7 April 2016, New York – European Union Statement delivered by Gerton van den Akker, Chief of Staff/Head of Coordination, Press & Information Section, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 70th Session United Nations General Assembly Fourth thematic meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the General Assembly- Strengthening the institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly
– As delivered –
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Serbia*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank the Venezuelan presidency of the Security Council for organizing this timely debate on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture and for providing the Council and the UN as a whole with this opportunity for reflecting on ways to improve and strengthen the performance and impact of the Peacebuilding Architecture. Allow me also to thank Amb. Kamau, Amb. Skoog and Amb. Rosenthal for their valuable briefings.
The EU reiterates the great importance it attaches to an ambitious outcome of the Review and will continue to be actively engaged. We fully subscribe to the Advisory Group of Experts report’s conclusion that a “change in mind-set is needed”. Peacebuilding is no longer to be seen as a post-conflict activity as the challenge of sustaining peace runs across the complete cycle of our engagement. Given the recurrent nature of violent conflict, sustaining peace equals conflict prevention in many cases.
Once again, we would like to underscore the utmost importance of linking the Peacebuilding Review to the UNSG’s review of peace operations, the review of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Linking the recommendations of these crucial reviews and processes should ensure maximum coherence of the UN’s actions. In this regard, we welcome the High Level Thematic Debate the President of the General Assembly is holding in May, as well as the invitation to ECOSOC to pursue its cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission, which should take into account the follow-up and review process for the 2030 Agenda, including the role of the High Level Political Forum.
Peacebuilding was conceived to address the gap between security and development in fragile post-conflict countries. A basic premise is that peacebuilding should be done at the country-level and always adjusted to the specific country context. To be truly effective in its response in fragile states, the UN system needs to work in a more integrated, flexible and coordinated fashion – both at country level and headquarters level – and give more weight to prevention and early warning tools. There are already good examples of strengthened cooperation between UN entities in the field of peacebuilding and conflict prevention, in particular through the Joint UNDP/DPA Program on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention. Lessons and experiences from this programme could offer a useful reflection for a more integrated and flexible UN approach to peacebuilding.
Peacebuilding is an inherently political process that should be done on the basis of a long-term vision and a holistic approach. It should address the structural causes of conflict as well as contemporary risks of recurrence; provide for inclusive and participatory political processes; build strong and effective institutions, capable of addressing the root causes of conflict, and be responsive to people’s needs. It should promote inclusive national ownership, from Government, opposition and civil society; and a “bottom-up” approach. Special attention should be paid to vulnerable or excluded groups, including ethnic or religious minorities, political opposition groups, youth and other segments of society which are at particular risk. The role of women in peace consolidation should be given particular attention, both in terms of participation and representation, taking into account the principles outlined in the 2030 Agenda and UNSCR 1325. This is important in its own right, but also because we know that by doing so we raise the chance of sustaining peace. More in general, the human rights dimension should be integrated in peacebuilding, both as an overall objective as well as an important early warning tool.
In addition, the analytical capacities of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) should be strengthened in order to better monitor ongoing activities and assess the impact of the international efforts on the ground. The cooperation of the PBC with the authorities of the host state is important with the aim to promote national ownership of the peacebuilding efforts, and transfer of responsibilities from the UN actors to national authorities.
The PBC’s greatest comparative advantage is its convening power: the ability to call to task a large number of Member States, regional and sub-regional organisations, and help reconcile their approaches. But its ability to deliver this political added-value is hampered by a number of factors. Some country-specific configurations of the PBC have taken a more flexible and political attuned approach, and lessons should be learned from these experiences. Different – especially lighter – modes of the engagement for the PBC should be envisaged.
With regard to securing more predictable financing for peacebuilding, the EU believes it is important to address the silo approach of the donor community. The Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has achieved significant results, but the PBF is a small-scale strategic fund that has to be followed and complemented by longer-term commitments from other financing sources, which may be bilateral or multilateral, including multilateral and regional development banks. For its part the EU has already engaged in joint funding for peacebuilding projects via our Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, and further opportunities for joint funding should be explored.
The EU is keen to work in increasing partnership with the UN, including on the ground. The EU and the UN are as development actors collaborating closely in the field and are also engaged in a dialogue on conflict prevention that should be built on to further identify comparative advantages and opportunities for partnership. This includes raising the importance of prevention and early warning on the political agenda, also through international networks such as the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding.
In addition, the EU and the UN have built a strong and continuously evolving partnership in crisis management. EU CSDP missions such as EUTM and EUCAP in Mali or EUMAM in the CAR, focusing on security sector reform and capacity building, contribute to peacebuilding processes in a complementary way to UN peace operations. More generally, in the context of its Comprehensive Approach to external conflict and crises (adopted in 2014), which aims to enhance coherence, effectiveness and impact of the EU’s policy and action, the EU seeks to develop close coordination with the relevant UN entities on the ground. This is in particular the case already for peace or state building projects such as support to accountability mechanisms, the criminal justice chain or community policing. A shared conflict analysis is a good starting point for such cooperation.
Close strategic and operational partnerships between the UN and international, regional and sub-regional organisations and international financial institutions are also required to address the challenge of sustaining peace. The EU believes that this should be part of an ongoing dialogue between the UN and those organisations, and go beyond holding annual dialogues or high level working meetings.
We look forward for the review to produce bold, concrete and focused outcomes to improve the architecture to ensure effective, well-coordinated and complimentary peacebuilding efforts throughout the UN system.
I thank you.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process
 Secretary-General’s remarks to the General Assembly on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly [as delivered], 3 November 2015
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