Opening Address by Mr Ebrahim I Ebrahim, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the Africa Regional Consultation on “Strengthening Partnerships for Civilian Capacities in the Aftermath of Conflict”, 19 July 2012 Pretoria, South Africa

Programme Director
HE Ambassador Lamamra, AU Peace and Security Commissioner
Mr Vassu Gounden, Executive Director of ACCORD
Mr Chris Coleman, Director: UN Civilian Capacities Team
Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Distinguished Guests,

I am honoured to welcome you all to the OR Tambo Building on the occasion of the Africa Regional Consultation on “Strengthening Partnerships for Civilian Capacities in the Aftermath of Conflict”. Allow me to thank the United Nations and African Union for offering the Government of South Africa the opportunity to host this important event, as well as ACCORD for co-hosting it.

The Independent Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group, tasked to review civilian capacities, underscored the significant comparative advantage that the Global South has when it comes to mobilising civilians for peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. Specifically, the report proposed a framework which sought to address the many and varied challenges encountered by post-conflict countries and countries in transition, elaborating four key tenets, namely: ownership, partnership, expertise and nimbleness. The Report pointed practitioners, academics, policy-makers and government officials toward the realisation of far more effective responses to conflict and crises, within a proposed system that is better geared toward meeting the needs of post-conflict countries and countries in transition.

Of key importance is the idea that national capacities must first be considered and utilised, where available, before resorting to international capacities. Additionally, and where feasible, international capacities should be co-located within national institutions to foster capacity-building and capability development so as to sustain international contribution to post-conflict countries and countries in transition.  Another critical recommendation of the Independent Report is the identification and categorisation of expertise in key areas needed in post-conflict and transition contexts into the broad areas of safety and security, economic revitalisation, inclusive political processes, core government functionality and justice. Lastly, civilian capacities should be employed in a manner which is most responsive to the changing dynamics of conflicts and transitions, as well as by the specific needs of the post-conflict countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

These recommendations speak to the very nature of modern multidimensional peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. They provide critical insight into the ways in which the international community must remain constantly vigilant of, and attuned to, the ever changing nature of conflicts and crises. We must never forget that peace operations must keep pace with these trends in order to effectively respond to the needs of communities in the world’s many conflict-ridden states and regions. It is for these reasons that I am particularly proud that the Government of South Africa has taken the decision to co-host this consultation, which will contribute greatly to overall global processes aimed at tackling the scourge of violence and conflict that still plagues many parts of the world.

As peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations have evolved in the post-Cold War era, we have witnessed an age of expanding mandates, greater personnel deployments, a growing preference toward inter-organisational partnership, local ownership and the enhanced provision of increasingly specialised and niche civilian capacities. What was once a seemingly straight-forward  mechanism, infrequently called upon to mitigate inter-state warfare, peacekeeping and peace-building missions is now multidimensional and multidisciplinary in nature and represents the international community’s primary means to address a wide array of challenges posed by intrastate conflict and crisis. From the stabilisation of complex crises in unfamiliar environments, the reintegration of ex-combatants, to the rebuilding of critical infrastructure and the re-establishment of legitimate state authority, peace operations have come to play a vital role in the maintenance of effective global security architecture.

Africa, similarly, has made considerable progress on these fronts with specific regard to the consolidation of the continent’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the effective building blocks of the African Union and the African Standby Force (ASF). The continuing development of each of the RECs’ respective standby arrangements within the overarching framework provided by the African Peace and Security Architecture punctuates Africa’s ongoing institutional development and capacity to address challenges emanating from conflicts. Through the management of layered responses to conflict on the continent which are effectively filtered up through national, sub-regional and regional actors, and finally toward the international community, Africa has made substantial strides toward the necessary capacities needed for effective responses to conflicts and crises on the continent. Moreover, these developments have paved the way for meaningful inter-organisational engagement in peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts, further generating the necessary capacity required for the management of collaborative efforts to guarantee global peace.

The recommendations of the Independent Report are especially relevant within this context, as efforts to nurture and promote national capacities which could be called upon in times of conflict and crisis would largely mitigate the shortcomings of the current system.

It is therefore our hope that this consultation would provide an effective platform to help identify priority needs in post-conflict and conflict-affected countries, including critical capacity gaps that are needed to support peacebuilding and institution-building.

Programme Director,

We are confident that your presence, as well as your contributions, will help in addressing the challenges in deploying civilian capacities to post-conflict environments and assist the United Nations, African Union and the International Community develop the relevant civilian capacities which can be deployed in line with the identified areas of need to ensure successful peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction and development initiatives.

We look forward to hearing your recommendations at the end of the consultation on how the global community should go about partnering together to improve the deployment of civilian experts in post-conflict environments.

I wish you successful deliberations.

Thank you

Issued by: The Department of International Relations and Cooperation

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