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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2012


Statement by H.E. Jim McLay, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, 20 December 2012

We thank you, Mr President, for this debate, and the Secretary-General for his commendably brief and focused report and recommendations; and we thank Ambassador Momen for his briefing.

But, as we read the Secretary General’s report, we can’t escape the conclusion that the UN’s discussion of peace-building is still beset by its continued focus mainly on post-conflict environments. It is, of course, vital that once a conflict is over, the United Nations must play a key role in helping prevent a relapse; and the Secretary-General has demonstrated that the UN is developing some very useful methodologies in this regard.  But it’s no less vital that there be effective peace-building from the very earliest phases of peace-keeping operations - which raises issues that haven’t received sufficient attention from this Council; and we urge that, in 2013, it should come back to this unfinished business.

And there’s another point about peace-building, which was only implicit in the Secretary General’s report but is  right at the heart of this Council’s responsibilities and must therefore be highlighted – namely, the vital role of the peace-building methodology of not only preventing relapse into conflict but also of preventing and containing conflict in first place.  This is touched on in the report’s Introduction and we urge that, in future reports, this wider applicability of the methodology be expanded.

The report tells us that the accumulated experience of this United Nations reveals three key elements of peace-building methodology which really do work -

We should reflect, Mr President, on how different might have been the situation in Syria if the United Nations, including this Council, had much earlier applied those three concepts, particularly inclusivity. 

We could look at the Eastern DRC and reflect how much better things might now be in the Kivus if the UN had insisted – much earlier and much more firmly – on real political inclusivity and on building effective institutions.

In the context of inclusivity, we join Brazil and Luxembourg in welcoming the Secretary-General’s focus on the role of women in peace processes.

And, as for sustained international support, Timor-Leste comes quickly to mind, following UNMIT’s smooth transition over the past year.  We should not forget that, in 2006, we all failed in Timor-Leste.  We underestimated the importance of sustained international support; and the Timorese paid an unacceptable price.  Although Timor-Leste will not be on your active 2013 agenda, its experience teaches us that this Council should not prematurely wind back international support for UN peace-building.  The lesson is clear: premature cost- cutting is a false economy; too often, it simply transfers costs to vulnerable civilian populations - and, before long, the UN has to return to expensive peace-keeping.

Like Luxembourg, we welcome the Secretary-General’s reference to the “g7+” initiative of countries (including Timor-Leste), which have emerged from conflict, and deserve our respect and admiration for their efforts to help others.  We particularly support their five peace-building goals; and urge that this Council take each of those goals to heart as key benchmarks when constructing or reviewing Mission mandates.

I also join others in stressing the importance of improving the UN’s capacity rapidly to identify and deploy relevant civilian capacities.  The UN will struggle to be a credible and effective contributor in early peace-building settings until it is substantially better at deploying the right people with the right expertise in a more timely manner.

I echo and commend the Secretary-General’s recommendations to promote further improvements in the way the Peacebuilding Commission and the Security Council work together.  Indeed, those recommendations take me back to last month's debate on Council working methods, when we proposed that the Council focus on practical changes that would improve its effectiveness.  I therefore welcome the Secretary-General’s identification of Peacebuilding Commission/Security Council interaction as another practical area where working methods improvements would improve effectiveness; and urge that this Council carry that forward into its 2013 discussions on reforming Working Methods.

Finally, Mr President, as they leave the Council in a few days I convey New Zealand’s warm thanks to our friends from Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa for their tireless work on behalf of us all.  They have done us proud.


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Page last updated: Thursday, 31 January 2013 11:10 NZDT