Ecosoc: Statement by the EU Presidency on Burundi, Guinea-Bissau and Haiti reports


(Geneva, 3-28 July 2006)

(General Segment)


Coordination, Programme and Other Questions: Long-Term Programme of Support for Haiti, Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on African Countries Emerging from Conflict

(item 7 (d) (g))

Geneva, 26 July 2006

Check against delivery

Mr. Chairman,

It is my pleasure to give this statement on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland member, of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

The European Union would like to thank the Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on Burundi, Guinea-Bissau and Haiti for their valuable work and comprehensive reports. The reports together with the Assessment on the Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on African countries give a good update on the situation in the countries concerned. The current assessment, which is the second of its kind, focuses on the experiences gained and lessons learned. The report highlights the importance of the Groups' advocacy role on behalf of the three countries. The EU commends the work of the Groups, which in their functions follow openness and transparency focusing on a partnership approach between the national authorities and the international community. Furthermore, the groups have continued to promote a comprehensive approach to peace and development while integrating relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

The EU welcomes the progress made in Burundi, Guinea-Bissau and Haiti and is supportive of the way the Ad Hoc Groups have conducted their mandates.

Mr. Chairman,

With regard to Burundi, the EU welcomes the progress made by the Government of Burundi since the completion of the transition. Burundi has moved from a country in transition to a country with a duly elected Government, Parliament and President.  While considerable progress has been made, the security situation in Burundi continues to be hampered by the fact that a permanent truce has not yet been signed between the Government forces and the National Liberation Front, which has remained outside of the peace process. The EU is hopeful that a final ceasefire would be signed soon between the Government and the last remaining major rebel faction.  At the same time, the EU encourages the concerned parties to continue the ongoing talks hosted by the Government of Tanzania in a constructive spirit.

Despite the progress made, Burundi continues to face considerable political and economic challenges. On the humanitarian front, Burundi suffers from acute food crisis due to over-cultivation of land, droughts and crop diseases, all in the midst of political insecurity. The chronic food-insecurity has an impact on the refugee situation, on returning Burundians and those arriving from the neighbouring countries. Lack of livelihood and growing insecurity has generated an outward flow of Burundians to the neighbouring Tanzania, which shares a considerable refugee challenge.

The EU welcomes the Government's efforts to improve governance including the adoption and implementation of anti-corruption law. Finalization of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper provides a sound preparation for long-term donor support.  The EU agrees with the Ad Hoc group's recommendation for continued donor support and in particular the United Nations consolidated appeal for 2006.

The EU welcomes the request of Burundi to be included in on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission, and the positive response from the Commission with respect to Burundi and Sierra Leone. Burundi will now benefit from the PBC's support for post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery. In light of the PBC's positive response to Burundi, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group will come to an end. The EU finds it important that the PBC takes into account the experiences and lessons learned. 

Mr. Chairman,

On Guinea-Bissau the EU agrees with the overall assessment of the Ad Hoc Group. Peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau remain indeed fragile. The progress in the consolidation of peace and stability has been limited and the pace of national reconciliation has remained slow. Political and institutional instability prevails in an atmosphere characterized by tension and lack of constructive dialogue between the President and national actors including political parties, business and trade unions as well as civil society partners.  Budgetary crisis, poor harvest season and disease outbreaks have further resulted in socio-economic hardships. The EU is concerned about the situation.

While the report of the Ad Hoc Group acknowledges the growing concern among the donor community, it also notes that there are signs of progress in Guinea-Bissau. The new Government has taken up economic reform process. Some progress has been made in improving public sector administration, accountability and overall transparency.

Among the recommendations, the report mentions the possibility of short-term budgetary support to the Government of Guinea-Bissau as well as assistance with the Poverty Reduction Strategy in the long-term. The EU has reaffirmed its continued engagement in Guinea-Bissau with an increased assistance to security sector reforms and budgetary support. The EU notes with interest that a Donor Roundtable Conference is scheduled to take place in the last quarter of 2006 and is ready to participate actively in this effort to support the economic and social reconstruction of Guinea-Bissau. Along the same lines, the EU welcomes the extension of the Emergency Economic Management Fund through the end of 2006 and believes that Guinea-Bissau needs the continued engagement of all key national and international actors to meet its multiple short-term and long-term political and economic challenges.

While the EU believes that the Ad Hoc Groups should have a limited life-span, a further extension by one year of the mandate of the Guinea-Bissau Group is needed. In the future, the mandate should be re-evaluated in the light of developments on the Peacebuilding Commission and on Guinea-Bissau's possible consideration.

Mr. Chairman,

In Haiti, the recent presidential and parliamentary elections have marked an important step in the democratic process. The EU commends the Government of Haiti for the successful elections and renews its commitment to assist the new government in achieving political, economic and social stability paving the road to national reconciliation and a better future for the country. Institutional reforms are key in establishing and strengthening democratic institutions, security and economic recovery. Immediate attention is needed on the reform of the justice system, police and national army.

The EU welcomes the extension of the Interim Cooperation Framework and supports an extension of the mandate of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti with a focus on a long-term development strategy, until the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council in July 2007. The EU looks forward to co-operating with the Ad Hoc Group over the coming months.

Finally Mr. Chairman,

The EU would like to emphasize that as the Peacebuilding Commission assumes its work with post-conflict countries, it would be very important for it to carefully consider and take into account the valuable experiences and lessons learned of the Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on Countries Emerging from Conflict.  The lessons learned touch upon short-term assistance as well as longer-term rehabilitation and support. While short-term recommendations mostly focus on the Governments concerned and their political measures, in the long term emphasis should be more on economic stability and governance reforms. The EU remains confident that the Peacebuilding Commission as a permanent structure takes into account this approach in its support to post-conflict countries.

Thank you.