Press Releases

    27 May 2005

    Stabilization Activities Such as Reintegration, Rehabilitation of Combatants Must Be Adequately Financed, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Security Council

    NEW YORK, 26 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks as delivered by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at today’s Security Council debate on peacebuilding:

    It is nearly a year since UN troops arrived in Haiti.  This Council sent them there to ensure a secure environment after civil violence erupted in the country.  Armed gangs were roaming the streets.  Police had abandoned their stations.  Civilians had fled in fear of their lives.  The combination of violence and floods had caused a near collapse in Haiti’s already impoverished health and education systems.  Three people in five could not get basic medical care.

    The tragedy that unfolded last year in Haiti was bad enough.  But it was made worse by the fact that we were witnessing history repeat itself.  For this was the second time in 10 years that UN troops had been sent to Haiti to establish security in the country.

    The unfortunate truth is that Haiti is not an anomaly.  On the contrary, roughly half of all wars that come to an end relapse into violence.  An Organization such as ours, set up to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, must improve this record.

    It is worth stressing, as the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change noted, that the surge in mediation, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations that followed the end of the cold war has helped to reduce the number of wars worldwide by almost 40 per cent.  Indeed, more wars have been ended through mediation in the past 14 years than in the previous 200.  These are major accomplishments.

    But our strategies for ending war must also tackle the question of relapse.  We must ensure that peace agreements are implemented in a sustainable manner.

    We must make sure that critical stabilization activities -- such as the reintegration and rehabilitation of demobilized combatants -- are adequately financed and carefully implemented.  We must help societies and markets recover their vitality.  And we must strengthen the capacity of State and social institutions to provide security and justice based on the rule of law -- an area where the UN can make a real difference, and on which the Secretary-General is taking steps to strengthen the capacity of the UN system to provide rule of law assistance.

    If we are to improve our peacebuilding success rate, four things are vital.

    First, we must make sure that we build on existing national institutions and capacities, both of the State and of civil society.  National ownership is a vital foundation for sustainable peace and development.

    Second, especially in our operations on the ground, the UN system must function in a coherent fashion.  So too must its principal organs.  In recent years, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council have each extended the scope of their activities in post-conflict situations.  Both have critical roles to play.

    Third, the international financial institutions, bilateral donors and regional actors must all be involved in UN peacebuilding efforts.  Their contributions are vital if post-conflict recovery is to be resilient, and if the right foundation is to be laid for sustained economic recovery and political stability.  That is why I am very glad that the Council has decided to invite Mr. James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, to join this meeting today.

    Fourth, both immediate needs and medium-term recovery require more resources.  In the early post-conflict phase, funding for national institution building, including rule of law programmes, is often inadequate.

    Financing for rehabilitation is unpredictable.  And after the first two to three years, just as societies are beginning to develop the capacity to absorb resources and make the most use of them, financing tends to decline.  These funding gaps are penny-wise and pound-foolish.  When we do not invest adequately in peacebuilding, we find ourselves paying much more for renewed peacekeeping efforts down the line.

    In his report, “In larger freedom”, the Secretary-General has proposed the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission, together with a Peacebuilding Support Office, to help meet these needs.  The Commission would fill a gap within the UN’s machinery, and focus attention on the vital task of peacebuilding.  By bringing together the international financial institutions, bilateral donors and regional actors, it would harmonize peacebuilding activity across the multilateral system. 

    Peacebuilding is one of the most direct and vital contributions that the United Nations makes to freeing people from fear and want, and enabling them to live lives in larger freedom.  We have had important peacebuilding successes, but we have also seen too many failures.  We must implement the lessons of the past, and equip ourselves to create the conditions for long-term peace in societies emerging from conflict.  And, of course, we must also pay more attention to prevention -- so that societies can address their tensions and problems in ways that will avoid the descent into armed conflict in the first place.

    I, therefore, welcome this debate on peacebuilding, and hope it takes us a step further towards freeing more people from the deadly cycle of civil violence.

    * *** *