Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is expected to discuss in an open debate the annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). Both the outgoing PBC chair, Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), and the current chair, Ambassador A.K. Abdul Momen (Bangladesh), are expected to brief. Judy Cheng-Hopkins, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, is also expected to brief the Council. All the chairs of the country-specific configurations are also likely to brief.
It is likely that the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with chairs of country-specific configurations on 13 July.
A presidential statement will likely be issued after the briefings.
Key Recent Developments
The fifth annual report of the PBC was published on 30 January (S/2012/70). It covers the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011, and focuses on key aspects of the PBC’s work, including implementation of the key recommendations of the 2010 “Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture” (S/2010/393), resource mobilisation, national capacity development of the countries on the PBC’s agenda, political advocacy and cross-configuration work by the commission. Though Council members never formally discussed the 2010 review, the Council welcomed it in resolution 1947, adopted on 29 October 2010. The resolution reaffirmed the “importance of the peacebuilding work carried out by the UN and the need for sustained support and adequate resources for this work.” The resolution underlined the role of the PBC as a dedicated intergovernmental advisory body to “address the needs of countries emerging from conflict towards sustainable peace.” It requested all relevant UN actors to “take forward, within their mandates and as appropriate, the recommendations of the report with the aim of further improving the effectiveness of the Peacebuilding Commission” and called for a further comprehensive review in 2015.
The annual report for 2011 signalled “increased appreciation of the potential role that the commission can play to promote renewed commitment by the international community to countries emerging from conflict” and called on the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) to provide “high-quality support to the country configurations” so that the “increased expectations” generated in the countries on the PBC’s agenda would be met. (The PBSO has been working on its strategy for 2012-2015, focusing on three key areas: increasing the peacebuilding impact of key national and international actors at country-level through the PBC and Peacebuilding Fund (PBF); strengthening the UN system’s leadership, coherence and coordination on key peacebuilding priorities; and improving communication and understanding of peacebuilding through the PBC, UN and external actors.)
However, even before the end of the reporting period, the 2011 report seemed to have been overtaken by events. For example, on Guinea-Bissau, the annual report notes that the reporting period was “marked by continuous political stability.” In fact, there was an attempted military coup on 26 December 2011. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Council on the situation in Guinea-Bissau on 10 January following the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá in Paris the day before. Pascoe mentioned the attempted military coup on 26 December 2011. The Council issued a press statement (SC/10521) after the briefing, expressing condolences and welcoming Guinea-Bissau’s decision to investigate the coup attempt and to hold presidential elections. Held on 18 March, the elections were inconclusive.
On 12 April, the military staged a coup and arrested interim President Raimundo Pereira and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior (who was favoured to win run-off presidential elections scheduled for 22 April). On 18 May, the Council adopted resolution 2048, imposing a ban on foreign travel on army leaders who staged the coup.
On 19 and 20 May, Council members visited Liberia, and then Sierra Leone on 23 May. It appeared that some Council members were taken aback by the fact that the work of the PBC was not mentioned by the national stakeholders (including government officials) they met with in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This is of particular interest, since the 2010 review of the PBC had stressed the effectiveness of the PBC and the “imperative” of bringing national actors in the countries on its agenda on board the commission’s work.
The key issue is sustaining the Council’s interest in the work of the PBC, which is after all one of its subsidiary bodies (albeit a unique one as it is also subordinate to the General Assembly), and in post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding more broadly.
A related issue is whether the Council’s approach to countries that are on the agenda of both bodies can be enhanced by better incorporation of the input from the PBC.
Options for the Council include:
- discussing the annual report and taking no action;
- issuing a presidential statement welcoming the report and calling for greater synergies between the PBC, PBSO and PBF; and
- holding a discussion in consultations with the chairs of the country-specific configurations as well as with heads of the PBSO and PBF.
It appears that the Council is not particularly focused on the work of the PBC (the annual report was published five months ago, and the Council is only discussing it in July). But the events in Guinea-Bissau and the Council’s recent visit to Liberia and Sierra Leone may be changing this. The UK appears to be particularly interested in developing a new approach. South Africa has been supportive of these efforts and has consistently shown a committed interest in the work of the PBC.
Security Council Resolution
Security Council Presidential Statements