Challenges Annual Forum, Genève 9 maj 2012
Gunilla Carlsson, Biståndsminister
Statement by Ms Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by expressing my appreciation to the Government of Switzerland and to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy for making this Forum possible. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Switzerland as a full member of the Challenges Forum.
With its historic track record of involvement in international humanitarian affairs, Switzerland will be uniquely able to contribute to the future deliberations of the Forum. How appropriate that this gathering takes place in Geneva - home to so many important UN bodies and other international organisations!
The theme of this year's Forum is 'Cooperation and Coordination in Peace Operations'.
It is now more than 15 years since the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations was created. The rapid growth of its membership, as well as the scope of the Forum discussions, testify to the need, felt by many countries and institutions, to discuss and analyse the increasing complexity of peace operations and other forms of crisis management. It is a particular strength of the Forum that it has an equal number of participants from the North and the South.
It is a well-known fact that war and armed conflict is the greatest obstacle to development and poverty reduction. Economic and social development comes to a halt. Human rights are violated. Resumption of armed conflict is a constant treat. It is in these conflict and post-conflict countries that we can already see that the Millennium Development Goals will not be fulfilled. The challenges that these societies face are vast and complex.
This leads us to consider what optimal combination of capabilities is necessary to foster inclusive political settlements and conflict resolution, and to establish and strengthen people's security and foster sustainable and long-term development for all.
What lasting impact do our missions have when it comes to generating employment and improving livelihoods? We need to learn more about what really works and what needs to be refined in order to be effective in easing the suffering of men, women and children caught up in conflicts around the world.
A large part of our international development cooperation takes place in these affected conflict and post conflict countries.
I believe we need to:
- promote peacebuilding and statebuilding - by means of active dialogue and democratic inclusiveness. We must not forget women and young people, groups that are often excluded in these societies. Let me call attention to Resolution 1325, which emphasises the role of women as actors to achieve peace and security.
- promote security - through such means as disarmament, security sector reform, transitional justice and democratisation initiatives.
- work towards national ownership.
In this context, it is important that international efforts incorporate elements of early warning and conflict prevention so as not to risk falling back intowar.
The relationship between security and development, and between security and humanitarian action, are among the many challenges we face. There are indications that the international appetite for large-scale, multidimensional peace operations is now waning, mainly due to the costs involved. But shrinking the size of missions will create new demands for cooperation and efficient use of the available resources. To address all these aspects, the Forum has been careful to involve military, police and civilian experts, as well as a vibrant mix of academics, practitioners and officials.
While the United Nations plays a central role in international conflict management, regional organisations are assuming ever wider responsibilities in the field. The majority of the countries in the world - and an increasing number of institutions, including NGOs - are involved in these important activities.
It is what all actors together can achieve that matters.
But it is not only the number of actors involved in conflict management that has seen rapid growth. Peace operations and other conflict management efforts now employ complex sets of tools - military and civilian - that must be coordinated with each other in order to be truly effective. While military observers can still play a very important role, most peace operations also include elements that aim at strengthening and rebuilding all parts of the affected societies. Preventive diplomacy, peacebuilding and statebuilding activities have all become indispensable tools.
Our Swiss hosts have made a concerted effort to involve a broad range of the Geneva-based humanitarian community organisations in this year's Forum. I welcome this initiative to bring together actors and communities with different perspectives and different mandates. These discussions are essential for generating holistic solutions to very complex and multifaceted challenges.
Humanitarian action is based on neutrality and independence, which in principle is easy for all parties to subscribe to. But in practice, access to those in need is often challenged. This is at times reflected by imposing travel restrictions or refusing visas, and at times by restrictions on how the humanitarian response should be conducted. In Syria today, the humanitarian needs are growing and humanitarian actors are ready to scale up their efforts. However, there is not yet agreement on the modalities of the response.
The focus of tomorrow morning's session - how military and civilian actors can cooperate in protecting civilians - is a challenge which I personally believe is important to tackle. Even though the protection of civilians is now regularly included in Security Council mandates for peacekeeping operations, much remains to be done when it comes to establishing criteria for successful implementation of these provisions. How do humanitarian, development and other international and non-governmental institutions see multidimensional peace operations and their role in protecting civilians?
Another area of particular interest to me is the nexus between peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Since its creation almost seven years ago, Sweden has been an ardent supporter of the UN peacebuilding architecture. We have recently deepened our engagement by assuming the chairmanship of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission. This position will further strengthen our peacebuilding activities in Liberia, which range from bilateral support to the Liberian police to financial support channelled through the UNDP Justice and Security Trust Fund, and the participation of Swedish police and corrections officers in the UN Mission in Liberia. Our enhanced commitment will allow us to focus even more on security sector reform, rule of law, national reconciliation and women, peace and security. These are all key endeavours in rebuilding post-conflict societies, and in rising to our paramount challenge - to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In this context, I welcome the Busan endorsement of the New Deal, and its Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals. I look forward to actively participating in the development of this novel concept within New Deal pilot project, which we will conduct together with Liberia and the United States.
One aim of Sweden's enhanced Liberia commitment is to contribute to an ongoing, open and fruitful dialogue between the field and New York, and within the UN system, to maximise synergies and promote a more holistic approach to peacebuilding. For Sweden, I also hope there will be some good lessons learned, which we will be able to make use of in other engagements in the future.
This is because the international community needs to see measurable results. Clear and well established indicators to evaluate impact are essential. The follow-up of results should be conducted transparently and in close cooperation with counterparts in the conflict areas.
The vital debate taking place in the Challenges Forum therefore feels more important than ever. As we announced earlier this year, the Swedish Government has given additional medium-term financial support for a strategy to reinforce project coordination and to strengthen the capacity of the Challenges Forum Secretariat, which is hosted by the Folke Bernadotte Academy. This will make it possible for the Partnership to develop and pursue the important objectives and results envisioned. It will allow the Partnership to stay strong at the strategic, policy and doctrinal level, while at the same time pursuing operational work in the field.