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National statements

Statement to the UN General Assembly regarding Peacebuilding

Thematic issues

  • Guinea
  • Liberia
  • Peacebuilding
  • Peacekeeping
  • Rule of Law
  • Sierra Leone
  • Timor-Leste
  • Women



Statement by Mr Will Nankervis, Acting Deputy Permanent Representative of
Australia to the United Nations

Thank you Mr President.

Australia speaks as a country committed to the work of peacebuilding – some of the most difficult but important work we can undertake – and to the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).

I would like to take this opportunity to express Australia's appreciation for the work of the outgoing chair of the PBC Organisational Committee, Ambassador Gasana of Rwanda, and express confidence in the stewardship of the incoming chair, Ambassador Momen of Bangladesh.

Mr President

This debate today, on the PBC and PBF Annual Reports, provides an important opportunity to take stock of the work of the UN's Peacebuilding architecture, including progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2010 review of that architecture.

I would like to touch briefly on three areas highlighted in the PBC Annual Report which are critical to the work of the Commission going forward.

The first is enhancing the impact of the PBC in the field. The ultimate goal of the PBC, as envisaged by our Leaders in 2005, is to improve the lives of those in states emerging from conflict. Enhancing impact in the field was one of the overarching themes of the 2010 review and is, rightly, an overarching objective for the Commission's roadmap for 2012. This objective, however, can be easy to state but much more difficult to achieve.

Building better linkages with players in the field is an important part of the answer. The PBC must look at how it can best complement and support the work of UN missions and UN country teams – the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, the Executive Representatives of the Secretary-General and Resident Coordinators. The relationships between country-specific configurations and these actors in the field needs to be better clarified, and strengthened.

We must look carefully at the PBC's comparative advantages. These include its advocacy role and its nature as a member-state based organisation with a unique composition. They also include its ability to convene a wide range of actors. The PBC needs to look at encouraging more active engagement of multilateral and bilateral players in the field.

In this spirit, Australia has deployed a Peacebuilding adviser in Freetown to strengthen our peacebuilding engagement in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and enhance linkages between our interaction in New York and in the field.

We, as member states, also need to maintain dialogue with the UN Secretariat, agencies, funds and programs to ensure they are responding to critical peacebuilding priorities in the field. Policy discussions in New York must translate into practical coordination, cooperation and partnership on the ground.

Resource mobilisation – while only one of the roles of the PBC – is a vital element to increasing impact in the field, and one in which the PBC can intensify its efforts. It is important that country-specific configurations facilitate avenues for donor engagement. The new approach taken by the PBC and PBF in Liberia, in developing an Expanded Priority Plan linked to the Statement of Mutual Commitments, is an important new development in this regard.

Overall, we welcome the stated intention, in the conclusions of the PBC Annual Report, to place additional focus on measuring impact in the field.

Mr President

The second area I would like to emphasise – and this is closely related to the first – is supporting national ownership. This is, and should continue to be, the central principle which defines the work and activities of the PBC in the countries on the agenda.

We support efforts to better and more specifically define commitments between the PBC and agenda countries, to make them more measurable and align them more closely with national priorities.

We welcome efforts in New York to involve the Permanent Representatives of the countries on the agenda more deeply in the policy work of the PBC. The Permanent Representatives play an important role as bridge between New York and the countries on the agenda. It is important that the PBC serves as a mechanism through which the international community listens not only to itself, but also to countries under consideration, to ensure true partnership develops.

We note that the recently-adopted New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States gives us a blueprint for supporting national ownership, building mutual trust and achieving better peacebuilding results. We look to the PBC and PBF to take a leadership role in supporting the New Deal – noting that three of the six New Deal pilot countries are on the PBC agenda.

Australia is proud to have established a new partnership arrangement with the Government of Timor-Leste to implement the New Deal, and we encourage other countries to develop similar partnerships.

In the context of supporting national capacity development, we also believe the PBC has a unique role to play in taking forward recommendations of the review of Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict, in view of the Commission's mandate to work across organisational boundaries and address the entire continuum of peacebuilding activities.

Mr President

The third point I would like to emphasise is the important role of the PBC as a platform for sharing knowledge and experience. We note the innovation of the meeting in Kigali in November last year on "Post-conflict Peacebuilding: the Experience of Rwanda", which provided a rich opportunity to learn from the lessons of a country with direct experience with peacebuilding and statebuilding.

Australia has consistently endeavoured to draw on experiences from our own region – the Asia-Pacific – in our engagement with the PBC. In an attempt to consolidate and better share lessons learned, Australia is working with our partners on a publication on experiences in peace operations and peacebuilding in Solomon Islands, in the autonomous region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, and in Timor-Leste.

Mr President

I will now make a few remarks on the Peacebuilding Fund.

Australia recognises the need to provide flexible and timely funding assistance for peacebuilding. And we support the PBF because it does just that.

Australia was the first donor to commit to the Fund when it was established, and we have provided annual funding since. Last November, we were pleased to double our annual assistance to $4 million for 2011-12.

We commend steps taken to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the PBF. We are particularly heartened by the increased attention to the role of women in peacebuilding activities through the Gender Promotion Initiative, and the steps to strengthen monitoring and evaluation functions so lessons can be captured and applied to current and future programs. We are examining options to provide additional staffing support to the PBSO in this area.

We fully endorse the PBF's focus on supporting the implementation of peace agreements, and its work on rule of law and national reconciliation.

And we believe the Fund has an undisputed role in supporting short-term employment generation, and with the re-integration of former combatants – an area in which it has already demonstrated a high level of success.

Mr President

We welcome steps taken to include the Department of Political Affairs and Department of Peacekeeping Operations as implementing partners under the PBF. And we welcome the PBSO's enhanced engagement with a range of national, regional and international partners, including the World Bank.

In short, Mr President, we believe that the PBF is helping to ensure that peacebuilding is not just an abstract concept, but a reality.

Mr President

In conclusion, I would like to assure you of Australia's commitment to supporting the PBC and PBF to deliver tangible and lasting change to the lives of those in countries emerging from conflict, the ultimate goal by which their work should – and will – be measured.

Thank you Mr President.

Last Updated: 16 June 2015
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