Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Peacebuilding in the Security Council's Open Debate

Jan 21, 2011

(check against delivery)

Mr. President,

·        At the outset, I would like to thank the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina for convening this important debate today and for preparing a presidential statement. I would also like to thank the Vice-Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, H.E. José Luís Guterres for his clear and comprehensive briefing.


Statement as PBC Chair:


Let me make the following remarks in my capacity as the Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission.


The question of national capacity development in the context of post-conflict peacebuilding has been particularly addressed as a main theme in the Secretary-General’s 2009 report on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict. Today’s debate will allow us to delve deeper into the critical aspect of institution-building in complex post-conflict settings.


To this end, I wish to highlight three overarching points from which we can possibly approach institution-building from a peacebuilding perspective:



the principle of national ownership should stand at the beginning of any efforts to build or rebuild institutions in country emerging from conflict. Every post-conflict situation is unique, there is no size that fits all and thus also the approaches to institution building might vary considerably.

In many cases, most notably such as in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina, we should not assume that the institutions and capacities needed to transform and rebuild the state and society are completely absent.  We should encourage ongoing mapping of existing national institutions and capacities in critical peacebuilding areas, such as in the security and justice sectors, basic services and economic revitalization, and build on these existing national capacities. At the same time, a thorough analysis and dialogue with national stakeholders are crucial for prioritization within a broader national peacebuilding vision.



There is an important need to develop a common institutional understanding within conflict-torn societies. Institution-building goes beyond establishing and nurturing organizational structures.  From power-sharing and rotation, active participation of women in decision making processes, to fair distribution of wealth and economic opportunities, societies emerging from conflict struggle to rebuild themselves on the basis of “new rules of the game”.



It is important to keep in mind that entities such as the community, community-based organizations, the private sector and civil society also represent forms of “institutions” which are essential for advancing national reconciliation, restoring trust, rebuilding the social fabric and generating economic opportunities in conflict-affected societies.


Mr. President,

Peacebuilding is certainly a major challenge for the whole UN system. How can the UN Peacebuilding Architecture contribute to institution building in post-conflict environments?

The General Assembly and the Security Council tasked the Peacebuilding Commission to focus on, inter alia, institution-building efforts necessary for recovery from conflict.


I wish to offer a few ideas on how the Peacebuilding Commission’s role could further evolve in this respect:


The Commission’s engagement offers a political forum necessary to facilitate among national stakeholders the development of their own prioritization for peacebuilding. The Commission can encourage the identification of crucial institutions and the mechanisms needed to make post-conflict societies more resilient and capable of addressing tensions and challenges through non-violent means.


The Commission’s engagement also provides a framework for the development of partnerships and mutual commitments between national governments and their international partners in support of national peacebuilding priorities. The development and monitoring of its instruments of engagement allows the Commission to sustain focus on institution-building, to promote integration and coherence of efforts among UN and non-UN actors and to help address funding gaps where they exist.


As an advisory body to the Security Council, the Commission can keep the Council informed of evolving opportunities for and challenges facing peacebuilding in countries on its agenda.


Mr. President,

Supporting national capacity development for building, transforming and managing viable institutions at the earliest stage should remain at the heart of our collective efforts. In taking forward relevant recommendations from the 2010 PBC review, the Commission has undertaken to focus its instruments of engagement on practical approaches to national capacity development around critical peacebuilding priorities.


To conclude, I would like to welcome the statement to be delivered by the Chairs of the five Country Specific Configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission later on in this debate. )

·        Let me add just a few brief points in my national capacity:

·        Germanyaligns herself with the statement to be delivered by the Delegation of the European Union on behalf of the Union.


·        Firstly, international support to national institution-building should be designed in such a way as to support national ownership, rather than supplanting it. One positive example for such an approach is that of the phased-out involvement of international judges and prosecutors in the Bosnian State Court and could serve as an important model in this regard. In Timor Leste we have seen that while the development of national capacities went very well, the early withdrawal of international judges, procecutors and investigators was, with hindsight, premature and can teach some valuable lessons for the future on how to better sustain the ability of national actors to continue to fight against serious crimes.

·        Secondly, we need to understand the term institution-building in a very broad sense. This is the approach Germany adopts in its bilateral development assistance. "Institution-building", or rather, "state-building",  is not only about constructing government institutions and state capacity. It is about the whole social fabric of a society; about how a state interacts with its society. Thus, guaranteeing active participation of women, supporting the establishment of vibrant social organizations or integrating former child-soldiers into their local communities can equally be part of institution- building.  Also, we must think in medium- and long- term perspectives. For too long, the international community has based its approaches on too narrow and short-term perspectives.

Let`s face it: building states from scratch takes decades, not years.
One good example for a nationally owned and broad, long-term institution building approach is the Institution Building Plan of the Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad, or Fayyad-Plan, launched in 2010. It aims at creating sustainable foundations for a viable democratic Palestinian State and focuses on areas such as good governance, social issues, infrastructure and economic revitalization.


·        Thirdly, post-conflict institution-building efforts should be combined with efforts to build national capacity in fighting impunity and in vetting of human rights violation perpetrators, especially in the areas of judicial reform, police and corrections capacities to rebuild victims’ and public trust in state institutions.
To name a positive example: Germany funds the International Legal Foundation`s expert day-to-day mentoring of  local lawyers in Afghanistan and the West Bank, which has led to major changes in the practice of lawyers, shifts in lawyers’ assumption about their role in the justice system, shifts in the authorities view of the importance of counsel, and the establishment of a true culture of defense where none previously existed.

Without the involvement of organizations with the necessary local expertise to build national capacity, rule of law projects fail to develop adequately the capacity of national justice institutions to strengthen the rule of law and protect the rights of their citizens. 


·        Lastly, the Security Council should address the issue of institution-building as early as possible, especially when mandating, extending or downsizing existing peacekeeping operations.

·        Germany hopes that especially during this phase the relationship between the Security Council and the PBC will  become closer and more “organic”. Germany welcomes the most recent initiatives of the Council such as the informal exchange of views between the Council and the Chairperson of PBC Country Specific Configuration on Liberia and would like to encourage more interaction of this nature in the future.
We believe that in this way a more coherent, comprehensive, effective and timely approach to institution-building in particular and post-conflict situations in general can be achieved.


·        In conlusion, we are very much looking forward to the soon to be released Senior Advisory Group’s Review on Civilian Capacities and its recommendations regarding a more effective and comprehensive approach to post-conflict institution building. We are confident that the Review will give us valuable guidance on many aspects that are being touched upon during today`s debate.


Thank you, Mr. President

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