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UN’s peacebuilding tools need to be enhanced, Security Council told

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Security Council on peacebuilding.
UN Photo/Mark Garten
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Security Council on peacebuilding.

UN’s peacebuilding tools need to be enhanced, Security Council told

The United Nations peacebuilding architecture holds tremendous potential to help countries make the transition from conflict to sustainable peace and development, top officials told the Security Council today, while stressing the need to enhance the effectiveness of the tools available in this area.

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.

The Commission currently has six post-conflict countries on its agenda – Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone – and its efforts are supported by the Peacebuilding Support Office. Countries can also avail themselves of financial assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund to jump-start rebuilding projects.

As the Council met to discuss the UN’s peacebuilding architecture, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that these bodies were established to reinforce ongoing efforts on the ground in conflict-affected countries.

“Yet questions remain as to the focus and effectiveness of these bodies,” he told the meeting, chaired by Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín of Colombia, which holds the rotating Council presidency for this month.

“Two years after the mixed review of the peacebuilding architecture, we are seeing signs that it has begun to come of age and is making a difference. This is the case particularly in those instances when the Peacebuilding Commission, Fund and Support Office reinforce each other and work hand-in-hand with the UN presence on the ground.

“But of course, much remains to be done,” he said, highlighting three areas in which the impact of the UN’s peacebuilding tools can be enhanced.

The first is that the PBC should do more to leverage its unique membership and collective ability to mobilize resources. “Through distinct messages that complement those of others, the Commission can reinforce efforts by national actors, Member States, and the UN family at Headquarters and on the ground,” the UN chief said.

Second, the PBC should sustain the focus on longer-term peacebuilding, he said, noting that its contribution can be particularly valuable in galvanizing international commitment beyond the limited life-spans of UN missions on the ground.

Third, the PBC may be able to add significant value in some non-mission settings, where national authorities and Resident Coordinators would benefit from the inter-governmental support that the Commission can bring to bear, said the Secretary-General.

“In order for the PBC to fully meet its potential, the Security Council should offer greater clarity on what type of advice it would like from the PBC in its deliberations and in the definition of mandates,” he added. “This would help UN lead departments and actors in the field coordinate with the Commission, and reduce the risk of duplication.”

Mr. Ban stated that the UN is committed to maximizing the potential of the Commission and the wider peacebuilding architecture, adding that, assisted by the Support Office and in synergy with operational lead entities, the Commission’s impact in the field can be further amplified.

He stressed that the support of Member States is vital, particularly for the Peacebuilding Fund, which has proven itself as “a timely and flexible financing instrument” when peacebuilding needs are most acute and when few other resources are available for early post-conflict interventions.

“We have much work ahead of us,” he stated. “But if the UN family, Member States and the wider multilateral system work together in support of nationally-owned strategies, we can have an impact far greater than any single entity could achieve on its own. That is what we owe the peoples we serve, and we look forward to deepening this work together.”

Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen of Bangladesh, who serves as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, said it is essential that countries on the Commission’s agenda do not relapse into conflict, making it vital to continue to maintain the focus on enhancing the PBC’s impact in the field.

“This impact should be ideally manifested through empowering national actors to own and lead the peacebuilding process, and through ensuring that the UN and other key actors are positioned to support this endeavour,” he stated.

“Our goal is also to offer all relevant national actors a fair chance at building resilient societies and institutions,” he added. “This is undoubtedly a goal shared by the Security Council and the broader membership of the UN. This is a goal that can only be attained if we manage to muster the necessary political will and commitment.”