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20 June 2006

Responsibility to Protect Engaging Civil Society


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In this issue: Peacebuilding Commission

The newly created Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) at the UN held its first meeting on Friday, 23 June 2006. WFM-IGP released a statement on its creation and issued a welcome note to the members of the Commissions Organizational Committee on the occasion of the first meeting. As part of our work on the responsibility to rebuild (one of the three primary principles of R2P), we have been monitoring the establishment of the PBC.

WFM-IGP also worked with other NGOs, primarily at UN headquarters, to lobby for civil society engagement mechanisms to be included in the Commissions rules of procedures. On Friday, the Commission adopted provisional rules of procedures that include a commitment to ensure civil scoiety consultation through regular modalities. WFM-IGP will continue to work with others to advocate for an open and transparent PBC.

The Security Council transmitted its request for advice on Sierra Leone and Burundi to the PBCs Organizational Committee and the PBC will take those countries under consideration at its next meeting (expected in early July). For those of you who work in these countries or have partners there, please raise awareness of this important new body at the UN within your networks. Please contact us for more information on how to get involved and connect with other NGOs working in these countries on the PBC.

The PBCs Organizational Committee selected Angola as its Chair and and El Salvador as its first two Vice-Chairs. The PBC is supported by the Peacebuilding Support Office in the Secretariat, under the direction of Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding, Carolyn McAskie. A Peacebuilding Fund has also been established to support emergency funding for projects immediately following a peace agreement and to address gaps in funding in other areas. For a more detailed description of the PBC and its history visit:

Relevant Documents:

Rules of Procedure:

WFM-IGP Welcome Statement:

WFM-IGP Press Release:

Speeches from the first meeting of the PBC: {scroll down to UN Statements and Government Statements)

News Articles:

Angola Elected Chair of UN Peacebuilding Commission

Angola Press Agency

24 June 2006

Angolan ambassador to UN, Ismael Gaspar Martins, was elected by acclamation for a one-year term as chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission, a UN newly created organ tasked with ensuring post-conflict peace.

The election of the Angolan diplomat took place Friday in New York, during the first session of the commission, attended by the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and the presidents of the General Assembly of the Security, the Economic and Social Councils, Jan Eliasson, Per Stig Moller and Ali Hachani, respectively.

Addressing the session, the commission's newly elected chairman said the fact "represents the recognition that the countries that have concrete post-conflict problems must be directly associated with the search for solutions and the ways to lead United Nations actions toward solutions to the problems.

"We have just been given a unique opportunity to respond to the expectations of millions of people affected by conflicts," Ismael Martins stressed. According to him, financial support is crucial for the commission to be effective, and appealed to international and regional financial institutions, funds and programmes, civil societies and the private sector to come in support for the newly created organ.

He also argued that peacebuilding has to do with freeing people from conflicts and creating basis for peace and sustainable development.

To this end, he added, "there should be flexibility and transparency in our deliberations in order for our consensual recommendations to be actually implementable."

"Being a representative of a country that is in the process of overcoming the negative effects of many years of war, and of the continent with the highest number of conflicts, the creation of this organ is the symbolic recognition of the purposes that led our leaders into deciding the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission," the Angolan diplomat stated. ()

Angola currently holds one of the vice presidencies of the General Assembly and is fulfilling its term as Economic and Social Council member.

Full text:

New U.N. Peacebuilding Commission will initially try to keep Sierra Leone and Burundi from backsliding into war

Associated Press Worldstream

By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer

24 June 2006

The new U.N. Peacebuilding Commission met for the first time Friday and pledged to try to prevent countries emerging from conflict from backsliding into war by promoting economic growth and democratic government

The commission's 31-member organizing committee unofficially backed the Security Council's choice of Sierra Leone and Burundi as the first countries it will help. The committee's chairman, Angola's U.N. Ambassador Ismael Gaspar Martins, said East Timor is "a perfect candidate for later."

"To prevent states from sliding back into conflict or to develop into failed states must be one of the top priorities of the United Nations in the years to come,"

"The United Nations has been successful in ending wars. Building sustainable peace has proved much more difficult," [General Assembly President Jan Eliasson told the inaugural meeting]. "Many of us have seen the despair in the eyes of women, men and children in war stricken countries. They have often had very little choice but to place their fate in the hands of us, the international community. But we have equally often failed them. When the TV cameras have left, so have we."()

Some U.N. members have expressed concern that the new commission touted as one of the major U.N. reforms could wind up just adding another layer to the U.N.'s already cumbersome bureaucracy. The commission will be linked to the three major U.N. bodies, the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund which could create political problems.()

"There has been a very welcome decline in the overall number of conflicts, and the United Nations has done its best, through peacekeeping and other assistance, to contribute to this trend," [U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan] said. "At the same time, however, we have seen an unacceptable number of peace agreements disintegrate within five years after the end of a civil war, with countries lapsing back into deadly conflict." ()

World Bank Vice President James Adams said poor countries suffer disproportionately from war and the risk of conflict in poor countries has risen.

"A country with an income per capita of US$250 per year has a 15 percent risk of expecting a civil war in the next five years. With a per capita income of US$5,000, this risk drops to less than 1 percent," he said.()

Tanzania's U.N. Ambassador Augustine Mahiga said the commission "fills in a very important gap from conflict to peacebuilding which was the missing link in the stabilization of peace processes in Africa."

"We hope this will create a new era and a new partnership between the international community and the countries emerging from conflict and the countries of the region who are involved in peace agreements," he said. "Hopefully it will prevent the relapse of countries into conflict."

India's U.N. Ambassador Nirupam Sen called on countries to contribute to the fund to finance the commission, saying it has received only about US$120 million which "cannot even finance one election."

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UN chief appeals for international support for new peacebuilding commission

Xinhua General News Service

23 June 2006

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday called on the international community to support the work of the newly-established UN Peacebuilding Commission

The secretary-general noted that there are some of the weaknesses in current international responses to post-conflict situations.

"One is a shortage of funds. Another is the lack of international coordination. A third is the tendency for international actors to leave too hurriedly," he said.

"All of these challenges directly informed the design and mandate of the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the creation of the Peacebuilding Support Office and Standing Fund," the secretary-general concluded. ()

Meanwhile, Annan pointed out that the members of the commission are not only key stakeholders such as troop contributors and donors, but also countries which themselves have gone through the transition from war to peace. ()

Annan emphasized that peacebuilding requires national ownership, and must be homegrown, adding "increased resources and improved coordination will not, in themselves, be enough to bring about lasting peace."

Full text:

New UN Peacebuilding Body to Help Nations in Post-Conflict Recovery

Voice of America News

By Peter Heinlein

23 June 2006

The United Nations has established a new Peacebuilding Commission to assist countries recovering from the ravages of war. The commission will focus its initial efforts on two African countries, Burundi and Sierra Leone.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it will attempt to address a perplexing paradox: countries trying to recover from one war have a tendency to slip into another. ()

Mr. Annan pointed to East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, as an example of a country that saw the promise of peace and stability dissolve in a bout of rioting in April, only a year after a U.N. peacekeeping mission was shut down.

"As we have just seen in Timor Leste, undue haste to disengage from a transitional situation can result in reversals and a need to redeploy, at great cost to all, particularly the hapless victims," he added.

The new commission is expected to focus much of its early work on Africa. The first candidates for its attention are Burundi, where a tentative peace deal last week raised hopes for an end to a 13-year civil war; and Sierra Leone, which has struggled to return to stability, following a decade-long conflict that ended in 2002. ()

U.N. diplomats say a third African country, Liberia, is also a candidate for the attention of the Peacebuilding Commission, along with East Timor and Haiti.

The United States welcomed establishment of the new commission. A statement issued by the State Department said, "We look forward to working with other members of the commission to make it a success, and help countries move past the cycle of conflict."

Full text:

India pledges $2 million to UN for building peace

Indo Asian News Service

23 June 2006

India has pledged $2 million to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, which has been set up to help countries recover from conflict situations and rebuild their societies afresh.

In yet another recognition of India's contribution to the UN system, India has been selected as a member of the organisational committee of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). New Delhi is one of the top five providers of military personnel and civilian police to the UN peacekeeping operations. ()

'India looks forward to making positive contribution to PBC's functioning, especially in areas of capacity building,' said a statement from the ministry of external affairs.

More than 85,000 Indian troops, military observers and civilian police officers have participated in 42 out of the 60 peacekeeping missions established since the inception of the UN

Last month, India was selected to the UN Human Rights Council with a record number of votes that showed New Delhi's growing stature in the UN system.

Full text:

Peacebuilding must be homegrown, UN can only help

Kuwait News Service

23 June 2006

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday said the new Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) can help countries emerge from conflict but nothing is more genuine than homegrown peacebuilding. ()

"Outsiders, however well-intentioned, cannot substitute for the knowledge and will of the people of the country concerned. It is the latter who best know their own history, culture and political contexts.

"It is they who will live with the consequences of the decisions taken. And it is they who must feel that peacebuilding is their achievement, if it is to have any hope of lasting," Annan told the commission as it met for the first time.

The commission was created last December by the General Assembly with the intention to prevent countries from falling back into violence, through reconstruction, institution building and other assistance, once fighting stops

The commission already received this week from the Security Council two cases to look at - Burundi and Sierra Leone. The commission elected today Angola as chairman, Sweden and El-Salvador as vice-chairmen. The commission's membership is open-ended but it has a 31-member organizational committee that includes only one Arab country Egypt ()

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