21 December 2005

General Assembly, Acting Concurrently with Security Council Makes Peacebuilding Commission Operational

Also Approves Report of Credentials Committee, Resolution on Conflict Diamonds

NEW YORK, 20 December (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly, acting concurrently with the Security Council, today operationalized a new United Nations peacebuilding body that will aim to prevent countries from falling back into violence -- through reconstruction, institution building and other assistance -- once fighting stops.

Adopting a historic measure, setting up a United Nations Peacebuilding Commission to help post-conflict countries manage the difficult transition from war to peace, the Assembly also established a support office within the Secretariat, to provide the Commission with the information and analysis it needs to coordinate the world body's peacebuilding efforts.

Adopting identical resolutions, both the Assembly and the Security Council took a major step towards the renewed United Nations envisioned in Mr. Annan's groundbreaking report, "In Larger Freedom", and mandated by heads of State at the 2005 World Summit this past September.  The bodies also recognized the need for a dedicated United Nations mechanism to address the "special needs of countries emerging from conflict…and to assist them in laying the foundation for sustainable development".

The decision was immediately welcomed by the Secretary-General and Assembly President Jan Eliasson.  Mr. Annan, who was present at the adoption, said that while many parts of the United Nations have been involved in the peacebuilding process, the system lacked a dedicated entity to oversee the process, ensure its coherence, or sustain it through the long haul. The resolutions went a long way to bridging a critical gap that too often has seen "a fragile peace…crumble into renewed conflict". 

"The word, historic, is often over-used, but in this case, I have no doubt that it is merited," said Mr. Eliasson of Sweden, adding: "This resolution would, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, create a mechanism which ensures that for countries emerging from conflict, post-conflict does not mean post-engagement of the international community." 

Today's measure defined the new Commission as an intergovernmental advisory body that will make sure attention is maintained on the countries in question, setting its agenda at the request of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretary-General, or Member States on the "verge of lapsing or relapsing into conflict".  The Assembly plans to hold a debate each year on the work of the Commission.

According to the resolution, the Commission will act only by consensus, proposing integrated strategies for stabilization, economic recovery and development, and providing recommendations for improving the coordination of the United Nations system in those efforts.

Although the text was adopted by consensus, with Member States agreeing in principle to the Commission and the general thrust of its proposed work, debate arose over the composition of an Organizational Committee and whether the Commission would report to the Security Council -- seen as being run by an elite club of 15 countries -- or to the 191-member General Assembly, where developing countries play a larger role.  Some believed the Commission should report directly to the Economic and Social Council, which is responsible for development issues.

The text prescribed that the Organizational Committee will consist of seven Security Council members, including permanent members, selected by the Council; seven members of ECOSOC elected from regional groups, five top contributors to United Nations budgets, funds, programmes and agencies; and five top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United Nations missions.  The General Assembly would elect seven additional members, with special consideration for States that have experienced post-conflict recovery.

Another issue that emerged during the debate was that the World Summit, officially a High-Level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, had already established the Peacebuilding Commission in its Outcome Document, and that today's action in the Security Council was, as one delegation saw it, an attempt not only to ensure the permanent control of the new Commission by rich, powerful countries, but also to slip the Security Council's veto into the Assembly hall "through the back door".  With the opening for "unequal and unfair" membership in the Organizational Committee, another said that the Commission would never be accepted by the world community.  There was no unanimity and no consensus on it.

But Assembly President Eliasson recognized that while "none of you have got everything you wanted", the overall goal must be to reduce the number of countries falling back into conflict.  "You have worked so hard for this", he said, "We have a chance to prove ourselves, to prove the relevance of the United Nations to the problems of the world." 

In other action today, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to preventing and settling conflicts, by which it stressed that the widest possible participation in the Kimberly Process is essential and should be encouraged. 

In a brief debate on the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, the international certification scheme set up to disrupt the smuggling of the precious gems, which have financed some of the world's bloodiest civil wars, the Observer of the European Commission, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that almost three years into the existence of the Scheme, there had been significant progress in implementation by its participants.

Still, the process faced some important challenges over the past year, which should serve as a warning against complacency and which underscored the need for continued United Nations support.  The Observer, along with other speakers expressed serious concern for the ongoing illicit production of rough diamonds in northern rebel-held territories of Cote d'Ivoire.

Also today, the Assembly approved the report of its Credentials Committee (document A/60/595).

The representative of Venezuela spoke in explanation of vote before the vote on operationalizing the Peacebuilding Commission.

Others speaking in explanation of position were the representatives of the United States, Egypt, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom (speaking on behalf of the European Union), India, Pakistan, Mexico, Switzerland, Cuba, Iran, Jamaica, Spain, Norway, Brazil, Australia (speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Haiti, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria and El Salvador.

The representative of the Russian Federation introduced the text on the Kimberly Process, and the representative of Canada (on behalf of Australia and New Zealand) spoke during the subsequent debate.

The text on the Credentials Committee's report was introduced by the representative of Panama, and the representative of Iran spoke in explanation of vote after the vote on that resolution.

The Assembly will reconvene Thursday morning, 22 December, to take up the reports of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).


The General Assembly met today to consider the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission in follow-up to the World Summit Outcome.  Also, the Assembly was expected to consider the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict and a report by its Credentials Committee.

Before the Assembly is a draft resolution on The Peacebuilding Commission (document A/60/L.40).  By that draft, the Assembly would decide to establish the Commission and would set up its composition, modalities and functioning.

A report on programme budget implications of establishing the Peacebuilding Commission was also before the Assembly (document A/60/598).  It states that no additional budgetary requirements would be needed at this stage to set up the Commission.  Any additional resources for conference-servicing by the Peacebuilding support office would be reported in the first performance report.

On the question of diamonds, the Assembly had before it a letter from the Russian Federation transmitting the report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (A/60/589).  It covers developments over the past year and takes into account the Kimberley Process plenary meeting in Moscow on 15-17 November.

It states that implementation had been the overarching aim over the past year and that progress had been made in reaching understandings and methods for achieving aims, even if approaches to practical implementation still need to be developed.  Two new countries had joined the Process and 11 more had expressed the intention to join.  The largest possible participation would continue to be an aim.

Twenty-four countries had received review visits, the report continues. 

An expert mission to Lebanon and a special mission to Liberia had also been completed.  The situation in Cote d'Ivoire had been closely monitored.  The technical aspects of the Kimberley Process requirements were being addressed, with an emphasis on compilation and analysis of statistical data and annual reports.  Contacts with international organizations were maintained.

The report concludes that further work in the field should be directed towards strengthening the Process as a unique international forum aimed at excluding diamonds from legal trade and preventing their use in funding conflicts.  Suggestions include further interaction with international organizations, encouragement of participation by companies forming the global diamond market infrastructure, strengthening the role of the diamond industry in preventing the entry of conflict diamonds into legitimate trade, and development of cooperation with international initiatives.

Also before the Assembly is a draft resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to preventing and settling conflicts (document A/60/L.42).  By it, the Assembly would stress that the widest possible participation in the Process was essential and should be encouraged.  It would also urge States to participate actively in the scheme by complying with its undertakings.  It would welcome the adoption of a declaration on improving internal controls over alluvial diamond mining and would encourage donors to provide capacity-building assistance to implement the Scheme.  The Assembly would further welcome the agreement reached on terms of reference for the three-year review of the Scheme.  It would recognize the succession of Botswana as Process Chair for 2006 and the European Union as Vice-Chair.

Finally, before the Assembly is a report by its Credentials Committee (document A/60/595), containing one resolution.  By it, the Assembly would approve the Committee's report on the credentials submitted to the Assembly's sixtieth session by 133 Member States.

Statement by General Assembly President

JAN ELIASSON (Sweden), President of the General Assembly, said the resolution, if adopted today would be truly historic.  And while that term was often overused, there was no doubt that it was appropriate today, because for the first time in the history of the United Nations, the Assembly would create a mechanism that would ensure that for countries emerging from conflict, "post conflict" did not mean "post-engagement" of the international community.  Indeed, adopting the text would be the best chance to reverse the trend over the past few years that had seen so many post-war countries lapse back into conflict within five years.  That had largely been because the support for the healing process had been missing. 

The Commission would mean much for the hopes and aspirations of millions of people around the world.  The Assembly had the Secretary General to thank, as well as political leaders at the 2005 World Summit, who had proposed that the Commission be operational by the end of the year.  He also thanked the Ambassadors of Demark and the United Republic of Tanzania who had shepherded the negotiations.  The wider Assembly should also be thanked for its commitment to such a landmark text, he said, recalling that he had often stressed the need to bring the world's realities to the Assembly floor, and with the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, Member States had a real chance to make a difference for the better in years to come for a great number of men, women and children in conflict stricken countries. 

Still, no one had gotten everything they had wanted in the resolution, he said.  Indeed, for some, its adoption meant compromising on some points, on which they had felt -- and still felt -- strongly.  Some had asked that language be changed to address their concerns, but that would have meant opening up the document to another lengthy round of negotiations.  Some had commented on the role of the Commission and its effect on the roles of other organs and the wider United Nations system.  The text set out how the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should work.  The Commission would act as the first-ever advisory body for those organs, and the Assembly would be charged with the overall review of its work.  Most of countries under the Commission's agenda would also be on the Council's agenda. 

He said that the Commission would work with ECOSOC to ensure that the international community and donors did not lose interest in a country once it was no longer making headlines.  The three organs would be able to put countries on the Commission's agenda according to their individual mandates.  Further, individual countries facing a relapse into conflict would be able to seek the Commission's advice.  "Our goal must be to reduce the number of countries falling back into conflict," he said.  Other Members had concerns about the membership of the Commission's Organizational Committee, where difficult choices had been made.  On that matter, it was important to emphasize that much of the Commission's important work would be done in country-specific settings.  The Assembly would heave to make every effort to organize the work of the country-specific meetings in a manner conducive to effective action. 

He went on to say that some delegations had also questioned the nature of the participation of international financial institutions, which, he stressed, would participate in an observer capacity.  "You have worked so hard for this, so a decision today would send a message that our intergovernmental work was producing results.  We have a chance to prove ourselves, to prove the relevance of the United Nations to the problems of the world."  He also urged the Assembly to show all those people seeking to cast off the dark shadow of conflict, what the Assembly and the United Nations could do in support and solidarity.

Statement before Action on Peacebuilding Commission Draft

IMERIA NUNEZ DE ODREMAN (Venezuela) said she would dissociate herself from the action adopting the text and that she rejected the draft itself.  First, it was based on a flawed document and further, the concerns of many had been omitted.  Negotiations had been restricted to 16 States.  The document they had created was completely devoid of legal or political effect.

She said the term "conflict prevention" had been introduced as an attempt to legitimise intervention in the internal affairs of others at any time.  Conflicts in the wording of various paragraphs would only confuse peacekeeping efforts.  Overall, the document was a supranational decision that gave certain countries the power to make decisions for others as to how they should rebuild and develop.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank should not be involved, since language belied the Commission's supposed advisory nature and set up conditions for conflicts of competence and interest, particularly with the opening for unequal and unfair membership in the organizational committee, with provision for selections and elections.  The organizational committee should not include any entities that were involved in the conflict in any way.  Those involved in conflicts must not be decision-makers on behalf of those countries.

In short, the Commission would never be accepted by the world community, she stated.  There was no unanimity and no consensus on it.  The Commission was simply a mechanism of intervention by States serving the United States and its allies.  The United Nations was turning its back on the world, but justice would prevail.

Action on the Draft

The Assembly adopted the draft resolution on the Peacebuilding Commission without a vote.

Statement by Secretary-General

KOFI ANNAN, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the adoption of the resolution on the Commission, combined with adoption of the Central Emergency Response Fund last week, was an important step towards the renewed United Nations he had envisioned.  The work of the United Nations in building peace had intensified in recent years, but now a critical gap had been filled.  Now there was a dedicated entity to oversee the process, ensure its coherence and sustain it over the long haul.  Peacebuilding would no longer be fractured.  There would be a single forum for actors to gather and share information towards a common strategy.  A fragile peace wouldn't be left to crumble into renewed conflict.

The Commission's purpose was to help countries make the transition from war to peace, he continued.  It would advise on recovery, focus attention on reconstruction and institution-building, improve coordination, develop best practices, ensure predictable funding and keep the international community engaged in long-term recovery.

He said the establishment of the Commission was a historic development, but it must be a beginning, not an end.  The Commission must make a difference to the countries where it was needed.  The utmost care must be exercised in establishing country-specific groups.  The views and voices of main stakeholders must be reflected, and the Commission must have the reinforcement of a support office within the Secretariat to provide information and analysis.

In short, he said the momentum of the reform just achieved, must be sustained.  Yet at the moment there was real reason to be satisfied.

Explanations of Position

JOHN BOLTON (United States) said his country had supported the concurrent resolutions in the Security Council and the Assembly establishing the Peacebuilding Commission, and the Commission must now be able to realize its potential to build sustainable peace in the aftermath of immediate threats to international peace and security.  The resolutions emphasized that the Commission must take into account the primary responsibility of the Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.  The common imperative was to create a cost-effective, efficient advisory institution to ensure a successful transition from peacekeeping operations into peacebuilding, providing important advice, but not duplicating work.  It could effectively help prevent nations from sliding back into conflict by ensuring that the Council would be aware of all the elements essential to achieving sustainable peace in a given nation.

He underlined that the Commission's main purpose would be to provide advice at the Council's request and noted that the Commission would meet in various configurations and would act in all matters on the basis of consensus.  The consensus requirement applied to all of the various configurations in which the Commission might meet, including the Organizational Committee.  He stressed that paragraph 27 provided that a review of the arrangements would take place after five years.  The need for approval by both the Council and the Assembly for any changes in the Commission's governing arrangements was, of course, inherent in the manner in which it had been created, and was not limited to changes resulting from the five-year review.  Progress on the Commission reminded delegates of the urgency of broader institutional reform regarding the budget.  There was a collective interest in ensuring that reforms required to reduce cost and waste were successful.

MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELIZIZ (Egypt) said his delegation would never have supported the text if had not been for Egypt's deep sense of belonging to Africa, and its conviction that millions of Africans in countries emerging from conflict were hopeful that the Commission would be operational as soon as possible.  The peoples of Africa were looking forward to a mechanism aimed at mobilizing and coordinating international and regional efforts to assist post conflict countries, with rebuilding and rehabilitation of their national institutions, as well as with reconstruction and sustainable development.

Nevertheless, Egypt had some reservations about the resolution, including that the text asserted the central and authoritative role of the Security Council in addressing post-conflict peacebuilding, vis-à-vis the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  That had been particularly evident in some of the draft's out-of-context selections from the Charter.  Egypt disagreed with any legal, political and institutional implications resulting from the misinterpretation of such language.  He stressed that the focus on reinforcing the scope of the Security Council's role in driving the Commission's work, had overshadowed the vital role and the sovereign right of the country concerned to seek the Commission's advice directly.  That ignored the principle of "national ownership" and meant that the national priorities of post-conflict countries and their ability to terminate the Commission's involvement would be held hostage to the Security Council's prerogative.

He went on to say that the concurrent action taken by the Assembly and the Security Council was setting an incomprehensible precedent, unless the exercise was an attempt to redefine the roles and mandates of the principle organs of the United Nations in a manner that would provide the Council with absolute powers.  Among such powers would be determining the role of the Assembly during the five-year review of the Commission's work.  Such a precedent was particularly dangerous in that it did not place the Assembly on the same footing with the Council.  Finally, he said, that although his delegation highly valued the role of the donor countries and institutions in supporting the development of reconstruction efforts in post conflict countries, the draft deepened the prerogatives of such countries and organizations outside the multilateral system.

BRUNO STANGO UGARTE (Costa Rica) said there was no doubt that the decision on the Peacebuilding Commission had been taken in the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit.  The texts adopted today, concurrently by the Assembly and the Security Council, were confined to operationalizing a body that had already been agreed upon.  Indeed, the text adopted today could lead to confusion by suggesting that the Peacebuilding Commission had been established today.  That was not the case -- it had been established on 16 September.  The decision taken today might lead some to believe that decisions taken by the Assembly or the new Peacebuilding Commission would be subject to the Council's veto.

But Costa Rica would stress that the decision taken today was merely procedural.  Costa Rica had repeatedly tried to bring this legal matter to the attention of the negotiators.  It had also stressed that, in effect, the Assembly was perhaps allowing the Council veto into its halls through the back door, particularly since, under the text, any of the permanent members of the Council could veto the Assembly's five-year review of the Commission's work.  The text also tended to weaken the prerogatives of the Assembly under the Charter.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Commission had a definite purpose.  It had been set up to make things better for people in war-torn countries.

NIRUPAM SEN (India) said the Commission was a historical step but it could have been more momentous had it been functionalized in the manner set out by the Summit Outcome Document, and established as an autonomous body without dependence on the Security Council.  Waiting for the Council would only discourage countries from seeking recourse to the Commission's advisory function.  Under the camouflage of setting up an independent body, there were conditionalities attached to the main purpose and limitations on who could access it.  The decision to adopt the Commission as it was, had failed to revitalize the Assembly as it could have.  But at least the timeline set by leaders at the Summit had been met.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said this was the first decision as a follow-up to the mandate of world leaders.  The timeline had been met but at a price.  The draft resolution was acceptable because it was adopted by consensus, which should be the principle applied to all aspects of the reform.  The text was flawed but it must be kept in mind that the Summit had established the Commission, and the Council's concurrent action with that of the Assembly on the matter, was only a technical mechanism to operationalize it.  The important point was to make representation on the Commissions both equitable and full.  Operational paragraph 16 regarding the Council was out of character with the rest of the provisions, and with the spirit and letter of the Summit decision regarding the Commission's composition and organization.

The assumption concerning the Commission, he said, was that both permanent and non-permanent members would be included, along with ECOSOC and troop contributors.  He had vehemently argued against permanent membership, but if the five permanent Council members were to be permanent on the Commission as well, then those who put their children's lives on the line should be given the same consideration.

ENRIQUE BERRUGA (Mexico) said his delegation recognized the need to have a Peacebuilding Commission up and running as soon as possible, but like others, it would express its concern about the overall makeup of the Organizational Committee, particularly the prominence given to the five permanent members of the Security Council.

PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said his delegation welcomed the resolution's adoption.  At the same time, Switzerland was concerned that the resolution gave such prominence to the Security Council and relegated ECOSOC's consideration to a later stage.  His delegation had joined the consensus in order to press ahead with the overall reform of the United Nations.  He added that only through the successful implementation of the Commission's mandate could Member States begin to consider whether the action taken today would turn out to be "historic".

RODRIGO MALMIERCA-DIAZ (Cuba) said that his delegation had associated itself with the adoption of the text, largely because it was aware of what such a Peacebuilding Commission would mean for the hopes and dreams of the African peoples who had long-suffered from conflict.  Cuba was also concerned by the ambiguity of the Commission's powers and the scope of its work, particularly since the Commission was established by two bodies.  Cuba feared that the Commission would become an extension of the Security Council.  He stressed that his delegation believed that the Commission should report to, and its work be reviewed only by, the Assembly, which had representation of the Organization's widest membership.  He also stressed that every organ of the United Nations system must adhere to the principles of State sovereignty and territorial integrity.

HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran) said he had joined consensus on the draft resolution with a number of understandings.  First, the Commission was to be guided by the Assembly and was to assist countries emerging from conflict.  In the country-specific situation, the Commission's work would be activated by a formal request of the Government concerned and would be guided by the principle of national ownership.  Activities would focus on economic and reconstruction recovery and not at pre-conflict situations, including conflict resolution.  The Organizational Committee would establish the agenda based on requests for advice from the relevant bodies and the consent of the State concerned.  Finally, the principle of sovereignty and associated State rights would be paramount and strictly respected.

JANICE MILLER (Jamaica) said the Commission was an important component in developing an approach for helping countries emerge from conflict, and thereby maintaining peace and stability.  Great care should be exercised to safeguard the Assembly's role as set out in the Charter, without handing over mandates to the Council through the Commission.  Certain paragraphs in the text gave the Council too much power in the Commission.  The process of selection or election and the possibility of permanent membership were particularly delicate.  However, early operationalization of the Commission was important, including for staying in line with the mandate established by heads of State at the Summit.  Establishing the support office was part of that mandate.

JUAN ANTONIO YANEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said the timeline set in the Outcome Document had been met.  An institutionalized mechanism for helping countries emerge from conflict was overdue and was a big step towards revitalizing the United Nations.  Making oral amendments to the Spanish text, he said the provisions for the Commission should be reviewed in five years to make sure it remained relevant.  Nevertheless, for now, the role of the United Nations in recovery of countries emerging from conflict had been greatly strengthened.

JOHAN LOVALD (Norway) said the United Nations had been strengthened by the decision just taken.  Further, the Organization was now better-placed to address post-conflict situations.  The success of the Commission would be measured by its capacity to deliver, and his Government was prepared to give some $30 million to the Peacebuilding Fund.

RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that his delegation had joined the consensus largely because it was convinced that peace would not last long in any country without addressing the root causes of conflict.  He said that the interaction between the Commission and other United Nations organs, and the composition of the Organizational Committee raised many concerns.  Too much weight had been placed on the role of the Security Council.

While there was no doubt of the Council's role in the maintenance of international peace and security, he said that when peacebuilding activities got under way in post-conflict countries, a greater role for the ECOSOC should have been expected and provided for in the text.  Further, the text should have attempted to ensure geographical balance on the Organizational Committee.  It also assured permanent representation of a small and predictable group, which would no doubt have some effect on the Commission's working methods.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia), also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said his delegation was disappointed in the tone of the statements, which had been far less hopeful and enthusiastic than they ought to be in light of the action just taken.  Canada, Australia, and New Zealand did not believe that the "carping" heard today was representative of the opinions of the wider Assembly or of civil society organizations worldwide.  He reminded the Assembly that the Organizational Committee would be a largely administrative body and that the Commission would undertake much of its work in country-specific settings.

FRISNEL AZOR (Haiti) said the Commission was a historic institution for going from war to peace.  It was dedicated to lasting peace and to helping countries reintegrate and rebuild for sustainable development and political stability.  Now the root causes of conflict must be addressed, and one profound cause was abject poverty.  In recognition of the social element to crises, the international monetary institutions must be brought into play, and a Multiyear Fund for Peacebuilding must be established.  Implementation must be key.  His country would participate actively in the Commission's work, which included not only socio-economic assistance, but also the restoring of crumpling political institutions in line with principles of sustainable development.

KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said he had contributed to the text and had joined consensus with the hope of facilitating the spirit of compromise on the other important debates in the reform process.  Japan would take an active and consistent role in the Commission.

DUMISANI SHADRACK KUMALO (South Africa) said the Commission would be judged by results on the ground.  It was disappointing that the support office would not be funded within the regular budget, and the fact that the permanent Council members wanted to make themselves permanent on the Commission was unexpected.  But again, whatever happened at Headquarters was of little concern.  The results would be evident with the people of Burduni, Kosovo or any others emerging from conflict and needing to avoid slipping back.

FIDELIS IDOKO (Nigeria) said the resolution's adoption had been a testimony to the perseverance and good work of the Co-Chairs during the negotiations.  The consensus adoption showed that the Assembly had kept faith with the wishes of Heads of State and Government, as expressed in the outcome of the 2005 World Summit.  The task was now to get the Commission up and running, which, above all, meant ensuring its adequate funding and support for the Peacebuilding Fund.

CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNANDEZ (El Salvador) said her delegation applauded the historic action that had just taken place.  The Commission should be based on the experience of countries that had moved from political agreement towards the establishment of lasting rehabilitation and development.  El Salvador would stress broad participation in the work of the Commission in those countries that had successfully emerged from conflict.  It also welcomed the inclusion in the text of language supporting gender perspective.

Mr. ELIASSON said that he could not respond to the comments and questions in detail, although they had all been extremely valuable.  He thanked the Assembly for the support expressed for his work and that of the Co-Chairs during the negotiations.  He hoped the Assembly would see the establishment of the Commission as an expression of the concept that the three organs -- Assembly, Security Council and ECOSOC -- could work closely together.  "If we do it right, this could lead to better coordination."

He said he was particularly sensitive to the comments made on the role of the Assembly.  But he recognized that they had perhaps come about as a consequence of the creation of a new United Nations body.  But nevertheless, this was the beginning of the Commission's life and much work remained to be done.  He would request that the Secretary-General to provide an updated list of top financial and troop contributing countries.  He would also urge the other relevant organs to select their members of the Organizational Committee as soon as possible, so that the Secretary-General could convene the Committee's first meeting as soon as possible.  Finally, he stressed that the true test of the Commission would be its effect on people's lives on the ground.

Credentials Committee Report

RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS (Panama) introduced the report and made oral amendments.

The resolution contained in the report was adopted without a vote, as it had been in the Committee.

Explanation of Position after Action

Iran's representative said he joined consensus but dissociated himself from any reference to Israel as a State.

Resolution on Role of Diamonds in Fuelling Conflict

ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) introduced the draft relating to conflict diamonds.  He said efforts had focused on inhibiting the use of income from diamonds to fund terrorist-related activities.  The resolution before the Assembly showed significant progress in implementing the Kimberley Process. 

SAMUEL O.OUTLULE (Botswana) said the valuable natural resource of diamonds had made an enormous contribution to economic development.  His country continued to demonstrate how revenues from the good management of clean diamonds were essential to building infrastructure and to the education and health of its citizens.  It was therefore fully committed to the twin objectives of breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict on the one hand, and maintaining the contribution of legitimate diamonds for prosperity and development on the other.

Welcoming Indonesia's accession to the Kimberley Process and the restoration of Lebanon's full participation, he said that today, the membership of the Kimberley Process consisted of a wide spectrum of diamond producers, exporters and importers, a diversity that reflected mutual interest and common objectives.  Success depended on full compliance and strict adherence to the Process.  Timely reporting was crucial to sustaining its credibility, as information was one of its cornerstones.  As one of its conveners and a diamond producer, Botswana was ready to chair the Kimberley Process during 2006.  It had already received a peer review mission and had participated in peer review missions to a number of countries.

HEIDI HULAN (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that the three countries remained fully supportive of the Kimberly Process, which advanced human security by preventing conflict diamonds from penetrating the legitimate diamond market.  The Certification scheme was working, and in its short lifespan, had already had a major impact on the global diamond trade.  That had been mostly because of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme's comprehensive scope.  The Certification Scheme not only deprived criminals and non-State armed groups from easy access to capital, but had also improved the revenue generating capacity of Governments formerly affected by conflict-diamonds, such as Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as large volumes of diamonds were now transported through Government mechanisms.

The impact of that shift in resource flows, on the international community's conflict prevention and resolution had been significant, she said, adding that with the signing of peace agreements, States such as Angola and Sierra Leone were now in the process of recovering from conflicts fuelled by the illicit trade in diamonds, as a result of direct contributions by the Certification Scheme.  At the same time, her delegation was concerned that the Process continued to face challenges in such rebel-controlled areas as northern Cote d'Ivoire.  According to the most recent information, the rebel group, Forces Nouvelles, was benefiting from illicit production, which generated millions of dollars in revenue.

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were very concerned about the destabilizing effect such ill-gotten resources would have, not only on Cote d'Ivoire, but on the entire region, she said.  In order to stop the illicit flow of resources to insurgents, there was an urgent need for a detailed assessment of the volume of diamond production to be undertaken by the Kimberly Process participants, in cooperation with the United Nations.  She said it was equally important to assess the volume of exports from Cote d'Ivoire, and identify where the illicit diamonds could be entering the market.

DITTE JUUL-JOERGENSEN, Observer of the European Commission, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that almost three years into the existence of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, there had been significant progress in implementation by its participants.  The huge increase in official certified exports from countries previously affected by conflict diamonds, such as Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bore witness to the profound and positive impact the Process had had on the international diamond trade.  Virtually all of the world's rough diamond trade was now conducted within the Certification Scheme, she said, adding that there had also been further solid progress in monitoring the scheme's implementation.

Still, the process had confronted some important challenges over the past year, which should serve as a warning against complacency, and which underscored the need for continued United Nations support.  She said the ongoing illicit production of rough diamonds in northern, rebel-held territories of Cote d'Ivoire was of foremost concern.  The Kimberly Process had been monitoring the situation, and it was probable that the diamonds from that area were entering the legitimate rough diamond trade, in breach of the Certification Scheme and the ban on exports imposed on Ivorian authorities.  With that in mind, her delegation had been pleased by the adoption of the Moscow Plenary of a resolution containing concrete measures to tackle the problem.  He urged the Assembly to reiterate its strong support for the Process by endorsing the draft under consideration.

The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote. 

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