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U.N. Peacebuilding Commission: Lessons from Sierra Leone

7 July 2007 at 09:08 | 234 views

A report launched today by ActionAid, CAFOD, CARE and ENCISS acknowledges the efforts of the new United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, but says the Commission must address key challenges arising from its experiences in Sierra Leone.

ActionAid, CAFOD, CARE and ENCISS recently conducted an independent analysis of the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s first year of work in Sierra Leone and Burundi. The report, written to coincide with the UN’s own review of the Peacebuilding Commission, was presented to the UN in New York last week. ‘Consolidating the Peace? Views from Sierra Leone and Burundi on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission’, was officially launched at a ceremony in Freetown today(June 5, 2007.

Following interviews with ex-combatants, war-wounded civilians and community representatives, as well as UN, institutional donor and government officials, the report strongly supports the efforts of the groundbreaking UN body and found that it had achieved some key results in its first year. “The world needs the new UN Peacebuilding Commission to work,” said Annie Street, policy analyst at ActionAid. “For too long, political will and resources have evaporated just when a peace dividend should be kicking in.”

The report, however, also highlights several shortcomings with the Peacebuilding Commission’s process and concludes that more could have been done during the Commission’s first year in Sierra Leone to effectively tackle the root causes of conflict.

Jeannette Eno, Programme Director at ENCISS, said: "Things have moved on since the initial end of hostilities in Sierra Leone. What is needed from the Peacebuilding Commission now is a focus on the political root causes of the conflict. The report highlights that the necessary political commitments must be secured and actioned prior to the distribution of funds, something that has tended not to happen here.”

The report also raises concerns about the extent of civil society consultation throughout the Peacebuilding Commission’s process, saying that it had to reach beyond its perceived Freetown-centric perspective and engage more fully with rural areas. Ensuring the inclusion of the most marginalised in society is vital for building sustainable peace.

Abu Brima, Executive Director of Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), highlighted a further area of concern arising from Sierra Leone’s experience with the Peacebuilding Commission. “Civil society and local communities are largely unaware of the Commission’s purpose and activities”, he said. “The Commission needs to look at ways in which it can more effectively communicate with grassroots, which is essential for building a deeper understanding of its role and the potential it could have on society as a whole.” Mr Brima travelled to New York last week to present the report to the UN Peacebuilding Commission.

ActionAid, CAFOD and CARE run programs in human rights, youth and poverty alleviation in Sierra Leone. ENCISS facilitates dialogue between civil society and the government.

Photo: A PBC delegation headed by Frank Majoor of the Netherlands was recently in Sierra Leone. Here they are at the Largo refugee camp outside Kenema.