SC – Open Debate on Post-conflict Peacebuilding - Ambassador Mayr-Harting
Statement by Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations
New York, 22 July 2009
Mr. President, we highly appreciate your presiding over this important meeting. We express our thanks to the Ugandan presidency of the Security Council for having organized this debate. Let me also thank the Secretary-General for the important presentation he made to us today. We also welcome Ambassador Muñoz, Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, and the representatives of the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme for their contributions. Austria associates itself with the statement to be delivered by the representative of Sweden on behalf of the European Union later in this meeting.
Let me say that seizing the window of opportunity in the immediate aftermath of a conflict is a crucial investment in order to lay the ground for long-term peace and stability. We concur with the Secretary-General that it is essential for the international community to ensure that a peacebuilding perspective is in place from the very first days after the cessation of a conflict. Peacebuilding efforts must be undertaken and supported from the earliest stage onwards, and as the representative of Japan and others have said, they must go hand in hand with the possible deployment of integrated peacekeeping missions.
In order for peacebuilding measures to prove successful, national ownership must be at the centre of all efforts. All peacebuilding efforts should therefore draw upon existing national capacities, as the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission has already said, while at the same time assisting with capacity deployment. From our point of view, this should also include the identification of opportunities for local private-sector engagement. Let me add that local private-sector engagement can also play a role when it comes to procurement for United Nations peacekeeping. The protection of civilians and effective programmes for disarmament and demobilization and reintegration must be key priorities in the immediate aftermath of a conflict. There should be a clear focus on the long-term reintegration of former combatants and on the strengthening of the rule of law and institutional reform, including security-sector reform.
Short-term peacebuilding measures must be undertaken with a view to long-term peacebuilding. The establishment of, and support for, effective and independent justice and reconciliation mechanisms is crucial. That will contribute to justice, long-term peace and reconciliation in war-torn societies, thereby helping to minimize the risk of future violations. Austria believes that successful peacebuilding can take place only if all the relevant actors are included. I would therefore also like to express my support for the comment made by the representative of the United States. We need to acknowledge the vital role played by women in re-establishing post-conflict societies. Women have specific insight into the needs of their societies, which is why their involvement in peacebuilding efforts should be enhanced and the provision of gender-specific funds ensured.
Enhanced coordination, not only within the United Nations system but also with other international partners, is a prerequisite for avoiding duplication and ensuring the efficiency of peacebuilding efforts. It is essential to make maximum use of partners with a comparative advantage on the ground. That is of course very often particularly true of regional and subregional organizations. For that very reason, we need to intensify cooperation with them. Furthermore, Austria supports the Secretary General’s recommendation to strengthen the authority of senior United Nations leadership on the ground as a means of increasing accountability.
Austria also welcomes the crucial role of the Peacebuilding Commission in addressing a country’s post-conflict needs. We would like to underline the necessity of involving the Peacebuilding Commission from the outset. By promoting a coherent and integrated approach that highlights the principles of national ownership and regional cooperation, the Commission provides valuable support for long-term democratic consolidation and sustained economic development. It is therefore best placed to develop an international consensus on peacebuilding, which is
necessary to bridge the gap between early stabilization and recovery efforts and longer-term development planning. We attach great importance to building further on the Commission’s accomplishments and look forward to the refinement of its working methods and tools in the context of the 2010 review. To underline our commitment to the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, Austria recently asked to become a member in its country-specific configuration for Sierra Leone. The Secretary-General has mentioned that Sierra Leone is a showcase for cooperation and synergy among United Nations actors on the ground in the framework of peacebuilding. We are therefore happy that our request has met with the Commission’s approval. We will actively contribute to its work.
Finally, I would like to thank the Ugandan presidency of the Security Council for preparing the draft presidential statement, as well as to express our full support for it.