopting a participatory approach, strengthening local capacities, improving systems and addressing the psychological suffering of victims, among other factors, he added.
Panellists also noted the need to focus more attention on natural disasters.
Concluding the panel presentation, ECOSOC Vice-President Valery Kuchinsky reaffirmed that the UN was indispensable in implementing a transition from relief to development.