UN deputy chief underlines core obligation to prevent conflict and sustain peace


The UN Security Council has been told sustaining peace means the entire conflict cycle, with a focus on prevention, by the world body’s Deputy Secretary-General.

Jan Eliasson was addressing the Council last week to mark the 10th anniversary of the first meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission, which has become known as Peacekeeping Day.

He urged member states to make full use of the Commission and its role in preventing conflict.

Among others, it gives advice during transition periods when peacekeeping operations and special political mission mandates are being defined or reviewed.
“This comprehensive approach spreads responsibility for prevention over the entire UN system,” he said, welcoming the encouragement of the Commission to give advice on addressing the drivers of violent conflict. “This should be done in an effective, coherent and comprehensive manner, bringing together all relevant actors across the UN system,” he added.

Noting the fragility of transitions and the risks of relapse to conflict, Eliasson also welcomed the Security Council’s intention to regularly request and draw on the specific, strategic and targeted advice of the Peacebuilding Commission. He further said it is during transitions that the UN system jointly identifies peacebuilding needs and in many cases reconfigures its presence on the ground, underlining the challenges of fragmentation, finance and political support.

Fragmentation of work in periods of transition is not only costly but also reduces impact, he said underlining the effective role played by the Peacebuilding Fund in enhancing coherence among different roleplayers in the UN system. To be more effective, as a system, he said “silos” should be broken down through a unified vision and coherent “horizontal” actions.
“The Fund supports initiatives which align with a common peacebuilding vision of the Member States and which the UN can strengthen by bringing together various entities,” he said adding Member States also need to “rethink the scope of peacebuilding and to consider ways in which they, too, can bring a greater level of coherence to efforts to sustain peace.”

The challenges and complexities of financing, in particular those brought on by the different financing streams, in the UN and for countries, meant critical long term peacebuilding tasks are often under-resourced.

Explaining this phenomenon in the real world, he said the work moves from activities such as missions mandated by the Security Council, funded by assessed contributions, to those undertaken by the UN country teams which are funded by voluntary contributions, development funding tends to come too late and declines too early, just as or at times even before, the missions are drawing down.
“Some have referred to this as a ‘financial cliff,'” he said.

Recalling the Peacebuilding Fund was created, in part, to avoid this cliff by providing quick funding for critical peacebuilding initiatives, he warned the Fund itself is facing a desperate funding shortfall and stressed this situation should be addressed urgently. He applauded UN Member States for hosting a pledging conference for the Fund in September and urged them to attend and contribute generously.

Also recalling the request to the Secretary-General by the sustaining peace resolutions to present options to ensure adequate resourcing of UN peacebuilding, Eliasson sought the support of Member States through both assessed and voluntary contributions, including during mission transitions and drawdown.
“This would substantially support the stability and continuity of peacebuilding activities,” he said.

He said a group has been setup within the UN to work on these options, building on what has already been done. He reported that the Fifth Committee recently approved $14 million in programmatic funding in peacekeeping budgets in five countries to support mandate implementation through UN Country Team peacebuilding, including in important transitions such as that of the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Highlighting the role of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General as critical to the political processes particularly during a transition, the Deputy Secretary-General said that post transition, it often receives significantly less support, even though it remains important.

This situation, he said creates a “critical gap” which has been partly filled by regional political offices and by the Resident Co-ordinator, supported in some countries by Peace and Development Advisers through a joint DPA-UNDP, and supported by Peacebuilding Support Office.

Eliasson expressed his appreciation to the leadership of Ambassador Kamau of Kenya, the current Chair of the Commission who recently visited West Africa to support the ongoing post-Ebola recovery process and long-term peacebuilding priorities.

He also commended former Chairs Ambassador Skoog of Sweden and Ambassador Patriota of Brazil for their important contributions.

In closing the Deputy Secretary-General said the peacebuilding architecture was created in 2005 to fill a “gaping hole” in the UN machinery and the new resolutions provide a roadmap for the system to move in a new direction.
“The people of the world count on the support, on the political will and on the leadership of the entire membership to truly sustain peace. This is a challenge we should all accept and embrace,” he concluded.