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Towards Comprehensive Peacebuilding

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg I

Utgiver: Utenriksdepartementet

Speech by State Secretary Raymond Johansen

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State Secretary Raymond Johansen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway

Towards Comprehensive Peacebuilding

IPA 2001 New York Seminar, Inaugural Speech

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen;

First I would like to thank the International Peace Academy for your kind invitation to speak to such a distinguished audience, on a very timely and relevant topic. Indeed, "comprehensive peacebuilding" is the term chosen to describe Norway’s platform for our membership in the United Nations Security Council.

Peace and security involves more than the absence of war. Aside from the destructive effects of war, lack of security fosters a short-term focus away from long term development. Why plant a seed you might not harvest from in the future?

Poverty and conflict are interlinked, and among the 48 poorest countries in the world we find that 22 are involved in, or have recently emerged from, armed conflicts. In order to help build peace we need to address the root causes of conflict.

This premise is also reflected in work of the Security Council. In the past two years, the Council has conducted open meetings on conflict prevention, peace building, disarmament, re-integration and women and conflict, just to name a few. The Brahimi-report has also contributed to a strengthened focus on comprehensive peace building, and it is a prime objective for Norway to follow up its recommendations within the UN-system.

The key challenge now is implementation! I will focus on what I consider important principles for peace building and the challenges that we are facing in implementing these.

A first principle is that we must be flexible. This is one area where a small country like Norway can be useful – by flexibility in financial support mechanisms, and strengthen our ability to react quickly.

Each conflict is unique in terms of its causes, actors, political structures, and ultimately, effective strategies. Rather than putting all our efforts into building new permanent structures, we need to explore more flexible and country-specific mechanisms..

The second principle is that we must ensure local ownership. We have to build on the local will and the local drive for peace. As stated time and again, peace building needs to be a "home grown" process. It is important to facilitate, not to enforce solutions.

One of the main lessons from our involvement in peace-processes in the Middle East, Central America and in Africa is that we have to build on a wide range of channels for interaction, both official and non-official, government and civil society, and people to people. We have to ensure that all important stakeholders are involved to guarantee the local ownership.

As I said first, we must be flexible. The mix here will be different from place to place, but the principle stays the same. In our involvement in peace processes a prominent feature has been close co-operation between Government and Civil society, using any venue that may contribute to contact, dialogue and reconciliation.

The country level should also be the starting point for co-ordinating peace-building efforts. We need to explore further how existing mechanisms such as the Resident Co-ordinator System and the strategic framework, can support comprehensive peace building. Since peace building is a very political exercise, it requires great political skills in SRSG’s, and country representatives.

Thirdly, peace building requires a long-termperspective. Timing is of prime importance in many efforts. But, tasks such as building local capacity in the civil and security sectors require long term efforts. While peacekeeping is funded through assessed contributions, long term development co-operation is financed through voluntary contributions. Political will to provide the necessary resources to sustain efforts over time is required. An increased focus on peace building should therefore be matched by a reversal in the decline of Official Development Assistance.

Promises of long term perspectives sound hollow to local actors if they have not seen long term commitment. One of the most important lessons from our peace work is that you can not gain a credible role without long-term presence and commitment. There would not have been an Oslo channel without almost thirty years of relationbuilding with both sides. The 20 year long presence of Norwegian NGOs in Guatemala was a starting point for our involvement there. A major long term development program in Sri Lanka and an important number of Tamil refugees in Norway was the starting point for our facilitation in Sri Lanka.

Finally; we must ensure that peace building is comprehensive. Peace-building in a UN context has broadly been related to the inclusion of peace-building elements in the mandate of a peace-operation, such as in East-Timor or Sierra Leone, or through establishing Peace Support Offices. The integrative nature of peace-building and conflict prevention is now widely recognised. Thus, the concept of peace building does not only apply to post-conflict situations. It also covers measures taken to prevent a conflict from breaking out, and measures during a conflict to facilitate the peace process. Comprehensive peace-building means applying the wide range of tools available in a co-ordinated and integrated manner.

As the Secretary-General stated during the open meeting on peace building: "The instruments of Peace Building is as varied as the United Nations itself". However, at times when the UN-system is called upon to work together, the turf-battles can make one wonder whether peace-building should be applied to the UN-system itself! Co-operation in peace building must be built on the complementarity of the organisations that comprise the UN-system, and indeed the wider system of organisations involved in peace building.

As member countries of the UN-system, we need to clarify the thorny issues of authority, of roles and responsibilities. While the Security Council mandates many of the peace-building operations, the implementation is largely carried out by other UN organisations. Unless we can create a co-operative environment from planning through implementation to evaluation, we will not succeed in applying our knowledge and lessons learned. We look therefore forward to the follow-up report of the Secretary General on peace building.

So far, many of the arguments I have put forward rest on the premise that peace building occur in a co-operative environment in the country concerned. We must not be blind to the fact that economic ambition and greed drive many conflicts. Today, widespread poverty and armed conflict go hand in hand in countries that are rich in resources. How can peace be built among belligerents that actively seek to undermine these efforts? I am pleased to see that "Economic Agendas in civil wars" are one of the topics to be discussed during the course of this seminar.

Indeed, the programme provides for a combination of issues related to peace building and an emphasis on practical and concrete experiences from the field. This being discussed among participants representing the UN, the diplomatic community, academia, and field workers; provides an excellent basis discussions in the days to follow.

I wish you a successful seminar!

Thank you.