20 April 2017, New York – Statement delivered by H.E. Ms. Joanne Adamson, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 71st United Nations General Assembly on Item 29: Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its Tenth Session and Item 110: Report of the Secretary-General on the Peacebuilding Fund
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Mr. President, I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Armenia, align themselves with this statement.
Thank you for having convened today’s debate revolving around the Annual Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its tenth session and on the Peacebuilding Fund. This represents an excellent occasion to take stock of the achievements made over the past twelve months.
The year 2016 marked an important milestone in the existence and work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the UN Peace & Security Architecture as a whole. Almost one year ago, the GA and the Security Council adopted identical resolutions on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture. They were the most comprehensive resolutions on Peacebuilding the UN has adopted so far they clearly defined the concept of ‘sustaining peace’ acknowledging that it involves all stages of the cycle of conflict and should flow through all three pillars of the United Nations’ engagement. Peacebuilding should therefore no longer be seen as a post-conflict activity as the challenge of sustaining peace runs across the complete cycle of our engagement.
Today, we are faced with a rising number of violent conflicts in the world. The failure to sustain peace is part of the reason we are faced with this challenge. In fact, 90% of conflict onsets in the first decade of the 21st century took place in contexts that had experienced conflict before. Given this recurrent nature of violent conflict, sustaining peace equals conflict prevention in many cases.
We therefore welcome the emphasis placed by the Secretary General on conflict prevention as well as the clear imperative for all of us to work as hard as we can, collectively, on finally getting prevention right. Because we know we have often failed. On many fronts. As has been said by the Secretary General: “trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies”. The human suffering we are currently witnessing is immense, and frankly shameful.
It is therefore no longer a question of agreeing on the principle that prevention is better than firefighting and that sustaining efforts for peace reduces human and financial costs immensely in the long run. We know we must develop a political culture of acting sooner in response to the risk of violent conflict. And we must act together if we want to have any chance of success.
The European Union’s new Global Strategy emphasises the importance of acting promptly on prevention, whilst also responding responsibly and decisively to crises, investing in stabilisation, and avoiding premature disengagement. It also emphasises the importance of an integrated and comprehensive approach to conflict, one that starts with joint analysis; that brings to bear all the tools at our disposal to address conflict; that addresses the various inter-connected levels of conflict; and that emphasises the commitment of the EU to working through the multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core.
The Global Strategy promises that the EU will engage in a practical and principled way in sustaining peace, taking an integrated approach. Building on its Comprehensive Approach and working in the same inter-connected manner that is also embodied in the SDGs, the EU is stepping-up efforts and capabilities to further strengthen the way we bring together institutions, expertise, and instruments, and work with Member States in prevention, resolution and stabilisation.
It is by now well established common knowledge that security and development are closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing. The link permeates the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Building and sustaining peace is inescapably linked to inclusive development, resilience and human rights. Long term structural policies are not a luxury in times of many crises. Peaceful and inclusive societies, good governance, rule of law, an independent judiciary, a reliable police force and a public sector without corruption are best guarantors for sustainable peace and sustainable development, providing people with the means to lead secure and fulfilling lives at home. Sustaining peace requires that human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, protected and fulfilled.
We also need to develop more creative approaches to diplomacy. This includes the continued promotion of women’s roles in peace efforts. Women indeed need to be at the forefront of creating and sustaining peace, from the local to the international level, if we want to have any chance of succeeding. In this regard we welcome the adoption by the PBC of its own gender strategy to help guide its work on gender related issues of sustaining peace.
Turning now to the two annual reports before us today. Both are comprehensive documents, illustrating the complexity of peacebuilding challenges.
We appreciate the efforts by the Organizational Committee and the Peacebuilding Support Office to provide an assessment of the PBC’s work in pursuing its Forward Agenda for 2017. The EU welcomes the wider focus of the PBC beyond the countries on its agenda, as well as the regional approach. We also welcome the work of the PBC in implementing the recommendations of the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture.
The EU has also been a full member of all Country-specific configurations of the PBC since their inception and is trying to provide the best support possible for their success.
There is a clear role for the PBC when it engages with countries that undergo a transition period. The PBC is already working on ways to respond better to challenges identified by SRSGs, RCs, and other actors. In so doing, it can significantly contribute to the “One UN” vision.
Turning to the performance of the Country-specific Configurations over the past year, there is some good progress to report. We commend the efforts of all Configuration chairs. Nevertheless, many challenges remain to be tackled. This is particular the case for Burundi, where the dynamics continue on a downward spiral and illustrate the need for additional preventive measures, political attention and engagement to prevent a recurrence of violent conflict. Guinea-Bissau is also a case in point, with the continuing political stalemate increasing the risk of instability and socio-economic deterioration in the country.
The Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has achieved significant results and continues to have an important catalytic role. It remains a small-scale strategic fund that has to be followed 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 is open to explore further opportunities for joint funding. With regard to securing more predictable financing for peacebuilding, the EU stands ready to discuss options on financing at the 72nd session of the UNGA on the basis of the proposals to be made by the Secretary-General.
Before concluding I would like to extend my gratitude to the former Chair of the PBC, Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, whom I would like to thank for his commitment and the excellent work he has done.
We also look forward to continue working hand in hand with the current Chair, Ambassador Cho Tae-yul of the Republic of Korea, the PBC membership and the Peace Building Support Office to move things forward.
I thank you.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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