by H.E. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti
Representative of Brazil to the United Nations
Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the
25 February 2011
I am pleased to brief the Security Council in my capacity as Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission. I extend a warm welcome to H. E. Carlos Gomes Júnior, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, and thank his for his statement. I would warmly welcome the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, of National Defense, of Justice, and of Economy, Planning and Regional Integration, and other members of the delegation of Guinea-Bissau. The presence of such high-level delegation in this session and in the meeting of the Configuration yesterday is a clear signal of the commitment of the country to increasing its cooperation with the international community.
I commend the Prime Minister of Guine-Bissau for the comprehensive presentation he has jus delivered, which enables us to better appreciate the challenges and opportunities.
I also thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Joseph Mutaboba, for his briefing and commendable work in Guinea-Bissau.
In the past few months the Configuration has focused its work on specific areas, notably security sector reform, the rule of law, combating drug trafficking and impunity, addressing concerns of youth and women and supporting institution building. We have not lost sight of the importance of encouraging job creation and promoting a more vigorous economy as crucial elements of a peacebuilding strategy.
In a meeting of the Configuration on 22 November 2010, members were briefed by representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Those representatives highlighted the notable progress made by Guinea-Bissau over the recent years in the areas of macroeconomic management and public finance, resulting in economic growth, low inflation and an increase in revenue collection. They assessed that Guinea-Bissau was on track to reach the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC).
Building upon the discussions held with the IMF and the World Bank, the member countries of the Configuration were encouraged to support the deliberations of the Boards of the IMF and the World Bank concerning Guinea-Bissau.
Last December, the Boards of the IMF and the World Bank declared that Guinea-Bissau had reached the completion point of the HIPC Initiative and decided to support debt relief for Guinea-Bissau in the amount of US$1.2 billion. I am confident that the measures adopted by the International Financial Institutions will help lead Guinea-Bissau into a virtuous circle, since they would, among other positive effects: a) normalize Guinea-Bissau’s relations with external creditors, especially members of the Paris Club, the IDA and the African Development Fund (AfDF), possibly leading to further debt relief; b) send a positive signal to international donors and investors; c) reduce the country's dependence on budgetary aid and expand its "fiscal space" for social programs; and d) demonstrate and recognize the progress that the government of Guinea-Bissau has made in macroeconomic management, which would surely strengthen the civilian authorities and institutions of the country. A window of opportunity has reopened for the country.
Distinguished members of the Council,
As the Secretary-General pointed out in his latest report, key economic and public administration reforms are moving forward as the Government of Guinea-Bissau seeks to improve fiscal discipline. Economic growth was expected to reach 4 per cent in 2010, compared to 3 per cent in 2009. The Government has also succeeded in increasing tax revenues within the context of fiscal reforms and anticipates that in 2011, it will have the budgetary resources to cover spending beyond the payment of salaries.
It is also worth noting that the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) Joint Steering Committee approved the 2011-2013 Peacebuilding Priority Plan for Guinea Bissau, which identifies priorities for the next two to three years, notably to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law, to revitalize the economy and to reactivate basic social services. In this regard, we welcome the recommendation of the Secretary-General to allocate up to US$16.8 million of the PBF to the implementation of such priority plan.
I am encouraged by the progress that Guinea-Bissau has made to reverse the negative effects of the events of 1 April 2010. The release of Vice-Admiral Zamora Induta and other senior officers is emblematic of these efforts. I also note in that respect the positive steps taken by the leadership of Guinea-Bissau, especially by President Malam Bacai Sanhá and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior, to demonstrate their renewed commitment to pursuing enhanced dialogue and political negotiations. The people and the Government of Guinea-Bissau are doing their part to overcome the setbacks of the recent past. The members of the Configuration encourage the leadership of the country to take further concrete steps in fighting impunity and enhancing the rule of law and the civilian control of the military.
Security sector reform (SSR) is of fundamental importance. The members of the Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission welcomed the road map supported by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) for the implementation of SSR in Guinea-Bissau and expect its timely endorsement by ECOWAS. They encouraged the Government of Guinea-Bissau to fully commit to its implementation.
The fight against drug trafficking is an issue of grave concern to the members of the PBC. An effective fight against illicit drugs requires functioning State institutions, especially in the areas of justice and security, as well as firm political will. We emphasize the importance of a regional approach and the role played by ECOWAS in this regard. Both as individual governments and collectively, we must all do more and better to support the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan and the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI). In this respect, we welcome the letter of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior to the Secretary-General on 27 October 2010, expressing the complete engagement of the Government of Guinea-Bissau “in energetically pursuing the fight against the plague of drug trafficking and the organized crime associated to it”. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Finance, establishing a Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) in Bissau is a further positive step in the right direction. We are now looking forward to the designation of the members of the TCU, but also to discuss ways in which the Peacebuilding Commission can support such efforts.
International efforts to help consolidate peace in Guinea-Bissau should not rest solely upon security-related cooperation. In order for peace to take hold, the foundations for socioeconomic development must be strengthened. We need to support capacity building and assist the country revitalize its economy. At the end of the day, it is a dynamic economy and the creation of job opportunities that will generate the revenues needed for the provision of basic services to the population and allow the State to function in a sustainable manner.
Distinguished Members of the Council,
We must take advantage of this positive momentum. More than ever engagement and cooperation with Guinea-Bissau are necessary to assist the country in building democratic governance and effectively addressing key challenges. The international community should step up its support to Guinea-Bissau to help enhance national political stability, promote reconciliation, combat impunity and organized crime, and foster socioeconomic development.
We must persevere in our collective efforts to support Guinea-Bissau. This requires that national authorities continue the ongoing efforts to fully restore international confidence. It also means that international partners should look beyond the setbacks of the recent past and support long-term political and economic stability in the country.