Remarks by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Alternative Representative to the United Nations, At a U.N. Security Council Open Briefing on Peacebuilding, March 19, 2014

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
New York, NY
March 19, 2014


Thank you to Deputy Secretary General Eliasson, PBC Chair Ambassador Patriota, and Administrator Clark for your presentations this morning.

Madam President, maintaining international peace and security is a struggle we contend with across the globe. Increasingly, we see that building peace is a challenge that we must take on with even greater urgency. Building peace requires a commitment by the international community to stay involved, as well as a commitment by post-conflict countries to uphold a spirit of inclusivity.

A 2010 World Bank report titled “Conflict Relapse and the Sustainability of Post-Conflict Peace” found that 90% of conflicts that occurred in the last decade were in countries that had previously experienced civil war. “The problem of civil war,” the report found, “is not a problem of preventing new conflicts from arising, but of permanently ending the ones that have already started.”

This reality is sadly brought to life today in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan. Their relapses into conflict remind us of the need for sustained international engagement in post-conflict countries and also demand of us that we examine how effective our engagement has been and how we can improve upon it in the future.

The Peacebuilding Commission and country-specific Peacebuilding Configurations have helped to focus international support for post-conflict countries and have helped to build institutions, promote an open political climate, and advance stability through development. With the review of the Peacebuilding Commission coming up in 2015, now is the time to look at the impact of long-term peacebuilding and how this Council can contribute to that discussion.

We have recently seen a successful example of peacebuilding in Sierra Leone, where the UN’s integrated peacebuilding office was recently closed by Secretary-General Ban, in an acknowledgement of how far the country has come since its civil war. The peacebuilding mission there contributed to building strong political institutions and helped solidify gains that the government and people of Sierra Leone have achieved.

Earlier this month, Alhaji Babah Saweneh, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, spoke to this Council and offered proof of the country’s healing process. Armed now with a Bachelor’s degree, Alhaji is an example of the good things that can happen when stability takes root.

Even as Sierra Leone enjoys stability and the UN peacebuilding mission draws down, we are reminded that long-term development efforts and continued economic growth are at the foundation of any sustainable peace. We appreciate the strengthened UN-World Bank partnership and urge greater dialogue between the World Bank and the Security Council to facilitate post-conflict development strategies.

We have seen too often the recurrent issues that make countries vulnerable to relapse: erosion of inclusive political settlements; lack of government capacity, especially in public finance and the rule of law; and insufficient economic growth and job-creation. South Sudan is an example of what happens when political inclusivity is lost – and a reminder that we can’t let other countries slip down that path.

In Burundi, inclusivity was a key component of the Arusha agreement that ended the conflict there in 2001. Today, we are increasingly concerned by signs that the country is moving away from that inclusive spirit. Efforts by the government to shut down, sometimes violently, meetings by the political opposition are deeply troubling. The international community must maintain its focus on Burundi and continue to work with the government to foster open political space and credible elections in 2015.

The post-election transition plan for Guinea-Bissau developed by SRSG Ramos-Horta, as well as the strategic objectives outlined by PBC Configuration Chair Patriota, are examples of how a peacebuilding office and the PBC can develop strategic frameworks and coordinate international support for institution building. Their plans, which call for fast-tracking needed reforms, will help the government of Guinea-Bissau to hit the ground running. By helping governments become more responsive and better able to deliver services to their people, peacebuilding efforts can contribute to restoring government credibility.

Maintaining international peace and security needs strong governments, but also engaged and dedicated communities. All sectors of society must be included in the peace process and throughout the post-conflict period. It is particularly critical to ensure the inclusion of women in political dialogue and mediation efforts.

Truth and reconciliation commissions are an essential tool that post-conflict societies can use to help build an inclusive and sustainable peace. We urge the government of Sri Lanka to move forward on creating such a commission to help their country heal and we welcome their recent consultations with South Africa in that regard.

The 2015 review of the PBC and peacebuilding architecture provides an opportunity to focus on ways to sharpen the PBC’s potential. The United States attaches great importance to this review and intends to engage actively, including as a member of the Security Council, and to work closely with PBC members, and countries on and off the PBC agenda to enhance the PBC’s impact.

Finally, Madam President, we will only be successful in achieving these goals if we have the people on the ground with the right skills and background to tackle these complicated problems. The United States welcomes the progress made in the Secretary-General's Civilian Capacity review. We encourage the UN system to apply the lessons learned from this review in planning for future post-conflict engagements.

I thank you.


PRN: 2014/053