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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2009

United Nations Security Council: Post-conflict Peacebuilding

Statement by H.E. Jim McLay, Permanent Representative, Wednesday 22 July 2009

Mr President:
New Zealand welcomes the Secretary-General’s report on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict, which confirms the UN’s critical role in addressing the many gaps in the international response to conflict situations.

The report rightly focuses on the critical period immediately after conflict, when “virtuous cycles” must be set in motion to lay foundations for lasting peace. So often, however, we have failed in that, with nearly 30 percent of all conflicts that ended in negotiated settlement resuming again within five years.

Time is of the essence in the immediate post-conflict period. A fragile peace can quickly unravel if peace dividends are not quickly apparent. The availability of expert teams that can deploy and begin work at very short notice is an essential bridge to a fuller and more coordinated response.

The pace of deployment to missions such as UNAMID, where, a year after establishment, less than 35 percent of international civilian posts were filled, and MINURCAT, with first year vacancies of 91 percent, are of great concern. Those are stark and depressing numbers and help make the case for civilian standby capacity and for UN human resources management reform.

Mr President,

We were pleased that the report also acknowledges that the UN must improve its coordination, both internally and with national and international actors. The Delivering as One philosophy must underpin UN peacebuilding efforts, just as it must in other areas. UN country leaders need greater powers and support from headquarters to achieve their most immediate - invariably urgent - objectives. Competent appointees, with well-defined delegations given the freedom to act quickly and decisively, could save lives, save time and save infrastructure and institutions essential to the peacebuilding process.

The report recognises the need for rapid assessments to determine both existing capacity and the most immediate demands for external support. Capacity development, where it is needed, should not be part of an exit strategy; it should begin straight away.

New Zealand follows the work of the Peacebuilding Commission with considerable interest. Its composition, objectives and working methods offer significant promise; but, despite this, we are yet to see concrete results. We therefore welcome the SG’s consideration of how it might better realise its potential, including channelling its resources and promoting greater coherence.

New Zealand favours an integrated approach to address the underlying causes of conflict, with participation of security, diplomatic, development and local actors; and we commend the report for emphasising the importance of local context in developing a peacebuilding strategy.

New Zealand has been significant contributor to peacebuilding activities which have made a tangible difference on the ground. The Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands - "RAMSI" - promotes long-term stability, security and prosperity by supporting improved rule of law, more effective, accountable and democratic government, economic growth, and enhanced public service delivery; and we also adopt an integrated, whole-of-government approach to our contributions in Timor-Leste and Afghanistan.

Mr President:

The image of the blue beret interposed between previously warring parties, has become one of this Organisation's successes. But the benefits of ceasefire or truce can be quickly lost without the next stage - that of "peacebuilding"; rendering a short-term peace sustainable by fostering democracy, leadership, justice, reconciliation, human rights and economic and social development. 

New Zealand is committed to working with the UN and others to ensure more durable solutions to preventing future conflict. The UN must remain as committed to peacebuilding as it is to peacekeeping.

One is immediately important - to end conflict and save lives. The other is absolutely necessary - to prevent conflict resuming and to rebuild lives and societies.

History will judge how we achieved the first, but also how we sustained the second.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT