Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Debate on Post-Conflict Civilian Capacity, May 12, 2011

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
May 12, 2011


Thank you, Mr. President. Let me also thank former Under-Secretary-General Guehenno and Under-Secretary-General Malcorra for their statements and the Senior Advisory Group that Mr. Guehenno chaired for their excellent efforts. I’m grateful also to Ambassador Gasana for his statement and for his very able leadership of the peace building commission.

Mr. President, the United States welcomes this important and timely report on Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict. We appreciate its level of ambition, and we look forward to studying its recommendations and working with colleagues on ways to take the agenda forward together.

When new governments emerge from the ashes of devastating conflict, they face countless challenges. These range from establishing critical state functions and services to shepherding political transition and building confidence among former adversaries to laying the groundwork for economic recovery and longer-term development.

Peace is always too long in coming after bloody conflict. But even when we see it coming, we are often not well prepared to offer the most timely and relevant support. Countries seeking to rebuild cannot afford the average six months or more it can take to identify and deploy the expertise they need. When they require specialized capabilities—whether judges or police trainers, legal and constitutional experts, public administrators, or economic advisers —our instruments are often not well-tailored to deliver.

As much as post-conflict countries may need support from external partners, we are also very much mindful of the Review’s urging us not to overlook capacity that may already be in place, even in the most damaged places. We need to ensure that international efforts enhance capacities that already exist, rather than displace or replace them.

Mr. President, we appreciate the main themes of the Review: the call for much greater seriousness about national ownership, the openness to wider and more diverse partnerships, the importance of expertise relevant to specific contexts, and the need for management practices that are responsive to fluid post-conflict environments. We welcome the practical, concrete recommendations and see this exercise as an important opportunity to draw together and to enhance some of our existing efforts to strengthen peacekeeping, peace building, and internal support to peace processes. We fully support the Review’s emphasis on gender and ideas for recruiting and retaining more women across the UN and the wider international system.

At this stage, we would welcome further consideration of several issues.

First, as has been mentioned, we will soon be formulating a mandate for a new mission in South Sudan. And we see this as an opportunity, as has been suggested, to advance some of the Review’s important ideas in this context. And we welcome an opportunity to, as a Council, and interactively with our colleagues from the Secretariat, to explore how best to do this.

Second, we need to ask ourselves what can the Secretariat do now, already, to improve its ability to identify and deploy relevant civilian expertise? And how can member states best support these efforts?

Third, the Review underscores the need for closer cooperation between international financial institutions and the political and security presences, as we’ve just discussed, a point which was also underscored by the 2011 World Development Report on conflict-affected and fragile states. So what can we do now to for forge more productive partnerships with international financial institutions and donor entities?

Mr. President, in this chamber, we know all too well that it is not enough for soldiers to keep the peace unless parallel efforts are made to address the underlying drivers of conflict and to build the foundation for a lasting peace that will enable troops to return home.

This Civilian Capacity Review Report makes an important contribution to helping us get this right. There is much here to digest, assess, and debate. We appreciate Under Secretary General Malcorra’s appeal to prioritize, and we welcome her leadership. We also thank the Secretary-General for his ongoing commitment to this issue. And now our work, that of the membership, begins. We have an important new opportunity to make progress in our collective efforts to support countries recovering from war. Let’s work together to seize it.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2011/097