Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, During a Security Council Debate On the Annual Report of the Peacebuilding Commission, in the Security Council Chamber

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 25, 2009




AS DELIVERED


Thank you, Mr. President.  Let me start by thanking Ambassador Munoz for his dedication to the Peacebuilding Commission during his tenure as Chair and express further appreciation to the chairs of the PBC’s country-specific configurations for their committed efforts.

The United States welcomes the third annual report of the PBC. We are glad to have this opportunity to reflect on past achievements and future challenges as we near the fifth anniversary of the Commission’s establishment.
 
Mr. President, the United States was an early supporter of the Peacebuilding Commission. In 2005, we looked at a 15-year track record of international response to armed conflict—and we saw major gaps. We saw peace processes at risk, not only because of the inherent fragility of post-conflict transitions but also because many of our diplomatic, security, humanitarian, and development tools were not well-suited to the task at hand or sometimes even worked at cross-purposes. We saw a rate of relapse into conflict that was unacceptably high. We saw development jeopardized across the board. We saw that a third of the people living in extreme poverty were from conflict-affected states, and we knew we must be doing something wrong.
 
We saw this as unacceptable. We were also convinced, however, that it was remediable, and is remediable. The Peacebuilding Commission, we believed, could be a crucial new instrument to help us collectively change course.
 
The PBC is still a young institution trying to deliver on these expectations. The United States very much appreciates the PBC’s growing track record, including its efforts to institute more flexible methods of work, its success in mobilizing resources from traditional and nontraditional donors, its commitment to nationally driven peacebuilding strategies, and its work facilitating coordination among all stakeholders in order to have a more concrete impact.
 
The third annual report documents some of these notable achievements. In Burundi, the PBC added its voice to those of regional institutions and others to help create conditions to resume the political process.  In Sierra Leone, the PBC helped broaden the donor base. In Guinea-Bissau, the PBC supported the organization of legislative elections and helped secure crucially needed funding. In the Central African Republic, the PBC supported the National Dialogue and has helped enhance prospects for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. 

My government also welcomes the revised Terms of Reference of the Peacebuilding Fund, which will give the Fund the potential to be much more responsive to urgent needs.
 
Mr. President, as we approach the PBC’s five-year mark, we have the opportunity to take stock and look to the Commission’s future. We believe that the PBC has the potential to be an important instrument for mobilizing our best collective efforts and helping us focus on the most pressing requirements to keep conflict from reigniting: that is helping governments restart critical services; generating jobs and reviving economies; restoring the rule of law; reforming the security sector; tackling crime and trans-border causes of instability; and putting an end to sexual and gender-based violence. Whether in the PBC or not, these issues are among the highest on the United States and our shared agenda here at the United Nations. We urgently need to strengthen our ways of working together to address them.  
 
We are committed to a serious and ambitious review. We believe we need to approach the process with open minds and a practical commitment to frank dialogue about the PBC’s added value and how to strengthen its role and impact. This includes looking candidly at our own performance here in the Security Council, where, as we noted last July, we need to do more to take earlier account of peacebuilding components of peace processes.
 
The last 20 years have seen tremendous learning and experience in the peacebuilding field—expertise that the review will need to tap.  The review should engage key stakeholders—especially regional organizations and actors, international financial institutions and development banks, troop- and police-contributing countries, donors, the private sector, academics and civil society. Of course, it will also need to draw on the insights of PBC members, especially its country-specific configurations. And we will look to the Secretary-General’s personal leadership to mobilize ideas and expertise from across the UN system.
 
Most of all, the review should be informed by the views and experiences of post-conflict countries, both on and off the PBC’s agenda. Whether the PBC has something real and lasting to offer them is the ultimate test of its success.
 
Mr. President, let me offer two closing observations.
 
First, my government would like to underscore the importance of timely follow-up to the Secretary-General’s report on Peacebuilding in the Immediate Aftermath of Conflict.  We look forward to progress in clarifying key peacebuilding roles and responsibilities, which will enable the UN system to build centers of excellence in critical areas. We also welcome steady progress in the effort to meet the so-called “civilian-capacity gap,” with particular attention to mobilizing talent and expertise from developing countries.  Deeper reflection on the links among integrated peacebuilding missions, the civilian components of peacekeeping operations, and the related activities of UN agencies can help ensure that core civilian functions are fulfilled in the most effective way.
 
Second, we also underscore the value we see in working to forge greater coherence among the UN’s peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding efforts. Throughout this past year, we have engaged in a deepening conversation about how to strengthen peacekeeping. As we look to future deliberations, both on peacekeeping and the PBC review, we see an important opportunity to forge a closer and more dynamic link between these interrelated efforts.
 
Mr. President, the PBC was created because of gaps in international response that left too many countries vulnerable to violent relapse. The PBC has helped shrink some of these gaps, but many remain. The challenge we all face today is redoubling our efforts to close them.
 
Thank you.

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PRN: 2009/286