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New Peacebuilding Fund Reflects Committment to Sustained Engagement in Countries Emerging from Conflict, Says Secretary-General at Fund's Launch
10/16/2006 4:29 PM

Target Is $250 Million; Roughly $140 Million Pledged So Far

The new United Nations Peacebuilding Fund represented a huge step forward in the United Nations peacebuilding architecture and reflected a renewed commitment by the international community to sustained engagement in countries emerging from conflict, delegates were told this morning at a high-level meeting launching the Fund.

“The international community now has at its disposal a new and well-designed peacebuilding platform,” said United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.  “Used well, it can help countries avoid a relapse into conflict, and enable them to regain –- or find for the first time -– the path to peace.”

The Fund was designed to support post-conflict stabilization initiatives, such as the implementation of peace agreements and the prevention of the recurrence of conflicts.

“The Fund can help countries emerging from conflict reach that crucial tipping point at which a majority of the people no longer expect conflict to be renewed, and instead believe that their societies are moving in the right direction, with enough strength to rebuff those who would threaten peace,” the Secretary-General continued.

He noted, however, that in many countries emerging from conflict, the funding needed to secure lasting peace went well beyond what the Fund could realistically provide.  In such cases, the Fund was intended to “kick-start” critical peacebuilding interventions, paving the way for sustained investment in peace and recovery.  Noting that donors had pledged roughly $140 million so far, he appealed for all to help reach the $250 million target.

Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, President of the General Assembly, called the Fund’s launch an important step forward in the United Nations ability to respond to post-conflict situations around the world.  While providing immediate assistance to countries emerging from conflict, the Fund would lay the groundwork until sustained support from the international community had been assured.

“This Fund will strengthen the capacity of Governments or transitional authorities to assure early ownership of the recovery and peacebuilding processes,” she said.

Anne Stenhammer, Deputy Minister for International Development of Norway, said the Fund represented a new and innovative tool that bridged the gap between what the United Nations ought to do and what it did.  The fact that it was based on pre-pledged, non-earmarked contributions, made it a powerful tool that could quickly channel resources where needs were greatest.  For the Fund to truly make a difference in post-conflict countries, however, there needed to be common responsibility for its financing.

Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of Angola, Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that the Fund was an initial investment which, if used strategically and wisely, would make a meaningful contribution to peace in post-conflict countries.  He noted the timeliness of the launch, with meetings scheduled to be held over the next two days on Burundi and Sierra Leone, which he hoped would be eligible recipients.  With effective coordination, the Fund should assist in preventing waste and duplication.

Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, said the Fund would coordinate closely with other financing instruments.  Her office would make sure that it did not duplicate efforts planned elsewhere and that it remained focused on the critical peacebuilding gaps it needed to address.

The following countries announced or confirmed their contributions: Indonesia ($20,000), China ($3 million), Denmark (approximately $8.5 million), Croatia ($10,000), Finland ($1.4 million, which would later increase to $2 million), Turkey ($800,000), Sweden ($27 million), Japan ($20 million), Egypt ($20,000), Belgium ($2 million), Netherlands (approximately $19 million), United Kingdom ($55 million over three years), Republic of Korea ($3 million), Ireland ($12.7 million), Iceland ($1 million), Luxembourg (approximately $380,000).

Following the Fund’s announcement, there was a discussion with Paul Collier of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University.  He presented his statistical analysis, compiled from 70 post-conflict situations, on the risks of reversion to conflict, in such countries.  Risks changed decade by decade, he explained, with the first decade being substantially more dangerous than the next.  Overall, the average rate of risk to reversion was 40 per cent, which was influenced by political, military and economic factors.  The analysis showed that political reform needed to be supplemented by military and economic strategies in order to work.  Peacekeeping forces were, likewise, highly effective in lowering the risk.

On economic factors, he noted that, the lower the level of income, the higher the level of risk.  Thus, resources needed to be allocated inversely to income, yet historically that had not been the case.  There was also a direct link between a country’s economic growth rate and its risk of reversion.  Zero growth carried a 42 per cent risk rate, while a country with 10 per cent growth experienced a risk rate of 27 per cent.

Fragility should in no way be an excuse for not pressing ahead with economic reform, he said.  There was, in fact, an urgent need for economic reform, which was often put on the back burner.  On the political front, his research showed that the degree of democracy was also significant in affecting risk.  Although democracy was to be encouraged for its intrinsic value, unfortunately, severe autocracy appeared to be highly successful in maintaining post-conflict peace, he said.  In the case of post-conflict elections, risk doubled a year after the election.

Published in: New Peacebuilding Fund Reflects Committment to Sustained Engagement in Countries Emerging from Conflict, Says Secretary-General at Fund's Launch, Press Release, Department of Public Information, United Nations, Oct. 11, 2006.