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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.


1. Let me start out by thanking Bosnia and Herzegovina for organising this debate on institution-building in the context of post-conflict peacebuilding. You have first-hand experience of how important a topic this is and how deserving of the Council’s attention.

2. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Iceland+ and Montenegro*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

3. “Nothing is possible without men, but nothing is lasting without institutions.” This is a quote by Jean Monnet, the chief architect of European unity. The late Richard Holbrooke, the chief architect of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s peace accords, once invoked these words when arguing that you can’t build peace without building institutions.

4. As the concept paper for today’s debate underscores, national authorities are in the lead here, but the international community has an important supporting role to play. From our side, let me, for the sake of brevity, highlight just three elements that we think are particularly relevant today: coordination, civilian deployment capacities and civil society involvement.

5. First, better coordination of all different international actors on the ground, including the International Financial Institutions and bilateral donors. The SG’s 2009 report on peacebuilding stated that it was incumbent upon the UN to spearhead such coordination, especially in the earliest phase. It also stated that this calls for stronger, more effective and better supported UN leadership teams on the ground. These teams have responsibility for rallying all international actors around a common institution-building effort. An effort contributing to the ability of national authorities to set priorities and to the implementation of a country-owned strategy. As the SG recognised, the UN leadership teams, as well as the wider international community, need more clarity from New York on the roles and responsibilities of the different UN entities for the critical peacebuilding sectors. We hope to see further advances, including through incentives to cooperate and harmonize, towards a more rational division of labour and we encourage the Secretariat and the Funds and Programmes to press on with the reforms. Also, the PBC’s potential should be further unlocked through a strengthened link with the field, so that UN leadership teams on the ground could profit more from its strategic guidance and political clout, including when it comes to institution-building. Furthermore, I would like to reiterate here the SG’s remark that the Security Council could profit more from the PBC’s recommendations in the Council’s own early consideration of post-conflict situations, especially when there is a peacekeeping mission on the ground. This would help tie the mission’s activities into the wider coordinated peacebuilding and institution-building effort in a particular country. Let us not forget that successful institution-building, particularly in the security and justice sectors, helps pave the way towards a sustainable exit of any peacekeeping mission.

6. The second element we wanted to bring to the table today is civilian deployment capacities. The EU attaches great importance to the review currently underway in this area. A key task of the review’s Senior Advisory Group is to develop proposals to ensure that the deployment of civilian experts in post-conflict countries serves the goal of building national capacity. We look forward to receiving the results of this civilian capacities review soon and hope that these will come in the form of concrete and realistic objectives and recommendations to be given appropriate follow-up. The goal is a more demand-driven, dynamic and flexible civilian deployment, that builds on existing national capacities and exhibits a strong South-South character. We hope the review will chart a path to, for example, increased global availability of civilian experts for post-conflict situations and seamless interoperability of civilian capacities within the UN system and between the UN and other key players, such as regional organisations. Another important point for us is the enhanced deployment of female civilian experts in the spirit of Security Council resolution 1325 and the Secretary-General’s action plan on ensuring women’s participation in peacebuilding. Post-conflict institutions cannot be effective unless they are gender equitable.

Mr. President,

7. The third and last element I will mention is civil society involvement. In this context, the SG in his 2009 peacebuilding report underlined the importance of bringing multiple voices to the table and broadening the sense of ownership around a common vision of a country’s future. Bolstering civilian oversight mechanisms and local civil society organizations and giving these organisations a seat at the peace-building table from day one will enhance the legitimacy and demand-driven nature of both the priorities and the institutions devised there. This is what guides much of the EU’s institution-building assistance around the world. For example, in Timor-Leste, which we were happy to hear about earlier today, the EU, in the framework of cooperation with Portuguese speaking countries at the request of the government and together with UNDP, is working hard to strengthen the capacity of parliament and media. Among other things, we will provide parliamentarians with media training and organise seminars for journalists on the role and functions of parliament in the democratic process. Furthermore, the EU has recently funded extensive research on participatory approaches to justice and security sector reform in a number of conflict-affected countries. This is not the place to go into detail, but we are happy to share the results of this exercise with interested partners. Finally, EU security sector reform programs developed jointly with the government in places like the Central African Republic and the DRC revolve around increased civilian and parliamentary oversight and accountability to citizens.

Mr. President,

8. It is important to draw strategic lessons, like we are doing today, and make these available in field manuals. At the same time, we are aware that “one-size-fits-all” solutions do not exist and that institution-building efforts will always have to be tailored to the specific post-conflict conditions on the ground. As the concept paper points out, national actors know these conditions best and that is one of the reasons they should be in the lead. At the end of the day, successful institutional development cannot be transplanted from elsewhere but is home-grown. That is why we are always happy to hear from the countries themselves, for example through today’s statement by Deputy Prime Minister José Luís Guterres, whose country now chairs the G7 Plus and co-chairs the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and State building. Supporting home-grown institutional development has long been at the heart of much EU assistance, be it in the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan or Haiti. We would like to reaffirm our commitment to pursuing this cause working with the national authorities, the UN, other international actors, civil society organisations and the people in post-conflict countries themselves.

Thank you.

* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.

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