8579th Security Council Meeting: Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

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18-Jul-2019 02:34:37
United Nations focusing more strongly on managing peacekeeping operation drawdowns to retain security, development gains, Secretary-General tells Security Council at 8579th meeting.

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The United Nations is paying greater attention to managing transitions during the drawdown and subsequent closure of its peace operations as they, if poorly handled, could reverse progress made, Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council today.

Usually the result of progress towards peace, transitions of the Organization’s special political missions and peacekeeping operations offer hope, potential and promise, he said. But, they also pose risks as the international community may pay less attention to the country concerned and strategic gains achieved during decades of international support can hang in the balance. The resulting loss of life, economic devastation and reversal of development gains caused by a relapse into conflict can go far beyond a country’s borders.

“Nationally owned and forward-looking transitions are therefore a priority for the entire United Nations system,” he said, also stressing the need to prioritize and strengthen partnerships with national stakeholders, international financial institutions and Member States to ensure their success. “Strong partnerships […] can help avoid a sudden drop-off in support as our presence is reconfigured,” he said.

For example, in 2016, the United Nations, World Bank and the European Union helped the Central African Republic Government draw up a National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan, he said. Donors have pledged $2.2 billion to implement it.

Also briefing the Council were senior officials of international and regional financial institutions. Franck Bousquet, Senior Director of the Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group of the World Bank, said half of the world’s extreme poor will live in conditions marred by fragility, conflict and violence by 2030. Collective efforts must focus on addressing these conditions to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. The World Bank has doubled resources to $14 billion in recent years to do so through its International Development Association, including by investing in prevention, supporting refugees and host communities and catalysing private sector investment in the most difficult environments, and by strengthening partnerships across the humanitarian‑development‑peace nexus.

Yero Baldeh, Director of the Transition States Coordination Office of the African Development Bank Group, noted that most fragile situations in the world are in African countries, and empowering them is a core part of his financial institution’s mission. The 2014‑2019 strategy for addressing fragility and building resilience in Africa guides these efforts by focusing on strengthening State capacity, promoting equitable access to employment and basic services and advocating actions that foster resilience and build partnerships to achieve them. The Bank seeks to increase resources for addressing fragile situations and creating more flexible, responsive intervention, he said, adding that it has created a dedicated financing mechanism, the Transition Support Facility.

Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Carlos Holmes Trijillo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said transition phases must include joint planning involving strong and coordinated partnerships with key stakeholders to, among other things, close political gaps and prevent backsliding on progress, as can be seen on mission closures in Côte d’Ivoire in 2017 and in Liberia in 2018. Indeed, one of the principal purposes of the Peacebuilding Commission is to “fill the vacuum” in institutional and structural capacity, he said. The Commission has progressively used its convening power to promote effective partnerships, including in Liberia. Recognizing the role the Commission can play for successful transitions, the Security Council has asked for its advice in some cases and encouraged it to deliver recommendations.

In the ensuing debate — in which Member States affected by United Nations mission drawdowns participated alongside Council members — delegates explored how the Council, together with the Peacebuilding Commission, can better promote nationally owned transitions and utilize key lessons learned from previous transition processes to sustain peace during forthcoming processes.

“Getting those transitions right is a top priority,” said the representative of the United Kingdom, stressing the need to align United Nations peace mandates with nationally owned peacebuilding processes. Proposing some measures, he encouraged the United Nations, the Security Council and their partners to make better use of data, also urging the Secretariat to consider ways to engage the World Bank in strategic assessments.

Equatorial Guinea’s delegate said the international community must provide support to help fragile countries achieve socioeconomic development and assist them in the design of their reconstruction and development strategy, citing the cases of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia as good examples.

The speaker from Côte d’Ivoire said the drawdown and exit of the peacekeeping mission from his country — the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) — in 2017 was the fruit of a lengthy process, nurtured over years, with the Government taking early ownership of key pillars of peacebuilding. A successful transition depended on clear and specific priorities, as well as accounting for vulnerabilities that could trigger renewed conflict, he added.

Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti said his country has not yet emerged from a situation of armed conflict. “Enduring peace goes hand in hand with long-term development and piecemeal solutions will always be fragile,” he stated. Welcoming the transition to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti as a positive step and recognition of the efforts of the Haitian authorities, he said there has been undeniable progress, notably in building the capacity of the Haiti National Police, but much remains to be done. Enduring peace cannot be achieved in a context of poverty, hunger, social inequality and exclusion, he said, stressing that the growing importance of climate change and natural disasters on security and stability in Haiti must be considered. Going forward, the Organization’s presence must shore up national efforts and civil society initiatives to address root causes.

Timor-Leste’s Minister for Legal Reforms and Parliamentary Affairs underscored the role that the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor‑Leste (UNMIT) played in helping his country achieve self-determination. Recalling in detail his country’s experience, he noted that the Government had assumed responsibility, in consultation with UNMIT and other stakeholders, for deciding the nature, activities and role of the United Nations after the Mission’s withdrawal. Continued stability, free and fair elections, the formation of a national Government, ensuring democratic space for the opposition and progress in other areas, including human rights, were part of the transition plan. While Timor-Leste hopes its experience can be useful, he stressed that one size really does not fit all and there are no quick fixes.

Several Council members commended the role of the Peacebuilding Commission and its increased engagement with their organ, with Peru’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Council President for July and speaking in his national capacity, stressing its role in creating synergies between the United Nations and other entities and providing strategic guidance. The Russian Federation’s delegate added that the Commission can boost the quality of recommendations to the Council, and it should be borne in mind that Council members also participate in that Commission’s discussions and country configurations.

France’s delegate said that, to prevent fragile countries from relapse into conflict, innovative financing for peacebuilding projects is necessary, such as from the private sector. France’s development agency has created a dedicated fund for peacebuilding and resilience, he added. Echoing this view, Poland’s delegate said consideration should be given to leveraging more private resources for development in the form of blended finance.

Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, South Africa, China, Kuwait, Belgium, United States, Dominican Republic and Indonesia.

The meeting began at 3:08 p.m. and ended at 5:42 p.m.

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