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July 12, 2012

United Nations Focuses on Peace Building

by Larry Freund

NEW YORK — United Nations officials and international diplomats on Thursday called for steps to enhance the effectiveness of a U.N. commission created in 2005 to support peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict.  

The U.N. Peacebuilding Commission, or PBC, has been active in six African nations - Burundi, the Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at a Security Council meeting focused on the commission, admitted that two years ago, there were mixed reviews of the commission’s structure.  But now, he said, there are signs that the commission is making a difference.  He cited efforts in Liberia in the areas of security and justice reform, steps in Sierra Leone to deepen democracy, and the PBC's role in Guinea.

“In Guinea, after more than 50 years of dominance of the military, the country has moved toward democratic rule.  And we are supporting the crucially important step of conducting a military census and providing a retirement program for 4,000 military personnel,” Ban said.

Ban called for several steps to enhance the commission’s effort, including a focus on longer-term peace building.  He said that supporting nations in transition is a top priority and generational opportunity for the United Nations.

Other speakers also emphasized the unfulfilled potential of the Peacebuilding Commission.

“It is difficult to imagine how the international community and the U.N. will be able to tap into this potential in the absence of political commitment by individual governments and the U.N. system as a whole, to render the PBC’s efforts successful.  The U.N. and other partners should view the PBC as an opportunity and a source of support, not as a competitor or an additional layer of bureaucracy,” said commission chairman, Bangladesh Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the Security Council that the U.N. Peacebuilding Commission has an important role to play.

“This council’s mandate to advance peace and security demands that we work not just to end conflict, but to prevent its recurrence,” Rice said.

The Peacebuilding Commission, Rice said, has great potential to help countries emerging from war stay on the path to peace.