GA: Strengthening of the United Nations system - Agenda Item 123a

Last updated: 12/5/2011 // This joint Nordic statement to the General Assembly was delivered by Ambassador Morten Wetland. A growing number of civilians in UN Peace operations contribute to a genuinely efficient and cost-effective UN-system.

President, thank you for organising this debate.

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries; Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.


More than 120 000 men and women are today serving in UN peace operations. About 20 000 of these are civilians - a number that has more than doubled in the past five years. Our expectations of what the UN should be able to deliver on the ground in fragile and conflict-affected states keep getting more ambitious, not least in the areas of protection of civilians, securing the full participation of women in all phases of peacemaking, combatting sexual and gender based violence, and in promoting justice and security sector reform, transitional justice and the building of local and national capacities. In responding to rising ambitions, it is clear that the UN cannot rely on its own staff alone, but must seek partnerships with other key actors. The UNs impact on the ground is the sum not only of all the parts of the system, but of all the partnerships, as well as the capacity and growth it is able to generate.

The Nordic countries therefore wholeheartedly welcomed the independent Review of Civilian Capacities in the Aftermath of Conflict when it was launched earlier this year. The report’s vision of OPEN - ownership, partnership, expertise and nimbleness - offers comprehensive and cost-effective means to achieve a more effective and relevant international response in fragile and post-conflict situations.

The Secretary-General’s status report being considered here today confirms our confidence in the continued work to follow-up the recommendations of the report. We thank USG Malcorra and her team for their dedicated and stead-fast work.

Partnerships and national ownership are at the heart of the matter. The report offers a host of recommendations for the UN to strengthen its partnership base and cooperation with external institutions, in particular those in the South. Efforts to promote readily available and stronger capacities however, will remain futile unless the UN commits itself to use available capacities. We look forward to enhanced consultations between the UN and its Member States, as well as with regional organisations to ensure that the best possible use is made of existing capacities. We also stand ready to support new initiatives for recruitment and capacity building in the south. Our experience is that initiatives in the North can be successfully twinned with initiatives in the South.

The initial experience from South Sudan is promising:  national ownership and capacity building is strengthened for example both through regional partnerships that brings in experts from neighbouring countries, and through the delegation of responsibility for child protection to UNICEF by UNMISS. This is not only a more cost effective and sensible use of the UN’s resources and capacities, but it also paves the way for a more integrated and coherent UN in the field.

UN coherence is essential, and the UN should demonstrate the necessary leadership fulfilling the “New Deal” for international engagement in fragile states that was launched by the International Dialogue Partners in Busan this week.

We recognise the many initiatives taken and processes under way to develop core principles and guidelines, update planning tools, conduct reviews, and improve planning processes as detailed by the Secretary-General in his report. These must be effectively put to use. Of particular importance is also the elimination of needless internal obstacles that hinder rapid and smooth deployment of capacity needed in situations of conflict and fragility. We request the Secretary-General to continue to brief the General Assembly on the status of the follow-up.

We also welcome the work to establish the online platform for civilian capacities. This holds the potential of becoming an important resource base for the Secretariat on available civilian capacities as well as holding overall information on the needs and demands for civilian capacities in the field. Importantly also, this platform may provide a link between the Secretariat and the UN funds and programmes on civilian capacities, as well as for Member States and other partners to tap into and contribute to.

The Secretary-General’s report also rightfully stresses the need to pay special attention to women’s participation. We know that prospects for sustainable peace and development, and for generally well functioning societies increase with higher levels of gender equality, including women’s participation. This is something we all need to keep in mind both at the national level and when putting forward candidates for international peacekeeping and peacebuilding tasks.

At the launch of the civilian capacities report earlier this year, we were encouraged by the wide support expressed by Member States and the UN system as a whole. Experience shows that wide support is necessary, but not sufficient. New kind of thinking is required, as reflected in the Secretary-General’s report, as well as demonstrated in other related initiatives such as the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding. In many ways the report challenges the stove-piped structure of the UN system. Despite our eagerness to see results, we understand that difficult compromises will have to be made, and that a step-by-step approach is needed. We support the USG and her team in this process.

It is in our common interest as Member States to promote a genuinely efficient and cost-effective UN-system. As such, we all have a responsibility to ensure the success of this endeavour. The Secretary-General must move with clear and strong resolve to implement those aspects that can be implemented by the Secretariat. Likewise, we the Member States must give the Secretariat the necessary means to implement flexible solutions.

The Nordic countries are already pro-actively supporting the process financially and otherwise, and are also looking at how we best can continue to play a supporting role in the next phase. In so doing we look forward to continue to work in close cooperation with the USG and her team as well as with other Member States.

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