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Post-conflict peacebuilding: Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) Annual Report

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Thank you, Mr President.

We express appreciation to Rwanda for your leadership on the issue of peacebuilding, including on the relationship between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, and I thank Ambassador Vladimir Drobnjak and Ambassador Antonio Patriota for their briefings.

Today’s meeting is a key opportunity to reflect on the UN’s peacebuilding endeavours in the lead up to the 10-year review in 2015.

In doing so, we should recall the genesis of the Peacebuilding Commission, and in particular, what drove its establishment.  Kofi Annan referred to a “gaping hole” in the UN’s institutional machinery: the UN had no formal mechanism to support post-conflict countries transition to stability, and to sustain international attention beyond the headline-grabbing conflict period.  The PBC and Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) have made essential progress in filling that gap, with critical support of course from the PBSO.

Since the PBC was established in 2005 peacebuilding efforts have evolved considerably.

The PBC report we are discussing today includes success stories, in which country-specific configurations have demonstrated their value.  We have seen the transition out of UNIPSIL in Sierra Leone, in which the PBC and PBF have played a ‘bridging’ role, sustaining international attention and ameliorating the so-called ‘financing cliff’.  Liberia is similarly making progress in its transition, supported by the PBC configuration.

But we have also seen relapse – in the Central African Republic and South Sudan – causing extreme suffering, erasing development gains, and threatening regional stability.  We encourage the PBC to continue to work with the Security Council during the stand-up of the UN’s integrated peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

We have seen the emergence of the g7+ and New Deal, which champion national ownership and leadership of a country’s own path towards sustainable development agenda in a very practical way.  We commend the leadership of Timor-Leste and its partners on this agenda.

We have also just had the first annual session of the PBC, at which the Deputy Secretary-General highlighted that the best way to assist post-conflict countries is to help them to build their own futures. We share his view that countries’ capacity to raise their own revenues, including through taxation, and to fight illegal flows, by supporting action on corruption, bribery and transparency of tax information is critical to peacebuilding efforts.  Such transformative assistance should be a core element of the peacebuilding function, and we very much welcomed the focus on this aspect at the first annual PBC session.

The Peacebuilding Fund has developed into an effective mechanism to deliver fast, flexible funding, taking risks and filling vital gaps.  We welcome the increased involvement of the Peacebuilding Fund, to support post-conflict peacebuilding in Papua New Guinea.  With the referendum on Bougainville’s future political status to take place between 2015 and 2020, the next few years will be critical to consolidating the peacebuilding process.

We are pleased that gender and women’s empowerment is a focus of the Peacebuilding Fund Business Plan 2014-16, although we’re still a long way from the target of 15 per cent of funding for projects focused on gender equality.  We need to do better on this.

We welcome that there are now many more players in the peacebuilding field.  The World Bank and other International Financial Institutions are strongly focused on post-conflict issues, as are regional organisations.  This brings a valuable range of experience and analysis.

So the 2015 review of the peacebuilding architecture – mandated to be “comprehensive” – should take into account all these developments.  It should take as its starting point the original purpose of the peacebuilding architecture – the “gaping hole”, because there are clearly still important gaps.    We should also look at the full range of actors involved in peacebuilding, including UN funds and programs, to ensure we are fostering coherence and coordination across the UN system.  We must avoid artificial divides between the peacebuilding and development architecture of the UN.  The review should provide recommendations for the UN development system that can be taken up in the next Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review in 2016 to allow the system to fully deliver on the post-2015 development agenda.

A fundamental question for the Security Council is the nature of the relationship between the Council and the peacebuilding architecture.  The review provides an opportunity for us to articulate clearly how the PBC can most effectively complement the Council’s work.  Australia has been a consistent advocate for deepening this relationship, with more frequent formal and informal interaction.  We must promote engagement between the two that is effective.  The PBC can act as an early warning mechanism and a key source of advice, and we agree with the Chair of the PBC that the Council should draw on that advice in a considered and meaningful way.

The Burundi configuration provides a good case-study of the value-add the PBC can bring.  At a delicate time in Burundi’s peacebuilding process, the Configuration’s cooperation with the Council has been important and we hope this continues and that Burundi takes the actions necessary to maintain stability and hold free and fair elections in 2015.

In concluding, we must remember that peacebuilding is a complex process, and as others have said this morning, very context-specific.  It is about building citizens’ confidence in their government, and renewing that trust.  The PBC must ensure that the UN has the most effective architecture possible to help ensure the 1.5 billion people living in states affected by violence and conflict are spared from the devastating impact of relapse, and have the opportunity to live their lives in an environment of security and stability.

Australia looks forward to the December report from the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict, and the opportunity to debate what more the Council might do to promote effective and coherent UN peacebuilding.

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