(As delivered)

Statement by H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan
Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission

Formal Meeting of the Organizational Committee
of the Peacebuilding Commission
23 June 2008

Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Colleagues,

In my statement as the Chairperson of the Commission in September last year, I set out several priorities for the work of the PBC. Among them, the top priority task remains to produce tangible change and results on the ground in post-conflict countries through our work in a pragmatic way.

The host governments, the Commission itself, and the international community made a significant stride in supporting the peacebuilding process in Burundi and Sierra Leone. The Commission remains engaged in supporting national and local efforts. I would like to pay tribute to the dedicated leadership of Ambassador Løvald and Ambassador Majoor as well as to their teams in moving the processes forward in the two countries. I wish to express best wishes to Ambassador Løvald, who is soon to relinquish his post as the Chairperson for Burundi.

We added two new countries to our agenda during the current session, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the commitment already demonstrated by Ambassador Viotti of Brazil and Ambassador Grauls of Belgium as the Chairs of the respective new country-specific configurations.

My sincere appreciation also goes to the Vice-Chairs, Ambassador Gallardo of El Salvador and Ambassador Christian of Ghana, for their strong support and cooperation, particularly Ambassador Gallardo. You have guided the Working Group on Lessons and Learned and steadily developed lessons and best practices.

I would also like to express most sincere appreciation to Assistant Secretary-General Carolyn McAskie and her PBSO team for all the support and devotion to the PBC's work. Carolyn is retiring shortly, from the United Nations only. I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge her tireless efforts over the past two years in setting up and leading the Peacebuilding Support Office. Your ample experience from the field was certainly valuable in enriching our discussions and engagement with all stakeholders within and also outside the United Nations. We are very grateful to you, and we wish you all the best in the coming phase of your life and career.

As regards my own work as Chair, I have placed special and personal attention on ensuring the strongest possible relationship among the UN's principal organs, meaning the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council, the President of ECOSOC and the Secretary-General. I am grateful to all of them for their courtesy and cooperation.

The need for reaching out and advocating our activities has been on my mind always. I am pleased with the full support expressed by the top leadership of the World Bank and the IMF, as well as by the European Commission and other major bilateral donors, and our international partners particularly in Geneva, among others. We have also benefited a lot from various contributions from organizations like the IPU and civil society representatives. Such dialogues will provide basis for further cooperation with those partners at the concrete and operational levels.

Our joint efforts year to move to the implementation stage now are well reflected in the annual report which we just adopted. It only remains for me to thank each of you for your active and constructive participation and your warm support extended to me, which made the PBC a very unique place and action-oriented organ in the United Nations.

Distinguished Colleagues,

Now, I would like to share with you some of my personal reflections and observations on key strategic issues that may improve our future work. As you may recall, we had a very useful Retreat in January, followed by two Strategy and Policy Discussions and informal briefings including those by Mr. Guéhenno and Ambassador Khalilzad and the most recent presentation by the former President Chissano last week. On all those occasions, I have kept two questions in mind: 1) what we can do to meet "peacebuilding gaps" to better pave the way to achieve durable peace, and 2) what is the role of the PBC for creating "added value" in institutionalizing peace in post-conflict countries?

Through these rich dialogues, I have recognized the importance of fostering constructive interdependence among peacekeeping, peacebuilding and socio-economic development, in the overall peace continuum in post-conflict countries. Mr. Guéhenno emphasized this point very strongly, based on his long experience in managing peacekeeping operations from Headquarters. We need to bring together all the positive forces and resources to that end.

How then can we strengthen and solidify peace in post-conflict situations in a more effective and structured way?

How can we make the best use of the PBC's convening and advocacy role?

I was in a very fortunate position through these dialogues to listen closely to the voice of wisdom based on hard-earned experiences on the ground. What follows is an indicative set of self-check points in the form of nine critical questions emanating from the aforementioned dialogues for effective peacebuilding efforts. I hope this checklist will help sharpen our focus in the coming work in formulating and implementing integrated strategies to achieve real change. The full text of these nine questions will be distributed later.

1. Aren't we trying to apply same template to many different cases, as the Secretary-General said?

(We have to take into account the unique context of each conflict. There is no "one-size-fits-all" principle.)

2. Are firm national ownership and the primary responsibility of national authorities for peacebuilding firmly present, respected and supported?

(Peacebuilding has to be a nationally-owned process. As Mr. Chissano said, "peace must come from within and not from outside" and "people are at the centre of peacebuilding".)

3. For ensuring a smooth handover from peacekeeping, are the linkages between security, development and human rights and rule of law adequately prioritized and sequenced as vital building blocks for peacebuilding?

(Security is key for any effort, but the linkages between security, development, and human rights are important. Security sector reform, DDR, youth employment, reconciliation and transitional justice - all these must be mutually reinforcing.)

4. For consolidating peace, are efforts for advancing a constructive political process made effectively?

(Durable peace depends on a viable political framework. All parties are expected to play a constructive role. We should work to avoid a "winner-take-all" attitude.)

5. For capable and accountable nation-building, is an appropriate mix of support provided to ensure effective checks and balances in government affairs and promote institutional capacity-building and reform?

(Again I quote Mr. Chissano, because he stressed the process of political reform in parallel with economic reform for the benefit of the local people. It is essential to promote institutional reforms which can help to develop a broadly representative and accountable government that delivers security, basic services and economic opportunities for the people.)

6. For ensuring a seamless transition to recovery and economic development, is the speedy and timely provision of tangible dividends for peace made available to the people?

(Amb. Khalilzad emphasized taking advantage of the so-called "golden hour" just after the ceasefire. Mr. Chissano defined peace as "normalization of the life of the people". Winning the hearts and souls of the people is key. Rapid response/quick impact projects are often useful to demonstrate the fruits of peace.)

7. For orchestrating national and international efforts to promote a smooth transition on the ground, are coordinated, coherent and integrated approaches properly planned by bringing all the relevant actors together under effective leadership?

(I think we have a very valuable tool here: integrated peacebuilding strategy. This is a useful framework for encompassing national ownership, mutual accountability and sustained engagement among all relevant actors.)

For better integrated strategy, the following points need to be taken into account:

(a) Sharing appropriate prioritization and synchronization of security, political and development needs;
(b) Concrete and transparent benchmarking for assessing peace consolidation efforts;
(c) Incorporating regional and sub-regional cooperation;
(d) Integration of a gender perspective in all activities;
(e) Marshalling resources in a more predictable way.

8. Is political will to take a longer-term view in favour of sustainable engagement demonstrated?

(Peacebuilding takes time and patience. The PBC is tasked to ensure sustained attention and to mobilise resources and expertise to support local peacebuilding efforts in the long-term perspective.)

In his earlier address, the Secretary-General noted that peacebuilding needs to be predicated on three pillars: building trust to help avert wider conflict, mobilizing support and the commitment of all actors to a common and coherent approach. My foregoing observations and questions are in line with promoting these three pillars.

The PBC is entrusted with major responsibility and the expectations are high.

So my last question to ask you and ourselves is:

9. Is each of us serving in the PBC ready and personally committed to respond to the call of countries that require international attention and support?

I have no doubt that our answer to this question is emphatically "yes". With this note on our commitment to the future work of the Commission, and reiterating my sincere appreciation for the trust and support you have kindly extended to me, I would like to close my statement.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Related Information (UN PKO and International Peace Cooperation)
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Official Web Site other site

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