Remarks at a UN General Assembly Debate on the Peacebuilding Commission

Stefanie Amadeo
U.S. Deputy Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
April 20, 2017


Mr. President, thank you. We congratulate the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, Ambassador Cho, for his ongoing chairmanship of the Peacebuilding Commission and believe the PBC’s year is already off to a strong start under his leadership. Let me also thank the Permanent Representative of Kenya, Ambassador Kamau, for his excellent stewardship of the Commission last year.

Just a year ago, the General Assembly and Security Council adopted resolutions introducing the concept of “sustaining peace,” which included a comprehensive definition of peacebuilding that goes beyond the post-conflict period and applies to all phases of conflict – before, during, and after. This means that all pillars of the UN should be engaged in sustaining peace – including by doing more to prevent the outbreak and address the root causes of violent conflict. The PBC has an important role in ensuring that the entire UN system recognizes how inextricably linked sustainable development and sustainable peace are.

We have had some success. Since last April, the importance of sustaining peace and the call to link efforts to promote peace, security, development, and human rights have been reiterated time and again – most notably, during the joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission last June and during the recent High-Level Dialogue on Building Sustainable Peace for All. This body, the General Assembly, recognized the positive role that sustainable development plays in mitigating drivers of conflict and the importance of a whole-of-system response to sustaining peace when we adopted the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review in December.

The Peacebuilding Commission has begun to bring this whole-of-system approach to its country-specific configurations. Take Sierra Leone, which was one of the first countries on the Peacebuilding Commission’s agenda. Next year, Sierra Leone will hold its presidential and parliamentary elections and the PBC, through the leadership of Canada, is committed to helping the Government of Sierra Leone conduct peaceful, free, and fair elections.

The PBC’s engagement in Liberia is another bright example of the contributions that the Commission, the Fund, and the Support Office can make, especially when they work together with the Security Council. In December, the Security Council requested that the UN Secretary-General produce a peacebuilding plan to support Liberia’s transition. Drafting this plan brought together the Government of Liberia, the UN, donors, and civil society for a series of fruitful exercises that not only generated a peacebuilding plan that was presented to the Security Council last month, but also set a precedent for similar peacebuilding work in other countries.

Let me also recognize the outstanding work of the Peacebuilding Fund over the last year. We are impressed by the PBF’s innovative engagement with civil society organizations to promote gender and youth initiatives, and its partnership with the World Bank in the peacebuilding processes in Yemen and the Central African Republic. In its cross-border efforts along the Liberia-Cote d’Ivoire border and the Chad-Cameroon border, the PBF recognized an important gap in assistance, and we applaud its efforts to address them so that no one is left behind. The United States is pleased to see that the PBF exceeded the UN-wide commitment to allocate at least 15 percent of resources to women’s empowerment. With this achievement, the PBF has set an excellent example. We encourage the rest of the system to follow.

Recognizing these successes, we can do more. In a time of greater need and limited resources, we must work together to energize the UN’s peacebuilding work. The PBC should be the lynchpin that brings together UN bodies, government, and other stakeholders to ensure that we all are working in a coherent and coordinated manner to build sustainable peace. In addition, we believe that the Peacebuilding Support Office together with the Peacebuilding Commission can add value by articulating the underlying vision that ties together the activities on focal points. Overall, our goal is a comprehensive vision of peacebuilding, which will help the UN itself to integrate its work.

The PBC is well-positioned to do this, and the renewed commitment by its members to engage comprehensively on peacebuilding, not just through country-specific lenses, is a step in the right direction. The PBC, in particular, can use Commission meetings to invite UN actors to brief on their peacebuilding efforts, and invite representatives from the International Financial Institutions, civil society, and other stakeholders to take part. We’ve made a good start. Outside of its country-specific configurations, the PBC has convened sessions that highlighted its value-added role in supporting UN agencies, Member States, and international organizations.

A few weeks ago, the PBC arranged a review of regional peacebuilding in the Sahel and just yesterday hosted an informative discussion on peacebuilding in the Gambia. These define a new way of working that calls attention to the need to support countries’ post-conflict stabilization, security, and sustainable growth. The PBC promoted coordination between UN agencies, donors, and the international community and spread awareness and information about best practices.

This shift is timely as we all put our heads together to determine the best ways to support the Secretary-General’s reform agenda. We would like to see more of this. This may sound obvious, but we are talking about nothing less than overhauling the way the UN has been organized for decades. Last year, when member states unanimously supported the Sustaining Peace agenda, they endorsed a new way of doing business – that to build peace, we need to break down the barriers that exist in the UN so staff focused on political, security, humanitarian, and development challenges all work together.

To do that, we hope that the Secretary-General’s review of the UN’s peace and security work will take a fresh look at the UN’s peacebuilding architecture to ensure it is as effective as possible and integrated across the UN’s development and security toolkit.

We look forward to today’s debate, and to continuing to work with all of you, as well as Secretary-General Guterres, Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed, and Assistant Secretary-General Fernandez-Taranco, to promote sustainable peace for all.

Thank you.