Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

12 July 2012 - Statement to the UN Security Council

12 July 2012

Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Statement by H.E. Gary Quinlan
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations




Madam President

Australia speaks as a country committed to the challenging but vital work of peacebuilding, and to ensuring the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) fulfils the vision of our Leaders from the 2005 World Summit.

Thank you, Madam President, for Colombia’s initiative in convening this debate, which provides a timely opportunity to take stock of what is working and what is not – and of the comparative advantages of the PBC.

We welcome the statements from speakers, including interventions from previous and current PBC Chairs, Ambassadors Gassana and Momen.

We agree with Ambassador Momen’s assessment that the PBC has yet to meet its full potential. We agree that we need to do better. And we support the ideas he put forward this morning to enhance the PBC’s relationship with the Council. We also support the point made by Germany this morning that the PBC’s work can be linked the post-2015 development agenda.

I would like to focus on three areas which we see as critical to the work of the Commission going forward.

The first is enhancing impact in the field. The ultimate goal of the PBC is to improve the lives of those in states emerging from conflict. Enhancing impact in the field was one of the overarching themes of the 2010 review and is, rightly, an overarching objective for the Commission’s roadmap for 2012. But while easy to voice, this objective is, of course, difficult to achieve for an organisation based in New York.

Obviously, building better linkages with actors in the field is an important part of the solution. The PBC must look at how it can best complement and support the work of UN missions and UN country teams – Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, Executive Representatives of the Secretary-General and Resident Coordinators. The relationships between country-specific configurations and these field actors needs to be clarified and strengthened.

We must ensure that policy discussions here in New York translate into practical coordination, cooperation and coherence on the ground, and also reflect ground realities. As member states, we need to maintain dialogue with all elements of the UN system to bring about coherence.
We must look carefully at the PBC's comparative advantages. These include its advocacy role and its nature as a member-state based organisation with a unique composition. The PBC has an ability to convene diverse stakeholders. It needs to look at more active engagement of multilateral, bilateral and regional actors, including in the field.

Resource mobilisation is similarly vital to increasing impact in the field, but has inevitably proven hard. The new approach taken by the PBC and PBF in Liberia, in developing an Expanded Priority Plan linked to the Statement of Mutual Commitments, is instructive. We encourage country configurations to map international assistance and to find effective avenues for support from funding partners.

We welcome the stated intention, in the conclusions of the PBC Annual Report, to place additional focus on measuring impact in the field.

Madam President

This leads to the second area I would like to emphasise – supporting national ownership. This is must be the central organising principle of the PBC. It has been demonstrated time and again that the PBC functions best when it is working in support of nationally-determined priorities.

We support efforts to better and more specifically define commitments between the PBC and agenda countries, to make them more measurable and align them more closely with national priorities.

We welcome efforts in New York to involve the Permanent Representatives of agenda countries more deeply in PBC policy work. The Permanent Representatives are the key connection between New York and their capitals. It is important that the Commission serves as a mechanism through which the international community listens not just to itself, but also to countries under consideration, to ensure true partnerships.

My third point relates to the relationship between the Security Council and the PBC. We have consistently urged a closer and more organic relationship between these two bodies.

We welcome positive steps in this regard, including enhanced involvement of PBC Country-specific configurations in Council discussions. We would encourage more informal dialogue between the Council and the PBC, and we very much welcome the interactive dialogue to take place tomorrow as an opportunity for frank discussion. The Council – as one of the PBC’s parent organs – should set out clearly its expectations, particularly in relation to the PBC’s advisory role. The Council could make better use of this advisory role, including when it comes to mandate renewals and periods of transition in the UN’s engagement in a country. There is also a role for the PBC in early warning to the Council. In the words of the South African representative this morning, the advice of the PBC should be used at all times when it is relevant.

Madam President

As Ambassador Momen has emphasised, the PBC needs to be a collective enterprise. We all have important roles in this regard. My own country, Australia, is seeking to play its part:

We were the first donor to the Peacebuilding Fund, and I’d like to announce today a new multi-year contribution of $12 million to the Fund over four years.

We have contributed to resource mobilisation in each of the country-specific configurations of which we are members: $1million to the Liberia Justice and Security Trust Fund; $1.5 million to the Multi-donor Trust Fund for Sierra Leone for the Government’s Smallholder Commercialisation program; and $500,000 in support of reintegration activities in Burundi.

To ensure better linkages between New York and the field, we have deployed a Peacebuilding Adviser to Freetown to inform our Peacebuilding engagement in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

To ensure the PBC is better able to measure impact in the field, we are funding a new position in the Peacebuilding Support Office to work on monitoring and evaluation.

And to share peacebuilding lessons from our region - the Asia-Pacific - we have produced a report on peacekeeping and peacebuilding experiences in Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, in Solomon Islands and in Timor-Leste. This was launched last month in New York at a seminar involving former Timor-Leste President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate José Ramos-Horta and high-level representatives from Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. This highlighted many of the key points being made today, including the central role of national ownership and the strong advantages of regional and south-south cooperation.

Madam President

To conclude, let me reaffirm that we take seriously our role in the collective enterprise of building peace. I would like to assure you of our commitment to ensuring the PBC continues to develop so that it can deliver genuine change to the lives of people in countries emerging from conflict.

Thank you.