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Swiss back UN plans for rebuilding nations

Michael Ambühl says Switzerland supports UN reforms Keystone

Switzerland has backed United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s call for more to be done to help post-conflict countries get back on their feet.

Michael Ambühl, state secretary for foreign affairs, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that the Swiss were in favour of a new body to coordinate peace and reconstruction efforts.

Meeting in New York, the Security Council “acknowledged that serious attention to the longer-term process of peacebuilding was critically important, and that adequate support for peacebuilding activities could help prevent countries from relapsing into conflict”.

Ambühl, like many of the representatives at the meeting, said Switzerland supported the secretary-general’s proposal to set up a Peacebuilding Commission, which was outlined in a recent report on UN reform.

“This Peacebuilding Commission will help to solve the strategic challenges at hand,” he added. “This new body could also […] foster the policy coherence that is much needed.”

Local actors

Ambühl said Switzerland wanted to focus on four specific aspects of peacebuilding within the UN.

These included the necessity for a coordinated approach, the empowerment and involvement of national and local actors, partnerships with specialised institutions and compliance with international law.

The state secretary pointed out that input from national and local organisations, as well as from civil society, had been particularly neglected in the past.

He said that partnerships with non-governmental organisations and the private sector needed to be increased and strengthened to ensure proper promotion of peacebuilding activities.

The proposed commission is one of many reforms set out by Annan in his report “In Larger Freedom”.

Switzerland has already lent its support to the secretary-general’s suggestion of a new UN human-rights council and the expansion of the Security Council.

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In 2001 the Swiss foreign ministry set up the Expert Pool for Civilian Peacebuilding, which comprises 500 volunteers.
Switzerland has earmarked SFr220 million ($180 million) for peace-promotion activities for the 2004-2008 period.
Recent successes include the organisation of talks between the Sudanese government and separatists from southern Sudan.

Roughly half of all wars that have benefited from a ceasefire relapse into violence.

The UN Security Council said that efforts in the post-conflict phase had often been too slow, and insufficient international efforts could lead to renewed conflict.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette stressed that the UN must improve this record.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR