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Cablegate: Conference On Un Peacebuilding Commission: Ngos

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DE RUCNDT #1839 2631333
ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 201333Z SEP 06
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0245
INFO RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA PRIORITY 0710
RUEHFN/AMEMBASSY FREETOWN PRIORITY 0687

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 001839

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPKO EAID SOCI BR SL
SUBJECT: CONFERENCE ON UN PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION: NGOS
DEBATE ROLE


1. SUMMARY: On September 5, civil society think tanks, NGOs,
and UN mission representatives discussed next steps for the
UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) during a German
NGO-sponsored symposium on "Getting the Peacebuilding
Commission off the Ground - How to Include Civil Society on
the Ground." Participants noted that PBC and civil society
interaction should center on the following areas: 1) civil
society assistance in identifying gaps in assistance,
particularly in areas where longer-term international aid is
needed to secure a sustainable peace; 2) assisting the PBC to
work with host countries on a bottom-up strategy; 3) the
civil society role in rebuilding social norms that promote a
lasting recovery; and 4) civil society input into the PBC's
compilation of "best practices" in peacebuilding. UN
Assistant Secretary-General Carolyn McAskie challenged civil
society participants to organize themselves and provide
focused, practical input to the PBC that will enable this
fledging institution to achieve concrete results early on.
END SUMMARY

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2. The September 5 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) sponsored
symposium brought together approximately fifty NGO
representatives, UN mission representatives from Commission
member countries, and several staff personnel from the
Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO). Civil society
representatives from the two countries selected as the first
two candidates for PBC consideration (Sierra Leone and
Burundi) were invited to attend. A Sierra Leone CS member
did attend, but a Burundi CS representative was not able to
attend due to difficulities with timely visa issues.

3. Symposium findings and points emphasized during
discussion follow:

-- The most important civil society role in PBC activities
is to build a coalition and political pressure for host
country identification and ownership of a longer term
recovery strategy. Civil society organizations should work
to ensure that a bottom-up strategy is adopted, preventing
the misuse of resources by the host government.

-- Civil society's role is to work with the PBC to keep
attention on longer term recovery issues "when CNN leaves."

-- Civil society can be more effective than host governments
at identifying gaps in post-conflict assistance. Civil
society organizations are often critical to ensuring that
post-conflict programs effectively function in rural
communities.

-- Civil society involvement is crucial to a potentially
critical longer-term post-conflict peacebuilding activity;
the rebuilding of social norms.

-- NGO participation is not always welcome or fully
developed in countries where the PBC will be asked to advise.
Several participants raised this as a potential problem in
Burundi, one of two countries selected for evaluation in PBC
country-specific meetings scheduled for October 12-13.

-- PBC terms of reference outlining how the Commission will
work with NGOs and Civil society organizations lags behind
many other UN institutions in opening PBC deliberations to CS
input. However a PBSO representative pointed out that this
ambiguity is appropriate given uncertainty about what
direction the PBC will take in developing its activities.
PBSO head McAskie stated that peacebuilding NGO activity is
"expanding exponentially". She called on NGOs to organize
themselves, and provide targeted practical input to the PBC
as the PBC and its associated fund move forward with
evaluating needs and programs in post-conflict countries.
BOLTON

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