A “window of opportunity” exists to consolidate peace in Guinea-Bissau – United Nations PBC
23 September 2009 - The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) has heard the international community needs to increase support to Guinea-Bissau and take advantage of "a window of opportunity" stemming from peaceful elections.
The Chair of the PBC's Guinea-Bissau Configuration, Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), recently reported to the Commission on the outcome of her recent visit to that country to attend the inauguration of President Malam Bacai Sanhá.
"It is fair to say that there is an atmosphere of cautious optimism based on the belief that there is renewed political stability, following the recent elections," Ambassador Viotti said.
Ambassador Viotti met with President Sanhá, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior and other Government ministers. She said the priority areas for peacebuilding assistance listed in the Strategic Framework one year ago are still valid, but the Government is new and needs time to decide upon its immediate needs.
"The international community now needs to step up its efforts and coordinate assistance to the Government during this new phase of development," Ambassador Viotti said.
While in Guinea-Bissau, Ambassador Viotti also met with national and international peacebuilding stakeholders including staff from UN agencies, funds and programs, international financial institutions and civil society representatives.
The nationally-driven Strategic Framework for peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau was adopted by the PBC on 1 October 2008 with six priority areas: 1) electoral support, 2) mechanisms to stimulate the economy, particularly to the energy sector, 3) security sector reform, 4) strengthening the rule of law with a view to stamping out drug trafficking, 5) reform of public administration and 6) the provision of basic social services such as health care, education, access to water and improved employment opportunities.
In support of the Strategic Framework, the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has made an initial allocation of $US6m to initiatives such as election support, prison renovation, upgrading army barracks and programs to stimulate youth employment.
A second allocation of PBF funding is currently under consideration.
Meanwhile, the International Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau - comprised of multilateral and bilateral partners - met in New York yesterday to express support for the new Government. The group agreed that a donors meeting later in the year will play an essential role in aligning coherent international support behind the nationally-lead priorities of security sector reform, combating impunity and addressing drug trafficking.