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17 October 2007 : Security Council debate on the Peacebuilding Commission - Statement by H.E. Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

I would first like to thank you, Mr. President, for having organized the debate that has brought us together today. Last week, the General Assembly held its annual debate on the report of the Peacebuilding Commission (S/2007/458-A/62/137) and the report of the Secretary- General on the Peacebuilding Fund (A/62/138). You yourself, Sir, have been elected a Vice-Chairperson of the Commission. I see this as an example and a welcome sign of good cooperation between the Commission and the two organs upon which it relies.

Like our Italian colleague, we regret that it has not been possible for the European Union and other important speakers to participate in this debate.

I turn now to the activities of the Peacebuilding Commission over the past year, as described in its report. Thanks to the Chairman and other officers of the Commission and the coordinators of the two country-specific configurations, our colleagues from Norway and the Netherlands, a milestone has been achieved : that of establishing the Commission in the administrative and institutional sense. That was not easy because of the unavoidable delays, rivalries and misunderstandings which occur when coordination mechanisms are created. That hampered the beginnings of the Commission to be sure, but today everyone seems to have understood that it was in no one’s interest, and especially not in the interest of the countries under consideration, to continue along that path.

The establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and, in its wake, the Peacebuilding Support Office and the Peacebuilding Fund, should enable countries under consideration to emerge quickly and genuinely from crises in which they find themselves and to return to path of sustainable development. It is by that very concrete criterion that we would like to see the Council measure the Commission’s progress.

The Peacebuilding Commission has started its activities by focusing on two countries that have been on the Council’s agenda for many years, with the goal of strengthening their strategies for emerging from conflict. These countries have been in terrible conflict for many years. These two examples have clearly shown that theory often comes up short when tested against reality in the field. This, however, must not slow our efforts, because we represent an institution whose fundamental role is both to stabilize the emergence from conflict and to prevent the reoccurrence of conflict. It is important to France that the Commission is an essential instrument for conflict prevention and thus for the implementation of the responsibility to protect, a key concept that the Security Council needs to put into practice, as our heads of State or Government decided in September 2005 (see General Assembly resolution 60/1).

Through these two first cases, the Commission has established a process that brings together all of the actors and establishes the basis for a strategy that brings together their efforts.

We would like to welcome the work done to produce the Strategic Framework for peacebuilding in Burundi with a limited number of priorities and commitments in keeping with the crucial issues of peacebuilding in that country. The document was developed in close contact with the Government, but also — and this is an important element — with the political parties, civil society and all parties on the ground. The Commission now needs to advance to the operational stage and guide the implementation of the Strategic Framework. This means supporting necessary actions and projects, following progress and ensuring that the timelines are met, together with making use of locally established mechanisms.

We hope that similar work can rapidly be made on Sierra Leone. We look forward to Ambassador Majoor’s return from his visit to Freetown, where a new, democratically elected Government has just begun work.

As my delegation had the occasion to reaffirm last week in the General Assembly, France believes that the Commission should now be hitting its stride. Discussions have already started regarding the possible extension of the agenda to new countries. I hope that all of this reflection will enrich the Council’s discussions, as well as those of the other principal organs, and that it reflects an appetite for action, something I view as important.

The issue of expanding the Commission’s agenda is indissolubly linked to that of strengthening the Commission. We hope that the Commission will develop its activities and offer the Council its views on new cases, as needs become apparent, and that the Commission will have the capacity to do so. In any event, there is no single solution as the cases of Burundi and Sierra Leone have shown. The Council will continue to examine this issue, and I have no doubt that the Council will enjoy a transparent and effective working relationship with the Chairman of the Commission, Ambassador Takasu.

In conclusion, I would like to stress that the purpose of establishing the Peacebuilding Commission goes far beyond establishing a bureaucracy. It is to ensure an appropriate and coordinated response by the international community to post-conflict situations, and to ensure a return to lasting peace. We need to ensure that the Commission continues to be a flexible and responsive mechanism, bringing together all actors and their actions on one single road map.

In September 2005, heads of State or Government committed themselves to help the countries most affected by serious crisis alleviate their extreme poverty. Today, 17 October, the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, we must renew that commitment, as I do on behalf of France./.

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