Concrete steps must be taken to strengthen the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) ability to help countries emerging from conflict, with the aim of not only maintaining peace but promoting economic recovery and sustainable development. President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone made this call at the closing of the high-level two-day seminar in Durban recently.
Hosted by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the Africa-wide dialogue seminar reviewed the progress, challenges and accomplishments of the PBC since its establishment in 2005.
The President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza, the Chair of the African Union Commission, Dr Jean Ping, Foreign Affairs Ministers of South Africa and Sierra Leone as well as Chair of the ACCORD Board of Trustees, Graca Machel and ACCORD founder and Executive Director, Vasu Gounden were joined at the seminar by Ambassadors, top level delegates, experts and key stakeholders from Africa and the world.
The review seminar focused on seven countries: Burundi, Central African Republic, DRC, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan. Burundi and Sierra Leone were the first two countries on the PBC agenda when it was launched in 2005.
President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone
President Koroma said, “We are proud to have served as the ‘guinea-pig’ of this experiment arising from the on-going UN reform process. We have come a long way and have learned a lot over the past four years”
“We signed the Cooperation Framework in 2007 wherein we jointly identified four key areas of intervention: governance; the justice and security sectors; capacity building of the public service; and youth employment and empowerment. On assuming office, my administration identified the development of the energy sector as a fifth priority,” said President Koroma. [Download full speech here]
Dr Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission
In his keynote address, Dr Jean Ping said recognizing the difficulties and challenges facing post war countries and the need to avoid a relapse into conflict, the AU dispatched a Multi-Disciplinary Team of experts to Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2009 to assess the post-conflict situation in the countries. He said the team came up with concrete recommendations for assistance, which the AU and its member states then provided within the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) framework.
“The Government of Sierra Leone together with international partners has made great strides towards improving the security environment through security sector reform and other peace building activities. Efforts are being made towards ensuring good governance and delivery of justice throughout the country as well as the provision of basic social services and economic renewal, in a general policy framework for post-war reconstruction and peace building” said Dr Ping. [Download full speech here]
Through the ongoing and relatively inclusive dialogue on immediate peace building needs, the meeting established that the PBC had some success in bringing political, security and development actors together and building confidence among these key players at national and international levels.
Participants believed the PBC learnt from its early mistakes and maintained flexibility in its approach as it took two additional countries, Guinea-Bissau and Central African Republic on its agenda.
Mr Vasu Gounden, founder and Executive Director of ACCORD
Gounden said to a great extent the review seminar listened to African voices and solicited their perspectives on peacebuilding challenges. “The conference managed to hear the African experiences and critically evaluate the impact the PBC has made on the people it is supposed to benefit. The review process also explored areas of improvement for the operations of the PBC on the ground.” said Gounden.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, Mrs Zainub Bangura and the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mme Maite Nkoana- Mashabane conclude the co-operation agreement between the two countries.
The delegates also witnessed a historic moment when South Africa and Sierra Leone signed a post conflict reconstruction partnership agreement. Under the agreement, South Africa will fund the provision of 32 Cuban doctors to the West African country, which has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the world.
The UN General Assembly appointed South Africa, Ireland and Mexico to facilitate the PBC review process and the Durban seminar was held in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
30 April 2010 – Durban, South Africa