Statement by representative of the Russian Federation Ms.Gloria Agaronova at UNSC briefing regarding the annual report of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission
We thank the current and the former Chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission, Chargé d'Affaires of Bangladesh M. Hossain and Permanent Representative of Egypt Ambassador Abdelkhalek for their briefings and their insights.
Peacebuilding assistance remains one of the key instruments in the toolkit of the United Nations that is used to help states overcome the consequences of conflicts and prevent their recurrence.
For almost two decades by now, the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) has been playing an important role in those efforts, because it is an intergovernmental advisory body and at the same time a unifying platform, where participants can learn opinions of a wide range of stakeholders on most pressing issues.
The Commission is a reputable body with vast potential, which is confirmed by its expanding geography. In addition to country configurations on Burundi, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, and the Central African Republic, last year the PBC first held meetings dedicated to Chad and the area of the Gulf of Guinea.
A comprehensive and impartial approach to specifics of every country, due account for regional factors, as well as careful analysis and search for unique solutions aimed at upholding national priorities – all of this creates a prerequisite for positive achievement of peacebuilding goals. We are convinced that this method is more effective than broader consideration of thematic contexts, that are quite often already discussed at all sorts of platforms within the UN.
We underscore that respect for sovereignty of a host state, as well as respect for its priorities stand at the core of the PBC engagement and all other processes aimed at maintaining and sustaining peace. Practice confirms that international assistance in the area of peacebuilding is most effective when based on the principle of national ownership, whereby governments identify and fulfil the most urgent tasks and peacebuilding strategies, while proceeding from the needs of the society. When such a need occurs, and upon consent of the host state, the United Nations and its international partners, including regional and sub-regional organizations and international financial institutions, are called to render assistance that should first of all focus on building capacity of the host state to enable it to overcome the conflict. Engagement with local communities and NGOs can be a subsidiary instrument given the coordinating role of the authorities.
We believe the PBC holds enough potential to improve the quality of its recommendations to the Security Council, which the latter can request with regard to country-specific episodes that stand on the agenda of both bodies.
The Peacebuilding Commission has an advantage – it can communicate the peacebuilding priorities of host states to the Security Council, which could become a useful addition to corresponding reports of the Secretary-General.
It is the added value and relevance of the recommendations of the PBC that are crucial for their possible consideration in the work of the Security Council, as well as the General Assembly and ECOSOC.
We believe that in order to improve the quality of interaction between the Security Council and the Commission, in some cases, for example, it is not necessary to wait for a scheduled meeting of the Council where head of the country configuration will deliver a formal speech. Should an urgent issue occur, a corresponding letter can be addressed to the Security Council.
This year, we have once again begun to discuss the issue of adequate financing for peacebuilding activities. We have set out our position in detail in the General Assembly and in the PBC.
Yet we must stress again that we should start with assessing the existing channels for peacebuilding financing. We need to clarify whether the mandates are issued effectively, whether funds from the budgets of UN peacekeeping and political missions are allocated and expended in an efficient manner, whether there is clear coordination of those efforts with the UN funds and programs, specialized agencies, NGOs and financial institutions.
Another long-standing problem is the inflated cost of projects due to expenditures on international personnel and advisers. Sometimes these numbers go beyond all reasonable limits.
Apart from that, we have consistently advocated that resources should be allocated to address the real causes of conflict. We disagree with the widespread practice of assigning a fixed percentage of funds to generic priorities that may not even be designated as such by the host side, but are popular among donors. Quite often, donors would put forward political preconditions. This is another reason why the already scarce funds get further dispersed. It appears all the more egregious when funding for mechanisms that monitor implementation of peace agreements is cut off, as recently happened in South Sudan. We can speculate about human rights, climate change or other problems for as long as we like, but one cannot reach or build peace on such basis. We assume that it is political settlement of conflicts and stabilization of security situation that lay down the groundwork for improvement of human rights situation and establishment of democratic institutions in a given state, and not vice versa.
We have always supported the Peacebuilding Fund as a flexible mechanism allowing to respond to emerging problems promptly. But we have never considered the PBF as the only source of peacebuilding funds. The PBF was created and keeps working as an instrument for accumulating voluntary contributions.
If we consider a possibility of replenishing the PBF with funds from the regular budget, then the issue of elaborating a mandate for usage of such funds becomes very urgent, as well as the issue of expenditure control. We are convinced that the funds should reach the recipient states and be spent on their real peacebuilding needs and priorities.