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Despite progress of UN peacebuilding agenda, challenges remain, Security Council told

The Security Council.
UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
The Security Council.

Despite progress of UN peacebuilding agenda, challenges remain, Security Council told

The United Nations has made progress in its efforts to assist countries during the critical period after a conflict has ended, but challenges remain, as witnessed by the number of countries that have relapses in recent years, the Security Council was told today.

“Despite the strides we have made, major peacebuilding challenges remain,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks to the Council’s debate on post-conflict peacebuilding.

“Many countries continue to experience instability years after the end of armed conflict, with high levels of relapse into violence. Ninety per cent of the conflicts between 2000 and 2009 occurred in countries that had previously experienced civil war,” he noted.

“The reasons for relapse,” he continued, “vary by country, but there is a common thread: a deficit of trust in the wake of conflict – between different political parties and social groups, between State and society, and between the State and its international partners.”

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.

In his 2009 report on peacebuilding, Mr. Ban had identified the first two years after the end of a conflict as the key window of opportunity to begin building sustainable peace. He also laid out an action agenda for an improved response by the UN system during this period.

“The United Nations has made significant progress in advancing this agenda,” he said. “United Nations missions and country teams are working more closely together. The United Nations has also become more agile in deploying senior leaders, specialized experts and staff to the field.”

The world body has also strengthened and expanded its partnerships, including with the World Bank and regional organizations. And, through the so-called Civilian Capacity initiative, the UN is broadening and deepening the pool of institution-building expertise in key capacity gap areas.

“The outcome of these various efforts has been a more coherent, timely and effective response to immediate post-conflict priorities,” said the Secretary-General.

He added that experience has revealed three elements that are critical to preventing relapse and producing more resilient states and societies – inclusivity, institution-building, and sustained international support.

Building institutions and other peacebuilding tasks can take a generation, which highlights the need for sustained international political and financial support, the UN chief said. It also underscores the importance of mutual accountability over the long term, which creates a more balanced partnership between donors and recipient Governments.

“The United Nations peacebuilding agenda is in the normative phase,” said the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen of Bangladesh. “While not perfect, our efforts are making a difference and are worthy of our collective commitment and investment.”

The Commission has been focusing strengthening partnership with national governments, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, while also prioritizing its outreach to foundations and private corporations

“Our immediate objective will be to identify practical entry points which could help encourage these critical actors to support peacebuilding objectives in the countries on the Commission’s agenda,” the Commission’s Chair said.

He noted that progress is also being made by the Commission to identify options for “differentiated and flexible” forms of engagement with the countries on its agenda to enhance the Commission’s impact on the ground.

Looking ahead, he stressed the need to draw on lessons learned from country-specific experiences, in terms of good practices, challenges and opportunities.

In a presidential statement, the Council stressed the need for “more coordinated, coherent and integrated peacebuilding efforts,” and emphasized the need for greater clarity on the respective roles and responsibilities of various actors in the delivery of critical peacebuilding tasks, based on their comparative advantages.

It also emphasized the importance of focused, well-defined, balanced and sustained support to partnerships with post-conflict countries, and underlined the importance of effective collaboration with international financial institutions, regional development banks and the private sector, as well as the usefulness of sharing the experience of countries which have gone through conflict and post-conflict situations and comparable transitions.