Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Statement on Report of the Peacebuilding Commission

Statement to the General Assembly by H.E. Ambassador Karel van Oosterom Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations on Report of the Peacebuilding Commission. New York, 26 March 2014

Thank you, mr. President.
I align myself with the statement of the European Union.

First of all, allow me to express my appreciation for the efforts of Ambassador Vladimir Drobnjak as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission. Allow me also to wish his successor Ambassador Antonio Patriota every success in his new role as chair of the PBC.

The Netherlands has been a strong supporter of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund from their conception, and we continue to believe in the vital importance of their work. We therefore welcome these thorough reports under discussion today.

I would like to highlight three points that are of particular relevance to us, and, I believe, to the increased success and effectiveness of the UN Peacebuilding architecture.

First, on the Peacebuilding commission, the Netherlands looks forward to the first annual review on 23 June. NL remains committed to a strong PBC and will actively participate in the review process. We are an engaged member of the Burundi Configuration, and believe the interaction between the PBC and our bilateral cooperation with Burundi makes us more effective. We see a strong link between the success of the PBC and the greater UN peacebuilding structure. Close cooperation of the PBC with the Security Council, the GA and Ecosoc is key.

Second, On the PBF, I would like to start with a reflection on the results and successes. The PBF has been successful in addressing risks to peace in Guinea, advancing reconciliation, extending security and justice coverage in Liberia, and conflict prevention in Chad; I mention these because PBF is often active in Fragile and Conflict Affected States which are at the risk of losing out when other (new) conflicts are at the center of the international community’s attention.

NL has contributed 20 million EUR for 2012-2015 to the PBF, because we believe it occupies a strategic niche due to its catalytic nature, its flexibility and its legitimacy. We want the PBF to build on these comparative advantages, and coordinate closely with UNDP, DPA and others to strengthen the overall effectiveness of the UN in the field.

While fully acknowledging these results, we also see a number of challenges for the PBF (on the use of the fund, on gender, M&E and impact):

A concern is that resources from the Fund are being used as additional funding for existing UN programs, rather than addressing strategic peacebuilding needs and filling critical funding gaps. A possible solution for this could be more strategic planning and involvement of PBSO at the country level.

Just a few days on from the successes of CSW, let me stress once again the importance of strengthened focus on gender. PBF pledged to reach a target of 15% spending of its annual budget on gender issues. This percentage was unfortunately not reached in the last years.

During the Conference of Syrian women, convened by UN Women and the Netherlands, Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands sent this message to the participants congratulating their efforts and courage “I am pleased to hear that Syrian women are letting the world know that the future of Syria should not exclusively be decided by those who carry the arms. Women have a crucial role in implementing a future peace agreement. That is why their voice matters.”

I would like to signal two points where the PBF could make some important gains:

  • We see real progress in monitoring & evaluation structure, the PBF business plan and performance management plan, but we are concerned that monitoring and evaluation structures in countries need strengthening;
  • At the moment, PBF reports focus mainly on project results. The Netherlands believes that the full impact of the UN in a given country should be visibly, consistent with the ‘Delivery as One’ approach. This could be done by increased focus on strategic impact and achievements in stabilization and peacebuilding, making the reports more relevant.

My third and final point concerns the PBSO. We commend PBSO on the way it has acted on previous recommendations. It has defining its strategic niche more clearly and improved in-country peacebuilding expertise. By further defining the division of labor with UNDP and the State- and Peacebuilding Fund, PBSO could continue this positive trend. More concretely, the Netherlands would like to encourage PBSO to focus on four points:

A stronger focus on strategic analysis, design of programming and gender-related issues;

·        Maintaining sufficient operational capacity;

·        Further improving communications with relevant stakeholders;

·        Starting projects with non-UN actors.

In his opening address at the Nuclear Security Summit, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte acknowledged that working to build a safe and stable world is never easy. Citing former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, he said, 'The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.’  He added, ['There is no magic formula we can use to free the world once and for all from the menace of nuclear terrorism.] And sitting back and doing nothing is not an option. But we are making progress, step by step.'

It is our joint responsibility as member states to persist in building and improving our common Peacebuilding structures which can have such significant and positive effects on the lives of those who have been affected by conflict. To this end, The Netherlands remains a partner for the UN and members states for peace, justice and development.

Thank you for your attention.