The main challenge facing the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission in the next year is to transform its plans and strategies for Burundi and Sierra Leone into tangible results on the ground in the two countries, the incoming chair of the body said today.
Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of Japan, who was elected today to succeed the outgoing chair, Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of Angola, told journalists that the Commission – set up to help fragile nations recover from the effects of conflict – had made impressive strides since it began a year ago.
Burundi and Sierra Leone were chosen as the first two countries to receive assistance, and detailed strategies have been outlined for the two African States in consultation with their governments and with other international and national organizations.
But now is the time to “get things done,” Mr. Oshima said. “We are not there yet but we are a good way to achieving those objectives.”
While the Commission should continue to work aggressively in helping Burundi and Sierra Leone, it should also consider expanding its roster of countries receiving support, Mr. Oshima added, suggesting that other African countries may be chosen first.
He also said the Commission should take up cross-border issues such as youth unemployment, the rule of law and security sector reform now that it is firmly established.
In his address today to the conclusion of the Commission’s first session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “proud to be associated with your first year, and your important achievements. The Peacebuilding Commission has a long and exciting future in front of it.”
Mr. Ban stressed that any “efforts to consolidate peace and development must be based on the needs and perspectives of the countries themselves. The marriage of national ownership and international partnership is the key.”
General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa congratulated the Commission for undertaking “its sensitive tasks with seriousness and perseverance. It has firmly established itself as an important new intergovernmental body with a membership that reflects key UN bodies and stakeholders.”
Sheikha Haya called on the Commission to establish a closer working relationship with other parts of the UN system, particularly the General Assembly.