UN Security Council Open Debate: Post-conflict Peacebuilding: Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture
Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 23 February 2016.
I thank Venezuela for convening this meeting and also the briefers Ambassador Kamau, Ambassador Skoog and Ambassador Rosenthal.
In the past two decades, our understanding of what makes for effective peacebuilding has grown markedly.
It is now accepted that effective political transitions and national reconciliation processes, the reform and strengthening of security and rule of law institutions, and the creation of employment and economic opportunities can be critical for sustaining peace.
Similarly, peacebuilding is now recognised as something that underlies every step in the conflict cycle, not only as something that follows at the end of conflict resolution and peacekeeping activities.
We also better acknowledge now the central importance of national ownership to the long term success of peacebuilding efforts.
At the same time we have learned a great deal about what not to do, and have identified areas where we need to do better.
Today I will highlight four areas where New Zealand considers we need to improve our collective performance.
First, we support the Advisory Group’s call for the Council to play a more active role in peacebuilding.
The Council must focus on key areas of comparative advantage, and integrate peacebuilding objectives into Mission planning from the earliest stages.
While the Council is not best placed to provide overall leadership of UN peacebuilding efforts, it plays a critical role in mandating early peacebuilding tasks and mobilising the necessary resources in many immediate post-conflict settings.
Second, there needs to be more consistent and meaningful engagement between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.
New Zealand has been one of many countries to call for this since the Commission’s establishment in 2005. This should not be a question of powers or prerogatives - both the Commission and the Council benefit by sharing their knowledge and expertise. Making doctrinal distinctions between the two bodies’ respective competences is a barrier to the integrated, joined up approach that should be our aim and should become the norm.
We’ve been pleased to see positive examples, such as the briefing by the Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Country Configuration during our discussions on the peacebuilding mission to Guinea Bissau (UNIOGBIS) last week and we strongly support his involvement in the Council mission to Guinea Bissau next week. We want to see greater engagement between the Council and the PBC.
Additionally, the Council could benefit from the Commission’s advice on issues such as designing meaningful benchmarks to measure the completion of peacebuilding mandates.
Third, as all briefers have emphasised, this Council needs to better recognise the essential role of partnerships in achieving and sustaining peacebuilding gains, particularly in regards to institutional capacity building.
We still have some way to go to consistently achieve national ownership in practice. We support the recommendation of the Advisory Group to use mechanisms such as “Peacebuilding Compacts” to foster improved understanding and more meaningful ownership of programmes by national stakeholders. New Zealand has seen such agreements benefit regional peacebuilding missions in our own region.
Equally important is the need for better coordination with other peacebuilding actors – including UN agencies, International Financial Institution, non-governmental organisations and bilateral donors - to promote coherence in international assistance.
UN Country Teams have a central role to play in this regard, particularly during peace operation transitions, when coordination with longer term development partners is critical for ensuring peacebuilding gains are sustained beyond the life of the Mission. We support the Advisory Group’s recommendation to strengthen the offices of Resident Coordinators during such transitions, even on a temporary basis, to assist with taking forward and reallocating the peacebuilding tasks of departing Missions.
Fourth, as others have also emphasised, the fragmentation of peacebuilding efforts across the UN system needs to be addressed.
Competing mandates, funding sources and accountabilities can pose enormous challenges for achieving and sustaining unity of vision and effort across different UN entities.
The Advisory Group has outlined a range of recommendations to address this, including more integrated strategic planning, more accountable senior leadership, and stronger peacebuilding expertise in critical areas. We encourage the Secretary-General to take these forward.
Let me conclude by commending the efforts of Angola and Australia as co-facilitators of the intergovernmental consultations on the 2015 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. We look forward to considering a Security Council resolution in response to the review in the near future.
In the coming year, important decisions are expected with regard to the transitions in Liberia, Haiti and Cote d’Ivoire that will strongly influence the prospects for sustaining the hard fought peacebuilding gains in those countries. Let us ensure we draw on the lessons we have learnt when making those decisions. I thank you.