For information only - not an official document.
       30 November 2000
 Secretary-General Outlines Challenges of Post-conflict Peace-building
In Remarks to Security Council Meeting on Guinea-Bissau

NEW YORK, 29 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the opening remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council meeting on Guinea-Bissau in New York on 29 November:

 I am pleased to join you today for this important meeting on Guinea-Bissau, which could not be more timely.  Last week’s armed showdown between the head of the former military junta and the elected President -- which nearly plunged the country back into turmoil -- underscores the precariousness of the stability in that country, as in many others which are recovering from conflict.

 In this connection, I should like to thank the Council for taking a firm and timely stand last week, as well as those leaders in and outside the subregion who have contributed to the peaceful end of the crisis.  I wish also to commend my Representative, Samuel G. Nana-Sinkam, for his tireless peacemaking efforts.  The situation has improved, but requires close monitoring.

 I would like to take this opportunity, however, to urge the Government to manage the aftermath of the latest crisis within the rule of law and with due regard to democratic principles and national reconciliation.

 Let me turn to the main subject of my remarks:  the challenge of post-conflict peace-building and some of the lessons to be drawn from the United Nations experience in Guinea-Bissau.

 Post-conflict peace-building includes a range of measures intended to prevent a relapse into a cycle of conflict and instability.  To be effective, it needs to address the root causes of conflict, not just the symptoms.  In the case of Guinea-Bissau, these causes include weak State institutions, a disgruntled and highly politicized army, endemic poverty, a crippling debt and an insecure internal and external environment.  

 Addressing such a grave range of causes requires, on the part of the Government and the interna- tional community, not only difficult political decisions, but also a serious and long-term commitment, supported by the timely deployment of resources.  Regrettably, as the case of Guinea-Bissau amply demonstrates, neither the Government nor the international community is always fully prepared or able to play an effective role.  A number of institutional and political lessons can be drawn here.  I will mention just a few of them.

First, the political nature of many post-conflict crises requires action of a type which should normally be undertaken by a sovereign government, but which the post-conflict government may not always be in a position to undertake, owing to challenges from undemocratic forces.  Ideally, of course, the newly elected government should be in the driver’s seat.  But this is not always the case and may not be possible, particularly if State institutions are weak, the coffers are empty and the legitimacy of the government is seriously challenged. This situation should, therefore, be taken into account when devising mandates for new peace-building missions or revising the mandates or exit strategies for existing ones.

Second, because of its multi-disciplinary nature, post-conflict peace-building often falls between relief and traditional development assistance, and, therefore, its needs go largely unmet because it falls between these two.  Although both the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Bretton Woods institutions have developed new and flexible financial instruments dedicated to post-conflict recovery, these instruments remain modest and underfunded.  The donor community, including the international financial institutions, must find a way to strike a balance between the need for macroeconomic stability, on the one hand, and peace-related priorities which require greater tolerance for public sector expenditures and budget deficits, on the other.  

Third, the Representative of the Secretary-General is increasingly being asked to take on responsibilities for which his office is not funded or mandated.  In the case of the United Nations Office in Guinea-Bissau, during the most recent crisis, my Representative was called upon by the Government and other political forces to play a “frontline” mediation role.  Such a role tends to be especially prominent in the early stages of a post-conflict situation, when State institutions are weakest, the legitimacy of a new government is challenged and the distrust and animosity between the political and military forces are highest.  But, it cannot be carried out without resources.  I intend, therefore, to seek the legislative bodies’ approval for one of the recommendations in the Brahimi report.

I refer here to the recommendation, and I quote, that a “small percentage of a mission’s first year budget should be made available to the Representative or Special Representative of the Secretary- General leading the mission in order to fund quick impact projects in its area of operations, with the advice of the UN country team’s Resident Coordinator”.  I hope I can count on the support of Council Members.

Peace-building is a multidimensional process.  Its objective is not merely to dismantle the structures of violence, but also to assist in building the structures of lasting peace, and in laying the foundations for sustainable development.  It requires comprehensive strategies involving all relevant actors and embracing multiple sectors of activity, including political, military, diplomatic, development, human rights, humanitarian and many others.  In essence, peace-building is simply conflict prevention, but with the additional challenges of an immediate, fragile transitional situation.  If we needed a reminder of this lesson, Guinea-Bissau provided it last week.

I am glad that you will continue to devote your efforts to making the Organization more effective in this crucial area of our mission for peace and security, and I look forward to the results of your deliberations.

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