Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

20 December 2012 - Statement to the United Nations Security Council

20 December 2012


Statement by Mr Will Nankervis,
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations


Thank you, Mr President, for convening this debate, and thanks to the Secretary-General for his report and the speakers for their briefings.

Peacebuilding is vital work. We know, of course, that about half of countries emerging from conflict relapse into violence within five years. We have ample evidence of this when we look at the situations preoccupying the Council today. Ensuring we take advantage of the critical post-conflict window to shore up peace and stability and prevent a return to conflict is one of the most important endeavours we can undertake.

Australia looks forward to working with others to advance the peacebuilding agenda on the Security Council. We hope to draw on experiences from peacebuilding partnerships in our own region, the Asia-Pacific.

Mr President

It is timely to take stock of progress on the Secretary-General’s 2009 agenda for action on peacebuilding. We welcome progress within the UN system towards more coherent, timely and effective responses: work to enhance mission integration, such as integrated strategic frameworks; work to clarify peacebuilding roles and responsibilities, such as UNDP and DPKO’s designation as joint global focal point for the rule of law; enhanced partnerships with the World Bank and regional organisations; and efforts to improve deployment of personnel with the right skillsets in the immediate aftermath of conflict – including importantly from the global south – through the civilian capacities initiative.

Mr President

I would like to focus on three aspects of the Secretary-General’s report: transitions; women and peacebuilding; and sustained international support.
Transitions and drawdowns of peace operations can be just as important to maintaining peace and stability as initial deployments. We welcome vital work underway within the Secretariat to develop a transitions policy. This is particularly topical with drawdown in Timor-Leste (we welcome the Presidential Statement adopted by the Council yesterday), reconfiguration of UNMIL in Liberia and planning for drawdown of UNIPSL in Sierra Leone.

The Government of Timor-Leste/UNMIT Joint Transition Plan provides a useful model. Australia, Solomon Islands and regional partners are also working together to draw down the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2013.

Key lessons from these experiences include the importance of beginning transition planning as early as possible, and of emphasising national capacity development. Successful transitions require inclusive national ownership, as well as flexibility and strong coordination with multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental partners. They should be based on conditions on the ground, rather than driven by artificial timelines. Participation of women is vital.

Which leads to my second area of focus - women’s participation in peacebuilding. This is not simply an issue of equity - the evidence consistently demonstrates that conflict prevention/resolution and peacebuilding processes that involve women are more likely to succeed. As the Secretary-General outlines, women are critical partners in shoring up the three pillars of peace – economic recovery, social cohesion and political legitimacy.

The Secretary-General’s report recognises that only modest progress has been made on the seven point action plan for gender-responsive peacebuilding. We must do better. Australia welcomes the Secretary-General’s commitment to this as one of the priorities for his second term.

We welcome, in particular, his calls for UN entities to take more systemic action to ensure women’s participation in peace processes, and the availability of gender expertise to such processes. Separately, we welcome the increasing inclusion of references in UN mission mandates to the promotion of the rights, protection and empowerment of women.

Of course, enhancing women’s participation is incumbent on us all. Australia has been learning lessons on the issue through our involvement in peace operations in our region. Since 2009, for example, RAMSI’s Gender Adviser has provided advice across the mission’s programs and Solomon Islands Government Agencies. RAMSI’s assistance to address gender inequality also focuses on collection of gender-based data and efforts to remove barriers to women’s participation and representation in government.

The third issue, Mr President, is sustained international support. Peacebuilding is a long-term endeavour. We know from the World Development Report that transforming institutions rarely takes less than a generation. This requires long-term commitment. The Secretary-General has emphasised – rightly – that bodies such as the Council and PBC often provide sustained political support, but that commensurate financial support has sometimes been lacking.

International support must be guided by the overarching principle of national ownership and leadership. Aligning support with national priorities is essential if it is to be effective and sustainable in the long term. We welcome efforts of countries emerging from conflict to clearly define their peacebuilding priorities.

Australia is proud to have signed a partnership agreement with the Government of Timor-Leste that aligns our assistance with Timor-Leste’s own Strategic Development plan, and provides clear, measurable targets for Australian assistance.

Finally, Mr President, Australia continues to believe the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) has an important role. The Commission needs to prioritise impact in the field. Its country configurations, for example, should continue to work in support of national actors and UN leadership teams – Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, Executive Representatives of the Secretary General and Resident Coordinators.

Australia has consistently urged a closer and more organic relationship between the PBC and the Security Council, emphasising in particular the important advisory role country configurations can play, especially on mandate renewals and transitions, as well as their potential role in early warning.

In conclusion, Mr President, let me assure you of Australia’s commitment to ensuring the peacebuilding agenda delivers real results on the ground for the 1.5 billion people living in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence.