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Phil Goff Speech to UN Security Council


Phil Goff Speech to UN Security Council

Thank you Mr President,

I would like to thank the President of the Security Council His Excellency Dr Per Stig Moller for the initiative to discuss the challenges faced in peacebuilding. I would also like to acknowledge the presence of Louise Frechette - Deputy Secretary-General, and Swiss State Secretary Michael Ambuhl.

Denmark has asked us to consider the underlying problems and issues in peacebuilding – including the substantial policy, institutional and financial challenges.

New Zealand’s comments are based on our own experience in peacebuilding activities, particularly in the Pacific region and in Afghanistan.

Firstly, to be successful, peacebuilding has to be a long-term commitment. Peacebuilding is about creating sustainable social, developmental and governmental structures. Capacity building and restoration of civil society takes time. This is as true in our Asia-Pacific region as elsewhere. The smaller scale of conflict does not make peacebuilding any less complex. Timor Leste is a clear example of the extraordinary range of functions which the UN had to undertake and the necessity for time to be allowed for local capacity to be developed to ensure that the transition was effective – and it has been. In Afghanistan, the New Zealand led Provincial Reconstruction Team has proven to be an effective mechanism combining security, development and capacity-building in the community.

Over fifty percent of conflicts revert to violence with five years of peace agreements. Issues behind the conflict need to be dealt with, or the conflict will return. If this does not occur peace will only be sustained for the period of time external forces remain deployed.

Secondly, peacebuilding requires flexibility. Different kinds of resources need to be committed ranging from the deployment of military, police, justice and civilian advisers, to provision of aid and support for non-governmental institutions, including human rights.

Thirdly, sustainable peace depends on economic progress. Successful reintegration of ex-combatants requires sustained development assistance. Opportunities for work and a better life are necessary to draw combatants away from the cycle of conflict. Experience in the Solomons and Bougainville suggests that payment for weapons buy-back can be counter-productive, as can introducing a concept of monetary compensation as against traditional customary reconciliation approaches.

Fourthly, peacebuilding requires cultural sensitivity. Greater ownership and capacity among local actors are needed for solutions to be acceptable, implementable and sustainable. Getting alongside the community in conflict situations, working with them within their own structures and acknowledging and acting on the validity of their own views is in our experience essential. The pace and nature of the peacebuilding process has to be in line with the culture of those concerned and the context within which it takes place. Regional approaches can be important as interventions in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands have shown. Adequate funding for regional missions is no less important than is the case with international missions.

Fifthly, the role of civil society in peacebuilding needs to be given greater emphasis in policy development. The experience of the Pacific regional assistance mission in the Solomon Islands and our experience in Bougainville is that community involvement – for example through women’s groups and church groups – provides an important avenue for the development of local ownership of solutions. These groups have a critical ability to represent grass-root concerns in any given conflict, and to grant legitimacy and ‘buy-in’ as peacebuilding occurs. A further key strength of the intervention in the Solomons is that it was done not only with the full support of the Solomon Islands parliament and government, but also of Pacific Forum countries.

What lessons are there here for the UN membership and the Security Council in particular? New Zealand’s view is that the developing practice in the Security Council of mandating ‘complex’ missions, including policing, legal, human rights, governance and development components is very positive and we would encourage the Security Council to continue doing so.

We would also encourage the Security Council, and the UN Secretariat, to continue engaging to the fullest extent possible with national and regional neighbours on building context-appropriate peacebuilding mechanisms. Peacebuilding strategies must be designed to fit particular conflicts.

The Security Council should also consider the earliest possible coordination with other actors in the UN system so that planning for sustained and long term peacebuilding can take place. In this context I would like to put on record New Zealand’s strong support for the proposal of a Peacebuilding Commission. A Peacebuilding Commission would provide a much-needed forum for institutional and political coordination between the various arms of the UN system. It could mobilise existing resources, find new ones and provide much greater strategic coherence than we have now. Critically, it could also serve to deliver high-level political support so we do not lose sight of those countries which are at risk.

Mr President, sustained, long-term commitment, tailored to local circumstances is essential for successful peacebuilding. Peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development are mutually dependent and need to be addressed together. New Zealand strongly supports the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission and urges member states to give this proposal their full support.

Thank you Mr President.


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