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London 17:16, 02 Jan 2013
New York 12:16, 02 Jan 2013

‘Peacebuilding is absolutely critical to the maintenance of international peace and security’

20 December 2012

Statement by Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, to the Security Council debate on Post-Conflict Peacebuilding
Crown Copyright/MOD

Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this Open Debate and this may be the last formal meeting of the Security Council in 2012. May I take the opportunity to thank the outgoing Members, Columbia, India, Portugal, Germany and South Africa for their cooperation and their efforts on the Security Council over the last two years.

I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his comments and also the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Ambassador Momen  for his briefing this morning.

In May of this year, my Council colleagues and I travelled to Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  In Sierra Leone and Liberia, we saw how the UN system works closely with international and regional partners to be the bedrock of support for countries recovering from brutal civil wars.

During our visit, we saw how the United Nations planned to support the successful and peaceful elections in Sierra Leone that took place just last month – a real turning point for the country.  And in Liberia, we saw how the United Nations is helping re-establish the rule of law through building a functioning police, justice and corrections system.

The United Kingdom recognises the important role of the United Nations in helping national governments and communities recover from the scourge of war.  That is why we are the largest contributor to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, providing about twenty million dollars a year.  And we are committed to spending one third of our rising aid budget in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Mr President,

The United Kingdom welcomes the recent Secretary-General Report on Peacebuilding in the Aftermath of Conflict.  It is important that this Council and the broader membership regularly review the United Nation’s progress on peacebuilding.  

The Report shows that the UN is moving forward on key peacebuilding issues. Progress has been made on inclusivity and institution building. But much work remains.  Further attention is required on three key areas.

Firstly, the United Nations must adapt to the evolving international context for peacebuilding and adopt the principles outlined in the New Deal for Fragile States.  Agreed by the g7+ group of states, these principles set out how the international community can improve its support to countries emerging from conflict.  Transparency of support; predictability of action; and building national systems are all essential to improving the way the international community supports conflict-affected countries.  We call on the whole United Nations system to ensure that its support to countries emerging from conflict adhere to these New Deal principles.   To this I would like to add that we must also consider how the issue of conflict and fragility can be incorporated into the wider discussion on the Post-2015 development framework.

Second, the UN must improve how it supports countries with missions in transition.  Sustained, adaptable international support is vital. We see the success of this support in countries such as Timor-Lesté, where there is a successful move from UNMIT to a country team. Or, Sierra Leone, where in 2013 we should see the drawdown of UNIPSIL and the country move onto a development path.  To achieve successful transitions such as these, we need a well-coordinated UN system that plans strategically from the outset of a mission’s deployment.  UN development actors must also plan ahead and be ready with the right programmes and the right resources.

Third, the UN must do more to encourage women’s engagement in avoiding and dealing with conflict.  The Secretary-General’s Report clearly shows insufficient progress has been made on the role of women in building peace.  And we must do more on that agenda.

Mr. President, we are pleased that your Presidential statement to this Council cites sexual violence in conflict. Peace cannot be built without ending the use of this terrible weapon of war. In May of this year, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister launched his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. This initiative works closely with the UN, international partners and civil society on a sustained campaign that will build a global partnership to prevent sexual violence in conflict.

Mr President,

We must ensure that the United Nations has the capabilities to deliver on this ambitious agenda.  Since 2009, the Secretary-General has consistently identified the need for the UN to broaden and deepen the pool of civilian expertise for critical peacebuilding tasks, in particular drawing on capacities from the Global South.   Recent figures show that over 20% of civilian rule of law posts in UN missions remain vacant.  This is unacceptable. If we truly want the United Nations to perform well in peacebuilding, we must deal with this shortcoming. We welcome the Secretary-General’s efforts to address this issue and look forward to discussions in the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies on the proposals that he has put forward.

Mr President,

Peacebuilding is a long-term project.  It requires patience and perseverance.  It is seldom linear and always complex.  But we know that peacebuilding is absolutely critical to the maintenance of international peace and security – and in this the UN has a unique and central role to play.

Thank you.

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