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UN establishes new body to prevent countries from sliding back into war

United Nations, December 20, 2005

In an historic action that brings to fruition a central reform proposed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the 2005 World Summit, the Security Council and the General Assembly today acted in concert to establish a new body that aims to prevent countries emerging from conflict from falling back into chaos.

"That word, historic, is often over-used, but in this case, I have no doubt that it is merited," the President of the 60th General Assembly, Jan Eliasson of Sweden, said in introducing the resolution that established the 31-member Peacebuilding Commission.

"This resolution would, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, create a mechanism which ensures that for countries emerging from conflict, post-conflict does not mean post-engagement of the international community," he said.

Around 50 per cent of the conflicts of the past 20 years have recurred within five years of peace agreements, Mr. Eliasson added at a press conference after the resolutions’ adoption.

"When the cameras disappear, the attention also disappears and five years later you pay an enormously heavy price, and people pay a very heavy price. This is what we are trying to repair when we fill this institutional gap," he said.

Today’s resolutions defined the new Commission as an intergovernmental advisory body that will make sure attention is maintained on the countries in question, setting its agenda at the request of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretary-General, or Member States on the "verge of lapsing or relapsing into conflict."

According to the resolutions, the Commission will act only by consensus, proposing integrated strategies for stabilization, economic recovery and development, and providing recommendations for improving the coordination of the UN system in those efforts.

The establishment of the Commission fulfills a key outcome of the 2005 Summit in New York, which committed Member States to creating it by the end of this year. It comes just about a week after the first major Summit reform was enacted by the creation of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) that will keep cash at hand for saving lives in sudden-onset emergencies.

Among other priorities of that Summit were a new Human Rights Council, also due around year’s end, and a comprehensive convention on terrorism to be completed during the current session of the Assembly, which ends on 30 September 2006.

All three issues have undergone intense and protracted negotiations. In regard to the Peacebuilding Commission, Mr. Eliasson said the most contentious issues were reporting lines and membership.

Today’s resolutions prescribed that membership will consist of seven Security Council members, including permanent members, selected by the Council; seven members of ECOSOC elected from regional groups, five top contributors to UN budgets, funds, programmes and agencies; and five top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United Nations missions.

The General Assembly would elect seven additional members, with special consideration for States that have experienced post-conflict recovery.

Thanking Mr. Eliasson for his hard work bringing about consensus on the new Commission, Secretary-General Annan stressed that more hard work lies ahead in making sure the Commission functions properly, "if it is truly to make a difference, not in these halls but in the countries where its help is needed."

"In short," he said in a statement released today, "it is vital that the momentum of this reform is sustained. But right now, we have real reason to be satisfied"

UN News Centre

Millennium+5 Summit / Sept 14 to Sept 16, 2005, New York


The 2005 World Summit or Millennium+5 Summit, as the High-Level Plenary Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York is being called, has set itself an ambitious agenda. The assembled world leaders will be carrying out a sweeping review of international politics: What progress has been made on implementation of the Millennium Declaration? What advances have the major world conferences produced over the past decade (e.g. the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the 1994 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna or the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing)? Looking to the future, the governments will be seeking solutions to the global challenges of the 21st century and making decisions on strengthening the role of the United Nations.

Towards development, security and human rights for all

Last spring, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented his report "In larger freedom: Towards development, security and human rights for all", which contains proposals for the most important decisions to be taken at the Summit. The UN Secretary-General's eagerly awaited report links key global processes with the most far-ranging programme of reform in the history of the UN. Many of the points the report raises draw on two reports commissioned by the Secretary-General, namely the Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Sachs Report on the Millennium Development Goals. The report also introduces its own ideas regarding the promotion of human rights - an aspect which has received too little attention in previous debates.

In line with "In larger freedom", substantive preparations for the Millennium +5 Summit are focusing on five main areas: poverty and development, peace and security, human rights, the rule of law and democracy, and the reform of the UN institutions. Under the leadership of the President of the General Assembly, the member states are currently trying to reach agreement on a multitude of issues which are to be included in the Summit's wide-ranging Final Declaration.
During the forthcoming preparations for the Summit, it is essential to ensure that the various issues are not treated in isolation and that the interrelated questions regarding the realisation of freedom from want, freedom from fear and the freedom to live in dignity are not decoupled from each other. Rather, the experience and potential of development cooperation should be harnessed in support of all three dimensions.

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