Photo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa | Cedit: Colombo Telegraph - Photo: 2019

Nationally-owned Transitions Are Key to Sustainable Peace

Viewpoint by António Guterres

Following are extensive extracts from the UN Secretary-General’s remarks at Security Council Briefing on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Strengthening Partnerships for Successful Nationally-owned Transitions on July 18, 2019.

NEW YORK (IDN-INPS) – United Nations special political missions and peacekeeping operations are some of our most effective tools to promote and maintain international peace and security. But they are temporary. We are strengthening our focus on moments of transition, when our missions are reconfigured or leave a country.  

A mission transition is usually the result of progress towards peace. It is a moment of hope, potential and promise; an opportunity to re-engage and re-energize our commitment. It is a time to help national governments themselves take forward policies and programs that address the root causes of crisis and conflict; and to put the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the centre of our efforts. 

But mission transitions also pose risks. The international community may pay less attention to the country concerned. Strategic gains achieved during decades of international support can hang in the balance. And the loss of life, economic devastation and reversal of development gains caused by a relapse into conflict can go far beyond a country’s borders.

We must learn from previous examples, including that of Timor-Leste and Cote d’Ivoire, which provide important lessons on partnership and continuity. 

Nationally-owned and forward-looking transitions are therefore a priority for the entire United Nations system. 

As national authorities and communities assume increased responsibilities for security and peacebuilding tasks, they need the continued support of reinvigorated United Nations Country Teams and of multilateral and bilateral partners – so that their path towards durable peace and development is irreversible. 

We must prioritize and strengthen partnerships – with national stakeholders, across the UN system and with International Financial Institutions, and with Member States – for collective action to ensure their success.

The United Nations’ role in transition processes must be comprehensive and coherent, and work in an integrated way to address the interlinked and often stubborn drivers of conflict: poverty, exclusion, inequality, discrimination and violations of human rights, exacerbated by climate change and the movement of people.

Our ongoing reform process is enabling more joined-up engagement, in support of national efforts along the entire peace continuum, from the deployment of a peacekeeping or political mission to withdrawal and reconfiguration. 

But the United Nations cannot and does not handle the transition of a peace operation alone. Many other institutions and groups are involved. As I mentioned earlier, governments are our most important partners, but donors, international and regional organizations, International Financial Institutions, civil society, local institutions, and the business community all play an essential role.  

The United Nations can add great value by bringing ideas, expertise and resources from different actors together around nationally-determined priorities. 

The changing nature of our support puts greater responsibility on us to collaborate, to communicate and participate in a collective effort in which everyone has a role to play and a stake in success. I welcome representatives from the World Bank and the African Development Bank here today. They have been extremely valuable partners in several of the transition processes we have witnessed.

Strong partnerships between the United Nations and other organizations, including regional and subregional organizations and international financial institutions, can help avoid a sudden drop-off in support as our presence is reconfigured. 

We already have successful models to inform transition processes. For example, in 2016, the UN, the World Bank and the European Union supported the government of the Central African Republic in drawing up a National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan. Donors have pledged $2.2 billion to implement it. 

The convening power and advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission … has also proven to be an effective way to enhance coherence amongst stakeholders and ensure the continued attention of the international community to longer-term needs. The Peacebuilding Fund’s transitions window now covers two years before and five years after a mission drawdown. I encourage all Member States to donate to this important resource and to substantially increase its capacity. 

Earlier this year, I made transitions a corporate priority for the United Nations, and I have dedicated special attention to transition contexts in several countries.

In Darfur, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation, UNAMID, and the Country Team have been working with the government on a comprehensive transition strategy. UNAMID this year made $32 million of its budget available for joint activities with the United Nations Country Team in priority areas including rule of law, human rights and durable solutions for displaced people in close coordination with the government.

In Haiti, the peace and development pillars of the United Nations have formulated a common approach to support rule of law and governance institutions since the establishment of MINUJUSTH in 2017. The Country Team is finalizing a package of projects in priority areas identified by the Haitian Government, including some to be financed, for the first time in Haiti, by the Peacebuilding Fund. Working with the European Union, we have allocated $12 million in funding from the Spotlight Initiative to combat gender-based violence over the next three years.

And in Colombia, we have responded to the government’s request for support for the peace process with two successive political missions, working in close cooperation with our Country Team. 

I also welcome initiatives underway here at headquarters to provide more holistic support. For example, the Department of Peace Operations and UN Women have developed a joint initiative on gender-responsive conflict analysis, that has informed planning for our integrated office in Haiti. 

Countries that are healing after conflict may face urgent and complex challenges, including disarmament and security sector reform, reconciliation and accountability processes, and corruption. These countries require multifaceted support for political leadership, strong and inclusive institutions, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality and sustainable development, to address the root causes of conflict. 

Transitional justice and accountability for serious crimes and human rights abuses are essential to secure lasting peace. We are committed to advance the four pillars of transitional justice: truth, to acknowledge the atrocities committed; justice, so perpetrators are held accountable; reparations, so victims and communities are compensated for harm they have suffered, and last but not least, putting in place reforms, so that atrocities and serious crimes will never happen again.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework is a central tool for multilateral support, under the leadership of the strengthened and empowered Resident Coordinator system.

Our regional political offices also support Resident Coordinators and United Nations Country Teams to consolidate peacebuilding gains in the post-mission phase. For example, the good offices provided by the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel were critical to addressing the political crisis in Liberia following the 2017 presidential elections. 

Delivering on the promise of the 2030 Agenda means delivering for those left farthest behind: people in countries affected by conflict and crisis. 

The United Nations is strongly committed to supporting countries as they strive to heal after conflict and fulfil their aspirations for peace, stability and a better future. We will continue to build stronger partnerships, to improve coherence, and increase accountability across the peace continuum. 

In return, I urge you to remain engaged with countries where United Nations missions are in transition, to deliver the 2030 Agenda and sustainable peace for the people we all serve. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 July 2019]

Photo: The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the United Nations Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. Credit: UN Photo/Kim Haughton

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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