Effective assistance key to shoring up peace in post-conflict nations, says Ban

22 July 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Ending war is only the first step in peacebuilding, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, stressing the need for well-planned and coordinated international support in the immediate aftermath of conflict to ensure the consolidation of stability.

Peacebuilding entails “putting in place the institutions and trust that will carry people forward into a peaceful future,” Mr. Ban told the Security Council.

There is a crucial two-year period following the end of hostilities, when insecurity persists and peace is fragile, he added. “If peace is to be sustainable, the international community must make the most of this moment and provide the right support at the right time.”

But he warned that there is only “a limited window of opportunity” in which to deliver peace dividends, including boosting security, restoring basic services and kick-starting economic recovery.

Briefing the 15-member Council on his latest report on peacebuilding, the Secretary-General said he has seen first-hand the impacts of slow or inadequate responses to post-conflict needs in countries such as Sudan, Haiti, Liberia and Timor-Leste.

He called for a five-pronged approach to ensuring that peacebuilding is better-planned and managed.

Firstly, Mr. Ban said, such a response would require national ownership, for “peace will not take root if it comes from the outside,” and the UN and its partners should play a supporting role.

Also essential is international leadership, he said, pointing out that he has created a senior-level mechanism that will ensure that the right leadership and support teams are in place as early as possible.

Coherence is another vital element, with effective peacebuilding actions requiring the cooperation of all members of the UN family and others.

Another key facet is a common strategy, the Secretary-General said, noting that even though in the wake of conflicts, “everything feels urgent, and there are many pressing needs,” it is essential to align behind a joint approach.

Lastly, predictable and credible delivery is vital, he stressed, adding that “Member States need to help ensure that we have sufficient international capacity to respond rapidly to the most urgent needs.”

At today’s meeting, which heard from dozens of speakers, Mr. Ban also underscored the importance of funding, with some UN entities facing “serious challenges” in securing timely financing.

“For over a decade we have been grappling with how to bring peacebuilding upstream and mount a more rapid and effective response in the immediate aftermath of conflict,” he wrote in the report. “However, at this time of global resource constraints, when the most vulnerable bear the brunt of economic downturn, there is a new urgency to redouble our efforts and ensure that resources are used more efficiently by promoting a more coherent, effective and focused response

“The people in post-conflict countries will benefit if we move from words to action,” said Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile, who is the current chairman of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, which was set up in 2005 to help countries coming out of war determine the priority areas for rebuilding out of the vast array of challenges they face. Countries can also avail themselves of financial assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund to start projects.

At the end of the day-long meeting, the Council issued a presidential statement, in which it stressed that “ending impunity is essential if a society recovering from conflict is to come to terms with past abuses committed against civilians affected by armed conflict and to prevent such future abuses.”

Justice and reconciliation mechanisms can help endorse individual responsibility for crimes, “but also peace, truth, reconciliation and the rights of victims,” it added.

The statement also underscored the importance of “rapid, flexible and predictable funding” for peacebuilding, as well as the significance of launching post-conflict assistance as early as possible.


♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.