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Partnerships and use of civilian capacities key to successful UN peacebuilding

12 May 2011 – The United Nations has often missed the opportunity to support countries emerging from conflict to strengthen peace and enhance national institutions by not paying attention to national ownership, failing to build partnerships and inefficiently using expert staff, according to the head of a team that reviewed UN work post-conflict situations.

“To meet the needs of post-conflict countries, the UN currently tries to recruit a vast array of specialized personnel, instead of building partnerships that will provide access to the necessary capacities as and when needed,” Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the head of the UN Senior Advisory Group for the Review of International Civilian Capacities, told the Security Council in a briefing on the report.

The Advisory Group’s recommendations including the creation of a core of UN staff working in close partnership with host communities and civilians from UN Member States, regional organizations and other partners, using temporary capacities in response to the needs of communities in post-conflict situations, Mr. Guéhenno, a former Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Council.

“Conflict-affected countries have increasingly specialized needs, in fields that vary form natural resources management in Liberia to land management in Darfur. The UN cannot hope to fill all these from its own ranks,” said Mr. Guéhenno.

On national ownership of peacekeeping interventions, Mr. Guéhenno underlined that unless conflict-affected countries develop their own capacities to cope with crisis and implement reforms, international assistance cannot succeed.

“Yet we heard repeatedly from conflict-affected countries that we do not sufficiently respect national ownership or develop national capacities,” he added.

The report also recommends that the representatives of the Secretary-General in the field needed the authority to adapt their implementation plans to react to unforeseen circumstances and to seize opportunities, he said.

It also calls for “seamless arrangements” within UN system for rapid response and “inter-operability” across the system.

Susana Malcorra, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, told the Council that the UN was adopting a “holistic system-wide approach” to deal with most of the issues raised in the report by the Advisory Group.

She said there was a broad agreement on the key goals – to enable national capacity development, to develop mechanisms for effective partnerships with external capacities, and to design seamless arrangements within the UN to facilitate rapid response to crises.

“We also need to test some of these ides out, especially in the field. South Sudan, for example, should a UN mission there be authorized, may present opportunities,” Ms. Malcorra said.

The current chairman of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana of Rwanda, said the implementation of the Advisory Group’s review must prioritize actions that could deliver the most immediate and tangible improvements in the field.

“We hope we can, to the extent possible, match practicality with expectations, and realism with the urgency to introduce changes,” he said.

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