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Buying Locally: A Spreading Ethos? UNIFIL, Norway and Xanana.

Well its moving around, popping up in Lebanon, moving quietly to Norway, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (known as the C34), and even in speeches given by leading Timorese in Indonesia. The imperative to use local procurement to drive economies in some tough places is spreading like a virus.

UNIFIL Magazine October 2010

A friend in Europe drew my attention to the fact that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is talking alot about its “economic impact” in a recent UNIFIL publication – see above.

UNIFIL’s tasks are well known: patrolling, monitoring the cessation of hostilities and ensuring stability in the Area of Operation in coordination with the Lebanese Army. But an important effect of UNIFIL’s presence often goes unnoticed – that is the economic impact.

Of UNIFIL’s annual budget of around 550 million dollars, about 100 million dollars directly benefit the Lebanese economy, said UNIFIL Director of Mission Support Girish Sinha.

These figures seem optimistic but if true are a very good thing indeed.  You can download the magazine here.

According to the Executive Magazine “This year, 160 Lebanese vendors and firms were awarded roughly $33 million (40 percent) of the total anticipated procurement budget of $82 million“. Read the full article here, its very interesting.

Then while reading this magazine I was emailed about local procurement popping up in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations via a Norwegian intervention.

Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Tine Mørch Smith presented Norway’s statement to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on February 22, 2011. She highlighted six points to strengthen UN’s capacity to conduct peace operations.

“Finally point, I would like to emphasize the need to look more closely at the environmental and economic impact of peace operations. Strengthening local procurement clearly would be very welcome in host countries that are struggling to build peace.”

You can read the full statement here.  Norway was important donor to the Peace Dividend Marketplace Timor-Leste project in 2009-2010.

Additionally, the ethos has jumped to Dili and Jakarta.  On 22 March 2011 in a lecture to the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, the Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao stated that:

The ‘g7+’ is therefore a mechanism for dialogue with the international community, in terms of aid programs and the efficiency of that aid. The aim is to prevent programs from weakening the internal processes of each country and ensuring the aid does result in expensive systems, such as Project management Units, where the money goes back to the donor country or to others, without benefiting local populations.

You can read the whole speech here.


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