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Countries emerging from conflict need help of entire UN family, says outgoing official

Countries emerging from conflict need help of entire UN family, says outgoing official

Amb. Peter Wittig
The task of consolidating peace in a country emerging from conflict belongs to the entire United Nations family and not just to its peacebuilding architecture, the outgoing chair of the Peacebuilding Commission said today.

“The challenge is huge,” Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany told a news conference in New York, after handing over the chairmanship of the Commission to Ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana of Rwanda.

“There is a rather sobering diagnosis that half of the countries where a peacekeeping operation was deployed relapsed into conflict within 10 years of the departure of the peacekeeping operation,” he noted.

“The challenge is of course to change that and to put more emphasis on the task of consolidating the peace after the conflict. That’s a challenge for the whole UN family, not just for the peacebuilding architecture.”

The cornerstone of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture is the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), which was set up in 2005 to help struggling States avoid slipping back into war and chaos by providing strategic advice and harnessing expertise and financing from around the world to aid with recovery projects.

While previously there were four countries on the Commission’s agenda – Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic (CAR) – a fifth, Liberia, was added in 2010. Its efforts are supported by the Peacebuilding Support Office, headed by Assistant-Secretary General Judy Cheng-Hopkins.

Countries can also avail themselves of financial assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund to jump-start rebuilding projects.

Among the achievements of the past year, Mr. Wittig cited advances in enhancing the partnerships between the Commission and international financial institutions and regional organizations, such as the World Bank and the African Union.

In addition, the Commission had strengthened its relationships with UN bodies, including the Security Council. “Of course, it takes two to tango – the Council has to be prepared to listen to advice and the PBC has to be able to give advice and has to prove that it has an added value,” Mr. Wittig said.

He emphasized that the “litmus test of peacebuilding” is whether the situation on the ground improves and whether the people in conflict-torn societies receive the help they need.

“This is the yardstick that all our efforts should be geared toward.”