Expected Council Action
In July, Japan, as Council president, is organising a ministerial-level open debate, presided over by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, on peacebuilding in Africa with a focus on institution-building.
A presidential statement may be adopted.
Key Recent Developments
On 27 April, the Council and General Assembly adopted substantively identical resolutions to conclude the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture (S/RES/2282 and A/RES/70/262). The resolutions were the most comprehensive ever adopted on peacebuilding at the UN, expanding the understanding of peacebuilding from being perceived as a post-conflict activity to a process occurring before, during and after conflict. This broader understanding was embodied in a definition in the resolutions of “sustaining peace”, described as “activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict” which “should flow through all three pillars of the UN’s engagement at all stages of conflict”. The resolutions recognised peacebuilding as a responsibility of the entire UN system and placed new emphasis on conflict prevention.
The resolutions further reaffirmed the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) mandate: to sustain international attention on conflict-affected countries; to promote a strategic and coherent approach to peacebuilding; to serve an advisory “bridging role” among the principal UN organs and entities; and to provide a forum for convening all relevant actors. The Council expressed its intention to regularly request and draw upon the PBC’s “specific, strategic and targeted advice” in the formation, review and drawdown of peacekeeping operations and special political missions. Moreover, the resolutions encouraged the PBC to diversify its working methods in support of sustaining peace, which is expected to enable it to take on a role in conflict prevention and to consider more diverse country and regional issues.
On the financing gap for peacebuilding activities—highlighted by the Advisory Group of Experts, which prepared an initial report for the review—the General Assembly resolution included a decision, which the Council version took note of, to invite the Secretary-General to provide a report during its 72nd session that should contain options for funding peacebuilding through assessed and voluntary contributions.
On 22 June, former PBC Chair Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden) briefed the Council on the PBC’s annual report. Current PBC chair Ambassador Macharia Kamau (Kenya) also briefed, highlighting plans to build on key areas of the PBC’s work from 2015, including the PBC’s increased regional focus, and to implement the new resolutions. Ahead of the meeting, the Council revised the title of the agenda item under which it considers peacebuilding from “post-conflict peacebuilding” to “peacebuilding and sustaining peace”. An informal interactive dialogue with PBC country-configuration chairs and representatives of its agenda countries followed.
Developments in the PBC
Kamau undertook a mission to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone from 8 to 17 June to promote Ebola recovery and PBC cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Previously, on 6 April, the PBC Organizational Committee discussed the subregional dimensions of peacebuilding in West Africa. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Oscar Fernandez-Taranco and representatives from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the UN Development Programme briefed. Fernandez-Taranco highlighted his 9 to 18 March visit to Mali, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso to follow up on support provided by the Peacebuilding Fund and explore opportunities to address transnational and cross-border peacebuilding challenges.
Within the country-specific configurations, the Burundi configuration met on 20 June with Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović. The Central African Republic (CAR) configuration has focused on engaging the new government, which was elected earlier this year and concluded CAR’s political transition. The Guinea country-configuration last met on 2 May to discuss justice sector reforms, with Guinea’s justice minister participating via video teleconference.
The country configuration for Guinea-Bissau remained engaged in the country’s political crisis. On 16 May, it issued a statement highlighting the pressing need to mobilise resources for the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau, and on 9 June, it adopted a statement supporting the outcomes of a recent ECOWAS summit on the crisis.
The Liberia configuration has focused on preparing for the drawdown of the UN Mission in Liberia to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities to the government and UN country team. A peacebuilding assessment mission travelled to Sierra Leone from 29 February to 8 March. Its report, which is being finalised, is expected to recommend continued engagement by the Sierra Leone configuration through the 2018 elections.
The PBC held its third annual session on 23 June. It focused on transitions and how the PBC can enhance its advice to the Council and General Assembly during transitions from country teams to peacekeeping or special political missions; between types of peace operations; and from peace operations to country teams.
For the debate, member states will consider the challenges related to peacebuilding in Africa and identify lessons learned and best practices from African countries that have achieved peace, stability and strong economic growth. They will further consider how the international community can make its support for peacebuilding in Africa more effective and efficient. In this context, there will be a focus on institution-building, which can lay the foundations for conflict prevention as weak institutions are less capable of managing tensions in societies or can be sources of conflict.
The Council may adopt a presidential statement, which, inter alia, could:
- recall resolution 2282 and the importance of recognising that peacebuilding and sustaining peace are responsibilities of the entire UN system that involve activities to prevent the outbreak, relapse or continuation of conflict;
- welcome the PBC’s efforts to consider the regional dimensions of peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Africa and to enhance partnerships with African regional and sub-regional organisations; and
- recall the Secretary-General’s reports on peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict, identifying institution-building as a core peacebuilding activity, and highlight the importance of strengthening, for example, electoral institutions and civic freedoms of press and expression; security sector and rule-of-law institutions; public administrations; and systems for dialogue and reconciliation.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The recently adopted resolutions on peacebuilding have been hailed as an opportunity to change the UN’s approach to addressing international peace and security issues. During a 23 February Council open debate, member states expressed strong support for broadening the understanding of peacebuilding and the concept of sustaining peace, with its emphasis on conflict prevention. The new resolutions notwithstanding, it remains to be seen how the UN system and member states will apply the resolutions’ ideas. This includes whether the Council will seek and be able to derive more benefit from the PBC. The P5 have often perceived the PBC as seeking to intervene on the peace and security prerogatives of the Council and have been sceptical about the added value it has provided so far to the Council’s work.
The upcoming Council debate reflects Japan’s interest in peacebuilding, which it highlighted during its last Council presidency in April 2010. From 2011 to 2015, Japan was chair of the PBC Working Group on Lessons Learned. Organising a high-level debate on peacebuilding in Africa is further expected to contribute to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) being held in August. The TICAD, held every three years, will for the first time take place outside Japan, in Nairobi.
Egypt has assumed from Malaysia the role of convener of the Council-PBC stock-taking sessions, which are organised periodically to review relations between the two bodies.
UN Documents on Peacebuilding
|Security Council Resolution|
|27 April 2016 S/RES/2282||This was a resolution adopted concurrently with a General Assembly resolution on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.|
|Security Council Letter|
|29 June 2015 S/2015/490||This contained the report of the Advisory Group of Experts on the UN Peacebuilding Architecture review.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|22 June 2016 S/PV.7723||This was a briefing on the PBC annual report.|
|23 February 2016 S/PV.7629||This was an open debate on the 2015 review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.|