Remarks by Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative on the Economic and Social Council, to the Co-Facilitators of the Peacebuilidng Commission Review Informal Session, at United Nations Headquarters

Ambassador Rick Barton
U.S. Representative 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
February 17, 2010


Thank you Mr. President, and thanks to the three co-facilitators, the staff, our fellow Peacebuilding Commission members and other colleagues for your good work and ideas.  The review outline you have presented is excellent – and likely to capture the wisdom of the crowd.

The United States welcomes and will actively participate in the 5-year review of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). We see the review as important for our collective efforts to assist countries making the difficult transition from violent conflict to peace.  The stakes could not be higher:  too many countries continue to relapse into conflict, one-third of the world’s extreme poor continue to live in conflict-affected states, and war heightens a country’s vulnerability to crime, depredation, displacement, and disease.

The first four years have offered many useful early lessons for the Peacebuilding Commission and the broader UN family. The PBC is a young institution, and we appreciate its growing track record.  In Sierra Leone, Burundi, Guinea Bissau, and the Central African Republic, the PBC has shown that it can enhance coordination, deliver tough political messages, and encourage the entrance of new sources of international support.  In CAR the PBC helped to convene broader dialogues.  In Burundi, the PBC helped the IMF step out of its comfort zone to better deal with post conflict issues.  In Sierra Leone, the PBC helped to attract new donors.  In Guinea-Bissau, the PBC helped mobilize essential new resources from the World Bank, among others. In each of the four countries, the PBC amplified the voice of the international community.  Strategies have been developed, dozens of countries have also donated to the Peacebuilding Fund, and a healthy debate is growing.

Mr. President, much has been started and a great deal remains to be done. The challenge before us now is to work together to ensure the growing relevance and impact of the PBC.  If the PBC is to thrive and deliver on the expectations of its founding, we will need to work energetically and creatively over the coming months to identify ways to make the PBC a trusted resource for the full range of countries, large and small, in differing states of post-conflict recovery.

We believe it will be important to approach the review in a spirit of open exchange and debate. At this early stage, we would like to offer two preliminary considerations to help guide the review.

First is the question of relevance.  Can the PBC offer timely advice in the planning stages of peacekeeping missions?  Will it be welcomed by countries and political players that are seeking a way out of conflict? Is it capable of moving beyond its current mix, perhaps to larger cases?  Is it strategic in its work?  Will it earn a strong position within the UN family and be a capable partner to the Security Council, General Assembly, as well as a growing range of regional actors, donors, and other multilateral institutions? 

Second is the question of impact.  How can the PBC prove its value added more consistently to countries that might consider going onto its agenda?  How can it heighten the respect for its work among other stakeholders – on the Security Council, in the General Assembly, among troop and police contributors, and among donors?  Should it focus on being a catalytic instrument and improve its rapid response capabilities?  Is it known as a center of excellence able to mobilize state-of-the-art expertise and knowledge in its own activities and in advising others?     Is it flexible enough for the unique circumstances and needs of countries on its agenda?   Is the PBC communicating its successes and challenges in a compelling way? 

These and other key questions will need to drive the review and the operations of the PBC in these coming weeks. 

Mr. President, five years ago when we acted unanimously to create the Peacebuilding Commission, we did so for real and urgent reasons.   Progress in this area between conflict and development has bedeviled the world and the United Nations for decades, and we saw the PBC as a vital opportunity to make a difference. 

We believe in the promise of the PBC.  If we are able to strengthen our mutual responsibility, with an emphasis on national ownership and individual advancement, we are likely to advance the practice of peacebuilding . 

The United States is eager to make a valuable contribution to the progress of the PBC and  we look forward to working with the co-facilitators, other delegations, and the staff in thinking about ambitious and realistic options for how the PBC might grow, evolve, and become a more relevant and effective tool.  


PRN: 2010/028