Public Seminar on
"Challenges Ahead for United Nations Peacebuilders: Lessons from the Field and the New UN Peacebuilding Architecture"

UN House, Tokyo, July 25, 2008
Co-organized by the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), the Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center (HPC), the United Nations University (UNU), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA)

The first annual Peacebuilding Community of Practice workshop of the United Nations peacebuilding practitioners took place from July 21 to 24 in Hiroshima. The workshop was organized by the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) other site and the Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center (HPC) other site. HPC is the implementer of the Pilot Program for Human Resource Development in Asia for Peacebuilding initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) last year to train Asian civilian personnel in the field of peacebuilding. The United Nations Peacebuilding Community of Practice (PBCoP) other site was launched in March 2008 with broad participation of UN practitioners around the world. In addition to 25 UN practitioners, the participation of 10 Program Associates of HPC, given the special venue of the workshop, allowed for useful exchange of experiences and helped define the mission and action plan of the PBCoP.

In the follow-up of the Hiroshima workshop, a public seminar was held at the UN House Tokyo, on July 25, co-organized by the PBSO, the HPC, the United Nations University (UNU) other site and MOFA, with support from the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) other site and NPO Peacebuilders (PB) other site. The seminar brought together the participants of the Hiroshima workshop to present the outcome of the workshop and to share peacebuilding experiences from the field, namely from Nepal, Lebanon, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau and Ethiopia. (Video other site) 

The seminar was chaired by Dr. Hideaki Shinoda, director of the HPC. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, Senior Vice President of JICA, and former Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations, and Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa at Hosei University and former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Timor-Leste, took part as commentators. Mr. Yoshitaka Akimoto, Deputy Director-General and Ambassador in charge of UN Affairs at the Foreign Policy Bureau of MOFA was also present. (Program PDF)

In summing up the outcome of the workshop, Dr. Madoka Futamura, academic program officer of the UNU, explained that the PBCoP serves as a network of as well as a forum for UN peacebuilders to help them exchange their experiences and knowledge from the field, develop a better understanding of peacebuilding, and devise coherent policies among various activities.

Dr. Richard Ponzio, senior policy analyst of the PBSO, underscored the leadership of Japan in the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), as well as its contribution to developing young professionals through the Pilot Program for Human Resource Development in Asia for Peacebuilding. He hoped that the outcome of this seminar would suggest insights to the three key elements related to PBCoP; "the Workshop Action Plan," "the Practical Guidance Note" and the Secretary-General's report on post-conflict peacebuilding, which is coming up in the next couple of months.

Ms. Haley Horan, facilitator of the PBCoP in the PBSO, added that with more than 500 members with rich experiences and through various communication tools, the PBCoP serves not only as a basis for discussion, but can help identify gaps between policy and practice and help define future actions of the UN in peacebuilding.

Dr. Necla Tschirgi, senior policy advisor of the PBSO, explained, as one of the concrete and practical outcomes of the Hiroshima workshop, PBCoP participants helped refine the "Peacebuilding Practical Guidance Note" both conceptually as well as from a practical perspective. He said it was aspired to be the first comprehensive handbook for those who are engaging in peacebuilding activities within the UN system.

Mr. Vincent Kayijuka, strategic planning specialist of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), presented the outline of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi, which was developed by the Government of Burundi together with the PBC, with the participation of key national and international stakeholders in 2007. He said most of the peace or ceasefire agreements generally do not address underlying root causes of the conflict, while post-conflict development tools such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), do not adequately build on a political analytical framework. The Strategic Framework provides a political response to peacebuilding challenges, while these other tools offer a programmatic response to socio-economic recovery challenges. It also helps sustain international attention in supporting peacebuilding efforts and progress at the country level. He stressed the importance of building a consultative process and the national ownership in developing and implementing the framework, and of regular monitoring and tracking mechanism to measure progress or lack of progress and find solutions to move forward. (Presentation slides PDF)

Ms. Laura Bologna, special assistant to the deputy SRSG at the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), explained the background of the conflict and the challenges for peacebuilding in Nepal. While a number of key steps, such as the election of the Constituent Assembly and disarmament and cantonment of combatants, were accomplished, many challenges remained. These were: sustained international support to peace process, constitution-making, integration of the two armies, consolidation of state institutions, local governance, social inclusion, transitional justice, socio-economic recovery, youth employment, reintegration of former combatants, and land issues. Finally, she stressed that for peace and development to become irreversible, the international community's support in addressing the root causes of the conflict was crucial. (Presentation slides PDF)

In his presentation, Mr. Nick Hartmann, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Lebanon, spoke of the historical context and root causes of the conflict in Lebanon. Enshrined in the constitution, the power-sharing framework ended the civil war in Lebanon in 1989 by allowing for a religious-based governing system. The presentation illustrated its impact on UN's peacebuilding activities.

Speaking from experience in Guinea-Bissau, Ms. Janet Murdock, peace and governance adviser in the UN Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), underlined the role of women in peacebuilding. Guinea-Bissau, which is ranked as 175 out of 177 least developed countries by UNDP statistic, and in recent years used as a regional hub for drug-trafficking, has recently been included in the Peacebuilding Commission's agenda. Women played a key role in the preparation of the PBC Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau. (Presentation slides PDF)

Dr. Befekadu Berhanu, deputy regional representative of UNHCR-Regional Liaison Office in Ethiopia, stressed the need for increased attention to the regional dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding, and called for special and comprehensive measures to build sustainable peace in Africa including by devoting dedicated resources. To substantiate this issue, he said that conflicts in Africa, from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Darfur, from Northern Uganda to Central African Republic (CAR) were underlied by common elements and root causes. Following the end of conflict, the newly-elected governments faced tough choices. Although they have scarce of resources, they have to deliver peace dividend to the afflicted population urgently and make an effort for recovery and reconstruction. He said that ongoing African Union efforts in capacity-building in conflict prevention and peacebuilding required more support from the international community. (Presentation slides PDF)

In conclusion, Ambassador Oshima, with his experience, stressed the following points:

  • While no conflict is the same as another, there are similar root causes. Moreover, there are key political and financial gaps in transition from conflict to reconstruction;
  • The PBC is just a start, not an end, and focus on national capacity is the key in delivering progress;
  • Security Sector Reform is a key component of effective peacebuilding
  • Non-UN actors, especially civil society should be engaged in the PBC formally;
  • The human security dimension of peacebuilding should be ensured.

Amongst the key challenges to peacebuilding, in his views, were: avoiding "one-size-fits -all" solution but offering a broad menu of options to countries emerging from conflict, including taking into account basic human needs, through demining and reintegration efforts; ensuring that the international community stay engaged; targeting the
socio-economically vulnerable; ensuring local people benefits; and investing in safety and security of international staff in the field.

Professor Hasegawa underscored lessons from his experience and summarized some key challenges for UN efforts in peacebuilding:

  • Contributing more proactively to SSR
  • Building a unified command and control of police and a fully established UN police capacity;
  • Ensuring policy and know-how on establishing proper land and property rights in post-conflict settings;
  • Unifying a UN guide/doctrine in building judiciary and judicial institutions;
  • Integrating World Bank and other international financial institutions in system-wide peacebuilding agenda;
  • Focusing on employment creation and national capacity-building from the start, and employing local and national professional staff in UN missions on the ground.

Mr. Yoshitaka Akimoto concluded the symposium with a special tribute to the participants and commentators. He explained Japan's responsible role as a "Peace Fostering Nation" stated by Prime Minister Fukuda to contribute to peace and prosperity of the world. In this regard, Japan's contribution included not only the financial contributions to the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), but also the chairpersonship of the PBC, decision to deploy Self-Defense Forces' personnel to the Headquarters of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), and the human resource development program for peacebuilding. He also took note of the recent G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit Leaders Declaration, which reflected Japan's initiative as chair of the G8 to strengthen the efforts of the G8 in peacebuilding. (Concluding remarks PDF)

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