Thank you Madam President,
I thank the Secretary-General for his important statement. I thank also Ambassador Gasana of Rwanda and Ambassador Momen of Bangladesh for their very useful briefings and for their leadership. Also, a word of appreciation for the presentation of Mr. Joachim von Amsberg on behalf of the World Bank.
We thank the Colombian Presidency for the initiative and for preparing a concept note for this debate and for the pertinent issues raised, namely on the added value of the PBC and on how to enhance the Commission’s impact in the field.
Portugal naturally shares the positions that will be presented later by Ambassador Meyer-Harting on behalf of the EU.
There is no denying that over the past 6 years, the Peacebuilding Commission has established itself as a unique actor within the UN architecture for post-conflict peace consolidation. The report we are considering today testifies to that effect and provides a comprehensive account of how the Commission and its various configurations have evolved and developed new forms of engagement with fragile countries, as well as with the wider donour community. Of course, much can still be, and should be done.
One distinctive aspect of the PBC that Portugal particularly values is the way it brings together security and development as interrelated elements of peace consolidation. Making sure that these two dimensions are treated in an integrated manner from the early stages of peacekeeping requires bringing our political, development, security and humanitarian instruments into a single consistent framework. In each of the countries where it is involved - including in the 4 Configurations that Portugal is a part of - the PBC certainly contributes to the UN effort to devise such a framework.
The PBC’s singularity derives also from its membership (bringing together member states and international organisations) and from its engagement with national actors in the definition of peacebuilding priorities. Its approach based on a mutual engagement between the PBC and the authorities of the countries in its agenda represents a strong incentive for national ownership of peace consolidation processes.
The issue at stake here today is how to make the best use of these singular features of the PBC, to ensure a more coherent and effective UN presence on the ground, but also greater visibility for the PBC’s work.
As the report indicates, one of the PBC’s main tasks is the mobilization of donor’s resources, the identification of financing gaps and of the priorities for international assistance. Yet this should translate into the actual work being carried out on the ground. Besides the regular planning and articulation with national authorities, the PBC should, early on, be more systematically involved with other actors, first and foremost with other UN agencies, but also with bilateral partners, international financial institutions and regional organisations. By engaging with the different partners, the PBC can play a very important role in bridging potential gaps between what each actor is doing. In this respect, the partnership established with the African Development Bank is a very positive step which will hopefully yield concrete results in the near future.
Another crucial aspect is that of political dialogue. The statements of mutual agreement, as well as the visits by the Configurations’ chairmen constitute excellent opportunities for conveying political messages regarding the situation in the countries on the PBC agenda. Yet we must admit that more needs to be done to articulate the political role the PBC Configuration Chairs with that of other UN actors, namely the Secretary General Special Representatives, to avoid duplication or, even worse, contradictions.
Priority areas for PBC intervention should also be carefully considered, taking into account the mandate of UN missions on the ground. While the current trend for a stronger focus of the PBC configurations on SSR activities is, in our view, a positive development, it is critical to ensure that such focus does not duplicate the work carried out by the UN missions, whose mandates already include SSR assistance as priority tasks.
The same applies, to a large extent, to initiatives aimed at promoting the effective participation of women in political transition and economic recovery. We value the initiatives of the PBC to tackle what we believe is a fundamental aspect of peace consolidation in the various countries on its agenda and can only encourage the different configurations to work with the missions on the ground, as well as with relevant UN organs and international partners, to ensure a better coordination of existing activities.
Still on the issue of priority areas, we believe that recent debates on cross-national issues, such as the ones on transnational organised crime in West Africa, are very promising and represent an attempt to provide a regional dimension to the work of the PBC. In this respect, we encourage the configurations to work closely with the UN regional offices in the implementation of concrete projects for combating organised crime.
The answer to the issues I identified here require a wider refection on the relation between the PBC and other organs of the United Nations, in particular the Security Council. The PBC annual report acknowledges some progress in the interaction between the two organs and provides recommendation on how the relation can be strengthened. We should work collectively to improve our working methods in order to allow us, on a regular basis, to draw upon the advice of the Chairs of country-specific configurations. The interactive dialogue to be held tomorrow represents a positive step in that direction, but there is certainly room for the Council to seek and make a better use of the PBC’s advice, especially when discussing mandates renewal, but also as an early warning for potential setbacks in peace consolidation in specific countries.
As always, Portugal stands ready to engage in an open and creative discussion on ways to advance the PBC’s contribution to a more efficient and integrated action of the international community throughout the various stages of post-conflict and peace consolidation in the countries involved. Indeed, the success of the PBC in fulfilling its functions represents our collective success towards achieving sustainable peace.
Thank you for your attention.